Dr. Andrew Wakefield of Thoughtful House Explains Critical Missing Points from Dateline NBC Program
Managing Editor's Note: We encourage you to visit the Thoughtful House website to learn more about their education and clinical services for autism.
Statement issued by Thoughtful House
August 31, 2009
After watching NBC-TV’s Dateline special “A Dose of Controversy,” Dr. Andrew Wakefield took issue with several critical points in the report. Although the program was the first of its kind to actively engage the mainstream on the question of vaccine safety, there were many failures in the information presented and important information was edited out. Below is a list of these items from Dr. Wakefield. Our goal is to make certain as many people as possible understand and receive the full story regarding MMR, vaccine safety, Dr. Wakefield, and Thoughtful House, and NBC failed to provide this to an audience of millions.
A. There has been extensive replication of the finding of bowel disease in children with autism (ASD) from five different countries. These findings have been published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at scientific meetings. It is therefore incorrect and misleading of Matt Lauer to have stated that every aspect of my original hypothesis has been disproved. On the contrary, the main findings of the original Lancet paper, that is, bowel disease in autistic children, has been repeatedly confirmed. This obvious inaccuracy requires clarification by NBC.
B. The shortcomings and the flaws of the studies quoted by Dr. Offit, claiming to disprove an association between vaccines and autism, were not discussed in the program. In my interview with Mr. Lauer I took as an example a paper from Dr. DeStefano from the CDC claiming to exonerate MMR that actually showed that a younger age of vaccination with MMR is associated with a greater risk of autism. This study confirms the association and has been falsely portrayed as vindicating the vaccine. This should have been included in order to provide balance to the program.
C. Reference was made to an autistic child in the vaccine court whose claim for MMR damage was overturned by the judge. No reference was made to the successful vaccinecourt case on behalf of the child Bailey Banks, coming just one week after the unsuccessful claim described by Mr. Lauer, in which the judge ruled that MMR vaccine can cause autism. Therefore, in the view of vaccine court, it is not a question of whether or not MMR can cause autism, but rather how many children are affected.
D. There was a complete absence of comment on the lack of any adequate safety studies of childhood vaccines and the vaccine schedule in particular. There was no mention of the admission by vaccine regulators that there is no data on the long-term safety of vaccines,the chronic disease burden caused by vaccines, and the likely potentially harmful interactions between various vaccines in the routine schedule.
E. Undue credibility was given to Brian Deer, a discredited freelance journalist, whose false reporting has caused so much misunderstanding and damage to children through the misrepresentation of the doctors and parents who were seeking answers to the vaccine-autism question. Deer has repeatedly misled the public and the medical profession and has been unable to respond to clear evidence of his false reporting in the Sunday Times through the UK’s Press Complaints Commission.
F. It was not disclosed that I have repeatedly invited Dr. Offit to take part in publicdebate on the safety of MMR vaccine and the false and misleading claims that he has made in the media and his book. He has refused to accept this invitation and has continued to hidefrom an open and honest debate.
G. NBC alluded briefly to the fact that Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, was informed of my participation as a medical expert in the MMR litigation almost one year before publication of the Lancet paper in 1998. NBC failed to clarify that when Horton was challenged to respond to the fact that when he so enthusiastically denounced me and the paper in 2004 the Lancet staff was already fully aware of the facts and at that time did not consider them to be relevant. Horton refused to be interviewed by NBC and the interview segment shown was from 2004. This refusal is in sharp contrast to his willingness to denounce me in the media in 2004. NBC also failed to mention that in the light of these facts Horton has been reported to UK’s General Medical Council on an allegation of perjury.
H. It was unfortunate that NBC, having stated their determination to resist external pressure to distort the balance of the program, yielded to such pressure from the American Academy of Pediatrics, allowing them the final word in the program while denying representation from the National Autism Association who put forward to NBC a rational and well reasoned call for further science to resolve this very real issue.
I. Dr. Offit cited a large population study of autism and MMR from Denmark in support of his claim to ‘certainty that there is no link.’ This study was so flawed that it was rejected from consideration by the gold standard scientific review by the highly influential Cochrane Collaboration. Dr. Offitt, who is not an epidemiologist, was clearly at a loss to understand the study’s fatal flaws.
Krigsman AC, Boris M, Goldblatt A. Frequency of histologic enterocolitis and lymphonodular hyperplasia in autistic children presenting for ileocolonoscopy. IMFAR, Sacramento CA, May 7, 2004: FREQUENCY OF HISTOLOGIC ENTEROCOLITIS AND LYMPHONODULAR HYPERPLASIA IN AUTISTIC CHILDREN PRESENTING FOR ILEOCOLONOSCOPY. A.C. Krigsman, M. Boris, A. Goldblatt. New York Univ. Sch. of Med., New York, NY 10016. IMFAR 2004
OBJECTIVE: Gastrointestinal symptoms occur with high frequency in children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Histologic mucosal abnormalities seen upon standard light microscopy have been reported in over 65% of symptomatic ASD children who underwent ileocolonoscopy, but this finding has not been independently corroborated. This study seeks to determine the frequency of such histologic changes in our patient group.
