These Researchers Seem Never Finish-ed
from Schafer Autism Report (The cute title is by Lenny Scahfer)

F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP TL

RE Neurologic Disorders After Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination. Annamari  Mäkelä, MD, J. Pekka Nuorti, MD  and Heikki Peltola, MD

My first reaction when I saw the above title in your newsletter was
“Oh God! Not again!” I then read the abstract and all I could think of was “déjà vu”. It would be nice to know how many of your readers also wondered, “Did I see this before?” All these studies from Finland are just so much alike and so predictable.

Once more, let us all remember that:
     1. The original Peltola study, from which all these mini studies are
sprouting, was over by 1996, two full years before Wakefiled’s first paper;
     2. That Peltola said on BBC that his main study did not look for
autism and IBD; and
     3. That many knowledgeable epidemiologists, including the authors of
the latest study from Denmark (Medgaard Madsen et al) have criticized the methodology of previous “Peltola Team” studies.

Makela and Associates were so intent on shooting down Wakefield’s work that even in a paper titled “Neurologic disorders after MMR”, they found a way to mention that no hospitalized children with autism had IBD. (I can’t help but wonder whether Peltola’s Holiday Greeting cards mention IBD). Regardless of what Makela says, the fact is that the number of individuals who received assistance for IBD from the Social Security Institution in Finland doubled in nine years (9,737 in 1992 to 20,807 in 2001).

Another fact is that autism is as prevalent in Finland now as it is in the rest of the western world. Thank God a large number of their poor children are high functioning. (

It is not clear why 352 children with autism were hospitalized during the study period. In the US, affected children are not usually hospitalized with a diagnosis of autism. Indeed, over here, such a diagnosis often compromises payment by certain HMOs.

The whole Makela study is based on ONE comparison: ” For encephalitis and aseptic meningitis, the numbers of events observed within a 3-month risk interval after vaccination were compared with the expected numbers estimated on the basis of occurrence of encephalitis and aseptic meningitis during thesubsequent 3-month intervals”. If the children in the first group developed symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis within two weeks of vaccination, then causation is implied (medically and medico-legally). In this case, a comparison with the control group is meaningless and the author’s conclusion is unwarranted.

This study by Makela, Nuorti and Peltola will not be remembered for any convincing or striking finding. But it will be quoted though for another reason: By stating, “The aim of this study was to assess whether an association prevails between MMR vaccination and encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, and autism” in an article titled “Neurologic Disorders after Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination” the authors assert that autism is a neurological complication of MMR vaccination. Now that, we will not forget!

F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP TL Autism Research, Falmouth,  Massachusetts