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Do You Believe in an Autism/Vaccine Link?

Some Connecticut parents worry of a link between vaccines and autism, though no evidence supports such a theory, according to several experts.

 

Some of the 1,056 Connecticut children vaccination exemptions from last year were related to parental worry that these vaccines could be linked to autism and other health problems in children, according to the Associated Press.

Exemptions Increase by 127 Percent

The number of children exempted from vaccines in 2011 is an increase of 127 percent from 2003, when the state recorded 465 such exemptions.

Some doctors in Connecticut have expressed concern about the rise in exemptions.

"If you have more and more kids not getting vaccinated, then you have more and more of a pool for illness to take hold," said Dr. Robert Chessin, a pediatrician at Pediatric Healthcare Associates in Bridgeport and Shelton.

What do you think?

A number of Milford Patch users weighed in on the topic on our Facebook page: "NO," wrote Shelley Holly Moyher. "People who are not vaccinating their kids are putting other kids and adults at risk..."

Maria Fitzgerald agreed: "No, it has been well documented that there is no connection between vaccines and autism."

'No Difference'

According to research findings by Dr. Youta Uno of the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, "Each study demonstrated no differences between ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) cases and controls, failing to support a conclusion that immunization using MMR (Measles, Mumps,. & Rubella vaccines) increases the risk of ASD onset." 

The Wakefield Study

Dr. Andrew Wakefield was stripped of his British medical license after pubishing a study linking autism to childhood vaccines in 1998, according to CNN.

Other studies were unable to reproduce Wakefield's results and an investigation into his findings allegedly discovered that Wakefield misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients in his study.

Pediatric neurologist Dr. Max Wiznitzer noted, "Unfortunately, (Wakefield's) core group of supporters is not going to let the facts dissuade their beliefs that MMR causes autism."

Suzanne Letso, director of the Connecticut Center for Child Development, a non-profit school in Milford for children with autism noted in a 2011 Hartford Courant piece about Wakefield, "The people who are already believing that this has had an effect aren't going to be dissuaded by this," Letso said.

Generation Rescue

Generation Rescue, an organization formed by actress/activist Jenny McCarthy has expressed concern about the possible link between autism and vaccination, discussing a vaccine court created by the U.S. government in 1986:

In the "Vaccine Court," the burden of proof lays squarely on the claimant. In other words, a family must show a clear causal connection between a vaccination and its adverse effects.

The piece continues: 

But the autism community has still persevered, and compelled the court to acknowledge the link between their children’s autism diagnoses and vaccinations’ environmental triggers.

Generation Rescue's website does not immediately cite sources for this information.

'Alleged Ties'

In an editorial for Modern Health Care, David May wrote:

Ongoing fears over the alleged ties between childhood immunizations and the incidence of autism also play into the growing numbers of vaccination opt-outs—despite study after study showing no linkage and discrediting previous claims.

In closing, May added, "Even when we're not talking specifically about needles and vaccines, trust in science still provides the best chance to make progress in solving our problems."

Do you think that fears about vaccination links to autism and other health problems is unfounded? Or has not enough research been done to make a proper assessment?

Take our poll and let us know what you think.

