Dr Andrew Wakefield Demolishes Ignorant US Vaccine Lobby

Response to Dr. Ari Brown and the Immunization Action Coalition

Andrew J. Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath; Mark Blaxill, MBA; Boyd Haley, PhD; Anissa Ryland; Daniel Hollenbeck, BS; Jane Johnson; James Moody, JD; Carol Stott, PhD (398 KB)

See:  Press Release – For Immediate Release: – Feb 6, 2009

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[Copy to others: Dr Andrew Wakefield Demolishes Ignorant US Vaccine Lobby]

The public relations arm of those who are supposed to be legally and ethically responsible for vaccine safety published “Clear Answers and Smart Advice About Your Baby’s Shots,” by Dr. Ari Brown.

Clear Answers” is anything but.  Is this dishonesty?  How can it be ignorance?  Aren’t these  people supposed to be “experts”? How comprehensively misleading and untrue is this? Are these people “pulling the wool” over your eyes? Decide for yourself.

Published today is a detailed response by Dr Andrew Wakefield and colleagues supported by 20 child health safety organisations. We publish edited extracts below.  You can read the full 16 page printed paper here.

Wakefield is the British medical doctor who put child health safety before his career and has been hounded by big money ever since.

In an interview with Richard Halvorsen for his book The Truth about Vaccines, one of the lead authors of the Cochrane Collaboration’s review of MMR vaccine safety said, The safety studies of MMR vaccine are crap. They’re the best crap we have but they’re still crap“.

Follow the money.

Brown is an official spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Brown’s “Clear Answers” is endorsed and published by the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), a US organization funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the vaccine manufacturers.  Given this background, any reasonable person might expect a comprehensive, well researched, and persuasive overview.

Wakefield et al say:-

Informed consent is a crucial element of the foundation upon which ethical medical practice rests. Providing patients, parents, or guardians with an honest assessment of the risks and benefits of any medical procedure not only requires the healthcare provider to be, to the best of his or her ability, “informed” of all of the risks and benefits but also requires said provider to neutrally convey all of the risks and benefits to the patients, parents, or guardians.

Since the topic of vaccination is so important and because we have major concerns about the accuracy of much of what this document says, we are providing a point-by-point response.

Follow the money?  Are the 20 organisations which endorse Wakefield’s response concerned about your child’s health safety or about supporting big business and the pharmaceutical industry?

ACT Today!

Autism Action Network Medical Veritas
Age of Autism International Chiropractors Association
Autism File National Vaccine Information Center
Autism One National Autism Association
Autism Research Institute NoMercury
Autism Today SafeMinds
World Autism Association Schafer Report
Center for Autism and Related Disorders Unlocking Autism
Alan D. Clark, M.D. Memorial Research Foundation Autisme Montréal


Here are some edited extracts of Dr Brown’s claims and of Wakefield’s response:-

BROWN: “I’ve heard autism is on the rise. Why?”

Brown’s  explanation: “Displacing one diagnosis for another: In previous generations, many children were diagnosed with …. some other …. disorder. Today many of these same kids are diagnosed with severe autism.”

But what Brown says is not supported by the scientific evidence.  It has been retracted, disavowed, or falsified in previous scientific studies. One study was so badly wrong they had to withdraw and state instead that “diagnostic substitution does not appear to account for the increased trend in autism prevalence“.

BROWN: “The definition of autism has changed over the years. …. By expanding the definition of autism, suddenly many more kids were declared autistic…”

Incorrect. …. autism diagnostic criteria were narrowed in 1994 ….. Despite this, the dramatic increase in numbers of children with both autism and non-autistic spectrum disorders has continued.

BROWN: “Unfortunately, many states don’t break out where kids are on the autism spectrum …. so it’s hard to get solid numbers.”

Incorrect. California’s autism numbers are provided by the Department of Developmental Services, based on DSM criteria. In order to be eligible …… a professional diagnosis is required. California data exclude those with Asperger’s … and all … non-autistic PDD diagnoses [16].

BROWN: “Better awareness, better and earlier diagnosis: More people ….are on the lookout for children with autism.”

Not in California. To reduce the number of new autism diagnoses, the state government in 2003 changed the eligibility criteria to exclude children who could tie their shoelaces. Despite this children with autism fail this ill-conceived test and continue to flood into the system in record numbers.

BROWN: “…. autism is on the rise. Why? Because …… Today, kids are diagnosed as early as 18 months of age. This adds many more kids to the rolls …

Wrong.  Earlier diagnosis has no impact on the number in a group born in any particular year.  Children will eventually be diagnosed.  By the age of 10, children with autism would be diagnosed whether they were born in 1980 or 1990.  California data show autism numbers were greater by a factor of over sevenfold in 2000 compared with 1989.

A new study dispels the myth that the rise isn’t real and indicates “research should shift from genetics to the host of chemicals and infectious microbes in the environment that are likely at the root of changes in the neurodevelopment of California’s children” “It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,” said UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of environmental and occupational health and epidemiology, and an internationally respected autism researcher.

BROWN: “recent legislation led to schools labeling more kids as autistic”

Brown is wrong. US law was amended in 1990 to require that autism be counted and reported separately because it was rising faster than all other covered disabilities. The change did not cause the epidemic; it was  because of it.

