View Full Version : Autism, etc.

10-02-2003, 07:49 PM
I am a scientist. And I am all for the emphasis on SCIENCE placed in this book. However, I think that the arguments about vaccinations are bit simplistic. For one thing I find that Dr's are often NOT scientists - that is, they don't necessarily understand hypothesis testing, data interpretation etc. I have found that many doctors argue strongly for vaccines using logic that they think is scientific, but really isn't. It is based on the party line about public health, which is not wrong, but ignores the other consequences and potential public health issues that made be introduced by adverse responses to vaccines.

With regard to vaccines I think that the jury is still out on contributions to various developmental diseases/disorders. Clearly vaccines are of tremendous benefit for public health. However, parents should be well informed and make informed decisions. The logic in 411 sometimes treats parents as if they shouldn't ask questions or make informed decisions. There IS a huge increase in Autism. And it can't be traced back to better diagnosis, etc. These cases are severe. Sure cell phone usage is up (not actually clear that pollution, at some types is up), etc. But in making this argument, the 411 authors disregard scientific plausibility. There are possible mechanisms by which vaccines could affect a child's health. The counterexamples in the book don't have such plausibilty - well pollution might, but one would have to find out if it increased, what forms, etc. We do know there has been a great increase in the number of vaccines. Could this be linked to some developmental disorders? Perhaps. The fact is in researching this topic I have not been able to find clear cut studies that are scientifically satisfying. There is some data on both sides of the issue, but nothing definitive. When I have read arguments against this connection, I am often left wanting data of a particular form that has not been collected.

Moreover, the argument about a baby's immune system being able to handle several different vaccines simultaneous just seems plain wrong. The logic is that a baby is faced with 100,000's of germ challenges from birth onward. That is certainly true and the immune system (for the most part) handles it. BUT, that is not the same as a challenge from a vaccine in which a significant live or dead version of the vector is introduced directly into the baby's (or person's) system. Indeed, one thing we do know about the immune system is that when challenged, it can be "weakened" - that is, less able to fight off other challenges. This is the situation a baby might be placed in if given multiple vaccines in a short time frame. Again, this is not to say a baby's immune system can't handle it - it might be able to - but I haven't been able to find a clear study on this issue. But there are many studies showing a stressed immune system (e.g., from a disease) is more vulnerable.

10-05-2003, 08:09 PM
I really liked the article on children with autism that was published in Time magazine about a year ago. They had evidence that there was a genetic association with autism. Since we know that autism occurs predominately among males--how could it be vaccine-related?

10-05-2003, 09:00 PM
Hi folks. Dr Brown asked me to post this reply to the orignal post:

Dear concerned parent:

I appreciate your comments and I am glad you have
taken the time to read Baby 411.

As a physician, I must first say that I am qualified
and trained to read and interpret scientific
literature. I took coursework in both my doctoral
degree and in my residency to learn how to do just

I have spent a great deal of time reviewing the vast
amount of research that has been done on vaccine
safety and efficacy. I have tried to help explain this
information to parents in Baby 411. These explanations
are not meant to be simplistic, but written to help
parents decipher some very difficult and complex

There is currently NO literature in a reputable,
peer-reviewed journal that shows an association
between vaccines and autism, developmental delays,
diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or any other auto-immune
disorders. What I have seen is a great deal of
'speculation' that creates anxiety and confusion for
many parents.

The concerns about the rising 'epidemic' of autism are
valid and troublesome to everyone in the medical
community. And, some experts wonder if there is an
environmental exposure that 'turns on' a person who is
predisposed genetically to autism. But, vaccines, with
or without thimerisol, do not appear to be the 'turn
on' based on a great deal of scientific data. With
respect to the thimerisol question, there was an
excellent study just published in the journal
Pediatrics last month (Vol 112, No 3, p604) that
looked at Danish children from 1991-2000 and the
incidence of autism. Thimerisol was removed from
vaccines in Denmark in 1992. Despite the removal of
the thimerisol, Denmark has seen a statistically
significant INCREASE in the rates of autism.

I will also mention that 13 states in the US seem to
have an autism epidemic, despite the fact that all 50
states have immunization programs. This also points to
a problem other than vaccines as the cause.

No doctor wants to see the rates of autism continue to
rise. We would all like to identify the cause.
Unfortunately, if parents continue to doubt the
benefits of vaccines, we will not only have an
epidemic of autism on our hands, we will also have an
epidemic of measles, pertussis, or Haemophilus menmingitis.

Ari Brown, MD
Co-Author of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year
Now available at all major bookstores and amazon.com.
Check it out on the web at www.baby411.com.

10-06-2003, 02:07 AM
hhmm...I wonder which 13 states there are?

