Saturday, June 07, 2014

Study: Natural Exposure to dust and germs provides immunity.

Newborns exposed to dirt, dander and germs may have lower allergy and asthma risk
Infants exposed to rodent and pet dander, roach allergens and a wide variety of household bacteria in the first year of life appear less likely to suffer from allergies, wheezing and asthma, according to results of a study conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and other institutes.

Previous research has shown that who grow up on farms have lower allergy and asthma rates, a phenomenon attributed to their regular exposure to microorganisms present in farm soil. Other studies, however, have found increased asthma risk among inner-city dwellers exposed to high levels of roach and mouse allergens and pollutants. The new study confirms that children who live in such homes do have higher overall allergy and asthma rates but adds a surprising twist: Those who encounter such substances before their first birthdays seem to benefit rather than suffer from them. Importantly, the protective effects of both allergen and bacterial exposure were not seen if a child's first encounter with these substances occurred after age 1, the research found.
A report on the study, published on June 6 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, reveals that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a by shaping children's immune responses—a finding that researchers say may help inform preventive strategies for allergies and wheezing, both precursors to asthma.
"Our study shows that the timing of initial exposure may be critical," says study author Robert Wood, M.D., chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "What this tells us is that not only are many of our immune responses shaped in the first year of life, but also that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way."
The study was conducted among 467 inner-city newborns from Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis whose health was tracked over three years. The investigators visited homes to measure the levels and types of allergens present in the ' surroundings and tested them for allergies and wheezing via periodic blood and skin-prick tests, physical exams and parental surveys. In addition, the researchers collected and analyzed the bacterial content of dust collected from the homes of 104 of the 467 infants in the study.
Infants who grew up in homes with mouse and cat dander and cockroach droppings in the first year of life had lower rates of wheezing at age 3, compared with children not exposed to these allergens soon after birth. The protective effect, moreover, was additive, the researchers found, with infants exposed to all three allergens having lower risk than those exposed to one, two or none of the allergens. Specifically, wheezing was three times as common among children who grew up without exposure to such allergens (51 percent), compared with children who spent their first year of life in houses where all three allergens were present (17 percent).
In addition, infants in homes with a greater variety of bacteria were less likely to develop environmental allergies and wheezing at age 3.
When researchers studied the effects of cumulative exposure to both bacteria and mouse, cockroach and cat allergens, they noticed another striking difference. Children free of wheezing and allergies at age 3 had grown up with the highest levels of household and were the most likely to live in houses with the richest array of bacterial species. Some 41 percent of allergy-free and -free children had grown up in such allergen and bacteria-rich homes. By contrast, only 8 percent of children who suffered from both allergy and wheezing had been exposed to these substances in their first year of life.
Asthma is one of the most common pediatric illnesses, affecting some 7 million children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By the time they turn 3, up to half of all children develop wheezing, which in many cases evolves into full-blown asthma.

Our Story of Beating Autism

A Complete Immunologic Meltdown – Our Story of Beating Autism

2013 meschuk family030
I am just a mom.
I am not a world-renowned Doctor and it doesn’t matter because our son was vaccine injured and I don’t need 8 years in medical school to prove it. Call it instinct, mother’s intuition or that gut-wrench feeling in the pit of my stomach; what matter’s most is that I knew the moment it happened.
I am a mom on a quest to share our story of tragedy, discovery and healing from Autism. One careless visit to the pediatricians office catapulted us into life-altering events for our family. Much is written about our healing progression on this blog except our story of injury and diagnosis, and friends that is the most critical part. There are millions of moms who are facing some facet of our journey each and every day feeling hopeless and with zero support from our “expert” medical community. I seek to change that by offering a glimpse into our struggles and triumphs recovering our son from that scary little word…Autism.
Mom’s carry an instinct that is more powerful than any Doctor or research study. Five years ago our son fell away into a deep, dark world after a round of 8 vaccines in one visit to “catch him up”. I don’t need a degree to understand causation; our boy literally changed overnight after his pediatrician forced those vaccines upon us. I was victim to the scheme of “if we don’t vaccinate then our child will become severely ill and die from a disease.” They promise that you will never face the hardship of an illness if you just inject a serum that is designed to trick the immune system. Never mind the fact that it is filled with highly questionable adjuvants. Ingredients that if any Doctor were to try and prescribe them singly, would be banned from medicine for life.
Can you imagine willingly injecting any of these ingredients alone? Aluminum, formaldehyde, mercury, DNA from foreign animals (non-human and aborted babies) and neurotoxins to name just a few. I guess five years ago I didn’t have the wherewithal to search the Google we all know and love, because if I did, you better believe I would have told that Doctor  to hit the road.
But YOU do. You have all the access you need to research and find the answers that make sense for your children.
It was in the days after his 15 month well-check that our little boy slipped away. Fevers (unexplained), major gut issues where he never had a formed stool, rashes all over parts of his body, ZERO language, hand flapping (that was NOT present before the 8 vaccines), no eye contact, socially inept, he was utterly and completely lost….His little body was on track for an epic meltdown from all the prior vaccine-adjuvants stored up in his system. That round of 8 broke him.
I wasn’t given the number for VAERS, or even a look of concern from our Doctor. No, instead “it’s completely un-related Ma’am, give him some Tylenol”. There was no screening for family history, past vaccine reactions or even asking me if I wanted to vaccinate. The nurse just came in with the needles, assumptions and all, as if it was a government mandated protocol.
A few weeks later, I had given birth to our second son, and in my crazy post-birth hormonal state had to deal with the reality of a diagnosis: Autism. It was like being hit with a ton of bricks and I literally suffocated. I cried uncontrollably every day and felt an enormous weight of guilt-then anger-sadness-then denial-then guilt again, and finally…determination.
It was game on in my book. I would get my child back.
What happened? My child had a complete immunologic meltdown and that spurred his brain and his gut into a state of Autism. I do not need evidence, research or some pharmaceutical-funded study to tell me vaccines don’t cause Autism. I witnessed it happen with my own eyes and that is all the evidence I will ever require. Vaccines do cause damage. The damage might be slight, moderate or severe, but damage will be done.
Momma’s, I’m speaking to you-an adverse reaction does not have to manifest in Autism. It can be allergies, rashes, eczema, auto-immune disorders, ADD, ADHD, OCD and behavioral challenges. It is our signal that the body is being stressed beyond it capabilities. There is a tipping point. The time has come. Our children are sick.
Is this what we want? Our children to become little drugged-up vaccinated robots with fake, synthetic immunity? I really do try and accept the stance of all those pro-vaxxers but unfortunately my simple-mindedness goes back to logic. Logic  dictates that nature will ALWAYS win over synthetic. Nature has this amazing ability to change and alter when threatened. I have never seen a synthetic drug or vaccine alter its state to stay “alive”. It is impossible. You can’t change the formula for a vaccine because it has a patent (enter “the love of money”). Instead more vaccines are made. Hey, that’s the answer right?
Notice I will not attach all kinds of research articles about how questionable vaccines are, because they are readily available to find. I am not here to convince you. I seek to share and start a thought process, not throw a bunch of statistics at you. If you want well-researched statistics please visit these amazing sites: LivingWhole, Age of Autism and The Thinking Mom’s Revolution.
We now make family decisions by using the good ‘ol brains that God gave us. Contrary to what the media and plethora of pro-vaxx sites will tell you, a person who decides NOT to vaccinate is pretty darn smart. We actually put in more time and research to land where we are than your average Joe. So, here is what I have come to know:
We are NOT to play the hand of God. Our bodies are perfectly designed with extreme care and intelligence. And that can never be replicated in a laboratory. Just look back thru history when man takes control over nature, it never works, yet our society presses on with complete arrogance thumbing our nose at God’s design.
The medical concept of health is virtually unrecognizable in today’s media from what it once was. Gone is the belief that our bodies are self-regulating organisms capable of amazing feats of healing, instead we get to hear the voice of organizations and companies who would have you believe the reason you get sick is primarily due to lack of their pharmaceuticals filling your body.
Is this Logic? 49 doses of 16 vaccines before the age of six.
No, it is just plain medical malpractice and dangerous, but let’s go ahead and add more to that schedule for our babies, because it sounds totally safe right?
Our family now comprehends naturally acquired immunity, which stands far away from vaccines. We rely on our bodies ability to self-correct with awesome intelligence and we use amazingly strong natural medicine that is always a step ahead of those nasty germs. We went from visiting a neurologist, ENT, pediatricians, emergency rooms, oncologists, you name it we were in an office figuring out this puzzle 4 times a month. Zero progress was made and no answers were given by our medical community. My son kept getting sicker. He made small, incremental gains in therapy, but his body was sick and that was the root of his Autism.
Fast-forward to present day and after 5 crazy-long years of recovery, we have not used a single pharmaceutical or OTC in over three years. Our children’s immune systems are getting stronger, and each day we seek natural choices, steer clear of synthetic immune altering substances, and pleasantly ask for those vaccine exemption forms with a smile.
How did we heal Autism? 
First, we treated it as an immune deficiency and took aim at the gut first. As the gut healed so did the brain. It took time, lots of time. Critical points of improvement happened with changing the diet (GAPS), homeopathic detox of each and every metal/vaccine stored up in his body, which we literally saw coming out one at a time. Camel milk, EO’s, and therapists that worked with him in the real world, not by the book of ABA guidelines.
It was nothing short of amazing to watch his progression over the years and I often sit in amazement and shock as I see my little social, happy guy thriving in school. It wasn’t easy, and the whole road was against the grain. We met resistance from family, friends and the medical community. But Autism didn’t win us, we won it!
Press on, research and follow your instinct. The tide is turning, the media cannot hide it any longer and the truth will come out.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Study: Vaccines and Over Stimulation of the Immune System

