Abc_newsEditor'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
    To: [email protected]
    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.

    Audrey Grayson
    ABC News Medical Unit
    (781) 455-6020
    [email protected]

    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.

    Evidence against:

    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).

    Evidence against:

    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 protected]

    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.

Thank you,
Monica Bice


Dancing with Numbers

Has anyone READ Ginger Taylor's blog? Checkout the Verstraeten/ CDC data dancing with numbers!! Here is the excerpt:

"The changes they began to make to the statistical analysis of the study are now described by the CDC as “improvements”. How they could see some of these changes as improvements is unbelievable to me. Here are some of the changes:

They took the zero thimerosal group, and tucked them into the low thimerosal group. Now they only have three groups and in effect they have brought up the bottom, so the top does not seem as high.

That did not bring down the risk enough, so they decided to get rid of the no thimerosal group all together, so now you are only comparing the low, middle and high groups, bring up the bottom further.

They got rid of a catch all group of NDDs so the study no longer addressed the question, ‘does an increase thimerosal increase the risk of a neurodevelopmental disorder’. Now it only looked at each disorder separately.

Still not dampening the signal enough, the decided to go into and change some of the actual medical records of the patients they were studying. The CDC reports that these were correcting errors in patient records, but will not offer any proof of this claim, saying instead that the data that would confirm their claim was ‘lost’."

There's more manipulation beyond this mentioned in the blog....

Has any pediatrician ever read this, I mean outside of the elite AAP? I hope you, the great AAP, *has* read this. What might be your thoughts on this being made public yet again AAP?

Let me see now, you MUST have read this, why else would you fight so hard against legislation for thimerosal removal. Do you happen to know AAP, that when you die, *all* the money in the world that you "have" is going to get left behind? Did you know AAP, that when you die, you turn to dust and as such you cannot pack a bag full of money to take along with you? You must KNOW and REMEMBER *this* AAP, that you cannot take *any* money with you. As much as you might want to. It always gets left behind. And that is a simple fact.

Ginger Taylor

My Blog post on it:

My letter to Ms. Grayson:

Dear Ms. Grayson,

I read your response to Monica Bice's request that Dr. Timothy Johnson's errant comment be retracted by ABC.

I wanted to call your attention to a 2005 review I wrote of the Denmark and Verstraten studies two years ago so that you can see that these two studies do nothing to disprove the theory that thimerosal containing vaccines trigger autism. It was originally posted here:

Both of these studies are fatally flawed and Verstraeten cannot be replicated, and parents and advocacy groups demands that they be retracted have fallen on deaf ears for years.

It is unbelievable that these two studies are STILL being proffered to support vaccine safety, because they do no such thing.

Attached is my review of the two studies and why I do not, as a mother and as a mental health professional, believe that they can be used to inform either my decisions to vaccinate my children, or to make decisions on vaccine policy in this country.

Please... take the time to read them in their entirety, and then go back and read the studies again, yourself, to see if I am right or not.

This medical misinformation has been allowed to continue, year after year, because journalists are not reading these studies for themselves, and the criticisms of them, and using their critical thinking skills to check the claims of the medical establishment that are rife with conflicts of interest.

Before you use these studies to support vaccine safety claims again... investigate them.

It is time for those in medical journalism to get back to being real investigative journalists, not just mimmics for the CDC.

I reiterate Ms. Bice's request that Dr. Johnson's statement be retracted. The only vaccinated v. unvaccinated study every completed (by Generation Rescue last year) found a dramatic correlation between vaccines and autism, and the early versions of the Verstraeten study, when he was still including unvaccinated populations, show a dramatic correlation as well.

Ginger Taylor, M.S.


They seriously need to listen to the interview of David Kirby and our brilliant Dr. Mark Geier on Autism Radio!

For the FIRST TIME in over 16 years I see a light at the end of the tunnel............and it's not a freight train headed towards me.

Sandy Gottstein

PS Here is what I wrote to Audrey yesterday, before I had seen her reply here:

"Dr. Johnson on Good Morning America has mistakenly stated that there have been epidemiological studies comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated children that have vindicated the vaccines. This is simply not true and even the IOM complained about being "handicapped" by the absence of such studies. (I also testified to them in 1993 about the problem: .) Either the good doctor is simply ignorant of the fact that when called unvaccinated, the subjects are either less recently vaccinated or have been vaccinated with a vaccine other than the subject vaccine, OR he is "something else" that I don't want to accuse him of. At any rate, have him provide you with the so-called never-vaccinated studies and see for yourself what the unvaccinated are comprised of. By the way, the use of this term in such a misleading way led me many years ago to adopt the term never-vaccinated so as to avoid any confusion. All the best, Sandy Gottstein, President, Vaccination News, A Non-Profit Corporation ( )"

I have yet to receive a reply.