METHODS: The pathology records of 146 ASD children who underwent ileocolonoscopy were reviewed. Indications included chronic diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and abdominal distension. Initial pathologic review was performed by 5 separate institutional pathologists who were unaware of the underlying ASD diagnosis. Data regarding the type (lymphocytic, neutrophilic, and eosinophilic) of inflammation, location, and presence of lymphonodular hyperplasia (LNH) were extracted. RESULTS: In the ileum, pathologic LNH was observed in 94 of 130 patients (72%). Ileitis was noted in 46 of 139 patients (36%). In the colon, 100 of 145 (69%) patients exhibited one or multiple forms of mucosal inflammation. Of these, the majority (51%) harbored the pathology in at least 4 distinct anatomic areas with 64% showing this pathology in at least 3 areas. The involved areas were not contiguous and no particular anatomic location predominated. CONCLUSIONS: Enterocolitis is a common finding in ASD children presenting with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms. Therapy aimed at reducing the degree of inflammation may offer significant symptomatic relief and improvement in their general wellbeing and quality of life.
Lancet, Ileal Lymphoid Nodular Hyperplasia, Non Specific Colitis and PDD in Children (Scroll down to page 12.)
Krigsman AC, Boris M, Goldblatt A. Frequency of histologic enterocolitis and lymphonodular hyperplasia in autistic children presenting for ileocolonoscopy. IMFAR, Sacramento CA, May 7, 2004:
FREQUENCY OF HISTOLOGIC ENTEROCOLITIS AND LYMPHONODULAR HYPERPLASIA IN AUTISTIC CHILDREN PRESENTING FOR ILEOCOLONOSCOPY. A.C. Krigsman, M. Boris, A. Goldblatt. New York Univ. Sch. of Med., New York, NY 10016. IMFAR 2004
Journal of Pediatrics, Gastrointestinal abnormalities in children with autistic disorder
Journal of Clinical Immunology, Spontaneous Mucosal Lymphocyte Cytokine Profiles in Children with Autism and Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Journal of Pediatrics, Colonic CD8 and T-Cell Infiltration with Epithelial Damage in Children with Autism
Molecular Psychiatry, Small Intestinal Enteropathy with Epithelial IgG and Complement Deposition in Children with Regressive Autism
American Journal of Gastroenterology: Focal-Enhanced Gastritis in Regressive Autism with Features Distinct from Crohn's and Heliobacter Pylori Gastritis
Journal of Clinical Immunology, Intestinal Lymphocyte Populations in Children with Regressive Autism
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, Autistic Enterocolitis Fact or Fiction?
Journal of Neuroimmunology, Immune Activation of Peripheral Bloodand Mucosal CD3 Lymphocyte Cytokine Profiles in Children and Autism and GI Symptoms
You can learn more at Thoughtful House.
The widespread lymphoid hyperplasia found consistently in gross and microscopic autopsy examinations in cases of human poliomyelitis never has been explained on the basis of a virus infection. There is involvement of Fever’s patches and the solitary follicles of the gastro-intestinal tract, mesenteric and retroperitoneal lymph nodes, peribronchial lymph nodes, thymus, malpighian corpuscles of the spleen, tonsils, adenoid tissue of the nose and throat, and the lymph nodes of the neck, axilla, groin, and other parts. Burrows78 (1931) in a series of about fifty autopsies, noted that the maximum amount of lymphoid hyperplasia was in Peyer’s patches and the solitary lymph follicles of the gastro-intestinal tract and the mesenteric lymph nodes. He felt that the nerve tissue changes were secondary to those existing in the lymph channels of this tissue. It is a well known fact that lymphoid hyperplasia can occur as a result of poisons and toxins. Doubtless the lymphoid hyperplasia in human poliolmyelitis is an expression on the part of the body to poisons and toxins in which protection is afforded by hyperplasia of its reserve forces, the lymphatic apparatus.
HELLLOO, poisons and toxins, hellooo?
Posted by: Kathy Blanco | September 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM
Sally, why would you want only one article when there are many? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but I don't see how posting one corroborating article makes a bigger impact than showing that there's a whole raft of them by different researchers -- a growing consensus.
In addition to the several articles John Stone linked to below, you can find a large number of studies referenced at the below website in a very clear, easy to read description. The citations are footnoted at the bottom so you can find the originals if you need to.
