Legal shoe drops on vaccine-autism link

Legal shoe drops on vaccine-autism link

Summary: A special master of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, dubbed the "vaccine court," ruled today that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. It does, however, usually prevent Measles, Mumps and Rubella (german measles), all of which I got as a kid and all of which are extremely nasty.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Health
13

A special master of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, dubbed the "vaccine court," ruled today that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

It does, however, usually prevent Measles, Mumps and Rubella (german measles), all of which I got as a kid and all of which are extremely nasty.

The court issued three reports on specific cases, having heard evidence since 2007.

The legal ruling seems to contradict a 2008 decision by federal officials that a Georgia girl's parents were entitled to damages because vaccinations may have aggravated a mitochondrial condition, resulting in autism.

It is true that autism is increasing, but the rate of increase in cases has levelled off in recent years.

The ruling was not unexpected. As I wrote on Tuesday the researcher who first identified the link, Andrew Wakefield, has now been charged with faking his study in concert with plaintiffs' attorneys.

Does this end the matter? It should. After all Keith Olbermann has already called Wakefield his "worst person in the world."

Of course it doesn't. An entire industry has evolved since Wakefield's original work aimed at scaring parents away from vaccines and risking the lives of their children.

Take David Kirby (above). Please. He has been flogging the story for a decade now. Is he discouraged? Of course not. He has a long Huffington Post blog entry up today attacking the court, the vaccine industry, Olbermann, and Brian Deer, the journalist whose work has Wakefield up on charges.

Kirby was so desperate for validation he even took to praising Melanie Phillips, Britain's answer to Ann Coulter.

Kirby notes that Olbermann is now excoriating Deer, but that does not change the scientific evidence. Nor does the HuffPo's failure to identify Kirby's own financial interest in keeping the story alive.

My point here is that neither the law nor science can easily prevail once politics takes hold of a story, so that money and reputations become wedded to a particular position. Nor, for that matter, can journalism.

What will end it?

If you do the right thing and get your kids vaccinated. Vaccines will always carry risks. But ignorance carries bigger ones.

Topic: Health

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

13 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It will never end

    too many parents see their autistic kids as "broken" and want something
    or someone to blame.

    Having said that, there are varying levels of autism, and I can't help but
    wonder if some of the higher orders of autism the primarily manifest as
    social dysfunction aren't the result of dumping babies off into
    commercial orphanages called day care for their entire formative years.

    Disclosure: I am the father of three autistic children.

    frgough
    • There may be environmental factors...

      We don't know why autism has risen so
      dramatically in our time. We learned we could
      attribute much of the rise of breast cancer to
      HRT, and the rise of lung cancer to smoking. But
      we don't know about autism, and thus it is human
      nature to seek a single cause.

      Also, my son was diagnosed last year with
      Asperger's, a form of high-functioning autism.
      So I understand a small portion of your pain.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Environmental link.

        Environment is a factor in autism. What the vaccine haters never mention is world wide mercury levels in our air and food have gone up as the rate of autism has risen.

        There is more mercury in the can of tuna mom ate while pregnant than there is in a hundred vaccine shots the kid could get after birth.

        We also have more pesticides on our food than any other time in history. Many of these pesticides mimic estrogen and have been detected in baby foods. Common homeopathic and aromatherapy items also mimic estrogen. Studies have shown that regular washing of baby boys with lavender soap exposes them to the estrogen like substance in lavender and does have an effect on the child?s growth.
        Hates Idiots
  • Autism is genetic

    I do not see how getting a vaccine will alter your DNA. The anti vaccine crowd are a lot like homeopathy. They distrust medicine because it has risk no matter how small. So they offer no risk alternatives that also do not work. Thiomersal will not give you dangerous levels of mercury and were proved by removing the anti-septic compound in European trials and the Autism level did not drop. These quacks need to be ignored in the future.
    osreinstall
    • Autism may not be wholly genetic

      If autism were entirely genetic it would be a
      relatively flat curve against the population,
      year upon year.

      It's not. The number of autism cases diagnosed
      has been rising steadily for 20 years.

      Wakefield's mistake was not in seeking a single,
      even simple cause. (Lung cancer=smoking.) It was
      in faking his research on behalf of plaintiff
      attorneys.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • I think it is.

        http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

        Then you have environmental factors to push the person over the edge which would be everyday stress, just like any other disease. Everyone's threshold is different.

