More evidence that mercury in vaccines doesn’t cause autism

A comprehensive study published today has failed to find any relationship between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the administration of vaccines that contain thimerosal. This lack of association even extends to prenatal exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines. Will this study finally put an end to the manufactroversy about vaccines, thimerosal, and autism?

Background

There’s been repeated claims over the past two decades that vaccines are responsible for causing autism. (A detailed backgrounder may be found here.) The incidence of autism diagnoses has climbed over the past two decades, and some have pointed to vaccines as the culprit – specifically, the mercury preservative used in most products.

Thimerosal has been a preservative in vaccines for decades. It is metabolized into ethylmercury and excreted by the kidneys in the urine. This may be contrasted with methylmercury, the mercury form for which exposure limits have been established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. In 1999, it was observed that children given routine vaccinations could have received more ethylmercury than the safe limit established for methylmercury. As a precaution, manufacturers were asked to remove thimerosal from vaccines, and it was further recommended that studies be conducted to evaluate the relationship between receipt of ethylmercury, and autism.

Previous studies have failed to identify any relationship between thimerosal and autism. And after thimerosal was removed from the majority of vaccines, the incidence of ASD hasn’t decreased. However, there hasn’t been a detailed analysis of the specific prenatal and post-natal exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines. That’s what this trial set out to answer.

This study by Price et al, entitled, Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism is a partner to a study by Thompson et al published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, that examined the relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and adverse neuropsychological outcomes – but deliberately excluded ASD. Briefly, the Thompson study failed to find any relationship between the two.

Methods

Canadians brag a lot about their health care system, but this trial could probably have only been done in the USA, where there’s an electronic medical record to identify patients and and collect medical information. Three managed care organizations participated in a case-control study of 256 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and 752 controls that were matched for birth year and gender. Children were eligible to participate if they were born between 1994 and 1999, so children were 6 to 13 years old at the time of the study. ASD children were identified by searching databases for diagnoses relevant to ASD. Mothers were interviewed, and children were also directly assessed using standardized tools to confirm the diagnosis. Three groups were tracked: ASD; autistic disorder (AD) (a subset with more severe symptoms); and ASD with regression (AD-R) (children reported to have lost previously acquired language skills). Assessors were blinded with respect to the thimerosal exposure of the child and mother. Controls were screened via a maternal interview to ensure no children in the control group had undiagnosed ASD.

Each child’s history of thimerosal-containing injections (TCIs) was pulled from electronic immunization records. The mercury content of each vaccine received was determined by tracking the manufacturer and product lot, which was compared against manufacturer records. The mother’s receipt of immunoglobulins, tetanus, and diptheria-tetanus vaccines was also obtained from medical records. This allowed a calculation of the exact amount of ethylmercury administered.

Multiple covariates (variables that could influence the outcome) were also tracked, including child and family characteristics (mother’s age at birth, education level, income, birth order, breastfeeding duration, etc.); prenatal mercury exposure from fish, cosmetics, or dental fillings; use of tobacco and other drugs; and multiple child birth factors (e.g., respiratory distress, etc).

Results

After exclusion criteria and patient refusals were applied, 256 children met the criteria for ASD, including 187 with AD and 49 with AD-R. Characteristics were largely identical between the children with ASD and the 752 children in the control group.

Children with ASD, and controls, had similar exposure to ethyl mercury over sequential time periods (see Table 2 of the study).  The variation in mercury exposure was considerable in each group, due to factors that included receipt of vaccine, different brands of vaccines, and administration of vaccines individually or as combined products. Here are the pivotal findings:

  • Exposure to ethylmercury from TCIs either prenatally or in the first month of life was not associated with any form of ASD.
  • In older groups, higher levels of ethylmercury exposure were associated with a decreased risk of each of ASD, AD, and AD-R.

There’s no known mechanism by which vaccines with ethylmercury would reduce the incidence of ASD. The authors looks at different reasons for the difference, but found none. It could be that this is simply a spurious finding reflective of the observation that the two groups don’t really differ.

Conclusion

This detailed analysis found no relationship between ASD and thimerosal exposure. Limitations to the analysis include the fact that this is an observational study. While painstaking measures were taken to control for confounders, it’s always possible there’s a unknown confounder.

