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Autism vaccine ruling sparks a lot of comment

March 12, 2010 |  5:32 pm

Today's decision by a federal court that the preservative thimerosal does not cause autism has sparked a lot of comment in the autism community, most of it negative. Many saw it as a government conspiracy to protect the vaccine industry, a claim that has also been made about the swine flu vaccination program.

Some examples:

The Coalition for Vaccine Safety argued that the special masters "appear to have based their decisions on the government policy to protect the vaccine program rather than to fulfill their role to do justice by vaccine-injured children.... The special masters appear to be following a misguided government policy that if they acknowledge a mercury-autism link, parents will stop vaccinating their children."

Said Laura Bono, the parent of a "vaccine-injured child" whose case was dismissed: "The government has its thumb on the scales of justice.... The law only gives the illusion that parents will have their day in court. The process is dysfunctional and many families will not see justice done."

The ruling may make parents even more distrustful of the vaccine program because the  Department of Health and Human Services was both a defendant in the cases and the main source of crucial information about vaccine safety, said Lyn Redwood of SafeMinds. "There's an inherent conflict of interest."

But Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, disagrees. "The science here is very clear. There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism.... The studies are very clear, and the vast majority of families have come to the same conclusion. There is just a small, vocal minority of parents who just don't want to believe what the data show."

Added Roy Richard Grinker, author of "Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism" and the father of an autistic child: "This decision reaffirms my faith in the experts' ability to understand reality. As a parent, I am tired of all the discussions about autism being controlled by a discourse on vaccines.... The time and money being spent on something of no significance is disheartening to me as a parent."

The reaction to the decision was complicated by a red herring thrown into the mix Friday when it was revealed that a researcher at a Danish university who had been involved in the studies that debunked the autism-vaccines link was suspected of defrauding the government of nearly $2 million in grant money.

Dr. Paul Thorsen was the subject of a probe by Aarhus University, which said it had detected a significant shortfall in funds from a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the studies.  Advocates of a vaccine-autism link immediately seized on the announcement as an indicator that the whole research program was corrupt -- just as global warming denialists have seized on the e-mails released in the so-called Climategate to argue that global warming research is corrupt.

In both cases, of course, the charges are nonsense. Thorsen may be a crook, but there were lots of other scientists involved in the research, and their integrity is not being contested.

"We have no reason to suspect that there are any issues related to the integrity of the science," said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which funded the studies.

Finally, we'd like to share with you an e-mail from reader Erin Roberts of Camarillo: "More than 15 years ago, a family friend had a son diagnosed with autism. They had suspected vaccines being the cause. Because of this, I opted to not vaccinate my children until they were older. Now I have two sons, Xavier, 13, and Raven, 10, both diagnosed with autism and neither of them vaccinated until after they received their diagnosis.... I have known for years that vaccines do not cause autism."

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

-- Andrew Zajac

-- Trine Tsouderos

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Comments (20)

According to PEdiatrics, 30% of moms in America believe that a healthy child can develop autism after being vaccinated. If this the tiny minority Ms. Singer is talking about?

We're doing a delayed vax schedule with our son. We agree with the theory behind vaxes but to be safe we're doing it slower than the recommended schedule so no vaxes until he's two.

I'm with Alison Singer and Richard Grinker on this. I too am a parent of an autistic child. It is time to move on. There were two theories of any consequence about vaccines and autism. Neither one held up.

Good "red herring" spotting.

The public are getting used to discounting "research" which is supported by overwhelming resources, because we know that if you carry out enough research looking at the best possible way to assert something, sooner or later just by pure statistical fluke, you'll get the research you need.

We've seen this bias in global warming "research", which has relentlessly pursued an environmental agenda telling us this century was "unprecendented" contrary to the well know facts of warming and cooling in history. We've seen similar pushes with tobacco, and I suppose Iraqi WMD, was another area where those in power wished for certain evidence and went out even when it didn't exist.

What this really shows, however, is that all science is going to be more and more distrusted unless we can find a way to ensure that scientists are impartial in their approach. Science, needs something like the medical Hypocratic Oath: "I promise to be impartial and make public all information necessary to encourage open, honest debate by all interested parties in a timely manner".

This federal court ruling was based upon a very large body of scientific research and study -- conducted by public and private entities in several different countries, over more than 10 years -- which has clearly and consistently found that vaccines do NOT cause autism.

Furthermore, all of that research and study has been reviewed by CDC, IOM, WHO, AAP, AMA, and numerous others, all of which concurred with the conclusion that vaccines do NOT cause autism.

It is not this vaccine court ruling that may make parents "even more distrustful of the vaccine program," but rather the sort of false balance presented in articles such as this one, and inclusion of statements from anti-vaccination activist groups like SafeMinds and the Coalition for Vaccine Safety, lend credence to thoroughly discredited ideas about vaccines.

