Skip to comments.Panel Finds No Evidence to Tie Autism to Vaccines
Posted on 05/18/2004 11:56:40 PM PDT by neverdem
An examination of scientific studies worldwide has found no convincing evidence that vaccines cause autism, according to a committee of experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine.
In particular, no link was found between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or vaccines that contain a mercury preservative called thimerosal. The committee released its eighth and final report yesterday in Washington.
Some parents of autistic children immediately protested. Mark Blaxill, the father of an 8-year-old girl with autism, said the committee's conclusions were premature. Studies are under way that should not be dismissed, said Mr. Blaxill, who is a director of the Coalition for SafeMinds, an advocacy group that finances research on the possible connection between autism and vaccines.
Representative Dave Weldon, a physician and a Republican from Florida who is an advocate for the parents, said the report was "based on preliminary, incomplete information and may ultimately be repudiated."
The report will not "put to rest the concerns of parents who believe their children were harmed" by vaccines, Mr. Weldon said.
Autism is a disorder of brain development that has been the subject of much publicity in recent years as parents and researchers hunt for its underlying cause or causes. The issue has been fueled by a rise in the number of children found to have autistic traits in the last decade, though experts disagree on how large the increase is.
Dr. Marie McCormick, a professor of maternal and child health at Harvard who led the investigation, said that most "parents should be reassured" and should not worry about getting their children vaccinated. In the meantime, she said, research on autism should focus on "more productive" areas, like genetic and environmental factors. The debate over vaccines and autism began five years ago when a British researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, reported that a small number of autistic children had signs of measles infection in their intestines after getting the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
A separate dispute soon broke out when researchers noted that many childhood vaccines contained a mercury preservative, though the measles formulation was not among them. Could an increase in the number of mercury-containing vaccines given to infants be an underlying cause of increased rates of autism?
The Immunization Safety Review Committee at the Institute of Medicine, which is affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences, was formed three years ago to examine those issues. The group, composed of expert physicians and scientists with no connections to the pharmaceutical industry, met nine times to gather evidence on the claims.
The committee emphasized that it carried out its mandate from a neutral position: the weight of evidence would indicate only whether it was possible to favor or reject a link between vaccines and autism. "You can never really prove a negative," Dr. McCormick said.
In 2001, the committee issued two reports. The first concluded that the measles vaccine was not likely to cause autism based on the epidemiological evidence. The second found that there was not enough evidence to reject or accept a causal link between vaccines with mercury and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. To be on the safe side, it recommended that infants get vaccines without mercury preservatives. By 2002, mercury had been removed from most childhood vaccines.
The report released yesterday was based on previous evidence and new studies since 2001, and goes further than ever in discrediting claims that vaccines cause autism. On the subject of vaccines with mercury, five epidemiological studies worldwide show there is no evidence of a link with autism. Three studies found evidence, but the committee said the research methods were flawed.
As for the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, 14 epidemiological studies have shown no evidence of a link. The committee dismissed two studies that did show a link as flawed. The committee examined a number of possible biological mechanisms to explain how vaccines might cause autism, but said that all were theoretical and that there was not sufficient proof.
Fewer children today receive vaccines that contain mercury, Mr. Blaxill of SafeMinds said, so if the mercury hypothesis holds true, rates of autism should fall in the next couple of years. The number of cases in California, where autistic children are carefully tracked, declined slightly in the last six months, he said, but it is too soon to know if the drop is a trend.
Autism is notoriously complex, Dr. McCormick said. Many scientists believe that it may involve numerous genes that appear to interact with a variety of environmental factors and other nongenetic influences.
In other words, a shill for the trial-lawyer pirates. He and his group be damned.
I hope this leads to a lot of lawsuits by pharmaceutical companies to reclaim the money the plaintiffs and their lawyers collected by fraud and lies. RICO would be a good idea too. We need to use the lawyer bastards' own tools to destroy them.
Sounds like a big corporate CYA, if you ask me.
I have no idea if there is a link or not, but something is causing much higher levels of autism in the past 20 years. I hope they keep searching for a cause, so that some day there may be a cure. Nothing will help my son, but maybe some parents in the future...
After reading the complete WaPo article and the NY Times version, I would appreciate comments about which was more informative.
