David Moyer: Let’s not eschew the facts
The complexity of autism syndromes argues against easy categorizations such as “vaccines cause autism” or “vaccines don’t cause autism.” Yet the “always-safe-vaccine” meme is so entrenched in our culture that anyone who raises questions is labeled as an “anti-vaxxer.” Nothing is as simple as it seems.
I understand Thomas Elias’ point in his Sept. 7 column entitled, “Violent acts only hinder anti-vaccination cause” … up to a point. In his previous April 19 column, he wrote, “Measles can kill, while vaccines never have.” That is false. Measles and vaccines can kill. If vaccines are that safe, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program would not have spent $4.2 billion for vaccine injuries and deaths, nor would they have compensated 124 victims of the MMR from 2006 to 2017. Attorney Mary Holland argues that more children should have been compensated but for the standard requiring vaccine-induced “encephalopathy,” “residual seizure disorder,” and “autistic-like symptoms.”
In his column, Mr. Elias writes that a British study claiming an association of the MMR with autism “early in this decade was long ago debunked, its author recanting.” Foul ball Mr. Elias! This unnamed author is Dr. Andrew Wakefield. The journal, The Lancet published his and his colleagues’ paper entitled “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children” in February 1998. Subsequent papers by others demonstrated the presence of measles virus in the intestines of autistic children compared to controls. Multiple articles have elucidated the role of gut pathology in autism.
While the Lancet editor retracted the article 12 years later, Wakefield did not recant anything. As a matter of fact, his coauthor, Dr. Walker Smith, who also lost his medical license over the study, appealed the medical board decision and won in a court of law in 2010. The judge criticized the board’s “inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion.” He said “It would be a misfortune if this were to happen again.” His medical license was restored. Unfortunately, Wakefield had already left England, having lost his medical license and his position as gastroenterologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
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In the Feb. 1, 2016 article in Frontiers in Human Sciences, Hutton states that before the mass vaccination for measles which began in 1969, children with congenital rubella syndrome from mothers who had measles while pregnant were 200 times more likely to become autistic than the general population. Edwardes and Baltzan (Journal of American Medical Association 2001) found a positive correlation between MMR vaccination rates and autism incidence when the data for the children vaccinated at 17 months were examined in isolation.
Let’s pick an area where the media drumbeat has been less intense, the hepatitis B vaccine, given to babies on their first day of birth. A 2010 study from the prestigious Stony Brook University Medical Center entitled “Hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and autism diagnosis” reported almost a three-fold increase in autism for newborn boys given the Hepatitis B vaccine, noting increased risk to African-American boys. And what was the media reaction to this dramatic finding? A gigantic collective yawn. The vaccine juggernaut rolled on. The implications are too great for the public to know the truth.
At 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births, the United States currently ranks No. 33 out of 36 countries in infant mortality. Iceland is ranked first with 0.7 deaths per 1,000 live births and Mexico is ranked last with 12.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. The number of required vaccinations in the first year of life in the United States is now 26, the highest among 30 countries assessed. When I wrote my first book, the US was 31st in infant mortality rates, a 75 percent decline in rank since 1960. Comparing infant mortality rates among 30 countries, Miller and Goldman found a significant correlation of .70 (p<.0001) between first-year infant mortality and the number of required vaccinations. A coincidence?
In his book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough,” Elias describes how the FDA has continually suppressed a promising cancer treatment that has cured many terminally ill patients with so-called untreatable brain tumors. Were he to apply that same laser-sharp analysis to the issue of vaccine safety, he could help us move beyond the simplistic “vaccines cause autism” or “vaccines don’t cause autism.” However, he might also be labeled an anti-vaxxer. He might jeopardize his career as a columnist.
Nonetheless, let us not eschew these inconvenient truths.
David Moyer is a long-time resident of Lake Wildwood. He is the author of three books exploring biological aspects of mental illness. His latest book is “10 Ways to Keep Your Brain from Screaming ‘Ouch!’” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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