FEAT DAILY NEWSLETTER Sacramento, California
"Healing Autism: No Finer a Cause on the Planet"
March 6, 2001 Search www.feat.org/search/news.asp
Also: Autistic Boy's Mother Pleads For His Return
Study Claims No Link Between Vaccine And Autism: Agitprop Research
[The paper this article discusses, "Time Trends in Autism and in MMR
Immunization Coverage in California", is not peer-reviewed. It is unclear
why JAMA would want to publish something so blatantly flawed: the researcher
states six different ways how the data is inappropriate for drawing any
conclusions regarding the rates of autism, yet then speciously does so
anyway. One suspects the true purpose of this document is to generate
"There's No Connection to Vaccines and Autism" headlines and sound-bites.
The answer to anti-vaccine propaganda is not counter-propaganda, it's sound
science. But puff pieces such as this report will only serve to further
discredit scientific method in the long run. Public health officials need
to wake up and smell the titers: science-as-agitprop isn't working in the
UK, and it won't work here. The three-page study will be posted here when
it is made available. -LS By Amy Norton in Reuters Health.]
Despite a possible link between childhood MMR vaccination and autism
found in one well-publicized study in the UK, there is growing evidence that
no such connection exists. The latest comes from an analysis of California
statistics showing that while autism cases in the state grew rapidly during
the 1980s and early 1990s, the increase showed relation to vaccination
In the debate over vaccination and autism, these findings may be
particularly important because some reports have cited California's jump in
autism cases as evidence that the disorder may be caused by the
measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR was introduced in the US in the
1970s and is routinely given to babies older than one year.
Dr. Loring Dales and his colleagues at the California Department of
Health Services in Berkeley compared the number of autism cases reported in
the state from 1980 to 1994 with rates of MMR vaccination during the same
period. The investigators found that autism cases exploded by 373%, but the
percentage of children who got the MMR by age 2 increased only moderately,
from 72% to 82% over the 14-year period.
The researchers also discovered that the jump in autism cases started
before a small 1988 increase in rates of MMR vaccination, and that the
autism increase steadily continued after MMR rates had leveled off.
These disparate patterns show that MMR vaccination could not have
triggered California's steep increase in autism, Dales told Reuters Health
in an interview.
"We can say, for certain, that theory is incorrect," he said.
Dales and his colleagues report their findings in the March 7th issue
of The Journal of the American Medical Association
al+of+the+American+Medical+Association <-- address ends here.
In 1998, UK researchers reported that they had found a possible link
between the MMR vaccine and autism in 12 patients with autism and bowel
disease. The UK team speculated that the vaccine had caused the bowel
problems, which in turn led to poor nutrient absorption and impaired brain
But autism is a complex developmental disorder, and researchers
believe that genetic and environmental factors conspire to trigger it.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
there is no good evidence that bowel disease and poor nutrient absorption
can cause autism.
Since the MMR-autism theory was put forth, studies in the UK, Sweden
and the US have shown that patterns of vaccination and autism among children
do not match. In the case of California, Dales explained, people have looked
at the escalating number of autism cases since the 1980s and linked it to
the standard use of the MMR vaccine around that time. But, he said, they did
not investigate the actual rates of MMR use during the 1980s and 1990s.
"There is no correlation to show that (MMR vaccination) is a major
factor, or even a factor at all, in autism," Dales said.
However, he noted, it remains unclear whether the vaccine may be
behind a "tiny portion" of autism cases.
As for the stark increase in California's autism cases, Dales said,
experts debate whether it is a "true increase" or the result of wider
recognition and better diagnosis of the disorder.
SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2001;285:1183-