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Vaccines! Autism!

The doctor who first published a paper in the Lancet 1998 exploring a connection between MMR and autism is being attacked by the media again. If you’ve seen the sensationalized headlines it portrays one message.  “Do not trust anyone who tells you vaccines can cause autism. The headline read “Autism-Vaccine Link Fraud”. Implying that vaccines have absolutely nothing to with autism. But this isn’t new. It’s part of an ongoing campaign that involves the adage if you repeat something long enough people will believe it.

While vaccination may not cause every case of autism it has been shown to cause autism symptoms and brain inflammaition and awards have been settled in court by the U.S. government.

Thousands of parents have watched their healthy children receive a vaccine and proceed to regress neurologically and behaviorally.

To say that vaccines do not cause autism is false.  Absolute NO study has proven that vaccines do not cause autism because none of the studies done have been designed to do so. The best that the scientific studies so far can say is that “we can not confirm that MMR causes autism”. None of the studies have looked at vaccines in general or the entire schedule of vaccination. Neither has there been a totally unvaccinated study vs. vaccinated autism/health study. The best that science can say is that “we don’t know”. Yet a certain sect of people keep saying the debate is over “vaccine do not cause autism. Even a former NIH director has said that we just don’t know.

“I think that the government or certain public officials in the government have been too quick to dismiss the concerns of these families without studying the population that got sick. I think public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational without sufficient studies of causation.” Dr. Bernadine Healy, former Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), largest U.S. federal agency responsible for conducting and supporting medical research. Dr. Healy has no known conflicts of interest in the vaccine-autism debate.

But why has Dr. Wakefield been specifically targeted for attack over a 12 year period when his study didn’t make any conclusions on autism and vaccines? He specifically stated in his paper that his study could not make any conclusions about the cause of autism. has several rebuttals on their website about the controversey.

No new study has been done. No one has ever seriously refuted Wakefield’s essential findings, which were: the twelve children had autism; they were referred to him because they also had bowel disease (Wakefield is a gastroenterologist); parents of eight of the children reported onset of autism at about the time they received the MMR vaccine;  the children had residual measles virus in their guts. The authors found no causal relationship between autism and MMR but concluded the issue needed more study. In a press conference later Wakefield said if it were his children he would have them vaccinated separately for measles, mumps, and rubella, an option available in the UK at the time but since withdrawn.
Wakefield’s reputation has been thoroughly trashed in the media. His UK medical license has been revoked. In the ongoing furor most of the original authors, like Galileo, recanted. But excoriating one doctor for challenging the safety of one vaccine isn’t going to do much for restoring confidence in that vaccine of for vaccines in general. It isn’t going to do much for getting at the truth either. UK public health officials made an example of Wakefield. It would take a courageous researcher to take on a project that might find fault with the childhood vaccination program. Precious few have. The fact is incidence of autism soared about twenty years ago at about the time the number of childhood vaccinations increased dramatically. Claiming the issue has been studied to death isn’t going to work until public officials actually do the study. The truth is they haven’t. No one has looked seriously at the cumulative effect of so many vaccines during pregnancy and in very small children. It has been obvious to the autism community, though not until very recently to health officials or the medical community, that autism can’t be simply genetic. It must have environmental triggers. Until ruled out definitively vaccines remain suspect. Parents have been pleading for years for a straightforward comparison of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children. So far public officials have refused, in all appearance for fear of what they might find. They are going to have to do it though. If autism is as much more common among the vaccinated as it appears to be we need to know why. There must be something we can do to make the program safer. Autism isn’t going away by itself. Until we find out what’s causing it and do something about it, it will remain pandemic. That’s a fact.
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