Factual errors noticed in pro-vaccine article

There are several factual errors in this article. The vaccine autism fear established itself after it became known by the general public that Thiomersal, a mercury compound, was in vaccines. Earlier parents of autistic children had suspected that autism was a form of mercury poisoning as the symptoms were remarkably similar to the Minamata Bay mercury poisoning symptoms, Iraq grain poisoning and the mercury compound Calomel poisonings. They had already suspected vaccines because they watched their children regress after receiving one or more shots. Dr Andrew Wakefield merely referred 12 cases of autism with gastrointestinal distress (not eight) to well qualified physicians Dr James Walker Smith and Dr Simon Murch who besides giving a name to the peculiar disorder (termed Illeal Lymphoid Hyperplasia) also noticed that these children had the MMR strain measles strain in their guts, tissues and CSF, quoted the fears of the parents of these children, and called for more research. A perfectly valid scientific exercise. This was published as a case study in 1998 in the Lancet. An interview by the Institution that conducted the study was extensively quoted by the press and created a furor. Due to some reasons the Government and the GMC went in an overdrive and based upon a report by a part time tabloid journalist banned the three doctors from practice. The actual doctors who conducted the study Doctors Smith and Murch have since been exonerated in a judicial process. Altogether 28 published articles by various authors have also said what these doctors had stated. Since 1978 a whole lot of vaccines have been added to the schedule and some of them still contain mercury. Thiomersal has also been found in the mercury-free vaccines in small doses as it is used in the process of manufacture as well and is not possible to remove. Thiomersal is known to be a mitochondrial toxin and these types of toxins can be very damaging even in minute doses. It still continues in vaccines supplied to and used in developing nations. The particular MMR vaccine that the trio reported upon was already in a controversy prior to its introduction into the UK. Many of the large scale studies that the doctor quotes here that "debunk" the vaccine-autism link have been extremely controversial due to the Simpsonwood CDC Conference exposure and the financial irregularity of the Danish studies Principal Author Dr Poul Thorsen. They also suffer from research anomalies and suffer conflict of interest that has been pointed out by independent researchers. Dr Paul Offit - the author of the book this doctor suggests - is the patent holder of a vaccine himself which "has made his fortune" by his own admission and is no autism expert by any stretch of the imagination as he has never ever treated any autistic child. Dr Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath is a highly qualified gastroeneterologist who still counsels and helps autistic children. He has also written a book titled "Callous Disregard" answering all the charges against him and his case against the decision is still pending. - Jagannath

Doc TalkDoc Talk: No truth to link between vaccines and autism

  • Published Tuesday, July 31, 2012, at 12 a.m.


The idea that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or any thimerosal containing vaccine causes autism is not a scientific controversy.
It is an urban myth that exploded in 1998 when a British surgeon named Andrew Wakefield performed intestinal biopsies on eight autistic children and claimed he found measles virus from their MMR vaccinations. His study has repeatedly been used to claim that the MMR causes autism. However, there was no scientific credibility to Wakefield’s study for a number of reasons:
• Wakefield previously had hypothesized that the MMR vaccine caused Inflammatory Bowel Disease and was proven wrong by all the experts in that field.
• Wakefield is a surgeon with no specialty training in immunology, virology, vaccines, pediatric psychiatry or pediatric neurology.
• This study was performed in only eight children.
• Wakefield’s research assistant performed all the research, and he testified under oath that the results did not show measles.
• Wakefield ultimately received $800,000 from a personal-injury lawyer who represented five of the eight patients as clients.
• Wakefield’s study did not go through legitimate scientific review.
• Wakefield has been debunked by every scientific organization and permanently barred from medical practice in the United Kingdom.
However, the myth that autism was linked to the MMR vaccine spread like a brushfire. When this fire began to die down, the theory about thimerosal (a preservative used in vaccines) ignited. Dangerous alternative treatments such as chelation appeared, causing deaths in some children.
Since the late 1990s, there have been 10 large-scale studies examining any possible link between autism and MMR and five large-scale studies examining any link between autism and thimerosal. The results showed no relationships between autism and vaccines. Perhaps the most convincing data is from California, where thimerosal was removed from all vaccines in 2002. Had any relationship existed between thimerosal and autism (or any other neurodevelopmental problem), there would have been a dramatic decrease in autism rates. However, by 2006, autism rates in the thimerosal-free population did not go down — in fact, they increased.
Parental refusal to vaccinate their own children seriously affects other children as well. In 1991, a measles epidemic swept through Philadelphia. The outbreak centered in a religious group that chose not to vaccinate its children. Seven children in this community died from measles. The virus then spread to a surrounding community, killing two other infants who were too young to have received their MMR vaccinations.
Hundreds of children throughout Europe and U.S. have gotten ill and died from measles. This is “collateral damage” from parents refusing to get their children immunized. It is time to quit fearing good science. It is time for every parent to want to immunize their children. Parents who choose not to vaccinate have some moral ownership in the potential demise of other children in addition to their own.
In 2006, more cases were reported in the United States than at any time within the past decade. By 2007, the number of measles cases in this country tripled. Hundreds of children throughout Europe and the U.S. have gotten ill and died from measles.
Vaccination is the best and most effective therapy in the history of medicine, responsible for saving billions of lives. There are some real, but extremely rare, side effects of some vaccinations. And there are some thoughtful and informed parents who do have legitimate reasons for refusing vaccination, based on religious beliefs. But whatever the reason — real or imagined – it must be weighed in proportion to the resurgence of diseases like measles and pertussis which harm and can kill young children.
For more information about this topic, see Paul A. Offit’s book “Autism’s False Prophets.”
Doc Talk is a column about health issues by Wichita-area physicians. This column was written by Mark Mosley, pediatric and internal medicine specialist and Director of Emergency Services at Wesley Medical Center.