There's an excellent article in a Mothering magazine this year linking autism to heavy-metal exposure and how a physician was able to help "autistic" children through a detox of these metals (sorry, my mommy-brain can't remember more...but I know it was a 2003 issue).

10-09-2003, 10:57 PM
Dr. Brown:

I appreciate your response. My honest experience with MD's is that many of them are NOT trained to interpret scientific data. But of course, the same is true of many PhD's in the sciences. My basic point is that I have found that many MD's seem to take these arguements on faith, but can't point towards solid, well-conducted studies to back their arguments (one way or the other). When queried they seem to fall back on "I am the Doctor" as an argument. Not particularly satisfying.

Even the books we have been directed to about the topic are quite short on citations/hard evidence. Again, this does not mean that your points aren't correct, but only that the medical community needs to provide layers of information for the more interested parent. Indeed I would suggest that Baby 411 include a set of such references or this information be available on the supplemental section of the Baby 411 web site.

No one doubts that viral or bacterial epidemics would be terrible. An informed parent should know these are terrible diseases. But at the same time an informed parent should be able to understand what are the possible risks of the vaccines and what are ways of possibly avoiding/minimizing said risks.

Having had personal experience with psychiatrists working with Austism, I have no doubt that there is a genuine increase in this disease in the US. Moreover, this is not a diagnosis shift - there seems to be a true increase. C.A.N. is at the forefront of attempting to understand the factors that may contribute (and BTW the comment that male dominated autism cases only suggests that genetics/body chemistry plays SOME role in determining who gets the disease) - it might be worth having some comment on that as well. Alternative theories are critical as part of arguing why a given theory is not the correct one.

Best, -m

12-05-2003, 07:22 PM
Autism is inherited in part. The argument on vaccines is that in a child that is more predisposed to the possibilty of being autistic through heredity, the mercury etc in the vaccine "brings on" the autism so to speak.

My older 2 children were all vaccinated without a second thought, I was raised that doctors know what they are doing and what they say is a good idea. Now I'm reasearching vaccines more and more before I give them to Eliza. I have decided to only give her the polio shot and the mmmr as of now. Anything else I'm delaying and possibly not giving at all, I am still doing research.

This is just my 2 cents, but does anyone think that somone that makes a living off giving vaccines and being a doctor will say what they are doing could be harmful??

And although the fda required thimerasol to be removed from vaccines, I have read some conflicting things about whether or not it was really removed 100%.

12-05-2003, 07:40 PM
Jackie, out of curiosity, why did you decide TO give her those two shots? We're also selectively vaccinating, and those 2 we decided to skip.

Just wondering what info. led you to select those two as important over the others, etc... We did HiB and DTaP.


12-06-2003, 09:32 AM
About your earlier post regarding the metals: My neighbor went through that treatment with her little girl (it's called kielating -not spelled correctly, I'm sure). She was diagnosed as having an autistic spectrum disorder when she was very young- just under a year old. She's now 3 1/2 and they are trying intensive therapy as well as any other things they think may help her. Over a year ago they found that she had very high levels of certain heavy metals in her body, so they went through the process of trying to remove them. I know they reduced the concentration somewhat, but it's a really long process, I think, and I'm not sure if they stuck with it as long as it was recommended for them to do it.

There's a comprehensive list of vaccines and their manufacturers and the thimerosal content of each of the vaccines at http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm

Here's an interesting link regarding the association between autism and thimerosal (or the lack of a provable association)

12-06-2003, 12:15 PM
Melanie to answer your question,

We decided to do these 2 because dh is in the military, he and other people he works with often travel to areas that have these diseases and could bring them back as carriers even if they themselves are vaxed. About 4 months ago here there was an outbreak of pertussis in a few unvaxed kids due to a family member bringing it back from overseas. So because of possible exposure we are vaxing against those. She will get the DTaP and the mmr, probably the hib also. She was given a hepb shot at birth, dh okayed it without asking me since he didn't know I didn't want it. My second child was given it at 2 weeks so I didn't think I had to worry about it at birth (Eliza was born at the same hospital a year later didn't think anything had changed).

I am delaying any more hepb shots because as of now I don't feel she is at risk. Prevnar I'm not sure she will ever get and I am still undecided about the chicken pox shot. Both of those are required for school but I'm sure I can work around that in the next 4-5 years before she starts anyway :).

12-06-2003, 04:49 PM
Oh, that makes sense. Thanks for sharing. When Ds was born the nurse came in at 1 day and said "We're taking him for his shot," and I thought they meant Vitamin K and said, "Oh he already got it," then they explained it was Hep B. If I had been more rested, they'd have heard a speech from me, but instead we just said no thanks. The nurse was so puzzled, NO ONE had ever refused before? Even our ped. doesn't give it until 4 weeks. However it was in an area where I think they try to get them early b/c many people don't have medical care.

