Wakefield Has Company
by Judy Converse, MPH RD LD
Is there a vaccine-autism link? Is Andy Wakefield a crazy man? The gap I see, as a nutrition professional who has worked with children with autism for twelve years, is in a willingness to open our minds, to consider studies that corroborate Wakefield’s work. I am weary of doing the literature search over and over, handing out these links (below) again and again – the ones the media ignore so handily. Your pediatrician likely doesn’t know that Wakefield is not alone. I challenge physicians out there to pause, breathe, read the studies, and wonder. Think it through: What if he’s right?
I notice that most doctors, parents, journalists and bloggers who are shouting about what a fraud Dr. Wakefield is are more voyeurs on the autism controversy than anything else. Most often, they don’t see many patients with autism, don’t treat them for anything beyond prescribing Miralax or Abilify, or aren’t raising children with autism themselves. Or maybe I should say, they don’t see their poop, their growth charts, endoscopy reports, stool cultures, or food intakes. They don’t see how physically ill these children are, up close and stinky. How many autism diapers have they changed? You know, the ones with the explosive gold lumpy liquid that soars up the child’s neck and seeps down to his knees, six or eight times a day? How many toilets have they unclogged or replaced, after one too many enormous, stone-hard stools filled it? How many impacted colons have they cleared in young children with autism? How many failure to thrive children with autism have they worked with, to restore normal nutrition status and good health? This is what I’m mucking through at work on a regular basis as I provide nutrition care. Either in a child’s history, parent interview, or in a kid’s pants right in my office. Do I want to see it, mom asks? Why, yes I do, I always answer. And I want to culture it too. So off we go collecting that stool sample, right then and there. Let’s do something about it.
Let’s do something about the myths relentlessly repeated now about measles and Andrew Wakefield too.
First, there are fewer, not more, children getting measles in the UK since Andrew Wakefield voiced his concerns for the bundled MMR vaccine. See this analysis for data on measles cases pre and post Wakefield.
And, no, your child is not certain to die from measles if unvaccinated against it, unless he happens to be in profoundly weak status for vitamin A, iron, protein, and body mass index. Those nutrition parameters are strong predictors of how children manage most any infectious disease, and measles in particular. They are so strong, in fact, that protocols for using vitamin A to prevent and treat measles have long existed for UNICEF and the World Health Organization. A child in strong nutrition status typically passes through measles quickly with no lasting ill effect, and then has permanent immunity. This does not mean children never catch or die of measles. It does mean that measles is a highly survivable routine illness that healthy, well-nourished children overwhelmingly survived in the pre-vaccine era – just as my siblings did, who passed immunity to me.
Thirdly, I would also point out (groan, again) that Wakefield’s infamous original Lancet article was a case series. Which means, it did not test a hypothesis that MMR causes autism, nor did it intend to. It did not state this at all, as the media relentlessly hypes. I wonder how many MDs have actually read this original article, or even know the findings published there. The real tragedy is that the message of that original case series has been long lost in the sensationalist media cacophony. Again, think: What if he’s right? Would Pharma, CDC, FDA, AAP, ACIP, UK GMC, and NIH stand up and say – “Oops. We’re sorry.” Would the US go into even greater financial arrears, to pay the hundreds of thousands of injured families the billions they would be due?
These are colossally powerful, profitable entities. If there is trouble with bundled vaccines like MMR, what a tidy solution if Wakefiled is indeed a monster and a fraud. But I don’t think he is, after reviewing food intakes, GI sx, growth patterns, medical histories, and developmental histories on hundreds of children with autism.
Enough lamenting. I’m always asked, so here are some citations for the uninitiated. Wakefield has company. Can all these journals and authors be wrong as well? Here’s one that I can’t link to because it has vanished from PubMed (hmmm it was there two days ago), so here is the full citation:
Sheils O, Smyth P, Martin C, O’Leary JJ. Development of an ‘allelic discrimination’ type assay to differentiate between the strain origins of measles virus detected in intestinal tissue of children with ileocolonic lymphonodular hyperplasia and concomitant developmental disorder. J Pathol 2002; 198 (suppl): 5A.
Wakefield’s company includes other researchers, and other vaccines beyond the MMR. For example, hepatitis B vaccine at birth was found to triple risk for autism in this retrospective study http://bit.ly/rKeth A horrifying vindication for a book I published in 2002 When Your Doctor Is Wrong: Hepatitis B Vaccine & Autism.
This one shows a “hyperimmune” response to MMR in children with autism: http://bit.ly/fXmchZ
Oh alright, I will keep going…Here’s a 2010 chart review finding ileal or colonic lymphonodular hyperplasia in 73% of subjects with autism http://bit.ly/cr0HAL and this one saw a strong association between MMR vaccination and CNS autoimmunity in children with autism http://bit.ly/eTH7Vg and this one documents intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) occuring 7x more frequently in subjects with autism compared to controls http://bit.ly/aYirdO ...Here’s a page with over twenty citations and analysis collected in one spot for MMR-autism: http://www.jabs.org.uk/pages/thrower.asp
Okay I’ll stop. There is more, you can keep going down this rabbit hole if you like. You’ll find Wakefield has plenty of company.
Lastly, we never hear much about this study, perhaps the most chilling of all. It is the only one to date that reviews the immunization schedule as it is given to human infants – something the FDA never required anybody to do before allowing our children to be given dozens of vaccines in a short time span, as many as twelve or fifteen in one day, as I have seen on my patients’ vaccine records. It was a prospective case controlled study with primates, the closest animal model to humans that we can use. Do you know the outcome? Read it and weep, for our children. They are not victims of Wakefield. They are victims of ignorance and greed. We owe them more research, solutions to the neurodevelopmental disorders and autism they now suffer in unprecedented numbers, and truth.