Children Receive 80 Vaccinations Throughout Childhood – New Study Links Vaccine Induced Overload To Autism


immune system
A new vaccine study published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular and Genetic Medicine is bringing more awareness to the connection between the dramatic increase in the quantity of routine childhood vaccines and the correlating increase in inflammation-associated disorders. (1)
“A massive increase in immunization has occurred. In the United States for example since just 1999 children are scheduled to routinely receive over 80 additional vaccines over their childhood. The increase in immunization has been followed by a huge increase in inflammation associated disorders like autism.”  (1)
Think about that for a minute, children are scheduled to routinely receive 80 additional vaccines over the course of their childhood. Forget about autism for a moment, there are a number of studies that show vaccines are not completely safe. Here is a video of one doctor explaining why there has never been a safe vaccine, and why there will never be a safe vaccine. 
The study argues that vaccine-induced immune overload is a driving factor in multiple childhood epidemics that continue to accelerate. Not only autism, but type 1 diabetes, asthma, food allergies, many autoimmune diseases, obesity, type 2  diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL) and metabolic disease.
“One major problem with vaccines is the concept of one size fits all. Package inserts of almost all vaccines recommend a dose based on age. In order for a vaccine to be a commercial success it is expected to induce a protective immune response in well over 90% of children. In order for this to happen, a dose, based on age, must stimulate a protective immune response in those with the weakest immune system. In the process of doing this, the other 90% or more of children have their immune system over stimulated. The process of over stimulating the immune system time and time again increases the risk of inflammatory diseases like autoimmune disease, and allergies which cause even more inflammation.”   (1)
A number of studies have linked autism to autoimmune diseases (source).
The proposed link to autism in this study comes from one that the lead author referenced in a study he published last year titled “Prevalence of Autism is Positively Associated with the Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes, but Negatively Associated with the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes, Implication for the Etiology of the Autism Epidemic Molecular and Genetic Medicine.” In this study he describes research that links the prevalence of type 1 diabetes with autism, which suggests that their aetiologies are related and the role vaccines have in these diseases. (Reference # 33 from reference (1) of this article)

