Study linking MMR vaccine to autism officially retracted

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  February 3, 2010 12:32 PM

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Yesterday, editors at The Lancet officially retracted the British medical journal's 12-year-old study that they say incorrectly linked the combination Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.

The retraction of the 1998 study comes less than a week after the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom chastised the Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors for acting "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in doing his research for the study, which claimed that eight out of 12 children who received the MMR vaccine began showing symptoms of autism within days of getting the shot.

 

Last year, The Sunday Times of London published an in-depth report which alleges that Dr. Wakefield and his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, fabricated much of their research by manipulating the patients' data. According to the Times report:

In most of the 12 cases, the children's ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.

Soon after the study was published in 1998, cases of measles in England skyrocketed and, even though Dr. Wakefield's research focused on just 12 patients, its results have been the basis for much of the anti-vaccination movement worldwide.

According to a BBC report, Dr. Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, was neither ethically cleared nor qualified to perform invasive tests, like spinal taps, on the children in his study. He also paid children at his son's birthday party to provide blood samples, and failed to disclose that "he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR." 

Jenny McCarthy's autism foundation, Generation Rescue, issued a statement last week in support of Dr. Wakefield, in which it accuses the General Medical Council of trying to cover up the link between vaccines and autism and spanks the media for allowing it to happen. "The sole purpose of the GMC's ruling this week is to try and quell the growing concern of parents that the expanding vaccine schedule and the remarkable rise in autism are correlated," the statement reads. "The GMC will no doubt be helped by a press that barely understands the debate and has never read any of the dozens of studies published by Dr. Wakefield in many different respected medical journals."

At The Huffington Post, David Kirby calls The Lancet's retraction "unwanted and overwrought" and writes that "there are now at least six published legal or scientific cases of children regressing into ASD following vaccination -- and many more will be revealed in due time." While he agrees that vaccines are not the only contributing factor, he points out that "more than 1,300 cases of vaccine injuries have been paid out in vaccine court, in which the court ruled that childhood immunizations caused encephalopathy (brain disease), encephalitis (brain swelling) and/or seizure disorders. ... If we know that vaccines can cause these injuries, is it not reasonable to ask if they can cause similar injuries that lead to autism?"

As I've written before, no one really knows what causes autism. Children who were extremely premature are thought to be at higher risk for autism. In 2008, some studies showed a possible link between autism and certain metabolic diseases. An article in Science Direct indicates that children living near toxic waste seem more likely to be on the spectrum. Some believe that the preservative Thimerosal, formerly used in many vaccines, could trigger a toxic tipping point, damaging the immune system; others think that administering several vaccines simultaneously could be the trigger. Others blame "toxic synergy," in which many of the so-called "harmless" chemicals and additives in everyday food, medications, and consumer products become toxic when heated or combined. (Randall Fitzgerald's book, The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health, does a great job of explaining the concept.) And, of course, there's the possibility of a genetic link.

Parents, does The Lancet's retraction or the GMC's reprimand of Dr. Wakefield make you think differently about vaccinating -- or not vaccinating -- your child? Why or why not?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

 



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28 comments so far...
  1. Although the jury may still be out on vaccines and autism, Jenny McCarthy and David Kirby's defense of Dr. Wakefield's study, and the attack on the Lancet's retraction, is bewildering. The man is a huckster and was exposed as such. The retraction was more than warranted.

    Posted by Mike February 3, 10 03:16 PM
  1. The jury came back on vaccines and autism a while ago. There is absolutely no evidence of a causal link and significant evidence that there is no relationship between the two.

    Thanks for commenting, Wayne. The news is really that the journal that published the original study has officially retracted it. If they hadn't done so, people could still argue that the study had merit. (Not saying they're right, just that they could still argue about it. Well, technically, they can still argue about it anyway, but you know what I mean...) -- LMA

    Posted by Wayne February 3, 10 04:09 PM
  1. This was the one study that sparked the movement against vaccines. What other research is out there since the publication?

