Articles

Toxic myths about vaccines

Ever since there have been vaccines, there has been an antivaccination movement. It began shortly after Edward Jenner discovered how to use the weaker cowpox virus to induce long-lasting immunity to smallpox, there has been resistance to the concept of vaccination, a resistance that continues to this very day. Reasons for this resistance have ranged from religious, to fear of injecting foreign substances, to simple resistance to the government telling people what to do. Some fear even the infitessimally small risk that vaccines pose for the benefit of resistance to disease far more than they fear the diseases themselves, a result of the very success of modern vaccines. Of course, vaccines, like any other medical intervention, are not without risks, making it easy for them to jump on any hint of harm done by vaccines, whether real or imagined, even though vaccines are among the very safest of treatments.

One of the biggest myths that antivaccinationists believe and like to use to stoke the fear of vaccines is the concept that they are full of “toxins.” The myth that mercury in the thimerosal preservative commonly used in vaccines in the U.S. until early 2002 was a major cause of autism is simply the most recent bogeyman used to try to argue that vaccines do more harm than good, as was the scare campaign engineered in response to Andrew Wakefield’s poor science claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Now that study after study have failed to find or corroborate a link between thimerosal in vaccines or vaccines in general and autism to the point where even the most zealous of zealots are having a hard time defending the claim that mercury in vaccines cause autism any more, predictably the campaign against vaccines has fallen back on the old “toxins” myth. If you peruse antivaccinationist websites, it won’t take long to find articles claiming that vaccines are full of the most terrifying and nasty toxins. Examples in the media abound as well. For example, Jenny McCarthy, comic actress and former Playboy Playmate who has been doing the talk show and publicity circuit lately to plug her book in which she claims that vaccines caused her son’s autism and that she was able to cure it with “biomedical” interventions and diet, recently gave an interview in which she said:

What I really am is “anti-toxins” in the vaccines. I do believe that there is a correlation between vaccinations and autism. I don’t think it’s the sole cause, but I think they’re triggering–it’s triggering–autism in these kids. A really great example is…is, sometimes obesity can trigger diabetes. I do believe that vaccines can trigger autism…It’s so much more than just mercury. That is one ingredient in the recipe of autism…I’m talking about all of them. I’m calling for cleaning out the toxins. People don’t realize that there is aluminum, ether, antifreeze, still mercury, in the shots…People are afraid of secondhand smoke, but they’re OK with injecting the second worst neurotoxin on the planet in newborns.

Another example of what I sometimes call the “toxin gambit” comes from Deirdre Imus, wife of shock jock Don Imus, with both husband and wife being well-known and reliable media boosters of the claim that vaccines somehow cause autism:

So, where are the evidenced based (conflict free) studies that prove the safety of these “trace” amounts and proof that there are “no biological effects” of any amount of mercury being injected into our children and pregnant moms? Also, where are the evidence based studies proving the safety of vaccines given to pregnant moms and our children that contain other toxins such as aluminum and formaldehyde?

The most recent example of this tactic comes from an organization called Generation Rescue, which just last week ran a full-page ad in USA Today, paid for in part by Jenny McCarthy and her present boyfriend Jim Carrey:

antivaxgradvertisement.jpg

Besides being one of the most egregious examples of a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that I’ve ever seen from an antivaccination site, this Generation Rescue ad demonstrates clearly a new strategy (or, more properly, a resurrection of an old technique) now that science is coming down conclusively against mercury in vaccines as a cause of autism, a strategy of propagating fear by linking vaccines with “toxins.” So what’s the real story? Are there really deadly toxins in vaccines that parents should be worried about?

To answer this question, I thought I’d use what to me is arguably the most amazingly over-the-top examples of this strategy of listing “toxins” in vaccines as a jumping off point. This example is embodied in a post by one Kent Heckenlively writing for the Age of Autism blog entitled FDA Says A-OK: Vaccine Ingredients from A to Z. This post examines a list taken straight from the CDC website of ingredients found in vaccines besides the bacterial or viral proteins designed to evoke the protective immune response and tries to scare parents about almost every one. Of course, nearly all of these comparisons fail to acknowledge that time-honored pharmacological principle that “the dose makes the poison” and extrapolate horrible consequences known to occur during prolonged exposure or exposure to large amounts to the tiny amounts in vaccines. That’s exactly what Mr. Heckenlively does to what is, I must say, a truly ridiculous level. However, as patently ridiculous as Mr. Heckenlively’s post is, I believe that it is not a straw man and still worth starting the discussion with because it serves almost as a reductio ad absurdum concentration of actual arguments that antivaccinationists make about “toxins” in vaccines. A few examples, starting with these, will readily show you what I mean:

Neomycin is used as an anti-bacterial. It is also nephrotoxic and can cause kidney damage.

And:

Polymyxin B is used as an anti-bacterial. It binds to the cell membrane and alters its structure, making it more permeable. The resulting water uptake leads to cell death. Side effects include neurotoxicity and acute renal tubular necrosis.

And:

Streptomycin is used as an anti-bacterial. Streptomycin stops bacterial growth by damaging cell membranes and inhibiting protein synthesis. Specifically, it binds to the 16S rRNA of the bacterial ribosome, interfering with the binding of formyl-methionyl-tRNA to the 30S subunit. This prevents initiation of protein synthesis. Humans have structurally different ribosomes from bacteria, thereby allowing the selectivity of this antibiotic for bacteria. Streptomycin cannot be given orally, but must be administered by regular intramuscular injection. An adverse effect of this medicine is oto-toxicity. It can result in permanent hearing loss.

All of this is true but highly deceptive. Why? The recommended dosage of streptomycin for the treatment of various infections is 20-40 mg/kg per day, for a maximum of 1 g per day! Why is this relevant? Because every vaccine given to a child during his entire life probably doesn’t even come anywhere near 1 mg, that’s why. Antibiotics like streptomycin and neomycin are used in cell culture medium at low concentrations to suppress the growth of bacteria. The reason that these antibiotics are listed is because they’re used in culturing the cells necessary to grow the viruses used in making vaccines. By the time the vaccine is made, these antibiotics are only present in trace amounts, nowhere near enough to cause renal toxicity or ototoxicity, which only occurs with use at or above the range of the doses listed above. I suspect that Mr. Heckenlively knows this too but only mentions it because he knows it will scare parents. Indeed, he takes this sort of distortion to a truly comical extreme with this example:

Sucrose is used as a stabilizer. Over-consumption of sucrose has been linked with some adverse health effects. The most common is dental caries or tooth decay, in which oral bacteria convert sugars (including sucrose) from food into acids that attack tooth enamel. When a large amount of foods that contain a high percentage of sucrose is consumed, beneficial nutrients can be displaced from the diet, which can contribute to an increased risk for chronic disease. It has been suggested that sucrose-containing drinks may be linked to the development of obesity and insulin resistance.

Does Heckenlively honestly think that the baby is eating the vaccine or that there’s kilogram upon kilogram of sucrose in vaccines? Using Mr. Heckenlively’s logic, I could say that because there’s the chelation agent EDTA used in some vaccines as a preservative babies could use it as a treatment for heavy metal poisoning. Sadly, Mr. Heckenlively is not alone in using such distortions to attack vaccines. For example, here are some even more deceptive statements on other such antivaccinationist lists as well about other vaccine ingredients:

Sodium Hydroxide (also known as lye, caustic soda, soda lye.) Is corrosive and is an Eye, skin and respiratory irritant. Can burn eyes, skin and internal organs. Can cause lung and tissue damage, blindness and can be fatal if swallowed. Found in oven cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and drain openers.

And:

Hydrochloric acid: CAN DISTROY TISSUE UPON DIRECT CONTACT! Found in aluminum cleaners and rust removers.

Neglected is the simple chemical observation that these effects depend upon the pH of these acids and bases. The reason they’re used in vaccines is to adjust the pH of the vaccine to neutral. The person who wrote these things clearly doesn’t understand the basic concept of pH. Does she honestly think that the pH of vaccines is either 0 (very acid) or 14 (very basic)? Moreover, sodium hydroxide, when it neutralizes an aqueous acid solution will simply form the sodium salt of whatever the anion was in the acid. Hydrochloric acid will form the chloride salt with whatever cation was in the base. When sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid are used, one to neutralize the other, the result is an NaCl solution of neutral pH: common table salt.

Of course, this list does contain a number of chemicals that do sound really scary. However, if you remember the pharmacological principle that “the dose makes the poison,” they are much less so. These chemicals are all present at extremely low concentrations in vaccines, certainly not at any dangerous levels. Moreover, some of the fearmongering about such seemingly scary toxins betrays a serious lack of understanding of basic chemistry.

Here’s one example. The aforementioned Jenny McCarthy has been repeating that there is “antifreeze” in vaccines, as she did in the interview linked to earlier. That line is straight off of a number of antivaccination websites. (Amazingly Mr. Heckenlively managed to restrain himself from repeating “the “antifreeze in vaccines” gambit. I can only hope that it is due to intellectual honesty, although I can’t rule out the possibility that he just didn’t know about it.) One website in particular links to an MSDS about Quaker State Antifreeze/Coolant, the principal ingredients of which are ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol. Guess what? There’s no ethylene or diethylene glycol in vaccines. Accurate chemistry or pharmacology never was a major concern among antivaccinationists. After all, Jenny McCarthy also says that there’s “ether” in vaccines, too. The only “ether” I could find in the CDC’s list is polyethylene glycol pisooctylphenyl ether (Triton X-100), a common detergent agent used to make cell membranes permeable. In the past, a compound called Tween-Ether was sometimes used instead of Triton X-100; it’s the same sort of thing, a fairly large organic molecule with an ether chemical group hooked on. I suspect that Jenny and most antivaccinationists are too chemistry-challenged to realize that this is not the same thing as diethyl ether, which was used as an anaesthetic agent before safer volatile agents were developed and is often commonly referred to as just “ether.” Jenny also apparently doesn’t realize that ether is not very soluble in aqueous solution. The only way I could even conceive ether being used in the vaccine manufacturing process is if it’s used for a chemical extraction, in which case, it too would be present in at best trace amounts. Moreover, this may even be one source of the claim that antifreeze is in vaccines as well. Note the first part of the chemical name: “polyethylene glycol.” It just so turns out that a major component of many antifreezes is the chemical ethylene glycol.