As a research virologist, Im very skeptical of this panels conclusions. The feds tell us that mercury emissions from power plants must be lowered, they are dangerously high. The feds tell us that pregnant women should not eat tuna fish because it contains dangerous levels of mercury. And yet, the feds will NOT admit that injecting, on average, 25 micrograms per shot (this is thousands of times higher amounts than could be found in tuna or the air) of mercury directly into the bloodstream of infants for the last 30 yrs just might cause health/neurological problems?
Maybe, just maybe, the panels scientific conclusions are flawed, and the other studies showing a link between mercury and autism are correct?
Also, dont trust scientific studies high-lighted in the NYT or WaPo, these are not the best places to obtain factual scientific conclusions.
There are also much higher levels of Type 1 diabetes than a few years ago (which I and my sons are very, very familiar with). There are also much higher levels of various other auto-immune diseases. Vaccinations have been blamed for those too.
I doubt it. Modern medicine is allowing many more people to survive and pass on their genes (both strengths and weaknesses) than was possible in the past. Is it really any surprise that more and more recessive genes (which would have died out in the past) are getting together and causing problems today.
Back in the 1930's a person with Type 1 diabetes would be dead within a few months. There has been 2 ot 3 generations of people who have that problem and who have lived to breed since then.
The entire world would benefit from a complete understanding of the conditions that lead to autism and of the physical conditions that define autism. Restricting research to the study of the possibility that vaccines are the root cause of autism, may well be channeling limited resources away from much needed research in this area.
Even given that vaccines may turn out to be the missing link in the mystery surrounding the onset of autism, there may still be other events that occur simultaneously with the administration of the vaccine. For instance, are 18-month-old's particularly vulnerable to allergic reactions or to a common virus on surfaces in doctor's offices?
In other words, the vaccine should be viewed as a clue, but the entire circumstances surrounding the onset of autism should be examined. (Incidentally, in order to properly research a brain condition, it is important to narrowly determine the physical or genetic markers that define the disease.)
Sounds like a big corporate CYA, if you ask me. The companies making vaccines rarely profit from vaccine production, except maybe the flu shots. If there is a "CYA" out there, you might be better off looking at the CDC, or the virologists involved in vaccine research. The general theory in most widespread, government programs is this: "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few".
In conclusion, it would behoove all interested parties to push for research that does not focus on one "suspect" cause. Finding the true problem will undoubtedly reveal the causal agents, whichever they may be.
Ping to you, sweetie!
Actually, that part is a PETA-pushed agenda.
One would think that you, as a research virologist, would know that vaccinations are not injected directly into the child's bloodstream, but rather intramuscularly - almost always in the thigh...
University of Michigan declares that "MMR Vaccination Does Not Cause Autism" based on this evidence:
Summary of Key Evidence
498 children with autistic spectrum disorders were identified in the NE Thames region of England. Immunization information from a computerized data base were obtained on these children.
*In a Poisson regression analysis, no step up in the incidence of autism were noted for those born after the initiation of the MMR vaccine in 1988.
*The age at diagnosis of autism was compared for those immunized, unimmunized, and with late vaccination. No change in the age of diagnosis was detected.
*Using the case series model derived by Farrington, no temporal association was found in the diagnosis of autism and the MMR vaccine.
*The case series model is applicable when the overall incidence of disease is low.
Now if the vaccine isn't responsible for the increase in autism, what is? I gather one theory is that the age of childbearing has gone up in recent decades. Another theory is that in California, where autism has experienced a particular increase, more engineers are marrying other engineers, and the left-brain engineering personality type is associated with autism.
Research is being conducted along MANY lines. Vaccines are only one possibility. The temptation to want a quick and easy answer where blame can be placed at the feet of deep-pocketed pharm. companies may be leading more researchers to study vaccines, but others are pursuing several other leads.
What do you mean by "deep-pocketed pharmacuetical companies"?
Do you mean that accusing the vaccine manufacturers of causing Autism forces them to fund autism research to prove their innocence? Is that even constitutional?
You are of course correct, but the mercury preservative does not stay in the muscle cells, it eventually ends up in the bloodstream and is carried to other cells thoughout the body.
The cleverness of the human mind continues to astound me.
I mean that people only tend to sue parties that have substantial assets. You can't get blood from a stone. Autism treatments (like ABA) are very expensive ($50K/year). Desperate parents are willing to look in any direction to find a culpable party that "caused" their child's autism; a pharmaceutical company seems like an inviting target--if you can afford to bring a lawsuit. If the pharmaceutical company settles, you now have your ABA paid for, and there is the scent of vulnerability and guilt in the air, so others will come forward and try the same thing.
