Control Group (kən′trōl ′grüp) A sample in which a factor whose effect is being estimated is absent or is held constant, in order to provide a comparison.
Look, I’m sorry, O.K.? I know it’s early and I’m already getting all Science 101 on you, but this is terribly important stuff, and I’d feel terrible if I didn’t share all this with you. Right now.
For those of you who regularly read AoA, you know that this isn’t the first time I’ve written about the “Hungry Lie” about autism, this lie so many are saying recently that goes like this:
“It’s been asked and answered, vaccines don’t cause autism.”
This lie, it really drives me nuts. More, and I can say this and mean it, anyone who repeats this lie is immediately my enemy. I mean that, I really do, because there are just too many kids in the mix and this is just too important and if you are either intellectually too lazy or too dishonest to understand the science around vaccines and autism, then, well, you are my enemy. Sorry, it’s a hard knock life.
That said, this may be my last piece on the topic. Why, you ask? Well, three reasons, probably. First, I’m tired of writing about this. Someone, other than me, needs to pick up the slack. Perhaps a doctor? (Bernadine Healey already did, but the press seems to have lost her phone number.) Second, I’m going to give you all the information here, so I don’t need to say anything else.
And, finally, I’m going to use the Autism Science Foundation to make my point, so this is a great way to end. Why does this matter? Well, the ASF is Alison Singer’s basement-dwelling autism organization, the one she founded with Paul Offit, the one she founded after she got fired from Autism Speaks, and between the 2 of them, they are the most prolific spouters of the “Hungry Lie,” which makes them both, to put it politely, absolutely 100% full of hooey.
More Science 101: Do control groups matter?
We all get the basic concept: a double-blind placebo-controlled study is a gold standard for figuring out if something helps or harms someone. Give one group something, give another group nothing even though they think it’s something, don’t tell the researchers who is getting what, and see if there is a difference in outcomes. Simple enough.
We also understand a “control group.” The simplest example, the one I like to use because people get it, is smokers and non-smokers. If you are trying to figure out if smoking hurts, helps, or kills people, you need a group of people who didn’t smoke (nerds, please don’t lecture me on confounders--this is Science 101, not 501). And, here’s my first giant point:
Without a real control group, the conclusions of a study on the potential harm of a drug are 100% useless.
Can we all just agree on that? If you have a study, and everyone either gets a whole pill or a half a pill, do you have a control group to compare the outcome to? Of course you don’t.
Vaccine schedule in the real world
Let me ask you 2 simple questions, and, please, be honest with me, OK?
Question #1: Can vaccines harm some people?
You know the answer is “yes” and I’m sure some of you will want to qualify this answer by saying, “but it’s a really small number of people.” Whatever.
Question #2: If one vaccine can harm some people, do you think six vaccines given at the same time will do more or less harm?
OK, fine, I stacked the decks a bit on #2, but this is a point lost on many. It’s exceptionally likely that if one vaccine can cause some harm, six vaccines will cause more harm to more people, the question is if that harm is exponentially or geometrically greater, and it’s perhaps the most important question of all.
In fact, that question is so damn important, it’s now going to become the third question I ask:
Question #3: Do we know the health outcome of children who receive the US vaccine schedule compared to a group of children who don’t? Said differently, do we have unvaccinated controls anywhere?
Of course, we AoA readers all know the answer here: a blazing NO, which makes those who repeat the hungry lie, like Alison Singer and Paul Offit, blazing liars.
Feigned exasperation and the ugly truth
“Feigned exasperation” is the latest strategy from those feeding the hungry lie, and it goes something like this:
“This damn question has been asked and answered, vaccines don’t cause autism, these parents are causing us to waste our precious time and resources, we need to move on, and for God’s sake stop giving these crazy parents a forum—no more equal time!”
Or something like that. The truth about the science that has been done is so ugly, I just need to spell it out for you here so you can understand it for yourself::
- None of the studies compare anything but vaccinated children to other vaccinated children
- Of the 36 vaccines US children receive, only 2 of those shots (the MMR given twice) have ever been compared for their relationship to autism, and then only with otherwise vaccinated children.
