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Vaccines and Autism – Answering the Wrong Questions

Wrong wayBy Katie Weisman Canary square

Editorial by Katie Weisman, Canary Party, Executive Director and SafeMinds Board Member

Now that World Autism Awareness Day has passed, let’s assess where we truly stand.  Last week, two studies were reported and spun by the CDC in the annual countdown to Autism Awareness Month, also known as “Let’s see if blue lights and awareness will keep my child from running into traffic” month.  Both studies received a massive, coordinated and unforgivably uncritical airing in the press.   I swear that none of the writers of any of the articles I read understands the concept of balanced journalism.  I can guarantee that few of the writers or the scientists they quoted actually took the time to read the studies and think critically about them.

The first study, based on a phone survey of a nationally representative sample of parents reported autism spectrum disorders at the terrifying rate of 2% of school-aged American children (6-17).  Let’s say that again – 1 in 50 children has autism.  With 4 million children born per year in the United States that means approximately 80,000 children per year will get autism.  At its most devastating, polio affected 57,628 people of all ages in 1952.  Many died.  Polio was a national health crisis demanding urgent federal response.  Public health officials went into high gear.  For this report of 2% of children with autism, we get, “We are just getting better at recognizing all these children with no language and zero social skills.  They have always been here.  You can relax”.  Unfortunately, many of these children will die, too – from drowning, accidents and seizures associated with their autism – and, tragically, sometimes at the hands of those who are supposed to educate and care for them.  With nothing personal intended against the speakers, here is the CDC’s event for Autism Awareness month - .  You can judge for yourself if this is an appropriate response.

Here are the US autism prevalence numbers in the years they were reported (birth years and ages vary from study to study).

  • 1970    1 in 14,857 (Wisconsin)                                                   
  • 1987    1 in 8333 (North Dakota)                                               
  • 1989    1 in 2500 (Utah)                                                   
  • 1999-2003   1 in 321 (California)                                 
  • 2001    1 in 150 (Brick, NJ)                                                             
  • 2001    1 in 625 (Texas Schools)                                               
  • 2002    1 in 671 (California)                                                       
  • 2003    1 in 192  (Minnesota Schools ASDs)                           
  • 2007     1 in 150 (14 states ASDs)                                
  • 2009     1 in 125  (South Carolina 4s ASDs)                              
  • 2009      1 in 235 (California DDS)
  • 2009     1 in 110 (11 States, ASDs)
  • 2009    1 in 91 (National Phone Survey, ASDs)
  • 2010   1 in 124 (Salt Lake City – 8s, ASDs)
  • 2010   1 in 83 (Wisconsin Schools, ASDs)
  • 2011   1 in 213 (San Franciso Bay Area, ASDs)
  • 2011     1 in 108 (EI in Massachusetts, ASDs)
  • 2012     1 in 88  (14 States ASDs)
  • 2012     1 in 57  (Metro New Jersey 8s, ASDS)
  • 2013     1 in 50  (National Phone Survey, ASDs)

Isn’t anyone worried yet?

While this new study does not have the most reliable methodology, how much more data do we need to tell that we are headed for a cliff?  It is like a macabre game of chicken – how high can the autism numbers get before the country actually realizes there is a problem.  I have decided that we need to rename our lead agency the CFCADEA – the Centers for Controlling Any Disease Except Autism.

The second study is worse.  In the best tradition of tobacco science, this one has been publicized as proving that we are not over-vaccinating our children – that the number of vaccines a child gets has nothing to do with autism.   In fact, the study didn’t even look at the total number of vaccines given – it only looked at the number of antigens.  The problem is that they did a shoddy job answering a question that wasn’t really the question parents want answered.  Parents want to know if vaccinated children (according to the regular schedule) have a higher rate of autism than unvaccinated kids.  The only way to find that out is to actually do that study.  And yes, it is over a decade since we first asked them to do the study.  If vaccines are causing the autism epidemic, that is 800,000 kids…

Let’s be clear here:

It appears that there were no children in the study who were unvaccinated – therefore, no actual control group.  If there actually were a handful who did not receive any vaccines, they are not mentioned anywhere in the text and they are rolled into the lowest exposure group, thereby mixing the placebo group with the exposure group.