    Some of the studies about vaccines and autism since then have focused on Thimerosal, the preservative containing mercury, and whether mercury toxicity led to autism. Others have focused on kids with mitochondia issues. There are links to several other studies in the post itself (scroll down to the bottom), but here are a few more:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/01/california-stud/

    http://biotech.about.com/b/2009/01/28/another-autism-vaccine-study-fails-to-support-link.htm

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/347/19/1477

    -- LMA

    Posted by interestedinlearningmore February 3, 10 04:14 PM
  1. First off, shame on the Lancet for ever publishing Wakefield's manuscript. Anecdotal evidence from 12 subjects hardly constitutes a "study". Furthermore, what qualifies a GI to conduct research in pediatric neurology? Was there no peer review at the Lancet? As a researcher I am shocked that such nonsense was ever published. On McCarthy's defense of Wakefield, I believe as a parent of an autistic child, her emotions cloud her judgement. Two-thirds of autistic children have the same gene mutation, it is much more palpable for her to believe that a extrernal factor like a vaccine caused the autism and not genetic predisposition.

    Posted by Barb February 3, 10 04:16 PM
  1. This event and the findings of the General Medical Council (GMC) in Britain deserve more attention. Likely sensing he would be unfavorably judged, Wakefield didn’t even bother to show for the verdict. Among the dozens of charges the GMC deemed proven against Wakefield are that he provided a research proposal to a lawyer seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for causing autism before conducting any research on vaccines and autism. This study, if it found that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism in children, would greatly assist the lawyer in supporting his argument. With financial backing from a source that represented the ultimate conflict of interest, the study was carried out. Anti-vaccine people like to scream about the conflicts of interests on the part of researchers that don't find any association between vaccines and autism but none of those studies fail to disclose conflicts of interests. Wakefield concealed his COI. Wakefield had previously conducted research that potentially implicated that the MMR was a causal factor in Crohn’s disease but this research was not validated. As to what causes ASDs, they have a strong genetic component and to implicate vaccines is misguided. Science shows very clearly that this is not what causes autism.

    Posted by ObiWannabe February 3, 10 04:38 PM
  1. Wayne and Barb, I agree with you 100%. BTW, I am a researcher as well (enjoying downtime from grant writing), and the only reason I say "the jury is still out" is b/c it's not my field or research interest.
    My interest in this story is purely that of scientific peer review and the ways in which it can fail us.

    Posted by Mike February 3, 10 04:40 PM
  1. As a parent of a child with Autism that regressed after his MMRV shot, I was open to the evidence of the possibility it may have caused his regression. I am convinced that for 99+ percent of the population the vaccines are safe. There may be a link, where other conditions present, like prematurity, metabolic conditions, auto immune family history, etc. But by itself, there appears to be no definitive evidence that the MMR or MMRV alone causes Autism. .

    Posted by Claude February 3, 10 04:40 PM
  1. My son had four vaccines in one day in order to be "all caught up" for kindergarten, and he's never been the same. Some of those shots were for multiple diseases. I dont know if one of them -- or all of them -- caused his autism or if it was something else but I wish I could go back and insist that he get "caught up" more slowly.

    Posted by Cath February 3, 10 04:48 PM
  1. As a parent of a 2 children (1 normal development and 1 with PDD-NOS) I beleive that vaccines had nothing to do with my 2nd child's current diagnosis. Both kids have the same parents and same environment and received the same immunizations. My child with PDD was the same the day before her vaccinations as well as after. We have been involved in a research study to determine what causes ASD's and hope someday to find out why but until then people like Jenny McCarthy and others can have their opinions - I just happen to disagree with them.

    Posted by Sue February 3, 10 04:49 PM
  1. I applaud the Lancet for its retraction of this seriously flawed, and never again reproduced, research. Like Mike, I work in the field of medical research and agree that what is the most here is the failure of scientific peer review.

    As someone in the field of pediatrics, I would also point out that 15 months, when the MMR is given, is also the time that most children are walking and babbling. If they aren't, this is when it is noticed. It is entirely possible that the anecdotal correlation that some parents notice between the MMR and autism is related to this.


