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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Offit’

By Clare Krusing

Discrediting a decade-long debate over autism and vaccines, the British Medical Journal (click here for link) published its findings proving Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s controversial study linking autism with the MMR vaccine was fraudulent. Backed by medical journalist Brian Deer‘s reporting (click here for link), the Journal cited the “clear evidence of falsification” in three of the paper’s conclusions:

1.  Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet study misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients, five of which showed developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine and three never had autism. In falsifying these records, BMJ found there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

2.  No studies have been able to replicate the results Wakefield published. Wakefield himself has been asked to reproduce his results and has been unable to do so.

3.  The BMJ reports that Wakefield received more than $674,000 from a law firm intending to sue vaccine manufacturers, a conflict of interest that was not disclosed in theLancet study.
For those who suspect Wakefield’s conclusions may simply be wrong and he did not intentionally falsify the data, the BMJ refuses to accept such a stance. “A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results [Wakefield] wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.” The Lancet retracted the study in 2004, and British medical authorities revoked Wakefield’s medical license last May, but as the BMJ notes, serious harm has been done. “The damage to public health continues, fuelled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals, and the medical profession… Hundreds of thousands of children in the UK are currently unprotected as a result of the scare, and the battle to restore parents’ trust in the vaccine is ongoing.”

Wakefield Fallout Prompts Discussion on True Causes of Autism

Media reports exploded this week following BMJ’s editorial on Wakefield’s fraudulent study. Cable and network affiliates as well as major print outlets covered the story. CNN’sAnderson Cooper devoted two nights of coverage to the issue, including an interview with Wakefield immediately following the breaking news. CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured Dr. Paul Offit, head of Infectious Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Katie van Tornhout, a mother whose one-month-old daughter (who was too young to be vaccinated) died of whooping cough last year after she contracted the illness likely from someone who was not immunized. As reporting continued, a growing focus turned to supporting scientific-based research on autism and its causes. Alison Singer, President and Co-founder of The Autism Science Foundation, appeared on CNN encouraging the public and medical community to “finally put the question of vaccines and autism behind us” and “invest in studies that will allow us to find out what does cause autism.”

Offit, Mnookin Challenge Anti-Vaccine Movement with Book Releases

As the news began to spread on Wakefield’s fraudulent study, Dr. Paul Offit was speaking to a group at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on the dangerous consequences of the anti-vaccine movement, which escalated following Wakefield’s controversial report. On that evening, Offit described his newest book, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, a comprehensive review of the outspoken voices against vaccines and how their unsubstantiated and false claims have lead to a generation of parents choosing to not vaccinate their children. As Shot of Prevention noted “standing before us was a man who demonstrated genuine compassion for children and who generously donates the proceeds of his book to autism research…outside of the room, journalists from most major news stations were busy putting Andrew Wakefield in the spotlight (once again), based on the immoral and fraudulent nature of his study that has had an overwhelming negative impact on the vaccination of children.”

On NPR’s Science Friday, Offit discussed the fatal implications such choices to delay vaccines would have on young children and society at large citing the recent California pertussis outbreak as an unfortunate, but preventable consequence of these decisions. In addition to Offit’s book, Vanity Fair contributor Seth Mnookin’s The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear comes out next Tuesday, and like Offit, Mnookin chronicles the early vaccine story, its players, and the emergence of vaccine opponents who have challenged public health experts and mobilized a vocal following in their search for answers to the proposed autism-vaccine link.

 

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Timing really is everything. Last night, after a full day of talking to the media about the British Medical Journal story which deemed Wakefield’s original 1998 study an “elaborate fraud”, the Autism Science Foundation hosted a celebration launch of Dr. Paul Offit’s new book “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All” with a reception and book signing at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

There were lots of members of the press there, many of whom we’d spoken with earlier in the day, as well as plenty of friends and family.  There couldn’t have been a more appropriate time to talk about how the anti-vaccine movement has wreaked havoc with our public health system and how the erroneous conclusion that vaccines cause autism has put so many children’s lives at risk. Later this month we’ll host events in New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

If you haven’t read this book yet, we urge you to get a copy. All royalties are being donated to the Autism Science Foundation so that we can fund studies to uncover what really DOES cause autism. Our thanks to everyone who attended last night’s event and, as always, enormous thanks to Dr. Offit and his family for his unwavering dedication to children’s health.

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We highly recommend PBS’s “The Vaccine War” which aired last night on PBS. In a rare display of tv news common sense, one side is simply declared to be wrong. The science is very clear; vaccines do not cause autism and it’s time to move on from this well debunked myth and find out what does.

 
The show features interviews with ASF Board Member Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. Arthur Caplan, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Cynthia Cristofani, Dr. Anders Hviid & Dr. Eric Fombonne, as well as with actress Jenny McCarthy and JB Handley of Generation Rescue. 
 
“Scientifically, I think the matter is settled,” says Anders Hviid, an epidemiologist at the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark. In one of the largest and most comprehensive epidemiological studies available, Hviid and colleagues analyzed data on more than a half million children and found no link between the MMR “triple shot” for measles, mumps and rubella and an increased rate of autism — a link that’s been strongly asserted for years by anti-vaccine activists. Similar epidemiological studies in Denmark also failed to reveal a link between the mercury preservative thimerosal and autism. In fact, around the world, peer-reviewed epidemiological studies have found no link between autism and either the MMR shot or thimerosal.
 