Children with low antigen exposure were compared to children with high antigen exposure for their odds ratio of developing autism.  This is like comparing 1 pack a day smokers to three pack a day smokers for lung cancer and saying that because they both developed lung cancer, the smoking had nothing to do with the cancer.

The study makes an assumption that all antigens are equally likely to cause problems and that the only thing that matters is the total number of antigens.  This is like saying that it doesn’t matter what you are drinking, only the total ounces matter.  Sure, throw some formaldehyde and aluminum in the blender.  Don’t worry about any synergistic toxicity.

The study completely ignores all the other vaccine ingredients besides the antigens – except for thimerosal, which they studied, but then they didn’t bother to publish the data.

The study implies that the reduction in the number of antigens in the DPT vaccine should have made it safer.  Yet, in order to reduce the amount of antigen in a typical vaccine (which also saves the manufacturers money since the antigen is the most expensive ingredient), an adjuvant is usually added to stimulate increased immune response to the decreased amount of antigen.  The adjuvant ASO3 has recently been linked to narcolepsy in children who received swine flu vaccine in Europe. 

While this particular adjuvant is not found in US vaccines, others are, and it begs the question of what happens when you reduce the amount of antigens but have to increase the amount of adjuvants.  There is no evidence that “fewer antigens with more adjuvants” produces a safer schedule, but this is what was implied by this study.

Due to the large amount of antigens in the old DTP vaccines, the study is really a comparison of the antigen load between the old DTP and new DTaP vaccines.  The overwhelming number of antigens in the DTP would make any impact of any other vaccines irrelevant in terms of categorizing the children as low vs. high exposure.  The authors also knew that the DTP was being phased out starting in the early 1990’s so antigen load was decreasing even as autism prevalence was going up.  There was no reason to do this study since these children were born in 1994-1999 and the trends were going in opposite directions.

In addition, the authors included 186 children among the 752 controls who, while they did not meet the cutoff criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder, did meet diagnoses of speech delay, learning disability, ADHD and so on.  This is like doing a study of diabetes cases and intentionally putting people with pre-diabetes in the control group.

To cap this all off, the study design was so badly flawed to begin with, that any results it reports are invalidated.   It reused a dataset that Price et al. used in 2010 to look at thimerosal exposure and autism.  In both studies, negative findings were reported, which isn’t surprising given the study designs.  In a nutshell, when you design a case-control study,  matching is often used to efficiently control for confounding variables that are associated with the outcome (in this case, a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder).  However, the researchers must ensure that the confounders that they match on are not associated with the exposure of interest (antigens or thimerosal) or they will reduce the power of the study to detect an effect.  An example of this would be studying the effect of high cholesterol on heart disease and matching on the basis of “high-fat diet”.  Since a high-fat diet is strongly associated with high cholesterol, you have eliminated relevant differences between the cases and controls in the design of the study.  Similarly in this case, the researchers matched cases of autism and control children on the variables of MCO (managed care organization) and year of birth.  Since MCOs typically order vaccines in bulk lots from a single manufacturer and since year of birth is associated with which vaccines are on the schedule at the time, both of these were strongly associated with the number of antigens and the amount of thimerosal that the children received – thereby eliminating the differences between cases and controls in the study design.  For a complete discussion of the problems with this dataset, here is the link to a recently published rebuttal, funded by SafeMinds, of the 2010 paper:

For those who haven’t looked at the US vaccine schedule lately, I strongly suggest that you go to the following link and look at what our kids are getting.  Ask yourself, would I, as an adult, be OK with getting 9 shots for a total of 13 diseases in one doctor’s visit.  That is what we are giving our 15 month olds.

Would you let your doctor give you any 9 drugs at one time?

