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Umpteenth Vaccines/Autism Study from Defective Database Launched Amid Maximum Publicity

Brent TaylorBy John Stone

The latest study to decry a connection between vaccines and autism was launched the week before last by the on-line journal BMJ Open, an off-shoot of British Medical Journal. The lead author of the study is none other than Brent Taylor, one of Andrew Wakefield’s principal antagonists at the Royal Free Hospital and former member of the United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). British Medical Journal is also conflicted by its partnerships with vaccine manufacturers Merck and GlaxoSmithKline as well as the legal suit they are currently defending against Wakefield.

While the database used - the United Kingdom’s General Practitioners’ Research Database - is beyond public scrutiny the evidence is that it contains highly inadequate data, and the study has glaring defects. For instance, the database has no systematic recording of autism cases (general practitioners do not diagnose it) and perhaps only a tenth of actual cases are included. The study examines the upward trend in autism only in relation to the introduction of MMR and ignores other increases to the vaccine schedule. The study claims that the trend in the UK in contrast to the US had levelled off by the 2001 birth cohort although it had risen by a further 60% on its own figures for 2008 with the final numbers for this late period not yet in (meanwhile the number of cases in Scottish schools – a part of the UK where cases are recorded - rose from 3919 in 2007 to 8650 in 2012, as reported in the Scottish Sunday Mail 23 December 2012). 

It is likely that data on vaccine status on the database is also inadequate as is recorded in an email of 2001 between two Centers for Disease Control Officers, Thomas Verstraeten and Bob Chen disclosed in an Freedom of Information Request. Verstaeten wrote:

I think two issues are important in assessing the potential strength of the GPRD study:

 1. Maximum exposure and 2. Unbiased controls.

 The maximum exposure is indeed relatively low if that was the only (Thimerosal) containing vaccine used. My estimate is that you need at least >50 by 3 months or >100 by 6 months to see an effect if there is one which you can barely make (50 at 2 [he means 3] mo and 75 at 4 mo in the UK).

The quality of the comparison group is maybe even more important if you consider all the criticism we have received of comparing high T ([thimerosal] exposure to no or low T exposure. I am not sure if the GPRD [General Practitioners' Research Database] is that reliable that you can be sure that low exposure is really low exposure and not underascertainment in the database.

 I hate to say this, but given these concerns, it may not be worth doing this after all. On the other hand, maybe the grant can be given to Harald in Sweden to do his follow-up of the DTaP trial kids….”

[My underlining.]

(Click photo to read clearer version.)

JS Chen 2
 

Despite which the study, of which Brent Taylor was also senior author, went ahead. This episode is recounted in my article The British Dimension - the WHO Mercury Cover-Up and the CDC.

It is remarkable given the apparent inadequacy of the database how many studies defending the reputation of vaccination in relation to autism have been based on it, and launched with maximal Jick-Hershelpublicity. Among previous authors have not only been Taylor and  Hershel Jick (co-authors here) but other vaccine programme proponents Elizabeth Miller  and Eric Fombonne (here and here). As once again demonstrated it seems as if the quality and integrity of the studies are superfluous providing they achieve the customary widespread uncritical media attention.

In their own way the GPRD autism/vaccine studies are quite as troubling as the group of studies coordinated for the CDC in Denmark by indicted financial fraudster, Poul Thorsen.


In 2004 Congressman Dr Dave Weldon told the US Institute of Medicine:

I am repeatedly informed by researchers who encounter apathy from government officials charged with investigating these matters, difficulty in getting their papers published, and the loss of research grants. Some report overt discouragement, intimidation and threats, and have abandoned this field of research. Some have had their clinical privileges revoked and others have been hounded out of their institutions.

An example of the latter is Dr. Andy Wakefield who has described to me how the intellectual climate at the Royal Free in London became intolerable for him and he was forced to depart. Virtually all of his ongoing research now has to be privately funded, while those seeking to disprove him receive government money. I witnessed some of this first hand at a hearing, when a Dr Brent Taylor made repeated inappropriate comments about Wakefield and his work causing me to seriously question Dr. Taylor’s integrity and motives.

My letter to the journal regarding the new study has been published and awaits a reply. Here is the text .

An old story: the GPRD does not provide credible autism data

John Stone, UK Editor Age of Autism

There have now been many studies using the General Practitioners' Research Database relating to autism and vaccination including by the present authors, which invariably have resulted in some reassuring conclusion. Several - like this one - have received wide media coverage, and it is therefore salutary to read the pre-publication peer reviews by Alan Emond and Katherine M Keyes [1] of this paper by Brent Taylor, Hershel Jick and Dean MacLaughlin [2] and ask why it was ever published.

