Internet survey shows high autism rate in unvaccinated children

31 Aug

Informal surveys are fraught with problems. There can be all sorts of biases. Many ways for the data to be skewed one way or another. A great example of this was the Generation Rescue phone survey. The results were all over the map, and clearly flawed. Many of the results pointed to higher autism rates in partially vaccinated over fully vaccinated children.

That was four years ago. Recently an internet survey was undertaken to explore vaccine questions. The survey results can be found on the site vaccineinjury.info. People with agendas certainly can do surveys, but they shouldn’t be surprised when their agendas are pointed out. I won’t go into the survey or results in detail. I have a suspicion the results will be analyzed elsewhere. Rather, let’s just look at the autism results.

Here is the age distribution of the (mostly) children reported on in the study. Very skewed towards the very young.

Here is the distribution of an age distribution of the fraction of kids in each group reported to be autistic (click to make bigger)

If you are wondering, “did they just publish a graph showing high autism ‘prevalences’ in unvaccinated kids?”, you are correct. They are showing that in some age groups the fraction of unvaccinated autistic kids is about 2%. The current prevalence estimate for the U.S. and the U.K. is about 1%.

Do we really want to put any weight on this result? No, not really. It is a nicely packaged internet survey, but it is an internet survey after all. Can we speculate a little as to what this means? Sure. It could mean that the groups that were recruited for this survey included more families with autistic children. Given the high recurrence risk of autism (i.e. the high chances that a younger sibling of an autistic kid would be autistic) it is not only reasonable, but predicted, that such a survey might show a high fraction of autistic kids.

Keep something in mind–the number of autistic kids is small. If I did the math correctly, there are only 37 autistic kids total. [edit to add–this is incorrect. There are 44. I left out two age groups in my total] That means big uncertainties (error bars) in the “results”. Results which, as we’ve already discussed, are pretty skewed just by the design and limitations of the survey.

Must be unexpected for the people doing the survey. Rather than show a low autism prevalence, they show a high one. For those who claim (sometimes over and over) that there are no unvaccinated autistic kids, here is another piece of evidence that they are wrong.

It’s clear enough that even commenters at the Age of Autism blog have noticed it. From “Sarah”:

Help! What am I doing wrong trying to read these graphs? The one titled autism in UNVACCINATED children shows autism percentages above the commonly accepted level in vaccinated children, but in the full study, which also shows a similar graphic, they say only 4 children in the study had severe autism. Are the graphs supposed to be the levels in vaccinated children? What am I missing here? Does this study show higher rates of autism among the unvaccinated?

Yes, Sarah, you are seeing correctly. The study shows higher rates of autism amongst the unvaccinated. That’s what the >1% values for ages 3-12 means when compared to the 1% value currently reported for the United States.

And, you can see people trying to “interpret” these results in interesting ways:

Sarah, I see 0.57% for autism roughly half of the rate seen in vaccinated children.
Note also that many who are not vaccinating are doing it because they have a child with autism already and these families have an increased likelihood of another child having autism as well. These numbers could be much lower in a larger survey and the cases are less severe as noted already. I hope this helps.

Yes, if you want to water down the results by averaging, including infants too young to be reliably diagnosed, you can get a lower prevalence. Of course, to do that one has to ask: what is the prevalence of diagnosed autism amongst infants? We don’t know.

The website notes:

Due to the fact that the majority of children in the survey are between 0 and 2 years of age and some diseases generally do not appear in this age group, the results are subdivided into different age groups (click on the graphic). Information about country, gender, age, age distribution, breastfeeding, preferred tretment[sic] can be found here.

And they are correct. There are no autistic kids in the age 0-2 group reported. Looking at just the ages 3-18 kids, there are 4326 kids, making a “prevalence” of 0.85, if you want to average. That would be within the error bars of the current autism prevalence estimate in the U.S..

As I’ve noted, the Age of Autism blog has already discussed this (thanks to those who sent me the link). I doubt this will get much play from these groups as the results are really not good from their point of view.

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21 Responses to “Internet survey shows high autism rate in unvaccinated children”

  1. Liz P September 1, 2011 at 03:23 #

    First-off, this is not a US study (the most recent number I have heard for the UK is 1 in 60).

    Secondly, the target audience for this survey already had at least 1 child with Autism; thus skewing the results somewhat right off-the-bat.