I also suspect that the whole “antifreeze in vaccines” canard may have derived from a claim that ethylene glycol is used in the synthesis of thimerosal. In actuality, it’s synthesized using ethyl mercuric chloride, thiosalicylic acid, sodium hydroxide and ethanol, although I don’t know if there are other methods of synthesis that do involve ethylene glycol. The origin of this claim could also come from other trace chemicals in vaccines as well, such as propylene glycol. Either way, even if there were ethylene glycol in vaccines, it would not be at a concentration anywhere near high enough to be toxic or dangerous.

Because mercury hasn’t been in most childhood vaccines for six years, one of the two most favored ingredients that antivaccinationists now like to cite is formaldehyde. Yes, that is indeed the same chemical that’s used to fix tissue for pathology (usually as a 10% solution known as formalin that contains 10 g/100 ml of formaldehyde and is buffered to a neutral pH) and the same chemical used in the embalming fluid for the cadavers we dissected as medical students. (Indeed, I still remember that smell, which was impossible to get rid of entirely during the months I took gross anatomy.) During the vaccine manufacturing process, it’s used to inactivate live virus, and traces do remain after manufacturing. Why on earth would those traces be allowed to remain? Remember again: The dose makes the poison. In trace amounts, formaldehyde is not dangerous. Also, it doesn’t last long in aqueous solution, such as vaccines. It breaks down to formic acid and carbon monoxide. Moreover, exposure to far more formaldehyde than any vaccine contains is ubiquitous in modern life. It’s in auto exhaust, and various substances found in virtually every household emit it:

Latex paint, fingernail hardener, and fingernail polish release a large amount of formaldehyde to the air. Plywood and particle board, as well as furniture and cabinets made from them, fiberglass products, new carpets, decorative laminates, and some permanent press fabrics give off a moderate amount of formaldehyde. Some paper products, such as grocery bags and paper towels, give off small amounts of formaldehyde. Because these products contain formaldehyde, you may also be exposed on the skin by touching or coming in direct contact with them. You may also be exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in the food you eat. You are not likely to be exposed to formaldehyde in the water you drink because it does not last a long time in water.

Of course, given my background, it’s hard not to mention that every generation of medical students since time immemorial has been exposed to large amounts of formaldehyde. I’m not saying this is a good thing; personally I wish I could have avoided it, and it would be a good thing if we could decrease the average exposure to it while going about our activities of life. However, it’s a matter of perspective. Antivaccinationists rant about formaldehyde in vaccines and ignore a source that is orders of magnitude greater over the lifetimes of each and every one of us from childhood to old age: the environment.

Finally, now that thimerosal has been removed from nearly all childhood vaccines, the antivaccinationists needed to find another bogeyman in vaccines to demonize, and, given their fear of heavy metals and belief that chelation therapy to remove them can cure autism, the most obvious candidate was aluminum, which has been used as an adjuvant in many vaccines for over 80 years to increase the ability of antigens to provoke the desired immune response. It has become other of the top two chemicals that antivaccinationists like to cite to demonize vaccines. True, aluminum is not nearly as scary-sounding as mercury, but with mercury falling by the wayside, antivaccinationists are certainly trying very hard to make it so, which brings us back to Mr. Heckenlively’s post:

Aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, and aluminum potassium sulfate are all used as adjuvants to stimulate the immune system. Aluminum products found in commercial antiperspirants have been linked with breast cancer. A recent article published in the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry based on research from Keele University in England was trying to explain the “known, but unaccounted for, higher incidence of tumors in the upper outer quadrant of the breast.” They found that aluminum content was higher in the outer regions where there would be the highest density of antiperspirant. In discussing aluminum’s potential danger the report stated, “Aluminum is a metalloestrogen, it is genotoxic, is bound by DNA and has been shown to be carcinogenic. It is also a pro-oxidant and this unusual property might provide a mechanistic basis for any putative carcinogenicity. The confirmed presence of aluminum in breast tissue biopsies highlights its potential as a possible factor in the etiology of breast cancer.”

I can’t help but ask here: Applying an aluminum-based compound to one’s skin over the course of many, many years is related to some injections of aluminum-based adjuvants in vaccines exactly…how? Of course, the above claim is a total nonsequitur, but what about the frequent confident claims on antivaccination websites that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease and that by implication vaccines cause Alzheimer’s? This is a claim by well-known antivaccinationist Hugh Fudenberg, who is often quoted thusly:

According to Hugh Fudenberg, MD (http://members.aol.com/nitrf), the world’s leading immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times (nearly 850 papers in peer review journals), if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied) his/her chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease is ten times higher than if they had one, two or no shots. I asked Dr. Fudenberg why this was so and he said it was due to the mercury and aluminum that is in every flu shot (and most childhood shots). The gradual mercury and aluminum buildup in the brain causes cognitive dysfunction. Is that why Alzheimer’s is expected to quadruple? Notes: Recorded from Dr. Fudenberg’s speech at the NVIC International Vaccine Conference, Arlington, VA September, 1997. Quoted with permission. Alzheimer’s to quadruple statement is from John’s Hopkins Newsletter Nov 1998.

Not surprisingly, this claim is not supported by science. There’s no good evidence that the flu vaccine is associated with an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s. Indeed, on his personal blog, my co-blogger Steve Novella has nicely summarized the evidence regarding whether or not aluminum is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, concluding:

The evidence of aluminum and AD is mixed, without a clear direction. At present the best answer we have is that aluminum probably does not cause AD but appears to be playing some role, perhaps influencing severity. But even after 42 years, there remains a question mark next to these conclusions. We can rule out that aluminum is the single cause of AD, but whether or not it is an independent risk factor is a qualified “probably not.”

And, most importantly, Steve said this about how the science looking at whether aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease or not is abused:

The mainstream scientific and patient or disease-oriented groups accurately reflect the above interpretation of the research. But the complexity of the results make it very easy to exploit for the purpose of fear-mongering. The notorious crank website, Rense.com, for example, cherry picks the evidence that suggests there is a correlation and piles it up to present a very distorted view of the issue. There will likely persist rumors, scare e-mails, and conspiracy websites promoting the idea that aluminum causes AD regardless of how the research progresses.

Now the antivaccinationists are climbing aboard the aluminum scare train as well because the scientific evidence is becoming so clear that their previous favorite bogeyman vaccine ingredient, thimerosal, is not associated with autism that even the die-hards are having a hard time arguing that it is anymore, particularly now that thimerosal is no longer present above trace amounts in most childhood vaccines. Consequently, they have no choice but to branch out to other scary-sounding ingredients in vaccines and invoking vague (and, conveniently enough, almost impossible to demonstrate) “environmental toxins” or risk becoming irrelevant.

One thing that you have to remember about resistance to vaccines by groups like Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, and others is that it is not scientific in nature. It is either due to an excessive reliance on anecdotes or confusing correlation with causation (usually with a distrust of science and medicine), or it is ideological in nature. No matter how many of the “toxins” scientists remove from vaccines, it will never be enough for Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy, or other antivaccinationists, because it’s all about the vaccines and the very concept of vaccination itself, not any individual ingredients in the vaccines. Antivaccinationists will never come to a point where they say, “OK, now I believe that all the toxins are gone and vaccines are safe.” They’ll either fixate on the viruses or the viral or bacterial antigens themselves, or they’ll make the claim that vaccines are made using “aborted fetuses” because some cell lines used to grow up virus stocks were derived from aborted fetuses 40 or more years ago. If every trace of formaldehyde, aluminum, or any other chemical with more than two syllables in its name were somehow to be removed from all vaccines, they would still be saying things like this:

It is the toxin, or germ, contained in the shot itself that causes the adverse affects on the immune system.

Dead-virus, or live-virus vaccine etc…who cares? The cultures for polio vaccines are grown in the kidney tissue of dead monkeys in third-world countries with little or no controls and the virulent pustule toxin is put in vaccines to be shot into you little kid’s arm. I wouldn’t go into a room where that putrid stuff is, let alone inject it into my blood stream! Would you?

Here’s an even more ridiculous example:

This DNA is from such organisms as various animals, animal/human viruses, fungi and bacteria. It has been documented that the injecting foreign DNA can cause it or some of it to be incorporated into the recipient’s DNA (see ‘Immunisation’ Against Diseases for Children). Remember, nature has not experienced such a direct invasion as this before, so can you be sure that it would have developed a way to protect your body against it?

That pretty much rules out any live attenuated virus vaccine for such an antivaccinationist, doesn’t it? Even worse is this:

The human blood is supposed to be, and traditionally was, sterile – no bacteria (or other organisms) present in it. That is not the case any more. Naturally this has a weakening effect on the immune system, apart from sometimes leading to severe bacterial infections.

No live bacteria is in a vaccine. It is possible, as with any injection, for vaccines to become contaminated with bacteria (which is one reason why preservatives like thimerosal were used for multidose vials, where reuse increases the risk of bacterial contamination), but that is not the intent. What is in vaccines are bacterial proteins, which contain the antigens necessary to provoke the desired immune response.

It would be fascinating to engage an antivaccinationist who makes the claim that he is not “antivaccine” but “antitoxin” or “pro-vaccine safety” in a discussion and ask him this hypothetical question: If formaldehyde, “antifreeze,” aluminum, thimerosal, and every chemical in vaccines circulating in all those lists on antivaccination websites that so frighten you were somehow absolutely removed from the standard childhood vaccines so that not a single molecular remained, would you then vaccinate your child? The only thing that would remain is buffered salt water and the necessary antigens, be they killed virus or bacterial proteins, or whatever.

My guess is that nearly all antivaccinationists would say no, because it’s the “toxin” that makes vaccines work that really disturbs them, as the quotes above clearly demonstrate. Remember that when you see these lists circulating on antivaccinist websites. Remember, too, the principle that the dose makes the poison. Only then will you understand how toxic the myths about vaccines being peddled by antivaccinationists are.

