By Anne Dachel
I had a hard time understanding Seth Mnookin's latest piece about the Amish and autism. He trashes the idea that the Amish don't vaccinate. We're told that "at least some of their children had received at least one vaccine," but that a significant number of parents are worried and refuse to vaccinate at all.
In Mnookin's article Amish and Anecdotal Evidence ( HERE) claims disproved by fact-based study, Mnookin wrote,
"One of the most persistent [claims] has been the Amish fallacy: Most Amish don't vaccinate; there's almost no record of autism in Amish communities; ergo, vaccines cause autism. (This argument has also been used, time and time and time again, to illustrate the efficacy of a proposed vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated study.) . . . .
"Yesterday, Reuters Health reported on a recent study in Pediatrics titled "Underimmunization in Ohio's Amish: Parental Fears Are a Greater Obstacle Than Access to Care." The study found that majority of Amish parents do, in fact, vaccinate their children and among the minority that don't, the most common reasons cited were the same anti-vaccine fueled fears that have infected people around the country."
Mnookin cited the Reuters story:
'Of 359 households that responded to the survey, 85 percent said that at least some of their children had received at least one vaccine. Forty-nine families refused all vaccines for their children, mostly because they worried the vaccines could cause harm and were not worth the risk.'
The Amish are a diverse sect with a number of subgroups. No one, including Dan Olmsted, ever claimed that the Amish never vaccinate, but as Mnookin himself admitted, they're not hauling their children in every couple of months for multiple vaccinations at once like parents in the general population are mandated to do. We also don't hear reports that almost two percent of Amish boys have autism.
The blog Left Brain/Right Brain just ran the piece, Underimmunization in Ohio's Amish: Parental Fears Are a Greater Obstacle Than Access to Care (HERE) , and just like Mnookin, the story proves nothing. LBRB said that while the Amish are "under-vaccinated," they do vaccinate. And, we were told, they do have autism.
"Preliminary data have identified the presence of ASD in the Amish community at a rate of approximately 1 in 271 children using standard ASD screening and diagnostic tools although some modifications may be in order."
So it seems that LBRB confirmed the hypothesis that if a group of children is under-vaccinated, their autism rate would be significantly less than the massively vaxed general population.
All this is just another red herring designed to avoid doing the one critical study to end all studies. Why isn't Mnookin, in all his media interviews, demanding an independent comparison of fully-vaccinated and never-vaccinated kids. Forget the Amish question. Show us a one percent rate of autism among these children. Show us thousands of never-vaccinated kids with the undeniable signs of classic autism. More and more parents in the general population are exempting their children, so the study group is out there. There is no excuse for not seizing the opportunity.
Not only has no one ever done this research, officials have done everything to avoid doing it. It is however, the only way this issue will ever be finally settled.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.