Other Studies Suggesting A Vaccine Autism Link

There are so many people out there who instantly say no, vaccines have no connection to autism, yet researchers from all around the world in published peer reviewed journals continue to question and consider it. Just because (apparently) a direct link has not been discovered does not mean it doesn’t exist, and given all of the information in all of these studies, it’s ridiculous to completely rule it out and say no.
Before we get into the peer reviewed published information, it’s important to look at some independent research as well. Just because they are not published in a peer reviewed  journal does not mean that they should be ignored. For example, Dr. Theresa Deisher, a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from Stanford University, the first person to discover adult cardiac derived stem cells, determined that residual human fetal DNA fragments in vaccines can be one of the causes of autism in children through vaccination. (8) You can learn more about her and her background here.  This is why in depended research that’s not sponsored by the vaccine manufacturers themselves is so important to look at. This is one example of many.
A  recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Translational Neurodegeneration provided epidemiological evidence supporting an association between increasing organic -Hg exposure from Thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines and the risk of an ASD diagnosis.(2)
As most of you know Thimerosal is toxic, and a number of studies have linked autism to a variety of toxins like prescription drugs, environmental pesticides and more. This information also comes from another new study that was published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, from researchers at the University of Chicago  who revealed that autism and intellectual disability (ID) rates are linked with exposure to harmful environmental factors during congenital development. (3) You can read more about this here.
Multiple researchers that are published in peer-reviewed journals are constantly bringing up a potential link between autism and vaccines, and new studies at that. Another example is a paper published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health titled “Thimerosal Exposure and the Role of Sulfation Chemistry and Thiol Availability in Autism” which concluded:
“With the rate of children diagnosed with an ASD in the US now exceeding 1 in 50 children and the rate of children with neurodevelopment/behavioral disorders in the US now exceeding 1 in 6 children, and the preceding evidence showing that there is vulnerability to ™ that would not be known without extensive testing, the preponderance of the evidence indicates that ™ should be removed from all vaccines” (4)
To view papers regarding the toxicity of thimerosal, click HERE.
A study published in the Journal Annals of Epidemiology has shown that giving the Hepatitis B vaccine to newborn baby boys could triple the risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder compared to boys who were not vaccinated as neonates. The  research was conducted at Stony Brook University Medical Centre, NY.
A study published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry by researchers at the Neural Dynamics Group, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia determined that Aluminum, a highly neurotoxic metal and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant may be a significant contributing factor to the rising prevalence of ASD in the Western World.  They showed that the correlation between ASD prevalence and the Aluminum adjuvant exposure appears to be the highest at 3-4 months of age. The studies also show that children from countries with the highest ASD appear to have a much higher exposure to Aluminum from vaccines. The study points out that several prominent milestones of brain development coincide with major vaccination periods for infants. These include the onset of synaptogenesis (birth), maximal growth velocity of the hippocampus and the onset of amygdala maturation. Furthermore, major developmental transitions in many bio-behavioural symptoms such as sleep, temperature regulation, respiration and brainwave patterns, all of which are regulated by the neuroendocrine network. Many of these aspects of brain function are known to be impaired in autism, such as sleeping and brainwave patterns.
According to the FDA, vaccines represent a special category of drugs as they are generally given to healthy individuals. Further according to the FDA, “this places significant emphasis on their vaccine safety.” While the FDA does set an upper limit for Aluminum in vaccines at no more that 850/mg/dose, it is important to note that this amount was selected empirically from data showing that Aluminum in such amounts enhanced the antigenicity of the vaccine, rather than from existing safety. Given that the scientific evidence appears to indicate that vaccine safety is not as firmly established as often believed, it would seem ill advised to exclude paediatric vaccinations as a possible cause of adverse long-term neurodevelopment outcomes, including those associated with autism.
A study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues by the Department of Economics and Finance at the University of New York shows how researchers suspect one or more environmental triggers are needed to develop autism, regardless of whether individuals have a genetic predisposition or not. They determined that one of those triggers might be the “battery of vaccinations that young children receive.” Researchers found a positive and statistically significant relationship between autism and vaccinations. They determined that the higher the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations, the higher the prevalence of autism. A 1% increase in vaccination was associated with an additional 680 children having autism. The results suggest that vaccines may be linked to autism and encourages more in-depth study before continually administering these vaccines.
View more studies here

Controversy and Fraud Surrounding Vaccinations

The lead researcher in a paper mentioned above, Dr. Brian Hooker recently obtained documents that show data on over 400,000 infants born between 1991 and 1997 which was analyzed by the CDC. These documents, according to Hooker, prove that in the year 2000 CDC officials were informed internally of the very high risk of autism, non organic sleep disorder and speech disorder as a result of thimerosal exposure. You can read more about that here.
A congressional record from May 1, 2003 clearly shows information from the CDC’s own Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) that there is a very high risk of autism as a result of thimerosal containing vaccines. This congressional record is public, and despite this and Hookers research, the CDC still continues to maintain that there is no relationship.(6)
Hooker also obtained an abstract that reads “increased risk of developmental neurologic impairment after high exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines in the first month of life.” (7)
Another fishy finding with regards to vaccinations (as I’ve mentioned many times before) comes from Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD from the Dept. of Opthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia. She obtained documents that prove health authorities, pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufactures have known about the dangers associated with multiple vaccines, but withheld them from public knowledge in order to maintain “herd immunity.” (5)
As you can see, the vaccine autism link is speculated at the highest level of science, not just by those deemed as “conspiracy theorists.” There is evidence to back up the concern. I think it’s also noteworthy to mention that Congressman Bill Posey recently called out the CDC, expressing that they should be investigated.  You can read more about that here.
Even an FDA document brings up the concern with regards to Autism and vaccines, you can read more about that here.
I’d like to end this article with a video done by the The Canary Party, it goes more into the political side of things when it comes to vaccine related injuries.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Australian "Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism" Study Debunked

A new study based out of Australia supervised by epidemiologist Guy Eslick, and primarily conduced by two researchers Taylor, and Swerdfeger (excluded credentials) is now circulating the Internet.  Let us review the details...


Taylor, L., Swerdfeger, A., Eslick, G. (2014). Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine. Retrieved from

Corresponding author: (G.D. Eslick).

Inclusion Criteria

The inclusion criteria was extremely narrow and contradicts the study’s title “Vaccines”, which by presumption include thefull compliment of the 71 doses of vaccine prior to 18 years of age in the United States (CDC, 2014).  The study only looked at thimerosal containing, and MMR vaccines, which excluded; rotavirus, haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB), pneumococcal, poliovirus, partial influenza doses, varicella, hepatitis A, human papillomavirus (HPV), and parital meningococcal.  The old studies did include some of the Hepatitis B, and DTP, which included cumulative Hg dosage, and the MMR, however left out the subsequent nine vaccines.  Further, these vaccines are only recommended among the pediatric population in the United States, additional vaccines are recommended among the broader adult, and immigrant populations.  ASD diagnosis had to be included in the research study in correlation with the MMR vaccine and cumulative mercury (Hg) dosage.  This study repeatedly speaks of "cumulative mercury dosage", meaning that there was not a comparison between vaccinated verses unvaccinated.  They simply studied individuals that had some mercury compared with other groups that had more.  For example, smoking a few cigarettes a day, compared to those that smoke a pack a day shows no correlation to lung cancer, therefore smoking is safe.  This was their inclusion criteria in a nutshell...

Exclusion Criteria

The exclusion criteria was broad.  Studies that focused on the other nine vaccines were removed from the review.  Many of these studies have been directly linked with autism like HIB, but were purposefully excluded  (Richmand BJ., 2011).  All data collected from VAERS was also excluded, however the supervising contributor Guy Eslick in a contradiction encouraged parents to report adverse events in this study even though he discounts those reports. 


929 studies were primarily selected from four data banks; Medline, PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar.  Only 5 made the inclusion criteria; Andrews, Hviid, Madsen, Uchiyama, and Verstraeten.  The authors claim that all of the studies prove vaccines (MMR, & thimerosal) do not cause autism.  Two studies focused on the MMR vaccine, two on cumulative Hg dosage, and one study looked at two data sets of Hg exposure. 