    Posted by ash February 3, 10 05:18 PM
  1. Small scale studies can't and aren't going to ever show any significant conection for low rate occurances. Anyone who thought they did, or that annectodal evidence is compelling, doesn't understand how to apply statistics to medicine. That said, the rise in autisim case rate in the US over the last parallels the rise in the number and rate of vaccinations, as well as the several obvious lifestyle changes. (TV watching, contact with other non-related infants, parent sleep paterns, sodium intake and more) So it will be nearly impossible to conduct a large scale study of any environmental or expoosure related cause.

    Still, Core baby-boomers might have recieved 4-5 separate vaccinations by the time they entered school. Todays Kindergarteners have had 15-20, often several at at time. There is no illness based reason for the early and simultaneous vaccination and no real understanding of the potentail for all artifically generated stimulation of our very complex imune system to cause harm. We could, without risking any increase in illnesses, deliver most childhood vaccines months to a few years later than we do, and administer them so that the imune system is only reacting to one at a time. Yet this reasoned approach has been completely rejected by the CDC in publishing it's preferred schedule, which seems to be a schedule built for convienience rather that for good medical reasons.

    Posted by Paul February 3, 10 05:52 PM
  1. Paul,
    Your point on the number of vaccines and its correlation to risk of illness (or lack thereof) is well taken.There is no epidemiologic reason for so many vaccines in such a brief period of time. I believe the reason the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC promote the current of vaccination schedule is due to some parents' lack of efficacy in ensuring adequate medical care for their children. Some studies have found that after age 5, the frequency of pediatric well-child visits declines sharply. The current vaccine schedule was developed to ensure that children received the required vaccines and booster shots before they reached the age where well-visit compliance declines.
    I'm not justifying this approach, merely reporting!

    Posted by Barb February 3, 10 06:41 PM
  1. My niece's daughter had a reaction to her third vaccine 12 hours after she had it. She had a major seizure and totally regressed immediately afterward. Now she is two and a half and cannot speak a word. She was perfectly fine before the vaccine. You can't tell me the vaccine and her behavior are not related. She has been tested and her autism is not genetic. The government is providing a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist, and a behavioral therapist. Who is covering what up?!

    Posted by B Klencheski February 3, 10 07:05 PM
  1. Wakefield's ethical violations are absolutely stunning. As a medical researcher, I was appalled when I read the details such as paying kids at his son's birthday party. No institutional medical ethics review board would approve his study as he conducted it. Regardless of what you think about any possible relationship between vaccination and autism, his actions were unethical and immoral and deserve condemnation.

    Posted by mgwa February 3, 10 07:23 PM
  1. Ash- thank you for pointing that out! i was just about to. The CDC has a list of red flags for parents to watch for, and a lot of them are based on developmental milestones that the children are supposed to hit by certain ages. If they DONT hit them, it's cause for concern. Most of them happen to be in the range of 12-18 months, the same time frame of the shots, and a lot of parents don't notice the signs until they are pointed out. Therefore, if they don't realize that their child hadn't given eye contact, babbled, or pointed for items at a certain age, they will not have anything to corrospond that to and look for something tangible, like a vaccine, for the cause.
    some of the red flags include:
    •Not respond to their name by 12 months
    •Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
    •Not play "pretend" games (pretend to "feed" a doll) by 18 months

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html this is a link of the milestones they should be hitting.

    Posted by MT February 3, 10 07:24 PM
  1. Who paid this company to come up with the statement that there is "no relation"? Is Pfizer behind this or what?

    Posted by erika February 3, 10 08:07 PM
  1. People also need to distinguish between 'Vaccines cause bad reactions in SOME people" and "Vaccines cause autism." Yes, there are people who have seizures, allergic reactions, and other problems due to vaccination. Some of this may be predictable if other family members reacted or if there is a known allergy. Some may just be unfortunate bad luck, the same way someone could die from an unknown bee sting allergy or nut allergy. Yes, siezures can cause neurological damage. Yes, it is tragic. But that is a far cry from saying vaccines cause autism. And there is no more reason to say 'No one should be vaccinated because their might be a reaction" than there is to say "No one whould ever go outside because a bee might sting them."

