The latest claims of “proof” that vaccines cause autism: Will the media take the bait?

Tomorrow afternoon, a handful of anti-vaccine groups and activists will hold a press conference in Washington, DC, announcing the results of a “major investigation” conducted by “parents of children with autism” that has found that children who have been compensated by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) are more than three hundred times more likely to be diagnosed with autism as children in the population as a whole. Will the discovery that “the federal government [has] paid millions of dollars to vaccine-injured children with autism”^ finally force “[the] government to acknowledge a link between vaccines and autism?”

I doubt it — and thank goodness for that. Since the Vaccine Court and the compensation program it administers are, to say the least, a little complicated`, here’s an analogy to explain why.

In 1984, I got my first computer — a Timex Sinclair 1500.* In the 27 years since then, home computers have gone from being objects of fascination (and limited utility) to being ubiquitous (and incredibly useful). A quarter century ago, a relatively small number of Americans spent all day staring at computer screens all day; now, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) do. All of this time spent in front of LCD displays has caused various health issues — including eyestrain.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that there was some national fund to help pay for eyeglasses for people who suffered from computer-related eyestrain. It’d be virtually impossible (or at least prohibitively time-consuming) for every single person who could potentially be eligible to prove that his eyestrain resulted from computer use…so instead, anyone who could demonstrate that he suffered symptoms of eyestrain, such as blurred or double vision, in the month after buying a computer would automatically get the $20.

Now, take an sample of, say, 100,000 computer users and let’s say that 10,000 (or ten percent)`^ exhibited symptoms indicative of eyestrain and also applied to the program for the $20 they were therefore entitled to. And let’s also say that one percent of that total, or 100 people, were later hospitalized with brain cancer. That would mean that one in 1,000 people with computers were hospitalized with brain cancer+– a figure that is a little more than four times greater than the .24 per 1,000 that are hospitalized with brain cancer in the population as a whole.

There are a couple of conclusions you could draw from this: You could also conclude that some people who were experiencing blurred or double vision because of brain cancer had applied to, and were granted, the $20 given to people assumed to have computer-related eyestrain. You could investigate whether people who submitted claims to the eyestrain program were also more likely to receive regular medical care — and therefore more likely to get diagnosed with cancer. You could also look for confounding factors, such as the fact that computer use correlates positively with economic status, and economic status correlates positively with life expectancy, and age correlates positively with incidence of cancer (i.e., the longer you live, the more likely you are to get cancer) — which mean that computer users are more likely to get diagnosed with cancer for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with actually owning a computer.

Or you could conclude that frequent computer use causes brain cancer. It’d certainly be the conclusion most likely to get attention in the media.

Two months ago, I gave a speech in Boulder, Colorado. A woman in the audience who was a member of the Boulder Vaccine Safety Coalition raised her hand. The first thing she told me was that she hadn’t finished my book. Then she said she wanted to know why I didn’t support more research into vaccine safety — especially since, she said, $300 billion was spent each year on the promotion of vaccines versus only $20 million spent on vaccine safety research.

I’m not sure where she got her figures — but I told her I agreed with her larger point: More money should be spent researching vaccine safety. (I also told her I would like to talk with her at greater length about the issues she raised…but she left before the talk was over.) Part of the reason more money isn’t spent is because there aren’t enough incentives for pharmaceutical companies to conduct ongoing research into vaccines already on the market^`. Another is that tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars has been spent replicating research and assuaging parents, like the ones holding tomorrow’s press conference, who believe that vaccines cause autism — and will never be convinced otherwise. There’s also an ever-growing amount of money spent containing outbreaks (like the current measles outbreak in Minnesota) caused by unvaccinated children. Finally, there’s all the money spent combating merit-less anti-vaccine messages.

Put it all together and you have activists who are ostensibly fighting for vaccine safety creating an environment that is, in actuality, leeching time and energy and money that could (and should) be spent actually making vaccines safer. As I’ve said dozens and dozens of times, I don’t blame these activists for this; I believe they are, for the most part, operating with the best of intentions. I do, however, blame the media for fueling the issue and politicians for pandering to their most vocal constituents. It’ll be interesting to see what ends up getting reporting about this latest manufactroversy over the next several days.

[^] Note that the language here is “the federal government [has] paid millions of dollars to vaccine-injured children with autism” and not “the federal government [has] paid millions of dollars to vaccine-injured children because of their autism.” The federal government’s vaccine-compensation fund has also paid lots of money to children who end up being left-handed — but that doesn’t mean that vaccines causes their left-handedness.

[`] I’m hoping to get a chance to write more about this in the next few days.

[*]The only things I really remember about my T-S are that 1) it was cool as hell, and 2) I spent a lot of time writing pointless BASIC code — things like, “10 PRINT ‘I have a cool computer’ 20 GOTO 10.” Before this morning, I actually thought I’d owned the Sinclair 1000, but apparently the 1000 had its own display and the 1500 plugged into a black and white TV — and mine definitely plugged into a black and white TV. Ah, the fallibility of memory.

[`^] Figures edited from example of 1,000/one percent to 10,000/ten percent.

[+] It’d actually mean that one percent of the people with computers who had applied for and were given the $20 voucher were hospitalized with brain cancer — but that’s making things a little more confusing than necessary.

[^`] Hopefully more on this one day soon as well.

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53 Responses to The latest claims of “proof” that vaccines cause autism: Will the media take the bait?

