This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Ever had it before? Well you got it again.
Doctor X
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This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

From the wonderful Quackwatch:
Yet another study debunks vaccination-autism link.

New findings from the CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study have found no difference in the blood levels of mercury among children ages 2-5 with autism spectrum disorders and children who were developing normally. [Hertz-Picciotto I and others. Blood mercury concentrations in CHARGE Study: Children with and without autism. Environmental Health Perspectives, Oct 19, 2009] The complete report is available at http://www.ehponline.org/members/2009/0 ... 900736.pdf
and:
Vaccination crusader honored and libeled.

Paul Offit, M.D., has received the American Academy of Pediatrics President's "Certificate for Outstanding Service," in recognition of his ongoing commitment to promote immunization." Offit, a pediatrician, is chief of infectious diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. His 2008 book, Autism's False Prophets, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ ... ckwatch-20 exposed the opportunism of lawyers, journalists, celebrities, practitioners, politicians, and miscellaneous cranks who are promoting the myth that vaccines cause autism. Vaccine opponents, enraged by both the book and the award, have responded by making false and misleading statements about him.
--J.D.
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Post by DrMatt »

I was unable to find either of those on Quackwatch, even using their Glimpse search.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Anaxagoras »

Jack?
Doctor X wrote:From the wonderful Quackwatch:
Yet another study debunks vaccination-autism link.

New findings from the CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study have found no difference in the blood levels of mercury among children ages 2-5 with autism spectrum disorders and children who were developing normally. [Hertz-Picciotto I and others. Blood mercury concentrations in CHARGE Study: Children with and without autism. Environmental Health Perspectives, Oct 19, 2009] The complete report is available at http://www.ehponline.org/members/2009/0 ... 900736.pdf
and:
Vaccination crusader honored and libeled.

Paul Offit, M.D., has received the American Academy of Pediatrics President's "Certificate for Outstanding Service," in recognition of his ongoing commitment to promote immunization." Offit, a pediatrician, is chief of infectious diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. His 2008 book, Autism's False Prophets, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ ... ckwatch-20 exposed the opportunism of lawyers, journalists, celebrities, practitioners, politicians, and miscellaneous cranks who are promoting the myth that vaccines cause autism. Vaccine opponents, enraged by both the book and the award, have responded by making false and misleading statements about him.
--J.D.
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Post by Doctor X »

No actually.

Looks like he just cut and pasted the articles without giving the full citation to Barrett's webpage.

--J.D.
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Post by DrMatt »

Doctor X wrote:No actually.

Looks like he just cut and pasted the articles without giving the full citation to Barrett's webpage.

--J.D.
What IS the citation to Barrett's web page? All I got was a reference to his main home page. I could not find the articles in question there. Where are they?
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Post by robinson »

I can't find them either.
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Post by Doctor X »

http://images.cheezburger.com/completes ... 114951.jpg

--J.D.
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Post by DrMatt »

Oh, so the citation is to Doctor X, not to Barrett.
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Post by Doctor X »

Vaccine scaremonger slammed.

The British General Medical Council (GMC), which registers doctors in the United Kingdom, has reported that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had acted dishonestly and irresponsibly in connection with a research project and its subsequent publication. The hearing, which started in July 2007, centered on a study of children by Wakefield and twelve others that linked the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism and bowel problems. Subsequent studies found no connections, but sensational publicity caused immunization rates in the UK to drop more than 10 percent. Ten of the study's authors have since renounced its conclusions; and Lancet's editor said he should not have published the study and that Wakefield's links to litigation against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine were a "fatal conflict of interest."