    Posted by BMS February 3, 10 08:17 PM
  1. As the mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I have seesawed back and forth on the vaccine question. The more I learn (albeit anecdotally as I am not a medical professional) the more it seems to me that there are multiple factors that have to be present for a child to develop autism. A neurological 'perfect storm' if you will. I also believe that once science finds a cause or a cure for autism, a cause or cure for Alzheimer's will follow shortly (or vice versa). In other words, I believe these two disorders have some kind of common thread. I also believe that, as long as big pharma can make money producing drugs for erectile dysfunction and sparse eyelashes (for crying out loud!), these devastating conditions will not get the money for research that they require. Just my opinion.

    Posted by kmd123 February 3, 10 08:37 PM
  1. I ate a banana yesterday and got a sore back. Some kids get a vaccine and then get autism, but how does that compare to the number who get a vaccine and don't get autism? How many kids who don't get a vaccine get autism?

    Even with all the best expertise and best intents, initial studies usually don't pan out. A study must be taken several times by different groups of researchers to be accepted by scientists.

    Posted by Michael February 3, 10 09:17 PM
  1. Pfizer's revenue for 2009 were $50.0 billion. Vaccines are big money. Think of all the lawsuits if they could prove the link. The out cry would be enormous, we have been poisoning our children from the time they are just born. They give newborn babies hepatitis B vaccines hours after they are born. Why? Why are there "booster" shots for most vaccines. Kids before they are 6 years old get over 25 vaccines. Vaccines are big money. I would not dismiss there is a relationship so easily.

    Posted by Scott February 3, 10 10:40 PM
  1. Kids die when they are not vaccinated, and Generation Rescue has blood on its hands for its anti-vaccination campaign.

    Arrogant parents cannot accept that their children where simply born with autism, and seek to blame outside sources -- it certainly couldn't be genetic, they have the best genes in the world!

    Focusing on treatment and mainstreaming of autistic kids is critical, but creating public health risks to ease your angst about your own kid's condition is unconscionable.

    Posted by Pappy February 3, 10 10:56 PM
  1. There is not link....yet. Read between the lines. Our children are depending on US to help put the pieces together. Those of you who want to bash us parents who are fighting for our babies rights must not know what it's like to see your child thrive and meet all their milestones, and all of the sudden your child won't play patty cake or blow kisses and wave goodbye anymore. Oh, but it's just unfortunate that the in most cases the onset of autistic symptoms occur around the time of a routine vaccination. Do you really know how many shots they give to a child in their first year? 25. Food for thought: At one point in time they said there was no link between cancer and cigarettes. Well, it took over a decade to admit that it did.

    Posted by addie hays February 3, 10 11:40 PM
  1. Call me old-fashioned, but can we really take seriously the paranoiac rantings of a former pornstar and her hypermanic Hollywood beau (Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey)? To put a finer point on it, I imagine it's much easier to blame a vaccine for one's problems that to suppose that cocaine/marijuana/liquor abuse or STDs might have more to do with the health of one's offspring. Even Al Capone didn't blame the government for his syphilis. Sometimes it's one's own d**n fault.

    Posted by Father Geoghan February 4, 10 01:53 AM
  1. The potential "link" between the vaccine and Autism is only linked to the combined MMR shot. What most people don't realize is that these vaccines can be given as 3 separate vaccines without any risk. The problem is that most doctors don't recommend this, either because of the expense or the time it takes to administer this. We paid out of pocket for the separate vaccines for both of my children and don't regret it at all. Even if there is a 1 in a billion chance that the vaccine and Autism are linked, why take the chance at all?

    Posted by TG February 4, 10 08:21 AM
  1. TG check out the data from Japan (search www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov for Japan MMR vaccine). Starting in 1993 Japan stopped using MMR (in addition to stopping DTaP earlier). No MMR vaccine was given yet an increase in autism. They did continue with the three shots you advocate during this period. The result was fewer children immunized and more disease.