  1. Diane W Farr says:

    I’m glad you agree that there needs to be research for vaccine safety. You should be ashamed of yourself for making a mockery of autistic children needing compensation because a vaccine caused death or autistic type symptoms. You are leading your fans to believing that families are being compensated because autistic symptoms include being left handed and blind. Autism has anything from high functioning individuals to teenagers with no language and still require diapers. I think you have been sheltered and only know the high functioning . I think your perception would change if you could only meet a mother that is cleaning feces off the wall of her eighteen year old son’s bedroom wall and is dealt this the rest of her life. You might be a little more sympathetic. I feel sad for you, Seth. Your words will come back to haunt you. It’s enevitable that within the next few years you will witness the child of a close friend or relative spiral into autism. I’m not wishing this for you; it’s inevitable with 1 in 64 boys having autism these days.

    • Venna says:

      @ Diane,
      He was NOT saying that autism causes left handedness or blindness, he was merely making a comparison between vaccines causing autism, and vaccines causing left handedness to show how ridiculous these statements and allegations really are. He never made any allusion between blindness and autism or vaccines but made an analogy of eye strain resulting from computer use vs. blurred vision being caused by a brain tumor rather then eye strain. I have a son with autism, he didn’t get his vaccines and I know MANY other children with autism who also didn’t get vaccines. Yet they still developed autism. And considering that more and more children are NOT getting vaccines because their parents have been scared into believing vaccines cause autism, IF vaccines did cause autism, then number of children diagnosed with autism SHOULDN’T be continuing to rise. Vaccines don’t cause autism, they never have and they never will. I am beginning to think the only way people will be completely convinced of this is if people stopped vaccinating all together and children continued to get autism. Just because some of the children who have been granted compensation from the vaccine injury fund have autism, doesn’t mean the government or anyone else is claiming the vaccine caused autism. In 2008 there was a VERY public case about this. A little girl had a preexisting, mitochondrial disorder that was exacerbated by her vaccines which caused her to develop many other disorders some of them exhibiting ‘autistic – like’ symptoms. Now please read that carefully, autistic like symptoms, doesn’t mean autism. From what I’ve read about this particular case is this child was never diagnosed with autism ever. If a child isn’t diagnosed with autism, how can a vaccine have caused autism in them? She was granted compensation though from the vaccine compensation program. If you haven’t read Seth’s book, I recommend that you do, perhaps two or three times to make sure everything comes through clear and concise for you. Study after study after study has been unable to show any link between vaccines and autism. Therefore, this particular subject needs to go away so focus can be placed in areas where some good can be done. The horse is dead, it’s time to stop beating it and find another ride!

  2. Eric says:

    Seriously, were you high on a pharmaceutical vaccine when you wrote this or just ignorant?

    I have a seven year-old son diagnosed with Autism shortly after he regressed from a typical toddler at 20 months just after receiving 4 immunizations plus a flu shot at one doctor visit. The same thing I have seen is the exact same thing tens of thousands of other parents have seen for this pattern. Some are non-verbal after and have intense therapy to get them even close to a 2 year old level in the first grade and then they have to play catch up their entire life.

    The lie out there is that it is Autism. It’s not. It is a brain swelling condition similar to encephalitis however with physical outputs similar to what Autism looks like. In order to qualify for any needed therapy however a family has to ‘agree’ to this condition to get these services.

    The next lie is that vaccines *cause* Autism. Also not true, there is an underlying condition that predisposes them and then the immunization materials aggressively accelerate the issue. The normal working immune system would usually correct this issue. This is the reason pediatricians are told in med school you don’t give sick kids shots until they are better.

    There is a test that was created by Dr. V Singh from the University of Utah in the mid-90′s to detect whether a child’s immune system was able to tolerate immunizations at that time. What is implemented? Never. Now we have a nation of people who have 1) Had their child aversively reacted and damaged from immunizations and 2) The rest of the nation fearful of getting immunizations they need. If we knew about this test, certainly we would have paid for it. I pay insurance for my home, my car, etc. so why would not be even more careful with our children? Even more simple would be to get one vaccine at a time and watch the effects to the child before going on to the next.

    Unfortunately all the power lies within the drug manufacturers with the monetary power to influence through lobbyists, political action committees, campaign contributions, and to threaten doctors and thereby threaten their patients. If you can influence them and the media, no one cares about the people that can’t speak for themselves since it doesn’t get any airtime.

    So, in summary:
    1) Vaccines do not cause Autism. True.
    2) What we are talking about is not Autism. True.
    3) Vaccines are like the gasoline and a weakened immune system is like a match that eventually would have gone out on its own when it gets better.

    Now knowing this when you are about to take your child for 4 immunizations at once near 18 months old, do you feel lucky, Seth? Do you?

    • Chris says:

      Why is Dr. Singh no longer at the University of Utah?

      What about kids like mine that get seizures and permanent neurological damage from actual diseases? How do they stand in your world?

  3. Cliff Davis says:

    Wow, another poorly-informed know-it-all. You, and your ‘logic’ are pathetic, just like the bs ‘science’ benind vaccines.

  4. Yannis Guerra says:

    Interesting article. I like that you concentrated in explaining the math of the issue. That is one of the most frequent reasoning problems in anti vaxers, as mentioned here:
    “A taxonomy of reasoning flaws in the anti-vaccine movement”, from the journal Vaccine 25(2007): 3146-3152.
    Yeah, Science. It comes with effort. And references. Not anecdotes. Not “anecdata”.

    And it seems that your website has been listed in the rapid response team list of the anti vaxers (see the timing of the replies). Congratulations, it seems that you have reached the Major Leagues of Online Enemies of AV!
    I hope you have a good forum management software. But keep up the good labor.

  5. Mara says:

    I agree with Yannis that you’ve reached the Big Leagues. Go you! ;)

    Oh, it’s such an honor. Next thing you know there will be cartoons of you as a cannibal posted on Age of Apocalypse, er, I mean, Age of Autism. You’ll be pilloried on Natural News!

    You’ll be famous…among people of little brain. ::sigh:: Oh well.

    • Eric says:

      You really refer to people with Autism as ‘people of little brain’?
      Amazing.

