The MMR/Autism Controversy: Should We Believe the IOM? Commentary by Bernard
"...Then will come the billion-dollar awards,
by enraged juries, to the children and their
families. I can't wait."
[Bernard Rimland is the founder of the Autism Society of America and
now leads the Autism Research Institute, which he also founded. This
editorial is reprinted by permission from the author. In the Autism
Research Review 1nternational newsletter, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2001.]
You have seen the headlines:
Panel Finds No Link Between Childhood Vaccines, Autism (New York
No Links Found Between Childhood Vaccine, Autism (Los Angeles Times)
US Expert Group Rejects Link Between MMR and Autism (The Lancet)
Is it true? Has the autism/MMR link been scientifically disproved?
The above headlines refer to a report published by the
heretofore-respected Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National
Academy of Sciences.
You may be thinking: If a prestigious independent group such as the
IOM rejects the autism/MMR connection, there must be good reason for doing
so. Why shouldn't I accept that verdict?
You shouldn't accept the verdict for several reasons. One is that the
headlines are wrong-the IOM did not reject the hypothesis that the MMR is a
possible cause of autism. The headlines were based on a press release
written by individuals with suspected links to the vaccine manufacturers,
and did not accurately reflect the actual statement by the IOM itself.
Representative Dan Burton, who has conducted intensive investigations of the
evidence linking vaccines to autism, and had insisted on excluding from the
IOM panel those with a conflict of interest, was furious when he found that
Individuals with ties to the vaccine manufacturers had distorted the
position of the IOM report to make it appear to wholly reject the/MMR link.
He noted that two of those who issued the press release appeared to have
ties with the vaccine manufacturers, and be has vowed to determine the
extent of their conflict of interest. Burton's very normal grandson became
autistic soon after receiving in one day multiple vaccines containing 40
times the acceptable level of mercury.
The IOM report actually said: "Although the committee has concluded
that the evidence favors rejection of the causal relationship at the
population level between MMR vaccine and ASD, the committee recommends that
this issue receive continued attention.... its conclusion doer not exclude
the possibility that MMR vaccine could confri1~ute to ASD in a small number
This is an exceedingly weak statement, considering the evidence at
hand, but it certainly does not reject a causal link. (And what does "at the
population level" mean?) Autism currently occurs in about one child in 130,
far above the I-in-2500 figure reported in the 1970s and 1980s, before the
MMR triple vaccine was introduced. And 1 in 130 is quite consistent with
what both the IOM and the vaccine critics claim: "MMR may cause autism in a
small number of children." The IOM statement thus supports, not refutes,
what the MMR critics contend. Despite the headlines, the safety of the MMR
is certainly not assured. The media have been duped by the medical
establishment's spinmeisters, with the intentional complicity of the IOM.
It is the medical establishment's burden to have proven that the
vaccines are safe, not the critics' burden to prove them unsafe. Safety
testing should have been done 20 years ago, when the MMR triple vaccine
replaced the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines which were given
separately, over a period of time, and when the number of vaccines was g
rather than 22. As we pointed out in ARIU 15, the UK expert panel charged
with evaluating the safety of the MMR said, "Being extremely generous,
evidence on the safety of the MMRI was very thin,' "The granting of a
product license was definitely premature" and, 'In almost every case
observation periods were too short to include the time of onset of late
neurological or other adverse events, interaction between vaccines had not
been considered adequately with multiple, vaccinations and potentially
ill-equipped immune systems."
A spokesperson for the Journal of Adverse Drug Reactions, in which the
above statements appeared, stated, "All the reviewers conclude that
something needs to be done about the MMR, and that there is a case to answer
against the vaccine."
The fact that the IOM report was misrepresented by the drug industry's
spinmeisters does not exonerate the IOM from having shirked its
responsibility to report that:
1. The MMR had not undergone adequate safety testing.
2. The practice of injecting increasingly large numbers of
vaccines-many containing large amounts of mercury and other toxins-into the
bloodstreams of immature infants was never evaluated for safety.
3. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a travesty;
fewer than 10 percent of side effects are ever reported.
4. Thousands of U.S. and U.K. families say-and can demonstrate with
videotapes and photos-that their children were normal prior to being
vaccinated, reacted badly to the vaccines, and became autistic shortly
5. A number of clinical laboratory studies demonstrate that vaccines
may cause chronic damage to the G.I. tract, immune system, brain, and other
organs. Several such studies have been reported in past issues of the ARRI.
Wakefield, Sabra, Singh, O'Leary and Kawashima are among the authors whose
work documents lingering vaccine effect on children on the autistic
spectrum, compared to normal controls.
The IOM report pays little heed to this evidence, instead focusing
attention on several deeply flawed epidemiological studies.
None of the laboratory studies were mentioned in the popular press
Why did the 1OM stoop to issue such a devious, misleading report,
thereby incurring a permanent blot on its credibility? The IOM is an
instrument of mainstream medicine, and mainstream medicine has an enormous
stake in the public belief that vaccines are safe. During the past decade,
mainstream medicine has suffered a hemorrhage of patients who have been
flocking to practitioners of alternative medicine. Too often have
prescription drugs been found more dangerous than the illness. When the link
between the use of unsafe, mercury-laden vaccine and autism, ADHD, asthma,
allergies and diabetes becomes undeniable, mainstream medicine will be
sporting a huge, self-inflicted and well-deserved black eye.
Then will come the billion-dollar awards, by enraged juries, to the
children and their families. I can't wait.
Be that as it may, the parents of today are confronted with the
question: "What do we do about vaccinations?" Even as I write these words,
the California legislature is conducting hearings to decide If two more
vaccines, Hepatitis A and Prevnar, will be required before children can be
admitted to day care or kindergarten. Parents of vaccine-injured children
are opposing these measures. When will it end? Profit, not public health, is
the goal of many who advocate the use of all of these unnecessary vaccines.
Alternative medicine provides a much more rational approach to
preventing disease-including the diseases that are a direct result of
vaccines-bolstering the immune system. Even during the most horrific
epidemics-the bubonic plague, smallpox, polio, and AIDS - most humans escape
death, despite exposure to the pathogen. Why? Obviously, because their
immune systems were competent to defend the body. That is the immune system's
job. Can we enhance the immune system's capacity to defend us? Of course!
Rely on nutrients, not drugs.
As we have pointed out previously (ARRI 12/1), providing the immune
system with the nutrients it needs by means of a high quality multiple
vitamin/mineral supplement, with extra amounts of vitamins C, A and E, as
well as extra selenium and zinc, can make a big difference in your-and your
child's-vulnerability to pathogenic viruses, bacteria and yeasts. Such
fortification of the immune system is especially important in the weeks
proceeding and following vaccinations.
Lenny Schafer, Editor Catherine Johnson PhD Ron Sleith Kay Stammers
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