Michael Simpson September 07, 2012 at 03:59 PM
A minor provincial court does not decide science. But if you want to go there, then the Vaccine Court in the US should be evidence to prove otherwise. Real science has demolished this silliness. There is no link. http://wp.me/p26wxX-EU
Michael Simpson September 07, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Please provide evidence published in peer-reviewed high-impact journals, not anecdotes that have the weight of my cousin's sister's friends hairdresser told me so. Here's what real evidence reads: http://wp.me/p26wxX-EU
Michael Simpson September 07, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Anecdote based on post hoc ergo propter hoc. No evidence whatsoever, and it could be anything. Sad for your kid. But you haven't proven anything.
Michael Simpson September 07, 2012 at 04:04 PM
He lied. Lancet withdrew his junk article. He was attempting to push his own vaccine. MR. Andy Wakefield is an amusing individual, and if you're using him to push junk medicine, well, that's just funny. Here's what real science says: http://wp.me/p26wxX-EU
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 04:23 PM
You're misunderstanding the purpose of the inserts, and because something was reported to have occurred after vaccination does not mean vaccination caused it. As part of the clinical trials, any 'adverse' reaction after treatment is recorded; even if it is not treatment related. In fact, the inserts themselves say that correlation does not equal causation. I guess you missed that part.
Jennifer Byoo September 07, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Not true Linda Tock: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac0342370 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432811003366 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161813X04001147
Jennifer Byoo September 07, 2012 at 05:02 PM
When did the last case of measles result in a fatality or long term health implication? At least a decade ago, if not longer. When did the last adverse reaction to an MMR incite long term disability or death? MULTIPLE CASES ANNUALLY.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 05:34 PM
@Jennifer You mean other than the deaths in France? http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-publish/information-for-the-media/sections/latest-press-releases/european-countries-must-take-action-now-to-prevent-continued-measles-outbreaks-in-2012 9 deaths from 26000 cases, 6 of them in France. 7288 hospitalizations - or over 25% of all cases of measles required hospitalizations. How much does a night in the hospital cost? A week? A lot more than the MMR.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 05:45 PM
@Jennifer Your first link utilizes a mouse model for thimerosal uptake; this is not idea, nor is it compelling since we have safety data for our own species: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/09/13/peds.2010-0309.full.pdf Your second link uses a rat model; with extraordinarily high concentrations of thimerosal; we're talking orders of magnitude higher than what is found in vaccines. Your third article links to experiments in cell lines - which limits the ability to extrapolate the results to the organism as a whole. That is the problem with 'in vitro' experiments. The results in cellular lines cannot always be used to define a problem for the whole organism.
Michael Simpson September 07, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Package inserts do not attempt to scientifically establish causal links between reported events and medications, mostly because of observational bias issues. You completely misunderstand and misuse package inserts. It is only post-marketing studies, in randomized clinical trials that are rolled up in secondary meta-reviews that can provide you with accurate understanding of what may be correlation and causation. You are attempting to oversimplify science in a 3000 person study, because you simply lack the scientific background. Yes that was a condescending put-down of your university of google education. Moreover, your strawman argument that we can only "understand" a disease by having a child with the disease is simply idiotic. I studied cardiovascular diseases for 20 years without actually having a cardiovascular disease. Not everyone is a sociopath lacking empathy, not that empathy is required for scientific research. You are simply not lacking the knowledge and skills to present a logical argument so you devolve into personal attacks, strawman arguments, and silliness without one single piece of evidence to support anything you state.
Tina Higens September 07, 2012 at 06:12 PM
No not at all. Prove to be it's not related, You can tell be that correlation does not equal causation. If you take any other medication and have an adverse reaction it is believed but a vaccine it can't happen? Really? Ask any doctor and they will tell you adverse vaacinne reaction do occur. t I saw and lived it and live it every day. So the THOUSANDS of parents are all seeing something that did not happen? I hope your family is lucky and it does not happen to you. if it did you would change that correlation does not equal causation stance real quick. My son can issues which make vaccines contraindicated as do many other children. I am lucky my son did not DIE. I guess as the majority of people are not hurt or killed so who cares. I want the study that says vaccines are 100% safe. There is not one because it is not true.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Except that not everyone is medically able to or old enough to be vaccinated, No vaccine is 100% effective. Everything has a failure rate, even vaccines. So despite being 'vaccinated' - there will always be individuals who are not, in fact, immune to the disease. But because vaccines are not 100% effective does not mean they are 0% effective. The reason why unvaccinated children are a 'threat' (your words) is they increase the available disease reservoir in the population. <continued>
