Dr. Oz Focuses On Fear, Offers Little Hope

Click here to view the Shot of Prevention article

So there are doctors.  And then there are celebrities.  But in today’s society, we have a new breed of medical influence being packaged by what only TV ratings can create – celebrity doctors. One of the most notable of these is Dr. Oz, whose popularity soared after he appeared in over 55 episodes of Oprah.  Now, let’s give credit where credit is due.  Dr. Oz, who ranked third in the 2010 Forbes magazine list of Most Influential Celebrities, is a brilliant opportunist.  Yes, he is very well educated.  Yes, he is a bona fide heart surgeon.  But he is also an skillful entertainer and today’s episode, entitled What Causes Autism? clearly  illustrated that.

Response to Dr. Oz Show from Dr. Ari Brown

by Dr. Ari Brown, American Academy of Pediatrics

I am thankful, Dr Oz, for the opportunity to participate in your autism     show. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and I hoped the show     would help educate the public and move the conversation forward.

As a pediatrician who talks with families everyday in my office, I know     parents want to know more about both vaccine safety and about autism. I’m also a mom. Like you, I need accurate information to protect my kids as best as I can.

I am concerned that viewers took away a very inaccurate view of vaccines. The most vocal audience members represent a small minority. Most parents of children with autism agree with the scientific evidence and do not believe that vaccines cause autism.

And, an overwhelming number of healthcare providers worldwide do not believe vaccines and autism are linked. What viewers witnessed on the show was far from the norm.

Also, most parents in this country support vaccinations. In fact, 99.4% of American children under 3 years of age are vaccinated. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5936a2.htm?s_cid=mm5936a2_w

I base vaccination decisions for my patients and my own children on science, not anecdotes or conspiracy theories. I’m passionate about vaccinations because I watched a child die from chickenpox—a vaccine-preventable illness. I refuse to let another child become a statistic because of hearsay. I’m compassionate towards families whose children have autism, because I have personally walked that road with several patients.

These are the messages that resonate with me, as a parent and a doctor. I hope they will resonate with you.

  1. Multiple studies conducted by academic institutions worldwide—which are not funded by pharmaceutical companies—have shown that vaccines do not play a role in autism. Here are the studies: http://www.aap.org/immunization/families/ingredients.html. Vaccine safety concerns have not been ignored. In fact, they have been addressed appropriately.
  2. Delaying or selectively choosing some vaccinations has absolutely no benefit and only risk. It does not prevent autism, but leaves the youngest children vulnerable to serious infections. The diseases that vaccines protect against can cause disabling health problems or death—and they are often the most severe in younger children. They are not minor illnesses. Here are the diseases preventable by vaccination: http://www.aap.org/immunization/illnesses/illnesses.html
  3. The vaccination schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control has been studied extensively by the most respected group of experts in their field. The time frame provides the safest, most effective way to give certain vaccines together.
  4. Dr Bob Sears, a panelist on the show who supports a delayed vaccination schedule, has said, “My schedule doesn’t have any research behind it. No one has ever studied a big group of kids using my schedule to determine if it’s safe or if it has any benefits.” (“The Truth about Vaccines and Autism.” iVillage, September 2009). Since that statement, a 2010 study http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/125/6/1134?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=neurodevelopmental+outcomes%2C+delayed+vaccinations&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT showed that children whose shots were delayed were just as likely to develop autism as those who were vaccinated on time. As one father on the show said so eloquently, the point of delaying shots seems to be just to make parents feel like they are doing something, when in reality, the decision puts their child at risk.
  5. While it was not addressed on the show, the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and its association to autism have been debunked. The scare began with a report in a British medical journal in 1998 that was recently retracted. Over the past decade, researchers dutifully tried to duplicate the findings of that report and no one ever could. The question was asked, and it was answered.
  6. It’s true—today’s children get more shots than we did as kids. Modern medicine now provides protection against twice as many deadly, disabling diseases. That’s a good thing! For instance, there is now protection against three different forms of bacterial meningitis. Infectious diseases are everywhere. No one can predict when a child will be exposed. And, even in the era of modern medicine—when someone becomes infected with a vaccine-preventable disease, it is usually too late or there is nothing to treat the infection. Prevention is key.
  7. Parents, healthcare providers, and researchers all seek answers for autism spectrum disorders. We will be most successful by working together with the same goal–to discover the true causes of autism.

My advice to parents is to examine the scientific evidence for themselves. Your child’s health is too important to base decisions on inaccurate information. Seek reliable sources for medical information. Go to the AAP website http://www.aap.org/immunization/families/families.html and talk to your child’s doctor. As pediatricians, many of whom are parents too, we vaccinate our own children to protect them. We wouldn’t do anything differently for your child.

For more information on autism see http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chronic/Pages/Autism-Spectrum-Disorders.aspx

Send us your photos!

We need more photos of individuals with autism and their families for our upcoming annual report.  The annual report will appear in print and online.  Right now we have a few spots left to showcase our family members doing fun and wonderful things.

Before you submit your photos please make sure they meet the following guidelines:

  • Photos must be 1 MB or bigger in size
  • Close-ups of 1-2 people are best
  • Simple backgrounds
  • In sharp focus
  • The more light on your subjects the better
  • Pick current photos taken in the past 2 years
  • No studio portrait shots or school photos

To submit your photos email them by February 23 to Dawn at dawnacrawford@gmail.com. All participants will receive a release form for signature and return to ASF.

Thank you for your help. We can’t wait to see your pictures!


Bill Gates on CNN: Vaccine Autism Link an “Absolute Lie”.

Click here to view the interview

Gupta: There has been a lot of scrutiny of vaccines recently — specifically childhood vaccines. There has been a lot of news about is there a connection with autism, for example. What do you make of all that? Dr. [Andrew] Wakefield wrote a paper about this [in The Lancet in 1998] saying he thought there was a connection. And there were lower vaccination rates over a period of time as a result in Britain, then the United States. What are your thoughts?

Gates: Well, Dr. Wakefield has been shown to have used absolutely fraudulent data. He had a financial interest in some lawsuits, he created a fake paper, the journal allowed it to run. All the other studies were done, showed no connection whatsoever again and again and again. So it’s an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids. Because the mothers who heard that lie, many of them didn’t have their kids take either pertussis or measles vaccine, and their children are dead today. And so the people who go and engage in those anti-vaccine efforts — you know, they, they kill children. It’s a very sad thing, because these vaccines are important.

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