    Posted by SG February 4, 10 10:10 AM
  1. TG, There is a 1 in 6500 chance that I will get in a car accident if I drive somewhere today. Does that mean I should walk everywhere?

    Posted by BMS February 4, 10 10:12 AM
  1. The supposed causal agent for autism in the MMR was thimerosol, a mercury based compound. However, that is not longer in the vaccines, except that rates of autism have continued to rise. Part of this rise is due to the change in diagnosis. 30 years ago kids with Aspbergers were called "weird" and "eccentric". Today they are on the "spectrum" and contribute to the 1 in 166 statistic that you so often hear.

    KMD's point about a "perfect storm" is probably pretty accurate

    Posted by ash February 4, 10 10:55 AM
  1. The vaccine/autism studies have all been like the obese lady who constantly eats ice cream, cookies, candy, and cakes. She moans and groans that she has proven over and over again that her diet does not cause obesity. The last six months she proved that chocolate does not cause it because she gave up eating it.

    There is a new book out "The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic" by Heather Fraser. Seems the FDA decided that refined peanut oil and soy oil are GRAS and do not need to be listed as ingredients in pharmaceuticals. Trade secret protection applies so nobody is allowed to tell our physicians or pharmacists that there can be peanut oil with trace amounts of peanut protein in vaccines. We now know why there has been a peanut allergy epidemic among our vaccinated children.

    It is time to end trade secret protection for ingredients of pharmaceuticals and remove GRAS status so ALL the ingredients of pharmaceuticals can be known by the physicians and patients.

    Posted by barb April 19, 10 02:57 PM
 
28 comments so far...
  1. Although the jury may still be out on vaccines and autism, Jenny McCarthy and David Kirby's defense of Dr. Wakefield's study, and the attack on the Lancet's retraction, is bewildering. The man is a huckster and was exposed as such. The retraction was more than warranted.

    Posted by Mike February 3, 10 03:16 PM
  1. The jury came back on vaccines and autism a while ago. There is absolutely no evidence of a causal link and significant evidence that there is no relationship between the two.

    Thanks for commenting, Wayne. The news is really that the journal that published the original study has officially retracted it. If they hadn't done so, people could still argue that the study had merit. (Not saying they're right, just that they could still argue about it. Well, technically, they can still argue about it anyway, but you know what I mean...) -- LMA

    Posted by Wayne February 3, 10 04:09 PM
  1. This was the one study that sparked the movement against vaccines. What other research is out there since the publication?

    Some of the studies about vaccines and autism since then have focused on Thimerosal, the preservative containing mercury, and whether mercury toxicity led to autism. Others have focused on kids with mitochondia issues. There are links to several other studies in the post itself (scroll down to the bottom), but here are a few more:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/01/california-stud/

    http://biotech.about.com/b/2009/01/28/another-autism-vaccine-study-fails-to-support-link.htm

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/347/19/1477

    -- LMA

    Posted by interestedinlearningmore February 3, 10 04:14 PM
  1. First off, shame on the Lancet for ever publishing Wakefield's manuscript. Anecdotal evidence from 12 subjects hardly constitutes a "study". Furthermore, what qualifies a GI to conduct research in pediatric neurology? Was there no peer review at the Lancet? As a researcher I am shocked that such nonsense was ever published. On McCarthy's defense of Wakefield, I believe as a parent of an autistic child, her emotions cloud her judgement. Two-thirds of autistic children have the same gene mutation, it is much more palpable for her to believe that a extrernal factor like a vaccine caused the autism and not genetic predisposition.

    Posted by Barb February 3, 10 04:16 PM
  1. This event and the findings of the General Medical Council (GMC) in Britain deserve more attention. Likely sensing he would be unfavorably judged, Wakefield didn’t even bother to show for the verdict. Among the dozens of charges the GMC deemed proven against Wakefield are that he provided a research proposal to a lawyer seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for causing autism before conducting any research on vaccines and autism. This study, if it found that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism in children, would greatly assist the lawyer in supporting his argument. With financial backing from a source that represented the ultimate conflict of interest, the study was carried out. Anti-vaccine people like to scream about the conflicts of interests on the part of researchers that don't find any association between vaccines and autism but none of those studies fail to disclose conflicts of interests. Wakefield concealed his COI. Wakefield had previously conducted research that potentially implicated that the MMR was a causal factor in Crohn’s disease but this research was not validated. As to what causes ASDs, they have a strong genetic component and to implicate vaccines is misguided. Science shows very clearly that this is not what causes autism.