Here's my letter:

Hi Audrey,

I was privy to an email exchange between you and another autism mother on the Age of Autism website.

Let me just say, and I'm not trying to be combative, but I've studied the science of autism for 4 1/2 years (since my son was diagnosed) and I disagree with some of your conclusions and points you have made. Let me also say that even tho you say that the 2 theories you defined are not supported by evidence, the US government seems to disagree as they have conceded a case in which they agree that there can be a link between vaccines and autism. They heard the science and that's the conclusion they came to. I'm not going to list it all of your points and argue them, but let's just START with the fact that there is 25 mcg (certainly MUCH more than a trace amount) in a significant percentage of our flu shots. Just go ask a doc for a package insert.

But, besides all that, this email is really about Dr. Johnson's statement on yesterday's GMA when he said there have been studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated kids. This is purely untrue (except for the one UNpublished study done by Generation Rescue that certainly came up with links to LOTS of problems in vaccinated children). Dr. Johnson should retract that statement. But he has a great idea of something that SHOULD be done, which many feel will clear up this issue, and that is why Rep. Carolyn Maloney has introduced a bill asking for this exact study in Congress. Maybe Dr. Johnson can get behind us in supporting this bill so that we can really find out what a study like that might tell us. Then he can report the outcome on GMA!

I was a reporter once in another life...and I quit because one day there was a murder at a hotel in town that the owner of the station wouldn't let me cover. He sent me to McDonald's to cover Arbor Day celebrations instead. He was close friends with the hotel owner and the owner of the McDonald's. I got "it" that day...there's no way the news will ever tell the real truth. This autism issue is clouded in the press because you guys make so much money from pharma. Otherwise, why haven't you reported on the government concession in the vaccine/autism case???? But, OK, lies of omission, that's one thing...lying outright like Dr. Johnson, now that's another and deserves a RETRACTION.

The difference between me and you, Audrey, is that when I didn't report on that murder, no one got hurt. But while you sit there and don't report on the real truth about autism, families and children all over this Earth are being poisoned and maimed. Whew. I'd hate to be you.

Danielle Manglis

Monica You Rock. Like you said this morning, one person can make a difference, and thats what you are doing everyday.

Cathy Jameson

Thanks to all the advocates (aka, parents) who have a clue about the vaccines. It's with voices like Monica's that someday, someone is finally going to listen.

It just sucks that so many horrid things have happened and continue to happen to the children in the name of science. I wanted to cry reading about what happened to Monica's daughter. Nobody should go through that much pain unnecessarily! Thank God for parents who are working so hard to get things turned around and who are willing to tell the truth.


Sandy Gottstein

I will respond to each of the points by number (and have included my column on the original Denmark study after them). I welcome any comments you might have before sending this to ABC.

Theory 1

1) Assuming this study was properly conducted, which based on my experience with such studies, it probably was not, all this study can claim is that thimerosal ALONE is not responsible for autism. It says NOTHING about the other vaccines and any synergistic effects, depending on the other vaccines given.
2) Traces remain in MANY vaccines. Flu vaccines contain the full 25 mcg amount. See Boyd Haley on the significance of this:
3) No one does a better job than David Kirby in his book "Evidence of Harm" of countering this claim. Perhaps you might consider reading it. After all, it did receive an INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS AND EDITORS AWARD in 2005.

Theory 2

1) "Why We Won't Take No* For An Answer (*No relationship between MMR and autism)" (see below) is my response to this study.
2) First, it stretches credibility to think that the absence of MMR vaccine would increase autism rates since prior to introduction of the MMR vaccine autism was considerably lower than it is now. Second, this study, from your description, does not include NEVER-VACCINATED children; thus it says nothing about whether or not vaccines and/or components of vaccines are causally related to autism.

As one of the greatest scientists once said, "A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth." -- Albert Einstein, letter to a friend, 1901

You do your own children as well as the world's children a disservice when you unquestioningly accept and promote only one side of the argument.

Here is the column I wrote on the MMR Denmark study (click here if you want to be able to follow the links:

Scandals - 11/15/02

Why We Won't Take No* For An Answer (*No relationship between MMR and autism)

Once again, the powers-that-be have released a study claiming to vindicate the MMR re: autism, with most of the mainstream media dutifully waddling behind, rubber-stamping and disseminating the conclusions.

And once again, many of us are responding with skepticism.

It does seem some things never change. Once again we must contend with the misuse of limited, epidemiological data to promote wide-ranging, unwarranted conclusions, conclusions which either ignore or dismiss contrary data, as if one study could ever do that. And, as seems to be the usual result, general acceptance of that misuse.

