Thursday, September 4, 2008

No link between Autism and Vaccines?

If you are a parent who goes back and forth on the autism/vaccine link, here's the latest word that is sure to be even more controversial.

From CNN:

The Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes neither autism nor gastrointestinal disorders, a study reported Wednesday, disputing a theory that has persisted for a decade. A researcher had theorized that the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems that he linked to autism.

The theory was created in 1998, when British researcher Andrew Wakefield published studies that suggested the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems and that those GI problems led to autism.

W. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University in New York, who co-authored the most recent study, said Wakefield theorized that the virus used in the vaccine grew in the intestinal tract, leading to inflammation that made the bowel porous. That allowed material to seep from the bowel into the blood, Wakefield's theory surmised, affecting the nervous system and causing autism.

In Wednesday's study, the researchers replicated key parts of Wakefield's original study to determine whether the vaccine causes autism and GI problems, said Mady Hornig, a study co-author. Irish pathologist John O'Leary, co-author of Wakefield's studies that supported the autism link, also is a co-author of the new study.

O'Leary and the other researchers looked for evidence of the measles vaccine in children's intestines after they had been vaccinated and sought to determine whether their GI problems and autism symptoms occurred before or after they were vaccinated.

They analyzed samples taken from 38 children with bowel disorders, 25 of whom also had autism. The investigators found only one child in each group had trace amounts of the measles virus in their samples. The samples were analyzed at Columbia and at a laboratory of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as at O'Leary's lab -- the same one Wakefield used for his original studies.

The conclusion: "no evidence" linked the vaccine to either autism or GI disorders, Lipkin said. They also said they found no relationship between the timing of the vaccine and children getting GI disorders or autism. "This really puts this issue to bed," said Andy Shih, vice president for scientific affairs of "Autism Speaks," an advocacy group.

Dr. William Schaffner, vaccine expert and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, called the study results "conclusive."

Dr. Neal Halsey, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children's Center who specializes in infectious diseases, told CNN, "They have shown the Wakefield study was incorrect." The new study shows "there's no temporal relationship between the vaccines and the gastrointestinal disorders and autism."

But the Autism Society of America cautioned that the cause of autism is complex and more research is needed to fully understand the role, if any, of the vaccine. Another autism advocacy group, the National Autism Association (NAA), said the study is flawed. "This new study does nothing to resolve the controversy whether MMR vaccine has contributed to the autism epidemic," said a press release from the group.

Wendy Fournier, an NAA spokeswoman, told CNN Thursday that the new study raises more questions than answers and should have looked at more children who developed autism and GI problems after they received the vaccine. Only 5 children in the Columbia study were vaccinated before they developed GI symptoms and autism.

According to the CDC, measles is a highly infectious disease that can result in severe, sometimes permanent, complications -- even death. Measles remains widespread in most countries, but widespread vaccination has limited its spread in the United States.

Some parents, familiar with the Wakefield theory's putative link between vaccine and autism, have chosen not to vaccinate their children. Last month, the CDC reported 131 cases of measles in the United States in the first seven months of the year, of which 112 were either among unvaccinated children or children whose vaccination status was unknown. Halsey hopes this new research will help convince new parents that (the MMR) vaccination is safe.

The study is published in the peer-reviewed online journal of the Public Library of Science

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

For *bleeps* sake. Measles in not a deadly virus and actually has benefit on the immune system long term when you gain natural immunity to it. Most are too young now as parents to remember measles parties, jsut like the next generation won't remember chicken pox parties. The govt. is over-playing measles outbreaks and just trying to scare us in to vaccinating.
I have two children with forms of autism, the younger can be traced back to getting a rash no doctor could figure out on his trunk, face, etc after a fever....mild measles? Well, soon after that shot, he regressed and developed all sorts of problems after being totally normal before that.
That is science enough for me!
I also think it's not jsut mercury but the other toxins in the shots that contribute to autism, not JUST the MMR shot but all of them combined kids get so young....and so many! Some kids get up to 8 shots at one time with multiple viruses in each one!!! How the hell can that be good for anybody????
I say, let's slow down and make these shots safer and spread them out, not add even more!

dayoub said...

The appropriate hypothesis that should be tested is in a SUBSET of autistic children who 1) after the MMR shot at 12 or 15-18 months develop 2) GI symptoms and then 3) regress into autism. This is not the majority of autistic kids, but a smaller subset, maybe 10%........at most......Now, about 1/3 of kids whose parents state they regressed after a vaccine will tell you that it was the MMR, and 2/3s will say it was a non MMR...but not all develop GI symptoms

Wakefield, in his original work did endoscopies in kids the majority who had GI symptoms after MMR and were scoped within a year.
These study kids mostly had GI symptoms BEFORE MMR vaccine and most were scoped several years after the regression.....
totally different kids
The study DID confirm one case of persistent measles virus in the gut of an autistic kid, confirming that indeed it does and can happen.......