It’s absurd, really, how little work has actually been done, despite the feigned exasperation that’s oft-repeated. But, really, please, do not take my word for it. I’m going to now waste my time, and plenty of yours, and go through every single study, in the order presented, that sits on the Autism Science Foundation’s site, and let you be the judge. Please, if you are a doctor or a scientist, please comment, feel free to argue and prove me wrong. Please, I mean it.
The Autism Science Foundation: Lying like a rug
Here’s the web page I’m pulling this info from, so you can see for yourself HERE.
The Autism Science Foundation lists 20 studies on both Thimerosal and the MMR and they state:
“We still don’t know what causes autism, but we have learned what doesn’t cause it. Numerous studies have failed to show a link between autism and vaccines.”
Much as it pains me, I’m going to comment on each of the 20 studies, in the order they are presented, bear with me if you possibly can, and decide for yourself if they prove that there is indeed no link between vaccines and autism.
Thimerosal and Autism Studies
1. Neuropsychological performance 10 years after immunization in infancy with thimerosal-containing vaccines. --Pediatrics, Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D'Elia L, Chariotti F, Salmaso S. (January 2009)
Headline: Every child in this study was vaccinated, and the only comparison is more and less mercury in their shots, and the sample size is so tiny they had an autism rate in their study of 1 in 1,700.
I’m not sure why the ASF picked the order they picked, but this may be the dumbest of all the studies cited, so it’s ironic it came first. First detail:
“Therefore, in the first 12 months of life, the cumulative intake of ethylmercury, the mercury metabolite of thimerosal, was 137.5 mcg for the children who were assigned randomly to receive the DTaP vaccine that contained thimerosal ("higher intake group") and 62.5 mcg for those who received the thimerosal-free DTaP vaccine ("lower intake group")."
What’s this mean? This study is only comparing kids who got 62.5mcgs of Thimerosal to kids who got 137.5mcgs of Thimerosal. They have all been vaccinated, and they've all been vaccinated with mercury-containing vaccines. And, here’s the sample size:
“We detected, through the telephone interviews with parents and reviews of medical charts, 1 case of autism among the 856 children in the lower thimerosal intake group and no cases among the 848 children in the higher thimerosal intake group."
So, in their sample, the rate of autism of the children analyzed was 1 in 1,704, 15-20 times lower than the US average. This study truly shows us nothing, it’s pathetic and embarrassing, and here’s a doctor who agrees, Dr. Vincenzo Miranda of Italy (where the study is from):
“This study is not methodologically correct. The study by Tozzi and others has many limitations. No comparison is done with children not exposed to thimerosal and neuropsychological disturbances are studied in recruiting voluntary all children even healthy ones, without assessing the sensitivity individual mercury. With this background this study can not lead to any conclusion. It is possible to evaluate the role of vaccines and thimerosal in neurodevelopmental disorders with the study of immune response. In my case I found a hyperimmune response to measles, polio with autoimmune reaction against myelin and glia. Moreover, the presence of antifibrillarin antibodies indicates an autoimmune response induced by mercury (HgIA). All this can not be a coincidence.”
2. Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California's Developmental Services System — Archives of General Psychiatry, Robert Schechter, MD, MSc and Judith K. Grether, PhD (January 2008)
Headline: Every child in this study was vaccinated, and conclusion are based on a false premise regarding mercury in vaccines.
Sigh. ASF, this is your proud #2? The entire study is based on the false premise that children's vaccines no longer contain mercury. Lead author is in charge of California's immunization program.
The study assumes that thimerosal was no longer in California’s vaccines for kids after 2002, which is simply a false assumption. However, the study does make the point that autism continues to grow, which calls into question the entire vaccine schedule, rather than just one ingredient. They wrote:
"In the absence of exposure data for individuals or the population, we adjusted published estimates of maximum thimerosal exposure for infants and toddlers6 to reflect subsequent recommendations for influenza vaccine and the fact that the third doses of DTP, DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B virus vaccines usually have not been recommended before 6 months of age. Based on these estimates, children aged 3 to 5 years (Figure 3) reported to the DDS since the first quarter of 2004 are assumed to have reduced exposure compared with children aged 3 to 5 years reported from 1995 through 2003."
