Ben Goldacre & the study no one is talking about  
Author  Topic Next Topic  
John Stone

United Kingdom
1028 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2008 :  18:09:52
Ben returned to the subject of MMR and autism just a fortnight ago. Nothing risky, with the column dropped from CiF just in case. But what a mess he would be in if he had to defend the new Hornig study. Ben loves big studies, but this study had just 5 cases of the Wakefield pheno-type. How could you possibly extrapolate about other cases from such a tiny base?

And there was another nasty shock in the study:

"Our results differ with reports noting MV RNA in ileal biopsies of 75% of ASD vs. 6% of control children [10], [41]. Discrepancies are unlikely to represent differences in experimental technique because similar primer and probe sequences, cycling conditions and instruments were employed in this and earlier reports; furthermore, one of the three laboratories participating in this study performed the assays described in earlier reports. Other factors to consider include differences in patient age, sex, origin (Europe vs. North America), GI disease, recency of MMR vaccine administration at time of biopsy, and methods for confirming neuropsychiatric status in cases and controls." [1]

So it is clearly stating that results of Uhlmann [2] are valid, while acknowledging gut pathology for some autistic children is a real subject for due investigation. The study also validated two positive results across three laboratories and is cagey about their clinical history. For the last four years we have been living with the wicked pretence that the Royal Free patients did not have gut pathology. Even the National Autistic Society had a warning about this:

"The National Autistic Society is keenly aware of the concerns of parents surrounding suggested links between autism and the MMR vaccine. The charity is concerned that the GMC hearing, and surrounding media coverage, will create further confusion and make it even more difficult for parents to access appropriate medical advice for their children.

"It is particularly important that this case is not allowed to increase the lack of sympathy that some parents of children with autism have encountered from health professionals, particularly on suspected gut and bowel problems. Parents have reported to the NAS that in some cases their concerns have been dismissed as hysteria following previous publicity around the MMR vaccine. It is crucial that health professionals listen to parents' concerns and respect their views as the experts on their individual children.

"There is an urgent need for further, authoritative research into the causes of autism, to improve our understanding of the condition, to respond to parents' concerns and to enable us to ensure that there are appropriate services and support in place to meet people's needs." [3]

Today we live with a horrific situation in this country. The MMR litigation was apparently collapsed on incorrect information that results in the Uhlmann study were false, which is flatly contradicted by the new study [4]. Three doctors stand falsely accused of inventing symptoms at the GMC, while children remain untreated for serious illness (irrespective of cause).

And Ben, like the rest of the journalistic and medical establishment, is apparently lost for words.