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  • scep dick

    You know what bugs me most about the autism arguement either way? It’s that you cant really ever accurately ‘test’ for autism anyway. My nephew is autistic and it takes ages for them to diagnose. And its just related to certain signs he shows. And it’s just someone’s opinion. Its not like you can physically test autism as a whole – just parts of it. And they even say now ‘autism-like symptoms’ or ‘spectrum’rather than stereotyping someone with autism. So how can they accurately run accurate or unbiased studies looking for the link between vaccines and the syndrome? No one can.
    .

    Notice I said ‘vaccines’ and not ‘MMR’. Its not just one but the 36 (up 360% from when I was a kid) that need to be questioned. Why isn’t one whooping cough vaccine enough? It used to be touted by Drs as ‘Get one and you’re protected for life’. Then two. Then three. Then four. Is it five now? When is it going to stop? Weekly injections? DIY kit? Doesn’t anyone wonder why our kids need so many (and now adults?).
    .

    I think we need to take a long hard look at the health of the world, particularly 1st world countries like the US, Australia, NZ, UK, and even developing countries like China (who are striving to be more ‘western’). According to many the following diseases are on the rise;
    Cancer, cardiovaccular disease, adult and childhood diabetes, allergies, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, alzhiemers, autism, skin disorders, kidney disease, mental health problems, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue. God the list goes on and on.
    .

    Do you think more drugs and pharmacueticals are going to fix this?
    Maybe another vaccine to add to the ever-growing number we already jab people with?!
    .

    When sceptics talk about the growth in industries like homeopathy, natropathy and alternative health in general there is a reason for it. Its not because these therapist are great at marketing and have huge budgets to advertise their wares (its usually the opposite of both) its because people WANT it. Consumers wants to feel better and look better and their bodies to work they way they are supposed to. Consumers are leading the market. They are tired and sick of feeling sick and tired and they dont want to turn to drugs for every ache and pain. If diet and lifestyle can change some health issues there is no reason why they can’t help all of them. The body wants to be well, not have symptoms dulled by medication.
    .

    Just as a side note which is completlely unrelated to vaccinations or sciencey stuff – a japanese airline has just been found faking thier safety tests on thier seats. A wistleblower alerted the authorities. It shows that any study or test can be falsified.

  • kill3rTcell

    I love that Bernice never actually answers AndyD’s main question.

    How is it possible for someone to hold two contradictory thoughts in their head at the same time and not notice it? I know people do it, but it always amazes me.

  • Meryl
  • DT

    Feels like a good of the gaps discussion going on here

  • “Sure, I would agree that it would be necessary to match the two groups for potentially harmful factors such as chemical exposure, but why would factors such as whether a person eats meat or visits a GP be relevant, unless of course you are mooting these as possible causes of autoimmune diabetes or autism.”
    .
    There is not, to my knowledge, any proof that red meat doesn’t cause autism. I don’t have to put it forward as a risk to consider it an important difference in a trial of two groups in which another unknown cause of autism is under the spotlight.
    .
    AND, for the FOURTH time “Beyond the timing of the onset of symptoms, and given that millions and millions of vaccinated kids show no ill effects, what evidence is there that vaccines DO cause autism?”

  • bernice l.

    Andy D,
    You said: “Comparing vaxed and invexed kids would be a great idea if it were possible to isolate all other possible differences.” I acknowledge the point you are trying to make, that’s exactly the reason I didn’t “talk about the Amish”, but why would you have to isolate all other possible differences between the two populations? Sure, I would agree that it would be necessary to match the two groups for potentially harmful factors such as chemical exposure, but why would factors such as whether a person eats meat or visits a GP be relevant, unless of course you are mooting these as possible causes of autoimmune diabetes or autism. In any case, I know a great many people who do not vaccinate, but see doctors and eat meat. Conversely, I know plenty of people who vaccinate and use so-called complimentary medicine. Finally, you seem to be demanding the perfect study design from me, yet choose to rely on the rebuttal studies churned out by the hired guns of the pharmaceutical industry which purport to disprove a link between vaccines and autism and various other disorders, when the study designs proclude such conclusions.
    “Comparing vaxed and invexed kids would be a great idea” period. I’ll be away until next week, and will be happy to continue this then.