    Third, the figure you quote, ~1% Autism in the US is VERY old, based upon data gathered in 2006, using studies of eight-year-olds) – this represented a 57% increase in the incidence of Autism in just four years! Five years have passed, since that data was gathered…Maybe you might want to do some math?!

    Israel is currently reporting something around 3%…

    • Sullivan September 1, 2011 at 04:33 #

      “Secondly, the target audience for this survey already had at least 1 child with Autism; thus skewing the results somewhat right off-the-bat. ”

      Why would that be? Is there a genetic component to autism risk?

      Of course the results are skewed. It isn’t a matter of if. It’s a matter of how many ways this survey ( not study) is skewed.

      I absolutely expect that a new CDC prevalence will come out soon and will be higher. Likely much higher.

      Are you confusing Korea with Israel? The recent study on Korea gave 2.63%.

      You have no argument from me that this survey is unscientific.

      It does make it hard to argue that autism doesn’t exist in unvaccinated populations though.

    • Sullivan September 1, 2011 at 04:50 #

      “Third, the figure you quote, ~1% Autism in the US is VERY old, based upon data gathered in 2006, using studies of eight-year-olds) – this represented a 57% increase in the incidence of Autism in just four years! Five years have passed, since that data was gathered…Maybe you might want to do some math?!”

      This represents an increase in autism prevalence *estimate*. An estimate that is known to be an underestimate.

      You want to do some math? Tell me, how big of a study do you need to show a small difference in autism prevalence between a vaccinated and unvaccinated subgroup?

      Because you aren’t talking about a big difference in prevalence. It’s likely zero. It may even be smaller in the vaccinated group.

  2. Chris September 1, 2011 at 04:32 #

    Liz P:

    First-off, this is not a US study (the most recent number I have heard for the UK is 1 in 60).

    Worse, it is an internet survey. Anyone can go to the site and post their information, factual or fictional. Some have been posting about fictional children. Along with being a self-selected survey (the worst form of unbiased data collection), it is being munged.

    • Sullivan September 1, 2011 at 08:52 #

      Chris,

      Sorry this got caught in spam

  3. Chris September 1, 2011 at 04:36 #

    My comment went into the ether. This is an internet survey that can take information from around the world. It has two things that make it highly suspicious: it is a self selected survey, which is the worst form of biased data collection, and it can be filled out by many posting fictional children (using email for verification is not adequate).

    In short, this internet survey has no scientific validity.

  4. erica September 6, 2011 at 16:06 #

    We HAVE to find our what is doing this to our children. Each year the numbers seem to grow, and more parents find themselves wondering what they have done wrong. I believe its the world we live in today. A huge compilation of un-natural living. Everything from the impurities in our foods, to the massive levels of positive ions inundating our bodies.

    One thing I have found working for my daughter has been negative ion therpay. If you have not already looked into it please do! I have seen improvements with her focus and concentration, shes calmer, she has better coordination, and is finally using a fork to eat! She wears a SuperBandz. Its a surgical silicone bracelet that she wears on her wrist that helps restore the body’s natural balance. It’s made with minerals, its 100% natural and it has changed her life!

  5. Chris September 6, 2011 at 17:37 #

    erica is a spammer for a worthless cheap plastic bracelet.

  6. Prometheus September 6, 2011 at 19:30 #

    Exposing your child to negative ions – as suggested by spammer “erica” would be a life-altering experience, to be sure. Unless, of course, she means negative ions in close association with positive ions, as is found in water.

    A product that could produce a significant net excess of negative ions would be neither “natural” nor safe. Some radioactive elements (beta emitters) generate significant numbers of “negative ions” – perhaps THAT is the “mineral” in these bracelets.

    Also, I’m curious how silicone rubber can be considered “100% natural”.

    Prometheus

  7. John January 11, 2012 at 07:34 #

    “Its a surgical silicone bracelet that she wears on her wrist that helps restore the body’s natural balance. It’s made with minerals, its 100% natural.”

    Funniest thing I’ve read in ages! Natural silicone rubber… do they harvest it from silicone sheep too?

  8. humanati February 11, 2012 at 04:08 #

    Shame on you. Your lies are increasingly irrelevant. Truth doesn’t need shill websites & paid glove puppets.
    For your part in the greatest iatrogenic crime against humanity you will be held accountable one day.
    Whatever you’re being paid, it isn’t enough.
    I don’t envy you because one day all involved in the deception & inhuman cruelty represented by websites like this will regret what they have done & stand before their Creator.
    Vaccines cause autism. Vaccines kill. Vaccines will one day be seen as the lie they always were. Say no. Mercury, Autism & the Global Vaccine Agenda.