A prospective, randomized trial (vaccinated versus unvaccinated) will never be conducted as it’s not ethically permissible. Nor is it even possible anymore, as thimerosal has been removed from virtually all vaccines.  This study is “as good as it gets” with respect to what an observational trial can do to address the thimerosal – autism question. The results add to numerous other studies which also failed to identify a link between thimerosal-containing injections and autism. It’s persuasive and compelling evidence, that there’s no relationship to be found.

Will the publication of this study stop antivaccinationists from claiming that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism? Of course not. More data won’t be persuasive, because the idea that thimerosal causes autism was never based on good evidence evidence to begin with. But this study gives science advocates further evidence to reassure those unsure of the safety of vaccines that there is no relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.

ResearchBlogging.org

Reference

Price CS, Thompson WW, Goodson B, Weintraub ES, Croen LA, Hinrichsen VL, et al. (2010). Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism. Pediatrics, doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0309.

Free full-text of the study is available here.

About these ads

218 thoughts on “More evidence that mercury in vaccines doesn’t cause autism

    • Oooh, a book written by a ex-business guy who cannot tell the difference between autism and mercury poisoning (hint: autistic children do not have magenta hued skin), and the ex-journalist who wandered around Lancaster County in Pennsylvania and completely missed a clinic dedicated to the care and study of the Amish, because of their unique genetic disorders!

      Oh, and that little website run by John Stone and Clifford Miller. So guys, which vaccine did Desiree Jennings get? Is she still affected? See more here:

      http://jabsloonies.blogspot.com/search?q=childhealthsafety

  1. The self-styled Childhealthsafety blogger demonstrates much of the problem with those who adhere to the mercury hypothesis.

    For example, the good gentleman makes the comment:

    The cases of autistic children were not matched with a comparable group of non autistic “control” children to enable a proper comparison to be made. Yet the study was supposedly a “case-control” study.

    One wonders why he didn’t take the time to read the paper. There were twice the number of controls as cases. Controls were matched for year of birth, sex, HMO and other parameters

    His post is based on a smoke-screen attempt. He claims that autistic children have an impaired ability to excrete mercury. Leave aside from the fact that this is wrong it has no bearing on the paper’s conclusions. If autistic children were poor excretors of mercury and this led to thimerosal causing autism, the current study would have seen an increased risk of autism based on mercury exposure. The same holds true if there were an increased risk due to some other mechanism than the poor excretor hypothesis.

    It is unfortunate that the current study is not going to convince those who have wedded themselves to the mercury hypothesis. I have hope for the future parents who will have access to better information than our generation of parents had. The fact is that for future generations of American children the question is only of academic interest anyway as mercury has been removed from pediatric vaccines.

  2. Ha,

    You are caught with your pants down on this and your only defence is abuse. Love it.

    Can’t answer won’t answer.

    How about this Chrissie:-

    “Mercury & Autism – Naming and Shaming Dr Gorski & “Science Free Zone” Bloggers”

    http://tinyurl.com/3xmsro6

    As for the people you associate with like the author of the jabsloonies.blogspot here is a little of the literary quality of his work. If you want to associate with loonies you sure have picked one:-

    “John Stone is a cock”

    “Teri Arranga is a liar”

    “Hilary Butler is a fucking liar”

    “Ed Arranga is a dickhead”

    All found here and on every page:

    http://jabsloonies.blogspot.com/

    And “Becky” has been rumbled already [or should we say Rumbold]. Is it paediatrics he is interested in? Or something else beginning with the same first four letters? Please do let us all know.

    • Teri Arranga is a liar. She has offered three different explanations for why I was removed from an AutismOne conference two years ago. None of them make sense. She kicked a Chicago Tribune reporter out last year, then spread a rumor that the reporter was being disruptive.

      • Funny thing that.

        I demonstrated that “Becky” Rumbold is a complete nutter using foulmouthed abuse include sexual abuse published on his website.

        Now you come along and are abusive too.

        Hey presto, you also run a website which engages in abuse which includes sexually crude abuse.

        The Penn & Teller video on your site is great – I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing – these two performers abusing parents of vaccine injured children calling them “fucking nutjobs” and using phrases like “fuck them asshole fish”.

        The funniest piece of course is that Penn & Teller are illusionists – literally using smoke and mirrors to make thing look like they aren’t.

        That tells people everything they need to know.

