Investigator Planned to Make Vast Profit From Autism/MMR Vaccine Scare

Bioethics, Children's Health, Medical Economics, Parenting
Andrew Wakefield, the lead author on the 1998 study that reported a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and a new condition of regressive autism and bowel disease called autistic enterocolitis (AE), was planning to market a prestudy diagnostic testing kit with expected yearly sales of 28 million pounds (43 million US dollars), a new paper published online in the BMJ reports. (more…)
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MRI scans of the brain may help scientists better understand autism

Children's Health, Mental Health, Parenting
Bloomberg News reports that a MRI-based "method may help speed up detection and add to knowledge of" autism's "biological base," according to a paper in Autism Research. "'We, for the first time, are able to begin to really see what is going on in the brain in children who have autism,' said Janet Lainhart, an associate professor at the University of Utah, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News. 'That is usually the beginning of major advances in recognition, treatment, and prevention.'" Indeed, "previous studies using different types of scans have been able to identify people with autism" but, said co-author Nicholas Lange of Harvard, "no one has looked at it [the brain] the way we have and no one has gotten these type of results," the CNN "The Chart"…
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“Vaccines cause autism” theory now suspected to be fraud

Bioethics, Children's Health, Medical Economics, Parenting
In a recent blogs I've told you, "Autism and Childhood Vaccinations: The Myth is Finally Debunked" and "U.K. bans doctor who linked autism to MMR vaccine." But, even I was shocked when, while watching ABC World News last night, I saw a report suggesting, that the vaccine-autism link now appears to have been a deliberate fraud. Not only have untold children have been harmed because of this alleged fraud -- but autism research has actually been set back. My hope is that criminal charges will soon follow. Here are the details: ABC World News reported reported that many parents "know that vaccines protection their children from serious illness. But many still fear that the vaccines might cause autism because of all of the reports through the years." Now, there is…
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Autism and Childhood Vaccinations: The Myth is Finally Debunked

Children's Health, Parenting
In a number of previous blogs, I've discussed vaccine myths, in an attempt to bring you information about vaccines that is reliable, trustworthy, and medically accurate. I recently found this review of the myth that vaccines cause autism and wanted to share it with you. It's a discussion between Robert Dachs, MD, FAAFP (Ellis Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, Schenectady, New York), Andrea Darby-Stewart, MD (Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale, Arizona), and Mark Graber, MD, FACEP (University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa) and was published in the American Family Physician (2010 Sep 15;82(6):586-592). Are childhood vaccinations associated with subsequent development of autism? Bob: In 1998, a British gastroenterologist, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published a report in the Lancet on eight children who developed symptoms of autism within one month of receiving the…
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More Evidence That Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

Children's Health, Parenting
Children exposed to high, low levels of thimerosal had similar odds for the disorder as children with no exposure to thimerosal, a new study has found. This should be absolutely no surprise for two reasons: (1) since thimerosal has been removed from virtually all vaccines, there has been an INCREASE (not a decrease) in autism, and (2) no study has found any evidence of an association between thimerosal and autism. Here are the details from this newest study from HealthDay News: Infants exposed to the highest levels of thimerosal, a mercury-laden preservative that used to be found in many vaccines, were no more likely to develop autism than infants exposed to only a little thimerosal, new research finds. The study offers more reassurance to parents who worry that vaccination raises their…
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U.K. bans doctor who linked autism to MMR vaccine

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
In past blogs, I've exposed what I consider to be the unethical and unscrupulous actions of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his so-called autism research. Here are just a few: Lancet formally retracts paper linking vaccine to autism U.S. study clears measles vaccine of autism link Does the MMR vaccine cause autism? A redux. Vaccine Myth #1: Vaccines Cause Autism Wakefield's now disproven 1998 study supposedly linked the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) to autism. Unfortunately, this led to a dramatic drop in vaccinations and a jump in measles cases around the world -- causing who knows how many unnecessary childhood deaths. Since then, at least 25 studies have found no link between the vaccine and autism. And now, not only have the scientific methods of Wakefield been shown to…
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Alternative autism treatment , OSR#1, called into question by the FDA