Posted in: Public Health, Science and Medicine, Science and the Media, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (122) ↓

122 thoughts on “Toxic myths about vaccines

  1. Aaron says:

    “My guess is that nearly all antivaccinationists would say no, because it’s the “toxin” that makes vaccines work that really disturbs them.”

    I just want to point out: I do agree that most would reject any vaccine, no matter how many chemicals were removed. But I believe it would take much more than a hypothetical question to get many of them to admit it. It’s about moving goalposts. They can safely say they’d accept a “cleaned-up” vaccine, knowing it’s not likely to happen.

  2. Michelle B says:

    Then I suppose we can be sure that Jennie McCarthy is one of those rare show biz folks that shun Botox injections?

    It is just as selfishly dangerous to run the risk of contagious diseases (with their resulting toxins) running amok again because the many will not be protected (for vaccination to afford collective protection, the majority need to be vaccinated) by the few who refused their children to be vaccinated, as it is when smokers carelessly lets their toxin-laden smoke enter a non-smoker’s lungs.

  3. David Gorski says:

    Certainly Jenny McCarthy didn’t eschew breast implants. As for Botox, who knows? Jenny is reportedly only 35 years old. She hasn’t started getting the wrinkles yet that would tempt her to get Botox injections.

    However, Botox is an excellent example of the principle of how the dose makes the poison. One of the deadliest of poisons, at very low doses it is safe and can be used not just for cosmetic reasons but for other therapeutic purposes, such as blepharospasm, cervical dystonia, excessive sweating, achalasia (the failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, resulting in difficulty swallowing), and migraine headaches. It’s also being studied to treat anal fissures, diabetic neuropathy, and a variety of other conditions.

  4. Harriet Hall says:

    I know a raw foods advocate who opposes immunization because she is firmly convinced that bacteria and viruses do not cause disease. She says the germ theory is a myth, just a new version of the “evil spirits cause disease” myth. When I asked to learn more, she recommended a book written by a crank in 1926.

    Epidemics? Caused by a lot of people not living a healthy life style. The elimination of smallpox? It’s not gone, it’s just being misdiagnosed as chickenpox. Viruses seen in tissue? They’re just cellular debris. You would find them in healthy people too if you bothered to look. Etc. Etc.

    I pointed out that her reference not only missed out on the last 8 decades of history and science, but was full of logical fallacies. I’m still waiting for her response.

  5. Scotty B says:

    Well you know, all vaccines contain water, a major constituent of which is oxygen. Oxygen is a key ingredient in the chemical sodium hypochlorite, which we commonly refer to as bleach. Ergo, vaccines are bad. Have I got this right? Can I be an antivaccinationist now?

    (Don’t even get me started on sodium metal and chlorine gas!)

    I hope for my own child’s sake that the other children in his class are vaccinated too.

  6. Simon says:

    The only remotely plausible contention to vaccines I’ve ever heard is the worry that the adjuvants could help sensitise the body against auto-antigens leading to autoimmune disease. I’m convinced this doesn’t happen by epidemiological studies but I still can’t explain [i]why[i] this effect does not occur; it seems logical- I just know better than to trust my monkey logic over controlled experimentation!

  7. PalMD says:

    Yes…silly monkey. Just because something is theoretically possible doesn’t make is so.

    There isn’t currently a good model for vaccines causing specific autoimmunity. Documented immunologic mimicry can be seen in certain paraneoplastic syndromes, but specific autoimmunity isn’t seen all that much. Most autoimmune disease has know known etiology, that is in the ultimate rather than proximate sense.

    MS is an autoimmune attack on myelin, but we don’t know why, and other than a propensity for temperate climates, nothing has been strongly linked to this immune response.

  8. daedalus2u says:

    I think the reason that adjuvants don’t cause autoimmune sensitivity is because they don’t get in the right place at the right time. (But let me warn everyone this is my hypothesis based on my reading about the immune system and may have flaws in it).

    There are two basic kinds of antigens, self and non-self. Self antigens are signals to leave cells alone. Non-self antigens are signals to destroy anything and everything that has a non-self antigen, even otherwise “normal” cells. A cell that is infected by a virus will express non-self antigens on its surface. That cell needs to be destroyed (along with what ever is inside it).

    Antigens are bits of protein that result when proteins are digested either by the proteasome (a complex that digests damaged proteins one at a time), or during autophagy (which digests bulk cytoplasm and organelles such as mitochondria). These bits are then attached to proteins of the Major Histocompatibity Complex. Depending on which one they get attached to, they are either self (MHC I) or non-self (MHC II).

    Immune sensitization occurs when proteins are digested and attached to the MHC II proteins that signal non-self. The sensitization usually occurs in dendritic cells which mostly circulate around in the extravascular space, in the lymph. That is where most bacteria and other foreign infectious agents are going to end up, so that is the “logical” place for the antigen detection to occur. The dendritic cells pick up foreign proteins, digest them, label them as non-self and “present” them on their surface. The cells migrate to the lymph nodes where they contact lots of other immune cells. That programs some cells to attack cells expressing the non-self antigen.

    Adjuvants are used in vaccines because with them it takes less antigen to then produce a good immune response. The most commonly used adjuvant is aluminum hydroxide. It is thought that the adjuvant works by making the antigen harder to digest. That is it partially protects it from being digested following autophagy and things that are harder to digest get attached to MHC II better. Other adjuvants are things like killed bacteria (the first was killed crude TB bacteria, Freund’s adjuvant).

    Normally vaccines are placed in the extravascular space (absolutely not in the blood stream). They sit there at a fairly high concentration and the dendritic cells come by, find all these nasty bits lying around and do what dendritic cells do, pick up the antigens, digest them, decide if they are self or non-self and then tell other cells to make the appropriate response.

    The aluminum hydroxide can only act as an adjuvant on antigens that are attached to it. The only antigens that can be attached to it are those present when the dendritic cells take it up. Myelin is only present in nervous tissue and so can only cause immune system sensitization when bits of nervous tissue get picked up by dendritic cells. If vaccines were injected into the brain, perhaps there could be immune sensitization to nervous system antigens. But there are a number of barriers that prevent adjuvants from getting from the site of injection to where they could pick up problematic antigens. Revere had a post over at Effect Measure where workers in a slaughter house developed immune sensitization by exposure to aerosols of pig brains.

    Bacterial antigens such as Freund’s adjuvant also increase immune system sensitization. Exactly how this happens is not exactly clear. Psychological stress also acts as an adjuvant.

    http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/289/3/R738

    I suspect that stress acts as an adjuvant by decreasing NO levels. When the immune system is turned on there is what is called the “respiratory burst”, which is the production of superoxide by immune cells. This superoxide pulls down the local NO level and that lower NO level modulates the activity of the lysosome by inhibiting the V-ATPase which acidifies the lysosome and regulates the digestion of cellular contents via autophagy. Under conditions of oxidative stress, autophagy proceeds more slowly and incompletely resulting in more incompletely digested components which are expelled from the cell.

    The silver deposits of argyria occur because the silver is reduced to metallic silver in the reducing conditions of the lysosome and is then expelled into the extravascular space where it is permanent. Stuff that is incompletely digested gets expelled too, but then the dendritic cells finish the job (they can’t with silver).

    I think this is the generic mechanism for autoimmune sensitization. Low NO, or oxidative stress (they are the same thing) interferes with autophagy via inhibition of the V-ATPase and undigested cellular bits are expelled into the extravascular space. Dendritic cells pick up those bits of incompletely digested cellular contents and (if the local NO level is low), process them with MHC I resulting in autoimmune sensitization. I think this is how the immune sensitization associated with things like primary biliary cirrhosis, stiff person syndrome, and probably MS too.

    I say that low NO “interferes”, but actually it is a regulated response. Low NO is one of the signals that indicate a metabolic crisis, where ATP needs to be conserved. Turning off autophagy during an ATP crisis is good ATP crisis management. If you are “running from a bear”, you don’t need to worry about antigens.

    Some amount of this autoimmune sensitization might be a feature. When a tumor is growing out of control, it will be metabolically stressed and may expel debris that the immune system picks up on and ultimately attacks. If that site is small and local it may be cleared and resolved. Similarly if you have a parasite or an infection there will be lots of local inflammation which causes metabolic stress and shifts the local dendritic cells more to a non-self bias. I think the problem with autoimmune sensitization is due to low NO causing local metabolic stress which eventually causes autoimmune sensitization.

    That might be a generic way to removed damaged cells. If a cell can’t generate enough ATP to sustain itself it will eventually exhibit defective autophagy and oxidative stress due to not enough mitochondria (a consequence of low NO and defective autophagy). If a cell can’t sustain itself it needs to be gotten rid of.

  9. Sastra says:

    Of course, nearly all of these comparisons fail to acknowledge that time-honored pharmacological principle that “the dose makes the poison”

    But please note that they do acknowledge the time-honored magical principle of “once in contact, always in contact.”

  10. Calli Arcale says:

    This DNA is from such organisms as various animals, animal/human viruses, fungi and bacteria. It has been documented that the injecting foreign DNA can cause it or some of it to be incorporated into the recipient’s DNA (see ‘Immunisation’ Against Diseases for Children). Remember, nature has not experienced such a direct invasion as this before, so can you be sure that it would have developed a way to protect your body against it?
    [snip]
    The human blood is supposed to be, and traditionally was, sterile – no bacteria (or other organisms) present in it. That is not the case any more. Naturally this has a weakening effect on the immune system, apart from sometimes leading to severe bacterial infections.

    Oh good lord . . . “nature has not experienced such a direct invasion as this before”? What do they think the immune system is *for*? Vaccination works precisely because nature *has* experienced direct invasion before. First off, cuts happen, and secondly, there are quite a few actual hypodermic needles in the animal kingdom. They belong to animals like snakes, mosquitos, wasps, bees, stinging ants, etc.

    As far as viral DNA being incorporated into the patient’s DNA — are they suggesting some kind of Hollywood-style mutation?