    • Childhealthsafety – I’m assuming you’re either John Stone or Clifford Miller.

      You have just publically implied that Becky is a paedophile.

      I sincerely hope she sues the hell out of you for that.

  3. Sullivan says:-
    “Controls were matched for year of birth, sex, HMO and other parameters”.

    But they were not matched on ability to detoxify mercury. It is a well-known issue. It is not an issue which can be ducked.

    If you want to compare like with like you have to compare like cases against like controls.

    Even if you want to put the point down to a “poor excretor hypothesis” [and there is enough literature to show it is more than that] it is a confounding factor which invalidates the Pediatrics study. The authors took no account of it and did nothing to deal with it.

  4. As is clearly pointed out above, it doesn’t matter if the (failed) poor excretor hypothesis were true.

    If it were true, there would be a higher prevalence of autism amongst for children with the same exposure to mercury.

    I know this will sound harsh, but you need to understand what a confounding factor is. Your use of the term is clearly in error.

    • “If it [the poor excreter hypothesis] were true, there would be a higher prevalence of autism amongst for children with the same exposure to mercury.”

      There is. The autistic group has a higher prevalence of autistic conditions than the controls.

      The authors made no effort to control for the obvious fact that children who develop autistic conditions have a different physiology to children who do not.

      If you want to compare like with like you have to compare like cases against like controls.

      The authors of this study failed to do that. End result: junk science.

      • I think you might have misunderstood the statement you quoted.

        Basically, what this means is that the children who were exposed to vaccines with mercury in them should have had a higher rate of autism than the groups of children who were not exposed to vaccines with mercury.

        It appears that this wasn’t the case. Matching for poor excretion and different physiologies would not affect this statistic.

        More interestingly, if the amount of mercury a child is exposed to increases the risk of autism, then the rate of autism in children who had been exposed to high levels of mercury should have been greater than the rate of autism in low levels (or no exposure) of mercury. Again the results do not appear to show this, and again, the issues of different physiology, etc. should not affect these statistics.

  5. “And “Becky” has been rumbled already [or should we say Rumbold]. Is it paediatrics he is interested in? Or something else beginning with the same first four letters? Please do let us all know.”

    You don’t serve yourself well by this attack. Hiding behind “first four letters” doesn’t save you from what is far more crude of an attack than what you complain about from Becky.

    • Sullivan, not only chooses to associate himself with and defend “Becky” Rumbold but defends “Becky” Rumbold’s indefensible behaviour.

      But then Sullivan defends an indefensible junk science study from Pediatrics.

      Is this the same Sullivan writes on Kev Leitch’s blog?

      “Lies, Damn Lies and Blog Posts”

      http://tinyurl.com/3xlgbha

  6. This whole vaccines and autism thing is fascinating. The anti-vax folk seem to believe simultaneously that:

    a) Thimerosal causes autism
    b) MMR vaccine (which doesn’t contain thimerosal) causes autism.

    Does it not occur to them that it would be one hell of a coincidence if those two things, which have absolutely nothing in common other than their association with the object of their pet hate (ie vaccines) just happened to cause autism, presumably via two completely separate mechanisms?

    The alternative explanation, which I rather like, is that anti-vax conspiracy theorists just love making up conspiracy theories about vaccines, and don’t really bother too much about whether they have any basis in fact.

    • The US DHHS, HRSA and Julie Gerberding, [currently Merck’s Vaccine Division Director] have all conceded that vaccines can cause autistic conditions.

      Instead of addressing the issue of the Pediatrics paper you engage in rhetoric and pejoratives.

      I love the “conspiracy” word and “anti-vax” claims. When people have to fallback on those, the argument is already won.

      This is all about child health safety. If vaccines were safe and effective these issues would not arise. They aren’t.

      US DHSS, HRSA and Gerberding do not discriminate between which vaccines can cause autism nor do they say there is only one causal mechanism.

      • They also ignore the documented autistics who were born before 1930, however.

        California Department of Developmental Services has had clients under the autism label with birth dates as far back as 1917/18.

  7. What I just don’t get about this whole “mercury” hypothesis is, well, two things:

    1) People are exposed to more mercury eating a can of tuna fish than all of the vaccines combined (of course, now that Thimersol has been removed, the difference is now much, much, much greater) – so where is the uproar over plain old exposure?