A decade ago Andrew Wakefield reported that children had disintegrated only hours after MMR vaccination, and Mark Blaxill and others suggested that the observed rise in reported ASD cases was due, not to improved diagnosis, changing diagnostic criteria and increased awareness, but to an increase in thimerosal exposure. A decade ago, it wasn’t unreasonable to think that these ideas were not unreasonable.

Now it’s clear that those ideas are false. Wakefield’s work has been withdrawn, and a recent paper that included his former business partner and collaborator as an author demonstrated that there is no temporal connection between MMR vaccination and the development of either ASD or gastrointestinal symptoms—and numerous other studies have also refuted Wakefield’s work. The idea promoted by Blaxill and his friends has also been thoroughly discredited, especially by epidemiological studies from groups of independent investigators in various countries: ASD is not related to thimerosal, as demonstrated most succintly by the fact that a dramatic decrease in thimerosal exposure does not lead to a drop in ASD. The Autism Omnibus hearings produced a resounding rebuke to Wakefield’s idea last year, and yesterday the Special Masters agreed with the overwhelming evidence against the failed thimerosal hypothesis. In the years since those ideas were advanced, they have been rigorously tested, and they have failed the tests. It’s no longer reasonable to believe what seemed at least possible some years ago. It’s time to move on.

I work as a school psychologist serving students with autism. Let us not forgot that most parents want to understand to try to help their children. All parents grasp at straws of hope at one moment or another and families with a child carrying a diagnosis of Autism can be even more vulnerable to the latest web/news story. Having a child with any disability is painful, expensive and all consuming. The majority of my families are grateful for the teaching staff who work with their children and are focused on developing their son's or daughters independence.

S. d'Alton

There is no "moving on" when you a have a permanently and totally disabled child. Only, like in science and justice, a complete commitment to seeking and expanding knowledge and truth.

The e-mail of Erin Roberts is plebian if not just silly.

All it tells us is that autism has a myriad of etiologies. Some logic can go a long way, but apparently not in the media driven soundbite culture we find ourselves.

The legal process is not over.

More than 15 years ago, a family friend was diagnosed with cancer. They had suspected smoking to be the cause. Because of this, my friend never tried smoking, but ended up with cancer too. I have known for years that smoking does not cause cancer.

You said you waited until your kids were older before they got their shots and they were diagnosed with Autism before you got them vaccinated. I want to know if the kids got flu shots or hep B shots instead of the MMR when you waited, because those vaccines count, too.

CDC web site reveals ingredients and they contain mercury.

The LA Times is not usually engaged in practices such as providing false alibi nor is it prudent to engage any issue other than to assure the public that both sides of the business are happy with their publishing.

In the old days if one sought publishing they wrote the item and the printer usually printed it with little or no questioning. Of course, those of opposing view were indulged equally.

Poisoning the placebo to achieve balance is wrong.

Today, it isn't very difficult to determine the whereabouts of the printer especially when additional materiel is unequally.

Now how does one know if the Danish gentleman is a red herring until after he is investigated and the scope of his fraud, if any, is determined?

The LA Times has filtered the Thorsen story by omitting important details including the gentleman has fled Denmark as a fugitive and the Danish Police need him for questioning not only for 10,000,000 in kroner fraud, but forgery as well.

The LA Times inaccurately reports the so called red herring Dane was thrown into the mix on Friday. That could be the three sombreros which were rushed out in an attempt to smother the Thorsen story. The story drew attention when it was reported February 11th, 2010 in the Copenhagen Post and again in the Atlanta press this past week well ahead of American and foreign wire services which saw it appear yet again for a third time in print, second time on American soil, in Philadelphia.

The LA Times also regretfully made an additional affront by failing to report Thorsen knowingly broke rules by holding employment at Emory University in Druid Hills, Georgia while he was also employed at Aarhus. This involved a direct, documented obfuscation between he and Aarhus, one that apparently displeased the university officials to tender his resignation.

The LA Times is guilty of inappropriately characterizing the serious magnitude Thorsen story by failing to report his fraudulent activity was serious enough to leave Aarhus University in no credible position other than to entirely withdraw from the US Centers For Disease Control tax payer funded research bloc.

The LA Times might want to note that Thorsen states he is employed to work on the DSM-V update, the one that will attempt to add Asperger's Syndrome cases to existing rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

With American pregnant women, infants and toddlers targeted during the recent scamdemic Flu fiasco this change is destined to affect future Autism rates for the worse.

How absurd to have a court weigh in on a medical condition. Perhaps it will tell me if I have a cold or upset stomach too.

