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From Cause to Risk – Not Vaccinating Linked to Autism

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States has reported a steady climb in mumps and measles outbreaks since 2012. Just looking at mumps, the incidence has increased from 229 in 2012 to 6,366 cases in 2016 in the US

Europe, noted for its poor vaccination compliance, has had even more outbreaks of rare viruses such as mumps, measles, rubella and polio-like cases during that time.

The problem has also spread globally to many countries in Asia as well, where a growing number are choosing not to be vaccinated.

The Cause

The reason for a decline in complete vaccination stems mainly from a small study that was published in February 1998 by Andrew Wakefield that claimed to have tied autism to vaccination.

This publication led to a movement that persists today that calls on parents to not vaccinate their children.

The publication was later retracted, and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license after a thorough investigation. One, because he could not reproduce his study and, two, because when the 12 children - on whom the study was base - were followed up individually, their unbiased stories demonstrated clear misreporting by Wakefield and alterations of the facts.

However, vaccination still is declining as many individuals – including prominent celebrities -carry on despite no evidence of vaccines causing autism.

From Cause to Risk

A study involving 1.2 million children was published in 2013 that found no relationship or correlation connecting vaccines as a causative factor for autism spectrum disorders.

An unexpected outcome of the 2013 study was a correlation of not being vaccinated leading to a higher risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder.

However, the authors highlighted that there would need to be further studies to evaluate if not vaccinating increases the risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The Link between Vaccines and Autism

In an effort to study the relationship between vaccines and ASDs further, Dr. Bora Kim from the University California at San Francisco and Dr. Mina Ha at Dankook University of South Korea undertook two independent studies of 10,006 and 29,381 children and reported their findings at INSAR 2018 in Rotterdam.

The goal of having two studies was to confirm that they could reproduce what they found in the first study. And to make it even more convincing, the confirming study was three times as large as the first study.

They administered 6 vaccines total in 84.3 percent and 80.1 percent of the patients in the respective studies, while the remaining percentage in each study received incomplete vaccinations.

Dr. Kim highlighted, "Children who were vaccinated incompletely were at [an] increased risk [of] ASD when compared to those [who were] fully vaccinated."

Dr. Kim further stressed, "Our data suggest that vaccination does not increase the risk for ASD, but may carry protective effects against ASD."

"Vaccination has proven to be a successful and an effective public health strategy to prevent life-threatening infectious diseases in children."

An Overlooked Accomplice

In a recent news report, journalist Julia Belluz highlighted a key accomplice in the anti-vaccination movement – irresponsible journalism by journalists.

She highlighted how journalists made Wakefield's self-engineered study go viral, while those who propagated his findings without scrutiny were never blamed.

Belluz reminded her readers by quoting Ben Goldacre's investigation of Wakefield for the newspaper that, "Wakefield was at the centre of a media storm about the MMR vaccine, and is now being blamed by journalists as if he were the only one at fault. In reality, the media are equally guilty."

"Even if it had been immaculately well conducted – and it certainly wasn't – Wakefield's 'case series report' of 12 children's clinical anecdotes would never have justified the conclusion that MMR causes autism, despite what journalists claimed: it simply didn't have big enough numbers to do so. But the media repeatedly reported the concerns of this one man, generally without giving methodological details of the research, either because they found it too complicated, inexplicably, or because to do so would have undermined their story."

Belluz further inculpates her fellow colleagues by adding, "We journalists are still doing this today on myriad health topics. We report on single, often-poorly designed studies — even if they don't deserve an ounce of attention. We also focus a lot more on the anti-vaccine movement, and their concerns, than the astounding progress made against vaccine-preventable diseases."

"Part of this has to do with how newsrooms work: We journalists favor anomalies and novelty instead of slow and plodding progress, as Steven Pinker points out in his new book, Enlightenment Now. But in doing so, we lose sight of the big picture."

Health "Insight"

It is highly likely that other researchers and physicians will undertake future studies of other populations to confirm Kim's results.

In the meantime, it is also likely that the anti-vaccination movement will persist with conferences, events and misinformation.

However, some European countries have started to fine parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Similarly, district attorneys in the US have prosecuted parents who refuse to vaccinate their children and judges have indicted these same parents, ordering their children to be vaccinated and often fining the parents.

Author: Robert Derham
Source: CheckOrphan
4.5
4.7 from 3 votes
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