This is the criticisms posted today of this CDC funded study:

from SafeMinds:
SafeMinds Statement on Measles Virus and Autism Study

A scientific study released today examined the hypothesis that measles virus persisting in the intestinal tract from the MMR vaccine causes or exacerbates autism. The study refuted this hypothesis for the majority of autism cases while validating the link between gastrointestinal (GI) disease, inflammation and autistic regression. The study design precluded assessment of a role for acute measles infection from MMR in a subset of children with autism and did not examine the role of other vaccines, vaccine components such as thimerosal, or other environmental exposures which can trigger gastrointestinal and immunological problems. The topic is of public health interest due to the increasing autism epidemic and parent and scientific reports connecting mercury and vaccines, including MMR, with autism onset.

The study, "Lack of an association between measles virus vaccine and autism with enteropathy: a case-control study" by Mady Hornig and colleagues, appears in this month's PloS One journal. Colon biopsies from 38 children presenting with gastrointestinal disorder, 25 with autism and 13 without neurological differences, were examined for presence of measles virus RNA by three laboratories to ensure validity. All children had been given the MMR vaccine when younger, and except for one subject, the vaccine was given more than 6 months prior to the biopsy, in order to determine persistence. The MMR is a live virus vaccine and failure to clear the attenuated measles virus is a known but rare occurrence after vaccination.

The persistent measles and autism hypothesis, linking bowel disease, autistic regression and MMR, was originally made by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in 1998. One of the three labs involved in the Hornig study was led by John O'Leary who conducted the testing for the Wakefield study. The three Hornig study labs validated each other, confirming the rigorousness of Dr. O'Leary's work. Dr. O'Leary conducted the testing for one of the autism test cases now in the Federal Court for Vaccine Claims. The child, who regressed into autism and bowel disease after receiving the MMR, tested positive for measles virus. The Hornig study also substantiates the link between autistic regression and gastrointestinal disorder.

The Hornig study found only one autism patient with persistent measles virus. None was detected in the remaining 24 children. This finding differs from the Wakefield and more recent studies which reported a high percentage of children with regressive autism and bowel disease with detectable measles virus. The discrepancy was not explained but may be due to how and when the biopsies were taken or differences in the study samples.

The Hornig findings suggest that persistence may not be a factor but inadequately address whether measles vaccination may lead to an acute reaction that contributes to dysfunction. An acute or 'hit and run' mechanism means that the initial effect occurs and the virus is rapidly cleared. The effect would not require persistence and is how many biological disturbances arise from pathogens and toxins. The study sample was small, making characterization of subgroups difficult. Autism is considered a complex and heterogeneous disorder with multiple, interacting causal and exacerbating factors. The MMR vaccine may have led to dysfunction in a subset of children and other triggers may underlie other cases. While half the autism cases in the study had gastrointestinal or autism symptoms prior to receipt of the MMR, additional triggers such as other vaccines or environmental pollutants acting on the majority of cases would effectively wash out a positive MMR-autism association in a subset.

Larger studies are needed to tease out the role of the various contributors to autism onset and severity of symptoms, including GI problems. These studies need to examine multiple factors, not just one. In particular, a comparison of health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations is warranted. The Hornig study has advanced our understanding of gastrointestinal inflammation and autism and casts doubt on measles persistence in most children with autism, but it does not rule out an acute MMR effect in a subset and does not absolve multiple vaccinations or mercury from playing a role in autism.
-----------------------------------------
from Thoughtful House:
Thoughtful House Comments on MMR Study and Welcomes Affirmation of Previous Measles Findings

Managing Editor's Note: The following is a statement from the doctors at Thoughtful House.

A study published yesterday in the Public Library of Science One (PLOS1), an on-line journal, failed to find evidence of measles virus in the intestinal tissue of 24 children with autistic regression and gastrointestinal symptoms. The findings contrast with those published in 2002 in which researchers from Ireland and the UK found measles in 75 of 91 biopsies from autistic children with GI inflammation, and in only 5 of 70 samples from non-autistic children . The children with autism in the 2002 study developed gastrointestinal symptoms and autistic regression after the MMR vaccine.

In the study published yesterday, conducted by three independent laboratories, only 5 of the 25 children developed these symptoms after the MMR vaccine and therefore, only these five are comparable to the 2002 study. This new study confirmed that results from the laboratory of Professor John O’Leary (one of the collaborators on the new study, and senior author of the 2002 study) were correct, and identical to the results obtained by the laboratories of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University.