  • Sean the Blogonaut

    god rather 🙁

  • Sean the Blogonaut

    Feels like a good of the gaps discussion going on here

  • But Bernice, can you show that non-vaxxers and vaxxers are otherwise the same? It seems to me, based purely on my limited observation (including of the AVN), that non-vaxxers tend to oppose most, if not almost all, mainstream medicine. They are more likely, I’d suspect, to be vegan or at least vegetarian, to not use harsh cleaning chemicals, to use aromatherapy – to be almost stereotypically “alternative” in many aspects of their life. How do we ensure the only consistent difference across the two groups is vaccination?

    AND – before we even get that far… “Beyond the timing of the onset of symptoms, and given that millions and millions of vaccinated kids show no ill effects, what evidence is there that vaccines DO cause autism?”

  • bernice l.

    Dave H, WTF! Extraordinary! Am I missing something? Can you not read! I did not mention the Amish! Andy D did! The Amish is a fairly homogenous, discrete population which could not in anyway be extrapolated across the population. We need a broad crosssection of the population. Talk to Andy D about the Amish and autism, leave me out of it!

  • Dave H

    Sorry, Bernice, but your Amish-and-autism “facts” are plain wrong. The US Amish DO vaccinate, and they DO experience autism but at a rate LOWER than the general US population. So the conclusion you, i.e. you, Bernice, must surely draw from those facts is: Vaccination PROTECTS AGAINST autism, not causes it.

    Whoops! 🙂

    http://autism.about.com/b/2008/04/23/do-the-amish-vaccinate-indeed-they-do-and-their-autism-rates-may-be-lower.htm

  • Please forgive my hopeless typing.

  • Bernice, I ask again, “Beyond the timing of the onset of symptoms, and given that millions and millions of vaccinated kids show no ill effects, what evidence is there that vaccines DO cause autism?”
    .
    Comparing vaxed and invexed kids would be a great idea if it were possible to isolate all other possible differences. People point, for example, to the Amish saying “they don’t vax – they don’t get autism”.
    .
    Now, putting aside disagreements over the factual basis of that statement, the Amish have numerous difference with the general population, not just vaccination. Maybe it’s technology – that link hasn’t been disproved. Maybe it’s conservative fashion – that link too has not been disproved. Perhaps it is separation from society.
    .
    There are many differences that would need to be taken into account as dismissed as possible causes of autism – and I suspect none have been thoroughly dismissed, if tested, (again, that’s if we even accept that there’s no Amish autism). And I imagine this would apply to any vax/non-vax subgroups you’d care to put forward.

  • bernice l.

    Grendel,
    Well, then why do the scientific community make the claim that they have proved vaccines do not cause autism? Per my post to Andy D above, “not finding a link between vaccines and autism” is not the same as “proof that vaccines do not cause autism”. It just ain’t scientific.”
    In relation to your question about vaccine efficacy, I’d suggest you do some reading in relation to how ultimately, nutritional status is the key determinant in both the immune response to naturally acquired infectious disease as well as seroconversion from vaccination, if you believe that seroconversion equates to immunity.
    For example, a child with marginal Vitamin A deficiency (no frank symptoms) will be more susceptible to serious sequelae from measles infection, than a child with robust optimal Vitamin A stores. Similarly, seroconversion has been shown to be dependent on nutritional factors such as Vitamin A status. It is simply incredibly naieve to believe that vaccination in the presence of nutrient deficiency will by itself protect from infectious disease.
    Interestingly, Vitamin A deficiency has been postulated as a possible explanation for the adverse sequelae from the live MMR vaccine, in a subpopulation of autistic children. In other words, if a child was Vitamin A deficient, not only would he be susceptible to adverse sequelae from naturally acquired measles but to adverse sequelae from a live measles vaccine as well.
    This one example highlights the divide between mainstream medicine’s sickness/symptom pardigm and alternative medicine’s health/preventative paradigm. Mainstream medicine would not consider Vitamin A deficiency unless frank symptoms were presenting and conclude that Vitamin A is not an issue, as if a concrete line can be drawn between a deficiency and sufficiency state. The truth is that there is a large area in between deficiency and sufficiency states and wide variation in how much Vitamin A is required by an individual at any given point in time. Conversely, alternative medicine is focussed on optimising nutrient levels even in the presence of health. Vitamin A (not beta-carotene) amongst other nutrients, is certainly central to my family’s health maintenence regime. Optimal nutritional status is the only path to health and disease prevention. There are no short cuts. Vaccination will not protect a person with either frank malnutrition or sub-clinical malnutrition. If you believe that then you’ll believe anything.
    PS. Please do not try to educate me on the dangers of Vitamin A. I am aware of any toxicity issues.

