By J.B. Handley
If you want to make someone who defends our current bloated vaccine schedule and believes the science proves vaccines don't cause autism go bonkers, just mention unvaccinated kids.
How else to explain some of the altogether nutty things that have come out of the mouths of the vaccine schedule's designated defenders?
I'll start with the gold-standard for goofy-speak from Julie Gerberding, an answer so classic it should be entombed for posterity, triggered by a great question from our very own Dan Olmsted.
Dan Olmsted: Has the government ever looked at the autism rate in an unvaccinated U.S. population, and if not, why not?
Julie Gerberding: In this country, we have very high levels of vaccination as you probably know, and I think this year we have record immunization levels among all of our children, so to (select an unvaccinated group) that on a population basis would be representative to look at incidence in that population compared to the other population would be something that could be done.
But as we're learning, just trying to look at autism in a community the size of Atlanta, it's very, very difficult to get an effective numerator and denominator to get a reliable diagnosis.
I think those kind of studies could be done and should be done. You'd have to adjust for the strong genetic component that also distinguishes, for example, people in Amish communities who may elect not to be immunized (and) also have genetic connectivity that would make them different from populations that are in other sectors of the United States. So drawing some conclusions from them would be very difficult.
I think with reference to the timing of all of this, good science does take time, and it's part of one of the messages I feel like I've learned from the feedback that we've gotten from parents groups this summer (in) struggling with developing a more robust and a faster research agenda, is let's speed this up. Let's look for the early studies that could give us at least some hypotheses to test and evaluate and get information flowing through the research pipeline as quickly as we can.
So we are committed to doing that, and as I mentioned, in terms of just measuring the frequency of autism in the population some pretty big steps have been taken. We're careful not to jump ahead of our data, but we think we will be able to provide more accurate information in the next year or so than we've been able to do up to this point. And I know that is our responsibility.
We've also benefited from some increased investments in these areas that have allowed us to do this, and so we thank Congress and we thank the administration for supporting those investments, not just at CDC but also at NIH and FDA.
I'm sure Julie Gerberding had a point with her answer, for the life of me I don't know what it was.
Not to be outdone, Dr. Paul Offit recently got into the act with his own perspective on studying unvaccinated children (at least he concedes the studies don't exist):
"No studies have compared the incidence of autism in vaccinated, unvaccinated, or alternatively vaccinated children (i.e., schedules that spread out vaccines, avoid combination vaccines, or include only select vaccines). These studies would be difficult to perform because of the likely differences among these 3 groups in health care seeking behavior and the ethics of experimentally studying children who have not received vaccines."
Health care seeking behavior? Ethics of studying kids who haven't gotten vaccines?
Let me get this straight: we have the most complex and raging health epidemic amongst our kids in modern times, and no plausible explanation for cause from the mainstream authorities. Meanwhile, we have tens of thousands of case reports of kids regressing into autism after vaccination, but it's just too complicated and unethical to study unvaccinated kids?
"Health care seeking behavior" is the notion that parents who do not vaccinate their children may be less inclined to seek an autism diagnosis if there is a problem with their child's development. Fair enough, that MAY be true. But, in a well-designed study that issue could be dealt with in a very straightforward way: you independently evaluate every single kid for neurological disorders. Would that be expensive? Yes. Would it be thorough? Yes. Would it mitigate any issues related to health seeking behavior? Yes.
It's also interesting to consider a study completed by the CDC and published in Pediatrics, Children Who Have Received No Vaccines: Who Are They and Where Do They Live? The study noted:
"Unvaccinated children tended to be white, to have a mother who was married and had a college degree, to live in a household with an annual income exceeding $75,000, and to have parents who expressed concerns regarding the safety of vaccines and indicated that medical doctors have little influence over vaccination decisions for their children."
And, it continues:
"Why do some parents avoid vaccinating their children? Our results indicate that parents of unvaccinated children are much more concerned about vaccine safety than are parents whose children receive 1 vaccine dose. In a survey of parent's beliefs and practices regarding vaccinations and autism, siblings in families in which there was an autistic child were 3 times more likely to be unvaccinated, compared with siblings in families in which there was a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In response to concerns about the perceived risk of autism resulting from vaccinations, parents might have avoided having their sons vaccinated at a higher rate than their daughters, as a result of knowing that they have risk factors for autism and knowing that the rate of autism is 4 times greater for boys than for girls."
What are the chances that white, upper middle-class families with an annual income in excess of $75,000 who are very concerned about vaccine safety don't pursue an autism diagnosis if their child is exhibiting the signs of autism? Probably close to nil, but science can still account for that.
Meanwhile, the only data that has ever considered unvaccinated children was done through a phone survey funded by Generation Rescue, the results are available here:
Generation Rescue analyzed the data provided by SurveyUSA, and a copy of our analysis can be found here. The most notable results of our survey are with the boys, which is not surprising considering boys represent approximately 80% of total cases of NDs. Namely:
All vaccinated boys, compared to unvaccinated boys:
- Vaccinated boys were 155% more likely to have a neurological disorder (RR 2.55)
- Vaccinated boys were 224% more likely to have ADHD (RR 3.24)
- Vaccinated boys were 61% more likely to have autism (RR 1.61)
Older vaccinated boys, ages 11-17 (about half the boys surveyed), compared to older unvaccinated boys:
- Vaccinated boys were 158% more likely to have a neurological disorder (RR 2.58)
- Vaccinated boys were 317% more likely to have ADHD (RR 4.17)
- Vaccinated boys were 112% more likely to have autism (RR 2.12)
(Note: older children may be a more reliable indicator because many children are not diagnosed until they are 6-8 years old, and we captured data beginning at age 4.)
One final point: the mainstream will never do a study of unvaccinated kids. They already fear what it will show, and the results for them would likely be cataclysmic. Their best bet is to invent reasons the study can't be done. It will be our community that will have to fund this study. It won't be cheap (my guess is $4-6 million). And, it will have to be constructed in such a way and managed by scientists in such a way that it has widespread credibility. When and how do we get from here to there?
J.B. Handley is co-founder of www.generationrescue.org and a contributor to Age of Autism.