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Here's a scenario with Pertussis: You have 1000 people, 100% vaccinated. For the sake of argument, we'll say that the pertussis vaccine is 70% effective; so 300 people are 'at risk'. What happens when 10% refuse the vaccination? Let's see You have 1000 people. 10% are not vaccinated. 900 vaccinated/up to date on boosters 100 unvaccinated For the sake of argument, we'll say that the pertussis vaccine is 70% effective; ergo 70% of the vaccinated population is protected, while 30% is not. So 270 of the vaccinated population are 'at risk' - possibly their immunity had waned early, or they didn't seroconvert. 100% of the unvaccinated population is 'at risk' - since natural immunity also wanes over time. The pool of 'at risk' individuals has grown from 300 to 370 - a significant increase, which allows for easier & more rapid transmission. Let's say that 20% of each group contracts pertussis. That's 54 in the vaccinated group, 20 in the unvaccinated group and 74 total. That comes out to 73% of all cases (rounding up) in vaccinated individuals. But that's not really the whole story - what's the attack (incidence rate) in the population? 54 individuals out of 900 = 0.06 20 individuals out of 100 = 0.20 6% of the vaccinated population contracted pertussis; 20% of the unvaccinated population contracted it. So despite there being MORE cases in vaccinated individuals, the prevalence of disease is 3x greater for unvaccinated individuals
Proudly Autistic September 07, 2012 at 06:30 PM
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism/index.html There is your proof that it is not related. The warning is on the vaccines because paranoid people like you made a big deal out of your child showing signs of autism after getting their vaccinations. Autism is a biological disorder with onset typically around 18 months. Coincidentally, around the same time children get their vaccinations. You clearly don't understand the concept that correlation does not equal causation.
Larissa Watt September 07, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Regardless of your decision to give you or child vaccinations always make an INFORMED choice. Each vaccination comes with an insert. Ask the Dr. to read it beforehand so you are familiar with ingredients and/or side effects. As far as a link between Autism and Vaccines; I don't know--possibly..Just as with Tylenol or a prescription drug, everyone's body may react differently to chemicals. I do feel they need to re-evaluate the safety of vaccine ingredients. Formaldehyde and aborted fetal tissue ..just to name a few! Here is a link to the ingredients of each vaccine: http://www.informedchoice.info/cocktail.html
Jennifer Byoo September 07, 2012 at 06:41 PM
So laboratory experiments using animal models are moot!? Alert the presses, we are needlessly experimenting on animals! Animal models have been used for scores and are the "go-to" for clinical experimentation, as if you hav any scientific background, you know the ethical concerns with species selective experimentation in humans. Many animals excrete metals through roughly the same P450 enzymatic pathways, making them the IDEAL route for modeling. My only concerns with mice/rats is that they are able to synthesize Ascorbic Acid, while humans are not, due to a loss of the gene responsible for L-gulonolactone oxidase activity, making dietary Ascorbic Acid essential-and also found in serum at much lower concentrations than those with the active gene. I would like to see a guinea pig, or even primate study, done with blood assays on degraded mercury, rather than the rodents used, as I suspect the damage would be much greater, as Ascorbic Acid is protective against many of the cytotoxic cascades that mercury compounds can trigger. Based on the science, I would hypothesize that in an animal model without the protective effect of endogenous Ascorbic Acid, the health implications would be much greater. This study is the most relevant to the human model, in my humble opinion: http://www.ane.pl/pdf/7020.pdf While many of your assumptions may have merit, in the larger picture, these can give us an idea of the metabolites, and the organs that are affected across mammalian species.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 07:52 PM
No, Jennifer, that is not what I said. Please try to not jump to unwarranted and unfounded conclusions. There are appropriate animal models for a number of situations. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos, (as an example) make excellent substitutes for human embryos to test the teratogenic properties of compounds. The cladocerans (Daphnia magna, Daphnia pulex) are excellent indicator organisms for toxicity of compounds in natural waters. Your first link explicitly states, "This shows that C2H5- Hg+ in mice to a large degree is degraded to Hg" This does not equate to "This shows that C2H5-Hg+ is degraded to Hg in all species". Again - the concentration of Hg they were exposed to is ridiculously high when compared to the amounts which were contained in vaccines, furthermore, as I pointed out previously, water is considered a chronic exposure source. Not every animal is appropriate nor analogous to humans. Mice are wonderful 'stand-ins' for respiratory studies as their responses to airborne particles, pollutants, etc is very similar to our own. However they have different proteins, etc and their CYP450 families are not identical to our own. I can see you've linked the Hewitson study. The one that was retracted due to poor design/quality and a lack of COI disclosure in 2009. She resubmitted it to another journal (after removing Wakefield's name from the list of authors.) <Continued>
