Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vaccine-Autism War: Teresa Binstock's Prophetic Hunch

The dramatic events of the past two months in the vaccine-autism war were predicted a decade ago by researcher Teresa Binstock in her article IGNAZ SEMMELWEISS and AUTISM: when prevailing paradigms resist change in which she reported the funding bias in favor of genetic based theories of autism causation. She also indicated that studies of potential environmental causes of autism, including vaccines and vaccine ingredients, were unlikely to receive funding. Studies which reinforced the prevailing "it's gotta be genetic" model of autism were favored. Binstock described the health establishment's disregard for parents' observations of their children's reactions to vaccine, the demeaning marginalization of parents and professionals who question the official autism paradigm and the disregard for contrary evidence. Ms Binstock noted that:

"when a medical model becomes institutionalized and its primary spokespersons become set in
their well funded ways, such institutions and individuals strongly resist change"

No medical model is anymore entrenched then the vaccine model of public safety. And few spokespersons are better funded than vaccine patent holder Dr. Paul Offit who has been on a never ending tour promoting his book about what he calls autism's false prophets. There are a number of indisputable good reasons for the entrenchment of the vaccine model: the reduction and near elimination of serious diseases, some of which can kill, are very powerful reasons in support of public vaccination programs. But few systems or models are perfect. Most require adjustment when problems are found.

If vaccines do cause harm in some cases then those harmful, and potentially harmful, effects should be studied and adjustments made. Unfortunately the vaccine programs have been elevated to a sacred level by public health authorities to such an extent that people who ask questions or voice concerns are dismissed as hysterical, as cranks, quacks, charlatans and any number of other pejoratives.

Dr. Wakefield has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the GMC for several years. Journalist Brian Deer who has had some serious involvement with the laying of charges against Dr. Wakefield has recently published an article in the Sunday Times in which he "convicted" Dr. Wakefield of data tampering. Other imperious journalists like Andre Picard at the Globe and Mail have decreed that the debate over vaccine safety must end now. Imagine, a journalist dictating that free public discussion of public safety issues must end now?

Of course THE primary spokesperson for the entrenched medical model, the entrenched "speak no evil of vaccines model" is Dr. Paul Offit. Dr. Offit is the vaccine patent holder whose genial face, cozy sweaters and "regular guy" flannel shirts appear every other day in a major media interview describing his own heroics on behalf of the children of the world and demonizing the evil parents who have voiced their concerns about vaccines thereby contributing to the growth of disease and death.

In 1999 Teresa Binstock offered the following hunch which has proved prophetic:

My own hunch is that the NIH and NIMH will not change from within; the senior practitioners of the "it's gotta be genetic" model have too much influence. Just as Semmelweiss and his data were suppressed, so too will the NIH/NIMH autism-research insiders continue to act against the the growing body of new data in autism; the NIH's pro-genetic old-timers will cling to their paradigm and its funding. As a result, change within the NIH and NIMH will have to be initiated from outside those tax-supported corporations.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism (2004) proved Ms Binstock's hunch to be correct when it expressly discouraged further investigation of vaccine safety. Last month the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) confirmed her hunch as prophecy when it reversed its own decision reached only weeks earlier to authorize funding for research of vaccine-autism connections, research that might have provided the kind of evidence found to be non-existent in the recent Vaccine Court Autism Trilogy.

As Teresa Binstock predicted in 1999 any research of non-genetic causes of autism, including and especially, potential vaccine causes, will have to come from outside the public health establishment. Of course the ability to conduct such research will be further hampered by well orchestrated media campaigns led by Dr. Paul Offit with journalists from institutions like the Sunday Times, the New York Times and the Globe and Mail scurrying about helping to suppress public discussion of concerns which raise any doubts about the deeply entrenched vaccine health model.

Personally it is the suppression of research and public discussion which causes me the greatest concern about the safety of vaccine programs. Ultimately, as the Semmelweis case reviewed by Teresa Binstock shows, the truth will out. In the meantime though some vulnerable children might be harmed by vaccines and vaccine ingredients. harm that might have been avoided with some adjustments. The vaccine program itself will most definitely be harmed by the campaign to suppress research and discussion of vaccine safety concerns.