      • Venna says:

        Actually, Eric, I believe this was a reference to those who still hold to their fantasy that vaccines cause autism as being of little brain. As in they don’t have the ability to look at FACTS and see truth but only allow their own small minded opinion and ideas and faith be real and correct and everything else they see as against what they believe is conspiracy.

      • Mara says:

        As Venna notes, I wasn’t referring to people with autism.

        People who continue to fight for the return of vaccine preventable diseases must not understand how much damage they’re doing to public health.

        Oh, and you’re obviously not a Winnie the Pooh fan, because I was making a reference to Pooh, who is known as a “bear of very little brain.”

        To quote A. A. Milne: “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

        ::coughs:: I’m just sayin’.

        edited slightly for content

        • Venna says:

          LOL! That’s pretty good. I didn’t catch that one either, but I’ve not read the books in their entirety and I think most people base their Winnie the Pooh experience on the Disney animations and I believe that particular line was left out of them.

  6. JB Handley says:

    You make so many stupid points in here, you’ll probably end up removing this whole post. Do you know the pharma companies make tens of billions in profits? Yet, they can;t afford more research on safety because of guys like me? You are high. JB

    • *cough* Ad hominem *cough*
      [Comment edited by moderator due to content.]

    • Mara says:

      Pharma companies absolutely make billions in profits, but they don’t make those profits on vaccines, let me assure you! The government needs to put money into vaccine research and production precisely because pharmaceutical companies don’t think it’s worth their while.

      And there would be a hell of a lot more money for vaccine safety research if people like you weren’t diverting it to study hypotheses that have been completely debunked.

      By the way, saying Seth is high? Not as funny as you think it is. Not even slightly. My daughter would call you a poopyhead and that would be a higher level of discourse.

    • Chris says:

      Please look at page 30 of this file and tell us where vaccines are listed in the table:
      http://timewellness.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ihii_useofmed_report.pdf

  7. MinorityView says:

    http://www.iirusa.com/vbc/agenda.xml

    “Understand the Changes in the National Vaccine Plan to Maximize Government Sponsored Funding and Avoid FDA Scrutiny”

    and

    http://www.iirusa.com/vbc/welcome.xml

    “VACCINES are the continuing success story, earning over $27 billion in 2009 alone, despite difficult economic times for the pharmaceutical industry.

    By 2012, vaccines are expected to bring in more than $35 billion in revenue.”

  8. Steve says:

    I don’t think the blogger here needed to resort to an analogy. The facts are actually simple enough:

    – The U.S. government compensates families whose kids are injured by vaccines* (usually the rare case of a really bad febrile seizure and fever, usually inconsequential, but sometimes causing brain damage, not autism).

    – Because a certain small percentage of the population is injured by vaccines and a certain percentage of the population has autism, a few children will by chance fall into both groups.

    – The government is not paying to compensate the autism. The government may not even have known of the autism.

    To make a press release like this is dishonest and will further alienate the mainstream press from these conspiracy nuts. This is not the government admitting (or believing) anything about autism.

    The government also gives tax refunds to some families who were over-withheld. Some of them have a kid with autism. That doesn’t mean the government is giving tax refunds to families with autism because of the autism. There is no relation.

    *Note: The government is doing the compensation rather than leaving it up to an attorney to file a personal injury action against the pharmaceutical company because tthe government has taken over all vaccine-related personal injury claims to protect tthe pharma companies, who otherwise would just stop making vaccines.

  9. Sam F. says:

    So there needs to be money spent on vaccine safety or there doesn’t? If you think there does (which you do), at least you’re admitting they’re not safe. Your left-handed stuff and 27-year-old computer stuff are red herrings. Sorry that the truth goes against your book.

    • René Najera says:

      Vaccines are not safe in that they’re not 100% safe, but people in the anti-vaccine groups seem to believe that not 100% safe is 100% evil. You are trying to hold vaccines to a standard that is impossible in this universe. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this universe is 100% safe. Not even the lint in my pocket.

  10. jre says:

    I had not noticed it but in retrospect it seems obvious, as Yannis points out, that there is some alert system causing the anti-vax community to swarm whenever you post. The analogy to an immune response is just a bit too facile, so there’ll be none of that.

    What did strike me was how similar, and how different, were your first three comments. I’d be willing to bet good money that neither Diane, nor Eric, nor Cliff has ever read The Panic Virus. That’s not a disqualification to comment, of course. I have also commented in many places where I had not done my homework first — but I try to be aware of the fact. These three seem to figure they’ve got enough to go on already without doing any research, and the result seems to depend on the individual. Diane thinks you have no understanding of what the parents of autistic children experience. Eric has a theory of vaccine injury as cumulative damage to a “weakened immune system” and seems to figure you have either never heard of such theories, or that you dismiss them out of hand. Cliff just thinks your logic, like vaccine science, is bullshit.

    This is a perfect demonstration in microcosm of the central lesson to be drawn from the vaccine wars: it’s political.

    Well, you say, “Duh,”

    But wait — a lot of us did not know that, or at least did not know it down to the tips of our toes. Many of us viewed the discussion as a review of the facts of the world, and expected that presenting a little evidence would smooth the whole thing over. As I suspect I’m not the first to (painfully) learn, that’s not the case. You have to know your audience, and present your argument accordingly. For Diane, it may suffice to convince her that you really have talked with parents of autistics, and have a deep appreciation of the challenges they face. She might even be persuaded to read the book. Eric needs a high-level view of what’s known, and what’s not, about immune challenge in order to gain some trust in the medical establishment. Cliff is probably unreachable. A political advisor would immediately grasp the differences among those three, and suggest the best tactic to approach the group represented. With time and persistence, you’ll get some votes.