Meaning: We don’t have actual thimerosal exposure data by child, and we also did not consider if any of the mom’s received mercury-based vaccines while pregnant, a practice that was recommended starting in 2002 (for the flu shot).
Here’s the Deirdre Imus foundation commenting: “We do not believe this conclusion is supported by the methodology and results presented in the article. The study’s authors incorrectly cite how long mercury-containing vaccines remained in circulation in California and failed to account for the impact of the reintroduction of the mercury-containing influenza vaccine. The study also failed to provide evidence that thimerosal did not cause autism in a significant subset of children”
Read a full critique at 14studies HERE. Anybody tired yet? We’re 10% of the way through these…
3. "Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years" — New England Journal of Medicine, Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al. (September, 2007)
Headline: Every child in this study was vaccinated. They didn’t even consider AUTISM as an outcome, so why is it here?
Wins award for most conflicts with seven different vaccine companies mentioned. But, study doesn't even look at autism as an outcome, so doesn't apply to this debate at all. Had a panel member dissent from study conclusions, a bad sign. May be interesting to some, but not anyone studying autism.
Just for fun, here’s the conflicts section:
"Dr. Thompson reports being a former employee of Merck; Dr. Marcy, receiving consulting fees from Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and MedImmune; Dr. Jackson, receiving grant support from Wyeth, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis, lecture fees from Sanofi Pasteur, and consulting fees from Wyeth and Abbott and serving as a consultant to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee; Dr. Lieu, serving as a consultant to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; Dr. Black, receiving consulting fees from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Merck and grant support from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Merck, and Novartis; and Dr. Davis receiving consulting fees from Merck and grant support from Merck and GlaxoSmith- Kline. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported."
Just for fun, here’s a commentary on the study from Autism Speaks, a place Alison Singer was running when this commentary was published: “While the study does not specifically examine the link between thimerosal and autism spectrum disorders, it does explore neuropsychological functioning, such as language development, attention, and fine motor coordination, that are affected in some individuals with autism.”
To put this on a website, as the third example of studies showing no link between autism and vaccines is fraudulent, and I think Alison Singer and Paul Offit should go on CNN so Anderson Cooper can yell at them, too. Full critique HERE.
4. “Lack of Association Between Rh Status, Rh Immune Globulin in Pregnancy and Autism” — American Journal of Medical Genetics, Judith H. Miles and T. Nicole Takahashi (May 2007)
Headline: Looks at a single vaccine some moms get during pregnancy, doesn’t even consider the vaccination status of the kids.
This study only considers one vaccine (RhoGam) given during pregnancy and its possible relationship with autism. Far too narrow an approach to consider if vaccines cause autism. And, in one of the more blatant conflicts, this study is funded by the vaccine's manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.
Safeminds wrote an 18-page critique of the work, here’s a snippet: “The review found deficiencies in sample quality, including small and unmatched controls and inadequate methods for determining mercury exposure from RhIg brands. Poor sample recruitment design likely produced under-representation of mothers receiving RhIg, the key exposure variable. Alterations in sample composition during implementation, contravening accepted research standards, were detected, as were factual errors on vaccines, RhIg, and mercury. The lead author has many undisclosed conflicts of interest. These problems may underlie the negative finding on association between RhIg and autism. Additional calculations of the data, not done by Miles & Takahshi, show a 71% higher rate of Rh immune globulin exposure in children with autism relative to unaffected siblings, in contradiction to the original findings but consistent with other studies.”
Since the study doesn’t even consider what happens to the child after they’re born, it’s absurd and useless to put it on a list. Anderson, are you reading this?
5. "Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal" – Environmental Health Perspectives, Thomas M. Burbacher, PhD (April 2005)
Headline: I must be on Mars, that’s all I can say. The Autism Science foundation put one of the most damning studies ever done on the toxicity of thimerosal in a list of studies that are supposed to refute the link between autism and vaccines.
Only one of two things can be true: ASF believes people are too lazy to read these studies, or ASF is too stupid to realize what they did.