  • bernice l.

    Andy D,

    You said:

    “It’s the mercury, it’s the aluminium, it’s the “toxins”, it’s too many, too soon, it’s the combinations, it compromises the immune system, it’s the method…”

    Whether or not you intended to or not, you have captured the difficulties inherent in isolating credible scientific evidence in relation to vaccine safety, using the kinds of study methods which the mainstream medical/scientific communiities have great fondness for. The study design of all of the recent papers that purport to disprove a link between vaccines and adverse consequences such as autism are inherently flawed beacuse they consider only one potential harmful component of the vaccine/schedule. For example, a study comparing outcomes in children receiving thiomersal-containing vaccines versus those receiving thiomersal-free vaccines (so-called unvaccinated group), would only be valid if there was certainty that those thiomersal-free vaccines were also safe. In essence, a comparison of two vaccinated groups, albeit with different vaccines, is not conclusive. This is the kind of deliberate misrepresentation that the medical/scientific community engages in on a regular basis. The devil is in the detail as they say. This is why we need to study vaccinated populations versus truly unvaccinated populations. Let’s look at autoimmune diseases, autism rates, allegies etc in the two populations. As far as I know this research has not been done. Again I ask anyone to refer me to any research of this type. I wonder why pro-vaxers would be so scared of such research? I think the tide will turn eventually anyway. Our current health system is unsustainable; the glory days of the pharmaceutical companies receiving blank cheques from governments for all the so-called miracle vaccines and drugs which they churn out each year, will slowly come to an end. I was watching a replay of Q & A featuring Nicola Roxon, who quite correctly identified the burden of chronic disease as opposed to infectious disease in the context of the health system. Why are chronic diseases afflicting so many people at younger and younger ages? Oh sorry, I forgot, there hasn’t really been an increase in young people getting chronic diseases, it was just underdiagnosed in the past. LOL. As an intersting aside, my unvaccinated children have never visited a doctor by the way. If they needed some spare parts I would take them to a doctor, for health care management I’ll stick with what has worked so far. Finally, “not finding a link between vaccines and autism” is not the same as “proof that vaccines do not cause autism”. It just ain’t scientific!

  • But it’s never irrefutable Bernice. It just requires a shifting of goalposts – and some more tests. It’s the mercury, it’s the aluminium, it’s the “toxins”, it’s too many, too soon, it’s the combinations, it compromises the immune system, it’s the method… Each and every new set of goalposts requires a new test to rule it out.

    Beyond the timing of the onset of symptoms, and given that millions and millions of vaccinated kids show no ill effects, what evidence is there that vaccines DO cause autism?

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  • Grendel

    “I can not find any reference in the paper to a finding of causal association between MMR and autism” so why is it used by the anti-vax crowd to claim that such a link exists? Why do you keep bringing it up in that context?

    Wakefield himself has consistently maintained an opinion that his research and that paper demonstrated such a link even though (as you correctly pointed out) the paper itself does not identify such a link. In any case my point about using Wakefield in this discussion still stands – it was a study based on 12 children, which has never been able to be replicated and the data for which seems to have been so flawed as to now have brought Wakefield into professional disrepute.

