By Anne Dachel
The stories are everywhere. They can’t say it enough. The events happening in Britain, the decision by the GMC and the Lancet retraction have settled the debate. THERE IS NO LINK BETWEEN VACCINES AND AUTISM. All the hysterical parents pointing to vaccinations need to find something else to blame for their child’s disability. Dr. Wakefield is at fault for convincing parents that vaccinations caused their child to become sick. If it weren’t for him, there never would have been a controversy.
It’s amazing the coverage this is getting, much of it on the opinion/editorial page.
New York Daily News Feb 6, 2010
Hippocrates would puke: Doctor hoaxed parents into denying kids vaccines
“British physician Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been branded a primary instigator of the mania that drove parents to avoid having their children undergo routine immunizations for fear that inoculations could produce autism.”
“As Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, put it, ‘That study did a lot of harm. People became afraid of vaccinations. This is the Wakefield legacy: this unscientifically grounded fear of vaccinations that result in children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.’
“Steadfastly defending both his integrity and his science - and backed by supporters who mutter about ‘show trials’ and ‘witch hunts’ - Wakefield has been shamed before the world. He deserves far worse.”
The Star-Ledger - NJ Feb 5, 2010
Autism and vaccines: Bogus study hurts research
“Now that a British medical journal has retracted a study linking autism and childhood vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, the search for answers can explore other possible causes. But make no mistake: the article, first published in the Lancet in 1998, has done substantial damage.”
New York Times - Feb 5, 2010
A Welcome Retraction
“For a decade, many parents have worried that vaccines might somehow be causing autism in children. Repeated assurances from respected experts that there is no link have failed to quiet those fears. Now The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal that published the paper that first gave wide credence to those fears, has retracted it, saying that the paper’s authors had made false claims about how the study was conducted.”
There’s a darker side to this. Measles is now the number one health threat facing our nation and any criticism of shots could cause parents not to vaccinate against this dread disease. Anyone daring to cite vaccines as the cause of autism is immediately labeled anti-vaccine. The potential result: Measles outbreaks all over the globe and ultimately, dead kids.
Fox News Feb 04, 2010 put out a truly disgusting opinion piece by Greg Gutfeld
“But although the study author has also been discredited, it doesn't matter. People who believe in junk science will continue to believe in junk science, because their egos won't allow any other option. And so they will continue preaching a dangerous and false belief that ends up killing kids — "they" being Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey and all the saps at the Huffington Post who, by their own earnest idiocy, misled the public into skipping vaccinations.”
Los Angeles Times Feb 5, 2010
The damage of the anti-vaccination movement
“After Wakefield's article appeared, vaccination levels plummeted in Britain and declined in the United States, and the diseases they prevented surged. Measles cases increased sevenfold in the U.S.
"‘One person's research set us back a decade, and we're just now recovering from that,’ Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Radey Children's Hospital in San Diego, told me in an interview.
“But are we recovering? Anti-vaccination groups have popped up like toadstools after rain (there are more than 180 on the Web), while older ones such as the National Vaccine Information Center were reinvigorated. For the most part, these groups have had only a marginal effect on national vaccination rates, but they have encouraged localized boycotts of immunization. (In one Washington county, 27% of children had vaccination exemptions in 2006-07.) The result has been a resurgence of diseases gone so long that some doctors don't even recognize them. And children die because of it.”
CNN - Alison Singer - Feb 3, 2010 Time to regroup on autism (SEE VIDEO)
“The original Lancet publication had launched an era of anti-vaccine activism. At a news conference after the publication, Wakefield said there were "sufficient anxieties for a case to be made" to separate the three vaccines. Vaccination rates plummeted, and measles outbreaks swept across the United Kingdom. Hundreds of children were hospitalized, and several died. Across the country and around the world, parents became stricken with an unfounded fear of vaccination.
“Whereas anti-vaccine parent advocates cite personal anecdotes and state that they know with certainty that their child's autism came from vaccines because ‘they know their child,’ scientists talk about the ‘preponderance of evidence’ and ‘statistical significance.’ That is not the stuff from which good sound bites are made.
“Once you put a scary idea in someone's head, it is very hard to reassure them, even in the presence of compelling science. Anti-vaccine autism activists continue to view Wakefield as a hero willing to take on the establishment and fight for their children.”
For parents and other experts in the autism community, this may seem like a concerted effort to finally crush those who dare to point to vaccines as the trigger for autism. It also serves as a warning to any experts who might be interested in researching this topic. The medical community and the media will destroy you.
So why am I going through all this?
One reason: It isn’t going to matter.
Come on, we’ve heard it all before. This has an eerie feeling of déjà vu. The issue was also dead in 2004. I remember it like it was yesterday. The Institute of Medicine had focused all their cutting edge resources into the question of vaccines and autism and they found no connection.
Science Daily 2004: (HERE)
"The overwhelming evidence from several well-designed studies indicates that childhood vaccines are not associated with autism," said committee chair Marie McCormick, Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. "We strongly support ongoing research to discover the cause or causes of this devastating disorder. Resources would be used most effectively if they were directed toward those avenues of inquiry that offer the greatest promise for answers. Without supporting evidence, the vaccine hypothesis does not hold such promise."