As for vaccines and thimiserol, it is pretty well known that the vaccinations cause all sorts of problems for humans and animals (e.g., rabies vaccinations cause cancer--fibrosarcoma (vaccine associated sarcoma/ VAS)--in many cats and other animals).

But, vaccinations are protected because of the income they generate for so many!

Over-vaccinating is deadly.

Having said that, I fully accept that vaccines are life-saving for the masses, including smallpox and polio vaccinations.

Vaccinations are absolutely necessary in many instances, but should be a choice. The pharma companies should not bully us into using deadly forms, the government shouldn't force us to make a profit for many, and we must realize there are side effects to all things for some people.

At this point, I don't want to take a chance with any vaccination for human or beast. But I will defend YOUR right to take whatever drugs work for you.

This will be an ongoing conversation for sometime. Years of efforts from groups against vaccines are not going to go away with an announecment by the scientific community. No matter how definitive it seems.

The Vaccine Court was set up by Congress to protect the Big Pharma from lawsuits. The lawyers representing the defendant in the Vaccine Court are United States Attorneys. The fund that pays any claims is a Government Fund. Big financial interests have always been able to buy protection from legislatures. The Government has its hands on every part of this business, the FDA, the CDC, the Vaccine Court, mandatory vaccination laws, funding for all research. There is no objectivity in any of this. It is entirely a money making and power grabbing scheme between the Government and all of the many interested parties who benefit from Government control, including private doctors for whom the mandatory vaccination business is a vital part of their business.

That's great that two children didn't get autism from their "own" vaccines, perhaps they got it from mom's rhogam or rubella?
There has been mounting evidence that autism is caused, most autism is caused, by vaccines for over twenty years, the studies are on shelves, go dust them off. Yes, the Danish study, with the ill equipt, not credentialed Thorsen was fraudulent, as was the other study used to vindicate vaccines, the Italian study, it was funny enough to laugh at if humor is possible in this, the conclusion, one out of 1400 children were diagnosed with autism in that study! Ha..a far cry from our statistics....please..wake up folks.

I have been treating families with children and teens with autism for the past 10 years in West Los Angeles and I have always questioned the vaccine link because millions of children are vaccinated who do not develop autism or related disorders. Even if a link was found, the question that would remain unanswered is why are certain children vulnerable while others are not.

I also believe that autism is more than likely the product of genetics and environment and there are multiple neurological pathways that breakdown over time. This would account for the fact that despite millions of dollars spent on finding a cause, we are no closer now than we were five years ago. Perhaps there simply isn't a cause but multiple causes that affect different children in different ways (hence the wide spectrum).

My son nearly 22 months old is 100 % vaccine free in addition to never needing to visit a doctor since the day that we took him home from the hospital. Even our close friends who parents themselves were at first questioning our decision are now saying that we must be doing something right because there children of different families are always sick. I'm not saying that our son will never get sick but if he does analyzing him without 30 plus poisonous vaccines running thru his small body will be more helpful. Next month were expecting our second child and once again this child will leave the hospital with his blood as pure as it was intended. We are the parents and in the 21 century we now know that smoking is not good and you cannot loose weight by taking a magic pill, so as parents take responsibility for YOUR CHILDREN and stop blaming the doctors and vaccine manufactures because they have no liability for your children if they become sick or worse. I'm tired of hearing about these parents who will take the time and learn the difference between a plasma and LCD TV that they are looking to purchase and not take a moment to learn about an injection that is given directly in there child's blood stream.

I don't care what courts or scientists say, they're just trying to confuse the issue with facts.

So what if an unvaccinated population spreads diseases, that's just the chance you have to take in life. So what if deadly diseases that have been all but wiped out by vaccination start to threaten all of humanity again?

It's our right as Americans to do whatever we want, no matter whom else it harms, as it says in the Constitution!


The ruling is a legal one, and I agree, legally. They mean that only high androgen receptor sensitive individuals get autism from mercury. Once you learn that high AR sensitivity is also associated with also higher than average chance of GLBT, gender identity disorder, and/or Asperger's Syndrome, you will learn why mercury is in vaccines. Two birds with one stone: it lowers IQ from the get-go in the most dangerously smart people, taints higher AR receptor sensitivity populations (GLBT, ASD, Asperger's) with stigma of psychiatric disorder/disease, lowering their chances of raising families in the future who would also have dangerous high IQ or possibly GLBT, ASD, or autism (if they were forced to take mercury too). Don't believe me? Just ask Sacha Baron Cohen Sr, Ali G's dad: The 2nd to 4th digit ratio and autism. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2001 Mar;43(3):160-4. You've been truthed.

A recently published study regarding the increased prevalence of autism in specific local clusters, rather than across-the-board, not only further proves that vaccines cannot be involved, but raises the interesting idea that a local environmental effect may be involved instead.


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