The GMC began investigating after learning that Wakefield had failed to declare he had been paid £55,000 to advise lawyers representing parents who belived that the vaccine had harmed their children. The GMC said that Wakefield had improperly recruited the patients at his son's birthday party, paid them £5 to give blood specimens, and later subjected some of them inappropriately to colonoscopy, lumbar punctures, and other tests without approval from a research review board. Wakefield was also criticized for not disclosing that he had filed a patent for a vaccine to compete with the MMR, and for starting a child on an experimental product called Transfer Factor, which he planned to market. The GMC panel concluded that the allegations against Wakefield could amount to "serious professional misconduct" and will deliberate on what action to take at a hearings scheduled to begin in April. http://www.casewatch.org/foreign/wakefi ... ndings.pdf

During the investigation, Wakefield relocated to Austin, Texas, where he helped found Thoughtful House Center for Children, a "nonprofit" clinic that offers many unsubstantiated treatments for autism. He does not have a medical license but oversees the clinic's research program. The clinic's latest (2008) tax filing lists his salary as $270,000. http://www.casewatch.org/990/thoughtful_house_2008.pdf
--J.D.
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Post by Doctor X »

Lancet retracts Wakefield article.

The Lancet has retracted publication of a 1998 paper in which Dr. Andrew Wakefield and colleagues suggested that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might be linked to autism. The paper didn't declare that cause-and-effect had been demonstrated, but at the press conference announcing its publication, Wakefield attacked the triple vaccine; and he has continued to do so ever since. Subsequent studies have found no connections, but sensational publicity caused immunization rates in the UK to drop more than 10 percent and have left lingering doubts among parents worldwide. The Lancet retraction came five days after The British General Medical Council, which registers doctors in the United Kingdom, reported that Wakefield had acted dishonestly, irresponsibly, unethically, and callously in connection with the research project and its subsequent publication. The paper remains publicly visible, but the online version displays the word "RETRACTED" in bright red letters on every page of the PDF version. For further details, see
http://www.autism-watch.org/news/lancet.shtml
--J.D.
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Post by Pyrrho »

Dumped by The Lancet? That's gonna leave a mark.
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Post by Llacheu »

Being dumped by the Lancet won't really affect the anti-vaxers. It may help the few people on the fence who keep up with news about medicine and medical journals.
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Post by Doctor X »

It will be seen as all part of T3h Conspiracy to Suprezz t3h Tw00f!

--J.D.
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Post by Pyrrho »

Propaganda arm of Big Pharma, etc.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

The CONSPIRACY continues!!!
Journal: Study Linking Vaccine to Autism was Fraud

LONDON – The first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research.

The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues was renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered.

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

Wakefield could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls and requests to the publisher of his recent book, which claims there is a connection between vaccines and autism that has been ignored by the medical establishment. Wakefield now lives in the U.S. where he enjoys a vocal following including celebrity supporters like Jenny McCarthy.

Deer's article was paid for by the Sunday Times of London and Britain's Channel 4 television network. It was published online Thursday in the medical journal, BMJ. In an accompanying editorial, BMJ editor Fiona Godlee and colleagues called Wakefield's study "an elaborate fraud." They said Wakefield's work in other journals should be examined to see if it should be retracted.

Last May, Wakefield was stripped of his right to practice medicine in Britain. Many other published studies have shown no connection between the MMR vaccination and autism.

But measles has surged since Wakefield's paper was published and there are sporadic outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. In 2008, measles was deemed endemic in England and Wales.

Linkypoo
--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Mentat »

I blame Obama.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

Stephen Barret, M.D. of QuackWatch offers further information:
The BMJ plans to publish three articles by Brian Deer, the investigative reporter who uncovered Wakefield's misconduct. In an accompanying blog, Deer summarized his findings this way:

"The British Medical Journal has begun a series that will bare the MMR scandal in detail never published before. Drawing on interviews, documents, and properly obtained data collected during seven years of inquiries, we show how one man, former gastroenterology researcher Andrew Wakefield, was able to manufacture the appearance of a purported medical syndrome, whilst not only in receipt of large sums of money, but also scheming businesses that promised him more. His was a fraud, moreover, of more than academic vanity. It unleashed fear, parental guilt, costly government intervention, and outbreaks of infectious disease." [Deer B. Piltdown medicine: The missing link between MMR and autism. BMJ Group Blogs, Jan 6, 2011] http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2011/01/06/bri ... mj_podblog