Would it make you feel safer if I told you that this combination of shots had never been tested against a placebo for adverse events?

Would it make you feel better if I told you that if you do have a reaction to the vaccines, none of the manufacturers has any financial liability whatsoever?

We seriously need to consider whether this protection from infectious disease is ultimately producing the healthiest children.  Vaccines are the only medical product given routinely to healthy infants, unlike most drugs which are given only when a disease already exists.  The standard of safety for these products should be the highest we can achieve.

 I would like to point out that the last three major studies purporting to disprove a link between vaccines and autism have all been done by the same group of CDC-affiliated researchers using the same dataset from the same MCO’s .  The data had limitations to begin with in terms of participation rate and the exclusion of preemies and multiples, and it has not improved with successive iterations.  To assume that the CDC has no conflict of interest in this study is ludicrous.  With its responsibility for the vaccine schedule and control of infectious disease, along with its holding of vaccine patents with manufacturers, the CDC is not an unbiased source of research on vaccine safety.  And don’t get me started on the part where the authors thank Paul Offit, MD, for his help.  It would sure be nice if some of the reporters out there would recognize that they are being spoon-fed spin.  For those who want to go back and read the studies, here are the links.

Happy Day After World Autism Awareness Day.  Isn’t it time to start the real conversation about autism?

Katie Weisman is the Executive Director of the Canary Party and serves as a Board Member and Director of Communications for SafeMinds.  She is also the proud mom of three recovering 15 year-old young men, who all have autism from too much mercury, too soon.



This IS a critical piece of vaccine science, whether or not that was the researchers' main intent. Thanks for stating all of the concerns this research illuminates so succinctly! I agree with everything you said. This information should be incorporated into many peoples' arguments re: why the safety of vaccines needs to be studied further, EVERY SINGLE TIME an ingredient is changed or added, and that until then, there should be a route of philosophical or conscientious objection available to every person in this country. Previous court decisions are based on outdated information in the face of this kind of possibility.

Donna K

Thanks for the link to the Plos One article.

Wow! This supports and helps explain why we should be paying closer attention to Katie Weisman's point " begs the question of what happens when you reduce the amount of antigens but have to increase the amount of adjuvants. There is no evidence that 'fewer antigens with more adjuvants' produces a safer schedule, but this is what was implied by this study."

The vaccine establishment always throws out that there is no "plausible biological mechanism" for vaccination to cause the types of injury our children suffer. This article speaks to the design of vaccines in inducing an inflammatory response and how that response is not limited to just producing, the intended, antibodies to the target disease antigen, but also produces unintended reactions that this particular research group have identified as a biological mechanism that plays a part in inducing autoimmunity.

The protein this article looks at is called methylated bovine serum albumin and is specifically used as an adjuvant to induce a prolonged inflammatory response in research, as well as used to help induce antibody production to antigens that by themselves do not provoke an immune response. (FYI tetanus and diphtheria toxoid vaccines require potent adjuvants because it is well-known to vaccinologists that those proteins do not induce an effectual antibody response without one.)

Looking at the list of ingredients in human vaccines we find similar sounding proteins listed as excipients:

and causes me to wonder if bovine extract, bovine serum, bovine albumin can cause similar reactions? Even more worrisome to me is the listed excipient human serum albumin in a vaccine that is instructing the immune system to be on the attack.

A statement in the third paragraph of the introduction in the Plos One article, "Adjuvants are substances that are included in vaccines to critically enhance the magnitude and modulate the quality of the protective immune responses. Not until recently, the mechanism how adjuvants fulfill such function has been revealed." tells me that all these years until recently, vaccinologists use these things even though they don't really understand the mechanism of how they work.

Which brings me to something I recall reading in scientist Candace Pert's book, Molecules of Emotion, about the time she met doctor Albert Sabin, the creator of the oral polio vaccine. His arrogant, insulting and smug reaction to her research at this meeting caught her off guard. To the reader, it becomes apparent that the implications of her research to him were that he really didn't comprehend what he was doing when trying to manipulate the immune system with a live virus.

