Setback For Children With Autism Caused By Thimerosal-Laced Vaccines
In the last 24 hours, all the headway that's been made linking thimerosal preservatives and the mumps, measles, rubella vaccine to autism over the last decade was crushed by one court ruling and one news broadcast. This morning's federal court ruling, which is a legal decision and not a denial of the scientific proof presented, found that vaccines and thimerosal did not contribute to autism. In the news broadcast Tuesday night, thousands of relatives of children with autism and thousands of health professionals sat in front of their televisions astonished as MSNBC's Keith Olbermann declared their national hero, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, "Worst Person in the World" on MSNBC's Countdown.
To get to the real story here, some background on Dr. Andrew Wakefield is needed. To many health professionals worldwide, Dr. Wakefield is brilliant. He's well known as the first physician to make the link between a sudden rash of bowel disorders that began occurring when thimerosal was added to multiple vaccines. With biopsies of the gut, Dr. Wakefield showed the presence of live viral particles that matched those given in the vaccines in children with bowel disorders and autism who were vaccinated but had never been otherwise infected with measles, mumps or rubella. Dr. Wakefield opened a tidal wave. Researchers following his trail found a clear link between thimerosal, multiple vaccines and autism.
In the MSNBC broadcast, Keith Olbermann, without having the facts, quoted from an article in the London Times saying that Dr. Wakefield had fabricated the data of his first published study. While the claims were made by a freelance reporter who speculates that the study's subjects may have had signs of autism that just didn't show up early on, there was nothing concrete in the article because the investigation is ongoing. See the Schafer Autism Report at www.sarnet.org for more information on the real story here.
As to the court case, the amount of mercury in thimerosal-laced vaccines was never tested when it was first chosen as a preservative for vaccines. Once Dr. Wakefield opened Pandora's box, several major studies showed that the amount of mercury given to infants in vaccines reached toxic levels. Writing in Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2000, 78 (2), Round Table Vaccine adverse events in the new millennium: is there reason for concern, B.J. Ward explained that vaccine-associated adverse events (VAAEs) are to be expected. As examples he described the tragic deaths in children caused by the rotavirus vaccine, and the delayed dissemination often leading to death that has been reported from live attenuated vaccines, including the measles vaccine. A visit to the Vaccine adverse events reporting system at http://vaers.hhs.gov/vaers.htm is proof enough that the problem with childhood vaccines is real.
At least two reports from the GAO published in the last decade show that compensation given to families because of vaccine related injuries has been justified. The reports are poignant in their description of what went wrong. One striking vignette played out time after time. Parents felt the pressure to keep up their children's vaccines. They wanted to do the right thing. They took the day off to take their children to the clinic and no one there mentioned that maybe they should hold off since their child had a runny nose or fever. In retrospect, how they wish they had waited. The case reports are tragic. So are the Congressional Hearings in which congressmen described grandchildren who were perfectly normal until a week after they were inoculated with childhood vaccines. Then they showed the first signs of autism.
The federal courts can be happy that they saved some money this week and Keith Olbermann can chuckle over his ratings. But in the real world where VAAEs do indeed happen and healthcare workers see it firsthand, it's been a terrible week. Children injured by childhood vaccines should be compensated, and the court of three who made this ruling should study the real story. Unlike an accident in which you see cause and effect, for environmental triggers, you have to stop and examine the science involved to understand what happened.