"4 in a 1000 boys" in 2008 is not only a lot less than "11 in a thousand boys" in the USA it is a lot a less than the 1 in 100 figure for all children in the UK suggested by National Statistics c. 2004 in a document I can no longer find on line. It is also a rise on the 2.5 boys (25 per 10,000) showing on the graph (Fig 1) for 1998-2001, apparently a rise of 60% (after it was supposed to have plateaued?).

And I also note it is a lot more than the figures derived from the same database in an earlier paper by Jick which recorded "The incidence of diagnosed autism rose approximately 25%/year, from 1.6/10,000 boys born in 1993 to a peak of 9.5/10,000 boys born in 1999 (p<0.001)"[3].

Moreover, by a remarkable coincidence if you make the traditional reckoning of 4 autistic boys to 1 autistic girl then the 2.5 boys in 1000 rate proposed by Taylor et al (1998-2001) yields an autism rate of 1 in 640 which is just one tenth of the 1 in 64 rate (157 in 10,000) proposed by Baron-Cohen, based of his Cambridgeshire survey conducted in the early part of the last decade [4]. So, a fundamental point is that despite the many and often publicised studies using the GPRD to study rates of autism [2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12) it actually only collects fragmentary data on the topic, of little or no statistical use. It is quite likely that in(a)  loose way the data follows the actual trend but most of the cases are not there.

It is an anomaly that while Taylor et al focus on MMR as an issue they fail to consider important confounders like the introduction of the accelerated mercury containing DPT vaccine schedule in 1990 and HiB vaccine in 1992 (although both Taylor and Jick examined the DPT/mercury issue in other papers). My attempts to raise this with Prof Taylor have so far not been successful [13, 14].

Nevertheless, the present article has been reported in many places, notably on the BBC [15] and in The Times [16]: once again the world has been reasured that autism has plateaued and it never had anything to do with vaccines. But on what basis?
[1] http://www.bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/10/e003219.reviewer- comments.pdf
[2] Brent Taylor, Hershel Jick and Dean MacLaughlin 'Prevalence and incidence rates of autism in the UK: time trend from 2004-2010 in children aged 8 years'BMJ Open 2013 3:e003219; doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003219

[3] Jick H, Kaye J. 'Epidemiology and possible causes of autism', Pharmocotherapy: 2003; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/465861_1

[4]Baron-Cohen S, Scott FJ, Allison C, Williams J, Bolton P, Matthews FE, Brayne C, 'Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study' http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19478287

[5] Nick Andrews, Elizabeth Miller, Andrew Grant, Julia Stowe, Velda Osborne and Brent Taylor, Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association. Pediatrics 2004; http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/114/3/584

[6] Kaye JA, del Mar Melero-Montes M, Jick H, 'Mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by general practitioners: a time trend analysis' http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7284/460

[7] Black C, Kaye JA, Jick H, 'Relation of childhood gastrointestinal disorders to autism: nested case-control study using data from the UK General Practice Research Database' BMJ. 2002 Aug 24;325(7361):419-21

[8] Jick H, Kaye JA, Black C, 'Changes in risk of autism in the U.K. for birth cohorts 1990-1998' Epidemiology. 2003 Sep;14(5):630-2

[9] Fombonne E, Heavey L, Smeeth L et al. Validation of the diagnosis of autism in general practitioners records. BMC Public Health 2004;4:5. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/4/5

[10] Smeeth L, Hall AJ, Fombonne E et al. A case control study of autism and mumps measles rubella vaccination using the general practice research database. BMC Public Health 2001;1:2 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/1/2
[11] Smeeth, L, Cook C, Fombonne E et al. MMR vaccination and pervasive development disorders: a case-control study. The Lancet 2004;364: 963-69

[12] Smeeth L, Cook C, Fombonne et al. Rate at first recorded diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders in United Kingdom general practice, 1988-2001. BMC Medicine 2004;2:39. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/2/39 Accessed Sept. 1, 2005

[13] John Stone, 'A missing confounder', 27 November 2006 http://adc.bmj.com/content/88/8/666.long/reply#archdischild_el_2773

[14] John Stone, 'Re: Side effects of mercury containing vaccines like influenza', 23 November 2006 http://www.bmj.com/rapid- response/2011/10/31/re-side-effects-mercury-containing-vaccines-influenza

[15] "UK autism cases have 'levelled off'" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24547956

[16] Chris Smyth, 'Autism rate steady after mystery peak', http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/news/article3896569.ece

Conflict of Interest:
 Autistic son

Comments

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Many thanks John again for exposing the truth about these made -up vaccine studies..no research just lies backed up by more liars..