    A scientist, in contrast, is more likely to think we can convince Diane, Eric and Cliff with one good factual argument, if we just present the facts clearly and persuasively. Much as I wish that were true, I’ve come to realize that people are just not like that — something J.B Handley understood instinctively long ago.

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  12. Curts E. Flush says:

    ‘Do you know the pharma companies make tens of billions in profits? Yet, they can’t afford more research on safety because of guys like me?’

    JB, really? I get it that it doesn’t seem fair that the vaccine manufacturing industry gets to make money without shouldering the burden of funding vaccine safety research to the degree you believe they should, but then you don’t really seem to be likely to trust any vaccine industry-funded research anyway, so let’s talk about your efforts. Are you really a contributor of direct negative impact to the degree often implied? Probably not, and a more accurate description would be something more along the lines of “insignificant”. Kind of like the side of a car being keyed, which doesn’t really impact function. You’ve probably had some visible negative impact, but it pales in comparison to the lost opportunity cost you’ve racked up and influenced – thousands of parents diverting time and attention of doctors, completely squandered media time and attention that could have actually benefited autistic people, and the promotion time of pseudoscience (RNA drops, mercury poisoning, etc.) that could have been promoting actual science or for a brighter future for all our kids. And let’s not leave out your legacy with Generation Rescue. You seem to desperately claim a desire for vaccine safety research from time to time, yet how much has Generation Rescue and Age of Autism, (or their close partners, followers, and donors, etc.) given to support bona-fide vaccine safety research? Zero? Anti-vaccine advertising and website promotion?

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  14. Where you got the Money From ? says:

    I was interested in this exchange …that points clearly to the cognitive dissonance presented in this article ….

    “Then she said she wanted to know why I didn’t support more research into vaccine safety — especially since, she said, $300 billion was spent each year on the promotion of vaccines versus only $20 million spent on vaccine safety research.

    I’m not sure where she got her figures ”

    Seth then shows his own fuzzy calculator with ….

    “Another is that tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars has been spent replicating research and assuaging parents”

    —————————————————————-

    I’m not sure where you got your figures from Seth……

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  16. Low Budget Dave says:

    You are misinterpreting the data when you say there is no link. The data proves that there is no CAUSAL link. The fact that vaccines do not CAUSE autism does not mean they are unrelated. Using the criteria of the 2001 VSD study, we could easily prove that sulfur allergy is not CAUSED by sulfur. It does not mean the two are unrelated. In fact, the studies on MMR and autism were all pure epidemiological studies. Using the exact same science, we can “prove” that cigarettes don’t cause cancer.

    Your eyestrain metaphor is beneath you. You get mad at people for publishing poor science, and then you respond in kind.

    While the CDC and IOM are concentrating on the presence of mercury in the vaccines, the larger scientific community is not. This web site, in particular, has spent more time spreading the word the Jenny McCarthy is wrong than in figuring out what is right.

    But let’s play the game with your “any metaphor is good” rules. Let’s say your child is developing normally, and then one day he comes down with some common disease, let’s call it “sneezles”. Starting immediately, he begins losing social, cognitive, and language skills, and never catches back up to where he was. He begins waking up four to five times a night screaming hysterically. The list of symptoms goes on and on, each more frightening than the last.

    As you mentioned, this is not a causal link. In this example, the sneezles cannot be said to have caused the problem. (99% of the people who catch sneezles have none of these symptoms.) But you can hardly blame the parents for living in fear of the sneezles. These parents did no scientific study, they simply observed something with their own eyes that appeared to be cause and effect.

    Then one day, the CDC comes along and tells them it was all a coincidence. Their child had an underlying genetic condition, and the sneezles simply started on the same day the symptoms started to express themselves. The CDC backs up this statement with a massive epidemiological study involving more than a half million children. Just like the cigarette companies used to use.

    As a parent, my fears were assuaged. I went ahead and acted on the word of the CDC. Now I wish I had not.

    Looking back at the CDC study, there are a few statistical errors. The one that worries me the most is that the initial results demonstrated a clear statistical link. Starting in 2002, the CDC massaged the data until the statistical link was gone. In particular, they added 34,000 children back to the study who had originally been excluded due to age and other factors. They then subtracted almost as many because of known sensitivities that might (or might not) be related. The resulting data was so weak that it was easily dismissed and discredited by many experts and non-experts, including the NIEHS and the United States Congress.

    Yet almost immediately, people began referring to the CDC study and calling me a bad parent. They accuse me of putting other children at risk, spreading ignorance, doubting science, and a host of other insults. On “ScientificBlogging” alone, there were no fewer than eight articles where the headline used the word “idiot” to refer to me and people like me who have valid questions about the VSD study.

    The MMR vaccine no longer contains mercury, but the HepB vaccine does. Why is a 9-lb baby being injected with so much mercury that we would not be allowed to toss it in a normal trash can? Why do childhood vaccines contain human DNA? Why do childhood vaccines contain adjuvants?

    I am convinced that vaccines do not cause autism. At least they do not cause autism in a single generation. (The jury is still out on whether my son’s autism was caused by vaccines that I received. My personal opinion is that they do, but research is scarce.)

    I am convinced that vaccines aggravate the symptoms of autism. The research on this is in 100% agreement. There are no examples at all of autism symptoms improving after vaccines, and millions of examples (you read that right) where the symptoms worsened.

    The CDC research verified this, and dismissed it by saying that the tics, seizures, and gastrointestinal problems were “minor”. My son, for example, now tests positive for measles because the strain from the vaccine persists in his stomach.

    I believe that the CDC is pushing vaccines because they made the risk-vs-benefit calculation based on neurotypical children, and not based on autistics. I think this shows a reckless disregard for autistic members of society.