After viewing the p-value results I immediately know that the researchers must have set the “level of statistical significance” or alpha higher than 0.05 (Burns, B., Grove, S., pg. 377).  I would have preferred all the p-values to be < 0.01 especially when consenting to a medical procedure (vaccination) due to the known risks involved (autism).  Decreasing alpha to 0.01 will decrease Type I errors and increase Type II errors.  A Type I error states; “something is significant when it is not” (Burns, B., Grove, S., pg. 377).  Inversely a Type II error would say that something was not significant when it was, so it would err on the side of caution especially when using pharmaceuticals as your independent variable.  So in these articles that would translate as a Type I error showing that vaccinations were statistically significant in not being causal in autism when in fact they were. 


The authors admit that two of the Denmark studies capture the same data cohort, creating sampling duplication.  Further, they also state the Uchiyama and Madsen study are biased.  Closer observations of four studies are discussed below.  The authors not only focused their meta-analysis on only one vaccine and one ingredient, they also did not include any studies looking at outcomes from vaccinated verses unvaccinated populations. 

Interesting Notes

Researchers Mention:
  1. Vaccine Induced Herd Immunity - Vaccine induced immunity wanes, which is well understood in the scientific literature.  Natural immunity is life-long and it is under this basis that the theory of herd immunity exists.  Peer-review also shows that boosters are shorter lasting then initial injections so if the MMR only last 2 to 10 years (if at all) then the booster would last much less.  Patients who are 50 should have at least 4 to 6 injections of the MMR to be considered immune.  There are very few in this population (baby boomers) that are compliant with the CDC’s requirements.  This subpopulation makes up 50% or more of the U.S. population and yet there is not a measles epidemic in the United States as promised by vaccine promoters.  Vaccine derived herd immunity has not persisted in the United States for at least 40 years, and we have not seen a resurgent of massive infectious disease epidemics.  Vaccine induced herd immunity is used by public-health officials and providers to frighten those to adhere to a vaccine policy that is not even grounded in the belief system they propagate.  This proves that there is no justification in forced vaccination.  In a recent outbreak the issue of measles spreading to adults with no immunity is discussed.  The population that they presume is the least immune to measles are those born between 1970 and 1985 (Frketich, 2013).  This is blamed on the “youngish adults” not having had the natural infection and not being vaccine compliant.  So here again we find the level of presumed “herd immunity” well below the needed rate to prevent massive disease outbreaks and yet the disease is relatively non existent.
  2. MMR Vaccine Benefit Outweighs Risk - They ignored data, which states; Vaccine induced autism risk (0.6%) calculated against the risk of natural measles mortality (0.1-0.3%), which demonstrates undue risk through the overuse of vaccines (Ewing, G., 2009).
  3. Cochrane Review Claims No Link Between MMR And Autism - It appears the authors did not weight the interpretation by the quality of the evidence Cochrane presented instead they simply quoted anything that supported their theory.  Cochrane's conslusions were; "The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate.  The evidence of adverse events following immunisation with the MMR vaccine cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases" (Demicheli et al., 2012).  This is a far cry from a simplistic definitive statement that there is no link between vaccine/autism causation. 
  4. Verstraeten Study - The authors claim that the Verstraeten study shows no correlation between vaccines and autism, but Verstraeten himself disagrees with their conclusion.  In a letter to the journal of Pediatrics Dr. Vestraeten expresses concerns that his study is being used to prove no correlation between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental delays."Surprisingly, however, the study is being interpreted now as negative [where ‘negative’ implies no association was shown] by many…. The article does not state that we found evidence against an association, as a negative study would. It does state, on the contrary, that additional study is recommended, which is the conclusion to which a neutral study must come… A neutral study carries a very distinct message: the investigators could neither confirm nor exclude an association, and therefore more study is required" (Verstraeten, T., 2004).


This is a failed attempt in gaining public confidence in vaccine policy.  The authors used flawed data to create a perception of safety, which is not only dishonest, but dangerous.

Guest Spot: Valerie Foley

Valerie Foley, the writer for "Information about autism" also wrote a piece relating to this article, which I find enlightening!  She discusses the background of the researchers that I think all of us will enjoy to note as well as some aspects of what I touched upon.  Enjoy!

Foley, V. (2014). Surely we can do this better. Information about autism. retrieved from

Independent Study Critiques of Individual Articles Included In This Meta-Analysis

Andrews Study Critiques

Andrews et al. (2004). Thimerosal exporure in infants and developmental disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United kingdom does not support a causal association. Pediatrics. Retrieved from
What Other Scientists Have Said
  • Mercury is Not Protective - Many observers felt that the "protective effect" of organic mercury exposure found in young children was biological implausible.  According to this study, higher thimerosal exposure at 4 months of age reduced the risk of ADD and unspecified developmental delay by at least 20 percent compared to children with lower exposures.  There is no biological evidence to suggest that a known neurotoxin like ethylmercury can be beneficial to neurodevelopment
  • A Deceptive Study Design - When researchers try to determine if there is a cause-and- effect relationship between two different things - in this case thimerosal exposure and autism outcomes - they make their calculations using something called a "regression analysis," which, in its simplest form, most people know of a a "curve."  A simple regression analysis has two variables,  In this case, thimerosal (the potential causative agent) would be the "independent variable," and autism ( the potential effect of the agent) would be the "dependent variable."  It is important to note as well that this is not an analysis of exposure or not, but only the timing of vaccination.  All of the children in this study were exposed to thimerosal.