This most recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and based on data from Denmark, alleges to show that MMR could not be related to autism. It concludes that there are no differences between those vaccinated and unvaccinated against MMR as to incidence of autistic and "other autistic-spectrum" disorders. (Never mind that there is no genuine control group, that is, unless no vaccine but MMR could possibly be involved.)

Maybe this study says something about autism in Denmark; maybe it doesn't. However, the important question for those not living in Denmark is, does the Danish study say anything about what is happening elsewhere?

The incidence of autism reported in the Danish study cohort appears to be considerably lower than what has been recently reported in the US and other countries - an incidence of 1 out of 727 (or 738 out of 537,303) compared, for instance, to an incidence as high as 1 in 86 among primary school children in the UK and around 1 out of 150 children in the United States. Is that because there are real differences in incidence between Denmark and these other countries? If not, is the Danish study missing hordes of autistic children? Or are we instead overestimating the numbers occurring in the U.S. and other places?

A recent M.I.N.D. Institute study revealed the increase in autism in California to be real and alarming. Are we to accept the Danish results and ignore what is happening in our own country which may contradict them?

If there are real differences in incidence between the US and Denmark, why might that be? One reasonable possibility relates to thimerosal use in Denmark - it has been reported that Danish children did not receive vaccines containing thimerosal. If that is true, and if, for instance, it is the combination of thimerosal and MMR which leads to autism, there might well be no indication of problems with MMR in Denmark, but evidence of considerable involvement of MMR in the US and other countries where thimerosal has been used.

Thus even if MMR alone does not cause autism, the NEJM study in no way acquits MMR in combination with other co-factors. Why are they acting as if it does?

To the contrary, if the incidence of autism in Denmark is actually lower than in the US, and thimerosal wasn't used in childhood vaccines during the study period, this study actually raises a red flag about the possibility that MMR and thimerosal acting together are responsible for the epidemic of autism in some countries, since an important potential co-factor was missing in Denmark. At least it suggests the need for further study.

Another disturbing trend is the rejection of biological evidence in favor of weak epidemiological evidence (e.g., see my review of one IOM report). Why are the study authors behaving as if their study results justify dismissing or ignoring the growing body of human biological evidence that MMR and autism are related? It is only a retrospective epidemiological study, after all. Why are they trying to use it to trump solid biological mechanisms data?

Moreover, if Danish children did not receive thimerosal, why wasn't the absence of it in this population noted, given its obvious import and relevance to any study concerning autism?

The NEJM study raises far more questions than answers. And it begs the questions, "Why aren't better studies being done?" and "How might such studies be designed?"

I can't say why better studies aren't being conducted. But were they to be done, they would be long-term and prospective. They would be large enough to allow comparison of all vaccination and other possibly relevant combinations, including a "never vaccinated" control group. They would track study participants from birth or before. All aspects of health and other history would be recorded. Confounding factors would be controlled for by matching the groups.

As clues to the possible cause(s) of autism emerged, investigation into possible biological mechanisms would follow. Just as Wakefield and others have done.

Make no mistake about it, though - I'm sick and tired of hearing how better studies are too difficult to manage. I don't care how hard it is to find never vaccinated children. I don't care how much it costs to follow large numbers of children, to prospectively track all adverse vaccine reactions, to study biological mechanisms in a way that translates into meaningful human data.

(And if you're thinking money is the problem, note the following statement by Congressman Shays, made in the April hearing on government funding of autism research: "Let me just say something, just so I can put this on the record. I don't fault administrators when we in Congress don't appropriate the money, but where administrators become responsible is when they see a need and they can fill a need, they don't request the money, and then we in Congress don't respond. I am getting the sense that in the last years this has been mostly generated by Congress kind of pushing NIH and others to treat this as a more important effort. I may be wrong, and I am happy to be corrected." Is Congressman Shays wrong? If not, why aren't NIH and the CDC treating this situation more seriously?)

I also don't care that confidence in vaccines might be undermined were studies to be designed properly. All public confidence has been based on the understanding that such studies had already been conducted. That confidence has now been thoroughly shaken.

I simply don't care about any of the excuses which are keeping well-designed epidemiologic and biological mechanism studies from being conducted.

The public has been told the MMR vaccine is safe and that is why they have used it. All the public cares about is getting information it can trust and Public Health owes it nothing less. Until and unless the hard work of properly designing and conducting studies is done, I and others will continue to question and challenge MMR vaccine study results, and question and challenge MMR vaccine use.


Way to go Monica! I will be interested to hear if you get another response.


Be sure to include a copy of any email correspondence to Cleo, the administrative asst to James Murphy, Senior Executive Director, Good Morning America. Her email address is- [email protected]

She was very helpful, empathetic, understanding of our plight, and is sharing my email with him today.

Kim Stagliano, Managing Editor

Monica Bice, you are one amazing woman! I just sent this post to Ms. Grayson. I suggest others do the same.


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