The first of Deer's three articles details how he examined the medical records and interviewed the parents of the 12 children used in Wakefield's study and found that all of the cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper were misrepresented. [Deer B. How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. BMJ 342:c5347, 2011] http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347

In an accompanying editorial, three of the BMJ's top editors wrote:

"The Lancet paper has of course been retracted, but for far narrower misconduct than is now apparent. The retraction statement cites the GMC's findings that the patients were not consecutively referred and the study did not have ethical approval, leaving the door open for those who want to continue to believe that the science, flawed though it always was, still stands. We hope that declaring the paper a fraud will close that door for good." [Godlee F and others. Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent: Clear evidence of falsification should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare. BMJ 342:c7452, 2011] http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452.full
--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by clarsct »

So.....

Why are these Anti-Vax types NOT charged with child abuse and neglect?

:?
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

Indeed. Why not?

--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by DrMatt »

Has that ever been successfully applied to Christian Scientists?

Are public schools still able to require that their students be vaccinated? Isn't that widely considered governmental overreach into the realm of the free market? Aren't public schools themselves considered overreach?
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by ed »

DrMatt wrote:Has that ever been successfully applied to Christian Scientists?

Are public schools still able to require that their students be vaccinated? Isn't that widely considered governmental overreach into the realm of the free market? Aren't public schools themselves considered overreach?
In my district at lease kids need proof of vaccination to be enrolled. They don't HAVE to be vaccinated if they, for example, are home schooled. One of my kids goes to private school and he had to be vaccinated. No idea if all schools require it.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Ronin »

ed wrote:
DrMatt wrote:Has that ever been successfully applied to Christian Scientists?

Are public schools still able to require that their students be vaccinated? Isn't that widely considered governmental overreach into the realm of the free market? Aren't public schools themselves considered overreach?
In my district at lease kids need proof of vaccination to be enrolled. They don't HAVE to be vaccinated if they, for example, are home schooled. One of my kids goes to private school and he had to be vaccinated. No idea if all schools require it.
Most states have waivers for medical and religious reasons, and many states have waivers for philosophical reasons. This is of course w/r/t public school systems and I don't think the same applies to private schools, who can apply their own standards as they see fit.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Anaxagoras »

Bill Gates interview (His foundation is spending $10 billion on vaccines, btw.)
Gates: Well, Dr. Wakefield has been shown to have used absolutely fraudulent data. He had a financial interest in some lawsuits, he created a fake paper, the journal allowed it to run. All the other studies were done, showed no connection whatsoever again and again and again. So it's an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids. Because the mothers who heard that lie, many of them didn't have their kids take either pertussis or measles vaccine, and their children are dead today. And so the people who go and engage in those anti-vaccine efforts -- you know, they, they kill children. It's a very sad thing, because these vaccines are important.
How come Wakefield still gets the "Dr." honorific? Even from critics.
Wasn't he stripped of his medical license? [/peeve]
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by DrMatt »

A doctorate is an academic standing that doesn't require license to practice.
If you finish law school but don't practice, you don't get stripped of your JD for failing to join a bar.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

Anaxagoras wrote:How come Wakefield still gets the "Dr." honorific? Even from critics.
Wasn't he stripped of his medical license? [/peeve]
You keep the degree, but in England, nearly all have an undergraduate degree and are called "doctor" by convention--until they become a Fellow of the respective Royal Society and are called "Mister." Funny convention of particularly surgeons that dates back to competition with the barber-surgeons. In England, an "M.D." is an actual doctorate requiring a dissertation.

Thanks for the linkypoo!

--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

More from QuackWatch:
New books attack autism and antivaccination quackery.