BROWN: “Unfortunately, there are very few incidence studies of autism.”

Wrong. Several incidence studies are available, and they show a rise.

BROWN: “Today …. parents are more willing to accept an ASD diagnosis. And the diagnosis now allows for special education services, which many parents realize can help their child.”

If the numbers have always been this high, where are all the autistic adults, whom some call the “Hidden Horde”.

BROWN: “These are possible explanations ….. but we don’t have all the answers yet. The bottom line: in the 1980’s, one in 10,000 kids were diagnosed with autism. Today, it’s one in 150. ”

In 2009 this “1 in 150” number is likely to be considerably higher. Brown bases her statement on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) …. from six years ago on eight-year-old children  ….. on February 7, 2007 the CDC promised to publish an update.  Two years later and this data has not yet been published or released.

In 1992 there were 15,580 affected children recorded in the US public education system. 14  years later there were 224,594 children.  The autism pandemic is real.

BROWN: “Okay, so what causes autism? ….. We know genetics plays a role. Studying twins is an obvious way to detect genetic disorders.

Wrong.  This 31 year old unscientific proposition has been shown here on ChildHealthSafety to be bunk – “Autism Not Genetic – Says Expert Professor Simon Baron Cohen“.

BROWN: “…. it appears that autism is caused by several different genetic defects, although researchers haven’t quite figured out the puzzle yet.”

Haven’t quite,” unfortunately means “nowhere near.” While specific genetic deficiencies associated with autism are well documented, such deficiencies are rare and cannot explain more than a very small proportion of ASD cases. The genetics of autism has been studied extensively, at huge cost, for precious little return.

BROWN: “Abnormal brain growth”

Wrong. Abnormal brain growth is not a cause of autism.  Brown herself wrote in 2004, “One interesting study…tied autism to abnormal head growth in infants under a year of age. While this is not the cause of autism

BROWN: environmental exposure

US Government officials, including Dr. Tom Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, and an emerging scientific consensus, agree that autism is caused by environmental triggers in children with undetermined genetic susceptibility.

There are known and widely accepted environmental causes of autism ranging from pre-birth exposure to thalidomide, the anti-seizure medication sodium valproate, and rubella virus (German measles)  Postnatal exposure to neurotoxins, and viral infections including rubella, measles and herpes viruses, cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus have been causally linked to autistic syndromes. Specifically, measles and measles-containing vaccines and vaccines “unspecified” have also been causally linked BY formal research to childhood developmental disorders, including ASD and developmental regression.

BROWN: “What about vaccines? the scientific evidence does not support this theory. Research during the past ten years has …. found conclusive evidence that vaccine exposure is NOT the turn-on switch for autism.”

Wrong.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) hosted a two-day conference in April, 2007, “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research”. The workshop discussed environmental causes, including vaccines, and suggested a list of related research opportunities.

And here on ChildHealthSafety you can read of US Federal Court cases where it was decided that vaccines, including MMR, caused autism.  In one case says it all.  The Judgement records that the US Department of Health and Human Services had no alternative explanation beyond “Unconfirmed  speculation by a few treating doctors, as with Dr. Wiznitzer’s hypothesization“:

See: AUTISM – US Court Decisions and Other Recent Developments – It’s Not Just MMR

Dr. Neal Halsey, one of the architects of US vaccine policy—now seemingly awake—when asked by parent advocates at a public meeting why they would even give a newborn infant with no risk factors a vaccine for a disease predominantly of intravenous drug abusers and the sexually promiscuous (hepatitis B), answered “Because we can”.

You can read the rest of the document yourself to see Brown’s claims thoroughly demolished.  One part of the remainder stands out in particular regarding vaccine safety:-

BROWN “Before a vaccine is approved for use by the government, its safety is extensively studied. These studies look at how kids respond to the vaccine. And so-called ‘combo’ vaccines that incorporate several shots at once also consider the combined effect.”

The Cochrane Collaboration, an internationally respected body that provides independent scientific oversight. wrote, “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre and postmarketing is largely inadequate“. But in an interview with Richard Halvorsen for his book The Truth about Vaccines, one of the lead authors of the Cochrane review left no doubt as to his true feelings when he said, The safety studies of MMR vaccine are crap. They’re the best crap we have but they’re still crap“.

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Dr Andrew Wakefield Demolishes Ignorant US Vaccine Lobby

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Notes on terminology:-

In the US the official diagnostic definition of what we call “Autism Spectrum Disorders” or ASD are  instead called “Pervasive Development Disorders” or PDD for short.  That is under the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn)” or “DSM IV” for short.

“Autistic Spectrum Disorder” is the term applied internationally under the “ICD” or “International Classification of Disease”

Many refer to ASD and PDD as “autism” but “autism” is a subset of the spectrum and is often referred to also as “childhood autism”, “typical autism” and “Kanner autism”.  [The common behaviours like hand flapping, loss of eye contact and suchlike in young children are unmistakable, whereas other spectrum disorders like mild Aspergers Syndrome can be more difficult to diagnose.]

Copyright ChildHealthSafety 2009 – The authors hereby assert their moral rights.  All rights reserved.