    Posted by ObiWannabe February 3, 10 04:38 PM
  1. Wayne and Barb, I agree with you 100%. BTW, I am a researcher as well (enjoying downtime from grant writing), and the only reason I say "the jury is still out" is b/c it's not my field or research interest.
    My interest in this story is purely that of scientific peer review and the ways in which it can fail us.

    Posted by Mike February 3, 10 04:40 PM
  1. As a parent of a child with Autism that regressed after his MMRV shot, I was open to the evidence of the possibility it may have caused his regression. I am convinced that for 99+ percent of the population the vaccines are safe. There may be a link, where other conditions present, like prematurity, metabolic conditions, auto immune family history, etc. But by itself, there appears to be no definitive evidence that the MMR or MMRV alone causes Autism. .

    Posted by Claude February 3, 10 04:40 PM
  1. My son had four vaccines in one day in order to be "all caught up" for kindergarten, and he's never been the same. Some of those shots were for multiple diseases. I dont know if one of them -- or all of them -- caused his autism or if it was something else but I wish I could go back and insist that he get "caught up" more slowly.

    Posted by Cath February 3, 10 04:48 PM
  1. As a parent of a 2 children (1 normal development and 1 with PDD-NOS) I beleive that vaccines had nothing to do with my 2nd child's current diagnosis. Both kids have the same parents and same environment and received the same immunizations. My child with PDD was the same the day before her vaccinations as well as after. We have been involved in a research study to determine what causes ASD's and hope someday to find out why but until then people like Jenny McCarthy and others can have their opinions - I just happen to disagree with them.

    Posted by Sue February 3, 10 04:49 PM
  1. I applaud the Lancet for its retraction of this seriously flawed, and never again reproduced, research. Like Mike, I work in the field of medical research and agree that what is the most here is the failure of scientific peer review.

    As someone in the field of pediatrics, I would also point out that 15 months, when the MMR is given, is also the time that most children are walking and babbling. If they aren't, this is when it is noticed. It is entirely possible that the anecdotal correlation that some parents notice between the MMR and autism is related to this.


    Posted by ash February 3, 10 05:18 PM
  1. Small scale studies can't and aren't going to ever show any significant conection for low rate occurances. Anyone who thought they did, or that annectodal evidence is compelling, doesn't understand how to apply statistics to medicine. That said, the rise in autisim case rate in the US over the last parallels the rise in the number and rate of vaccinations, as well as the several obvious lifestyle changes. (TV watching, contact with other non-related infants, parent sleep paterns, sodium intake and more) So it will be nearly impossible to conduct a large scale study of any environmental or expoosure related cause.

    Still, Core baby-boomers might have recieved 4-5 separate vaccinations by the time they entered school. Todays Kindergarteners have had 15-20, often several at at time. There is no illness based reason for the early and simultaneous vaccination and no real understanding of the potentail for all artifically generated stimulation of our very complex imune system to cause harm. We could, without risking any increase in illnesses, deliver most childhood vaccines months to a few years later than we do, and administer them so that the imune system is only reacting to one at a time. Yet this reasoned approach has been completely rejected by the CDC in publishing it's preferred schedule, which seems to be a schedule built for convienience rather that for good medical reasons.

    Posted by Paul February 3, 10 05:52 PM
  1. Paul,
    Your point on the number of vaccines and its correlation to risk of illness (or lack thereof) is well taken.There is no epidemiologic reason for so many vaccines in such a brief period of time. I believe the reason the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC promote the current of vaccination schedule is due to some parents' lack of efficacy in ensuring adequate medical care for their children. Some studies have found that after age 5, the frequency of pediatric well-child visits declines sharply. The current vaccine schedule was developed to ensure that children received the required vaccines and booster shots before they reached the age where well-visit compliance declines.
    I'm not justifying this approach, merely reporting!