This study demonstrates clearly and unequivocally that ethyl mercury, the kind of mercury found in vaccines, not only ends up in the brain, but leaves double the amount of inorganic mercury as methyl mercury, the kind of mercury found in fish. This work is groundbreaking because little is known about ethyl mercury, and many health authorities have asserted that the mercury found in vaccines is the "safe kind." This study also delivers a strong rebuke of the Institute of Medicine's recommendation in 2004 to no longer pursue the mercury-autism connection. Excerpt:
"A recently published IOM review (IOM 2004) appears to have abandoned the earlier recommendation [of studying mercury and autism] as well as back away from the American Academy of Pediatrics goal [of removing mercury from vaccines]. This approach is difficult to understand, given our current limited knowledge of the toxicokinetics and developmental neurotoxicity of thimerosal, a compound that has been (and will continue to be) injected in millions of newborns and infants."
Thank you, Paul Offit and Alison Singer, for making my week. I think you should discuss this important study with Anderson Cooper.
6. "Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association" – Pediatrics, John Heron and Nick Andrews, PhD and Jean Golding, DSc (September 2004)
Headline: I lied, I said #1 was the worst study ever, this one is actually worse. Every kid in the study got the same vaccines, so the study only considered timing differences (when someone got their DTP shot, was it 2 months, 3 months, or 4 months old?). Wins award for most dishonest title, too.
Choice Excerpt from the Study: "The age at which doses of thimerosal-containing vaccines were administered was recorded, and measures of mercury exposure by 3, 4, and 6 months of age were calculated and compared with a number of measures of childhood cognitive and behavioral development covering the period from 6 to 91 months of age."
Meaning: Every kid in our study got the same vaccines, and we only considered the difference WHEN they got them.
7. "Neurotoxic Effects of Postnatal Thimerosal Are Mouse Strain Dependent" – Molecular Psychiatry, M Hornig, MD (June 2004)
Headline: Umm. Are you there, God, it’s me Margaret…has this really happened twice? I guess ASF just wanted a long list, so they put ANOTHER study on here that clearly implicates thimerosal as a very BAD thing.
Here’s an excerpt: “Using thimerosal dosages and timing that approximated the childhood immunization schedule, our model of postnatal thimerosal neurotoxicity demonstrated that the genes in mice that predict mercury-related immunotoxicity also predicted nuerodevelopmental damage. Features reminiscent of those observed in autism occurred in the mice of the genetically sensitive strain."
This is really amazing. Remember, the lead in to this page on ASF’s website is very clear: “Numerous studies have failed to show a link between autism and vaccines.”
Pinch me, I’m dreaming!
8. "Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintance Organization Database" - Pediatrics, Thomas Verstraeten, MD (November 2003)
Headline: The big dog, and also the worst. Only looked at vaccinated kids. Only looked at more or less thimerosal exposure. Worst of all, study produced a NEUTRAL outcome, meaning couldn’t prove or disprove anything. Yet, cited as proof? (also, ASF spelled “maintenance” wrong see above)
A disaster. The most widely quoted study, and the only study ever done with American data on American children, reached a neutral conclusion, asked the wrong question, and the author left to join a vaccine company before its publication. And, the world's most incriminating and public "secret meeting" calls the entire study into question (see: Simpsonwood). If this is the CDC's best work, we're all in trouble. The former CDC Director called this study "unhelpful and potentially misleading."
Choice Excerpt from the Study: "The biological plausibility of the small doses of ethylmercury present in vaccines leading to increased risks of neurodevelopmental disorders is uncertain."
An article said: "CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding has delivered a potentially explosive report to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, in which she admits to a startling string of errors in the design and methods used in the CDC's landmark 2003 study that found no link between mercury in vaccines and autism, ADHD, speech delay or tics."
- CDC: Vaccine Study Design "Uninformative and Potentially Misleading" By David Kirby, The Huffington Post.
9. "Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism" – Journal of the American Medical Association, Anders Hviid, MSc (October 2003)
Headline: The second “Danish” study, rife with errors and problems. Every child in this study was vaccinated.