During the past few months three excellent books about autism quackery and vaccination opponents have been published:

The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fears by Seth Mnookin describes the history of opposition to vaccination with emphasis on autism-related fearmongering and the de-licensing of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Amazon.com: The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear (9781439158647): Seth Mnookin: Books

Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All by Paul A. Offit, M.D., Ph.D. focuses on the people and organizations that have been most influential in spreading fear and confusion among American parents. Amazon.com: Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All (9780465021499): Paul A. Offit M.D.: Books

Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction by Paul A. Offit, M.D., Ph.D. provides answers to more than 50 questions parents may ask.
Amazon.com: Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction (9780231153072): Paul A. Offit, Charlotte A. Moser: Books

###

Anti-vax group crtiqued.

Quackwatch has posted notes on the Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (CoMeD), a group "dedicated to reducing the mercury-exposure risks, for the unborn, infants, children, adolescents and adults, from all mercury-containing medical products to which they are, or may be, exposed." Some Notes on the Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (CoMeD Founded and led mainly by Dr. Mark Geier and his son David Geier, CoMeD's main goal has been to to rid the marketplace of all vaccines that contain thimerosal, a preservative that contains trace amounts of mercury. In 2008, the FDA dismissed a CoMeD citizen petition after concluding that its contentions were legally and scientifically unsupportable by either law or science and that the drug products that still contained mercury preservatives were safe. CoMeD then sued, but a U.S. District Court judge concluded that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. CoMeD is appealing the dismissal, but there is no reason to think that its suit is winnable. Meanwhile, the Geiers are facing regulatory action by the Maryland Board of Medicine.
Seth Mnookin wrote the fantastic Feeding the Monster about the selling of the Red Sox, the fights to change the team philosophies, all the way to the winning of the 2004 WS. I particularly enjoyed the part in 2003 when Grady Little infamously left Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the ALCS after 100 pitches--despite being buried in statistics all through the year such that EVERYONE knew he should come out at that point--he got shelled . . . Aaron Fuckin' Boone . . . Sox lose!:
[Red Sox lead 5-2 bottom of the 8th--Ed.] When Pedro Martinez returned to the mound in the eighth inning of Game 7, John Henry [Principle owner of the Red Sox--Ed.] felt as if he was spent; hell, Henry thought, any sentient being watching the game knew the pitcher was cooked. He looked over at [Theo--Ed.] Epstein [General manager--Ed.], sitting a couple of sections away, and the two men caught each other's eye. Epstein gave a little shrug, as if to say, "I have no idea what he's doing out there, either." [Bad things happen.--Ed.] The score was now 5-3.

Now, finally, Little shuffled out of the dugout and over to the mound, where he conferred with Martinez. In his seat, Henry was beside himself. At least, he reassured himself, there's still a two-run lead and Martinez was finally coming out of the game. Then, inexplicably, Little walked back to the dugout alone, leaving Martinez on the mound to face the dangerous Matsui. Henry turned to Lucchino [Other owner--Ed.]. "Can we fire [Little] right now?" Henry asked. "I felt pure rage," . . .
Pedro gets shelled, MFYs win, Little gets fired pretty much immediately.

--J.D.

Reference

Mnookin, S. Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2007.

--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by DrMatt »

This weekend I was privy to a group of basically intelligent mothers talking about the lengths they went through to avoid having their children vaccinated. They carried on about animal-sourced vaccines and mercury and how mumps, measles, rubella, and chicken pox are not that bad, after all. I didn't have enough of their trust to speak up, but I did get an education in how folklore displaces evidence in people's view of wisdom. And I must admit to having read a fair bit of folkloric "wisdom" here on S.C.