    • moderation says:

      What? I would not even know where to begin to address all the speculative, anecdotal, confusing statements in this email … how about:

      1. The only vaccine with a clinically significant amount of mercury any more is the multidose flu vaccine. Which is typically not administered to children.
      2. Where did you get the “my vaccination caused my son’s autism” theory from?
      3. As to your “…vaccines aggravate the symptoms of autism. The research on this is in 100% agreement.” Please provide some evidence besides your opinion.
      4. As to your question: “Why do childhood vaccines contain adjuvants?” This alone shows that you can’t have done much research into vaccines.

      You demand con’t research into areas of settled science at the expense of research into the true cause and possible treatments for autism. If you have specific questions I am sure there are commenters on this site that would happily answer them or direct you appropriate resources.

  17. Rebecca Goldin says:

    The fallacy of concluding causality based on higher rates than normal of autism is a great use of statistics — but your math has an error. You say “Now, take an sample of, say, 100,000 computer users and let’s say that 1,000 (or one percent) exhibited symptoms indicative of eyestrain and also applied to the program for the $20 they were therefore entitled to. And let’s also say that one percent of that total, or 100 people, were later hospitalized with brain cancer. That would mean that one in 1,000 people with computers were hospitalized with brain cancer+– a figure that is a little more than four times greater than the .24 per 1,000 that are hospitalized with brain cancer in the population as a whole.”
    I am not sure what you think the 100 people is 1 percent of — it’s not 1% either of the 100,000, nor (as you imply) of the 1000 people who received the $20.

    Your statistical point is extremely good — but to illustrate it to people who know very little about math, you need to get the numbers right. In this case, did you mean that 10% of the people with eye-strain eventually have brain cancer?

    Well-done otherwise!

    Rebecca — Nice catch, and thanks for pointing it out. I edited the numbers I used as an example accordingly. Thanks, Seth

  18. paul5of6 says:

    You referred to the people speaking at the conference as “…anti-vaccine groups and activists…”

    Actually they all mentioned that they were in favor of vaccination; they just wanted more/better vaccine safety testing.

    • Andrew says:

      True – the fact that they compare vaccines to the Holocaust and vaccine providers as Hitler is a sure sign of the “pro-safe-vaccines” advocates’ dedication to an open-minded consideration of risks and benefits.

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  20. Venna says:

    As a mother of a child with autism, I am constantly wondering when I’ll hear about research into new treatments for my son. Since THERE IS NO CURE for autism, my best hope is treatments that will help him connect with me and with other people around him, will hopefully help him some day be potty trained and will help him to communicate so he can tell me what he wants for lunch.

    My son has autism. He is my youngest of 6 children. I don’t believe that vaccines cause autism because my five older children were all vaccinated on schedule and they are all neurotypical. My son with autism was not vaccinated and yet he has autism. I know MANY other parents who didn’t vaccinate their children because they were afraid their child might get autism, and these children still developed autism even without the vaccines.

    TOO MUCH ENERGY AND TIME is being diverted to this same old argument. It needs to die and fast so we can focus on what really matters! Honestly, will your child suddenly be normal and no longer have autism if some how the government got tired of proving over and over that you’re wrong and just gave in and said, “you’re right, vaccines cause autism. Are you happy now?” No, your child will still have autism. What will you do then? Leave this argument alone! It’s over and done and our children are all suffering because of your lack of focus on what really matters! THESE CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING AND NEED HELP! ANY child who recovers from ‘autism’ or is cured from it, never had autism to begin with, they were misdiagnosed so you need to take your battle somewhere else. REAL autism, has no cure, biomedical treatments have no effect, only behavioral treatments to help the child h0pefully act in a socially acceptable way, or learn to communicate properly if they are able to be verbal. These are the only treatments that actually help REAL autism. And anyone who gives their child chelation for autism might as well be feeding their child bleach to clean them out too. Both are just as dangerous and NEITHER has been approved for treatment of autism.

    Honestly, my son is the sweetest, most sincere little boy I’ve known. I loved my other children, there is something much more profound about my youngest when he gives me a hug or wants to cuddle. He has his troubles too obviously, but I wouldn’t change who he is. I certainly wouldn’t subject him to painful and dangerous, highly potentially life threatening treatments that are unnecessary and won’t actually help him at all. I love him the way he is. Do I want him to have autism of I could change it? No, but that’s a futile wish. What I do want, is for him to be able to talk to me, more then just mimicking what I say or repeating over and over and over lines he’s heard in movies or games. He’s only 4 so he still has a lot of growing up to do and I’m sure he’ll improve with age. What I really want to see though is more research into treatments that will help children who already have autism. We don’t need to keep fighting the same battle over and over and over. It’s like playing a game of tic tac toe, it’s always going to end in a draw because the one side won’t let it drop, regardless of how many studies prove their argument is false.

  21. Venna says:

    OK, so I joined an autism mom support group a few weeks ago, just because it’s sometimes nice to know that there are other people out there going through what I am. That’s actually where I found the link to this post. It was astounding to me how many people came out saying they know that vaccines caused autism in their children and one woman went so far as to say she knows it isn’t genetic because he son was tested for genetic autism and didn’t have it so got it from the vaccines. Really? People believe this stuff? There isn’t any genetic test that can find autism, it’s neurological, might be genetic, but nobody knows what genes are involved.

    They were all just spouting the same anti-vaccine drivel that’s been going around for ages. Several of them mentioned DAN and AoA and other anti-vaccine groups and I’m starting to wonder if I joined the wrong mommy support group.

    Another woman asked me what research I’ve done personally to find the cause of my son’s autism since he didn’t get it from vaccines stating she had done her own research studies which have proved it is from vaccines. I responded, “Since I’m not a medical expert, nor am I a scientist or a researcher of any kind, how am I supposed to do my own research? Looking up articles on the internet can only get a person so far. I am wondering how your own research was conducted? What controls have you used? Was it double blind? How many cases of autism did you include in your research studies?”