From SafeMinds: "A large percentage of diagnosed autism cases are lost from the Danish registry each year. In the ten years preceding 2000, 815 cases were lost, more than the 710 remaining in the registry in 2000. The vast majority of those lost cases would represent older children in the 2000 registry. Since the relative risk of the Hviid study is based on finding fewer older thimerosal-exposed children than younger unexposed children, the validity of their conclusion exonerating thimerosal in autism is questionable. More likely, the finding is a result of missing records rather than true lower incidence rates among the exposed group."
And, from the study itself: "As shown in Figure 2, the incidence of autism diagnosed among Swedish inpatients aged 2 to 10 years old began to increase in the mid to late 1980s, rising from a rate of 5 to 6 inpatient-diagnosed cases per 100,000 person-years before 1985 to a peak rate of 9.2/100,000 in 1993."
Meaning: The authors are saying that Sweden has an autism rate of 1 in 10,000, which is ONE HUNDRED times lower than the U.S. rate of 1 in 100, which the authors don’t appear to consider or discuss. Isn’t anyone curious why Sweden’s autism rate is ONE HUNDRED times lower than ours?
10. "Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data" – Pediatrics, Kreesten M. Madsen, MD (September 2003)
Headline: The first “Danish” study, reached a conclusion based largely on one statistical trick. Every child in this study was vaccinated. Oh, and one of the lead authors is wanted by the Feds for embezzling several million dollars from the CDC, but why should that be news?
Written by a Danish vaccine company, the study made a mockery of the data, a problem the authors themselves warned of. And, the CDC engineered the entire study. This one goes beyond useless, it was fraudulent to run the numbers this way, and they knew it.
The study only considered 956 children with autism. Worse, a material change in how autism data is obtained happened right around the time the numbers of autism cases seemed to grow, rendering the data meaningless. From http://putchildrenfirst.org/:
“The study looked at data between 1970-2000. In 1995, the Danish registry added "Outpatient Clinics" to their count of autism cases. It turns out that Outpatient Clinics are where 93% of Danish children are diagnosed with autism, so the number of autism cases before 1995 did not include the clinics. More surprising, the authors even note this in the study: "since 1995 outpatient activities were registered as well...the proportion of outpatient to inpatient activities was about 4 to 6 times as many outpatients as inpatients...this may exaggerate the incidence rates. Exaggerate the incidence rates? It is the equivalent of doing a study on "Divorce Rates in North America" and counting Mexico and Canada only for the first few years, then adding in the United States, and noting that divorce rates went up.”
SafeMinds noted, "Therefore, their purported increase after 1994 can be explained entirely by the registration of an existing autism population that did not require hospitalization. To compound the problem, Denmark also changed the diagnostic code they used, to the more universal ICD10 code, beginning in 1993, which would have further raised the rates.”
Choice Excerpt from the Study: "Also, outpatient activities were included in the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register in 1995 and because many patients with autism in former years have been treated as outpatients this may exaggerate the incidence rates, simply because a number of patients attending the child psychiatric treatment system before 1995 were recorded for the first time, and thereby counted as new cases in the incidence rates."
Meaning: we didn’t count 93% of the kids diagnosed with autism in Denmark during the time mercury was in vaccines, then we did once it was removed.
11. "Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association" – American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Paul Stehr-Green, DrPh, MPH (August 2003)
Headline: It’s a summary paper, basically transposing the work from #10 above, shouldn’t even be on the list as it’s no new information, no primary work. But, every child in the data they refer to was vaccinated.
Sometimes called the "Swedish Study." A summary paper that used the same methodologically flawed approach used in the original Danish study published in Pediatrics. Shockingly, once again Sweden's autism rate is noted to be 1 in 10,000, which is 100 times lower than the U.S. rate, but the authors don't address this discrepancy. They also mis-interpreted some work done by SafeMinds.
Here’s Mark Blaxill: “Based on these flawed trend assumptions, the authors use the shift in Sweden and Denmark from comparatively low thimerosal exposures to thimerosal-free vaccines in an attempt to falsify the autism-mercury hypothesis. Absent a clear increase in autism rates in Denmark and Sweden, this attempt at falsification fails. The autism-mercury hypothesis I tested was that increases in mercury exposure are associated with increases in autism rates. Reductions in comparatively low thimerosal exposures need not produce decreasing autism rates in stable, low-prevalence populations for the autism-mercury hypothesis to hold.”