    I would like to ask you a more simple question – do you believe that vaccines work – ie in the majority of cases where people are exposed to a pathogen do vaccines prevent the diseases that they are intended to prevent?

  • bernice l.

    Grendel, I have highlighted (in another thread) the findings of the Wakefield et al paper at another thread so please do not misrepresent what I have said, as pro-vaxers are apt to do. Perhaps you might like to comment on “the retraction” at that thread. Link below. The anti-vax or vaccine/autism movement was around a long time before 1998.

    http://scepticsbook.com/2009/02/09/what-more-do-the-mmranti-vaccers-want/

    To claim that my “starting point” for “skeptical consideration” of the MMR issue is Wakefield is a total misrepresentation of what I said! In fact, I said the opposite, outlining my concerns about monovalent measles vaccines from over 30 yrs ago. Maggie, posted the complaint about AVN and this obvious flaw jumped out at me. I merely responded to it. The reason I highlighted the flaw in the conclusions drawn from the findings of the Japan study is because the scientific establishment are all too quick to label anti-vaxers as unscientific ratbags. It is simply impossible to claim scientifically from that study that MMR does not not cause autism. The only conclusion that can be made is that they did not find any change in autism incidence trends, when they changed from a trivalent to monovalent vaccine. To claim anything else is a misrepresentation. I also did not make a claim to have published evidence that the monovalent measles vaccine caused my epilepsy or my brother’s mental retardation/autism, notwithstanding I believe it to be true. I wonder how one would prove that scientifically anyway? I provided this information in the context of the Japan study to challenge the underlying implied assumption that the monovalent vaccine does not cause autism. I’ve been following this issue a long time. Personally, at the time (of the wakefield paper), I was quite surprised when Wakefield suggested returning to safer monovalent vaccines. Maybe safer, but definitely not safe!

    I am not aware of any significant research which compares never-vaccinated populations with vaccinated populations. If you could find me at least one I would appreciate it. The large quantum of research to which you refer relating to vaccines does not extend to clean studies of the type I am proposing. The presence of multiple possible mechanisms and sources of damage from vaccines prevents any reliable conclusions to be drawn from comparing two groups of people which have both been vaccinated albeit with different vaccines/ingredients/schedules. For example, at the time of that Japan study thiomersal was still used as a preservative in vaccines such as DTP, Hepatitis B, and HIB. The scientific establishment has the opportunity to discredit the anti-vaxers with a study that would provide irrefutable evidence one way or the other. Let’s get it done now, before the infant vaccine schedule gets even bigger! Have you seen the US schedule lately? I wonder how antigenic competition is considered in the context of the schedule as a whole?

  • Michael Kingsford Gray

    It is a start.
    One quack at a time.

  • Jeff Keogh

    Grendel,

    As has been amply demonstrated on this blog before, if it’s good enough for Bernice, it’s good enough for everyone.

    Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!

  • Grendel

    Bernice – Wakefield is definetly NOT a starting point for a skeptical consideration of this issue. It is far too flawed to contain any vestige of reliability.

  • EoR

    I wonder how the AVN ratbags are going to try and squirm their way out of this?

    Oh No! Now we have proof that the HCCC are part of the global vaccination conspiracy! It’s bigger than we suspected! Protect your children now!

    etc etc etc

  • Jeff Keogh

    Nope. Clearly didn’t get the html right.

    Oh potty.

  • Jeff Keogh
  • Jeff Keogh

    My question echoes AndyD’s. What are the penalties if the complaint is upheld?

  • I agree that Andrew Wakefield’s paper was groundbreaking. For allegedly faking data, for not declaring conflict of interests (he had a patent registered for a single measles vaccines), for Wakefield being investigated by the GRC of the UK for misconduct, and for 10 of the 12 scientists, plus the Lancet retracting the paper. Plus the GI studies you refer to involved PCR detection of the measles virus from the GI tract, and these were so ground breaking they have never been able to be reproduced (meaning in science terms, they are likely not a real result – this is the data that was suspected as faked).

