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Posts Tagged ‘Autism and Vaccines’

Orange Nose DayTomorrow, October 5, is the first annual Orange Nose Day in celebration of the top five steps to good health:

  • Wash hands
  • Get immunized
  • Eat colorful foods
  • Exercise
  • Avoid body fluids

For the autism community this also includes the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” for diagnosing autism and other developmental disabilities early in a child’s life. From birth to 5 years, children should reach certain milestones for playing, learning, speaking and behavior. These milestones are easy ways for parents to know if their child is on course or might need some extra help.

Early diagnosis are critical for children with autism as it allows a child to get the treatments they need. Children with autism in a good early intervention program can make meaningful gains in skills. In fact with early treatment, 30-50% make enough gains to be mainstreamed by kindergarten. Scientists can effectively screen children as early as 12 months [1], and recent studies have even found that some diagnoses can be made as at 6 to 8 weeks [2]. It’s important to note that early intervention programs vary by state, so check with your local organizations.

Beyond early intervention, Orange Nose Day is a reminder for all of us to take a moment and focus on your health. Pledge to take the 5 steps to good health and to wear an orange nose for the day. Our staff will be sporting an orange nosed profile pics on Facebook for the day. You can make your own for free on the Orange Nose Day website.

How will you mark Orange Nose Day with your family? Will you take an extra walk or maybe incorporate a new colorful food into your dinner? Share with us how you’ll be marking this healthy day!


[1] Pierce, K et al. “Detecting, studying and treating autism early: the one-year well- baby check-up approach.” Journal of Pediatrics. Vol. 159, Issue 3 (2011). http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476%2811%2900240-X/abstract.

[2] Klin, A. “Diagnostic Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders In the First Six Months of Life.” Speech presented at the IMFAR 2011, San Diego, CA. May, 2011.

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Online Autism Research Destination for  Parents, Individuals with Autism, Scientists and Teachers

We are pleased to announce the re-launch of our website as an enhanced, interactive resource for parents, individuals with autism, teachers, scientists and other autism stakeholders.

The website is the central distribution point for the latest in autism science and research. The site features:

Over the next few weeks, ASF’s team will be adding more features to the site including autism research sorted by topic area and a section about autism research studies seeking participants.

“It’s crucial that families, educators and scientists have access to up-to-date information that they know has been peer-reviewed or vetted by ASF’s Scientific Advisory Board,” said ASF co-founder Karen London. “Since ASF’s inception in 2009, we have aimed to be a central and trusted source of rigorous science information for the autism community.”

“We are pleased to be able to offer the autism community a broad and deep source of evidence-based information that integrates more interactive features and that reorganizes information to make it more useful and easier to find, in response to community feedback,” said Jonathan Carter,  ASF’s operations manager. “The site offers ways for everyone who has a connection to autism to get involved in this important issue.”

We hope you enjoy our new online home as much as we do! Got ideas or feedback about the site? Leave a comment or email us at contactus@autismsciencefoundation.org.

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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

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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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No increased risk for any autism subtypes
No increased risk associated with prenatal exposure

A new study published today in the journal “Pediatrics” indicated that there was no increased risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder associated with receipt of thimerosal-containing vaccines. The study also found no increased risk for any of the subtypes of Autism Spectrum Disorder, including ASD with regression.  In addition, it found no increased risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder associated with prenatal exposure to thimerosal.

A case-control study was conducted in 3 managed care organizations of 256 children with ASD and 752 controls, matched by age and gender. Exposure to thimerosal was determined by electronic immunization registries, medical charts and parent interviews.

This study confirms previous research, which has not revealed an increased risk of autism associated with receipt of thimerosal containing vaccines. It adds to the body of knowledge by reporting that prenatal exposure to thimerosal is not associated with autism. It also looked specifically at subtypes of autism, including autism with regression, again finding no association with thimerosal exposure.

No significant differences in exposure effects were found between boys and girls for any of the ASD outcomes; there was no evidence that higher prenatal exposure exacerbated the effects of post-natal exposure; and there was no evidence that concurrent ethylmercury exposure was associated with ASD. In addition, there was no substantive difference in the association between thimerosal exposure and risk for ASD among children with an older sibling with autism and those without an older sibling with autism.

“In a way, it’d be great if thimerosal in infant vaccines was the culprit because the U.S. has already removed thimerosal from them” said Dr. Sharon Humiston, a pediatrician and FAAP, former member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) and member of the Autism Science Foundation Science Advisory Board.  “Because we have not found the root causes of autism, we need to keep funding the research that will help us find them.  Because the resources to find what really does cause autism are scarce – money, scientists, and time – we urgently need to focus these resources on avenues that appear to be fruitful.  The vaccine hypothesis just has not yielded answers that help my autistic son or my typically developing daughter who may want to have children of her own one day.”

Pediatrics, September 13, 2010: Prenatal and Infant Exposure toThimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism

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Several people have written to us asking why Hannah Poling was compensated.

Hannah Poling received 5 shots to protect against 9 diseases on a single day. She developed fever following that series of vaccines. Because she had an existing encephalopathy (presumably on the basis of a mitochondrial enzyme defect) and because worsening of an existing encephalopathy following measles-containing vaccine is a compensible injury, Hannah Poling was compensated.

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