  11. Simon says:

    daedulus2u:
    Thanks for the response but your reading is not quite correct on the immune system:
    Yes, MHC-I expresses proteasomally digested antigens and MHC-II lysosomally digested antigens but they are not specific for self and non-self. Instead MHC-I presents antigens found [i] inside[/i] the cell, such as cytoplasmic proteins or, importantly, antigens from intracellular pathogens such as viruses, while MHC-II presents antigens from extracellular sources such as humoural proteins or bacterial components. Whether the immune system reacts to this presentation is dependant not on which MHC presents it but on whether the body was tolerised to the antigen during immune system development.
    In my understanding adjuvants work via two broad systems:
    1. Creating a pro-inflammatory state thus encouraging the inflitration of professional antigen presenting cells (the only ones to express MHC-II) which will take up the vaccine antigen and alert the IS of the danger.
    2. Making antigens more accessible to pAPCs by, eg. solubulising them.

  12. Simon says:

    Calli Arcale:
    “As far as viral DNA being incorporated into the patient’s DNA — are they suggesting some kind of Hollywood-style mutation?”
    Presumably- I know you can barely walk down the road these days without seeing some horrible half-human half-bacterium mutant clinging to its tired yet heroic mother with it’s Pap Pilli. On a more serious note, though, DNA vaccines are based around injecting pathogen genes into the vaccinee. These genes are taken up by the host cells causing them to express the antigens themselves. Host cells expressing antigens simulates a “live” vaccine- which would actually invade the cells and cause them to express it’s proteins. Thus DNA vaccines provide the advantages of live vaccines- long lasting immunity, formation of memory cells, humoural and cell-meidated response, with none of the risks- reversion to virulence, failure to decontaminate properly, longer shelf life etc. However, I don’t think that any vaccines using this methd are approved at the moment.

  13. daedalus2u says:

    Simon, Thanks for the clarification. There is some cross presentation between the two systems, that leads to autoimmune sensitization. No doubt there are multiple mechanisms by which different adjuvants increase immunogenicity. My thinking has been highly influenced by these papers (which I didn’t refer to before my post which is why I got some of the details confused):

    http://www.jem.org/cgi/content/full/203/9/2049

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/307/5715/1630

    My thinking is that any mechanism that reduces the effectiveness of proteolytic digestion in the lysosome is likely going to increase immunogenicity. In the context of my NO research, low NO does that by reducing the rate of pH decrease in lysosomes. Inflammation might increase immunogenicity via a low NO mechanism. Inflammation is characterized by oxidative stress which is characterized by low NO. It would be plausible for regulation of immunogenicity via low NO to evolve, and all the systems we know about are consistent with that as a mechanism. If so, then low NO could be a generic mechanism for autoimmune sensitization, or for the immune deviation characterized by asthma and allergies.

  14. overshoot says:

    “It would be fascinating to engage an antivaccinationist who makes the claim that he is not “antivaccine” but “antitoxin” or “pro-vaccine safety” in a discussion and ask him this hypothetical question:”

    Actually, I just ask them what conceivable facts or developments would cause them to change their minds. I’ve only met one who saw the trap coming, the rest insisted that NOTHING could change their minds.

    Which brings us right back to “sectarian medicine,” doesn’t it?

  15. PalMD says:

    It’s a cult.
    In order to continue to discuss the issue, it is important to offer a definition for the term ‘cult’.

    “The Cult Information Centre (CIC) defines a cult as a group having all of the following five characteristics:

    1. It uses psychological coercion to recruit and indoctrinate potential members.
    2. It forms an elitist totalitarian society.
    3. Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma.
    4. It believes ‘the end justifies the means’ in order to solicit funds or recruit people.
    5. Its wealth does not benefit its members or society.”

    They certainly qualify on #1 and #4 with their “save the babies” rhetoric. #3 maybe, #5 maybe, and #2, well, just try questioning the judgements of one of the “leaders”.

  16. Scotty B says:

    Another victory against the anti-vaccination crowd!:

    Wyeth Wins Thimerosal-Autism Case in Maryland Court
    http://www.wyeth.com/news?nav=display&navTo=/wyeth_html/home/news/pressreleases/2008/1203445148139.html

    From the article:

    Judge Berger found that “it is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community that thimerosal in vaccines does not cause or contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism,” also noting that “it is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community that autism is genetic in origin except in rare instances of prenatal exposures to certain substances at defined periods during pregnancy.”

    and:

    “This is a significant victory for good science generally,” says Daniel J. Thomasch, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

  17. NthnBrazil says:

    Curious as to your take on an apparent conflict between the FDA guidelines on intravenous aluminum limits and the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on vaccine additives and their safety. The FDA guideline states that the limit should be 25 micrograms/liter in this document:
    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/oc0367.pdf

    And specifically points out that “Generally, when medication
    and nutrition are administered orally, the gastrointestinal tract acts as an efficient barrier to the absorption of aluminum, and relatively little ingested aluminum actually reaches body tissues. However, parenterally administered drug products containing aluminum bypass the protective mechanism of the gastrointestinal tract and aluminum circulates and is deposited in human tissues.”

    This would seem to be in conflict with the AAP report found here:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/112/6/1394.pdf

    Which uses a 2000 microgram/kg of body weight /day ingested safe level (established by animal testing) as the base of comparison. And then in Table 3 lists aluminum containing vaccines ranging from 125 micrograms to 850 micrograms per dose.

    It seems the AAP report is apples and oranges (oral vs injected) and the FDA guideline is pretty clear. Based just on the merits of the facts here, aren’t the vaccines listed out of compliance with the FDA guideline or am I misinterpreting the facts?

  18. daedalus2u says:

    NthnBrazil, yes you are misinterpreting the facts. The FDA guidelines are for intravenous feeding solutions. These are solutions to provide total nutrition for patients incapable of eating. They are infused into large veins, directly into the blood stream. Vaccines are never injected into the blood stream. Vaccines are put in the extravascular space, between blood vessels.

    TPN requires multiple liters of fluid introduced intravenously daily for long periods of time, weeks, months or even years. There the concern is dissolved aluminum which isn’t excreted by the kidneys but accumulates somewhere unknown. It is a completely different situation than vaccines. In vaccines the aluminum is administered as a solid which is insoluble. It stays as a solid and either dissolves very slowly or doesn’t dissolve and is dealt with by the body as it does other insoluble residues.

    There is an enormous amount of experience with aluminum adjuvants in vaccines. Many hundreds of millions of vaccines containing aluminum have been given. By contrast the numbers of people who have received TPN is tiny.

  19. Faye says:

    This is why people get confused ethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12526816

  20. autismdad says:

    Everything you have said could be true and there may still be a link to autism from some unknown mechanism related to vaccines. Two things contribute to parents beliefs about vaccinations … 1) Government owned by big drug companies that has seemed to have a default deny/lie first approach. We don’t trust the government. You can have a scientist say anything you want him to say if he is on the payroll. We don’t know who to believe when everyone says the other guy’s study is flawed. 2) Seeing the aftermath of a vaccination and enjoying the ineptness of the medical establishment to help. Neurologists just prescribe X or Y drug and that’s about it. They are doing more experimenting on kids than the parents you talk about. All I know is that right after my daughter had 4 month vaccine, she had a seizure. The default position from the first second is NO WAY IT WAS THE VACCINE. All good for a couple of months until the 6 month vaccines, then we started our run of 300+ seizures. We saw some of the best neurologists and in retrospect they were useless.

    I don’t think this issue is as cut and dry as you make it out on either side. Both sides use straw man arguments like crazy and yes thimerosol may be a red herring, but that doesn’t mean we are wrong about the vaccine link.

    Look at the issues surrounding the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, it’s the same thing, deny, deny, deny, make the dissenters look crazy.

    Anyway, I love to read opinions on all sides. For parents like me, you are probably right, we won’t be swayed, because I know in my gut that our issues started with the 4 month vaccinations. Do I know why? No. Does that mean I am wrong? No.

  21. David Gorski says:

    Everything you have said could be true and there may still be a link to autism from some unknown mechanism related to vaccines. Two things contribute to parents beliefs about vaccinations … 1) Government owned by big drug companies that has seemed to have a default deny/lie first approach. We don’t trust the government. You can have a scientist say anything you want him to say if he is on the payroll. We don’t know who to believe when everyone says the other guy’s study is flawed.

    Suspicion of the government and big pharma is not enough. Evidence is needed. Thus far, there is no compelling evidence to support the myth that either mercury in vaccines or the vaccines themselves cause autism. In fact, there isn’t even mildly suggestive evidence. It is known that vaccines can cause rare complications, but the best evidence shows that autism just isn’t one of them.

    Come to think of it, speaking of suspicions and conflicts of interest, doesn’t it even strike you as mildly interesting that the only “evidence” for a link between vaccines and autism comes from people who profit from a belief in such a link. We’re talking about Mark and David Geier, who peddle chelation and Lupron while making big bucks offering their services as “expert” witnesses to parents suing for vaccine injury. We’re talking Andy Wakefield, whose “research” was bought and paid for by trial lawyers in the U.K. (not to mention who also had a patent application for a competing vaccine to the MMR at the time) and was so incompetent that he “detected” nothing more than his own control plasmids and called it measles in the gut. He was even informed of this before he published, but he published anyway. Or how Laura Hewitson, who did the now-infamous monkey study claiming that vaccines induced “autism-like’ symptoms in monkeys. She is a plaintiff in the Autism Omnibus, and her husband works as the IT director for Andy Wakefield’s Thoughtful House.

    Those who are incredibly and constantly suspicious of big pharma have a particular blind spot in overlooking the financial conflicts of interest that drive the bad science and outright pseudoscience behind the cottage industry of autism quackery. Yes, some of the research exonerating vaccines was funded by vaccine manufacturers, but much of it was funded by the NIH or CDC as well. Moreover, there are several studies that weren’t even done in the U.S. that also failed to find a link between vaccines and autism. I’m sorry, but it’s a hypothesis that has been tested over and over and has failed to pan out.

  22. Harriet Hall says:

    “there may still be a link to autism from some unknown mechanism related to vaccines”

    Yes, anything is possible. The data we have so far make it look very improbable. The data don’t show an association between vaccines and autism.

    “I know in my gut that our issues started with the 4 month vaccinations.”

    “Gut” feelings are very strong and convincing, but they are also terribly unreliable. You only know that your issues started at that time; you don’t know whether the vaccines were causal.

    “Do I know why? No. Does that mean I am wrong? No.”

