Can vaccines contribute to the onset of autism in some children? I believe that contention is not only possible, it is plausible. More research is needed.
But anyone willing to make such a statement in public opens themselves up to the wrath of science. But the problem is, there is simply no such thing as "scientific consensus" when it comes to vaccines and autism.
Any scientist who tells you that this case is closed is either stupid, lying, or shockingly unwilling to acknowledge the facts on the ground.
Of course, many scientists want this issue to "go away," as they believe it is settled. But their "belief" is counterweighted by the beliefs of other scientific and health policy authorities, who beg to disagree.
The list is significant, and growing (see below). And to it, should be added Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health in the UK - (which, if I'm not mistaken, is roughly the same as our head of the FDA).
An editor at the Age of Autism site, Anne Dachel, wrote to Dr. Fletcher to seek his reaction to the stories about reportedly high rates of autism among Somali children in Minneapolis.
Here was his reply:
"I have always thought since I first heard about the Somali children that this really proves the causal role of vaccines. The Amish children who have no vaccines have no autistic-like disorders and the Somali children who are newly exposed to aggressive vaccine programmes have exceptionally high levels! What more evidence is needed?"
So there you have it. A leading scientist talking about "proof" of a vaccine-autism connection -- only you won't see this statement in The New York Times or on ABC News.
Dr Peter Fletcher, who was Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health, said if it is proven that the MMR jab causes autism, "the refusal by governments to evaluate the risks properly will make this one of the greatest scandals in medical history".
He added that after agreeing to be an expert witness on drug-safety trials for parents' lawyers, he had received and studied thousands of documents relating to the case which he believed the public had a right to see.
He said he has seen a "steady accumulation of evidence" from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children.
But he added: "There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves."
And to you, angry scientists out there getting ready to trash me for this post -- just remember: You are not trashing me, you are trashing one of your own. And he is hardly alone.
During 2008, all of the following groups and individuals have advocated or considered exploring possible links between vaccines and autism:
1) Both Presidential Candidates
2) Director of the CDC
3) Former head of the NIH and American Red Cross
4) Chair of the U.S. House Science Subcommittee on Investigations
5) Dr. Jon Poling, Pediatric Neurologist
6) HHS Vaccine Safety Working Group
7) CDC Vaccine Safety Research Agenda
8) Medical personnel at HHS Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
9) Members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup of the IAC Committee
10) Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network - CISA
11) Autism researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School
12) America's health insurance companies
13) Autism Speaks
14) The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
15) Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer at the UK Department of Health