    But in Andrews et al., the authors used a model that was a bit more complicated, something called a "multiple regression analysis," which had one dependent variable (autism), and multiple independent variables, including two independent variables (thimerosal exposure levels, and year of birth) that were "correlated" with each other, since thimerosal exposures went up with time.  This creates a well-known problem in regression known as "multicollinearity."  It is illogical to include both variables unless you believe the increases over time are only due to improved awareness.  If there is no logic to including a variable in a regression model, it simply doesn't belong there.  In this case, since the time variable and the vaccine exposure variable are correlated, they actually complete to explain the outcome effect.  Inclusion of the time variable reduces the significance of the exposure variable.  yet the authors never explained why they included a time variable that correlates wnad competes with the exposure variable.  Instead, the Andrews model assumes implicitly that increased autism rates are do to time trends alone.
  • Lack Of Transparency - the authors have repeatedly declined to make their data available to others for independent verification, and they fail to state why they chose such an erroneous method that would produce multicollineraity.  
  • Potential Conflicts of Interest - Some of the authors have ties to vaccine manufactures and/or the national immunization program of the United Kingdom.  For example, Elizabeth Miller, FRCPath, was the architect of the UK vaccine program and has testified in court in defense of drug companies in vaccine injury lawsuits.
  • Results Not Applicable to U.S. -  Were infant exposures to mercury from vaccines was considerably higher
What The Authors Said
The authors acknowledged several limitations in their study:
  • The outcomes measured occurred "at a relatively young age" and were "more likely to be affected by confounding factors that are also associated with delayed or incomplete vaccination."
  • Another limitation was the "inability to adjust for many potential confounding factors, such as unrecorded medical conditions and socioeconomic factors."
  • "If the increased risk in the US study were attributable only to the additional thimerosal exposure after 4 months of age, then it is possible that our study may not have been able to detect the risks found in the US study."
  • Validation exercises found that 20% of the diagnoses were invalid or questionable.  "This lack of specificity is a limitation of the study because it biases against findings an association."
  • As for the risk of minor transient tics, "the possibility of a true effect cannot be ruled out," although it was more plausible that the association "is a chance effect or the result of confounding."
What The IOM Said
  • The IOM panel noted the differences in mercury exposure rates in the US and UK vaccines scheduled.  "With the (UK's) 2-3-4 month schedule, children could have recieved a maximum of 50 mcg of mercury at 3 months of age and 75 mcg of mercury at 4 and 6 months of age.  This amount is less then the maximum amount recieved by US children.  US children could have recieved 75 mcg of mercury after 3 months, 125 mcg after 4 months, and 187.5 mcg after 6 months.
What Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PhD, MPH, Chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, said:
  • Andrews et al. (2004) examined a specific hypothesis, namely, that autism risk would be increased from early administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines, based on the number of vaccines recieved prior to 3 months, prior to 4 months, and the timing and number of vaccines prior to 6 months of age.  The unexplained oddity that three of the nine categories of developmental disorders (general developmental disorders, attention deficit disorders, and unspecified developmental delay) were significantly reduced in those with early vaccines would suggest the possibility that confounding (acknowledged by the authors as a problem) could have resulted in a "healthy vaccinee" effect.  In other words, the healthiest babies would be those who were vaccinated at the earliest times.
  • This study used a statistical sleight of hand to make any association disappear.  The authors included a time variable that competes with the exposure variable.  Such a model assumes a priori that increased autism rates are due to time trends alone.  This study also suffered from some of the most serious undisclsed conflicts of interest among all the thimerosal ASD epidemiological investigations.
Source Credit:  This careful review was conducted by multiple scientists and medical doctors.

Hviid Study Critiques

Haviid et al. (2003). Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism. Journal of the American Medical Association. Retrieved from
What Other Scientists Have Said
  • Mercury Cannot Be “Protective” - The data in this study show that mercury is beneficial to infant children. Those in the thimerosal group had a relative risk of 0.85 for autism, compared with the mercury free group, suggesting a substantial (though not significant) protective effect for thimerosal. This finding is suspicious, and runs counter to all knowledge, science and common sense. More to the point, the outcome suggests the presence of unexamined or unreported bias in the study design and data management that suggest the researchers were prejudiced in a way that makes them unreliable investigators.
  • Older Children’s Records Missing - SafeMinds identified a flaw that could well have produced a significant loss of autism case records from the Danish register, rendering the Hviid et al. findings invalid. ―The registry allows 10-25% of diagnosed autism cases to be lost from its records each year,‖ the group wrote in a letter to JAMA.55 ―The effect of this loss is such that the records will disappear from older age groups to a much greater degree than from younger age groups in any given registry year. Older children were underrepresented in the cohort, even though they were the ones who received thimerosal- containing vaccines before 1992.
  • Reanalysis Finds More Autism in Exposed Children – In the same letter to JAMA, SafeMinds reanalyzed the Denmark data using an alternative method to avoid the ―record removal bias. Instead, they looked at same-age children – 5-to-9 year olds - but from two different registry years: 1992, when all of the children received thimerosal- containing pertussis vaccines; and 2002, when none of the children received thimerosal.  ―After adjusting for the lack of outpatient records in the 1992 registry, the analysis found a 2.3 times higher number of autism cases among the 1992 thimerosal-exposed group relative to the 2002 non-exposed group,‖ SafeMinds said.
  • No Tracking of Birth Cohorts - The researchers failed to classify autism cases by birth year. There is often a gap between the number of children diagnosed with autism from any given birth cohort and the number of autism cases reported in any given calendar year. Analyzing the data according to birth cohort would have painted a far more accurate picture, because it would have reduced or eliminated the gap between diagnoses of ASD and reporting of cases.
  • Undisclosed Conflict of Interest - ―In the Hviid study in JAMA we can clearly see how the data was misinterpreted so a conclusion could be drawn to clear thimerosal from any role in autism, a SafeMinds statement said. ―This misinterpretation is not surprising, given the authors‘ employment at Statens Serum Institut, a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed. 
What The Authors Said
The authors acknowledged several limitations in their study:
  • The authorswrote that a possible weakness of their paper was that the date of diagnosisused as the incidence date may differ significantly from the onset ofsymptoms date. Diagnosis autism is often a lengthy process, they wrote, and this is reflected in the mean ages of diagnoses in this study (4.7 years for autism and 6.0 years for other autistic-spectrum disorders).  Such a limitation, however, is more likely to be a problem in an incidencestudy than in a risk factor study.
What The IOM Said
  • Although the committee considered the study as having strong internal validity it also identified various limitations, including its time series design, (as pointed out by SafeMinds), and the generalizability of the study‘s findings to the U.S. situation, especially with regard to the different dosing schedule used in Denmark and the relative genetic homogeneity of the Danish population.
  • This study was marked bymissing records, afailure to track birth cohorts, and undisclosed conflicts of interest. Reanalysis of the data actually showed an increased risk ofASD following thimerosal exposure. It also concluded that mercury had a protective effect on the neurodevelopment of children, which flies in the face of all logic and all previous studies of mercury and children.
Source Credit:  This careful review was conducted by multiple scientists and medical doctors.

Madsen Study Critique

Madsen et al. (2002). A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved from
What Other Scientists Have Said
  • Walter Spitzer, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, McGill University et al., in a letter published in the March, 2003 issue of the NEJM, noted that there were still some methodological problems outstanding with regard to the Danish study.  Spitzer charged that researchers did a clinical record review of just 40 cases (13%), which he claimed was inadequate, especially if the purpose was only to validate an existing diagnosis. Spitzer claimed that …without a multidisciplinary review of original lifetime records as well as double verification in a large descriptive single cohort, important errors would have been unavoidable, both in classification and numbers for the numerators. Spitzer et al. also raised the question of whether pediatric clinical psychologists, pediatric neurologists and speech therapists were involved in the review and whether the reviewers were blind as to exposure status.