    Wow, it is very unusual for one publication to be embroiled in so much controversy. One might even say, groundbreaking.

  • bernice l.

    To quote

    “7.1. Regarding the use of the MMR vaccine in Japan, the AVN says on their website: 9
    “ Some countries such as Japan have stopped using the combination vaccine because of the increased risk. “
    Response 7.1.1. Japan. First, let us be clear. In April 1993, Japan stopped using the MMR vaccine, (five years before the Wakefield paper10 was published), following unsubstantiated reports that the anti-mumps component might be causing meningitis. 11 This was then an unsubstantiated perceived risk and the Japanese Government commissioned research to see if there was an actual risk. “Perceived Risk” is different to “Actual Risk.” The AVN fails to refer to later research, very widely reported, that showed that in Japan, the number of children with autism continued to rise after the MMR vaccine was replaced with single vaccines. Hideo Honda PhD of the Yokohama Rehabilitation Center concluded that the MMR vaccine cannot have caused autism in the many children with autism spectrum disorders in Japan who were born and grew up in the era when MMR was not available. “The findings are resoundingly negative,” Honda said in his report.12 So, the perceived “increased risk” was found to be baseless, and for the AVN to say that “Some countries such as Japan have stopped using the combination vaccine because of the increased risk “ is selective and deceptive, and completely out of date.”

    Fellow skeptics, do I really need to highlight the dodgy, rather unscientific assumption/logic in the statement which concludes “the MMR vaccine cannot have caused autism in the many children with autism spectrum disorders in Japan who were born and grew up in the era when MMR was not available.” The said children were however exposed to monovalent measles vaccine. The safety concerns about live measles vaccine did not begin with Dr Wakefield’s paper in 1998, so it is unscientific and misleading to represent a continuation of an upward trend in autism cases when the MMR was replaced with monovalent measles vaccine, as evidence of MMR’s safety. Wakefield’s paper was ground-breaking for it’s identification and characterisation of unusual chronic intestinal disease temporally associated with MMR vaccination. It was not ground-breaking in terms of raising questions about the safety of a live vaccine which included measles. I’m always amused how this is reported in the media, as I am when it is reported that another study “proves no link between MMR and autism” when it would be more correct to say that “no link was found between MMR and autism”. These 2 statements are of course 2 different things, but we can’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. In the 1970’s, my mother identified what is now described as autistic regression within 2 weeks of my, now deceased, younger brother’s measles vaccine. She also claims that I developed epilepsy, requiring years of medication, within a week of receiving the measles vaccine. Same doctor’s visit, same vaccine, one infant and one significantly older child. One gets mental retardation in spite of previously normal development, one gets epilepsy, other three older siblings apparently unaffected. My brother’s diagnosis was changed to autism many years later. Purely anecdotal, of course. We need a clean, prospective study comparing unvaccinated populations with vaccinated populations. This study would not of course be able to identify which individual vaccines are any safer than another, but it would expose the dramatic difference in chronic disease incidence between the 2 groups. There’s enough of us around who have never vaccinated and never will vaccinate their children to make up the numbers in the unvaccinated group. Bring it on!

  • Sorry to be a party pooper but it seems to me there’s an entire alternative “health” industry out there “advising” parents not to inject their kids – if only implicitly.

    The only problem I can see here is that the AVN are presumably not registered to dole out the same misinformation. Just how rough are the authorities likely to be on them even if they uphold the complaint? Does the HCCC have teeth?

  • Link fixed, thanks Daniel.

  • Luke Weston

    Wow, this is absolutely fantastic stuff. My commendations to all those involved in preparing this submission.

    I wonder how the AVN ratbags are going to try and squirm their way out of this?

  • Daniel Raffaele

    Link doesn’t work. Goes to image of Meryl’s newsletter.