Monday, February 16, 2009

Vaccine-Autism Research and the Vaccine Court Autism Decisions: The Circle is Complete

After the trilogy of Vaccine Court decisions the fact remains that the necessary research into a possible vaccine-autism connection still has not been done.

Vaccine-autism research has been actively discouraged by public health authorities. While they consistently discouraged the research that might have provided evidence of a vaccine-autism connection public health authorities have also pointed to lack of evidence to support its decisions to refrain from conducting the necessary research. The circular reasoning of the NIH, the IOM and the IACC is now reflected in the decisions of the Vaccine Court which complete the circle by pointing out that there is no evidence of a vaccine-autism connection.

Despite all the resulting headline hyperbole, and despite the setback for the families involved, the US Vaccine Court decisions did not disprove a vaccine-autism link. The Masters reviewed existing science and concluded there was no evidence of a vaccine-autism link. As I understand, in all three cases the Masters accepted official understanding of that science and nothing more was done than that. This remark is not intended in any way as a slight on these decisions. Given current research on the vaccine issues it is difficult to imagine they could have reached any other conclusions.

The problem is that public health authorities have never funded the research which might substantiate claims that vaccines cause autism in some cases. To the contrary any such research has been expressly and actively discouraged by those same authorities as:

(1) was reported by researcher Teresa Binstock in 1999:

By clinging to an oversimplified and outmoded model of autism (ie, it's gotta
be genetic), the stubborn persistence of several research administrators in the NIH
and NIMH means that funding for autism and autism-spectrum syndromes remains
funneled into the hands of a small group of researchers who pledge (via NIH-grant
contracts) to conduct their research in accord with the model wherein "it's gotta
be genetic" (1). This funding pattern imposes a serious limitation on research that
ought be occurring, given the growing amount of new data which indicate that *more than* genetic-aspects need be considered.

The relationship between (a) the offically approved though outmoded paradigm
and (b) subsequent funding patterns is worth re-stating: The persistence of the NIH
and the NIMH in focusing almost entirely upon a genetic-theory of autism
means that a goodly amount of data continues to be ignored, shunted from view, and unfunded -- even as the primary genetics-model researchers are blessed with abundant funding despite decades of non-success (1).


Let us consider two parallels between how Semmelweiss was treated and how the NIH and NIMH react to new data in autism-spectrum syndromes:

1: Initially and for many years, new data are strongly ignored; then, they are
resisted; and finally, if a person espouses those data and is persistent in seeking
to explore their ramifications, then he or she becomes shunned and excluded. That
these reactions occur leads to a second ramification significant to autism research
in the 1990s and beyond.

2: Despite the new data and its acceptance by many individuals, the data and
*ramifications* of that data tend to remain ignored by highly placed medical
bureaucrats. As a result, medical practices that ought change because of the new
data's significance do not change; and people entrenched within the old
paradigm (now
made outmoded by the new data) do their best to enforce
the old paradigm
-- and do so despite the fact that the new data suggest better
methods of treatment, diagnostics, or research.

(2) was candidly acknowledged and further research again discouraged by the IOM in 2004:

Committee Conclusions and Recommendations


Causality Conclusions

The committee concludes that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.

The committee concludes that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism.

Biological Mechanisms Conclusions

In the absence of experimental or human evidence that vaccination (either the MMR vaccine or the preservative thimerosal) affects metabolic, developmental, immune, or other physiological or molecular mechanisms that are causally related to the development of autism, the committee concludes that the hypotheses generated to date are theoretical only.


The committee concludes that because autism can be such a devastating disease, any speculation that links vaccines and autism means that this is a significant issue.


The committee recommends a public health response that fully supports an array of vaccine safety activities. In addition the committee recommends that available funding for autism research be channeled to the most promising areas.

Policy Review

At this time, the committee does not recommend a policy review of the licensure of MMR vaccine or of the current schedule and recommendations for the administration of the MMR vaccine.