        As for the number of cases rising each year, all you have to do is broaden the definition of the disease. This would happen as the science of it evolves. It is even possible to misdiagnose thru abusive means for political reasons. Maybe the nest Asberger concert pianist.

        For example, ADHD is way over diagnosed because modern society cannot handle or refuse to make allowances for kids that have slightly elevated energy levels but are not ADHD. Drug them into submission so they behave instead of having more activities or have more interesting subjects in school. We didn't call it 12 years of prison for nothing.

        I read elsewhere that Wakefield was a total fraud.
        osreinstall
        • ADHD and Asperger's can be related

          Severe ADHD can appear to be Asperger's and can
          be diagnosed as such.

          But you can't "drug up" kids without ADHD using
          speed-like drugs. They just get speedy. There
          are even some ADHD kids for whom drugs like
          Ritalin don't work.

          The idea is to sync the mind and body so that
          the ADHD kid is in rhythm with life. Give any
          other kid speed and they run around like a top
          whose string has been popped.
          DanaBlankenhorn
          • I wasn't implying that.

            I was just saying people are being over diagnosed for political reasons. With Aspergers it could be bragging rights to the next talent and with ADHD to drug into compliance. I was just hyper and when given ritalin, when completely 24/7. They came up with all of these diagnoses and settled on moderate ADD in the early 70s.

            So it is best not to bore everyone for 12 years with a cookie cutter program. Best to have a bunch of breaks during the day of physical activity. Maybe the kids would not be so fat.

            By the way, we do not have attention deficient in subjects that we are interested in. We focus like no other.
            osreinstall
          • Where ADHD is over-diagnosed

            Boys. Any kind of acting-out seems to be seen as
            ADHD.

            Girls are often under-diagnosed, because with
            them the ADHD can display as something
            completely different, like a learning
            disability. They're well behaved because they
            turn their hyper-activity inward. It all becomes
            a show and they enjoy it. But they're not in the
            classroom. They look like they're paying
            attention, but they're not really. And when they
            do they find themselves using all kinds of
            strategies to cover up the learning
            disabilities.

            My daughter's second-grade teacher never knew
            she had ADHD or dyslexia. She was able to use
            her hyperactivity to cover up the dyslexia. She
            worked hard to do what the other kids were
            doing, studying how they answered, and mimicking
            them.

            In fact she did not learn to read until 6th
            grade.
            DanaBlankenhorn
          • Finally brought the talkback back

            Someone must have said something.

            Yes the boys act out and the girls daydream for the most part. We need teachers with the insight of Caesar Milan to handle kids. The worst case scenario would be meds but at a lower dose. I am not taking the anti med choice but the minimum to do the job. I always thought over medicating was a crime.
            osreinstall
  • Crimes Against Humanity

    Start by bring Wakefield up before an international court for threatening the lives and well-being of our most vulnerable. Then, if that doesn't get the message across, start working down the chain of those who knowingly promoted the misinformation.
    MichP
  • Some points to ponder

    Some people eat bacon and eggs every day and never get any sort of related problem.
    Some people smoke 2 packs a day and never show any symptoms.

    People can be genetically predisposed to have problems OR the problems can be obvious (cleft palates, bad heart valves, etc).

    Autism is a long way from being fully understood at present though strides are being made every year.

    Most researchers seem to think a genetic predisposition along with envirnmental factors are the cause, depending on the severity of the condition.

    Sometimes the genetic problems are great enough to manifest without other triggers.
    Sometimes it needs something else to trigger it.

    Medicine is still an ART in many ways . . . not a science.

    The human body is too complex to understand fully at the present time, and even though many incorrectly beleive that evolution moves slowly, in some cases that is not so.
    The human jaw and the # of teeth it can contain has measursably gotten smaller in just the past 200 years. Leg and arm bones have gotten larger, though perhaps from better nutrition.
    Bacteria have become resistant to anitbiotics.
    The list goes on.

    So what we know NOW may not be true in the future.

    Some, I repeat SOME vaccines MAY not be worth taking. Most are and have a long track record of success.

    I'm glad I got my polio vaccine when I was a child.
    I had a friend who died from it when she was 16.

    Nuff said.
    The_Curmudgeon
  • it was always junk science

    This was (once again) perpetrated by trial lawyers not scientists.

    [Finally] Real science wins the day.
    wizardjr