    Though the power of the published study was high, it was misleading, Spitzer et al. claimed. In elaborating this point Spitzer et al. explained that if, for example, one assumed a vulnerability to MMR-induced disease in 10% of the regressive ASD cases, with 95% of this group being vaccinated, and if 80% of the non-regressive ASD cases were also assumed to be vaccinated, then the odds ratio for MMR as a risk factor for regressive autism would be 4.17.  However, if children with autism, regardless of sub-types, were combined and compared against non-affected controls, the odds ratio would plummet to just 0.97. Thus a small non-statistically significant reduction in uptake of MMR in the 90% of non-regressive autistic children would mask a strong causal association in a small subgroup,‖ Spitzer et al. Whilst the sub-group might be small, they claim, …conservatively the 10% would represent 50,000 children in the U.S. alone with a financial burden of disease to parents and government of at least $1.25 billion per year.
  • Goldman and Yazbak, in a letter published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, pointed out the substantial under representation of autism diagnoses and vaccination status for children born in the later study years.5‖ Children with ASD in Denmark are diagnosed at about 5 years old; many were simply too young to receive an ASD diagnosis by the end of the study period. This would apply to all children under the age of 36 months and, in a practical sense, to many of the 3-5 year olds. Among children born in 1997 and 1998, who made up a substantial proportion (39%) of the total years of observation time, many had yet to even receive an MMR vaccine all.

    In fact, ASD prevalence among children aged 5-9 years increased from a mean of 8.38/100,000 in the pre-licensure era (1980-1986) to 71.43/100,000 in 2000, making the adjusted prevalence rate-ratio 4.7 for the post-licensure period compared with the pre- licensure period. This suggested a temporal association between the introduction of MMR vaccination in Denmark and an almost five-fold increase in autism cases.
What Cochrane Said
  • Follow up on medical records terminated just one year after thelast day of admission to the cohort.Because ofthe length of time from birth to diagnosis, the Cochrane reviewers felt it became‘… increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohortcould have a diagnosis.
  • The study was judged to have a moderate probability of bias.
  • Interpretation of the study was made difficult by the unequal length of follow up for younger cohort members and the use of date of diagnosis rather than onset of symptoms for autism.
  • The study failed to report complete vaccine identification information, including lot numbers, adjuvants, preservatives, strains, product and manufacturer.
  • There was inadequate description of exposures, such as vaccine content and schedules.
  • The study suffered from clearly missing unintended-event data‖ and many participants were missing for adverse event monitoring. Adverse event data were missing in up to 1- in-5 participants (20%). 
  • The study failed to provide descriptions of all outcomes monitored
  • Madsen et al. argue no effect of MMR vaccination on autism in Danish children and even suggest there might bea protective effect to MMR exposure. Unfortunately, their study is plagued with questionable methodological choices, unexplained data anomalies and biased adjustments. In any study that asks a fundamental question about relativeproportions of exposure in affected vs. unaffected groups, accurate definitions and classifications of (a) exposure and (b) affected status are crucial to the validity of any conclusions drawn from the data. Numerous criticisms of Madsen et al. highlight a source of error in one or another of these classifications. Methodology questions aside, more straightforward approaches to the population data they report suggest an increased risk of autism in Danish children based on MMR exposure, especially when adoptinga case- based approach rather than relying on person-years. A simple comparison of autism rates by birth year shows a clear increase in autism rates after the introduction of MMR in Denmark. These analyses demonstrate that frequent references made based on Madsen et al. regarding the safety of MMR are incorrect.
Source Credit:  This careful review was conducted by multiple scientists and medical doctors.

Verstraeten Study Critique

Verstraeten et al. (2003). Safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines: a two-phased study of computerized health maintenance organization databases. Pediatrics. Retrieved from

Study was revised five times prior to publication.

What Other Scientists Have Said
How did the relative risk for autism tumble from 11.35 to null? The four-year, five- generation analysis has been examined closely by many critics, both inside the autismcommunity and amongrespected scientists, physicians and members of Congress.The many methodological flaws they haveidentified include:

  • Inclusion of Young Children - Researchers included young children, from 0-3 years old, even though the average age of an autism diagnosis was 4.4 years. A diagnosis in the first years of life was rare, so including these children would tend to drive down the overall relative risk. Because they were not yet diagnosed, all of them would have been misclassified under the normal group. But the CDC assumed that autism is diagnosed as frequently in 1-year-olds as five-year-olds.
  • No Autism DiagnosesAmong Youngest Children- Among the youngest children, who made up 40% percent of all kids in the study, not a single case of autism was reported, which means that 40% of the sample was misclassified.
  • Underreporting of Autism Cases - The researchers identified relatively few kids with autism compared to what one would expect to find in the general population. In California at the time, the autism rate (excluding PDD and Aspergers) was around 50-100 per 10,000 children. But the average rate at the two California HMOs was just 11.5 per 10,000. Had they missed, or somehow eliminated four out of five cases? What else could explain this dramatic under-ascertainment? This under count clearly also means that these cases were misclassified.
  • Exclusion of ASD cases other than “autism” - The researchers did not look for outcomes like PDD-NOS and Asperger‘s Syndromes, even though they are autism spectrum disorders. This meant that higher functioning children were not included in the risk ratios.
  • Stratification of Data – The authors not only separated HMO A and B to find that data from the smaller HMO alone lost statistical power, they even broke up the larger HMO into subgroups comprised of individual clinics in the network. This stratification helped eliminate any consistent statistically significant risk of ADHD or speech disorders that were found within the larger HMO as a whole. Smaller population subgroups have less statistical power, and increase the possibility that statistical significance will not be attained.
  • Elimination of the combined “NDD” Outcome - By breaking this generalized umbrella outcome into individual categories like ADHD, speech delay and tics, the relative risks and statistical significance of most outcomes were reduced or eliminated. Again, the smaller the stratified subgroup, the greater the chance of reducing statistical power and thus statistical significance.
  • Elimination of cases diagnosed outside theHMOs The authors chose to include only those cases confirmed by a behavioral specialist. But if that specialist was outside the HMO, the diagnosiswas not counted. This provided the opportunity to cherry pick cases out of the original data set. Among the ADD/ADHD cases, 60% were eliminated because they were not madeby an in-network specialist. For speech and language delay, 50% were excluded and forautism, 20% were eliminated.
  • Higher risk with increased vaccination - Generally speaking, among thethree HMOs studied, the higher the vaccination rate, the greater the risk of adverse outcomes. During the third generation of analysis, for example, HMO C had the highest full vaccination rate, at 65%, and also thehighest speech delay rate. Meanwhile, at HMO A, the fully vaccinated rate was 60%, or four times greater than compliance at HMO B (15%), while the rate of all NDDs at HMO A was 5.7%, four times greater than the 1.3% rate found at HMOB.
  • Problems at Harvard Pilgrim - There were questionable record keeping practices at Harvard Pilgrim (HMO C), and Massachusetts had been forced to take over after it declared bankruptcy. Even worse, the HMO used different diagnostic codes than the other two HMOs in Phase I. It wasn‘t surprising that the Harvard Pilgrim data was inconsistent. Also, the study population at Harvard Pilgrim was significantly smaller (15,000 kids). The smaller the population studied, the greater the margin of error, which lowers the study‘s ―statistical power‖ and weakens the signal for outcomes.
  • Undeclared conflict of interest. After Verstraeten began work at GlaxoSmithKline, the data, sampling and methodology of the study were altered, so that results would point to enough inconsistencies to cast doubt that mercury in vaccines causes autism, critics alleged. Verstraeten had not been named as a GSK employee in the study and was misidentified as an employee of the CDC. It must be noted that GSK made thimerosal- containing vaccines included in the study, such as Hepatitis B and DTaP vaccines.
  • Unavailability of data - ―The current practice of restricting access to the database to a limited group of possibly biased individuals is not acceptable, SafeMinds declared. Their statement added that the Pediatrics report ―cannot be accepted as final.‖ CDC rules had made the approval process long and arduous. Those who did gain access (the Geiers) could only ―utilize a limited portion of the VSD data set, and their examination of the data is subject to constant monitoring by CDC staff.
What The Media Said
  • AssociatedPress Co-author Frank DeStefano acknowledged that the early results suggested stronger links with some disorders, though not autism, but denied that there had been pressure or a cover-up. He said the final data reflect a more thorough recent analysis. Verstraeten, who left theCDC in July 2001, did not respond to an email request seeking a response, and company spokeswoman Nancy Pekarek said he did not wish to discuss the results, but provideda statement in whichVerstraeten said that since leaving the CDC he was only an adviser as the study was finalized and prepared for publication.‘
What The CDC Said
  • CDC spokesman Von Roebucktold Insight on the News magazine that, We pretty much looked into that [the manipulation of data] in the sense of how theinformation was presented, and we do stand behind it.  As for Verstraeten‘s undisclosed employment at vaccinemaker GSK, he said. The one thing that we wouldwant to happen differently is that would have been known before. But the work that Dr. Verstraeten did was for the CDC at the time the work was produced the work that he did for the study was done when heworked for the CDC."
What Vaccine Experts Said
Dr. Neal Halsey, the national vaccine expert, along with colleagues Daniel A. Salmon and Lawrence H. Moulton, published a letter in thejournal Pediatrics calling for further analysis of the data which included the following critiques:

  • Changing Criteria - By eliminating the combined umbrella outcome of NDDs, and dividing it into separate diagnoses, the authors may have substantially reduced the power to find important relationships, Halsey et al. said, adding that the later entry criteria appear to have been more lax than in a previousversion.
  • Excluding Diagnoses -The requirement that diagnoses be made by an in-network specialist was also questioned.  Were diagnoses that were not made by a specialist excluded from analyses?they asked,noting that primary care doctors are quite capable of diagnosing ADD without input from a sub-specialist.
  • Unequal Population Sizes – Halsey et al. also criticized the comparing of data from a large HMO with two much smaller ones.
What Verstraeten Said

In a letter published in the April, 2004 issue of Pediatrics, Verstraeten wrote that, while his team had found a positive association between thimerosal and certain outcomes in Phase I, these findings could not be replicated in the second phase.60

But this in no way disproved an association (at least for NDDs other than autism), he insisted in a declaration that is seldom, if ever quoted today. ―The perception of the study changed from a positive to a neutral study,‖ he said. ―Surprisingly, however, the study is being interpreted now as negative by many, including the anti-vaccine lobbyists. The article does not state that we found evidence against an association, as a negative study would. It does state, on the contrary, that additional study is recommended, which is the conclusion to which a neutral study must come.‖

Did the CDC water down the original results?‖ Verstraeten asked, and then answered: ―It did not.‖ Despite the fact that vaccine safety activists were charging that a ―positive‖ study had been manipulated into a ―negative‖ one, the study results were neutral; they proved nothing for either side of the debate. Presumably, the point he was making is that a deliberately manipulated study would have yielded a negative result, and not a neutral one.

Did the CDC purposefully select a second phase that would contradict the first phase?‖ Verstraeten also asked. ―Certainly not. The push to urgently perform the second phase at (Harvard Pilgrim) came entirely from myself, because I felt that the first-phase results were too prone to potential biases to be the basis for important public health decisions. (It) was the only site known to myself and my coauthors that could rapidly provide sufficient data that would enable a check of the major findings of the first phase in a timely manner.

And he added this:

The bottom line is and has always been the same: an association between thimerosal and neurological outcomes could neither be confirmed nor refuted, and more study is required.
What A Special Panel Of The National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences Said
On August 24, 2006, a special panel appointed by the NIEHS issued a report titled

Thimerosal Exposure in Pediatric Vaccines: Feasibility of Studies Using the Vaccine Safety Datalink. Among other things, the panel was asked to Identify the strengthsand weaknesses of the VSD for evaluating the possible association between exposures to thimerosal-containing vaccines and AD/ASD

According to the panel, a number of gaps were identified in the information available at the meeting. These involved business and medical practicesat the MCOs that might impact data quality and interpretation of study results, and more generally, the completeness and validity of exposure and diagnostic data in the VSD and the ability to link across family members. The panel recommended that these gaps be addressed prior to consideration of further studies of ASD and thimerosal using the VSD.

The panel also ―identified several areas of weakness, the report said. The cumulative effect of these weaknesses was judged to reduce the usefulness of the VSD for addressing the potential association between exposure to thevaccine preservative thimerosal and risk of AD/ASD.

The weaknesses of primary importance are summarized below.