At this time, the committee does not recommend a policy review of the current schedule and recommendations for the administration of routine childhood vaccines based on hypotheses regarding thimerosal and autism.

Given the lack of direct evidence for a biological mechanism and the fact that all well-designed epidemiological studies provide evidence of no association between thimerosal and autism, the committee recommends that cost-benefit assessments regarding the use of thimerosal-containing versus thimerosal-free vaccines and other biological or pharmaceutical products, whether in the United States or other countries, should not include autism as a potential risk.

(3) was reported by former NIH head Dr. Bernadine Healy in 2008:

(a) US News and World Report, April 10, 2008

There is no evidence that removal of thimerosal from vaccines has lowered autism rates. But autism numbers are not precise, so I would say that considerably more research is still needed on some provocative findings. After all, thimerosal crosses the placenta, and pregnant women are advised to get flu shots, which often contain it. Studies in mice suggest that genetic variation influences brain sensitivity to the toxic effects of mercury. And a primate study designed to mimic vaccination in infants reported in 2005 that thimerosal may clear from the blood in a matter of days but leaves inorganic mercury behind in the brain.

The debate roils on—even about research. The Institute of Medicine in its last report on vaccines and autism in 2004 said that more research on the vaccine question is counterproductive: Finding a susceptibility to this risk in some infants would call into question the universal vaccination strategy that is a bedrock of immunization programs and could lead to widespread rejection of vaccines. The IOM concluded that efforts to find a link between vaccines and autism "must be balanced against the broader benefit of the current vaccine program for all children."

(b) CBS News, May 12, 2008:

"I think that the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational ... There is a completely expressed concern that they don't want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people. "First of all, I think the public’s smarter than that. The public values vaccines. But more importantly, I don’t think you should ever turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you’re afraid of what it might show."

(4) was exhibited by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee shenanigans in 2009

when the IACC reversed a previous decision to authorize funding of the very research that might prove a vaccine-autism connection.

The Vaccine Court Autism Trilogy decisions are based on incomplete research. The deficient state of vaccine autism research was carefully, persistently and actively mainstained by public health authorities. As part of this process parental observations of their children's reactions to vaccine injections are dismissed with a blanket statement that they are coincidences. Parents who go further and publicly advocate for safer vaccines are villified and have their sanity questioned. Professionals who do the same are denounced as frauds by journalists writing in prominent publications. "Celebrity" parents like Jenny McCarthy are subject to unconscionable and even blatantly sexist abuse.

The circular reasoning of the public health authorities "there is no biological or experimental evidence that vaccines cause autism, so there is no point in doing biological or experimental research to determine whether vaccines cause autism" appeals to the converted but not to those who trust their own parental observations and can not blithely dismiss the reactions they saw in their children.

If the IOM, NIH and the IACC really, really wanted to reach out past the pews of the converted to the unwashed, ignorant masses who do not worship at their alters, they would fund the necessary research to address the legitimate concerns of parents. If these health authorities choose not to do so THEY will continue to imperil, as THEY have done for so many years, the very vaccine programs they pretend to protect.

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1 comment:

shakingsystem said...

Once again the 25 000 thousand dollar question is brought to the foreground.Is there a connection between vaccines and autism? If there exists an independent study willing to take on this gargantuan task, may they please step forward.

We constantly hear study after study stating the all familiar line-THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN AUTISM AND VACCINATIONS. We have yet to hear of any independent studies concentrating on what has been reiterated countless of times:

Independent studies on children having already received multiple vaccines in a single injection VS. children who space their vaccinations over a prolonged period of time.

The doubling of the number of immunizations has increased the vaccinations' toxic burden.The children that already have an immunization system that is compromised serves only to overburden their tiny little bodies.
What would be an ideal situation are thimerosol free (INCLUDING NO TRACES OF THIMEROSOL) vaccinations admininstered over an extended period of time.

Each child's immune system has to be at the forefront of any given study.

The Moral of the story=ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.