Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vaccine Studies

On the tail of revelations regarding the settlement agreed to by the Vaccine Court in the case of Hannah Poling, now there are more studies showing there appears to be no statistical correlation between certain vaccines and autism. The public is certain to view these as contradictory reports because the Poling case has been reported so badly in the media and online.

Thimerosal in vaccines did not cause an autism epidemic.

The study was released online Sept. 13 in advance of publication in the October print issue of Pediatrics.

Questions and answers with the thimerosal-autism study author.

From the University of Pennsylvania site MedPage Today:

The case-control study, of 256 children with autism spectrum disorders and 752 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, found that higher-than-average exposures to ethylmercury were, if anything, less common in kids with autism compared with healthy kids, reported Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office in Atlanta, and colleagues.

The research team found the following odds ratios for autism spectrum disorders associated with increases in ethylmercury exposure of two standard deviations, after adjusting for numerous potential confounders such as birthweight and maternal age:

• Prenatal exposure: OR 1.12 (95% CI 0.83 to 1.51)
• Exposure from birth to one month of age: OR 0.88 (95% CI 0.62 to 1.26)
• Exposure from birth to seven months: OR 0.60 (95% CI 0.36 to 0.99)
• Exposure from birth to 20 months: OR 0.60 (95% CI 0.32 to 0.97)

Noting that increased ethylmercury exposure in the two longer postnatal periods actually appeared to decrease the risk of three autism spectrum disorder outcomes, DeStefano and colleagues wrote that they were "not aware of a biological mechanism that would lead to this result."

There is always the slim and real potential for harm from almost anything. To state that "vaccines do not cause autism" is a blanket generalization based on the best available statistical evidence. To be constantly detailed and precise would make communication nearly impossible.

There are nutrition packs delivered to places suffering famine and disasters. The main ingredient is peanut butter. I couldn't even say "Peanut butter is one way to prevent malnutrition" because I'd need to add the precise number of people likely to experience allergies.

The odds that vaccines will harm someone are truly miniscule. No statistical model shows vaccinations correlate directly with autism. So, it is reasonable to give a blanket statement. It would be awkward to state the precise risk analysis for everything in life, and absurd.

Exercise is good for most people. It can also cause injury. That parallel is that we have detailed ways to exercise wisely and we also have designed vaccine protocols. But, people who do not trust medicine will never trust researchers… no matter what.

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