    Posted by Barb February 3, 10 06:41 PM
  1. My niece's daughter had a reaction to her third vaccine 12 hours after she had it. She had a major seizure and totally regressed immediately afterward. Now she is two and a half and cannot speak a word. She was perfectly fine before the vaccine. You can't tell me the vaccine and her behavior are not related. She has been tested and her autism is not genetic. The government is providing a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist, and a behavioral therapist. Who is covering what up?!

    Posted by B Klencheski February 3, 10 07:05 PM
  1. Wakefield's ethical violations are absolutely stunning. As a medical researcher, I was appalled when I read the details such as paying kids at his son's birthday party. No institutional medical ethics review board would approve his study as he conducted it. Regardless of what you think about any possible relationship between vaccination and autism, his actions were unethical and immoral and deserve condemnation.

    Posted by mgwa February 3, 10 07:23 PM
  1. Ash- thank you for pointing that out! i was just about to. The CDC has a list of red flags for parents to watch for, and a lot of them are based on developmental milestones that the children are supposed to hit by certain ages. If they DONT hit them, it's cause for concern. Most of them happen to be in the range of 12-18 months, the same time frame of the shots, and a lot of parents don't notice the signs until they are pointed out. Therefore, if they don't realize that their child hadn't given eye contact, babbled, or pointed for items at a certain age, they will not have anything to corrospond that to and look for something tangible, like a vaccine, for the cause.
    some of the red flags include:
    •Not respond to their name by 12 months
    •Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
    •Not play "pretend" games (pretend to "feed" a doll) by 18 months

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html this is a link of the milestones they should be hitting.

    Posted by MT February 3, 10 07:24 PM
  1. Who paid this company to come up with the statement that there is "no relation"? Is Pfizer behind this or what?

    Posted by erika February 3, 10 08:07 PM
  1. People also need to distinguish between 'Vaccines cause bad reactions in SOME people" and "Vaccines cause autism." Yes, there are people who have seizures, allergic reactions, and other problems due to vaccination. Some of this may be predictable if other family members reacted or if there is a known allergy. Some may just be unfortunate bad luck, the same way someone could die from an unknown bee sting allergy or nut allergy. Yes, siezures can cause neurological damage. Yes, it is tragic. But that is a far cry from saying vaccines cause autism. And there is no more reason to say 'No one should be vaccinated because their might be a reaction" than there is to say "No one whould ever go outside because a bee might sting them."

    Posted by BMS February 3, 10 08:17 PM
  1. As the mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I have seesawed back and forth on the vaccine question. The more I learn (albeit anecdotally as I am not a medical professional) the more it seems to me that there are multiple factors that have to be present for a child to develop autism. A neurological 'perfect storm' if you will. I also believe that once science finds a cause or a cure for autism, a cause or cure for Alzheimer's will follow shortly (or vice versa). In other words, I believe these two disorders have some kind of common thread. I also believe that, as long as big pharma can make money producing drugs for erectile dysfunction and sparse eyelashes (for crying out loud!), these devastating conditions will not get the money for research that they require. Just my opinion.

    Posted by kmd123 February 3, 10 08:37 PM
  1. I ate a banana yesterday and got a sore back. Some kids get a vaccine and then get autism, but how does that compare to the number who get a vaccine and don't get autism? How many kids who don't get a vaccine get autism?

    Even with all the best expertise and best intents, initial studies usually don't pan out. A study must be taken several times by different groups of researchers to be accepted by scientists.

    Posted by Michael February 3, 10 09:17 PM
  1. Pfizer's revenue for 2009 were $50.0 billion. Vaccines are big money. Think of all the lawsuits if they could prove the link. The out cry would be enormous, we have been poisoning our children from the time they are just born. They give newborn babies hepatitis B vaccines hours after they are born. Why? Why are there "booster" shots for most vaccines. Kids before they are 6 years old get over 25 vaccines. Vaccines are big money. I would not dismiss there is a relationship so easily.