12. "Thimerosal and Autism?" – Pediatrics, Karen Nelson, MD (March 2003)
Headline: This isn't a study at all, but rather a review of other studies and some opinions rendered from two scientists. It is helpful, however, in explaining how neurotoxic mercury really is.
Choice Excerpt from the Study: "Mercury in sufficient dose is neurotoxic, and probably more toxic in the immature brain. It is reasonable to ask whether thimerosal in childhood vaccine increases risk of chronic childhood neurologic disability and specifically of autism. The available data with which to address the question are very limited and largely inferential."
Why is this on a list? Once again, it’s just someone’s summary and opinion, there is no data here that’s new.
13. "Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: A descriptive study" – The Lancet, Michael Pichichero, MD (November 2002)
Headline: One of the sillier studies ever performed, and the lead author is a vaccine patent-holder, no less. Absurd that this study appears on lists of studies exploring the relationship of vaccines to autism, as it doesn't even address the topic. More absurd is the author's complete misunderstanding of how mercury is excreted from the body. A laughable study written by an author as conflicted as the Joe Camel would be studying cigarettes.
The only question raised in the study is this: Do Thimerosal containing vaccines administered to children raise mercury blood levels above safe standards?
From the lead author's website: "Dr. Pichichero was a member of the discovery team at the University of Rochester that invented, tested and licensed a Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib) conjugate vaccine (HibTITER®) now universally given to children in the U.S. [he makes vaccines, but didn't report as a conflict]…The author has received research grants and/or honoraria from the following pharmaceutical companies: Abbott Laboratories, Inc.; Bristol Myers Squibb Company; Eli Lilly & Company; Merck and Co.; Pasteur Merieux Connaught; Pfizer Labs; Roach Laboratories; Roussel-Uclaf; Schering Corporation; SmithKlineBeecham Pharmaceuticals; Upjohn Company; Wyeth-Lederle.”
Choice Excerpt from the Study: "Most of the toxic effects of organic mercury compounds take place in the central nervous system, although the kidneys and immune system can also be affected. Organic mercury readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, and fetuses are more sensitive to mercury exposure than are children or adults...No toxic effects of low-dose exposure to thiomersal in children have been reported. The effect of the small amounts of mercury contained in vaccines on concentrations of mercury in infants' blood has not been extensively assessed, and the metabolism of ethylmercury in infants is unknown."
Meaning: "It's really hard to write a study that somehow implies injecting mercury in infants is safe, but I'm going to try by arguing that 'small' amounts are safe, even though I know its never been studied."
Here’s Thomas Burbacher, lead author of study #5 (a good study) above: "Just because it came out of the blood doesn't mean it is excreted from the body. It could have gone to the brain," Burbacher tells WebMD. "Although total mercury levels in the blood are lower following thimerosal exposure [than following methyl mercury exposure], mercury in the blood from thimerosal has an easier time getting to the brain than methyl mercury."
* * *
I don’t know about you, but I need a smoke break! (And, I don’t even smoke.) Here’s what I want to know, from those of you who have actually read this far:
Can you see why I am so frustrated by the Hungry Lie?
We’re already 13 of the way through the 20 studies the ASF site provides as “proof” that vaccines don’t cause autism. We’ve seen no unvaccinated kids, and almost half of the studies have absolutely nothing to do with autism or are just opinion pieces, yet ASF proudly displays these as their compelling evidence. And, two of their published studies—thank you God—are highly damaging to the position that mercury in vaccines is safe.
About that mercury, before we move on
Mercury and babies do not mix. There was a lot of mercury in shots through about 2004, there’s now about half that level if you include flu shots, which were added to our vaccine schedule in 2003. Said differently, children are STILL getting plenty of mercury from their shots, and this is criminal. And, the media always misses this.
