Editor's Note: Age of Autism reader and mom Monica Bice got in touch with ABC to complain about Dr. Timothy Johnson's statement that studies have been conducted on vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated children to determine whether vaccines cause autism. First, read the response from Audrey Grayson of ABC. Then read what Monica answered back. And many thanks to Monica for obtaining this very useful information and sharing it with us. Perhaps others would like to let ABC know they still don't have their facts straight.
----- Original Message -----
From: Grayson, Audrey
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 10:19 AM
Subject: Autism and Vaccines
Thanks for your call. Below is some of the information you requested, with studies and additional information attached.
ABC News Medical Unit
There are two kinds of theories out there, neither of which is supported by the evidence.
Theory 1: Vaccines containing the mercury preservative thimerosal cause autism.
1. Thimerosal has been gone from vaccines in Denmark since the early 1990s. Autism rates continued to rise there, and also, rates of autism among children vaccinated with thimerosal vaccines did not differ from rates of autism in children vaccinated with thimerosal-FREE vaccines [Hlvid, JAMA 2003]
2. Thimerosal has been gone from nearly all childhood vaccines (just traces remain in some flu vaccines) in the US since 2001.
Autism rates have continued to rise. [california study, arch gen psych]
3. There is no relationship between the amount of thimerosal a children receive and their overall rate of autism. [Verstraten 2003 Pediatrics study, US]
Theory 2: The vaccines themselves trigger autism, irrespective of mercury content. The big one here is the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR).
1. A large Danish study found no difference in the rates of autism among those vaccinated with the MMR and those not vaccinated with the MMR. [on the G-drive, NEJM study, also by Hlvid, I believe]
2. Japan banned the MMR in 1993, enabling researchers to compare autism rates among kids who received the MMR and those who did not. A comparison of autism rates before and after the ban found that autism rates actually INCREASED after kids stopped being vaccinated with the MMR. (g drive may have eaten this study, as I can't find it. below is the abstract)
No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study
* Hideo Honda11Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, Yokohama, Japan,
* Yasuo Shimizu11Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, Yokohama, Japan and
* Michael Rutter22Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
1Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, Yokohama, Japan
2Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
Hideo Honda, Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, 1770 Toriyama-cho, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama 222-0035, Japan; Tel: +81-45-473-0666; Fax:
+81-45-473-0956; Email: email@example.com
Background: A causal relationship between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and occurrence of autism spectrum disorders
(ASD) has been claimed, based on an increase in ASD in the USA and the UK after introduction of the MMR vaccine. However, the possibility that this increase is coincidental has not been eliminated. The unique circumstances of a Japanese MMR vaccination program provide an opportunity for comparison of ASD incidence before and after termination of the program.
Methods: This study examined cumulative incidence of ASD up to age seven for children born from 1988 to 1996 in Kohoku Ward (population approximately 300,000), Yokohama, Japan. ASD cases included all cases of pervasive developmental disorders according to ICD-10 guidelines.
Results: The MMR vaccination rate in the city of Yokohama declined significantly in the birth cohorts of years 1988 through 1992, and not a single vaccination was administered in 1993 or thereafter. In contrast, cumulative incidence of ASD up to age seven increased significantly in the birth cohorts of years 1988 through 1996 and most notably rose dramatically beginning with the birth cohort of 1993.
Conclusions: The significance of this finding is that MMR vaccination is most unlikely to be a main cause of ASD, that it cannot explain the rise over time in the incidence of ASD, and that withdrawal of MMR in countries where it is still being used cannot be expected to lead to a reduction in the incidence of ASD.
Monica Bice's response to ABC:
Thank you for taking the time to send me this information. I as well have researched these papers, as it is a subject close to my heart.
None of the studies referenced include unvaccinated children, as Dr Timothy Johnson claims they have.
I demand a reatraction of his statement that such studies have been performed.
My daughter has an immunodeficiency that was not diagnosed at the time of her vaccination with the MMR and Varicella vaccines. 3 weeks after receiving these vaccines, I awoke to find her covered in a bulls eye rash, and seizing violently. Within 1 week of this reaction, she lost eye contact, began to have severe digestive problems, started grinding her teeth, and spinning in circles. 5 months later she was diagnosed as severely autistic, had lost 5 lbs and her growth had fallen from the 25% percentile to under the 3rd.
Upon referral to an immunologist, it was found that she did not create antibodies to many of her vaccines; this is what the immunologist based her diagnosis on. She has also received a permanent medical exemption to all live virus containing vaccines, as they are contraindicated for use in those with her condition.
It is the consensus of her doctors that the reaction to these live virus containing vaccines was a contributing factor to the etiology of her autism.
I would appreciate your sharing this email with Dr. Timothy Johnson, and James Murphy.