    Does that mean you are right? No. It doesn’t mean that either.

  23. autismdad says:

    You guys are scientists, I am just a dad. Is it not possible that we just don’t understand the link? Lots of things that we know now were at one time a mystery to Science.

    Seeing your baby have over 300 seizures, the first one immediately after vaccination, does something to one’s ability to ignore the gut.

    You just cannot write off this link just because of theories that have proved to be wrong or because of the people who might cling to them.

    One thing I would love some help on from you science nerds. I have had a problem wrapping my mind around the idea that autism is just more diagnosed now days. Assuming that autism today is the same as autism 50 years ago, would there not be documented cases of kids who were speaking and then regressed. As you probably know, this is common with a large % of the cases today. Kid talking and development seems normal, then regression. If it is common today, following the same logic, it would have been the same back then.

    I have searched my proverbial ass off looking for 1 such documented case. Am I wrong in that there should be some documentation on this kind of regression or at least some moms and dads who witnessed this in their kid (pre 80s).

    Anyway, this is science nerd central over here. :-) I hope you guys don’t mind if a wacko-parent horns in.

  24. Harriet Hall says:

    “Is it not possible that we just don’t understand the link?”

    The point is that there is no evidence that there is any link.

    “I have had a problem wrapping my mind around the idea that autism is just more diagnosed now days.”

    I have a physician friend who has 2 autistic children and who has read everything there is to read about the disease. He is convinced that the rate of autism has not increased, and he has written in peer-reviewed journals about the various confounding factors: more awareness, better diagnosis, re-classifying children to get funding for state programs. In the past, these children were given other diagnoses like retardation, and these children were a shameful family secret that people just didn’t talk about. I’ve read several accounts of adults who are just now realizing they have been autistic all their life. I have no difficulty wrapping my mind around it, but then I can look at it more objectively than you can.

  25. autismdad says:

    Still, there should be some documented cases of regression shouldn’t there?

    I just hate to think of smart folks you guys shutting the door on this issue because of the messengers. Just say for a second that I am right (pretend hard :-) and some some combination of contributing vaccine factors that we don’t currently remotely comprehend are the root cause, would we ever figure it with so many closed minded people on both sides of this argument.

    If your baby received a shot and then turned bright purple right after, would you accept that they were not related even if everyone assured you they were not? How about if you met other people with purple babies who claim the same thing? Or if the doctors you took the child too had no options to help other than prescribe you some drugs produced by the same people who created the vaccine in the first place. No, you would form a Quit Turning Our Babies Purple club and raise as much holy hell as possible.

  26. Harriet Hall says:

    If “some combination of contributing vaccine factors that we don’t currently remotely comprehend are the root cause” then there would be a demonstrable association between vaccination and autism. There isn’t.

    If babies turned purple, we would do exactly what was done for autism: we would do properly controlled studies to see if there was an association between purpleness and vaccines.

  27. autismdad says:

    OK, Thanks. Harriet, I don’t think we will change each other’s minds in a day (or ever), but I’ve enjoyed this blog.

    Can you ask your friend about the regression thing please? These kids were being studied as far back as the 40s. I know from the number of parents that I have talked to directly and video that I’ve seen of their kids that a lot of kids who were talking up a storm, regressed and all debates aside as to cause, I would love some more information on that topic.

  28. autismdad says:

    Also, I totally agree with this … “Come to think of it, speaking of suspicions and conflicts of interest, doesn’t it even strike you as mildly interesting that the only “evidence” for a link between vaccines and autism comes from people who profit from a belief in such a link.”

    There are a lot of people and entities on both sides who leave a lot to be desired.

    The reverse is also true, the government is owned by the drug companies. I totally agree with you, but I am getting it from both sides. The government just doesn’t have a very good record on this issue. By default, they go into deny, deny, deny, no way mode.

    Let’s just forget about autism for a minute. What’s your take on Gardasil, the HPV vaccine? Are the parents crazy too in this case? http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/07/08/couricandco/entry4240888.shtml

    Let’s say Gardasil really was the cause here, do you have any confidence that the government would ever admit it? I don’t. This is the same government that couldn’t drop water on people in New Orleans that they watched on cable news for 5 days. I for sure don’t think the state has the power to force mandatory vaccines. This is the United States, that’s just wrong. I’m sure you guys disagree. :-)

    “Out of the Doctors Trial in Nuremberg came the Nuremberg Code, of which Yale law professor, physician and ethicist Jay Katz has said “if not explicitly then at least implicitly, commanded that the principle of the advancement of science bow to a higher principle: protection of individual inviolability. The rights of individuals to thoroughgoing self-determination and autonomy must come first. Scientific advances may be impeded, perhaps even become impossible at times, but this is a price worth paying.”

    “Bioethicist Arthur Caplan concurred when he said, “The Nuremberg Code explicitly rejects the moral argument that the creation of benefits for many justifies the sacrifice of the few. Every experiment, no matter how important or valuable, requires the express voluntary consent of the individual. The right of individuals to control their bodies trumps the interest of others in obtaining knowledge or benefits from them.”

  29. TsuDhoNimh says:

    AutismDad – Still, there should be some documented cases of regression shouldn’t there?

    There are … as far back as the 1800s. If you take the time to dredge through Google books you can find books that give case details. It was called mental deficiency, amentia, idiocy, imbecility, feeblemindedness, etc. Mental health was just beginning, but you have the work of Downs to start with.

    There isn’t a lot of case detail, of course, but it’s there.

    ********************
    One example would be Lord Melbourne’s son, Augustus Lamb, born 1807, who was by all reports a healthy child until about 8 months old. Then he had a series of convulsions and what symptoms and descriptions I can find sound like what we would call autism today.

    “But he asked not, or asked for so little suitable to his years; and when provided by the yearning forethought of affection, it called forth no ejaculation of surprise or joy. His lips did not forget gentle words of thanks ; but his eye kindled not, and his hand did not grasp the new fishing-rod or the new pony’s bridle, as if it was his own. He could play cards with his grandfather, and was ready whenever the old lord was in the humour, but he hardly cared whether he lost or won, and was content to give over at the slightest hint of weariness. He did not revoke, and was even shrewd in his play, but it was too like the cleverness of the automaton. When those about him talked he listened, and when they laughed he smiled ; but he rarely caught the contagion of their mirth, and seldom joined in the conversation.”

    “The boy is very strong and healthy but with the mind of a child always in mischief & rolling the maids about, tickling Charlotte & playing S’anks & old Nanny when she does out the drawing room is obliged to lock the door or else he runs down half-dressed & tumbles her on the floor & sits upon her, n’est-ce pas incroiable? & this at 18 years old, his fits are as bad as ever & I think more frequent.”

    ****************

  30. autismdad says:

    Says he was healthy, not speaking. Interesting nonetheless. A lot of these kids today are talking great and showing no signs of autism, sometimes as old as two, etc. then lose it. That’s the kind of thing I would love to see some examples of. Given how common that is today, it should be common in the past or at least enough to be documented somewhere by someone.

    So, you guys don’t think autism has increased dramatically? A lot of school systems are on overwhelmed with the numbers. No matter what label you put on these kids, would there not have been a lot of them in say 1980?

    In any case, I guess that is one debate that will eventually be decided with time.

  31. David Gorski says:

    There are a lot of people and entities on both sides who leave a lot to be desired.

    People and entities matter little in science. I only brought up the point to show the double standard of the mercury militia, who castigate big pharma but ignore even worse conflicts of interest on “their side.”

    In any case, there may be lots of objectionable people “on both sides,” but there is not an equal level of evidence on both sides. That’s a false equivalence. There is lots of high quality evidence suggesting that there is no link between vaccines and autism. There is no good quality, scientifically rigorous evidence at all that any vaccine-autism advocate has ever been able to show me to support his or her case. The vaccine hypothesis a dead hypothesis not because of ideology. It’s a dead hypothesis because the science doesn’t support it.

  32. David Gorski says:

    So, you guys don’t think autism has increased dramatically?

    Correct. We don’t think autism has increased dramatically, because the apparent increase can largely be accounted for by diagnostic substitution. The “autism epidemic” is almost certainly just as much a myth as the claim that mercury or vaccines cause autism.

  33. Calli Arcale says:

    No, I don’t think it’s increased. I think it’s a case of diagnostic substitution. This really hit home for me when I was told by my home school district that my daughter qualified for services under the autism spectrum. Her symptoms are classic ADHD; it was a real surprise to me that ADHD is now being considered autism by some. It disturbs me a bit, because some of the services she has received from the district have been clearly autism related, addressing problems which she does not have. Are we endangering proper care for our children by this trend towards grouping disorders under autism? I’ve heard of OCD getting lumped under there too, as well as bipolar mood disorder, and those need very different treatments.

    The sorts of mental disabilities we associate with autism today have been around since antiquity. The farther back you go, the fewer records you find, since psychological problems have only been treated as diseases relatively recently. But the “village idiot” has been around for many centuries. Today, we have a better idea of what’s wrong with them, and how to understand them and to help them. But they’re not new. There are strong familial tendencies towards various autism spectrum disorders; it seems inescapable that a large percentage of cases are preordained by the genes. I really don’t think vaccines can cause it.

    That said, vaccines can do harm; that’s why there is a program for compensating those few who suffer. The risks are very small, but they are real. Seizures are indeed one of the risks, and can be caused by a lot of different things associated with a vaccine. Anaphylactic shock, for instance; it’s a heck of a way to learn that your kid has an allergy to egg albumin. Dangerous fevers can result on rare occasions. (Low fevers are one of the most common side effects.) Some children can’t cope with fevers well (cf. Hannah Poling); the best course of action for them is not to forego vaccines but to make sure to take Tylenol before the vaccine to prevent the fever. (After all, the vaccines will help protect them from some of the many natural fevers that can occur.) Unfortunately, these serious side effects are so rare that it is extremely difficult to get a good handle on how they occur and how to predict them in advance. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality of vaccines.

  34. HCN says:

    autismdad “A lot of school systems are on overwhelmed with the numbers. ”

    Um, actually no. The numbers are staying the same, it is just that the mix is changing. As the numbers for “autism” go up, the numbers for Mental Retardation go down.