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Marni Wachs said...

I agree with the fact that change cannot occur wihtin the current system. Evidence: IACC, and all before it.

Disparate groups might be able to come together in the future to raise funds for a top-notch independent vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study if the following factors continue to worsen:

- higher rates of ND's
- suppression of dialogue
- suppression of proper research
- mandatory and coercive measures in an attempt to raise vaccination rates
- erosion of human rights wrt vaccination feedom

And what's needed is:

- a small group of united, credible, dedicated scientists ready to take on the leadership necessary for the hands-on study creation and follow-through

Ironically enough, Offit's arrogance may in fact make him the perfect catalyst for this to occur.

Anonymous said...

Harold, what is Tereda Binstock's relationship with SafeMinds. Could it be that research monies have not been forthcoming for the vaccine/autism connection because the studies done so far have shown no evidence whatsoever for it.

There is only so much money to spend. Look at Fragile X, where we may be on the brink of a cure. What if the money spent pursuing that was instead spent on yet another autism/vaccine study. Would the world be better off.

I can make predictions as well about research which will not be conducted, and then blame the same factors as Ms. Binstock does.

A question often asked by Jonathan of Autism Gadfly is why don't these organization which are rife with money commission the studies and have them peer-reviewed and published???

Perhaps it's easier to complain

I suggest you read the testimony before the Vaccine Court. If you still think the MMR/autism connection has not been settled in the negative, then I don't think there is anything which will.

Unknown said...


My comments were about vaccines and autism. I did not specifically mention the MMR.

The people you should really question are Dr. Julie Gerberding, the past head of the CDC, who said that vaccine autism studies COULD and SHOULD be done. Dr. Gerberding was referring to studying those children who have not been vaccinated. Dr Gerberding also acknowledged in commenting on the Poling case that vaccines can cause "autism like" symptoms in some populations.

You should also question Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former NIH and American Red Cross head, who has stated that the epidemiological studies purporting to show no connection between thimerosal and autism are not specific enough to address subsets of children who might be at greater risk from exposure.

Dr. Healy also pointed out that NO studies have been done on children who actually developed, or showed signs of, autism after receiving vaccines.

Dr. Healy also pointed out that animal lab studies do raise concerns about negative impacts of vaccines.

Further Dr. Healy pointed out that expecting women still receive thimoseral containing vaccines and that thimerosal crosses the placenta.

Dr. Healy also referenced an abundant professional literature reporting injuries following vaccine use.

Finally you might consider that there have been many vaccine court settlements, beyond the Poling case. The beauty of paying out settlement money, from the perspective of government, is that the evidence which prompted the settlement does not usually become public.

These are the reasons that I try to keep an open mind on the vaccine autism issues and do not simply repeat the Offit Mantras or dismiss the concerns of parents who witness their children undergo serious reactions immediately after receiving vaccines.

And you didn't read my comment or you disregarded what I said. The IOM 2004 report at page 153 expressly discouraged vaccine-autism research as Binstock reported earlier in 1999. Dr Healy pointed out that the express discouragement of vaccine autism research has taken place because health authorities are afraid of what they might find.

The vaccine program is a sacred cow which can not be questioned. I have never blamed my son's autism on vaccines. I have never stated that vaccines cause autism.

I do agree with Dr. Healy that the question vaccines or vaccine ingredients cause or contribute to autism in some vulnerable groups has not been answered. Despite the repeated assertions to the contrary of vaccine patent holder Dr. Offit.

Apart from preventing unnecessary injury if there are dangers with some vaccines there is another very, very good reason to do the type of research that might actually answer the question of a vaccine autism question. Restoration of public trust in the vaccine programs and the officials who swear up and done that vaccines are perfectly safe.

Anonymous said...

Harold, please read the 2004 IOM report on vaccine safety. Many of the things you are worried about are addressed in the report. You can read the report on line for free.

I also think studies need to be done to tie up loose ends and to alleviate doubt.

I think there are reasonable people out there who would have their fears allayed by the studies.

There are also those who will never be satisfied by any study.