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‘Bad Science’ Links Vaccines and Autism, Officials Say

Posted by tothewire on February 14, 2009

 Bitter feuding over a possible link between vaccines and autism won’t go away despite a strong rejection of that theory by a special federal court.


Thousands of families were hoping to win compensation and vindication through three test cases presented to the court. They contended that a combination of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine plus other shots triggered autism.

Officials with the U.S. Court of Claims said they sympathized with the families, but there was little if any evidence to support claims of a vaccine-autism link.

The evidence “is weak, contradictory and unpersuasive,” concluded Special Master Denise Vowell. “Sadly, the petitioners in this litigation have been the victims of bad science conducted to support litigation rather than to advance medical and scientific understanding” of autism.

Attorneys for the families said an appeal is a distinct possibility. They also noted that the court still must rule on another theory that vaccines once carrying a mercury-containing preservative are to blame.

The head of a consumer group that questions vaccine safety said she still felt there were the possibility of a link.

“I think it is a mistake to conclude that because these few test cases were denied compensation, that it’s been decided vaccines don’t play any role in regressive autism,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center.

Science years ago concluded there’s no connection, but Thursday’s rulings in a trio of cases still have far-reaching implications. The move offers reassurance to parents scared about vaccinating their babies because of a small but vocal anti-vaccine movement. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, are on the rise, and last fall a Minnesota baby who hadn’t been vaccinated against meningitis died of that disease.

“We need ongoing research into the causes of autism but cannot let unfounded myths keep us from giving our children the proven protection they need against infectious diseases,” said Dr. Joseph Heyman, chairman of the American Medical Association.

More than 5,500 claims have been filed by families seeking compensation through the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Thursday’s rulings dealt with the first three test cases to settle which if any claims had merit — and unlike in civil court, the U.S. Court of Claims doesn’t require the families to prove the inoculations definitely played a role, just that they probably did.

“I must decide this case not on sentiment but by analyzing the evidence,” said Special Master George Hastings Jr., writing specifically about Michelle Cedillo of Yuma, Ariz., who is disabled with autism, inflammatory bowel disease and other disorders that her parents blame on a measles vaccine given at 15 months.

“Unfortunately, the Cedillos have been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment,” Hastings concluded.

Lawyers for the families said they were disappointed.

“There was certainly no scientific proof that vaccines caused autism, but that’s not the standard; the standard is likelihood,” said Kevin Conway of Boston, who represented the Cedillos. “We thought our evidence was solid.”

Autism is best known for impairing a child’s ability to communicate and interact. Recent data suggest a tenfold increase in autism rates over the past decade, although it’s unclear how much of the surge reflects better diagnosis.

Associated Press

11 Responses to “‘Bad Science’ Links Vaccines and Autism, Officials Say”

  1. SewDucky said

    Back when the duckling was getting his shots, I went to the Dallas Co. Health department (the staff is fantastic, and better then the doc’s office, and it’s rare that a public service does something better then a private one, but they deserve all the kudos they can get) and this was going on then too. Protesters, rabid militant breast feeding moms, the whole nine.

    I felt, and said then, the autism by vaccines was bunk. Then I walked my happy hiney into there and got the boy his shots.

    He was a preemie, and was developmentally delayed with his fine motor skills. The groups tried to blame that on the shots.

    But what I want to know is why is it that heavy pot smokers, and even those that use it in the early months of pregnancy seem to have a higher chance of autism (friend of my ex’s and my ex in-laws all have multiple children with autism and all of them are stoned most of the time), yet there is nothing ever mentioned about that?


  2. Lawman2 said

    great point.i don’t know.never heard of a link to pot and autism.i’ll have to look into it.maybe write an email or two asking some of these med.sites. i think i will.now you have me wondering.


  3. Linda said

    I cant find the statistics, but they are around about the jump in autism and the shots.


  4. tothewire said

    Hi Linda! Welcome to our little blog! I wonder if they just are trying to keep the public from panic and parents from giving their children vaccines. I still think there is a link.


  5. brucehood said

    Oh for crying out loud…

    Let me be perfectly clear.

    Wakefield is an evil monster…. the whole thing was a scam from the start. The publication in “the Lancet” was based on faked data and surprise, surprise, Wakefield works for a company promoting single shots…The incidence of measles has risen by 8,000% in the last year… We are no longer at innoculation rates to maintain herd immunity…. the man should be arrested.. It is one of the worst crimes perpetrated deliberately. Go see the brain-damaged children starting to fill the wards….

    Sorry but this misinformation is frankly dangerous.


  6. Lawman2 said

    now i might get the wrath of tothewire and the rest of the authors but i happen to think this. even if there were(which i don’t believe there is) a link to autism and vaccines i would still insist on my child receiving all their shots and on time.my wife and i had this talk long before the courts came out and said it was a bunch of bunk.of course tothewire still thinks there is a link.but i say if there were a “conspiracy” it was perpetrated by wakefield.i always look to where and who would profit…he certainly would.


  7. Lawman2 said

    but i am wondering about the whole pot thing.that makes a bit more sence.we know other drugs cause problems with fetal development.


  8. brucehood said

    Sorry I may have misunderstood your position.

    Can I add another tuppence worth. One of the primary reasons for seeing connections where there are none is the way we are wired to interpret coincidences.
    “post hoc ergo, propter hoc” means after this, therefore because of this.

    its one of the basic mechanisms for supernatural thinking.

    but here are some UK stats to put this Wakefield monster in perspective. In 1996, before the MMR nonsense, there were 94 cases of mumps, in 2005, there were 43,000 cases….


  9. tothewire said

    OMG 43,000? I had no idea.


  10. nothing said

    So what!! Autism affects 1 out of every 150 people all over the world. They don’t know what causes it and only have a few treatments. So, if the goverment hase to spand 90 billion , let them. Also, where all the charts/graphs that are auctually showing that they spend that much money?? Make of it what you will . . . . . .


  11. unknown said

    get over it, how selfish of you to even post something like this. appaling.


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