    See the graph here (munging the URLs):
    leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=851

    and this shows some of the other numbers:
    autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2007/10/does-data-support-claim-that.html

    and this oldy but goody:
    autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2006/08/no-autism-epidemic-update.html

    And Orac did a series of posts of one researcher who showed that there was diagnositic substitution, and the reaction from certain groups (including mistaking a charitable group with a corporation):
    scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/04/evidence_against_an_autism_epi.php

    scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/04/well_that_didnt_take_long_the.php

    scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/04/this_doesnt_happen_every_day_a.php

    Also a pair of books that show how there have been differences on how autistic (or those thought to be autistic) have been treated over the centuries and in different countries. Both have been written by fathers of autistic children:
    w w w .amazon.com/Not-Even-Wrong-Fathers-Journey/dp/1582344787/
    and “Unstrange Minds”, which has a website that shows the differences in the definitions of autism in the DSMs:
    http://www.unstrange.com/dsm1.html
    and an essay on “Where are the Adults”:
    http://www.unstrange.com/essay.html

    (by the way, I have an almost 20 year old son who had neo-natal seizures, plus another major seizure during an illness — he has a severe speech disorder, and some tics… he was diagnosed with a bunch of stuff by the neurologist in 1991… in his senior year the high school psychologist suggested that he might have Asperger’s, a diagnosis he may have gotten if he were born three years later)

  35. Harriet Hall says:

    autismdad said,

    “What’s your take on Gardasil, the HPV vaccine? Are the parents crazy too in this case? ”

    No, the parents aren’t crazy, but they may be wrong about the causal link. The article you cited goes on to explain that when a vaccine is given to large numbers of patients, there will inevitably be coincidental onset of unrelated illnesses. The numbers are carefully monitored, and we try to determine if more of those cases really occur in vaccinated than in unvaccinated people.

    “Let’s say Gardasil really was the cause here, do you have any
    confidence that the government would ever admit it?”

    I have every confidence that it would. It admitted the swine flu vaccine/Guillain-Barre link. If you’re going to start spouting conspiracy theories, you’d better be prepared to back them up with hard evidence.

  36. autismdad says:

    That is interesting on the Swine Flu. In the end, a lot of people had their lives devastated from a vaccine for what turned out to be an imaginary threat. If you or your family had been one of these cases, you would have a very different opinion.

    Then – Govt launched massive investigation when only seven GBS cases had been reported nationwide.

    Today – My baby’s eye roll back in head and seizure follows within hours of 4 month vaccines and I get NO WAY, NO HOW the vaccine is related from the first second. Same thing at 6 month followed by 300 seizures. More no way, no how.

    Today – 18 deaths, 30 cases of GBS following Gardasil. Deny, deny, deny. Gardasil is still an active money maker with huge profit potential if mandated vaccinations continue.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07062008/news/nationalnews/feds_warning_shot_118716.htm?page=0

  37. Calli Arcale says:

    Actually, vaccines don’t have very large profit margins; the real money is in stuff like OTC drugs.

    It’s not at all true that nobody investigates vaccine injuries. If your pediatrician dropped the ball on your child’s case, that doesn’t mean that there’s a massive government conspiracy to deny that vaccines can ever hurt anyone.

    Much of the responsibility for keeping vaccines safe rests not with the government but with health care workers. The CDC, which collects adverse event reports, and the FDA, which regulates drug safety, can only react if someone tells them that there was an adverse event. It’s a weak link in the system, but there’s not really any way around it — it’s a big country. The FDA has made sure that clinical trials of all of these vaccines have been performed, but no clinical trial can detect everything.

    Your child’s seizures may or may not have been related to the vaccines. By now, it’s probably much too late to tell if it was causal or coincidental. :-( Did your baby get a high fever after the vaccine? Most children don’t get a fever over 101 from a vaccine, but enough do that the risk of high fever and even febrile seizures is listed on the fact sheet that your doctor is supposed to give you whenever you get a vaccine. (That’s the real reason why so many doctors recommend taking Tylenol or Motrin before getting a vaccine; it’s not to ease the pain but to control fever.) So it’s not at all true that the government is unaware of the risks — nor is it true that the government is trying to hide them. Indeed, the government (via the FDA) requires that health care workers disclose these things to you.

  38. autismdad says:

    I get everything you are saying, but it is very difficult for an affected parent to be very objective.

    It just seems like some people are being sacrificed for the “greater good”.

    On the Gardasil thing, there are a lot of adverse event reports, but the government today seems to start with denials as default. Maybe this is a PR issue on their part, but the government could do better by not seeming so blase about the side effects. They basically say, yes, we are following up on it, but don’t worry, nothing to all of this. This makes it seem like they have their minds made up and work backwards from there.

  39. autismdad says:

    Educate me a little on this please, when you say the vaccine – autism link has been disproved, are you not saying the thimerisol – autism link has been disproved?

    Also, I often hear, the Mercury was removed and autism rates continue to rise from the same folks who say autism rates haven’t really increased, but are just diagnostic substitution. Can both be right? If it’s just diagnostic substitution, am I wrong that the rates would eventually level out and time will answer this question for sure.

  40. Harriet Hall says:

    autismdad,

    There are a lot of adverse event reports in the VAERS system, but that just means those events happened around the time of vaccination. It may or may not mean those adverse events were caused by the vaccine. I tried to explain that comparisons with people who weren’t vaccinated are necessary to see if “more” events occur with vaccines.

    There is no link between vaccines and autism, whether the vaccines contained thimerosal or not. Autism rates did not fall when thimerosal was removed. True autism rates are not rising.

    The government acted on the swine flu/vaccine link because there was a link. The incidence of GB disease was higher in those vaccinated than in those not vaccinated. It has not acted on Gardasil because the evidence has not yet demonstrated a link.

  41. autismdad says:

    * How exactly can we know this if the input is the weak link as mentioned above? Does this weak link that depends on hospital bureaucrats not impact the data?

    “The CDC, which collects adverse event reports, and the FDA, which regulates drug safety, can only react if someone tells them that there was an adverse event. It’s a weak link in the system, but there’s not really any way around it — it’s a big country. The FDA has made sure that clinical trials of all of these vaccines have been performed, but no clinical trial can detect everything.”

    * “Your child’s seizures may or may not have been related to the vaccines. By now, it’s probably much too late to tell if it was causal or coincidental.”
    When would have been the time and how would this be determined? My daughter had shots then seizure. Two months later, more shots followed by more seizures. The doctor and hospital spoke with near total confidence from the get go that the vaccines were not the cause. Given this, was an adverse event report completed on us? Is there anyway I can find out? If not, then I am not included in your data. When a doctor or hospital says seizures, etc are not related, is an adverse event report filed?

  42. HCN says:

    My son had seizures before he had any vaccines. So just take that as one anecdote that many times seizures are not related to vaccines.

    They can, however, happen while the child has an actual disease. This also happened to my son. He was dehydrated from a severe gastrointestinal bug (could have been rotavirus, for which there is now a vaccine) and that screwed up his electrolytes, which is on this list of causes:
    http://epilepsyfoundation.org/about/types/causes/index.cfm

    Oh, and please do not change the subject to Gardisil. That is not given until the child is at least eleven years old. Unless one tries to do some kind of time travel, it is not going to cause autism in a three-year-old.

    Also, VAERS is a self-selected survey, it has no statistical relevance. It is easy to post a reaction, just like this citizen of the UK did by claiming a vaccine turned his daughter into Wonder Woman:
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=342

  43. autismdad says:

    We have recently requested copies of all of our medical records and after the first seizure, the doctor chalked it up to “over anxious parents” and didn’t really even think she had a seizure.

    If the doctors are convinced from the start that the vaccine was not related and if the event reporting system is voluntary, how under reported are the events? Filling out that report would require extra work. If you start with the assumption that the vaccine is not related, why bother to fill out the report?

    If some of the stuff about the CDC’s computer system that tracks this stuff is remotely true, it doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in the process on that end either. One report I saw said that at one time, it was taking 45 minutes for 1 bureaucrat in a cubicle somewhere to process 1 report.

    Would you not pounce on the other side if there was such an admittedly “weak link” in their data?

  44. autismdad says:

    “Oh, and please do not change the subject to Gardisil. That is not given until the child is at least eleven years old. Unless one tries to do some kind of time travel, it is not going to cause autism in a three-year-old.”

    I only brought up Gardasil because on the surface, it looks like the same type of issue to me.

  45. autismdad says:

    I am just trying to understand here, not trying to piss off a bunch of scientists over here. :-)

    “VAERS is a self-selected survey, it has no statistical relevance. ” I am confused. Isn’t this the basis of Harriet’s no rise in autism point?

  46. HCN says:

    Wait, your kid was not hospitalized for the seizures? No EEG? No referral to a neurologist?

    What kind of seizure? Absense? Tonic-clonic? Myoclonic?
    (see http://epilepsyfoundation.org/about/types/types/index.cfm )

    Also see:
    http://epilepsyfoundation.org/about/types/causes/childcauses.cfm

    Note that seizures are fairly common in children, and then just go away. Even though my son had neo-natal seizures that got stronger and longer and came more frequently, they were controlled once he got into the Infant Intensive Care Unit and was given a low dose of phenobarbital (which he was weaned off by the time he was a year old). His next and last seizure was while he was very ill and dehydrated.

    Then no more (though he does have severe speech disorder and is learning disabled, which may or may not be related to a history of seizures or on being on an anticonvulsant for a year).

    So if you suspect your child has a kind of seizure disorder, get a referral to a neurologist.

  47. autismdad says:

    Oh, yea. This was 2001. 1st seizure after 4 month shots, we were just over anxious parents according to docs. After the 6 month shots, we were in the hospital. The first seizures were long, like 14 minutes. We then spent a week in the hospital. Had EEG, Cat-Scans, MRIs, all of that, and all showed normal. Over the next few years, she had about 300 seizures. They started full blown tonic-clonic, then became more tonic only, then we had a few years where seizures only came with sickness (always before symptoms of sickness ever showed, ie – seziure then cold or whatever came the next day)

    That’s another thing we spent a lot of time worrying about, the anti-convulsants had a lot of side effects and it took several to find a combo that controlled seizures. They are close to contained now. Instead of 10 per week at the peak, we have maybe 1 or 2 per year now.