    2) Since this hypothesis leads to a desire to “chelate” and people claim to have pulled large quantities of mercury from children – where is this mercury supposed to be coming from? Since the overall exposure is so low, regardless (tiny, tiny fractions of the substance) – do they claim the body is manufacturing mercury on its own? This just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

    And since Chelating doesn’t just focus on one particular element, what they are doing is stripping a child’s body of all heavy elements, including those that are actually necessary and vital – plus the process itself is pretty barbaric to begin with.

    Since Thimersol was only an issue (if you can say that it even was – since the evidence is hugely against it) and now it has been mostly removed (except for the flu vaccine) this staunch defense of a lame argument is just becoming embarrasing.

    Of course, people are still trotting out the old debunked info – no Amish autistics (not true), not many, too soon (no evidence), and the Big Pharma Conspiracy – well, and the Poling Decision, which has nothing to do with Mercury or Autism, just a genetic disorder.

    At the end of the day, it is sad that parents who aren’t vaccinating today had the advantage of vaccinations given to them by their own parents, who witnesses firsthand the devastation of the very childhood diseases that vaccines have helped almost eliminate.

    That is why it is a tragedy when even one child dies of a disease that he/she had no reason in the world to get.

  8. Good grief! I went over to the Child Health Safety blog.
    I looked up the listed studies supposedly supporting the hypothesized “issue of mercury accumulation in autistic children”. The Child Health Safety bloggers must assume all their readers are ignorant and/or gullible and/or stupid. If these people are so sure their position is the correct one, supported by evidence, why do they feel the need to publish such blatant deceptions in effort to support it? None of those linked studies there support the assertions. Such willful misrepresentation is surely the domain of con artistry.

    • Rhetoric, insults and abuse do nothing to address the fact that if you want to show that autistic conditions cannot result from mercury toxicity you have to compare cases with controls which have at least closely similar susceptibility to mercury toxicity and not just closely similar exposure.

      The Pediatrics study does not address the issue that mercury [neurotoxic in parts per billion] could cause a condition in some and not others, despite claimed similar exposures. This is a known issue. There is no excuse.

  9. If this Pediatrics study were on lung cancer, Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill would laugh at it.

    It is fundamental in epidemiology to compare an exposed group to a non exposed group to see if there is any difference between the groups. This Pediatrics study fails on all counts.

    It is the equivalent of taking all smokers and separating them into two groups – those who develop lung cancer and those who do not – and then claiming that as both groups have similar exposures to smoking, that smoking cannot cause lung cancer.

    Some people smoke and develop lung cancer. Some do not.

    Some children have vaccines and develop autistic conditions. Some do not.

    • I think you might need a refresher course in basic epidemiology. This was a case-control study, which is a perfectly well accepted type of epidemiological study design.

      It’s very different from a cohort study, which I suspect is what you are thinking of.

      Suggest you read up on the differences between the two kinds of study designs.

      • No Adam. Maybe you should tell the authors.

        A case-control study in these circumstances will tell you nothing. That is entirely obvious.

        The main difference between the case and control groups is one is of autistics and the other is not.

        Both groups have similar exposures to the alleged cause.

        There is no differential data to make a comparison.

      • You are correct that the difference between the case and control groups is that that cases are autistic and the control aren’t. That’s the whole idea of the study design (seriously, you do need to read about how a case control study works.)

        You are also correct that both groups have similar exposures to the alleged cause. However, after that, you seem to misunderstand what is happening. Perhaps that’s because you’re a troll and are doing so deliberately, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s because you don’t understand how case control studies work.

        The similar exposure in both groups is the result of the study, and shows that the alleged cause is actually not a cause. It is not an inevitable result of the study design that the exposure is similar in both groups. If thimerosal caused autism, the exposure would be different in the case and control groups.

      • “The similar exposure in both groups is the result of the study ….”

        No. It is the result of both groups getting the same vaccine schedules.

        “….. and shows that the alleged cause is actually not a cause …..”

        No. We know some children develop autism when others do not just as we know some people develop lung cancer from smoking and others do not and some people get ‘flu and others do not, all despite the same exposure to a postulated cause.

        See also response to DT_1975 here:-

        http://tinyurl.com/2vuogmy

        I am interested to know precisely what hypotheses are claimed to be tested and in the light of that what the odds ratios are meant to be ratios of.