The people who conducted the study that looked at number of antigens in relation to health outcomes may also be cut out of the same cloth as Sabin. Meaning we're dealing with people who don't know what they don't know, and, won't even consider that they don't know because their egos are to wrapped up in being "the expert" or "the hero."


Re: the number of antigens. Here is why just having even 1 vaccine could be a vaccine overdose. I think it may only take as little as 1 antigen, made the wrong way, to start the cascade of problems that is autism. This intriguing examination of one single vaccine componant and it's role of unintended adjuvent and specific role in how inflamation can be started, affect protein folding/amyloid issues in alzheimers & diabetes and auto immune issues and the peritoneal lining it should be grabbing headlines now!

Now that we know this pathway exists, should this methylated componant be allowed to be used in medicine in the future? What if mercury does the same thing?



Greg -- Don't know how to get more info on the study, but if you find out can you let us know? The authors' conclusion specifically states that autism may be caused by environmental factors "INCLUDING VACCINES". It's a mystery how the media have been able to overlook that rather salient point.

Also, note that the vaccine schedule changed significantly during the years of the study, 1994-2001 (birth cohorts 1994-1999, vaccinations they received up to age 2 so ending in 2001). The older group would have received different vaccines than the younger group, and both groups received fewer vaccines than current 0-2 year olds. No breakdown is given for year of birth of the subjects, so impossible to compare between the older and younger cohorts in terms of autism rates. Hep B birth dose was first recommended in 1994, first year of the study, but may not have been widely used as a birth dose for the entire year. Varicella was added in 1996 so oldest cohort may not have received it during the time of the study (up to age 2); Rotateq was introduced in 1998 but withdrawn in 1999, so only some kids would have gotten it; HepA was added in 2000 and pneumococcal in 2001. DTP was switched to DTaP in 1997, but I don't believe doses were recalled so hard to hazard which vax the cohorts would have gotten until supplies were used up. The study indicates that the switch to DTaP had greatest impact on reduction of antigens, but later groups with less antigens got more vaccines with more adjuvants to compensate for reduced antigens. In short, without specific data on WHICH vaccines each subject received (information that they appear to have, by the way, but have chosen to obscure by just counting total antigens), it is impossible to glean any useful information from the study. Its sole purpose seems to have been to throw sand in the eyes of the media and the public.

The researchers also used the opportunity to revisit the thimerosal data, but chose not to publish those results, claiming offhandedly that they didn't make much difference to the end results without saying what slight difference they did make. Surely if they had corroborated their own earlier study (saying thimerosal had a beneficial effect) they would have said so; the fact that they didn't must mean they got the opposite result and so had to conveniently omit those data.

Once sincerely hopes that Pediatrics is at least embarrassed about being strongarmed into publishing this piece of irrelevant horse hockey.

On the plus side, the methodology shows that if one actually wanted to find the answers, and had access to VSD, one would be able to compare levels of preservatives, adjuvants and known contaminants across age groups and ascertain whether they impact the development of autism or other conditions like seizure disorders, GI disease or ADD/ADHD.


@pjcarroll, @taximom, I have no desire to stand in the way of anyone who seeks the truth. And I'm not suggesting that there is only one single cause of autism (please see my original post). That would be crazy. All I'm suggesting is that you talk to people that actually have autism. That does not seem so crazy. There are thousands of us. Why not see what WE think?


"If asking these questions makes me "anti-vaccine" ... so be it."

Good we need tens of millions just like us.

It is hard to be against "The greatest medical miracle of the 20th century." I know. But is it hard to be ADAMANTLY and VOCALLY against a deadly fraud that is killing and harming our kids by the hundreds of thousands if not millions, masquerading as a well know good?


They control a LOT more than "vaccination".

Fluoridation of 80% of this countries water supply shows where this "vaccination" deadly scam can go if we let it.