You can watch the full episode online or check local listings, as we’re told by PBS that the show will air multiple times this week.  

View scientific studies regarding autism and vaccines here

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The award winning “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure” by Dr. Paul Offit, was released today in paperback. 
 
Opponents of vaccines have taken the autism story hostage,” Dr. Offit says. “They don’t speak for all parents of autistic kids, they use fringe scientists and celebrities, they’ve set up cottage industries of false hope, and they’re hurting kids. Parents pay out of their pockets for dangerous treatments, they take out second mortgages to buy hyperbaric oxygen chambers. It’s just unconscionable.”
 
The paperback edition includes a great new preface by Dr. Offit in which he describes parent reaction to the book. “After publication-an event that I thought would only galvanize those who disliked me-I received hundreds and hundreds of letters and emails from parents of children with autism thanking me. Some had been on the fence and were now convinced by the science presented in the book. But many never believed that vaccines had caused their children’s autism and were angry at those who did. “Jenny McCarthy presumes to represent me,” one mom wrote, “but she doesn’t.” They were the Silent Majority of autism parents-a group that the media had consistently ignored.” 
 
If you haven’t read this book yet you need to! And if you have, order a lightweight paperback copy or give one as a gift, because Dr Offit, who serves on ASF’s board of directors, has generously agreed to donate all royalties from this book to the Autism Science Foundation.  Order yours today! 

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ABC World News Tonight  (includes interview with ASF Board Member Dr. Paul Offit)

USA Today

New York Times

National Public Radio

Reuters

LA Times

CBS Evening News (includes interview with ASF President Alison Singer)

View scientific studies regarding autism and vaccines here

Read a summary of the King case here (from Kathleen Seidel at Neurodiversity.com)

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Autism Science Foundation Founder and President Alison Singer today was awarded the Community Impact Award for her role in launching the Autism Science Foundation, a not for profit organization that raises funds to support autism research. The award was presented by Matan, a not-for-profit organization that provides Jewish educational services to children with developmental disabilities, at its 10th Anniversary Gala.

In accepting the award, Singer said “There are so many things we need to do in the autism community. We desperately need more research, and that is what our organization, the Autism Science Foundation, focuses on; research. But the answers that come from the lab are years away, and meanwhile we have our beautiful children who are here now and need help to become the people they are meant to be, and that’s what Matan does so well.”

Later this month, Autism Science Foundation will announce the recipients of its fellowship awards for graduate and medical students interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical scientific research relevant to autism spectrum disorders. “The launch of the Autism Science Foundation marked the beginning of a new chapter in autism research; one with a deep and unwavering commitment to an evidence-based agenda” said Dr. Paul Offit, Autism Science Foundation board member and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “ASF is the best of all worlds: parents and scientists coming together to support research that stands the best chance of making a difference.”

The Autism Science Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism.

Matan supports Jewish communities, professionals, and institutions in educating children with special learning needs. Matan is committed to exposing all children to the “wonder” of Jewish life and fostering literate and engaged Jews through creative and multi-sensory approaches. By strengthening the capacity of Jewish institutions to support and sustain more educationally varied programs, Matan is expanding the Jewish community’s ability to fulfill the obligation to include all children – not just typical learners – in their Jewish educational birthright.

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make an online donation visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org

To learn more about Matan or to make an online donation visit www.matankids.org

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The Vaccinate Your Baby project, sponsored by Every Child By Two, has launched a new website featuring video answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about vaccines and autism. Several experts in the fields of immunization and autism participated and their answers have been edited into short video clips.

Participants include:

  • Paul Offit, MD, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases and Director, Vaccine Education Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Board Member of the Autism Science Foundation
  • Alison Singer, Co-Founder & President, Autism Science Foundation and parent of a child with autism
  • Mark Sawyer, MD, Professor, Clinical Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, UCSD School of Medicine & Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego
  • Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, DNP(c), CPNP, Coordinator, Child Health Suffolk County Department of Health Services, NY 

The questions cover a wide range of topics, including Why Vaccinate?, Why Follow the Recommended Immunization Schedule?, and What does the Science Tell Us About Autism and Vaccines?

To view the video clips, visit http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org/faq/index.cfm

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By Alison Singer

Newsweek  has just posted a special “end of the decade project” in which the editors attempt to recap the last ten years. They have produced twenty different top 10 lists, including one on overblown fears; threats that fortunately didn’t materialize or were later debunked. Topping this list are Y2K, and the threat of shoe bombs (and frankly nothing is more annoying than having to take off your shoes at airport security, especially in winter when the floor is cold. Number 3 on the list is “Vaccines and Autism”.

More than a dozen studies done over the past decade indicate that neither vaccines nor any specific ingredients in vaccines cause autism. While research on environmental factors is important in autism, it makes little sense to continue to pursue a specific study of vaccines, the one environmental factor that science has already ruled out.

Writing in Newsweek, Dr. Paul Offit explains the origin of the disproved notion that vaccines cause autism, and concludes with the following: “In the meantime children whose parents were frightened by MMR have died from measles and those frightened by thimerosal have died from bacterial meningitis: sacrificed at the altar of poorly conceived ideas. The tragedy is, given all we now know about the neurological basis of autism, these hypotheses had no chance of bearing fruit.”

As we approach a new decade, let’s keep focused on areas in autism research that have potential to yield new, actionable information for families. Let’s commit to asking new scientific questions in the coming decade and to putting the vaccine-autism myth squarely behind us.

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