We did the HiB b/c Children have died from meningitis here, and we did the DTaP b/c there's also been Pertussis active, as well as what I read about Tetanus scared the heck out of me. Of course we could not get both of those without the Diptheria, unfortunately. I was quite frightened that weekend and watched Ds like a hawk. I'm not comfortable with combo vaccines.

I'm also undecided on Prevnar, in theory it's good, but it's too new for my comfort. Same with Chicken Pox. If he hasn't gotten the Chicken Pox by 12 or so, and they're still giving it then, we'll probably have him get it (along with HepB). As long as our risks have not changed.

Luckily, where we live they cannot require anything for school.

12-06-2003, 05:12 PM
Out of curiousity, if you don't mind my asking, what field in science are you? My husband's a scientist too, specifically molecular geneticist but is now focusing on Immunology research. I have my own views on vaccines but I'd rather keep it to myself. It's good though to hear 2 sides of the coins.

12-06-2003, 11:21 PM
I forgot to add all this in my earlier post.

Prevnar made Daria very fussy for almost a week although her other shots didn't, that is one of the reasons I'm avoiding it in Eliza. I for some reason never though I could refuse it in my first 2 kids. Probably because the docs said it was required for school and at the time I wasn't researching anything.

I later found something about prevnar could lead to antibiotic resistant meningitis and ear infections. And some other article that said something along the lines of menengitis shots cause less natural immunity and more mutant strains of the virus, along with mutant streph throat. Pretty much it said that we all have natural occuring meningitis, streph etc in the flora of our throats but a normal immune system attacks it before we actually get the full blown illness but if we get vaccines like prevnar our bodies only know how to fight the strain that was included in the vaccine and our immune system can't work as well to fight various strains. There was something about the hib shot mentioned also but I can't recall it all now. I will try and find the link again.

I'm still really confused about all this! Sometimes I find links that say "this is good and that is bad" but then I find out it's an article that is 5 years old or something and then I wonder the revelance now since vaccines are always changing.

I found out if I want Eliza to get the hib shot then she gets hepb also since they only offer a combivax grrr. So either I have to switch peds now and then again in the coming year when we move, delay the hib shot totally or allow the combivax.

12-06-2003, 11:27 PM
Really? How Odd...I'm pretty sure our HiB was not combo as our ped. knows our concerns and is supportive (despite the recent rise in pro-vax articles taped around the office).

12-07-2003, 04:34 PM
I found several articles that were pretty interesting about hib and the risk factors. Two published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 85 and 86 were about risk factors (daycare was #1). Two others were in the Journal of Epidemiology (published in 97 and 99) and were about the protective effect of breastfeeding on hib. Maternal antibodies found in breast milk are very significant in protecting children from hib, and the protective effects are seen through childhood (even 5 to 10 years later). For each additional week that a child is breastfed, the risk of hib meningitis decreases.

Do you have any information about the hib vaccines? I have heard that they're not too effective and they cause a decline in the child's antibody levels following the vaccination.

12-07-2003, 04:39 PM
I actually don't have any info now, we did research at the time, but it was quite a while ago.

Good to know my son is protected anyway since he's breastfed. =)

12-08-2003, 12:50 AM
I found it odd also, unless they have changed things and the person on the phone I spoke with didn't know it. I will ask the doctor herself if they offer a non combined hib vax if I still decide to give it to her, I have a few more days to research before her appointment. :) I hate being on the fence about this!

And you would know if the vax was a combined one or not, it is called combivax or recombivax and if you have a immunization book or record it will say hib/hepb combivax instead of just HiB.

08-23-2004, 11:59 AM
I'm reading these posts much later than they were originally presented. However, I read in another post by you that you were going to give no vaccines at all. I mean no disrespect, but I think it's very irresponsible of any parent not to vaccinate their child at all. Whether you do Hep B at birth or wait till their older, or separarate the MMR or do vaccines without Thimerasol or whatever -- vaccines SHOULD be given. Read all the articles in the glorified advertisements we all call parenting magazines that you like. There is no reputable, accreddited medical organization that has cited vaccinations with Autism. Period. End of story. It is difficult if not impossible to prove a negative. Show me proof of the positive -- that MMR causes Autism -- and I will sit up and listen. Show me proof that other vaccines cause more harm than good. I will sit up and listen. Until then, I pray that the children of people who do not vaccinate do not end up with horrible illnesses that doctors can't even diagnose quickly anymore, cuz they're rare. Except, of course, in the child that's unvaccinated.


08-23-2004, 12:38 PM
"Period. End of story"

Wow, I guess that is it then. No point in discussing it.

"Show me proof that other vaccines cause more harm than good."

