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[personal profile] wanderingpixie
I've not said much aloud about the idea that's been growing for the past few years that somehow vaccines have been causing problems, especially by causing autism. Personally... I found it fishy and very difficult to believe, but I hadn't done any research into why the idea was so popular. Apparently, though, other people have =)

There was a study done in 1998 that reported a correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism. And now there is an article in a general news publication in Britain explaining the various ways in which that study was not only flawed but contained flat-out faked / altered data. Which is... just awful. There's really no word for what an amazingly awful thing this is. So many parents who thought they were doing the right thing for their children... all because this man lied for money. *sigh*

With so many parents, new parents, and parents-to-be on my friends list, I really just wanted to make sure this made it out into circulation.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] leora for pointing out the article that led me to the article I've cited.

Date: 2009-02-27 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zannachan.livejournal.com
I agree-there is no word for how amazing awful this is. It makes me angry.

Thanks for sharing the article.

Date: 2009-02-27 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jwildstr.livejournal.com
I heard a talk from a pediatrician (during the childcare class), talking about the "correlation" between the two, and that it's entirely temporal. We give the MMR at ~12 months. Autism tends to be diagnosed at ~15 months...so of course the vaccine and the diagnosis seem to follow. It has nothing to do with GETTING the vaccine, and everything to do with the fact that it happens to be 3 months before autism's diagnosed.

But faking the data to lend credibility to the argument? That's just WRONG.

Date: 2009-02-27 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susangc7.livejournal.com
I went to a talk by a researcher who looks at stuttering, and she said people had observed the same effect for stuttering: kids get a set of vaccines at 18 mos or whatever, and stuttering is diagnosed at 24 mos (I'm making up that timeline because I no longer remember it exactly). No one has found a link for that either, but it seems convincing to the parents who deal with it.

And I agree (with all y'all) that observing a spurious correlation happens to everyone, but faking data to support it is awful.

(Edited to remove some random scare quotes that didn't make any sense.)
Edited Date: 2009-02-27 07:01 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-02-27 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wanderingpixie.livejournal.com
The other thing is that autism is the new ADHD...kind of. Hear me out =)

Parents (in general) want to have an explanation for why _exactly_ their child is 'different'. So doctors over the past few decades have been expected to have answers that may not exist... and their counterparts 30-50 years ago weren't expected to have. For quite a while, the number of children diagnosed with ADHD went through the roof. Now it seems to be autism-related syndromes. And, yes... the number of diagnoses per year has greatly increased... but we don't really know how that correlates with the actual number of cases.

Date: 2009-02-27 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paquerette.livejournal.com
If mercury and autism were the only problems, that would probably be game, set, match. But what about aluminum and Alzheimers? What about MS and the Hep B vax? What about SIDS and the DTaP (somewhat lessened since the DTP has been replaced, true)? What about the tendency for vaccine-acquired immunity to wane whereas disease-acquired immunity rarely does? There are just so many unanswered questions out there that haven't gotten the amount of press that mercury/thimerosol and autism have.

Date: 2009-02-27 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wanderingpixie.livejournal.com
Like I said, I haven't followed this topic as much as I would have liked, so I don't know the details of the relationships you mention.

From an un-informed point of view, though... I think that MS and Alzheimers are probably both diseases that are diagnosed more often these days than they used to be, whether or not there's an increase in incidence. It would make sense, anyway... both of those are neurological diseases that wouldn't have been understood even 50 years ago. Defining the difference between Alzheimers and regular old senility is _still_ a difficult task. And, well, since we're living longer, the idea that our bodies break down more (in the case of Alzheimer's, anyway) isn't surprising.

SIDS, at least to the best of my knowledge, used to be the general catch-all phrase for 'child died in crib for no known reason.' So, I don't know what relationship is proposed for its association with the DPT shot other than temporally.

As for vaccine-acquired immunity waning... depending on the time frame, that's not shocking. But I'd like to see which system that's been shown in, and what the timeframe is.

I also wouldn't say that disease-acquired immunities rarely wane. As someone who has had an outbreak of shingles, I can tell you that our immune systems react to stressers in unpleasant ways. Either way, though... I don't understand the point of putting a child at risk for catching a deadly disease 'the old fashioned way' just because their immunity might wear off if they're vaccinated.

Date: 2009-02-28 04:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pyrtolin.livejournal.com
Alzheimer's/Aluminum is another tenuous link that has correlation questions involved with it; it's equally possible the Alzheimer's causes the brain to accumulate aluminum as it is that aluminum is at fault.

(Additionally, I've recently heard an interesting interview with researchers who have discovered a strong link to malfunctioning prion activity. So it may be more a distant cousin of Mad Cow than anything related to metals at all.

Date: 2009-02-28 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pyrtolin.livejournal.com
The bigger problem is the way this is being handled in regards to people who do fear a connection- especially in families who have seen more than one child regress immediately after a shot at 3-4 years old. (The younger cases could be easier to explain away as diagnosis timing, but it's much harder to shake concerns in parents whose children have gone from conversational, able to count, and the like to autistic behavior within hours or days of receiving a shot)

You're not going to allay specific concerns in many cases by throwing general population statistics at people, and especially not by dismissing their concerns- that's just going to deepen the impression that they're being stonewalled or ignored. Given current communication breadth and speed, enough of those people are going to find each other to help reinforce the correlation. (And while it's certain there's no general link, very little has been done to look for specific cases of genetic or immune system abnormalities that might cause specific people to react poorly in that manner. We do know that there are occasional complications from vaccines, but are equally unsure of the roots of those as we are of most causes of autism)

To get the overall situation under control, more action needs to be taken to assure parents who believe a link exists that their concerns are being heard and investigated. Kids that do regress in short order after a shot should be carefully examined to at least demonstrate that there's no relation. (if not also to see if there is some quirk that was somehow triggered by the stress of the vaccine) and because of the therapy and possibly medication generally needed to make autism more manageable, there should be some level of assistance made easily available to parents.

Yes it's costly, but the alternative it to let fears fester and grow, eventually discouraging people that have no basis to forgo vaccination, which increases the risk of far more costly outbreaks of diseases that should be protected against, not to mention making things more dangerous for people who do have identified and accepted risk factors, such as allergies to vaccine ingredients.

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