    • Sullivan February 11, 2012 at 18:20 #

      “whatever you are being paid”

      That would be nothing. I agree, it is not enough.

      Who is going to pay me? The owner of the site? A guy with two asd kids plus more kids?

      Your stereotypes are ill informed.

  9. Chris February 11, 2012 at 04:40 #

    Wow, it is the totally unoriginal boring old Pharma Shill Gambit.

    Vaccines cause autism. Vaccines kill. Vaccines will one day be seen as the lie they always were. Say no. Mercury, Autism & the Global Vaccine Agenda.

    Do something original and actually post real citations for those statements. For example, you claim vaccines kill, but so does measles. Show us the study that shows the MMR vaccine kills more often than measles (which is about one in 3000, or one in 500 during the last American epidemic twenty years ago, and even more in developing countries).

    The MMR vaccine has never contained thimerosal, so that is another point you need to prove with actual evidence. You can start by telling us which vaccine on the pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal. Forget mentioning influenza, because there are four thimerosal free versions.

    And if you claim that it is a lie, then answer this question: how come Sallie Bernard could not find DTaP vaccines with thimerosal over a decade ago? Don’t believe me? Well here is that message in full (with its link for you to click on):

    # Subject: Thimerosal DTaP Needed
    # From: Sally Bernard
    # Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 00:01:50 -0400
    # Yahoo! Message Number: 27456
    http://onibasu.com/archives/am/27456.html

    Hi all:

    A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.

    Thank you.

    Sallie Bernard
    Executive Director
    Safe Minds

  10. Chris February 11, 2012 at 04:42 #

    Whoa… I did not know that the pound signs that I cut and pasted from the Autism/Mercury Yahoo site would do that!

    Let me try again, with them removed:

    Wow, it is the totally unoriginal boring old Pharma Shill Gambit.

    Vaccines cause autism. Vaccines kill. Vaccines will one day be seen as the lie they always were. Say no. Mercury, Autism & the Global Vaccine Agenda.

    Do something original and actually post real citations for those statements. For example, you claim vaccines kill, but so does measles. Show us the study that shows the MMR vaccine kills more often than measles (which is about one in 3000, or one in 500 during the last American epidemic twenty years ago, and even more in developing countries).

    The MMR vaccine has never contained thimerosal, so that is another point you need to prove with actual evidence. You can start by telling us which vaccine on the pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal. Forget mentioning influenza, because there are four thimerosal free versions.

    And if you claim that it is a lie, then answer this question: how come Sallie Bernard could not find DTaP vaccines with thimerosal over a decade ago? Don’t believe me? Well here is that message in full (with its link for you to click on):

    Subject: Thimerosal DTaP Needed
    From: Sally Bernard
    Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 00:01:50 -0400
    Yahoo! Message Number: 27456
    http://onibasu.com/archives/am/27456.html

    Hi all:

    A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.

    Thank you.

    Sallie Bernard
    Executive Director
    Safe Minds

  11. MI Dawn February 11, 2012 at 19:37 #

    You know, Sullivan, I think we need to all get together and march on Big Pharma. According to AOA, SafeMinds, AVN, etc, we’re getting lots of money from them. I”ve never gotten my checks, and neither has anyone else I’ve talked to. We need a MARCH ON BIG PHARMA!!! (Does anyone have directions to Lord Draconis’s ship? Or, and guess we’ll have to play “rock,paper,scissors” for the honor of carrying Orac….)

    • Sullivan February 11, 2012 at 20:10 #

      You have to say that. Otherwise the IRS will know the secret payments are going to your Cayman Island accounts 😉

      (sad thing is there are those out there who would believe that!)

  12. Andrew February 12, 2012 at 23:25 #

    “Shame on you. Your lies are increasingly irrelevant. Truth doesn’t need shill websites & paid glove puppets.
    For your part in the greatest iatrogenic crime against humanity you will be held accountable one day.
    Whatever you’re being paid, it isn’t enough.”

    Now, let’s think. Either this fellow thinks that the big bad Pharma guys are evil enough to poison children, but not quite evil enough to delete posts that expose them, or he is simply trying to distract from the complete collapse of the vaccines-cause-autism lie. Which could it be?

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    […] Internet survey shows high autism rate in unvaccinated children (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk) […]

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