A Quiet Victory

Filed in Science and Health by on March 17, 2010

The one debate between scientists and deniers that I don’t relish is the argument vaccinations cause autism. Maybe as I parent, I understand the need, the desire to find answers to questions that remained unanswered. Earlier this week, three separate rulings determined that vaccines — specifically thimerosal —are not linked to the cause of autism in children. One ruling said the following:

This case . . . is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories.

Conversely and predictably the antivax community responded with:

Government attorneys defend a government program, using government-funded science, before government judges.

Obviously there is still a long way to go to convince the antivax parents that they are fighting a losing battle. Scientific blogger Phil Plait summarizes the problem succinctly:

This [antivax] movement is doing serious damage in two ways. One, it’s scaring parents unreasonably into not vaccinating their kids, putting these children and others at risk for contracting preventable diseases. But second, this whole debacle is distracting researchers against looking for the real causes behind autism. In other words, these people are fighting against their own cause.

We need real answers about autism, and the antivax movement is wasting tremendous resources that could be far, far better spent looking at the reality of the situation. Instead, they rail against phantoms, and the real victims are children, theirs and everybody’s.

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A Dad, a husband and a data guru

Comments (11)

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  1. Joanne Christian says:

    Done w/ this topic–I think they need to look at air-conditioning. All these kids are climatized these days, unlike the days not so long ago. I don’t think the body is supposed to be hermetically sealed at 72 degrees 24/7. Indoor recess, sports practice cancelled, indoor playing…all because it’s too hot or too cold? C’mon, someone from NIH must read this, and garner research monies to pickup my hunch from here.

  2. Scott P says:

    Bbbbut, Jenny McCarthy told me they DO cause autism. Are you seriously trying to say that scientists know more about this than she does? Come now.

  3. I agree with Phil Plait. It’s a waste of money to continue research on a vaccine/autism link. This has been shown by many, many studies.

  4. Joanne Christian says:

    Done w/ this topic–please forward my above comment to Jenny McCarthy–she certainly can get the airtime, money and interest I can’t. I’m sure NIH awaits the check. Thank you.

  5. John Young says:

    It continues to get coverage because some think the Autism Vaccine link debate just had its “climategate”: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/87437502.html

  6. The Wakefield paper has been completely retracted.

  7. Scott P says:

    My own feeling on this is the whole thing started from autism being recently over-diagnosed (or properly diagnosed, it really doesn’t matter). The vaccine theory came about because non-experts were looking for an explanation for the sudden explosion in autistic children. I don’t think there has been an explosion. I think a lot of kids are being diagnosed who never were before (again, whether they are or aren’t is not relevant). This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be searching for a cause, just that we shouldn’t be looking for a new cause.

    Unfortunately for many, the vaccine theory has been elevated to the level of a conspiricy theory, and those are impervious to facts. They actually are often strengthened by contradictory evidence.

  8. SRC says:

    Last week NPR had a report (from France?)saying an ‘autism gene’ (not for all autistics)has been identified. Now there’s a step away from the scare tactics.

  9. Joanne Christian says:

    Sweety–newsflash–if it’s not a gene yet identified for ANYTHING–it soon will be. Death and affliction will be categorized by genetics or trauma in due time. Just around the corner. And there’s no escaping……unless of course…..take it from here UI!!!

  10. just kiddin says:

    Parents of children/adults with autism absolutely disagree. Children changed after they received the 3 in 1 shot. Prior to that many children acted normal, had language skills etc. After the shot they absolutely changed. This has more to do with insurance companies and big pharma being sued to hell!

    You say non experts…parents are non experts but some parents are actually doctors. One of the founders of the Autism Society of America, Bernard Rimland tried for decades to get the shot tested by NIH, they refused. They still refuse. Why do you think tort reform is so big among the right. If it was proven autism was caused by, or made worse by the 3 in l shot the lawsuits would be extraordinary. We find most persons with autism have had their childhood shot “records dissappear”! Many parents worked around chemicals and in big pharma. We have a lot of autistic kids whose parents worked at dupont or some other big chemical company. There is a reason why autism is now l in 150 births. Forty years ago, it was one in 15,000….thats a lot people with “gene” problems if you believe that “theory”.

  11. Scott P says:

    Thanks, JK, for pretty much proving my point.