    Posted by Scott February 3, 10 10:40 PM
  1. Kids die when they are not vaccinated, and Generation Rescue has blood on its hands for its anti-vaccination campaign.

    Arrogant parents cannot accept that their children where simply born with autism, and seek to blame outside sources -- it certainly couldn't be genetic, they have the best genes in the world!

    Focusing on treatment and mainstreaming of autistic kids is critical, but creating public health risks to ease your angst about your own kid's condition is unconscionable.

    Posted by Pappy February 3, 10 10:56 PM
  1. There is not link....yet. Read between the lines. Our children are depending on US to help put the pieces together. Those of you who want to bash us parents who are fighting for our babies rights must not know what it's like to see your child thrive and meet all their milestones, and all of the sudden your child won't play patty cake or blow kisses and wave goodbye anymore. Oh, but it's just unfortunate that the in most cases the onset of autistic symptoms occur around the time of a routine vaccination. Do you really know how many shots they give to a child in their first year? 25. Food for thought: At one point in time they said there was no link between cancer and cigarettes. Well, it took over a decade to admit that it did.

    Posted by addie hays February 3, 10 11:40 PM
  1. Call me old-fashioned, but can we really take seriously the paranoiac rantings of a former pornstar and her hypermanic Hollywood beau (Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey)? To put a finer point on it, I imagine it's much easier to blame a vaccine for one's problems that to suppose that cocaine/marijuana/liquor abuse or STDs might have more to do with the health of one's offspring. Even Al Capone didn't blame the government for his syphilis. Sometimes it's one's own d**n fault.

    Posted by Father Geoghan February 4, 10 01:53 AM
  1. The potential "link" between the vaccine and Autism is only linked to the combined MMR shot. What most people don't realize is that these vaccines can be given as 3 separate vaccines without any risk. The problem is that most doctors don't recommend this, either because of the expense or the time it takes to administer this. We paid out of pocket for the separate vaccines for both of my children and don't regret it at all. Even if there is a 1 in a billion chance that the vaccine and Autism are linked, why take the chance at all?

    Posted by TG February 4, 10 08:21 AM
  1. TG check out the data from Japan (search www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov for Japan MMR vaccine). Starting in 1993 Japan stopped using MMR (in addition to stopping DTaP earlier). No MMR vaccine was given yet an increase in autism. They did continue with the three shots you advocate during this period. The result was fewer children immunized and more disease.

    Posted by SG February 4, 10 10:10 AM
  1. TG, There is a 1 in 6500 chance that I will get in a car accident if I drive somewhere today. Does that mean I should walk everywhere?

    Posted by BMS February 4, 10 10:12 AM
  1. The supposed causal agent for autism in the MMR was thimerosol, a mercury based compound. However, that is not longer in the vaccines, except that rates of autism have continued to rise. Part of this rise is due to the change in diagnosis. 30 years ago kids with Aspbergers were called "weird" and "eccentric". Today they are on the "spectrum" and contribute to the 1 in 166 statistic that you so often hear.

    KMD's point about a "perfect storm" is probably pretty accurate

    Posted by ash February 4, 10 10:55 AM
  1. The vaccine/autism studies have all been like the obese lady who constantly eats ice cream, cookies, candy, and cakes. She moans and groans that she has proven over and over again that her diet does not cause obesity. The last six months she proved that chocolate does not cause it because she gave up eating it.

    There is a new book out "The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic" by Heather Fraser. Seems the FDA decided that refined peanut oil and soy oil are GRAS and do not need to be listed as ingredients in pharmaceuticals. Trade secret protection applies so nobody is allowed to tell our physicians or pharmacists that there can be peanut oil with trace amounts of peanut protein in vaccines. We now know why there has been a peanut allergy epidemic among our vaccinated children.

    It is time to end trade secret protection for ingredients of pharmaceuticals and remove GRAS status so ALL the ingredients of pharmaceuticals can be known by the physicians and patients.

    Posted by barb April 19, 10 02:57 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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