I doubt there is a single expert in fluoride toxicity, who is not a bought and paid for pawn of the state, who approves of adding this poison to our water. You can bet the pawns do not drink poisons in THEIR water, if they can avoid it; just as they do not "vaccinate" their children.

The following link is all you need to know about fluoride in our water and our bodies.


Greg, interesting points about the figures. I have heard Orac even go on about how data should be transparent for others to review. I hope there's a way to find out more detail about this study.


Studies and unflattering data on drugs and vaccines, gets hidden or lost. Staggering errors Fake Research, Nothing new. Its a complete crime against humans.

TED Podcast


"If vaccines are the miracles they are reported to be .. how is it possible the most heavily vaccinated infants in the world .. have less of a chance of surviving infancy .. than infants born countries that vaccinate less?"

It is not possible.


"How much more data do we need to tell that we are headed for a cliff?"

How much more data do we need to STOP "VACCINATING"?

We are over the cliff and have been for a LONG time. Those in ultimate control of "vaccination" do not care for our children or us or this NATION; they are enemies within our gates.

They control a LOT more than "vaccination".

It has been my long held hope that once we see the evil monsters in charge of "vaccination" we will wake up to the evil that has taken over control of much of this nation.

We do not have much time to wake up.


Thanks Katie,

A wonderful summary of the latest news on the autism front. Regarding the vaccines study, I am particularly interested in why they did not report the results of how the control and autism groups compare on number of vaccines received or doses. I have been asking this question numerous times without getting an answer. On another site, I did come across a pro-vax blogger that had lots of info about the study, but when I asked him the same question he quickly disappeared.

In the method section of the study they provided charts making it clear that along with counting antigen amounts they also counted doses. There have been a lot of assumptions that the two groups received the same amount of vaccines, but if this were the case why would they have needed to count doses. Second, nothing in the study makes it clear that all the subjects received the same amount of vaccines or doses; in fact, quite the opposite and I provide these two quotes from the study:

"We obtained the children’s vaccination histories from computerized immunization tracking systems and abstracted medical charts."

"Some of the case children, however, might have exhibited indications of neurodevelopmental problems well before receiving an ASD diagnosis. How evidence of early neurodevelopmental delays would have affected our results is not clear; it might have resulted in lower vaccination levels if parents were concerned about vaccinating their children, or possibly higher
vaccination levels through more frequent contact with the healthcare system."

In the first quote, they mentioned that the subject’s vaccination history was obtained from a immunization tracking system, which does not indicate conformity. In the second quote, it explicitly discussed the possibility that some of the children may have had less or more vaccines. My point is it seems they had the dose comparison figure but they did not provide it. This study has the feel of after detecting the 'horrific' result that the control group had fewer vaccines -- hence proving our point -- they quickly settled on reporting on only antigen amounts.


PS: Anyone has any ideas on how to go about getting more info on the study?


@Bay, what if there are several different causes of autism?

What if those who have Asperger's either didn't have vaccine reactions, or else had much more subtle reactions?

What do you think of the sizable subgroup of severely autistic children who also had seizure reactions to vaccines? And how do you account for the fact that there are very few pediatric vaccine-induced seizure victims who did NOT develop autism?

What if the role of vaccines in autism VARIES with the factors that predispose one to vaccine reaction in the first place: prematurity of birth, vitamin deficiencies, intestinal permeability, and genetics/heritability of risk factors like autoimmune disorders?

The US government, egged on by the pharmaceutical industry, would like us to believe that vaccines play no role whatsoever in autism--even though they have admitted and compensated two cases of vaccine-induced autism just a couple of months ago. Of course, they also slapped a gag order on those two you tell us, Bay, what you think is going on there, okay?

barbara j

Bay, I have no doubt you're telling the truth, my once non verbal ASD child, after years of speech therapy has the most refined and perfect speech ,and may have the highest IQ. of the lot. His speech unlike his brothers who suffer from articulation problems post vaccinations ,was relearned beginning with all of the lost consonant sounds that were taken from him at 18 months. All of the babbling, the first words, the two or three words together were taken after vaccination, and yes, when he relearned , he mirrored the speech of his therapist. It's very precise, no "wanta" from him, no it's "want to" ,it is stellar!