As parents of a sincerely autistic son, we gave up hope a while back, but I can see where some parents would want this to be true.
What is the preservative that contains mercury that you're talking about? I'm just curious.
Are these $50K treatments effective? Can autism be treated without knowing the cause?
Duh, nevermind, it was one of the first sentences in the article. Thanks anyway.
shhh...as a new member you're probably unaware of the conspiracy to bump off scientists in your area. Not a Freeper conspiracy you understand. Check out some of the old threads.
Thimerisol is a vaccine preservative that contains a miniscule amount of mercury
It not been in any children's vaccines since 2002. It will be interesting to see if there are no more cases of autism diagnosed in kids born after the change was made.
Thimerosal is a mercury derivative and was included in most childhood vaccines prior to 2002, however current vaccines no longer contain thimerosal (some do still contain trace amounts). The only exception that I could find are flu vaccines, which still contain thimerosal.
ABA is behavior modification. If initiated very early (like age 2 or 2.5), it can be very effective at minimizing some of the major effects of autism. Technically, the child is still autistic (somewhere on the spectrum), but is now more able to focus and learn. When done properly and intensively, ABA has about a 60% effectiveness track record.
thimerisol = thimerosal (whoops!)
|As a research virologist, Im very skeptical of this panels conclusions. The feds tell us that mercury emissions from power plants must be lowered, they are dangerously high. The feds tell us that pregnant women should not eat tuna fish because it contains dangerous levels of mercury. And yet, the feds will NOT admit that injecting, on average, 25 micrograms per shot (this is thousands of times higher amounts than could be found in tuna or the air) of mercury directly into the bloodstream of infants for the last 30 yrs just might cause health/neurological problems?
Maybe, just maybe, the panels scientific conclusions are flawed, and the other studies showing a link between mercury and autism are correct?
Sticking so many toxins and media (culture, preservatives, etc.) into the bloodstreams of infants with new immune systems sounds so suspicious, as does the onset of many kids' autistic symptoms.
Remember the Hippocratic oath?
It wasn't until our oldest son turned 4 that he was diagnosed with high functioning autism. Soon after that we enrolled him in the SECEP Program for Autistic Children here in VA Beach. This program has made a HUGE difference in our son. At 7 yrs of age he has the language skills of a 3 yr old and is writing at the kindergarten level. It takes a LOT of work but ABA has benefited us greatly.
Interesting, isn't it, that thimerosal has been in vaccines since the 40s, and yet we only see an increase in autism rates since the 80s? And earlier vaccines contianed much more of the preservative than did later versions.
Also,Denmark discontinued the use of thimerosal in 1992, yet autism rates have continued to climb.
Face it, there is no evidence linking autism to thimerosal.
Good post. I agree with almost everthing in it. My common sense just tells me that putting mercury directly into infants is NOT a good idea. Only time will tell whether it was related to the increase in autism or other neurological problems. We won't know the stats on this until around 2007-2012, 5-10yrs after they stop including thimerosal in childhood vaccines.
One increase for the number of diagnosed cases of autism is just that: more cases are being diagnosed. That is, more children who once were simply labeled "slow" or "difficult" or some other adjective are now diagnosed with autism, even though very little is known about autism itself. My wife teaches special ed at an elementary school, so I hear about this all the time. "Autism" has become a sort of catch-all for kids who have strange issues that do not respond to conventional treatements. That's not to say that there are not some genuine cases of autism, but many things that once were not labeled autism now are. That is one big reason that we see a rise in cases--not because more kids have it than used to, but because we are more liable to diagnose something as "autism" today than we were 20 years ago.
Aside from the Denmark survey, we also have the fact that thimerosal was already being removed from vaccines in this country as early as the mid-90s due to the increased use of single-dose containers. With the increased use of that dosing, we would have already seen the drop in autism cases, which we haven't.
All I'm saying is that it is a known scientific fact that:
1)mercury is a neurological poison, it is toxic
2)it is not good to inject large amounts (relative to body mass)of known poisons into infants
3)mercury was recently removed from vaccines (except for flu)due to scientific pressure
4)no conclusion relating mercury to ANY neurological disorder can be made, one way or the other....yet.
The conservative commentator Thomas Sowell has an interesting book on children who start talking late; he had such a child himself.
Thanks for your post. I will stand beside you on this issue.