    The neurologists that we saw were also convinced from the get go that vaccines were not related. One that we saw in the hospital that week even thought it was something related to acid reflux. Our first neurologist was top notch, highly sought after, etc. and he eventually said he didn’t think she was having seizures “because he had not seen one” while we were in his office. I think we filmed one for him, but quickly moved on to a new neurologist. This was after she had been in the hospital for a week having lots of seizures and we had been seeing him for awhile.

    You can see how my faith in the health care system is pretty shattered. Doctors, hospitals, neurologists all starting with the assumption that vaccines were not related and/or we just dreamed up the whole seizure thing.

  48. HCN says:

    ““VAERS is a self-selected survey, it has no statistical relevance. ” I am confused. Isn’t this the basis of Harriet’s no rise in autism point?”

    No. Read the blog posts I listed. They are two separate things and issues.

    There are several ways to do a survey, and each one has their pluses and minuses. A good survey would use random sampling to get a good overview of a population. These are done by the big companies to guess how we may all vote in November, or by a marketing company to see if a certain product will be worth developing. If you have received a phone call from a survey company, this is what they are doing.

    A survey that relies on people to call and and report (much like what is done on radio talk shows) are “self-selected”, and since they are only done on the people who are interested in the subject, they are NOT random and therefore not very accurate. Go to the library and check out a basic book on statistics. I would highly suggest “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff, it is a tiny, easy to read and funny book.

    The autism numbers come from state and federal databases, especially the State of California. What is interesting is that the definitions and local policies can have quite an impact on the numbers. See:
    http://autism-watch.org/general/edu.shtml

    Also, there is no question that vaccines have caused injury, and have been compensated. And the USA, being to terribly secretive has actually posted a website on it for everybody to see (that was sarcasm):
    http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/statistics_report.htm

    It even has a list on how many cases for autism have been awarded… it is a very boring column.

  49. autismdad says:

    Gotcha. So how about this one, when and how would they have decided if vaccine and seizures were related?

    * “Your child’s seizures may or may not have been related to the vaccines. By now, it’s probably much too late to tell if it was causal or coincidental.” When would have been the time and how would this be determined?

  50. HCN says:

    “Gotcha. So how about this one, when and how would they have decided if vaccine and seizures were related?”

    If the seizures happened within about a week. Often, when they occur it is due to the fever kids can get with some vaccines. Those are usually transitory, like a febrile seizure.

    About one in a million vaccines will cause a long term seizure disorder. But those are very hard to figure out… especially since some kids do actually get long term seizure disorders without any vaccines (epilepsy has been around longer than the DTaP!).

    Hey, my kid developed seizures 48 hours after being born. It is obvious the cause was being born vaginally. We should find a way to prevent this, and make sure all births are cesarean section. (the previous was sarcasm).

    Oh, and in the spirit of keeping it a big ol’ secret (again, sarcasm), the risks are noted here:
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm… which says for the DTaP:
    Moderate Problems (Uncommon)

    * Seizure (jerking or staring) (about 1 child out of 14,000)
    * Non-stop crying, for 3 hours or more (up to about 1 child out of 1,000)
    * High fever, 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher (about 1 child out of 16,000)

    Severe Problems (Very Rare)
    Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses) Several other severe problems have been reported after DTaP vaccine. These include:

    * Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
    * Permanent brain damage.

    These are so rare it is hard to tell if they are caused by the vaccine.

  51. Calli Arcale says:

    * “Your child’s seizures may or may not have been related to the vaccines. By now, it’s probably much too late to tell if it was causal or coincidental.” When would have been the time and how would this be determined?

    What I meant was that by now too much time has passed for any neurologist to be able to confidently tell what caused the seizures. (Compounding this is the fact that for a great many seizures, nobody ever works out the cause.) The more time passes, the more life changes the body, and the more clues get obscured.

    I don’t know how neurologists figure out what probably caused a seizure: I do know that in a lot of cases they never do find out exactly what the cause was. They’ll look for likely suspects; if your child had a very high fever while they had the seizure, that will probably make the suspect list. But a lot of seizures happen for no apparent reason. (Obviously there must be a real reason; medical science just hasn’t figured it out yet.) My neighbors’ little boy had a seizure a few months ago. Doctors didn’t find anything wrong with him, and he’s been seizure-free ever since. It’s a mystery. If he never has another seizure, most likely it’ll remain a mystery. It’s really tough to find enough clues to deduce the cause of a rare occurrence.

  52. HCN says:

    Calli Arcale said ” But a lot of seizures happen for no apparent reason. (Obviously there must be a real reason; medical science just hasn’t figured it out yet.) ‘

    That would be most seizures, not just “a lot”. If Mr. autismdad had actually looked at any of the links I posted, he might have found this one:
    http://epilepsyfoundation.org/about/types/causes/index.cfm

    There is a pie chart showing the relative proportion of seizures from known causes (symptomatic, 30%) versus unknown causes (idiopathic or cryptogenic, 70%).

    Having gone through this, I know how they TRY to find the cause. It involves several EEGs, including a sleep EEG (some kids get 24 hour EEGs), screens for metabolic disorders and taking lots of histories. We only ever figured the cause of one seizure — it was caused by him being dehydrated during an illness.

    More information here, including a list of famous people who had epilepsy:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/epi.html

  53. Harriet Hall says:

    Unfortunately, when you come right down to it, we can’t always tell what caused an individual case. Say a drug is found to cause a higher incidence of heart attacks than placebo. Lots of other things cause heart attacks. We can’t tell which patients who had heart attacks while taking the drug had them BECAUSE of the drug.

    At this point, we don’t know that vaccinated children have a higher incidence of seizure disorder. That’s what your doctors meant.

  54. autismdad says:

    OK, HCN, cut me a little slack please. I’ve been to horse back riding, ABA therapy, and OT therapy today. Daddy tired. I plan to read everything I can on this post and this site, but maybe not right this second. Heading to beach tomorrow!

    So you think she would have had seizure disorder no matter what and we just happen to get vaccinations on the same day as first seizure? Then two month later the same thing at next round? We think she had a fever after 4 month vaccines, but not at 6 when all heck broke loose on seizures.

    Has this been studied anywhere ….

    vaccine —> fever —> seizures + anticonvulsants = Autism? (it took us about 5 meds to find any control and some were almost as bad as the seizures, and one even seemed to cause more seizures. She lived in a fog for about the next couple of years, which were key development years. Sometimes this reminds me of the chicken crossing the road, which came first the seizures or the autism. I know seizures are involved with 1/4 of autism cases, but after living thru 300+ seizures, I sometimes wonder if seizures didn’t contribute to the autism, etc.)

  55. autismdad says:

    Can you guys point me to the study or survey or whatever on the prevalence rates?

    Also, say there was a real moderate, not epidemic, increase in autism during this same period that the diagnostic substitutions increased, would this not be lost in the shuffle?

    What if the truth was somewhere in the middle, there is a lot of diagnostic substitution and a real increase?

  56. HCN says:

    I did… a whole bunch of blog posts that go to studies. Like the Shattuck papers.

  57. autismdad says:

    OK, thanks, I promise I will read them. I want to be open minded and am trying.

    They said the first seizure after the 4 month was febrile. The doctor even told me there was a 1 in a million shot that febrile seizure would lead to more seizures or epilepsy. No fever after 6 month, but we did have big problem with fever impacting seizure threshold for sure for the first few years. For awhile, I was convinced that it was quick change in temp since she would not seem to have a fever until right when seizure hit.

    Now days, she tolerates a fever without automatically having a seizure. The seizure meds suck, but are a necessary evil, since seizures trump everything else we do. If she has a seizure and is out for the day, no therapy, no nothing. Ironically, the one that really helps has a language related side effect and we can for sure see that she talks more on lower dose. She also has seizures on lower dose. Our record without a seizure is 1.5 years, but unfortunately we had one last week, while in the pool no less, which is even scarier.

    I appreciate the time you guys and gals have spent chatting with me.

  58. Harriet Hall says:

    autismdad said,

    “So you think she would have had seizure disorder no matter what and we just happen to get vaccinations on the same day as first seizure? Then two month later the same thing at next round?”

    It’s still post hoc ergo propter hoc. Coincidences do happen. People think about a relative, then find out that relative died the same day: it’s pretty convincing, but statisticians have shown that given the size of the population, it’s inevitable that this will happen to a few people people every day just by chance.

    Considering how many children develop seizures, and how often children get vaccines, it is probable that a few seizures will coincide with vaccinations just by chance. The first could have been a simple febrile seizure. The second could be a first idiopathic seizure in a child who went on to develop a serious seizure disorder . And you still would have only a temporal link to seizures, not to autism. A causal interpretation requires another leap of logic. If seizures are more common in autism, does autism cause seizures, or do seizures cause autism, or does a genetic factor cause both of them?

    I imagine you are too emotionally invested in your interpretation to change your mind, but I hope you can at least recognize how difficult it is to know for sure. We can easily jump to wrong conclusions, and the only corrective is rigorous science.

  59. HCN says:

    One group in Iceland has started to do research on the onset of autism related to seizures during the first year of life:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18557779? (if you look on the right, you will see more papers… mostly the same group).

    What was interesting was that in my son’s special ed. preschool there were a larger proportion of kids who had had seizures than in my younger “normal” children (oh, and one child in a younger class actually had his first seizure while at the preschool, and they became even worse — they were the type where stopped breathing). This was not an autism preschool, but one for speech and language issues… it was before autism was even part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act included autism in the count (a couple turned to be autistic, but no one was calling it that then… remember this was over 15 years ago).

    Oh, and I actually found a study in my own area about DTP and seizures:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7903109? … though I guess my kid is not in it since his seizures started before he had any vaccines.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. It is very tempting to find something to blame, but as you can see I had nothing. The seizures just started. First is was a little shiver, and then a couple of hours later an even bigger shiver, and then another longer and stronger. I’ve had people suggest some wild reasons… from me getting vaccines in my youth to me actually having the audacity to drink milk or eat wheat!