    Here is her research study, “My “study”…let’s see…believe I posted it. My FACTS: My first two: on spectrum. Both vaccinated. Last: Stopped vaccinating way early and he’s not Autistic.” As far as I’m aware, that wouldn’t constitute a study or even research but biased personal observation. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. Does anyone else find this slightly ridiculous?

    • Twyla says:

      Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps the reason why so many parents report observing a link between vaccines and autism in their children is because, in many cases, there really is a link?

      • Chris says:

        What is the percentage of parents with autistic children that blame vaccines? Please share with us how you know there are large numbers, and perhaps it should be a real study and not the number of people who comment in the Age of Autism echo chamber.

        As you can see, not every parent of autistic children shares that view. Parents like Venna, Kim Wombles, Kathleen Seidel and several others do not think autism is caused by vaccines. I don’t count because my son was injured from an actual disease before the vaccine for it was available.

        • Twyla says:

          Of course I can’t tell you a percentage. Of course it is not all parents. But there are a lot of them — and not just on AoA.

          • Venna says:

            Twyla, I think you might actually be surprised how many parents that believe in this fallacy there actually AREN’T. It doesn’t matter how many web sites have lists of people who believe it, most of them are the same group of people on every web site. They are not actually the majority, they are just more vocal and unfortunately better connected because they can convince the people who matter because the people who matter appear not to be able to use common sense either since their entire ‘theory’ is based on gut instinct and there is no scientific proof to back up their claims.

          • Chris says:

            Let me add Shannon Des Roches Rosa as another parent who does not believe vaccines cause autism. Here is her article on the subject:
            http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/shannon-des-roches-rosa-autism-parents.aspx

            Twyla, you might want to open your mind a bit and get away from the AoA echo chamber. Perhaps taking some science classes at a local community college, along with some basic statistics classes will help learn to evaluate the information you are getting. I did this a couple of years ago, and it is quite fun and I learned lots.

          • Twyla says:

            It’s not just AoA. It’s everywhere. Just the other day I met a woman whose son had a seizure after receiving several vaccines, and has been having seizures ever since. It’s parents at conferences, in books, on TV, in newspapers, in local autism support groups, at many different web sites all over the world, in VAERS reports, in the Autism Omnibus cases, in conceded/awarded cases of encephalopathy and seizure disorders. As Spectrum Magazine reported, “In 2006, Kennedy wrote an article for Rolling Stone magazine called ‘Deadly Immunity.’ The response to his piece was overwhelming: following the publication, Kennedy received thousands of letters and emails from all over the world. ‘The astounding thing was how alike all of them were and that people from Mississippi to New Delhi shared such identical experiences. Here is the typical scenario I heard: A mother took her toddler to the doctor where he received a spate of vaccines, became ill that night, often with a fever, sometimes with seizures, then lost the language he had, developed stereotyped behavior and regressed into a looking-glass world of debilitated relationships and social isolation.’” There’s too much of this from many times and places to be dismissed as coincidence.

          • Chris says:

            You met a woman who had an anecdote. You read some anecdotes. You actually believed the error ridden article by a lawyer.

            That is not data.

            Seriously, do look into taking some classes at a community college to help you learn the difference between types of “facts.”

  22. Pingback: Autistic Disorder Info & Resources » Blog Archive » Study Demands More Investigation Into Autism and Vaccines Link – WSAV-TV

  23. Venna says:

    @ Twyla:
    You are getting confused. Seizure disorders, while serious, worrisome and probably come with their own set of frustrations and fears, are not the same as autism. Last time I checked encephalopathy also wasn’t on the spectrum.

    What is the possibility these were genetic, pre-existing, but unknown conditions that, like Hannah Poling’s mitochondrial disorder, was triggered by a trauma? Nobody ever said that vaccines couldn’t cause reactions. Most of my children came down with a mild fever for a couple days after some of them, I had what felt like the flu for two days after getting a DPT booster last year, but none of us developed autism because of them. And last time I checked, mitochondria is not on the spectrum either and for her situation, Hannah Poling could have gotten the flu or another infection and it would have done the same thing the vaccines did because that’s how mitochondria works. Based on what I read of her case, she hasn’t actually been diagnosed with autism, but there was a mention only of autistic like symptoms. That’s quite different from actual autism.

    I’ve heard that many of these parents haven’t actually received an official diagnosis from a qualified specialist either, but have done self diagnosis or are relying on the word from people in the anti-vax circles who have said ‘that’s just like my son or daughter so it’s probably autism’. So what are the chances that these children don’t actually have autism or anything else on the spectrum at all? I’d say there’s a very good chance of that.There may also be cases of Landau–Kleffner syndrome that were misdiagnosed. It is suspected that is the case in Jenny McCarthy’s son who she has made the poster boy for autism and he might not even have it. The telling difference is it starts with seizures and then autism symptoms manifest, but all other symptoms resolve themselves once the seizures are treated. That doesn’t happen in autism, it doesn’t go away, it’s always there and there is no magic cure.

    You are also forgetting something, Kennedy isn’t a doctor, he’s a politician and well, I’ve yet to meet one that is trust worthy and not doing something for his own personal gain. Everything Kennedy has said is based on the same lines the anti-vaccine people have been saying since day one. He isn’t saying anything new nor does he have the figures or studies to back up anything he says. It’s all just a case of he said, she said.