Now, I don't remember having had chicken pox as a kid, but I'm fairly certain I did have it. As an adult, I've had shingles--the same virus staging a comeback from its hiding place in the nervous system. Shingles was damned painful, and that's just in the classic place in the mid-spine. It can strike at the top of the neck or on the skull, causing blindness. It can strike all over. And when it strikes, it tries to spread itself. If I could have had the vaccine instead, I would definitely have opted for it.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

From QuackWatch
Study Looks at Vaccine Hesitancy:

A study of 376 responses to a prominent survey has found that most parents take their children for recommended vaccinations, but there are widespread fears that vaccines cause autism and that children are getting too many vaccines at once. [Kennedy A and others. Confidence about vaccines in the United States: understanding parents' perceptions. Health Affairs 30:1151-1159, 2011] http://content.healthaffairs.org/conten ... 1.abstract

A book review in the same journal issue identified reasons for these unfounded fears:
http://content.healthaffairs.org/conten ... 05.extract

**By giving equal airtime on television shows such as Oprah to the likes of actress Jenny McCarthy and other celebrities to inveigh against vaccination, and by treating the facts about vaccine safety as if they were still in dispute, the media foster fear and confusion.

**Parents bombarded with mixed messages about the dangers of technology-are more likely to listen to emotional narratives and charged stories than to reasoned evidence about what is right for our children.

**The media, technophobia, irresponsible doctors, and an increasingly risk-averse middle and upper class have all played key roles.

**Andrew Wakefield's report, which ran in the Lancet, may have been be "the flimsiest, most underpowered study supporting a conclusion of monumental importance to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal in the past fifty years."

**Bernadine Healy, M.D., former director of the National Institutes of Health, is quoted repeatedly by anti-vaccinators as having serious qualms about vaccine safety.

**Medical schools are not teaching students how to engage parental worries about vaccine safety.

**Public health agencies have not pulled their weight in the vaccine wars. Those in charge do not speak out forcefully and vehemently in support of vaccines.

For more about vaccine fears, see:

**Gerber JS, Offit PA. Vaccines and autism: A tale of shifting hypotheses. Clinical Infectious Diseases 48:456-461, 2009. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/4/456.full

**Offit PA, Moser, CA. The problem with Dr Bob's alternative vaccine schedule. Pediatrics 123e164-e169, 2009. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/c ... /e164.full
--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Pyrrho »

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08 ... c=fb&cc=fp
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Philip »

I normally like the Colbert Report, but the name chosen for the fake medicine in this clip makes me think the show has an anti-vaccination writer.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colber ... vaxamalgam
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

I lost all respect for Colbert when he felt he was "too important" to work with people who gave him work before he was "too important."

--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by sparks »

Doctor X wrote:I lost all respect for Colbert when he felt he was "too important" to work with people who gave him work before he was "too important."

--J.D.
He does appear quite full of himself, but isn't that his shtick?
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

"Shtick" ceases to be "shtick" when it is a part of one's character.

--J.D.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by gnome »

Linky on that situation?
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Doctor X »

Good article in this weeks The Economist. Roughly 455 infants sent to the hospital with whooping cough of which 10 died from it in 2011.

--J.D.

P.S. Not a bad post to make for one's 35,000th Post!




P.P.S. Which is significant.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Anaxagoras »

The NY Times focuses on an odd aspect: cutbacks in state health budgets.

The article doesn't really mention, except obliquely, the root cause of the problem.

Cutbacks Hurt a State’s Response to Whooping Cough
The response to the epidemic has been hampered by the recession, which has left state and local health departments on the front lines of defense weakened by years of sustained budget cuts.

Here in Skagit County, about an hour’s drive north of Seattle — the hardest-hit corner of the state, based on pertussis cases per capita — the local Public Health Department has half the staff it did in 2008. Preventive care programs, intended to keep people healthy, are mostly gone.

The county’s top medical officer, Dr. Howard Leibrand, who is also a full-time emergency room physician, said that in the crushing triage of a combined health crisis and budget crisis, he had gone so far as to urge local physicians to stop testing patients to confirm a whooping cough diagnosis.

If the signs are there, he said — especially a persistent, deep cough and indication of contact with a confirmed victim — doctors should simply treat patients with antibiotics. The pertussis test can cost up to $400 and delay treatment by days. About 14.6 percent of Skagit County residents have no health insurance, according to a state study conducted last year, up from 11.6 percent in 2008.