Angus

I submitted this comment on the BMJ Open last night. There were only two other comments there then, it would be good if others could post comments there.

"Hundreds of thousands of parents have seen our children react to vaccines with autism, other neurological disorders, or autoimmune diseases. The Lancet Twelve children developed autism and bowel disease within days of the MMR, in case after heart-rending case described in Callous Disregard, and confirmed as accurate accounts by High Court Judge Mitting last year. My baby reacted to the hep-B vaccine at birth, given without permission and even though I had said I didn't want her to get it, with four days and nights of screaming, vaccine-induced encephalitis. She got the DTaP at 2, 4, and 6 months, got pertussis anyway at 8 months because it is a miserably ineffective vaccine, started saying two words by 18 months, but both were erased as soon as she got the DTaP booster at 18 months. She was diagnosed with autism two months later. At thirteen she is still extremely low verbal, and I fear for her future.
Taylor's study did not make an accurate count of the autistic in the UK, and it is inconsistent with the much higher numbers in many boots-on- the-ground tallies. It is only still being kicked around now because its message is what the pharma companies want to hear, and want people to believe. Fewer are doing so in the face of the epidemic numbers which are giving the lie to such reassuring, false propaganda. Everyone now has personal acquaintances, if not their own family members, who have reacted to vaccines with autism or other disorders, and most of us believe our eyes rather than profit-saving falsehoods. "

Thanks, John Stone, for helping someone like keep on top of the research failings regarding the vaccines and autism link. The only consistent thread seems to be no government-pharma study is ever designed to actually answer the question, but otherwise I find it an impossible job keeping straight all of the flaws.

It is the same old story; Thalidomide is safe and doesn't cause defects, smoking is safe because doctors smoke, mercury is safe to inject into babies, asbestos is safe and will never cause harm and Smart meters don't affect your health.

And the world is flat!

Thanks John.

Elizabeth Gillespie
Mum to Autistic son.

Brent Taylor needs to be aware that when the Berlin Wall of Vaccine-Autism eventually falls , we will be looking for his prosecution . Throw away the key time .

I have not followed this debate as carefully as the rest of you. Why is it not possible to fund and carry out a vaccinated /unvaccinated study with private funds? I know Generation Rescue did an initial survey a few years ago which was ignored by the establishment. But it still baffles me that in a free country we can't get an independent study.


*************************


According to Dr. Mayer Eisenstein,

" My partners and I have over 35,000 patients who have never been vaccinated. You know how many cases of autism we have seen? ZERO, ZERO. I have made this statement for over 40 years..."

In the face of this information, what baffles me is why such a study is even required.

Because it would appear to me, that Dr. Eisenstein and his colleagues have already done it!

Thanks Tony

But one thing that puzzles is how Taylor et al in the North Thames study (and subsequent related ones) is how they were able to access data. Living in the area as I do, and with a son who was likely one of the subjects, I never heard any requests for permission to use data. I suppose this might be one of the reasons for his reticence.

John

It's no surprise that Brent Taylor is resurrecting old and misleading data to make his case. After all isn't he the same Brent Taylor who produced the North Thames Study some few years ago and when he realised its 498 study group might give away information about vaccine take up and prevalence of autism within vaccinated/unvaccinated groups, refused to release the papers. He sat through a meeting and made no comment when I suggested that unvaccinated autistic people were so thin on the ground we knew both of the only candidates!

Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

Privately funded studies are considered by the powers-that-be, a priori, a conflict of interest. The problem remains a basic one: Who has the greater say-so? It doesn't matter whether the conflict of interest is also clearly shown in government-funded (e.g. the CDC) or pharmaceutical industry-funded studies. There is, at this point, no independent body when it comes to studies regarding vaccines or Thimerosal. It might take an Act of Congress to force the issue. But since we have a weak Congress, I wouldn't hold my breath. It might also be possible to get foreign countries to band together and make treaties about this issue.

I have not followed this debate as carefully as the rest of you. Why is it not possible to fund and carry out a vaccinated /unvaccinated study with private funds? I know Generation Rescue did an initial survey a few years ago which was ignored by the establishment. But it still baffles me that in a free country we can't get an independent study.

Another very obvious fake 'so called' study, there's no doubt that the clueless will refer to this as more evidence, however they call it, in reality this is just more evidence that they are and choose to remain ignorant.

There are already millions upon millions of parents, who have observed their children descend to autism after some vaccinations. There is no study conducted by the corrupt Big Pharma whores to convince these parents that vaccines do not cause autism. They know perfectly well that that VACCINES ARE THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF AUTISM.

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