This varies from child to child. Do a google on vaccines and you will find plenty of stories where the vaccine DID do more harm than good to a child.

"Until then, I pray that the children of people who do not vaccinate do not end up with horrible illnesses that doctors can't even diagnose quickly anymore, cuz they're rare. Except, of course, in the child that's unvaccinated."

Your post is all your opinion, and that is fine, but it is pretty brazen of you to go jamming it down people's throats as if *it* is fact.


08-23-2004, 03:06 PM
I started this entire thing. My son is now 9 months old, is healthy, vaccinated (or in the process rather). My argument is not that children should go unvaccinated (and being breastfed only protects children - nominally - against diseases for which the mother is already immune - not those for which she is simply vaccinated). More to the point, there is now a definitive study showing NO connection between austism and the MMR vaccine. However, there are reasons for a parent to be well-informed about when a child has vaccines and which ones. For example, there was a PREVNAR shortage. It is supposedly fixed. However, one of the project managers for the drug makes the following accusation:

former Wyeth manufacturing manager Mark Livingston has filed a lawsuit against the company and two employees, saying that in its drive to get Prevnar to the market, Wyeth cut production corners that violate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules and which could leave the vaccine vulnerable to problems with quality control. Livingston brought up his concerns at an FDA meeting in July 2003, but he said that because he had not heard any development from the agency since that time, he would go ahead with a civil lawsuit to bring more attention to the matter, claiming that Wyeth's actions amount to fraud against its shareholders by not revealing problems with Prevnar production.

<see http://www.immunizationinfo.org/pressroom/newsbriefs_detail.cfv?id=9835>

So one needs to make sure one is aware of what is happening. The drug companies are NOT your friends. They are businesses out to market as many profitable products as possible. They spend more on advertising than they do R&D. This doesn't mean they don't make good and life saving vaccines and other drugs, but you can't just believe them on these things. Moreover, your pediatrician may or may not just follow standard practice with or without doing the appropriate reading/research etc. Like schooling, it is the parents' responsibility to be informed and make INTELLIGENT judgments. This means deciding when and which vaccines to give. Many are proven and save lives. If a parent doesn't want to give any, they better justify it with careful research. Likewise for a parent that gives them all in the standard schedule to their child. They should know the different issues, etc.

What I don't like is the standard pediatrician line of "vaccines are good. There are no problems. Follow the standard schedule." I equally don't like the reactionary parent "vaccines are evil, they do no good. besides my kid is safe."

08-23-2004, 04:57 PM
Wow, that is frightening though not altogether surprising. Consumer Reports did a pretty balanced article on vaccines while I was pregnant (2001) that impacted me the most. It profiled a child who caught Polio from the oral vaccine, and revealed the existance of www.vaers.org to me (which the existance of, alone, frightens me; forget about their spreadsheets showing SIDs cases after vaccinating). Also it discussed how the vaccines are not all that well-tested before they hit the market, because for one, who wants to use their child as a guinea pig for a vaccine? No one. So the masses are used for trial & error instead.

We did not do Prevnar b/c I felt, at the time, it was "too new." Lately I'd been wondering if I should rethink it now that it is about 4 years old. I am glad to read that article before deciding. Thank You.


08-24-2004, 11:47 AM
As I said, I meant no offense. If you read carefully, I was replying to the particular person before my post. In another thread, she indicated that she was not going to vaccinate at all; that coupleed with the statements she made in this post prompted my reply.

However, "Period, end of story" is still how I feel. There is nothing that links MMR or any vaccine at all to autism. I've done all the same reading as everyone else, and I am very scientific in my mehtods; the proof isn't there. Furthermore, I don't plan on digging and digging until I find one thing that tells me otherwise. When the NJM or Johns Hopkins or Mayo or an accredited, reputable institution or researcher shows me something compelling -- of which there is nothing to date -- then I will gladly pay attention. All I've seen on this and other websites are "a study was done that says" or "my parenting magazine says." That's something called Falsee Authority Syndrome, and if you'd like to read more about that got to www.vmyths.com, which explains that Syndrome.

Now, the original poster's information on Wyeth and Prevnar does add value. THAT'S something to consider when looking into vaccinations, definitely.

Again, I certainly apologize if I seem to be "jamming my opinion down everyone's throats," but honestly, this is a message board for that exact reason. Nowhere did I say that if you don't vaccinate on the exact schedule the peds says you're an idiot. What I said was in direct response to the person before me who said in a previous topic that she wasn't vaccinating, period. I have strong opinions on vaccinations, and based on her and some of the posters here that I felt endangered the lives of their children, I am replying accordingly. I'm not name-calling, I'm not being brazen. This is not a topic on strollers or sippy cups; it's a topic on what could be life or death for your child. I guess my tone reflects that.