        The authors say: “Our current study was designed to examine the relationships between ethylmercury exposure from
        thimerosal-containing injections (TCIs), which include thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations, and any of 3 ASD outcomes: ASD; autistic disorder (AD); and ASD with regression.”

        And: “… for matching within strata defined by birth year, gender, and MCO to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) for ASD outcomes associated with increases in ethylmercury exposure for 4 different periods: prenatal; birth to 1 month; birth to 7 months; and birth to 20 months.”

        And: “we present ORs in 2 forms. The first is the OR associated with an increase of 1
        unit of exposure …. The second, ….. is the OR for a difference in exposure equal to 2 SDs for each particular exposure measure of interest.”

        This suggests that in fact they are comparing not cases with controls but cases with cases. Cases which had a higher exposure to mercury compared to lower.

        So they are comparing increases in exposure between autistic cases and using the controls as a denominator in their calculation of an odds ratio rather than a true comparison group.

        Their argument or hypothesis appears to be that there were proportionately just as many autistic cases with high exposure to mercury as low at the different age strata and therefore the mercury did not have a dose response relationship to the development of an autistic condition.

        It is very unsatisfactory all round.

        If you think they have done something else, please say.

      • Yes, the exposure to mercury in both groups was similar because the vaccine schedules were similar in both groups.

        That is the whole point. If vaccines caused autism, the vaccine schedules would have been different in the two groups.

        Seriously, you need to go away and learn how case control studies work. You could start with this one: http://www.ehib.org/faq.jsp?faq_key=34. If you want to learn more, the Wikipedia article has plenty of info.

      • Thanks for the suggestion, but not necessary.

        There was no possibility from the outset of this study ever identifying an association between vaccination and autism. This is because all the controls and the cases had the same exposure.

        A case-control study starts with an outcome or effect (lung cancer, heart disease) and a number of potential causative factors.

        Cases are selected who have the outcome.

        Risk factors are identified plus non-risk.

        Controls are chosen who do not have the outcome and should match the cases closely on non-risk factors [eg. age, sex, race, income bracket, geographic area of residence].

        The case and control groups are then compared to estimate the strength of association of each risk factor.

        When studying heart disease, if all the cases were found to be overweight but none of the controls, that might result in an estimate of a high degree of association of being overweight with heart disease.

        That requires a control group of mixed exposure to the risk – in other words a representative sample of the population ranging from the very thin to the clinically obese.

        In this Pediatrics study all the controls were exposed to the same putative risk factor – organo mercury containing vaccines.

        The end result could have been predicted from the outset without anyone carrying the study out.

      • OK, I’ll try one more time, because you really haven’t got it. But I’m afraid if you still haven’t got it after this then I give up.

        In a case control study, you do not select controls based on their level of exposure to the putative risk factor. You select them without any regard to that information, and then you observe how many of them are exposed to the risk factor.

        The fact that, in this case, exposure to the putative risk factor was the same shows that it wasn’t actually a risk factor.

        If you’re struggling to understand this question, ask yourself this: what results would you expect to observe if vaccination didn’t cause autism?

      • “In a case control study, you do not select controls based on their level of exposure to the putative risk factor.”

        And you also must ensure the control group includes those who have not been exposed.

        This study is identical to taking as cases people who smoke and have lung cancer and as controls people who smoke and do not have lung cancer. Any attempt at detecting a difference is doomed from the outset.

        If you want to ignore that it is up to you. But don’t try to mislead others with suggestions I am in error when I am not but you are.

        The study authors also included a long list of names as “acknowledgements” as if endorsers of the study. Again a deception and not true.

        This is what SafeMinds have said [some of their members are listed as “acknowledgements”]:-

        “Planning for this study began in 2001. Over the nine year study period, the large external panel of consultants providing input to the investigators was reduced to a small subset by study end. The original large panel recommended against the study design ultimately employed, as insufficient to answer the question of early thimerosal exposure and autism rates. The CDC and AHIP overruled the external consultants.”

        These authors and Pediatrics and the US CDC knew from the outset this study could never show anything and they went ahead with it.

        Funny thing is, after nine years, they only decide to publish the study and promote it in the worlds media the day before Age of Autisms book was being launched on the issue of mercury causing autism.

