Yesterday, I wrote that US officials had approved or recommended seven new studies related to autism and vaccination. I have listed them all here on one page, for readers who might want to share it with medical personnel, family members, elected officials, members of the media and anyone else who tells them that the vaccine-autism debate is over and done with.
Anyone complaining about parents asking for more research should direct their ire at the following US Government agencies and affiliated groups, who concur that many gaps in vaccine-safety research remain:
US Department of Health and Human Services
US Environmental Protection Agency
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institute of Mental Health
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Vaccine Advisory Committee
1) The National CADDRE Study -- This 5-year project of the CDC's Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) Network will "help identify what might put children at risk for autism," the CDC says. Among those risk factors: "specific mercury exposures, including any vaccine use by the mother during pregnancy and the child's vaccine exposures after birth." HERE
2) The National Children's Study – This HHS-EPA joint effort will investigate "the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States," including autism. As part of their work researchers will track medical records, including vaccinations and their impact on neorodevelopment. HERE
3) The Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) – This network of NIH agencies (NIEHS, NICHD, NIMH, NINDS) and affiliated sites will follow 1,200 pregnant women who already have a child with autism, to identify the “earliest possible environmental risk factors and their interplay with genetic susceptibility during the prenatal, neonatal and early postnatal periods.” Potential risk factors in the study include vaccines, thimerosal, and heavy metals. HERE.
On June 2, 2009, the Federal Government’s National Vaccine Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend a sweeping list of vaccine safety studies, including four related to vaccines and autism. The CDC had previously proposed studying autism as a “clinical outcome” of vaccination, and NVAC concurred. The document can be viewed at: HERE
4) Study the Feasibility of Comparing Vaccinated, Unvaccinated and Alternatively Vaccinated Children – NVAC recommended asking an expert panel, such at the Institute of Medicine, to weigh in on the strengths, weaknesses, ethical issues and costs of studying and comparing vaccinated, unvaccinated, and “alternatively vaccinated” groups of children for a number of disorders - including autism. Prospective clinical trials, where children would be randomized into vaccinated and placebo groups, would be unethical. But NVAC suggested one publicly submitted idea to conduct an “observational study” looking at, “natural variation in vaccination schedules, including some children where vaccination is declined through parental intent.”
5) Study Vaccine-Mitochondria-Autism Links - “Recent developments around mitochondrial dysfunction reinforce the importance of studies of vaccine adverse events in rigorously defined subsets of the ASD spectrum,” the NVAC wrote. The rate of mitochondrial dysfunction in autism has been estimated at somewhere between 7%-to-30% of all ASD children. “Mitochondrial dysfunction carries an established risk of brain damage subsequent to infectious disease,” the NVAC wrote. “Thus, a small and specific subset of the general population (such as those with mitochondrial dysfunction) may be at elevated risk of reduced neurological functioning, possibly including developing ASD, subsequent to live virus vaccination.”
6) Study Vaccines and Regressive Autism - “In the context of vaccination research, the ASD clinical subset of particular interest is regressive autism” the NVAC wrote. Estimates of ASD regression range from about 15 to 50% of all ASD cases, depending on the definition used. “Regressive autism does fit the recommendations of the IOM (immunization) committee for further research in rigorously defined subsets of ASD,” the NVAC said. Such studies might entail, “prospective vaccination response profiling in siblings of children with regressive ASD, a subpopulation who are at higher risk.”
7) Study Vaccine Injuries and the Risk of Autism - Another autism subpopulation that should be included in vaccine studies is what the NVAC called “the intersection of ASD cases with (clearly defined vaccine outcomes) such as fever, febrile seizure, or hypotonic-hypo-responsive episode (HHE).” Do these adverse effects correlate with ASD? “It would be worthwhile to assess,” the NVAC wrote. “On a molecular level, it might be feasible to compare ASD cases with history of adverse events following immunization against cognitively normal controls with a similar history of adverse events, to assess whether there are significant differences in immune response profiles between groups.”
David Kirby is author of Evidence of Harm, a founding contributor to Huffington Post and a contributor to Age of Autism. His next book, “ANIMAL FACTORY” – about the impact of industrial livestock production on our health and the environment – will be released within the year.