You might also want to pass along the link to TACA's list, and/or fourteenstudies.org. http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/medical/studies-about-vaccine-autism-link.htm
Both of those are generally informative for the uninitiated, though not necessarily specifically on this topic.
Hope this helps!
Posted by: Garbo | September 02, 2009 at 03:13 PM
"The medical establishment works closely with the drug multinationals whose main objective is profits, and whose worst nightmare would be an epidemic of good health. Lots of drugs MUST be sold. In order to achieve this, anything goes: lies, fraud, and kickbacks. Doctors are the principal salespeople of the drug companies. They are rewarded with research grants, gifts, and lavish perks. The principal buyers are the public - from infants to the elderly - who MUST be thoroughly medicated and vaccinated...at any cost! ." Guylaine Lanctot, M.D
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2007; 357: 1275-9).
Posted by: Kathy Blanco | September 02, 2009 at 12:47 PM
Kathy Blanco is, of course, right - normal medical ethics and practice are being suspended in the case of vaccines. Since when do you have to go to court to have the adverse side effects of a drug acknowledged. If good faith was operating families would not be left to establish proof and the medical profession would be meticulously monitoring adverse effects and their sequelae. And obviously Andy Wakefield has paid the price of listening to families - the true professional turns on his heels and runs.
Posted by: John Stone | September 02, 2009 at 12:29 PM
Sorry i should have said cthe change in his behavior came on within 2 weeks of his vaccinations at one and a half years of age,
Posted by: Nellie | September 02, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Dr. Wakefield, please keep delving into the ties of autism and vaccines.We as "citizens" are overlooked in many things, and this is just one of them. You are in a position to give serious questions which should be answered. As the grandmother of a autistic child,age 19. that I said, before this question became so public was caused by the vaccine. When you watch a child who was walking, talking and interacting with people and normal seeming in every way. suddenly change into a totally different child at 0ne and a half years after having his vaccines,it puts alot of "maybes" in our minds. Think you for making this a question for parents to consider concerning their childs vaccines.
Posted by: Nellie | September 02, 2009 at 11:09 AM
I am another one looking for a study repeating Dr Wakefield's article in the Lancet. This is what his article says
"Interpretation We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated
in time with possible environmental triggers."
Can someone give me the name of an article which has found the same thing. I'm sorry but I can't deal with a big list of articles. Just one would be very nice - showing bowel disease and regression after vaccination.
If we had one then we could all post it and everyone can read it. This would be so much help.
Posted by: Sally | September 02, 2009 at 10:36 AM
Doesn't it come down to this? Who cares about studies...why don't we ask millions of parents what happened to their children with their individual proofs, studies and workups, is that not a case study?
Posted by: Kathy Blanco | September 02, 2009 at 09:54 AM
didn't know where else to put this but I think it's interesting. A recent poll regarding flu vaccine uptake looks kinda dismal. hee hee...
Posted by: jen | September 01, 2009 at 11:41 PM
Thank you Anne for this informative post. Although I am happy Lauer sat down with Andy Wakefield and gave him the amount of time on camera that he did, I am very disappointed that he did not include the other research confirming his findings. It's not Dr. Wakefield alone looking at this now. That is a important fact for those outside our community to know.
I also want to address Dateline's unfair reference to Michelle's case and Sp Master Hastings' words that our family was 'misled' by Dr. Krigsman and 'some' of Michelle's doctors. Please let me state that nothing could be further from the truth. Dr. Krigsman's primary concern has always been Michelle's well-being. Everyone knows how medically complicated Michelle is. Before Dr. Krigsman, Michelle's many underlying and coexisting medical problems were not being addressed. I'll state it once again that in 2003 Michelle was in such bad condition, she was dying. Her lab work showed readings similar to a child with AIDS, she had a coagulaopathy secondary to malnutrition. Her GI symptoms had escalated to the point that she had trained herself to not eat. She was clinically anorexic. She was dehydrated, malnoursished, losing her eyesight, and extremely ill. She could not tell us what hurt because she could not communicate pain in any other manner than hitting herself. It was not until Arthur Krigsman stepped into the picture, that Michelle received the medical care she needed to survive. Plain and simple, his care and attention saved her life. Following our trip to NY, where Dr. Krigsman pointed out several other medical problems needing attention, we took Michelle to several pediatric specialists who diagnosed and began treatment for her other medical problems. Michelle is currently under the care of seven pediatric specialists from major university and children's hospitals, in addition to Dr. Krigsman.
Thank you Dr. Wakefield, Dr. Krigsman, Dr. Jepson, Kelly Barnhill and everyone at Thoughtful House for not being afraid to listen to parents, to ask questions and to look for answers for our very sick children.
