More than twenty years after British medical journal Lancet passed off a half-baked and dishonest observation as a reliable study, parents still refuse to vaccinate their children in fear of autism. The US now is dealing with outbreaks of diseases like measles that had once been thought eradicated within the country. One teen who defied his anti-vax parents to get inoculated became a folk hero of sorts last week.
However, those skeptics who acknowledge the scientific fraud in the original Andrew Wakefield study have still insisted that the MMR vaccination might be responsible for autism. Will a new study from Denmark — one involving hundreds of thousands of subjects — finally convince the skeptics and activists?
The latest evidence unequivocally denying any link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella — a two-dose course that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is 97 percent effective — came Monday in a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers at Copenhagen’s Statens Serum Institut examined data for Danish children born from 1999 through the end of 2010, more than half a million people. The epidemiologists and statisticians then used population registries to link information on vaccination status to autism diagnoses, as well as to sibling history of autism and other risk factors.
The findings show the vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, lending new statistical certainty to what was already medical consensus. The researchers further concluded vaccination is not likely to trigger the developmental disorder in susceptible populations and is not associated with a clustering of cases appearing after immunization.
“The appropriate interpretation is that there’s no association whatsoever,” Saad Omer, a professor of global health, epidemiology and pediatrics at Emory University, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Especially since the results show a 17% higher incidence of autism among unvaccinated children?
Researchers studied the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism in a nationwide cohort of all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mothers from 1999 to 2010. They followed kids from age one through the end of August 2013. …
Children with autistic siblings were more than seven times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than kids without this family history, the study found.
Boys were four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, the study found.
And, children who had no childhood vaccinations were 17 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism than kids who did get recommended vaccinations.
Recall that the original study in 1998 from Wakefield that created the hysteria over an alleged link between MMR and autism had a sample size of just twelve children. There was no random selection involved, no blind sample for comparison; Wakefield specifically selected the twelve in order to show stronger correlation between the two. Even that wasn’t enough for Wakefield, who then manipulated the data in order to strengthen his hypothesis. Not a single study afterward ever corroborated Wakefield’s hypothesis at all, and by the time Lancet finally withdrew the study’s publication twelve years later, the British medical community had concluded that Wakefield was a fraud.
Anyone with a rational frame of mind came to the proper conclusion years ago — vaccines don’t cause autism and any suggestion they did was the fruit of fraud. Nevertheless, people continue to this day to believe that the actual data is a government conspiracy of some sort and still insist on resisting vaccinations. The new Danish study might counteract the conspiracy thinking, but, er … don’t hold your breath.
Just in case it helps, though, let’s look at some developments on video today. The first shows Sen. Lamar Alexander questioning four epidemiological experts on vaccines and autism and getting firm denials on any connection between the two. The second is the testimony of the young man who broke away from his parents’ control to escape the anti-vaxx movement, followed by an ABC News profile of Lindenberger and his family. Ethan Lindenberger won’t be the last one to need to do so, unfortunately, but at least he’s still alive. Some children won’t be, and it’s all on Wakefield’s head.
Sen. Alexander: In your opinion, there is no reputable evidence that vaccines cause autism?
Dr. McCullers: "There is absolutely no evidence at this time that vaccines cause autism."
All 4 other witnesses, including Washington State sec. of health, agree there is no connection. pic.twitter.com/6UEExmyWz2
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 5, 2019
A high schooler shared his story of getting immunized after growing up in an antivaxxer home.
“It was with respect and love that I disagreed with my mother,” the teenager said, adding that many parents aren’t vaccinating their children because of misinformation on social media pic.twitter.com/NJEHrVnDMY
— POLITICO (@politico) March 5, 2019