Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Autism and Vaccines: New York Times Promotes Offit Book

The New York Times has a new promotional feature, Book Is Rallying Resistance to the Antivaccine Crusade pushing Dr. Paul Offit's, "Autism's False Prophets" book. The NYT describes Dr. Offit as "mild, funny and somewhat rumpled" so you know where they are going with this one. They focus on Dr. Offit's receipt of death threats and quote him in a self comparison to Jonas Salk.

The NYT also manages to bring the beautiful actress, and Jenny McCarthy debater, Amanda Peet into the story, complete with photo of her in very motherly looking attire. What they don't do is mention the Poling case which put a serious dent in the "vaccines don't cause autism" position. Nor do they mention Dr. Julie Gerberding's acknowledgement that in some cases vaccines may trigger "autism like symptoms". Nor do they mention Dr. Bernardine Healy's (former head of the NIH and American Red Cross) comments calling for more research of a possible vaccine-autism connection, the limitations on the epidemiological studies which are used in defense of the vaccines, the discouragement by health authorities of vaccine-autism studies or the fact that vaccines still contain mercury.

The NYT has taken a stance and it has a right to do so. But it might be more honest to place the article in the opinion or editorial sections of the paper. Or in the advertising pages.

Journalism used to be about objectivity and presenting a complete, balanced summary of all sides of public issues. And the New York Times used to be about journalism.

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Stephanie said...

I have no doubt that some children are allergic to certain toxins and thus have "autistic-like" symptoms and can be greatly helped, sometimes compeletly cured, with certain interventions (i.e. diet changes and etc.)

But is that child that is cured truly autistic? Or is it just because they have an allergy and thus they have autistic-like symptoms?

My cousin has severe, low-functioning autism and his mother has tried EVERYTHING she has come across and nothing has worked: diet, removing vaccines, etc. Yet he is STILL severely autistic. He's gotten better as he's gotten older, slowly. So I can say that my cousin has autism and not an allergy that produces autistc-like symptoms (and same with me).

Those childern who are magically cured from their autism probably don't truly have autism but instead an allergy that produces autistic-like symptoms because these biomedical treatments definitely don't work for everyone.

Unknown said...

Hi Stephanie

Personally I have not formed a conclusion as to the impact, if any, of vaccines, or thimerosal, on autism. I have never chelated my son.

I do have an open mind though on the possibility that vaccines, or thimerosal have a triggering effect.

I do not believe that the evidence currently proves a connection but I do not subscribe to the belief that a connection has been disproven, a belief I once held.

I have moved toward keeping an open mind because of the Poling case, the comments of Dr. Bernardine Healy that flu vaccines given to pregnant women contain thimerosal, (confirmed on the FDA web site) that "trace" amounts of thimerosal are still in vaccines and the limitations on the various epidemiological studies.

I am also very concerned by official attempts to suppress further research of the issue and the public demonization and name calling of parents and professionals who provide anecdotal evidence of such a connection.

farmwifetwo said...

Stephanie, my eldest son was definately intolerant to dairy and it did add to the "autism-like" symptoms. But it was not a cure.

Those that call them cures or have children that appear cured at the age of 5 or so are in for a nasty shock when their children reach approx age 9 when their social/behavioural/learning disabilities become an issue.

If it wasn't for the intolerance to dairy (daily diahhrea, daily nightmares/terrors) and the lack of speech by 2.5yrs of age and those symptoms, today at the age of 9 we'd be looking for answers or telling the child to "try harder". Instead he gets OT, speech, support in the classroom (an hour/day or so) etc etc etc. And although his official dx from the Dev Ped read's A mild form of PDD and the school chose to write mild PDD on his paperwork (YIPPEE!! services :) ) the dx is actually Non-verbal learning disorder with a speech/language delay or "a mild form of ASD".

Now, saying that, his 7yr old bro has severe, non-verbal PDD... diet has done nothing to help him at all. And IMO the severity of his speech/language delay was those 5 days I spent in Antenatal, when they should have induced the moment I got sent there with high blood pressure and his heart rate dived the first time. His "autism symptoms", are really very mild, which makes me wonder if it isn't more brain damage than autism. But, that's only my opinion.


Phyllis Wheeler said...

I completely agree that the New York Times is showing its bias on this one. I have been reading a competing book, Changing the Course of Autism by Dr. Bryan Jepson, and discussing it on my blog. Take a look if you like.
Phyllis Wheeler
Curing Autism Blog