    The best explanation I could come up with was thought up when my younger son was getting language therapy (there is a bit of genetics with the speech/language issues) one of the student clinicians working with him had only one hand (getting therapy from the local university was a bargain!). She was born with one arm ending at the wrist. My son asked me why she only had one hand, all I could say that it was very difficult to make a baby and that sometimes things just go wrong. It just happens.

  60. AntiVax says:

    main cause of seizures is vaccines http://www.whale.to/vaccines/seizures.html

    and I’d love to see a seizure study using 100% unvaccinated kids as controls–never been done yet, go figure.

  61. Harriet Hall says:

    Antivax says,

    ” main cause of seizures is vaccines
    http://www.whale.to/vaccines/seizures.html

    Citing whale.to is just as convincing as saying “The Tooth Fairy said so.”

  62. David Gorski says:

    Citing whale.to is just as convincing as saying “The Tooth Fairy said so.”

    Actually, it’s less convincing than the Tooth Fairy. :-)

  63. David Gorski says:

    and I’d love to see a seizure study using 100% unvaccinated kids as controls–never been done yet, go figure.

    Apparently Mr. Scudamore doesn’t understand the ethics of clinical trials and that it would be unethical to leave a control group of children unprotected against vaccine-preventable disease.

  64. AntiVax says:

    Apparently Mr. Scudamore doesn’t understand the ethics of clinical trials and that it would be unethical to leave a control group of children unprotected against vaccine-preventable disease.

    LOL. That is a vaccine myth on 2 levels–one, vaccines don’t protect, and 2: there are tens of thousands of non-vaccinated kids around to study, but we all know why they are ignored.

    I collect scams in that regard http://www.whale.to/a/medical_study_ploys.html

  65. David Gorski says:

    That is a vaccine myth on 2 levels–one, vaccines don’t protect

    Wrong; they do. Repeating that lie (and it is a lie) doesn’t make it true.

    and 2: there are tens of thousands of non-vaccinated kids around to study, but we all know why they are ignored.

    Really? Where? If you’re referring to the Amish, they do vaccinate. Moreover, the Amish are an isolated, inbred community, which is a huge confounder. Why does it have to be the vaccines, after all? If there were a difference in autism prevalence between the Amish and the rest of the U.S. (by no means shown with convincing evidence–just Dan Olmsted’s incompetent “reporting”), it could well be genetic.

    If you’re talking about Dr. Eisenstein’s HomeFirst practice in Chicago, he admits there is no science and his assertions are simply based on his memory, a clear case of confirmation bias if ever I saw one.

  66. HCN says:

    AntiVax = John Scudamore = whale.to

    In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Scopie%27s_Law

    Besides, silly man whose bum was burned by a satanic black line, if you had read what I had written with a clear non-petrified mind… you would have realized my kid would not have qualified for the study because his seizures occurred BEFORE he had a chance to be vaccinated (and his last seizure was caused by an actual illness).

  67. AntiVax says:

    “Wrong; they do. Repeating that lie (and it is a lie) doesn’t make it true.”

    Wrong, as usual http://www.whale.to/a/lie_effective.html

    Up to 90% of the total decline in the death rate of children between 1860-1965 because of whooping cough, scarlet fever, diptheria, and measles occured before the introduction of immunisations and antibiotics.”—Dr Archie Kalokerinos, M.D.

    and is this what you call vaccine preventable:

    “Take the 1991 measles epidemic. They calculated that this epidemic costs the country 8 million dollars to treat the 9,000 plus cases. I’m not sure about that figure, but the FACT that over 60% of those children were appropriately vaccinated was never taken into consideration in that calculation.”–Hilary Butler http://www.whale.to/vaccines/mmr34.html

  68. Harriet Hall says:

    Fact: The first dose of MMR vaccine produces immunity to measles in 95-98% of children vaccinated. The reason for the second dose is to protect those persons who did not become immune after one dose. After two doses of measles vaccine, 99% of persons become immune to the disease.

    In an epidemic, the maximum rate of illness in vaccinated children wouild be 1%; the maximum rate in unvaccinated children would be 100%.

  69. David Gorski says:

    You’re wasting your time. Mr. Scudamore is an ideologue. No amount of data, argument, or reason will persuade him that vaccines are not an unvarnished evil or even that they’re not some sort of population control plot by the Illuminati and David Icke’s reptilian humanoids, perhaps in cahoots with the Masons.

  70. Harriet Hall says:

    I wasn’t addressing Antivax/Scudamore/whale; I was providing real facts for readers who might like to know.

  71. autismdad says:

    “Also, say there was a real moderate, not epidemic, increase in autism during this same period that the diagnostic substitutions increased, would this not be lost in the shuffle?”

  72. Harriet Hall says:

    autismdad asked,

    “Also, say there was a real moderate, not epidemic, increase in autism during this same period that the diagnostic substitutions increased, would this not be lost in the shuffle.”

    I don’t think so, because the diagnostic substitutions meant that the rate of other diagnoses decreased. Example: if autism is not increasing, we would see 100 more diagnoses of autism and 100 fewer diagnoses of other conditions; if autism is increasing, we would see 100 more diagnoses of autism and only 90 fewer diagnoses of other conditions. The people who analyzed the statistics were aware of such pitfalls and did their best to avoid them.

  73. David Gorski says:

    I wasn’t addressing Antivax/Scudamore/whale; I was providing real facts for readers who might like to know.

    Understood.

    However, it looked as though you were directly addressing Mr. Scudamore.

  74. HCN says:

    Scudamore whinged “Wrong; they do. Repeating that lie (and it is a lie) doesn’t make it true….. I’m not sure about that figure, but the FACT that over 60% of those children were appropriately vaccinated was never taken into consideration in that calculation.”–Hilary Butler ”

    What was that about repeating lies?

    http://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106092? … “Overall, 90% of deaths reported to the NIP occurred in persons who had not been vaccinated against measles.”

    For the math illiterate, 90% unvaccinated means that only 10% were vaccinated (which is in the expected failure rate, especially if they had only on MMR instead of the present two).

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=8855680 … “Hospital costs amounted to $18 million, two thirds of which was paid for by Medi-Cal. ”

    Again, for the math illiterate… $18 million is over twice as much as $8 million (and this was only in one state, not the entire country).

    This is why Scopie’s Law is so true. When the whale.to fantasies are compared to the real information the are shown to be wrong, wrong, wrongedy wrong.

  75. Harriet Hall says:

    HCN said,

    “90% unvaccinated means that only 10% were vaccinated”

    We only have the numbers for those who died. We don’t know how many people in the population were vaccinated or what the attack rate was for those who were vaccinated. The way I interpreted it was that most of the population was vaccinated and that the unvaccinated minority were far more likely to get the disease, so that 9 out of 10 deaths represented a hugely greater risk for the unvaccinated and a very small risk for the vaccinated.

  76. autismdad says:

    “I don’t think so, because the diagnostic substitutions meant that the rate of other diagnoses decreased. Example: if autism is not increasing, we would see 100 more diagnoses of autism and 100 fewer diagnoses of other conditions; if autism is increasing, we would see 100 more diagnoses of autism and only 90 fewer diagnoses of other conditions. The people who analyzed the statistics were aware of such pitfalls and did their best to avoid them.”

    What if diagnoses in general increased too and filled in the gap? This for sure seems in the realm of possibility if nothing else because of the internet. Harriet, if as you say, “these children were a shameful family secret that people just didn’t talk about” this would apply to non-autistic kids (mental retardation,etc) too. If there was such shame, these people probably didn’t seek out a diagnosis at all, like the do now.

    So, the following would totally mask the real numbers …. Autism Increased, Diagnostic Substitution increased, diagnoses like mental retardation and other non-autism diagnoses increased, which makes up for those now diagnosed with autism.

    If this was the case, you would not see it.

  77. Harriet Hall says:

    There are ways to sort out those confounding factors. There are other ways to look for evidence that diagnoses like mental retardation are increasing. Do you know of any such evidence?

  78. autismdad says:

    The rate of mental retardation and other more diagnosed issues would look unchanged due to diagnostic substitutions to autism in my example.

    + Non Autism Diagnoses like retardation rise
    - Diagnostic Substitutions to Autism
    = Non Autism Diagnosies rates appear the same, but mask what is really going on.

  79. Harriet Hall says:

    I understood that. The apparent rate of mental retardation would not be changed, but the actual rate would have risen. I’m saying there are other ways to find out if the actual rate of non-autism diagnoses really has risen.

    You got an answer that didn’t match your preconceptions, and you are grasping at straws to try to salvage your thesis. You can think up hypotheticals all you want, but they are only speculations unless data can be found to confirm them. And even if the actual rate of autism was rising, that wouldn’t prove it was caused by vaccines.

    You make it sound like there is no possible way to sort out the truth. I think there is. Not absolutely, but with a high degree of confidence.

  80. AntiVax says:

    Autism increase http://www.whale.to/v/autism4.html

    Autism and genetics http://www.whale.to/vaccines/autism_genetics.html
    Autism diagnosis http://www.whale.to/a/autism_diagnosis.html

    MMR kills more kids than measles would be doing with or without vaccination http://www.whale.to/vaccine/mmr2.html

    and then you have the autism

  81. autismdad says:

    I’m just saying that it looks like the data could easily be misinterpreted and a real increase could be masked.

    Does it not seem logical following your argument that these were children once hidden away (autism, metal retardation, other), etc. that diagnoses in general would have risen? If that were the case, you would be wrong and not know it. If they were locked away and hidden (non-autism), they would not have been getting diagnosed either.

    Where can I find studies or surveys on historic rates for non-autism cases?

    Anyway, off to the beach for a week.

  82. AntiVax says:

    ‘With some variation in timing, the history of measles has been rather similar to that of whooping cough. The death rate fell continuously from about 1915; treatment (of secondary complications) has been possible since 1935; and mortality was at a low level before immunisation was used. It was not until mid 1968 that vaccination was used nationally and less than a quarter of all children had been protected by the end of 1972. I conclude that the contribution of immunisation to the reduction of notifications in the last decade cannot be decided on this evidence.’ Thomas McKeown, author of the book ‘The Role in Medicine’

Comments are closed.