  • Case ascertainment Of particular interest to the panel was the large proportion, around 25%, of birthsexcluded from the analysesin the Verstraten study. These exclusions were intended to decrease confounding. The panel noted that these childrenmay represent a susceptible population whoseremoval from the analysis might have had the unintended consequence of reducing the ability to detect an effect of thimerosal. A VSD study that relies exclusively on administrative data to identify cases of ASD is subject to both false positives and missed cases. This stems in part from the original design of the data systems that support the VSD; these systems were designed for administrative rather than research purposes. For example, the administrative record created for an outpatient visit of a child with AD/ASD who is being treated for another medical condition will reflectthat other condition rather than the presence of autism. Entries of this type would lead to under-ascertainment of cases.
  • Heterogeneity in business practices across and within MCOs (HMOs) Eight MCOs currently participate in the VSD and each relies on data systems designed to meet the specific business requirements of the MCO. In addition to obvious differences among MCOs in enrollment size and geographic location of the populations served, many other aspects of service delivery and tracking vary (e.g., developmental screening practicesand specialist referral guidelines). Differences across clinics and other service providersaffiliated with an individual MCO occur as well. The panel noted that these variations within and among VSD sites would complicate interpretation of a VSD study that combined data across clinics and sites by introducing heterogeneity in the completeness and quality of case ascertainment. Moreover, membership in an MCO might be influenced byan AD/ASD diagnosis. This could occur, for example, if children presenting with problems predictive of the development of AD/ASD (e.g., speech delay) are more likely to leavea MCO-administered plan because the parents believed that another model of service delivery would be more beneficial.
  • Systematic changes over time – “The systems for creating medical records at the VSD sites are dynamic and change frequently in response to the evolution of the individual MCO business model. The panel noted that at least some of these changes would beexpected to affect the observed rate of autism and could confound a trend analysis. One such change was the transition from paper to electronic medical records. This change occurred at different times for each of the participating MCOs.
  • Estimation of mercury burden.Panel members expressed a concern that thimerosal dose, administered through aseries of vaccinations, may provide a poor surrogate measure of thecumulative exposure of a child to organic mercurials. Exposures through diet or other environmental sources would not be documented reliably in either the VSD administrative data or medical charts.
  • Transparencyand Public Access  The panel recognized the perception by some members of the public and the advocacy community that previous VSD analyses have not been conducted in an open manner. The panel recommended that the AD/ASD advocacy community participate meaningfully in all aspects of any future VSD studyof AD/ASD, includingdesign, analysis and interpretation.
Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PHD, MPH, Chief Of The Division Of Environmental And Occupational health, University Of California, Davis School Of Medicine
  • The appropriateness of exclusions that amountedto nearly 25% of the birth cohort in the investigation by Verstraeten et al. (2003) was questioned in the NIEHS expert panel report, and (CDC Director) Dr. JulieGerberding concurred that further work should be done using the VSD to address this weakness. The VSD study "was not the last word...things need to be looked at again, perhaps with different methodology."
What Congress Said
Former Rep. DaveWeldon, MD (R-FL), who served as only one of two physician members of Congress, wrote to CDC DirectorDr. Julie Gerberding about his serious reservations about the four-year evolution and conclusions of this study.

I have read various emails from Dr. Verstraeten and coauthors. I have reviewedthe transcripts of a discussion at Simpsonwood. I found a disturbing pattern which merits a thorough, open, timely and independent review by researchers outside of the CDC, HHS, the vaccine industry, and others with a conflict of interest in vaccine related issues(including many in University settings who may have conflicts), he wrote.

Instead of a good faith effort to investigate potential harm from thimerosal, there may have been a selective use of the data to make the associations in the earliest study disappear, he charged.  I cannot say it was the author‘sintent to eliminatethe earlier findings of an association. Nonetheless, the elimination of this association is exactly what happenedand the manner in which this was achieved raises speculation. The Simpsonwood transcripts, he added, clearly indicatedhow easily the authorscould manipulate the data and have reasonable sounding justifications for many of their decisions.
What The IOM Said
The IOM vaccine safety committee was not troubled by thechanging criteria for entry and outcomes, nor did the total disappearance of an autism signal concern them.

The difference in preliminary results can be attributed to three major reasons, they said:

  • Investigators updated datasets with extended follow-up periods, which allowed for additional cases to be identified.
  •  They modified exclusion criteria based on scientific input from the (2001) IOM report and CDC and VSD investigators
  •  They improved adjustments for health-care-seeking behavior.
  • Other reasons cited for the differences were a modification to the time of exposure,and inclusion of additional variables in the model.
The panel added this:

The committee notes that it is commonplace for large and important studies to be reviewed along the way, with adjustments often made to improve the eventual validity of the results; thus, it finds nothinginherently troubling in the fact that the VSD study underwent this process. The committee also notes that preliminary results are often misleading and can change substantially as methods are adjusted and more cases andcontrols are assembled. Indeed, the fact that a conference was held to discuss preliminary findings (Simpsonwood) would typically be interpreted asan attempt by researchers and their sponsors to ―get it right, given the high level of interest in the findings.

 Under-ascertainment of cases? The IOM panel wrote that, for HMO A, the autism rate was 1 in 635, or 15.7-per-10,000, and HMO B had 1 in 523, or 19-per-10,000). Several concernswere raised about thepossibility of misclassification of cases with autism because of the way the age of the child was handled in the analyses, they wrote. One worry was that some cases of autism may have been missed with shorter follow-up. But, the data were adjusted for month and year of birth and time of follow-up, a statistical-analysis technique that should thereforetake care of this concern, the panel said, without explaining how.

Inclusion of youngerchildren Another related concern was that inclusion of a younger group (who are less likely to be diagnosed with autism) in the studywould bias the thimerosal effect towardzero, the panel wrote. Adjusting for age would reduce, but not eliminate, this tendency.However, if there were an effect of thimerosal, one still would anticipate a trend ofincreasing effect with age. In this study, there was no such association, even in the older age groups.

Misdiagnosis of youngerchildren  The authorsattempted to addressthis by determining the association between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental outcomes and found no consistent significant associations, the panel said. But it concededthis very important point,often overlooked by the media: If there are multiple pathways leadingto these disorders, it would be difficult to detect the effect of any one cause unless it occurred with high frequency and the sample size was large because the tendencyof misclassification of outcome is to dilute measures of effect.

General Limitations cited by the IOM
  • The authors were unable to control completely for other potential confounding factors. In HMO B, the clinic that a child attendedmay have acted as a confounder. In other words, inconsistencies between record keeping practices even within the same HMO  render the data less reliable.
  • The HMO databases did not provide information on other possible confounders, such as maternal smoking, lead exposure, or fish consumption. Total accumulated toxic exposure is probably more important that a single type of exposure from asingle source (ie, mercury in vaccines). Background exposures should also be included.
  • Limitations include the study‘sability to answer whetherthimerosal in vaccinescauses autism because the study tests a dose-response gradient, not exposure versus non-exposure. This study compared children who receivedthe highest doses of thimerosal with children who received lower doses. Studying exposed versus non-exposed childrenmight yield clearer data.
  • The small number of cases and instability of some of the risk estimates may affect the findings. The number of autism cases found was quite low far lower than what would beexpected for such large HMOs.
  • This highly controversial study is considered the most important bypeople who reject any link between thimerosal and ASD, yet it is fraught with severe limitations, methodological weaknesses and questionable analyses. Data collected from the HMO‘s was repeatedly re-analyzed  at least five times across three years ofstudy. During that time, entry criteria were changed, children too young to havean ASD diagnosis were added, and other questionable methods of analysis were used. The relative risk for autism fell from 11.35 to zero during that time. As for other NDDs, even the lead author wrote that this was a neutral study and could not be used to supportor refute a link.
Source Credit:  This careful review was conducted by multiple scientists and medical doctors.


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Heather White editor of AutismRawData and mother of a vaccine injured child, who has autism.  I have nearly 10 years of clinical experience and am currently continuing my education in Health Science with the hope of developing my own path in research.  I am passionate about God, family, living debt-free, toxin-free, organic food, clean water, whole health and an integrative approach to healthcare.