ON BEHALF OF PARENTS OF AUTISTIC CHILDREN RESPONDING TO NEW STUDY REFUTING WAKEFIELD FINDINGS OF MEASLES VIRUS IN GUT OF AUTISTIC CHILDREN WITH BOWEL DISEASE
A new study by Hornig et al, which revisits the MMR – autism controversy, has failed to find measles virus in the bowel of autistic children, so contradicting Wakefield and O'Leary's earlier finding of measles virus in autistic children. The latest study fails to find a link between MMR vaccine and autism.
However the study inadvertently gives credence to Wakefield and O'Leary's previous work on measles virus and validates their earlier findings. It also substantiates the link between autistic regression and gastrointestinal disorder reported by Wakefield in his 1998 Lancet article.
Whereas Wakefield and O'Leary in 2002 looked at bowel biopsies of 91 children whose autism and bowel disease followed the MMR vaccination, Hornig et al examined biopsies of only 5 children who had MMR before the onset of these symptoms. The remaining 20 children had MMR after onset. This is a very small sample from which to conclude that there is no link between MMR, autism and bowel disease. It is substantially smaller than Wakefield's earlier study.
Importantly, the centres that analysed the bowel biopsies arrived at similar findings despite blinded procedures – i.e. none of them knew which biopsies they were examining. One of these centres was that of Professor John O'Leary. Professor O'Leary found measles virus in the bowel of 75 children out of 91 in the earlier 2002 study and is a joint author of the present Hornig study, which used the same methods of analysis as O'Leary had used in 2002. The consistency of the findings between the three centres confirms the validity of O'Leary's methods - the same methods used in 2002 - and the accuracy of his finding of measles virus.
In the US, the government is the defendant in a key case before the Federal Court for Vaccine Claims brought by 5000 children, many autistic, claiming vaccine damage. In a lead case, Michelle Cedillo, who regressed into autism and bowel disease after receiving the MMR, was tested positive for measles virus by O'Leary. The new study substantially strengthens Cedillo's case.
Parents of autistic children want to know why their children suffer from these lifetime debilitating illnesses. In the 10 years since Wakefield's 1998 Lancet paper was published, there has been no proper attempt to replicate his studies. In the UK there is currently no research into the autism and bowel disease which is estimated to affect about half the children. Although autism is the largest and fastest growing developmental condition among UK children – affecting at least one in a hundred children – the government spends no more than £1 million pounds a year on autism research. How long before the government faces up to the epidemic proportions of this increasingly prevalent condition and to its cost on children, families and society?
Instead of addressing the causes of these illnesses, the government has enveloped a culture of fear around autism/bowel disease research. It is worthy of note that the study published this week reports clinical procedures and a study design which, here in the UK, has resulted in three doctors being accused of what amounts to child abuse. Whilst Wakefield, Murch and Walker-Smith have been subjected to a disgraceful attempt to discredit and publicly shame them, Hornig et al. are able to carry out these same procedures, at the behest of the CDC , and report their findings freely with no repercussions whatsoever. Are we to assume they will be hauled before their respective professional councils – or does that only happen if the results threaten the vaccination programme? The culture of fear engendered in the UK has meant that medical scientists refuse to address the issue, whilst our children suffer intolerable levels of pain and a future with no hope. It is contemptible.
CRY SHAME is an organisation of parents and professionals demanding justice for the three doctors being tried for fitness to practice by the GMC, and for the many autistic children for whom there is insufficient research into why they are autistic and suffer bowel damage.
1. Today autism is the most prevalent and fastest growing developmental disorder in UK children; at least one in 100 children are diagnosed with this serious and debilitating condition.
2. The government's 2004 National Service Framework for Children refers to service standards of "listening and responding to children…and their families" and giving "access to hospital specialist" including gastroenterologists. Adequate levels of medical provision are to be provided by 2014. The paper refers to symptoms of bowel disorder and pain in some autistic children.
3. In the UK there is no research following up the work of the three doctors. This research is done oversees.
4. In 2002 the government gave £3 million to the Medical Research Council for autism research. The annual autism research bill is about £1 million - a miniscule amount for such a widespread and growing condition, compared with other childhood conditions.
5. The MMR has been beset with problems throughout its history. Japan withdrew earlier brands of MMR in 1993 because of aseptic meningitis caused by the Urabe Mumps strain. There have been successful legal claims for damages against health providers providing MMR. These brands were also withdrawn in the UK