In that this new study affirms the reliability of Professor O’Leary’s laboratory and therefore of his previous findings, a major impact upon the current hearings in vaccine court is likely, wherein the government’s defense relies largely on the claim that Professor O’Leary’s finding of measles in the intestinal biopsy of Michelle Cedillo (a child with severe autism and epilepsy) was unreliable. The historical reliability of the measles assay used in Professor O’Leary’s laboratory is now confirmed.

The authors of the PLOS1 study make the erroneous claim that epidemiological studies have not supported an MMR-autism link, when in fact the CDC’s own study published in 2004 shows a significant association between autism and younger age at the time of MMR vaccination.

We are pleased to see that this new study provides further confirmation that children with autism suffer from gastrointestinal problems that deserve to be addressed as a priority.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Executive Director of Thoughtful House Center for Children, whose work has focused on intestinal disease, and on the possible role of MMR vaccine in regressive autism in children with GI symptoms, welcomed these new findings. Dr. Wakefield was a co-author of the 2002 paper that, unlike yesterday’s study, examined children in the majority of whom there was a clear temporal link between MMR exposure and regression. Dr. Wakefield comments, “The search for the ‘footprints’ of measles virus in the intestine is merited, based upon the previous findings and the intestinal disease that is commonly found in these children. This new study rules out only one possibility – that the measles virus must remain for the long term in the intestine. We need to consider that the MMR vaccine can cause autism as a hit-and-run injury, but not necessarily leave the measles virus behind.”

While we welcome this study as a piece in the ever-growing body of evidence that illuminates the complexity of autism and the possible factors that cause it, it is clear that yesterday’s study does not establish that the MMR vaccine is not associated with autism. This work examines one small part of a very complex equation, and in fact by affirming Professor O’Leary’s laboratory and assay methods, it inadvertently endorses the validity of his 2002 findings of vaccine-strain measles virus in the gut tissue of a group of children with autism.
----------------------------------------
from National Autism Association:

CDC Misses Target With Flawed MMR/Autism Study
NAA says: Wrong Question Asked. Wrong Children Studied. Wrong Conclusions Reached.

Nixa, MO – A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released today (Click HERE) claims there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The National Autism Association (NAA) says this study does nothing to dispel the growing public concern over a vaccine-autism connection and raises several questions concerning design and methodology.

For years, parents have claimed that MMR triggered their child’s subsequent GI (gastrointestinal) disease and autism. In a 2002 paper where the majority of autistic children were found to have measles in their intestines, the children examined showed a clear temporal link between MMR exposure and regression. The CDC’s attempt to replicate the 2002 study fell far short of proving the safety of the MMR vaccine.

The CDC study was designed to detect persistent measles virus in autistic children with GI problems. The assumption being if there is no measles virus at the long delayed time of biopsy, there is no link between autism and MMR. But NAA says this underlying assumption is wrong. The questions should have been: Do normally developing children meeting all milestones have an MMR shot, develop GI problems and then regress into autism? Do they have evidence of measles and disease in their colons compared to non-vaccinated age and sex matched controls?

In the current CDC study, only a small subgroup of children was the correct phenotype to study. From page 7, “Only 5 of 25 subjects (20%) had received MMR before the onset of GI complaints and had also had onset of GI episodes before the onset of AUT (P=0.03).” The other 20 autistic children in the study had GI problems but the pathology developed before the MMR vaccine. Additionally, the controls all received the MMR vaccine and had gastrointestinal symptoms. The controls should have been free of exposure to vaccine measles in order to make a comparison relevant for purposes of causation.

Inflammatory bowel disease in the absence of MMR RNA does not mean that MMR shot didn't precipitate the GI disease and didn't precipitate autism. A similar example would be rheumatic fever where the infection is cleared quickly but damage to the heart and/or brain last a lifetime.

Public confidence in the safety of vaccines is at risk until safety studies are performed that are required by law, ethics, and science. NAA calls for a vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated study comparing all health outcomes including autism. The CDC is in charge of vaccine safety, owns patents to vaccines (according to a UPI Investigative Report from 2003) and is in charge of promoting vaccines. The public should demand that vaccine safety be taken away from an agency with such conflicts and support HR#1973, the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act.”

newsanchormom.com said...