      • OK, I give up. I can only assume that you are deliberately misunderstanding in a troll-like manner. I can’t believe you seriously haven’t understood the impossibility of selecting specific exposures in the control group in a case-control study.

      • Adam,

        you seem not to appreciate several points.

        Once the authors found the control group had the same exposure to mercury containing vaccines as the cases that invalidated the study.

        But also they would have known before undertaking the study it would have been a practical impossibility to select a control group from the outset which did not have the same exposure to mercury containing vaccines as the cases.

        So they must have known this before undertaking the study. And the study was not undertaken by academics but by a paid commercial consultancy firm Abt Associates Inc reporting to de Stephano at the US CDC.

        I have explained the impossibility of finding any association on this on this blog as clearly as I believe is humanly possible, yet you still do not seem to understand the point or choose not to accept it. Kindly therefore do not accuse me of “troll-like” behaviour. I have been patient.

      • Ok Adam,

        Lets test your theory that if all the controls and cases have identical exposure that means the putative cause is not the cause.

        We take a population all of which has had identical exposure to the then current ‘flu virus.

        We then separate out those who develop flu from those who do not.

        You would conclude that exposure to ‘flu virus is not a risk factor in contracting ‘flu.

        That is really smart work.

        We can repeat that example over and over with every kind of known cause and effect and every time you will get the same answer – no association even though we know there is.

        Are we now clear on this.

      • Well, you’re clearly not, because that’s not what they did in the vaccine study.

        They took randomly selected controls. They did not take controls selected on the basis of their vaccine exposure.

        As it happened, their vaccine exposure was the same as the cases. Therefore, there is no association.

      • What is being looked at is relative risk.

        If controls have identical exposure to cases the relative risk will always be 1 +/- within the confidence interval.

        This is another way of saying that if controls and cases have identical exposure to the putative risk factor a case control study will never be able to provide any information on actual risk.

        Which is another way of saying the Pediatrics paper is junk.

        It does not make any difference whether they intended the controls to have the same exposure or it was accidental.

        If controls and cases have identical exposure a case control study will tell you nothing.

        I really cannot assist any more than I have done.

    • Hi,

      I think you might have misunderstood the way this study was set up, as your analogy isn’t quite right.

      A more accurate analogy would be to take a large group of people – all with a social security number, for example – and then split them into two groups, one with lung cancer, and one group without, and them compare the level of smoking between the two groups.

      This paediatric study appears to have been set up along these lines, so the analysis and conclusions drawn would appear to be sound.

      • That is not even close to what was done here.

        In the example you give selecting by social security number would include smokers and non-smokers [ie. exposed and unexposed]. So it would be possible to compare how many exposed developed lung cancer to those non-exposed and calculate the relative risk of developing lung cancer depending on whether the subject did or did not smoke.

        In the Pediatrics study all were exposed to vaccines.

        So you cannot tell if there is or is not any causal association. All you can say is some exposed will develop autistic conditions and some will not. [But that was known before the study was carried out.]

        Some people develop lung cancer who do not smoke.

      • childhealthsafety,

        Sorry, but I’ve just re-read this article, and unless its reporting the study incorrectly, my analogy is exactly what they did. Most importantly they did not pre-determine that everyone in the study had to have had a mercury based vaccination.

        The matched pairing only occurred on birth year and gender, not on exposure to mercury. Also, most importantly, mercury/vaccination history was blinded. This exactly the right way to conduct this kind of study.

        BTW the matched pairing is an important statistical step to prevent rare occurrences, like the possibility of ASD being related to mercury in vaccinations from being lost in the noise floor.

      • Just read the proper abstract and summary, and the analysis is even more rigorous than described in this article.

        They used logistic regression to see if they could back-predict the type of ASD outcome a child would have given their exposure to mercury at different age groups and all the other potential factors listed above.

        The results showed that exposure to mercury was not a predictable factor in ASD.

        However, your comment about the ability to detoxify mercury is interesting. How would you even start to test that safely? And what do you make of the fact that the rate of autism in the west has remained constant even though there isn’t mercury in vaccines any more?

        Also I was wondering about the opportunity cost? (horrible term, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment) We know, for example, that measles infections will kill around 10-15% of children. What is the rate of autism that you believe is caused by mercury vaccinations?

      • I have also re-read the paper. It is regrettably as rigorous as cooking.