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
The Chicago Tribune reports that a letter sent on June 17 by the FDA to retired Kentucky chemist Boyd Haley "details five violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act related to his product, OSR#1." According to the agency, the purported autism treatment "is NOT a harmless dietary supplement, as claimed, but a toxic unapproved drug that lacks adequate warnings about potential side effects, including hair loss and abnormalities of the pancreas." Environmental health expert Ellen Silbergeld believes the product "represents a clear example of endangerment of public health," especially because it has "no record of any therapeutic aspect" and is being marketed to children. An FDA spokeswoman confirmed that the agency had yet to receive any communication from Haley since the letter was sent. Parents who are considering…
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In autism a diet free of cereal grains and dairy products does not help

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
Autism (and the autism spectrum disorders) are so very frustrating for parents just because there are so few therapies that have been shown to be helpful. Therefore, parents are left to try this or that and see what helps. Dietary manipulation is one that is frequently tried and yet has not been well studied. Now, USA Today reports that, according to a study presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, "a popular autism diet free of cereal grains and dairy products did NOT improve symptoms in children." USA Today adds, "Fourteen children with autism, ages 2½ to 5½, completed the 18-week study. None had celiac disease, in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from gluten, or milk allergies." The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported that…
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Low immunization rates linked to epidemic spread of whooping cough

Children's Health, Parenting
Barb, my wife, reported to me that friends who are expecting a baby very soon, have informed those who may be visiting or caring for the baby, including grandparents, be immunized against whooping cough (pertussis). Barb asked me, "Is that reasonable?" "Absolutely," I replied. I believe it is the parents' responsibility to provide a bubble of protection around their newborn. The hospital requires nurses and doctors who care for babies to have a variety of immunizations. And, it's past time for parents to do the same (for themselves and care providers). We doctors certainly do the same thing each flu season. Since babies cannot get the flu shot until they are 6 months old, the only protection they have is for their care givers to be immunized. The same with…
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Should Kids take Fish Oil Supplements?

Children's Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
All the talk about the benefits of omega-3s has parents asking whether CHILDREN should take fish oil supplements. Omega-3s are important for neurodevelopment ... and they're now showing up in many prenatal vitamins, infant formulas, and foods. Fish oil supplements for kids are often promoted as improving visual acuity, brain function, or intelligence. But, according to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, "there's no proof that omega-3 supplements make kids 'smarter'...or have any cognitive benefit in most kids." In fact, according to the NMCD, "... many of these claims will be removed ... due to pressure from the feds." The NCMD recommends this to physicians and healthcare professionals who care for kids: Tell parents that most kids don't need fish oil supplements. Instead, suggest that kids eat about 4 oz/week…
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Court once again rejects theory that vaccines cause autism

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
A federal court has determined that the theory that thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism is "scientifically unsupportable," and that the families of children diagnosed with the condition are not entitled to compensation. Three special masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims determined that the three families represented in the suit didn't prove a link between the vaccines and autism. The three released more than 600 pages of findings after reviewing these test cases. Hopefully, this court ruling will put to rest the persisting delusion that some have that vaccines are associated with autism. Whether it's the MMR vaccine or the vaccine preservative, thiomersol, there is no compelling reason to believe that either are causing the increasing numbers of kids with autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The New York Times reported, "In…
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Though unproven, 1 in 4 parents believes vaccines cause autism

Children's Health, Parenting
The New York Times, in Vital Signs, reports that one in four parents "think some vaccines cause autism in healthy children, and nearly one in eight have refused at least one recommended vaccine," according to a study published online March 1 in the journal Pediatrics. The USA covered the story with this article: Most parents continue to follow the advice of their children's doctors, according to a study based on a survey of 1,552 parents. Extensive research has found no connection between autism and vaccines. "Nine out of 10 parents believe that vaccination is a good way to prevent diseases for their children," said lead author Dr. Gary Freed of the University of Michigan. "Luckily their concerns don't outweigh their decision to get vaccines so their children can be protected…
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Parents Often Miss Subtle Autism Signs

Children's Health, Parenting
Action Points Explain to interested parents that autism may progress more slowly and subtly than previously thought. Note that parents often miss regressive symptoms of autism in their children. The symptoms of autism tend to emerge in children after six months of age, with a loss of social and communications skills that is more common and more subtle than previously thought, according to a new study that questions previous assumptions about the progression of the condition. At six months, children with autism spectrum disorder demonstrated behavior similar to other children, gazing at faces, sharing smiles, and vocalizing with similar frequency, researchers reported online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. However, autistic children displayed fewer of these behaviors as as they got older, and from…
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Lancet formally retracts paper linking vaccine to autism