“There has been half a million dollars spent on testing in this county,” Dr. Leibrand said late last week. “Do you know how much vaccination you can buy for half a million dollars?” And testing, he added, benefits only the epidemiologists, not the patients. “It’s an outrageous way to spend your health care dollar.”
I would say that the problem is not the cutbacks, but how the money is spent. It would be better spent on cheap vaccines than $400 tests for pertussis.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by DrMatt »

Still no updates on Quackwatch.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by DrMatt »

DrMatt wrote:Still no updates on Quackwatch.
Latest is that the Discovery Phase has been extended by 3 months.
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by Anaxagoras »

A good editorial on Bloomberg:

Make It Hard for Parents to Deny Their Kids Vaccines
The U.S. this year is set to have the worst outbreak of whooping cough since the 1970s. Already, from January to mid-July, there have been 17,000 registered cases and nine deaths.

Like the whoop that punctuates the cough, this number is a warning that something is very wrong. The increase, researchers suspect, is partly due to the waning effect of whooping cough vaccines introduced in the 1990s to replace older formulations. It’s also connected to the rising number of parents who refuse to get their children immunized because of a dangerously misinformed belief that vaccines are more harmful than the diseases they prevent.

The problem is illustrated by Washington state, ground zero of the outbreak. Overall, Washington has a good record of vaccinating kids for whooping cough, also called pertussis. Yet performance varies by community. In San Juan County, in the northwest of the state, only 52 percent of kindergartners and 4 percent of sixth-graders were up-to-date on their pertussis shots for the 2010-2011 school year. Not surprisingly, the incidence of the disease there is elevated.

This pattern is repeated across the country. Because the U.S. has made great strides in making vaccines available and inexpensive, immunization rates overall are at an all-time high. You might think this would create the herd immunity for which health workers aim: When a sufficient portion of a population (generally, 90 percent) is vaccinated, the pathogen can’t easily transmit in a community, so it dies off. What has happened, however, is that holes in the protective cover have opened as geographic clusters of parents, such as the one in San Juan County or another around Boulder, Colorado, have rejected vaccines. These communities are disproportionately white, educated and well-off.

Their children are at much higher risk of illness; they are 35 times more likely to get measles, for instance. Once infected, they spread disease to others, including those who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated, those for whom a given vaccine doesn’t work, and infants too young to be vaccinated. Babies account for most of the pertussis deaths this year.

Pertussis and measles are the first of the childhood diseases to make a comeback in the face of vaccination refusals, probably because they are especially contagious. Last year, the U.S. recorded 222 measles cases instead of the usual 60.

Since the early 1980s, every state has required children to be inoculated against childhood diseases before they are admitted to school, unless they have a medical exclusion. Forty- eight states allow religious exemptions as well and 20, philosophical ones. The use of these waivers has grown as more parents are fooled by overhyped, inaccurate reports of vaccine risks, most notoriously a bogus 1998 study -- since retracted by its publisher -- linking the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine to autism.

Some health experts have argued that states should abolish all but the medical waivers. After all, courts have consistently upheld vaccine mandates. Striking down a religious exemption, the Mississippi Supreme Court said the state had an “overriding and compelling public interest” to protect children, even when it conflicts with the religious rights of parents.
I wish it was the case that only people who refused the vaccines suffered the consequences themselves, but that is clearly not the case. The most vulnerable are babies too young to be vaccinated. So the victims of this are not necessarily the same people who are causing it. I don't buy the religious and philosophical objections excuse when somebody else has to pay the price.
DrMatt
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Re: This Just in . . . Vaccines STILL Do Not Cause Autism

Post by DrMatt »

I think that sending the refusing parents to jail and taking away their kids and getting those kids up to date on their vaccinations is entirely within the ethical reach of a liberty-loving state...and should be done at the federal level with no room for local exclusion. I think treating the refusing parents as terrorists is not all that far out of bound.
People from the loony wing label me rightist or leftist for saying that. Hey, folks, welcome into the 1890s. The world has passed you by.