        The authors have incorrectly stated the amounts of “ethyl mercury” in the vaccines as “0, 12.5 or 25″ microgrammes [that is aside from it not being ethyl mercury either] [p661]. The correct quantity is 0, 25 or 50 microgrammes. The figure they give is the proportion of weight of thiomersal attributable to the atomic weight of mercury it contains in organically bound molecular form.

        Elsewhere such as table 2 they appear to have confused the quantity again to arrive at cumulative exposures of up to 300 microgrammes when they should be half those measures on the other figures cited by them.

        They have failed to state with necessary clarity or at all the precise hypothesis/ses they are testing.

        Let me know what you say the odds ratios in Table 3 are. Ratios of risk of what and compared to what. And then match that to the narrative text in the paper and the hypothesis you think are under test.

        It is a most fascinatingly opaque paper. Not rigorous or precise in any way.

    • childhealthsafety says:
      “The study authors also included a long list of names as “acknowledgements” as if endorsers of the study.”

      That is wrong childhealthsafety! Obviously you’re not very familiar with research publications…or perhaps just a deliberate misrepresentation aimed to the ignorant and the gullible?

      Names acknowledged on a science paper are not included for the purpose of “as if endorsers of the study” rather acknowledgements are provided in recognition of contribution by those named.

      Try a dictionary. Word:”acknowledgement”

      • No Sauceress,

        in this instance that is exactly what the authors did when it appears wholly unjustified.

        Those named include at least one member of SafeMinds. As already stated, this is what SafeMinds have to say on the matter:-

        “Planning for this study began in 2001. Over the nine year study period, the large external panel of consultants providing input to the investigators was reduced to a small subset by study end. The original large panel recommended against the study design ultimately employed, as insufficient to answer the question of early thimerosal exposure and autism rates. The CDC and AHIP overruled the external consultants.”

        How can the authors “acknowledge” the contribution of a whole list of people who told the authors before they started that they were doing the study the wrong way?

        The use of those names was to add credibility to the study as if the study was endorsed by those people when it specifically and clearly was not.

      • And the US CDC under Julie Gerberding did exactly the same thing over the previous CDC funded genius study on exactly the same issue:-

        “US Research Fraud, Tax Dollars And Italian Vaccine Mercury Study”

        http://tinyurl.com/37ghj4s

        It was Gerberding who walked straight in to the job of Director of Merck’s Vaccine Division last December – another job of vaccine sales person in chief for the drug industry.

        And it was Gerberding also who confirmed in a US national TV interview one of the mechanism by which vaccines can cause autistic conditions:-

        “… if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.“

        HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA – Unraveling the Mystery of Autism; Talking With the CDC Director; Stories of Children with Autism; Aging with Autism – Aired March 29, 2008 – 08:30 ET

        That concerned the case of Hannah Poling [who had mitochondrial dysfunction – not mitochondrial disorder].

  10. Adam asks for sources on vaccines causing autistic conditions:-

    The current President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding confirmed to CBS News when she was Director of the US Centres for Disease Control that vaccines can cause autism:

    “if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.”

    http://tinyurl.com/3af4uma

    The US HRSA confirmed in writing to CBS News in May 2008 in relation to 1824 cases settled in the Federal Vaccine Court that:-

    “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms
    including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.”

    But admitted to not keeping statistics on the breakdown in the 1824 cases of how many developed autistic conditions.

    Autistic conditions can result from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following MMR vaccination as the expert medical evidence showed in the US Federal Court case of Bailey Banks:-
    Banks v. HHS (Case 02-0738V, 2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 254, July 20, 2007).

    There have also been the US Federal Court cases of Hannah Poling and Ben Zeller in addition to those of the 1824 cases settled in secret by the US DHHS where autistic conditions were caused.

    The first known cause of autism is rubella virus, one of the three live viruses in the MMR vaccine. Any live virus can cause an encepalopathy so measles and mumps all combined in the MMR vaccine can cause encephalopathy which as the US HRSA concedes can result in autistic conditions.

    – … rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Director National Immunization Program in a letter to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer 15 February 2002.

    – rubella virus is one of the few known causes of autism.” US Center for Disease Control.

    – rubella can cause autism” The Pediatrician’s Role in the Diagnosis and Management of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Children – PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001

    Journal references:

    Chess, S. Autism in children with congenital rubella. J Autism Child Schizophr. 1, 33-47 (1971).