Children's Health, Parenting
U.S. study clears measles vaccine of autism link One of the world's most respected medical journals, The Lancet, is formally retracting an article that sparked a fierce debate and falsely linked autism to vaccines. The 1998 study linked the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) to autism which led to a drop in vaccinations and a jump in measles cases around the world. In the meantime, at least 25 studies have found no link between the vaccine and autism. The move "is part of a reassessment that has lasted for years of the scientific methods and financial conflicts of Dr. Andrew Wakefield," whose "research showed that the ... vaccine may be unsafe," the New York Times reports. Last week, the Times reports, "a British medical panel concluded ... that Dr. Wakefield…
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Chelation therapy for autism not only potentially harmful, it’s based on faulty premise

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
No treatment is more emblematic of the world of alternative therapies for autism than chelation. The influential autism recovery group, Defeat Autism Now, calls removing metals from the body "one of the most beneficial treatments for autism and related disorders." Chelation is one of the highest-rated treatments on the parent survey of the nonprofit Autism Research Institute, the parent organization of Defeat Autism Now. Parents trade stories and advice about chelation on large Internet groups. One Yahoo group has more than 8,000 members. The treatment takes many forms, including creams for the skin, capsules, suppositories and intravenous infusions of powerful medicines usually reserved for people with severe metal poisoning. Families often embark on this course after seeing test results that make children with autism look like they spend their days…
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Many autism therapies are unproven and risky

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
In a gripping series exploring autism and its treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports that "after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children." According to results of the investigation, "the therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly," with many being "unproven and risky, based on flawed, preliminary or misconstrued scientific research." Moreover, "lab tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted," and "the few clinical trials conducted to evaluate the treatments objectively" have yielded "disappointing results." The  Times reports that "up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies." While some…
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More on the Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Children

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
A past blog, that has been very popular, was on the topic of the Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Children (Friday, 6 February 2009). In response to that blog, Kelly wrote, "Hello, I was just wondering if you could answer a question for me. I run a day care out of my home. I was recently inquired about watching a girl who is 2 and has never been vaccinated or seen a doctor. I was wondering if this was any risk to myself or the other children in my day care? Thank you for your time." I thought you might be interested in my response to her. More Information: (more…)
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Special court rules against families who claim vaccines caused autism

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
According to an AP report today, a special court has ruled rather dramatically against three sets of parents with autistic children, saying that vaccines are absolutely not to blame for their children's neurological disorder (autism). The judges in the cases said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parent's claims — and their ruling backs years of science and mountains of evidence from around the world that found no risk for either the MMR vaccine or the vaccine preservative, thimerosal, having any role in autism or ASD. More Information: (more…)
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Doctor Is Rallying Resistance to the Antivaccine Crazies

Bioethics, Children's Health, Mental Health, Parenting
A new book defending vaccines, written by a doctor infuriated at the claim that they cause autism, is galvanizing a backlash against the antivaccine movement in the United States. But, according to the New York Times, there will be no book tour for the doctor, Paul A. Offit, author of Autism’s False Prophets. He has had too many death threats. More Information: (more…)
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Vaccines: Separating fact from fiction

Children's Health, Parenting
When it comes to the arguments about the safety of vaccines, what's a worried mom to do? Between the scary claims about shots themselves and the scary news about what can happen without them, you might feel like you need a Ph.D. in immunology, toxicology, and biostatistics to make sense of it all. Never fear, Dr. Walt is here. The bottom line: No medical intervention is 100 percent risk-free, and no one but you can choose what's right for your child. My job is to help that decision come a little easier, so here goes: More Information: (more…)
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Child vaccination rates hit record levels

General Health
Even though there were many parents who, in the past, did not have their children vaccinated for the now disproven theory that vaccines cause autism, Reuters is reporting that U.S. toddlers got the recommended vaccinations against childhood diseases at record levels in 2007. My Take? (more…)
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Fringe Autism Treatment Could Get Federal Study

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics, Children's Health, Health Headlines, Parenting
The Associated Press is reporting that the NIH is being pressured by desperate parents who are pushing them to test an unproven treatment on autistic children, a move some scientists see as an unethical experiment in voodoo medicine. The treatment removes heavy metals from the body and is based on the fringe theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism — a theory never proved and rejected by mainstream science. Mercury hasn't been in childhood vaccines since 2001, except for certain flu shots. My Take? (more…)
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