Theresa, Michael and Michelle Cedillo
Posted by: Theresa Cedillo | September 01, 2009 at 09:56 PM
good points, Dr. Wakefield. I hope NBC has the guts to address the issue of vaccines and autism/vaccine injuries again (God knows the public is interested in hearing more about this issue). Maybe each time they delve into it they will be forced (by people with integrity) to present more and more facts and I guess Dr.s such as Offit will simply want to avoid being asked the hard questions such as the above mentioned. Keep up the great work for the kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: jen | September 01, 2009 at 04:07 PM
You can find some of the studies listed in my article here:
I suspect the list is by no means comprehensive.
Obviously disturbing that people can making sweeping statements about AW without ever having substantiate any of it.
Posted by: John Stone | September 01, 2009 at 03:31 PM
I was curious about the studies that Wakefield refers to--who did them and what they are called and where they were published. A google search on ‘peer reviewed journals bowel disease autism’ turns up link after link after link of sites that say ‘MMR does not cause autism’ or ‘Wakefield fixed data on autism’ or similar. Clicking on ‘scholarly articles’ brings up pretty similar sounding links.
I’m curious because my oldest child was evaluated for ASD when she was a toddler seventeen years ago. I always just assumed that my daughter got her aspie traits from mom, but then my husband developed crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (Doctors couldn’t say which as he showed symptoms of both) about six or eight years ago, and had his colon removed a couple of years ago.
Coincidence I suppose.
My daughter at age twenty btw has all sorts of weird ‘diet quirks’-- things she says that she can’t eat without getting sick, ie, soy, corn syrup, canola oil, lots of kinds of plant oils. Doctor says she’s lactose intolerant but then she already knew that.
Does anyone know which studies published in peer reviewed journals Dr. Wakefield is referring to? I wish he would have said. This is all that I can turn up:
Potential Viral Pathogenic Mechanism for a New Variant Inflammatory
Bowel Disease. Uhlmann V et al. Mol Pathol 2002; 55(2):84-90
Posted by: Bad Apple | September 01, 2009 at 02:14 PM
GH - possible that was the source of the error. Andy is, of course, the co-author of a review of the data of the Madsen study, with Mark here:
Posted by: John Stone | September 01, 2009 at 01:53 PM
It looks as though Dr. Wakefield has confused the Danish and Finnish studies wrt the Cochrane Review 2005.
Not an especially big deal, but he would probably want to correct it if somebody here has his contact to let him know.
Posted by: GH | September 01, 2009 at 12:45 PM
I would take issue with another of Matt Lauer's assertions. He quoted the Hakonarnon study where the author has claimed on many occasions in the media that 65% of autistic children have a genetic mutation in the region of chromosome 5P14 and echoed Hakonarnon's claim that if the mutation was eliminated 15% of autism would simply disappear.
Hakonarnon is shameless in vastly overstating and overhyping this study. Nowhere in any of his media appearances did he state that this common genetic variant is present in 60% of the entire general population.
Matt Lauer and Katie Couric should be reminded that given the 60% prevalence of this genetic 'mutation' in the general population the odds are better than 50/50 that Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and all of their children are likley to possess this genetic 'mutation'.
This is kind of shameless overstating the interpretation of genetic studies by those who even professor Sir Miachael Rutter called 'genetic evangelists'.
The search for phantom autism ghost genes continues and to date no gene specific to 'autism' has ever been identified.
Posted by: RAJ | September 01, 2009 at 11:16 AM
As in other major medical controversies, the intellectually dishonest tactic of the Mass Media depicting Dr. Wakefield as an isolated iconoclast/dissident going against the Medical Establishment has again been demonstrated by Matt Lauer/NBC.
Those of us who actually delve into more than than what is shown/heard via mainstream media know how suppressed are the many credentialed allies of Dr. Wakefield (as are the tens of thousands of parents of vaccine-damaged kids).
What is needed is one, just one, significant U.S. newspaper not dependent upon large Pharma advertising dollars, to take on such as CDC and its lockstep companion the AMA, and investigatively report on the large number of studies and scientists/doctors that support Dr. Wakefield.
Posted by: david burd | September 01, 2009 at 06:42 AM
I didn't see the programme but Andy may be technically wrong here if the Danish study referred to by Offit was Madsen 2002. This was reviewed in Cochrane but what they said was interesting:
“The interpretation of the study by Madsen was made difficult by the unequal length of follow up for younger cohort members as well as the use of the date of diagnosis rather than onset of symptoms of autism”.
What it didn't say was that the younger cohort members were the vaccinated group and that therefore there must have been an underestimate of autism incidence in those that had had the MMR.
Posted by: John Stone | September 01, 2009 at 06:08 AM