    Since people have a tendency to exaggerate, I can’t take your claim of ‘thousands’ seriously since you aren’t able to quote percentages. But even if we did take it seriously and assume that ‘thousands’ of people wrote to some obscure person saying their child got autism from vaccines, that isn’t very many considering there are about 67 million people world wide that are suffering from autism. Even 50 thousand isn’t much compared to that. The anti-vaccine autism parents are not the majority of parents of children with autism. They are just loud and unfortunately feeding the media exactly what the media wants; not news, but sensationalism. It’s all about how many people are going to tune in to watch or how many people are going to pay to read. Newspapers anymore are just glorified tabloids, television news is sometimes more ridiculous then the regularly scheduled adult drama which is fictional. Not everything you see on TV or read in the papers or hear on the radio or read on the Internet is true.

    Are you really trying to convince us? Most of us are here because we don’t like hearing nonsense, and yet people like you continue to find your way into our midst. On this post, I think I’d be safe to say you are wasting your breath. I’m tired of hearing about because it isn’t true and it makes my son’s suffering seem insignificant, even trivial since he isn’t one of the ‘unfortunate vaccine injured’. He’s made out to somehow not count, and this isn’t just the way I feel about it, I’ve actually been told that since my son didn’t get it from vaccines, it’s probably genetic so it isn’t as serious as someone who got it from vaccines. To me, that is just heartless and cruel to say to someone. My son’s autism isn’t as serious because he didn’t get it from a vaccine? Is that what you anti-vaxers really believe? And you expect me to still be friendly and understanding of your situation? That sounds a bit like a double standard to me and I’ve had enough. My son isn’t a throw away child. He deserves the chance to get the best treatment there is and any new treatment that might be found. The problem is, this very small group of people continue to beat the dead horse because they don’t really want truth, they want some study that will back up what they believe. Science doesn’t work that way, Andrew Wakefield tried it though and look what’s happened to him? If you tell me you believe him, then I’ll know you aren’t someone who can be taken seriously. They need to let it die and come to terms with the fact their child has autism and stop trying to find something to blame, they are hurting all of us. Attention, funding and research are being diverted to continue feeding this dead horse and all these people around the world with autism and all the new cases found every day re the ones suffering. It’s time to stop worrying about being right and trying to force opinion as fact! This isn’t a religion and nobody should need to be ‘converted’. Faith and belief belong in religion, not in science and medicine. Let this god, I beg you for the sake of my son! Let’s work together for the common good and try to find something to help these children grow, learn and live better lives.

    • Twyla says:

      Seizures after vaccines are evidence that vaccines can affect the brain. Many people with autism have seizures – I have read 1 in 4. Ecephalopathy simply means a disease or injury to the brain. Hannah Poling’s mitochondrial disorder may have been triggered by the vaccines. There was no evidence that it existed until after she received vaccines for nine illnesses at one office visit. Hannah Poling was diagnosed with autism. And “autism symptoms” is autism. Autism is defined by behaviors, not by any biological test. The parents I know who talk about vaccine injury and autism have children who were formally diagnosed with autism. Landau-Kleffner syndrome may very well be late-onset autism. It has no known cause, and has characteristics which are quite similar to autism. Jenny McCarthy’s son was diagnosed with autism.

      Sometimes autism does “go away” with appropriate treatment. Dr. Robert Sears states in “The Autism Book” (p. 349-350) that with a combination of comprehensive biomedical and behavioral intervention, about 5% of children with autism recover completely, 25% recover but need ongoing treatment to maintain that recovery, 30% show dramatic improvement but are still autistic, 20% show modest improvement, and another 20% do not respond to treatment and remain severely affected.

      About 5,000 families filed cases in the autism omnibus proceedings alleging that their children’s autism was caused by vaccines. That alone would constitute “thousands”. I can’t tell you a percentage. I don’t know if there’s a poll of autism parents.

      I do agree with you on one thing: I am indeed wasting my breath, or rather my typing. I don’t expect to convince you or Chris or Seth or Gorski or jre or any of the other adamantly pro-vaccine bloggers of anything. Still, I try to present another point of view in case any undecided readers peruse the site. I think the vaccine problems are incredibly important, but unfortunately pretty much ignored except by those who are obviously and directly affected.

      If your son is suffering, his suffering is certainly not insignificant or trivial, no matter what is the cause. He counts! He does indeed deserve the chance to get the best treatment there is and any new treatment that might be found. His autism is as serious as it is, based on how it affects him, not based on what caused it.

      There is no question that vaccines sometimes cause autism. Since our government is not tracking this, we don’t know how often this happens. I believe that our vaccine program is the main cause of the huge increase in autism that we have seen over the past 25 years – though not the only cause. I know good parents who work incredibly hard for their children and who don’t agree with me on this. We work together on planning various kinds of events for the autism community. We are not enemies, even though we have different opinions.

      Regarding “truth”, we who advocate for recognition of vaccine-induced autism are advocating for the truth. The truth is, some children become autistic because of receiving too many vaccines. This isn’t a dead horse. It’s not a religious belief. It is a fact based on evidence and science. A better understanding of how to prevent and treat these kinds of vaccine injuries would benefit society, not detract from other priorities such as services and education.

      Please feel free to skip my comments if you are tired of hearing about what I have to say.

      Best wishes to you and your son!

      • Venna says:

        You are quoting sources that are unreliable and the information you are spouting as evidence and science is UNFOUNDED! You sit there and tell me that my son is just as important as these other children and yet I have been told just the opposite by anti-vaxers and shunned because I don’t believe the same as they do. I don’t appreciate your condescension.

        Seizures and autism are not one and the same and one may need to consider also, which came first, the seizures or the autism? They aren’t mutually exclusive. Someone with autism may or may not have seizures and people with seizures also may or may not have autism.

        Hannah’s mitochondrial condition wasn’t found until she had the reaction to the vaccines, but eventually it would have been found. Mitochondria is a genetic condition and based on everything that her report said, it predated her vaccines, but was unknown. Stop grasping at straws.

