In 2005 a paper by two Japanese researchers, Hideo Honda and Yasuo
Shimizu, was published in an English psychiatric journal with psychiatrist
Professor Sir Michael Rutter also named as an author. The paper was claimed
to be proof MMR vaccine could not cause autistic spectrum disorders.
However, it seems the authors made invalid claims and those claims were
based on inadequate research containing very basic flaws.
Return to main page.
When the flaws in the research are identified and corrected, the paper
provides what appears an example of one of the strongest proofs known in
pharmacology that MMR vaccine is one of the causes of Autistic Spectrum
Disorders (ASD). And if anyone wants to disagree, at the very least what
they cannot disagree with is that it shows the Honda/Rutter paper is deeply
The corrected paper appears to implicate strongly in particular single
measles and rubella vaccines as a cause of ASD, and especially when given at
the same time and it implicates the vaccine ingredient and known toxic
mercury containing neurotoxin, Thiomersal. That the practice in Japan was
to give the measles and rubella vaccines at the same time was the boast of
The British Department of Health. That was to bolster official claims that
whistle blower medical doctor Andrew Wakefield's concerns about the MMR
vaccine were wrong. The Honda/Rutter paper was announced in the usual blaze
of publicity. And as usual, the truth has not been.
The Honda/Rutter paper is:-
"No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total
population study." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2005).
Professor Rutter has many close associations with the drug industry and
particularly with GlaxoSmithKline, having been a paid expert witness on
their behalf in the UK MMR vaccine damage litigation. That was not declared
in the Honda/Rutter paper nor were any other potential conflicts of interest
or statements of funding (about which
see more below). Professor Rutter is also one of the main prosecution
witnesses in the
witchhunt in the British General Medical Council against medical doctors
Andrew Wakefield, Simon Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.
The Honda/Rutter paper claimed that new cases of autism in Japan fell for
children born in 1991-92 (as the confidence of Japanese parents fell in the
dangerous Japanese MMR vaccine withdrawn on safety grounds in 1992) but then
rose sharply again and especially for children who were born in 1993-94.
Here is the graph from the Honda/Rutter paper:-
The authors summarised their results (my emphasis):-
"The MMR vaccination rate in the
city of Yokohama declined signiﬁcantly in the birth cohorts of years
1988 through 1992, and not a single vaccination was administered in 1993
or thereafter. In contrast, cumulative incidence of ASD up to age seven
increased signiﬁcantly in the birth cohorts of years 1988 through 1996
most notably rose dramatically beginning with the birth cohort of 1993."
The authors wrongly claimed this meant it was unlikely MMR vaccine caused
autism spectrum disorders. However, what the authors failed to do and
what any scientist would have done would have been to ask "why?".
Why did autism rapidly increase for children born in 1993-94? The authors
were duty bound to consider this before going into print. This is
particularly notable because their data shows they were clearly on notice
that withdrawing the dangerous Japanese MMR vaccine was associated with a
marked drop in new cases of autism. Anyone can see that from their graphs.
Autism cases fell for those born in 1991-92 as uptake of the Japanese MMR
vaccine fell and was withdrawn in 1992.
What the authors failed to do was to look to a peer refereed paper published
only three years earlier in 2002 which set out the Japanese vaccination
Development of Vaccination Policy in Japan:
Current Issues and Policy Directions, Hiroki Nakatani,Tadashi Sanoand
Tsutomu Iuchi Jpn J Infect Dis 55 101-111 2002. That paper
showed that in 1995 there was a sharp rise (150%) in single measles and
single rubella vaccinations. Many of the children getting those vaccines in
1995 would have been those born in 1993-4. This rise was also coupled with
a sharp rise in Japanese Encephalitis vaccinations (200%) between 1993 and
1995. Japanese Encephalitis vaccine was given in three separate
vaccinations and each one contained the poisonous mercury based neurotoxin
thiomersal. So JE vaccine is just like DTP given to children in the USA and
UK up until very recently in that it contained that neurotoxin and was given
in three jabs to infants or toddlers.
Here is the graph from the earlier paper showing the increases in single
measles, rubella and JE vaccine vaccination rates by 1995 in Japan - I have
added the vertical blue line and ringed the legend to pick out the measles,
rubella and JE vaccine lines of the graph:-
I am grateful to Dr F E Yazbak of Boston Massachusetts, USA for first
drawing my attention to this paper and so assisting to identify this
population level rechallenge proof of autism causation of the MMR vaccine.
This shows that not only did the authors of the Honda/Rutter paper have
before them evidence of a population level dechallenge, they also had
evidence of a population level rechallenge. Just one well documented
spontaneous report of a rechallenge is sufficient to prove a drug causes a
harmful adverse drug reaction. Here, Honda/Rutter provide us with a large
number of examples of rechallenges documented in a peer refereed paper and
occurring on the level of an entire sample of the population of Japan. And
here you can read about the power of rechallenge evidence in this peer
refereed medico-legal paper by Dr Donald Miller (no relation), professor of
surgery at the University of Washington and me and published in the Journal
of American Physicians and Surgeons:-
Evidence, Medical and Legal
So it is appropriate to ask "who is Professor Sir Michael Rutter?", might he
at least subconsciously, suffer from author bias and does he have any
potentially conflicting interests? It can help to follow the money chain.