Tina Higens September 07, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Michael it is very rude to assume that I am an uneducated person that just relies on Google for information. I do not listen to the person down the street for my information. I speak with MAINSTREAM doctors that are tops in the fields of immunology, neurology and genetics and attend numerous conferences . i am sure I have read more medical literature on these areas than you. The truth is I can not force you to read papers by distinguished physicians that say there is a correlation. You want evidence, fine. Have you read Evaluation and treatment of Patients with Autism and Mitochondrial Disease by Dr. Richard Kelly of John Hopkins? it states plan as day how a child can regress after MMR vaccination. You have heard of John Hopkins? This is what happened to my child. It is not a feeling ibut a a fact. it is documented in my sons records.I am told all the time how "rare' my situation is but i know it is not. I had to seek out doctors at top hospitals all over the united states to get medical care my son needed. I don't want you empathy I would just like you to admit that vaccines can cause adverse events just like any other medical intervention. I can understand that you feel vaccines do more good than harm and you feel that they are important for society as a whole. Just admit children like mine are an acceptable loss to you. Even if it is "rare" when it is your child it is 100%.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 08:02 PM
So, what's wrong with the Hewitson study? Where should I begin? The fact she's horrendously inaccurate at reporting? Study Design: "For this pilot study, a total of sixteen male infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were randomly allocated to either the exposed or unexposed study group in order to complete peer groups (Ruppenthal and Sackett 1992) such that each peer group contained animals from either the unexposed or exposed study group." 4 were in the 'control' group and 12 were in the 'exposed' group. Yet, under their Magnetic Resonance (MR) Image acquisition, we see this: "A complete set of MRI data at both T1 and T2 were obtained from 9 exposed and 2 unexposed animals." And under Positron Emission Tomography (PET), we see: "A complete set of PET data at both T1 and T2 were obtained from 9 exposed and 2 unexposed animals." Where are the other monkeys? Where is their data? Why wasn't it included? With only reporting the data on 2 control monkeys, you CANNOT make any meaningful statistical analysis on the data. I'm sorry - but that 'study' should never have been published, nor permitted to occur - it was a waste of primates.
Michael Simpson September 07, 2012 at 08:08 PM
You make it sound like it's some political debate where there are opinions on both sides. The fact is that there are scientific peer-reviewed studies on one side–vaccines are safe and efficacious. These are based on the research from hundreds and thousands of individuals who devoted their lives to studying immunology, physiology, biochemistry, virology. They have Ph.D.'s and MD's. They have spent 10-20 years having their research published and critiqued by other scientists. They have invested time in understanding how causality can be distinguished from correlation through statistics. They develop physiological and biochemical models to that establish causation. The other side doesn't have one single laboratory that has published one single peer reviewed paper. That's not a debate. That's merely science versus a comic book. At best. You totally misunderstand informed choice. Informed choice is a decision between actual benefits vs. actual risks. The number of actual risks is so tiny as to be nearly indescribable for vaccines. The actual benefits are huge. This is a silly discussion.
Maureen Lagana September 07, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Historically, autism rates rose in infants, toddlers, and children, as the number of vaccines given to children increased. There are independent graphs that demonstrate this online. How many unnatural shots with toxic substances are kids really able to handle? There's been no safety studies and there should always be when promoting changes in public recommendations for health. How many times are drugs pulled from the market found to be life threatening? Many times. Yet, there are doctors that prescribe them and government agencies that approve them. Naturally, it's profitable. Anyone that doesn't question this is neglecting their own rights, never mind the fundamental health rights of others.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 10:22 PM
@Tina There are a number of things which could 'cause' a reaction - and the epidemiological evidence does not support a correlation between vaccinations and SIDS, vaccinations and autoimmune disorders, vaccinations and lupus, vaccinations and asthma/allergies/eczema. Again, because "X" happened after event "Y" does not mean "X" caused "Y". There are other possibilities out there.
Linda Tock September 07, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Autism rates have increased as global warming has increased. Ergo; global warming causes autism. Autism rates have increased as the number of SUVs produced has increased. Ergo; SUV production causes autism. A quick Google Scholar search of "Vaccine safety and effectiveness" returns 103,000 results in 0.05 seconds. There is no substance in any vaccine which is toxic at the dose present. Toxicity is dose dependent. How many 'natural' supplements have been subject to recall due to them being dangerous? Let's see.. there's a recall out right now for children's probiotics - which are contaminated with salmonella.... You can see more here: http://www.consumerlab.com/recalls.asp The supplement/natural health industry is not regulated nor administered by any regulatory agency; ergo what you buy may not be what you think it is, or what it's being advertised. Just look at what happened to Gary Null - he almost died (and if I recall correctly one other person did die) from his Vitamin D supplements. The reason drugs get recalled is because the post marketing surveillance system WORKS. We see that there's an issue and we respond to it. It is impossible to predict every single possible drug interaction/complication prior to sales. In vitro models (as I've mentioned earlier) cannot give the whole picture of the test subject, while in vivo models miss the finer details.