        And for the record, ‘autistic-like symptoms’ and autism are also not mutually exclusive. Yeah, I understand that autism is a set of behaviors and there isn’t a blood test for it, remember, I have a son with autism. But a person can have autism like symptoms and not be autistic. My brother had cerebral palsy and displayed some characteristics that people with autism have, but he was not autistic. The characteristics just go along with him having cerebral palsy but he and my son are totally different in their behaviors. There are three key points of behavior that determine if a child has autism or not, other signs may also be present, but if a child does not present with the basic three, they don’t have autism. Have you heard that one? Because I have.

        There is a BIG difference between vaccines causing injury or a reaction in a child and vaccines causing autism. One does not mean the other. I’m obviously wasting my breath on you because you only take what you want from the evidence that you claim to be so reliant upon. You have tunnel vision and only see one side and fail to see the MUCH bigger picture. I’m trying to expand that point of view, we need more research done toward autism and focusing on a lost battle is only hurting EVERYONE ELSE involved.

        And one last thing, biomedical treatments for autism? If biomedical treatment helped, you would think there would be a blood test for it. Since there isn’t, biomedical treatments don’t help. The improvements noted are from the ABA, OT and speech therapies that are given to ASD children so tenaciously to hopefully help them improve. Everything I’ve read or seen about the supposed biomedical treatments these children have to suffer through was coupled with extensive and rigorous behavioral and speech therapy. Autism isn’t medical, it’s neurological. The brain is wired differently, and no amount of nasty, tasteless food is going to change that and certainly not dangerous chelation therapies that KILL people and are only meant for severe mercury or lead poisoning, neither of which autism is.

        And finally, just because a person was once diagnosed with autism because they had ‘autistic-like symtpoms’ doesn’t meant they were diagnosed correctly. I’ve heard of dozens of children originally given an autism diagnosis only to be changed as they got older and it became more apparent what it really was. MANY doctors and specialists have said also that Even’s case sounds like an autism misdiagnosis and that what he really has is Landau-Kleffner syndrome. There is too much confusion in the autism world, too many doctors standing on shifting sands. particularly since the symptoms of autism keep shifting and changing. I’ve also heard of children being diagnosed with autism until the DSM was changed and then they no longer fell under that diagnosis.

        This is what it comes down to… we need more research into the actual causes, but vaccines don’t cause it, there isn’t any science to back up that theory. Finding a cause can help find better treatment and better treatment can help EVERYONE effected by this. How many studies have to be done before you will believe the evidence they show that vaccines DO NOT cause autism? No study ever done ethically and unbiased has ever found any causal link. Why is it only those who believe that vaccines do cause autism are able to find a link in the ‘studies’ they conduct? Manipulation of data, it happens all the time because they want it to be that way. Make a villain and find something to blame rather then getting past the denial stage and moving forward for the good of the whole and the sake of the child!

  24. milo says:

    It seems you are an unwitting or conscious shill. It doesn’t really matter either way. Just sad really.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s certainly easier to make an accusation than to actually address an argument, isn’t it. Just sad.

    • Venna says:

      I’m just curious what about stating fact and logic makes me a shill? Since this effects my son and my life personally I believe I’m within my rights as a US citizen, and mother of a child with autism, to be heard also. I can be just as obnoxious as the anti–vaxers and maybe that’s what’s needed so the correct information will begin to get out to the public so focus and energy can shift to areas that will help us.

  25. Kyle says:

    Are your children vaccinated I know a lot of these experts preaching vaccine safety does not have kids or does not vaccinate their kids

    • Chris says:

      Perhaps you should actually read his book.

      By the way, all of my children are vaccinated. Especially the one with the genetic heard condition.

  26. Tien says:

    Rowan My Grandchild 1 year old get sick, Rash, autism, and have sign of Zeisures what should I do for her?, I told my Daughter and her husband but they are do not want to hear.
    Tien

  27. Jill says:

    The government doesn’t care about any of you. Why do you think they keep ignoring this it is pretty obvious they started the whole thing to implement population control. While they sit in huge mansions, and fancy cars that suck up our resources. They laugh at the fact that we are being beaten with stress from raising these kids daily, and they think we are to stupid to know what is really going on in this world. They are after certain genetics your other children may have been more like your husbands side of the family that is why they had stronger immune systems to fight the toxin in their body. Mercury, and toxins affect everyone differently. If you look outside almost everyday we see chemtrails being sprayed in the sky. This is another method they are using to try to target people who don’t get vaccinated. There is no reason chemicals should be sprayed in the air we breath. I can not say this enough get your kids tested for toxic metal poisoning. Why avoid it why listen to these people anymore they are not going to help us. My son was perfectly normal the first years of his life until he was vaccinated, and then it started with him rocking back, and forth it got worse from there. Go to doctors who care, and don’t deny vaccines could be a cause. I would rather have a doctor who cares about your health than their reputation.

    • Chris says:

      Citation needed.

      And if you don’t like “chemicals” being sprayed in the air, then never ever get into any vehicle powered by petrochemicals. They all have exhaust, and that includes aircraft. What did you think they were powered by? Fairy dust?

      ” My son was perfectly normal the first years of his life until he was vaccinated,”

      So you decided to not get him vaccinated until he was several years old?

  28. Monique says:

    There are several misconceptions about vaccinating children. Autism being the biggest one. Research conducted by medical professional such as the Geiers and Wakefield caused a huge uproar in the autistic community by leading several people to believe that vaccines are the cause of autism. After being reviewed by several other medical professionals it turns out that the Geiers and Wakefield had several flaws in their research. Without proving that vaccines are the cause of autism proves that other factors such as, genetic anomalies and environmental exposures are behind the rising cases of autism. If enough parents or caregivers stick to the notion that vaccines cause autism epidemics of vaccine preventable diseases could reoccur causing something far worse than autism. Death.

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