By Julie Obradovic
Last month at the Autism One conference, I had the opportunity to present the studies that supposedly prove vaccines and Autism are not connected. The idea for the presentation came when the website “Fourteen Studies ” went live not that long ago.
It is my personal belief this is where the debate should be focused. I also believe that if the intense and understandable emotion on both sides could be replaced with cooler heads and reason, we could authentically assess whether or not the issue has been adequately addressed. (I believe Dr. Healy called that a “Come to Jesus” moment.)
Having read all of the studies several times, I can assure you it has not. And regardless of what side of the debate you fall, that fact is indisputable. Studying 1 ingredient of dozens and 1 injection (given sometimes twice) out of a possible 35 before age 5 is certainly inadequate.
It is increasingly frustrating to read articles in newspapers, magazines, and blogs that claim otherwise, without any specific mention of the science on which they are basing their position. Rather, readers are to assume the author of such an article has done more than an internet search; that they have actually read and analyzed the very science they are using to make their argument. Furthermore, readers are to assume that said science is relevant, thorough, unbiased and accurate.
Herein lays the crux of the debate.
What science are they referring to exactly? About what? Done where? When? By whom? How?
This phenomenon has escalated at rocket speed. I can attest that it has only been in the last year or so such sweeping general statements have been made, which may be more evidence of the emotion surrounding the controversy than anything else. Angry people say careless things.
Dismissal of a connection used to be expressed cautiously, using phrases such as, “There doesn’t appear to be a link between Thimerosal and Autism”, or “Current studies don’t support an association between the MMR and Autism”. No one ever said, “It is proven vaccines don’t cause Autism”. Until now, that is.
Given that reality, it is imperative to bring the debate front and center where it belongs: on the science.
Rather than exchange more-often-than-not-anonymous internet insults and accusations, let’s discuss what has and has not been studied. Let’s talk about conflicts of interest, and relevance, and methodology. Let’s break the studies down in a lay man’s terms and stop pretending you are only qualified to do so if you are a Harvard educated doctor or scientist.
I’m disillusioned that this particular analysis of the science has not yet been done by The New York Times or The Chicago Tribune, or any major media outlet for that matter. I’m stunned that no one at a news organization such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or FOX has taken it upon themselves to do this easy and important homework.
It’s even more amazing that none of them have bothered to check if what the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and the government has found out about themselves (when they’ve had the luxury of investigating themselves) is actually true. To borrow from Dan Olmsted, this is the story of a generation. This issue will define our children for eternity, and yet, you can hear the birds chirping.
I had read the majority of the studies as they were published or retrospectively if needed, but it wasn’t until preparing for my presentation that I really learned them. That’s a substantially different task, and by no means a small one. But if I can do it…a working mother of 3…all of us can. It is now up to all of us to learn them, which brings me to the point of this article.
In order to help facilitate that process, I am going to provide my presentation in a written format right here on Age of Autism. I still believe it is up to each and every one of us to read and learn the studies ourselves (all of which are available on the Fourteen Studies website); it is hypocritical to accuse the medical or journalistic community of not having done so without having done so yourself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help make it all a little easier to learn. I plan on doing just that.
Over the next few weeks I will be presenting a series of articles that summarize the debate. Topics to be covered will include dissecting the positions and concerns of everyone involved, a summary of what has been studied, a summary of what has not been studied, and more.
It is my sincerest hope we can use this information to continue to challenge sloppy media reports and defensive physicians, and instead focus this debate on the very thing that determines our children’s future: the science we do from here on out.
Perhaps in doing so we can stop the ridiculous waste of time spent concentrating on what this debate is NOT about.
This debate isn’t about what celebrity mom believes what (Jenny or Amanda? Or is it J-Lo now?).
It isn’t about how much fear mongering we can use to get people to comply with our wishes (we’re all going to die if you people don’t stop picking on vaccines!).
It isn’t about pitting mom against mom (your child can’t play with mine!) or parent against doctor (get out of my practice! I’m getting death threats!).
It’s actually not even entirely about vaccines and Autism, believe it or not. It’s profoundly bigger than that, frankly.
No, this entire controversy is about the following fundamental questions; questions that have been for far too long ignored. They are:
By use of a pharmaceutical product that the government mandates, endorses, and legally protects, and by means of the medical community that helps create and administer said product, have we unintentionally or recklessly swapped infectious disease for chronic disease; and if we have, at what point does the risk of one outweigh the reality of the other? Who gets to decide that and how?
And perhaps more important,
Do the very people who will be held accountable for such a swap, namely the government, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical community, have the right to investigate themselves collectively or individually to see if they are indeed guilty; AND IF THEY DO HAVE THAT RIGHT, are the results of their investigation as they stand right now qualitatively and quantitatively enough to proclaim their innocence?
By default, those who believe vaccines are not connected with Autism based on the science so far think they do and that it is.
Quite simply, I don’t.
Let’s finally and fully examine why that could be.
Julie Obradovic is the mom of a recovered child. She is a member of NAA, a Rescue Angel, and a leader of the TACA Chicago Chapter.