Mercury is one of many vaccine components, you could argue it’s the most neurotoxic, but I have no idea how you compare the damage mercury could do to a child’s brain versus the damage from the measles antigen, and no one else does, either. None of the work above remotely proves mercury in vaccines is safe, but moreover none of the 13 studies above even remotely consider if “vaccines cause autism” because not one of them has a control group that received no vaccines. This is the hungry lie!
OK, the next list of studies specifically addresses one of my other points: Of 36 vaccines given to American children, only one, the MMR, has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism. How many studies does the ASF cite that deal with vaccines other than MMR?
How many of the studies below look at unvaccinated kids or kids who got the MMR versus kids who got no vaccines?
ZERO. The hungry lie lives. Onward:
Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and Autism Studies
14. "Lack of Association Between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study" -PLoS One, Hornig M, Briese T, Buie T, Bauman ML, Lauwers G, et al. (September 2008)
Headline: This study is intended to refute Wakefield’s work. However, it made one critical distinction from Wakefield’s (and many other scientists) approach: it didn’t seek a subset of children with autism who regressed after MMR vaccination. That, combined with a very small sample size, renders the results nearly meaningless. (At least the study concedes that children with autism suffer from gastrointestinal issues.)
The study asks this question: Do children with autism have a persistent measles virus RNA in their gastrointestinal tract [which they got from their MMR vaccine]?
From SafeMinds: “The study design precluded assessment of a role for acute measles infection from MMR in a subset of children with autism and did not examine the role of other vaccines, vaccine components such as thimerosal, or other environmental exposures which can trigger gastrointestinal and immunological problems. The topic is of public health interest due to the increasing autism epidemic and parent and scientific reports connecting mercury and vaccines, including MMR, with autism onset.”
More analysis at 14Studies HERE.
15. "Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders" -Archives of Disease in Childhood, Gillian Baird, F.R.C.Paed. (February 2008)
Headline: Study tries to find an antibody response to measles amongst children with autism. Absurd inclusion criteria in the study, small sample size, and nothing about unvaccinated children.
From the Thoughtful House: “As a general observation, this paper contributes nothing to the issue of causation, one way or another. Case definition alone is likely to have obscured the relevant group of autistic children. The study tells us nothing about what actually happened to the children at the time of exposure. We are increasingly persuaded that measuring things in blood many years down the line tells us very little about the initiating events in what is, in effect, a static (non-progressive) encephalopathy unlike, for example, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, which is a progressive measles encephalopathy. The gut is a different matter, and analysis of mucosal tissues has been very informative, since here, in the relevant children, active ongoing, possibly progressive4, inflammation has been identified.” More HERE.
16. "Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links With Immunizations" -Pediatrics, Eric Fombonne, MD (Volume 118, Number 1, July 2006)
Headline: The worst MMR study ever done. Used a statistical trick by using MMR uptake data from one city (Quebec City) and comparing it to autism rates in a different city (Montreal). No surprise that it was published in Pediatrics. Study author, Fombonne, is one of the most conflicted researchers of all time. No unvaccinated controls, of course.
Eric Fombonne conflict: "In the United Kingdom, Dr Fombonne has provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers, and to several government committees between 1998 and 2001. Since June 2004, Dr Fombonne has been an expert witness for vaccine manufacturers in US thimerosal litigation."
A critique from Dr. Edward Yazbak: “Fombonne et al reported that in a group of English-speaking Montreal children born from 1987 to 1998, the prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) was high and increasing. They also claimed that during the same period, Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage had decreased…La Capitale Nationale refers to Quebec City, located 265 kilometers from Montreal. Ms. Bouliane confirmed that the MMR vaccination rates were indeed from the Quebec City area but refused to release them to me because they were administrative internal information only intended for research. There are several published vaccine uptake surveys of Montreal. MMR vaccination rates of children 24 to 30 month-old in the Montreal area increased from 85.1% in 1983 (Baumgarten) (2) to 88.8% in 1996-97 (Valiquette) (3) to 96% in 2003-04 (Health Department Survey) (4) The above suggests that in Montreal PDD prevalence and MMR vaccination rates were in fact increasing in tandem during the study period. The readers deserve to know why the authors compared developmental data from a specific group of children in Montreal with MMR vaccination data from the city of Quebec, some distance away.”