Joni September 17, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Some of you people just make my stomache turn in knots! You know one of the serious side affects to vaccines is brain damage!! Afterall all of our children with autism when you get right down to it autism is caused by brain damage rather it was the child getting vaccinated before they was born or the mother getting vaccinated while pregnate to keep from catching the flu. Come on people,maybe it came from the monkey kidneys that was put in the vaccine. Get on the cdc website read the ingredience Formaldhide yea doctors say well that's in our carpet and papper towels but you know we don't mainstream that!! That's like touching herion with you finger won't do nothing put it in a needle and shoot it in your arm then tell me there is no diffrance bullcrap. You believe what you want that's your right but don't try to change my mind as it was me watching my child slowly withdraw from the world. Walk in a mothers shoes that has lived the life of having a child with autism living with the guilt of what if's. Don't judge after all god stuck everything we need to survive on earth and I can promise you it was this man made $hit that everyone believes it ok. Mother of 3! 2 vaccinated 1 unvaccinated and 1 that's is vaccinated is the middle child and has autism.
Linda Tock September 18, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Actually, we DO 'mainstream' formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is produced in our bodies as a byproduct of one carbon metabolism. Our bodies produce (on average) 55,000 mg (milligrams) of CH2O each day (that's formaldehyde). Our livers metabolize some 22 mg of formaldehyde per minute - which leaves us with an average half life (in blood) of about 1.5 minutes. The 0.2 mg of formaldehyde present in a vaccine is a drop in the ocean compared to what our bodies produce, metabolize and excrete on a daily basis. Brain damage is indeed a possible (albeit exceedingly rare) complication from vaccines. Less than 1 in 1 million odds. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-mmr.pdf Compare those odds to the risks of measles: 1 in 1000 contract acute encephalitis, which leads to brain damage. As we saw in the France outbreak, 25% of all measles cases required hospitalization. The risks from the disease are orders of magnitude greater than the risks from the vaccine.
unknownauthor November 23, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I'd search PUBMED using the terms "thimerosal" and "brain" to dig up toxicity studies such as this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22811707. Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury Is a Mitochondrial To xin in Human Astrocytes: Possible Role of Fenton Chemistry in the Oxidation and Breakage of mtDNA. "...Thimerosal generates ethylmercury in aqueous solution and is widely used as preservative. We have investigated the toxicology of Thimerosal in normal human astrocytes, paying particular attention to mitochondrial function and the generation of specific oxidants. We find that ethylmercury not only inhibits mitochondrial respiration … but also … increases the formation of superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and … hydroxyl radical. … we find a five-fold increase in the levels of oxidant damaged mitochondrial DNA bases …". The concentration found toxic for the brain by this research team was 5829.12 ug Thim/L. A vaccine contains 25 μg in 0.5 ml, which is 50000 ug Thim/L, that is 8.5 times HIGHER than what's kiled these astrocites.
unknownauthor November 23, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I'd search PUBMED ising the terms "thimerosal" and "brain" to dig up toxicity studies such as this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22811707. Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury Is a Mitochondrial Toxin in Human Astrocytes: Possible Role of Fenton Chemistry in the Oxidation and Breakage of mtDNA. "...Thimerosal generates ethylmercury in aqueous solution and is widely used as preservative. We have investigated the toxicology of Thimerosal in normal human astrocytes, paying particular attention to mitochondrial function and the generation of specific oxidants. We find that ethylmercury not only inhibits mitochondrial respiration … but also … increases the formation of superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and … hydroxyl radical. … we find a five-fold increase in the levels of oxidant damaged mitochondrial DNA bases …". The concentration found toxic for the brain by this research team was 5829.12 ug Thim/L. A vaccine contains 25 μg in 0.5 ml, which is 50000 ug Thim/L, that is 8.5 times HIGHER than what's kiled these astrocites.
unknownauthor November 23, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Linda Tock claims: "...1 in 1000 contract acute encephalitis, which leads to brain damage. As we saw in the France outbreak, 25% of all measles cases required hospitalization. The risks from the disease are orders of magnitude greater than the risks from the vaccine...." Fail. in Europe there were 26000 and 9 deaths. The mortality conditional to getting the disease is 0.03%. But the risk of contracting measles is 26,000 out of 300,000,000 people (assuming only non-vaccinees get it). So the overall risk of dying from measles is mere 26,000/300,000,000 x 0.03/100 = 0.00000261%. In contrast, if you get a vaccine, 1 serious adverse event per 1,000,000 vaccines means a risk of 0.0001%. Thus vaccine risk is ==38 times higher== than the risk of contracting and subsequently dying from measles.
Proudly Autistic December 20, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Do any of you realize that a tuna fish sandwich has more mercury than all the childhood vaccines combined? You might as well argue that autism rates increased because more people were eating tuna. How can you rationalize not vaccinating your children, but continue eating food that contains more mercury than the vaccines do?
Michael McLaughlin February 27, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Michael Simpson's link said "Well constructed epidemiological studies also showed no link between MMR vaccine and autism in Denmark, England, Japan, Japan, Japan, Poland, and the United States." That's proof positive that autism isn't some sort of genetic failure. Never mind the typo. Common health problems have a common right under your nose cause. There can be no mystery as to the cause of autism. They are infants. Parents know right away when they are out of sorts.

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