Good for your mom. Nowadays it's the other way around--a lot of parents my wife deals with WANT their kids to have the autism diagnosis, simply because they believe that this will enable them to get their kids some treatment and some medication. We are such a pill-centric society that many people believe that all solutions are found in a bottle of medicine. Parents can't accept the fact that their kid, for whatever reason, has a behavior problem, or a learning difficulty. They demand that they get a diagnosis of autism. It's really discouraging to watch this kind of behavior--even moreso, I'd imagine, for parents whose kids really DO have autism.
Didn't you read my post?
In Denmark thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1992, and there has been no drop in autism rates. In addition, the use of the preservative in this country has been decreasing since the prevalent use of single-dose vials in the mid-90s, and autism rates continue to rise.
There is NO EVIDENCE of thimerosal causing aurtism.
An increase in the number of diagnoses vs. the number of cases that exist, is not really the point. We are really more concerned about why some kids are autistic--however many it may be.
There are so many things in our environment that have changed since the 70's, including the levels of estrogens, hormones, food colorings, and preservatives in the diet; the levels of use of electronics and filtered air in the home; the types of chemicals that are used to manufacture building materials, paints and carpets; chemicals that have been removed from the environment like lead in paint and pollution; personal health habits like the use of Advil and acetaminophen rather than aspirin; the increased use of birth control pills, latex condoms, latex gloves, factory-produced vitamins, insecticides; and there is an increase in the routine use of sonograms during pregnancy.
Any one of these things or something completely unrelated could be the culprit.
Keeping in mind that autism affects three times as many boys as girls, it would probably behoove researchers to explore the testosterone connection.
Well, I totally agree with you. I've always thought that in 50 years we'll look back at many of our common practices of today and say "what the hell were we thinking?"
It is almost tautologic: vaccines are given all together because it should be fine to do so. That is no argument.
Vaccines are given together because the medical association wants to achieve maximum vaccination of the population. They know that people are more apt to bring kids in for painful shots if they can get them in early when parents are more worried/focused on their babies, and if the required visits are few.
The other reason they are given so early is to prevent babies in daycare or subpar hygenic conditions from getting the illnesses that are more prevalent in those circumstances.
There have been no definitive long term studies that show that shooting kids with MANY vaccines while VERY young do not cause chronic immune system problems later in life. Something in our lives/environment is causing the high rates of chronic immune system disorders. How do we know it is NOT vaccination? We can't rule it out, so this "misconception busting" is all smoke.
There is no medication for autism. My son has it and the only things that really help are understanding from others about how he might react or behave, and some early social skills practice.
From this article:
Offit and his colleagues also calculate that the infant immune system has the theoretical capacity to respond to 'about 10 000 vaccines at any one time'. Putting this point in another way, they reckon that if all 11 vaccines were given at the same time, 'then about 0.1 percent of the immune system would be "used up"'. They insist that 'young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment'.
I know--I was referring more to the mentality of parents who think that getting a dianosis (whether it is accurate or not) will get them some "magic pills" that will just take care of it. They are usually unaware that autism is a lifelong condition that requires lifelong treatment.
Yes I just read the Denmark study you cited (Madsen et al., Sep 2003). The authors also said they could not rule out a causal relationship if infants were exposed to more vaccinations or higher amounts of mercury than in the Danish study.
But that's not really my point, you say mercury doesn't cause autism..OK...but I've never said it did. I'm saying mercury is a poison and there are many scientific studies which say it IS linked to neurological disorders (but maybe not directly to autism), especially in hypersensitive infants.
Headline: No Evidence...
Article: no convincing evidence... not enough proof...
Doesn't convince me. Empirical evidence has value too. Two trends have been observed, one that mercury as a preservative in vaccines has increased, the other an increase in autism diagnoses. The timelines are close, but not conclusive.
Mercury is known to be toxic to the human nervous system, and as far as I know, mercury cannot be eliminated from the bloodstream, like lead and aluminum. Once they get in, they accumulate, and are never eliminated. Regardless of whether a relationship can be proven, it is stupid to inject mercury into an infant.
No corporation is going to admit a fact like that, since to do so would be the death of said company, due to lawsuits and such. Therefore, we may have a very difficult time trying to find the truth. It would be cheaper for vaccine producers to sponsor research studies that disprove the relationship, and enter them into the body of knowledge.
But it DOES rule out thimerosal as a cause for autism, which, after all, is the point of the discussion.