Thursday, January 06, 2011

Earlier studies linking childhood vaccines to autism said to be fraudulent

The hills are alive today with stories about a 1998 paper linking vaccines to childhood autism. The original paper (by Andrew Wakefield) had been published in the Lancet, a British medical journal which I watched in hardcopy in the 1980s during the early AIDS epidemic (I had a manager who subscribed and gave me copies, which collected in my Dallas condo). This week, the editors of the British Medical Journal wrote that the study had been a fraud.

A typical story is in Time, by Alice Park (link ). The article points to another Time story maintaining “Vaccination rates develop in wealthier kids; the Autism Rumors take a toll”).

Yet, parents believed they were protecting their own, playing family values, by not vaccinating their kids, probably resulting in greater dangers to public health as a whole.

There is controversy as to whether most of the kids had shown signs of autism before vaccination, and perhaps as to how severe disease had to be to count. (Is mild Asperger's worthy of study? It's true it's regarded as part of the Autism spectrum, but some people with Asperger's are very "productive" in personal and economic ways, in their own way.)  It's often very difficult (especially in less "severe" instances) to determine when the first "symptoms" really appeared.

I had certain developmental issues of a mild autistic nature (“Asperger”) and if one looks at my own report cards, teachers give varying accounts of my demanding attention from others, ambiguous as to whether they are for really essential skills or because society wanted to make more exacting social demands.

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