17. "MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-Control Study" – The Lancet, Liam Smeeth, MRCGP (September 11, 2004)
Headline: Very few cases used, and it did not focus on children who had regressed after MMR. May also win the award for most conflicts. All children in the study were vaccinated.
Conflict statement: "E Fombonne has provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers (for a fee), and to several government committees. A J Hall received a financial contribution from Merck towards research on hepatitis B vaccination in 1998. He is also a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (2002 - present)."
Design flaw: "We were not able to separately identify the subgroup of cases with regressive symptoms to investigate the hypothesis that only some children are vulnerable to MMR- induced disease and that this is always regressive.”
From Thoughtful House: "Even if they had studied the correct group - regressive autism - the study would need to have included at least 3,500-7,000 children with autism - 3 to 6 times the actual number examined - in order for the study to have any validity at all."
18. "Association of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine" – Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Kumanan Wilson, MD, MSc, FRCP (July 2003)
Headline: This is thoroughly redundant, as it is just a review of other people’s work, provides no new data. It just helps ASF put together a longer list.
19. "Neurologic Disorders After Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination" – Pediatrics, Annamari Makela, MD (Volume 110, Number 5, November 2002)
Headline: This "Finnish Study" is unhelpful. It used "hospitalizations" as a criteria for finding children with autism. A critique HERE.
From the study: “Of the vaccinees, 309 were hospitalized for autism after vaccination. When the shortest possible intervals between MMR vaccination and the day of hospitalization were assessed, these ranged from 3 days to 12 years and 5 months. No distinguishable clustering was detected in the intervals from vaccination to the hospitalization.”
So, the analysis focuses solely on hospitalization after vaccination, and if any clustering occurs (of autism or anything else). Here’s Dr. Yazbak, providing a critique: “The whole Makela study is based on ONE comparison: For encephalitis and aseptic meningitis, the numbers of events observed within a 3-month risk interval after vaccination were compared with the expected numbers estimated on the basis of occurrence of encephalitis and aseptic meningitis during thesubsequent 3-month intervals”. If the children in the first group developed symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis within two weeks of vaccination, then causation is implied (medically and medico-legally). In this case, a comparison with the control group is meaningless and the author’s conclusion is unwarranted.”
20. "No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism" – Pediatrics, Eric Fombonne, FRCPsych (Volume 108, Number 4, October 2001)
Headline: What is it with Eric Fombonne and Pediatrics? This is an older study (2001). From the The Cochrane Collaboration (an independent body looking at studies of the MMR vaccine): "The number and possible impact of biases was so high that interpretation of the results was difficult."
Here’s a helpful critique: "What this study set out to do was not to investigate the cause(s) of damage to specific children, but to clear MMR of any complicity. At first sight, it succeeds in the latter, but at closer analysis, it makes numerous unfounded assumptions that considerably weaken the strength of its conclusions. At worst, it demonstrates the central flaw of designing a study hoping to achieve a desired outcome, rather than to investigate a problem. Overall verdict: this study fails to provide any convincing evidence against an MMR/autism link." Complete critique HERE.
I’d like to thank the AoA readers who made it this far, all three of you. What you know for sure, having gone through this:
- When the Autism Science Foundation says, “it’s been asked and answered, vaccine don’t cause autism,” they are full of hooey
- When other experts say, “it’s been asked and answered, vaccine don’t cause autism,” they are full of hooey, too
- No studies exist with a control group of children who haven’t received vaccines
- We have no idea what happens when a child gets six vaccines at one time
- If six vaccines are more damaging than one, we don’t yet know it, because no one has looked
- Of the 36 shots on the US schedule, exactly 2 have been studied for their relationship to autism, leaving 34 shots where we have absolutely no idea whatsoever
It’s tiring to write this stuff, I’m sure it’s tiring to read, too. Haters, feel free to chime in. Tell me where I’m wrong, defend any of these studies as proving, “vaccines do not cause autism.” The hungry lie, as usual is starving, and its getting harder to feed it, as more people pay attention to the details.
J.B. Handley is the father of a child with autism, the co-founder of Generation Rescue, and a contributing writer for AoA.