I got this via email:

Nixa, MO – A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released today claims there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The National Autism Association (NAA) says this study does nothing to dispel the growing public concern over a vaccine-autism connection and raises several questions concerning design and methodology.
>
> For years, parents have claimed that MMR triggered their child’s subsequent GI (gastrointestinal) disease and autism. In a 2002 paper where the majority of autistic children were found to have measles in their intestines, the children examined showed a clear temporal link between MMR exposure and regression. The CDC’s attempt to replicate the 2002 study fell far short of proving the safety of the MMR vaccine.
>
> The CDC study was designed to detect persistent measles virus in autistic children with GI problems. The assumption being if there is no measles virus at the long delayed time of biopsy, there is no link between autism and MMR. But NAA says this underlying assumption is wrong. The questions should have been: Do normally developing children meeting all milestones have an MMR shot, develop GI problems and then regress into autism? Do they have evidence of measles and disease in their colons compared to non-vaccinated age and sex matched controls?
>
> In the current CDC study, only a small subgroup of children was the correct phenotype to study. From page 7, “Only 5 of 25 subjects (20%) had received MMR before the onset of GI complaints and had also had onset of GI episodes before the onset of AUT (P=0.03).” The other 20 autistic children in the study had GI problems but the pathology developed before the MMR vaccine. Additionally, the controls all received the MMR vaccine and had gastrointestinal symptoms. The controls should have been free of exposure to vaccine measles in order to make a comparison relevant for purposes of causation.
>
> Inflammatory bowel disease in the absence of MMR RNA does not mean that MMR shot didn't precipitate the GI disease and didn't precipitate autism. A similar example would be rheumatic fever where the infection is cleared quickly but damage to the heart and/or brain last a lifetime.
> Public confidence in the safety of vaccines is at risk until safety studies are performed that are required by law, ethics, and science. NAA calls for a vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated study comparing all health outcomes including autism. The CDC is in charge of vaccine safety, owns patents to vaccines (according to a UPI Investigative Report from 2003) and is in charge of promoting vaccines. The public should demand that vaccine safety be taken away from an agency with such conflicts and support HR#1973, the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act.”
>
> For more information, visit www.nationalautism.org

postsimian said...

...aaaaand for the umpteenth time, this myth has been dispelled. Can we let science get back to things like curing diseases for the benefit of all mankind again, or are we going to keep nursing our wounded pride?

Knight in Dragonland said...

So the attenuated virus in the MMR vaccine is a horrible threat to our children (based on a few TINY studies done in an incredibly select group of children with regressive autism AND GI problems), yet somehow the wild measles virus - the same virus that KILLs over 345,000 people annually according to the latest available epidemiological data - is an innocuous and perhaps even beneficial player.

Yeah ... sure ... RIGHT.

Even on the off chance that pursuit of this line of evidence does reveal that there is a vanishingly small subset of the population that's sensitive to the MMR vaccine ... what happens to that same incredibly small subset of the population when they are exposed to REAL measles? While I concede there are some paradoxes in the natural world that turn out to be valid, I think the logical assumption is that wild-type measles would be MORE damaging than the attenuated vaccine virus, not less.

Epidemiology lesson:
Autism spectrum ... 1 in 150; includes Aspergers, PDD-NOS and very mild and high-functioning cases.
True autistic disorder ... at most, 1 in 500, more likely closer to 1 in 1000.
Regressive autism ... ??? I cannot find good epidemiological data regarding this subset, but it is a small fraction of children with autistic disorder. Some even challenge the existence of this subset at all, but I think there is good evidence that a few autistic children show true regression. At most ... 1 in 2000, and I think that's being VERY generous.
Regressive autism with GI problems that occur AFTER MMR vaccination ... no clue, but I think 1 in 20,000 is VERY generous estimate.

Even if this link does turn out to be true - and the vast majority of evidence weighs against it - do we jeopardize the health and well being of 99.995% of our population to protect 0.005%???

And with each study published, this potential population of sensitive children shrinks further and further. One these days, vaccinophobes are going to run out of hairs to split. How far do we push it? 1 in 100,000? 1 in 1,000,000? When does it become a waste of time and effort that would be better put to finding more effective treatments and pursuing lines of evidence regarding the origins of autism that are much more likely to be fruitful?

Anonymous said...

It is not just autism we need to worry about being linked to vaccines. It's childhood cancers and autoimmune disorders like diabetes. It's the increase in allergies and asthma.
Our children are getting way too many shots way too soon. It is a huge insult on their immune systems. It isn't just mercury we need to worry about. It's the other preservatives like formaldehyde, aluminum and DNA being mixed with our childrens DNA we need to also worry about. Do people really think it's safe to inject dozens of viruses mixed with these neurotoxins in to little babies and not have some adverse long term effect on their health? Come on....

 
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