Washington Post 2004: (HERE)
“The Institute of Medicine, a highly influential adviser of the government on scientific matters, said yesterday there is no credible evidence that either the measles-mumps- rubella (MMR) vaccine or vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal cause autism.
“ ‘This is the nail in the coffin. The final bit of research we were looking for to finally discredit this link between the measles vaccine and autism,’ said Marie McCormick from the Harvard School of Public Health on ABC News.
“The Institute of Medicine committee has produced eight studies on vaccine safety at the request of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the last one, and the committee will now disband.”
CBS News 2004: (HERE)
" ‘Don't misunderstand: The committee members are fully aware that this is a very horrible and devastating condition," said Dr. Marie McCormick, a Harvard professor of maternal and child health who led the IOM probe. ‘It's important to get to the root of what's happening.’
“But, ‘there seem to be lots of opportunities for research that would be more productive’ than continuing the vaccine hunt.”
For several years after the 2004 IOM Report, it was commonly cited as backup in news stories about the controversy. Doctors mechanically pointed to THE IOM REPORT as the final proof of no association.
In 2010, no one in the press denouncing Wakefield really knows what they’re talking about. He invited anyone to look at his paper and study what he found. No one does.
Back in 2004, no one in the media examined what was presented at the IOM Conference nor did they question what wasn’t included in the final report:
Scientist after scientist in 2004 revealed research that showed evidence of the great potential for vaccines to damage the physical health of children, including experts like David Baskin, M.D., Richard Deth, Ph.D., Boyd Haley, Ph.D., H, Vasken Aposhian, Ph.D., Jeffrey Bradstreet, M.D., F.A.A.P and Thomas Burbacher, PhD..
Parent after parent testified on medical evidence showing the mercury levels in their children or live measles virus found. The IOM panel remained unmoved.
What I’m seeing in the news in 2010 is merely an update of 2004. So take heart people. This too will fade away. It has to. All the doctors being covered in local news stories act like events in Britain are some victory for them. What exactly have they won? They can’t tell us a thing about the epidemic overwhelming one percent of children. In December 2009, U.S. health officials finally, grudgingly, had to admit that the autism rate is a true increase. This came after years of claiming that there weren’t really more kids with autism with the tired mantra of “better diagnosing” by doctors.
The admission that there are environmental factors was done quietly. There was no alarm sounded. Legislators didn’t demand that the scientific/medical communities immediately focus on the triggers responsible for this epidemic. The press just accepted it. Autism still isn’t an official crisis by any means. The strongest language used by the Centers for Disease and Prevention regarding autism is “serious health care concern.”
I watched Dr. William Schaffner on CNN and I had to wonder what he was smiling about. He said, "There have been now about 20 studies that have looked at this question of vaccines and autism, different investigators, different populations...and they all have denied this link. The important thing is....we need to focus research ...to find out the real causes of autism.
“Science has an open mind. Most of the research today is looking at genetic predispositions as well as a whole array of environmental factors that can interact with the genetics. Vaccines ...have been looked at very very carefully...they're now out of the picture. We need to focus on other issues. That's where we need to put our research..."
The CNN newsman asked "Other issues? In what areas? What's the most promising?"
Schaffner responded, "A whole array of genetic predispositions.... As well as other environmental factors, whether they are chemicals in the environmental, things in our food perhaps. Could they interact with the genetics? ...There are a lot of people now who are focused now on finding what the real causes of autism are. ....Autism usually manifests itself largely in the second year of life and that's when vaccines are given and so you have that coincidence...doctors will provide reassurance.”
I’m sorry, but this doctor gleefully telling us that vaccines don’t cause autism, can’t tell us what does. I’d hardly find that reassuring. IF IT’S NOT THE VACCINES, WHAT IS IT? What’s attacking our children at never-before-seen rates? Why can’t you name a single prospective culprit in the environment that we need to look at?
(I’d also like to ask CNN and every other news source out there why they think that putting a parent up against a doctor is fair and balanced. Why couldn’t CNN talk to any of the experts on our side in addition to the parent shown?)
Finally, what convinces me most of all that this is a minor stumbling block for us in the autism community and that the controversy will continue as heated as ever, is the fact that none of us or our children are going away. Vilifying Andrew Wakefield isn’t going to stop us. Pretending that it does, is a joke.
Unless and until health officials can point to independently done studies disproving a link, the war will continue, unabated.
Where is research that we’ve demanded for years?
I personally promise to go quietly away if anyone can come up with an actual study comparing autism rates in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations of children and show me there is no difference.
I will never write another word on this topic if someone produces a study looking at regressive autism and can tell me what changed these children so suddenly that they lost learned skills. This is the research the former head of the National Institutes Health, Dr. Bernadine Healy, called for on CBS News in 2008.
I want to see a study showing us adults with autism just like we see in our children. I don’t want to hear about a study where researchers talked to possible autistic adults on the phone. I want to see the same signs of classic autism among adults that kids have.
If officials can’t produce these studies, no one, including Dr. Schaffner, has the right to say that vaccines “are out of the picture.”
Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autism.