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I am literally sick of hearing about this

March 10, 2008

Vaccinations and autism are in the news again, this time with the conspiracy woos thinking that the courts have proven they are right.

Maybe a little background for readers who may not be as versed in this issue. In the early 90s it came to light that there was a positive correlation between the time that kids get most of their vaccines and the onset of autism. A modicum of research showed the number of reported cases of autism has grown exponentially since the emergence of vaccination. As you read this, please keep in mind the phrases “positive correlation” and “reported cases of autism”; they are important.

Another piece of evidence that these people have is the use of mercury in a preservative used in vaccines called thimerosal. Now, when this first came out, studies were commissioned by the CDC to find out if the correlation was actually a causation. As a precautionary measure, the pharmaceutical companies stopped using thimerosal in new vaccines, which were immediately available.

The CDC study was completed in 2004 and found no evidence that the mercury in thimerosal was a cause of autism. Now, as is the case when frightened maniacs are proven wrong, they alleged a massive cover-up enacted by the CDC, and still used their mix of correlation and shoddy science to promote their fearmongering. As they got more vocal, more media outlets listened, and more credulous parents jumped on the “no vaccines” bandwagon. In the meantime, more and more studies failed to find a link between vaccines and autism: also, the scope of conditions labeled as “autism” grew and methods of dignosis improved, catching more cases of the disease. Therefore, reported cases increased at an expanding rate.

Flash forward to 2008, and a California study that monitored the rate of new child autism occurrences since the thimerosal was removed from vaccines. The study found that despite the fact that the use of thimerosal was now effectively nil, the rate of new autism cases has continued to increase which would not be expected if thimerosal was a primary cause.

Flas forward a bit more, and we have the ammo that the conspiracy woos now have in the form of a payout to the family of a child whose onset of autism like symptoms were potentially caused by a vaccination. Or, so it would seem and so it is presented by the “linkers”. There’s two problems with the way that these people view this verdict:

  1. Legal evidence and scientific evidence are not the same thing
  2. The child’s “autism-like symptoms” were not autism. They were actually symptoms of a genetic mitochondrial disorder, which unfortunately was keenly aggravated by the vaccines

Now, before that second one gets you too scared, this type of mitochondrial disease is exceedingly rare,

Mitochondrial disorders of the sort suffered by Hannah are genetic in nature and rare, an estimated 5.7 individuals per 100,000 worldwide (link)

In fact, there are only four cases currently known of this child’s particular genetic mutation. Why is this important?

Salvatore DiMauro, who has studied links between autism and mitochondrial mutations at Columbia University in New York, agrees. “My guess is that if she had a mitochondrial mutation, sooner or later she would have shown something abnormal,” he says.

DiMauro says it’s significant that the girl’s genetic mutation was in the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, because these are very rare. Only four others are known. The gene plays a pivotal role in protein production, so any mutation that damages this function could have a huge impact on other mitochondrial genes and energy production by cells. “In the girl’s case it would be important to prove protein synthesis is disrupted,” he says.

DiMauro adds that in children who are “energy-challenged” because of mitochondrial disease, stresses including vaccination could trigger autism-like symptoms. “Children get worse in any stressful event, from having flu to having a vaccination,” he says. (link)

So, what we have here is a story of a child with a rare genetic disease that could have been set off by anything (in this case, vaccinations), and some of the symptoms of this disease are shared with autism. However, not everyone with a fever has malaria. This is where the difference between scientific and legal evidence comes into play. In court, you only have to prove it was likely enough for there to be a link for a payout. In science, you have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vaccination caused autism. However, to the boneheads who forward their anti-vaccination agenda, the legal evidence is enough, and they are convincing gullible parents to skip a potentially life-saving procedure: vaccination.

Vaccines keep your children safe from measels, mumps, rubella and any number of other diseases. Vaccines are also responsible for just about wiping smallpox and polio from the face of the globe. Especially considering the fact that a link between vaccines and autism has not been scientifically proven, you would be leaving your children open to far worse consequenses by not having them vaccinated. Not only that, you’d be turning them into potential carriers and spreaders of a myriad of potentially fatal diseases.

This is a simple decision, folks. Educate yourself on vaccination, embrace reality, and get your kids vaccinated. You owe it to your kids and to everyone else’s kids.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. G Rex permalink
    March 12, 2008 1:45 pm

    But I thought it was doctors who didn’t perform Caesarian deliveries that caused autism? John Edwards channeled a dead baby and won millions in lawsuits, so it must be true. This Thimerosol nuttery just sounds like more trial lawyer welfare. Tort reform now!

  2. March 12, 2008 1:59 pm

    At first, it was reasonable to look into a link between the two. However, now that scientific inquiry has turned up no evidence of a link, you are probably right in calling it trial lawyer welfare.

    1. Incite fear
    2. Ignore evidence
    3. Profit!

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