In the money connections, you don't get any bigger than Rutter.
Psychiatrist Professor Sir Michael Rutter is a former (recent) Deputy
Chairman of the immensely wealthy Wellcome Trust (founded by the Wellcome
Foundation which is now Glaxo):-
The Wellcome Trust has assets of over £14 billion:-
The Trust hands out millions every year and has far more substantial
reserves to enable it to do that. And it can dictate a great deal of what
research is carried out around the world. See here for details:-
So Rutter is very influential. You do not get to be in that position if you
are not "in favour with pharma".
He is also one of the expert witnesses for Glaxo in the MMR litigation
(something he did not declare, for example, in the Honda/Rutter paper
denying MMR has any association with autism, but I do not see him before the
GMC over that).
Here is a biographical note on him from the Academy of Medical Sciences:-
and it says:-
Professor Sir Michael Rutter is Professor of Developmental
Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London.
He has been a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital since
1966, and was Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Institute of
Psychiatry from 1973 to 1998. He set up the Medical Research Council
Child Psychiatry Research Unit in 1984 and the Social, Genetic and
Developmental Psychiatry Centre 10 years later, being honorary director
of both until October 1998. His research has included the genetics of
autism; the study of both school and family influences on children’s
behaviour; the links between mental disorders in childhood and adult
life; epidemiological approaches to test causal hypotheses; and
gene-environment interplay. He was Deputy Chairman of the Wellcome
Trust from 1999 to 2004, and has been a Trustee of the Nuffield
Foundation since 1992. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in
1987 and an honorary member of the British Academy in 2002. He was a
Founding Fellow of the Academia Europaea and the Academy of Medical
Sciences, of which he is currently Clinical Vice-President. He has
received numerous international honours and has published some 40 books
and over 400 scientific papers and chapters.
Professor Sir Michael Rutter along with a troup of psychistrists now or
formerly associated with The Maudesley Hospital and The Institute of
Psychiatry at Kings have been working hard at telling the public autism is
solely genetic and denying there is a world autism pandemic.
If a condition is genetic, you also do not suddenly get spontaneous mutation
of large numbers of individuals. That suggestion is counter logical and non
science. Genetics cannot account for the large rise we are seeing in autism
since the mid 1980s. So instead what we see are efforts by Rutter and the
King's Institute of Psychiatry other autism denialists to claim there is no
real rise in the prevalence of autism. This claim is unscientific and runs
counter to the facts documented in the formal literature. You can see I
have already made this crystal clear to autism denialist and another
psychiatrist, Professor Bennett Leventhal:-
The Institute of Psychiatry has been an embarrassing place to be
because of this April 2008 news item:-
The Institute of Psychiatry has or is home to more than its fair share
of doctors (psychiatrists mostly) who publish papers claiming autism is
genetic and denying there is an autism epidemic (the correct word is
pandemic - epidemics have far fewer victims). These doctors include Rutter,
Eric Fombonne (now expert witness in the US in the thiomersal/autism
litigation when he had previously published nothing about it), Simon Baron
Cohen. It is also home to controversial "Gulf War Syndrome" psychiatrist
Simon Wessley, director of the Centre for Military Health Research at King's
College London and who had been claiming ME/CFS is not a physical condition
but a mental one contrary to the definition used around the world.
Sophia Wilson is an example of
an ME/CFS sufferer who died following this approach to diagnosis, albeit not
so far as I am aware a patient of any of the psychiatrists or institutions I
BBC psychiatrist Tonmoy Sharma is struck off
By Lucy Cockcroft The Telegraph 01 April /2008
A psychiatrist who regularly
appeared as an expert on the BBC has been struck off the medical
register after he lied about his academic qualifications and
performed unethical drugs tests on mentally ill patients.
Also associated with The Institute of Psychiatry and the Maudesly is Dr Ben
Goldacre, who constantly attacks alternative medicine in The Guardian whilst
writing the "Badscience" column - yet Goldacre has no scientific
qualifications and does not tell everyone that he practises psychiatry - the
least successful branch of medicine in history and which has difficulty
finding two reliable pieces of science to rub together to support the wacky
quacky theories some of its proponents put out.
Goldacre works with Wesseley. Goldacre and Wessley have close professional
and personal connections to King's Mobile Phones Reseach Unit. That is
interesting bearing in mind Goldacre's very public attacks, backed by the
industry funded lobby group, The Science Media Centre, on Panorama's
documentary about mobile phone hazards, which hazards were raised by no less
than the head of the Health Protection Agency. That did not stop Ben
Goldacre and The Science Media Centre attacking the programme and its
Rutter is also a friend of the editor of the journal which printed the
Honda/Rutter MMR paper. Here is his endorsement of the Journal:-
""JCPP is clearly the world's No. 1 child psychology and
psychiatry journal. It integrates clinical and developmental
perspectives, it is truly international, and interdisciplinary, and it
combines high scientific standards with attention to clinical
Editor Charman is a contributor to Rutter's book:-
Prof. Sir Michael Rutter"
and Adolescent Psychiatry, Fifth Edition
Rutter was also an expert witness in Malmo, Sweden in an MMR autism case
where the key question was whether autism was solely genetic and not
environmental. Rutter's expert evidence was that it was genetic.
And this could go on and on and on ......................
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