Adam M

For this report of 2% of children with autism, we get, “We are just getting better at recognizing all these children with no language and zero social skills. They have always been here. You can relax”.




Bay -
I think you're right that people will see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe about what they think caused their own (or their child's) autism.

But they don't have the right to tell anyone ELSE what happened to them or their child.

No one who watched their child become brain-damaged for life by vaccines (many of them conceded and compensated by the U.S. government) needs to ask anyone else what they think happened.

I doubt anyone believes that every single case of autism was caused by vaccines. Whatever you think caused your autism is acceptable to me. And to those who are happy living with autism - I applaud you!

But please don't stand in the way of advocates who are fighting to inform the public about one of the well-known causes of severe, painful and devastating autism that CAN be prevented.


I think that people see the evidence that they want to see, including this author. I am an adult with autism. I was vaccinated throughout my life. My IQ is over 130. My spatial skills are not terribly strong, but my verbal skills are stellar.

What I don't understand is why lay people who want to learn more about autism don't make the effort to ask the thousands of adults with high-functioning autism. I believe that you would be hard-pressed to find many that believe that vaccines have anything to do with autism.

barbara j

House with six one unvaccinated. Unvaccinated child at two" I wanta' go potty. Vaccinated child at three, "me wawa do pahee". Vaccinated kids at six, I wanta lowen how to ride my bike", unvaccinated child at four, "I can ride without training wheels".Mom says, "change of plans, the ice cream shop is closed, we'll go to the other one"...unvaccinated child, "okay", various responses from the others voicing their dislike of the change, with one on the floor kicking the wall screaming uncontrollably . We don't go ! There are subtle differences, in health and behavior that are important. There's an amazing amount of damage on the journey that distances wellness from autism.

Michael J. Dochniak

The FDA has sent a warning to medical manufacturers that the term "Latex-free" is no longer acceptable.

Consumer confidence in vaccines (past and present) is again compromised.

Kudos to the FDA for presenting this warning.

Louis Conte

The DeStefano paper is simply more evidence of dissembling.

So let's be clear here; we are now well past the point of dealing with people who are disagreeing with our community based on conflicting evidence. We are dealing with people who are engaged in a course of conduct that conceals the damage caused by products that do harm. It is an enterprise constructed to deceive the public that a mandatory medical product is is completely safe when it is not.

And it is being done for financial gain.

Theresa 66

Can anyone do a study or survey asking parents " what do you think
caused your childs' autism ?". I think that would be interesting.
Why wasn't that asked with the phone survey ? What could be
controversial about that ? The people who spend the most amount of
time with the child probably know if the autism began after
vaccines or not. Unless they think we are all brain-washed from
watching Katie and Jenny. Most of us have home video showing the before and after. I can even tell from pictures. Very obvious the lack of emotion and joy.

Bob Moffitt

"We seriously need to consider whether this protection from infectious disease is ultimately producing the healthiest children."

I think parents have been asking that question for a long time .. because there is absolutely no evidence that today's children are "healthier" than all previous .. less vaccinated .. generations.

Consider the "new normal" childhood "chronic" disorders .. such as .. asthma, allergies, autism, juvenile type 1 diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, infant strokes, seizures, on and on.

It was reported years ago that 1 in 6 American children have "development problems" .. we can only wonder what that number would be today?

Indeed, the dismal "infant mortality" rate of the United States, arguably the most technologically advanced and wealthiest nation in history ranks somewhere around 35 in developed nations. If vaccines are the miracles they are reported to be .. how is it possible the most heavily vaccinated infants in the world .. have less of a chance of surviving infancy .. than infants born countries that vaccinate less?

If asking these questions makes me "anti-vaccine" ... so be it.

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