    Chess S. Follow-up report on autism in congenital rubella. J Autism Child Schizophr. 1977;7:69 –81

    Ziring PR. Congenital rubella: the teenage years. Pediatr Ann. 1997;6: 762–770

    • So let me get this straight: you’re saying that being infected with rubella causes autism. You’re then saying that MMR vaccination (so we’ve given up on trying to claim that thimerosal causes autism now, have we?), which protects against rubella infection, actually increases the risk of autism?

      You might want to think about that.

      • No. You asked for references and I provided them.

        Are you saying it is impossible for a triple vaccine containing three live viruses including rubella virus cannot cause an encephalopathy, ADEM or a mitochondrial dysfunction from which an autistic condition can result?

        The citations provided confirm it is possible.

      • I asked for references showing that vaccines caused autism.

        What you presented was references showing that a vaccine preventable disease may cause autism.

        That is quite an important distinction.

      • Sorry, must have missed those ones. The only citations I saw in your post above were about rubella and autism. Why don’t you start another post in which you simply list all the citations to peer-reviewed papers showing that vaccines cause autism.

      • Adam,

        note that CHS is, once again, showing a lack of understanding of the science.

        Rubella causes autism (and many other disabilities)–when the infection occurs during gestation

        There is no science indicating that rubella infections in infants causes autism.

        So, even if an MMR vaccination resulted in a full infection of rubella in the infant, autism would not result.

        He cites Stella Chess’s work. That was the first work identifying a high incidence of autism amongst kids with CRS. He either doesn’t understand the work, hasn’t read the work, or doesn’t care that he is misusing it.

      • On the contrary Sullivan, it is not me misusing or misunderstanding. The citations and quotes provided show it is accepted by the Merck’s current Director of Vaccine Division, the US HRSA, the US DHHS and the US Federal Court that autistic conditions can result from vaccinations.

        If in addition to that you wish to deny that three live viruses including rubella virus can cause an encephalopathy, ADEM or a mitochondrial dysfunction from which an autistic condition can result that is up to you.

        I would not expect anything less as you spend so much time on Kev Leitch’s blog denying all the time.

        Leitch’s blog is not a reliable source:
        “Lies, Damn Lies and Blog Posts”

        http://tinyurl.com/3xlgbha

      • Not funny at all. Especially for the children concerned and when it is accepted by the Merck’s current Director of Vaccine Division [former Director of the US$11 billion budger Centers for Disease Control), the US HRSA, the US DHHS and the US Federal Court that autistic conditions can result from vaccinations.

        You can stay in denial as long as you like but the pool of other denialists has clearly diminished.

      • Fine.

        I’m happy to have the same zero credibility on the point as:-

        – Merck’s current Director of Vaccine Division [former Director of the US$11 billion budget Centers for Disease Control),

        – the US HRSA,

        – the US DHHS and

        – the US Federal Court

        all of whom/which have confirmed that autistic conditions can result from vaccinations.

      • I’m not at all sure they did say that. I had a good look on the DHSS website and they seemed very clear that vaccines do not cause autism.

        Even if some of the others did say that (which I doubt), that matters not a jot to me unless they said it on the basis of scientific evidence.

        Which they didn’t, as you have conspicuously failed to cite any.

      • Adam, what Mr Miller is saying is that some people have indicated vaccines might be linked to medical conditions with symptoms regarded as “autistic-like”. Ergo, they “cause” autism. Evidence to the contrary won’t sway him.

        Take one example – ADEM, a demyelinating encephalomyelitis that not infrequently follows viral infections like measles. ADEM causes diffuse neurological damage which may persist, so in the spectrum of its manifestations will be some symptoms that could fit the autistic definition.

        Now the fact that this condition has extremely rarely (in less than one case a million) been reported as a complication of vaccination for the relevant virus infections means that rarely one may find a child who has developed neurological damage, perhaps with some autistic features, following the vaccination. So, yes, vaccination has “caused” autism in Mr Miller’s estimation, and the fact that this has been recognised through vaccine damage court (ie the Bailey Banks case) counts as “scientific evidence”.

        But I wonder where that leaves the one in a thousand kids who would get ADEM following a natural measles virus infection? You see, many of them will by his definition be rendered “autistic” from the natural disease. In fact, without vaccination against measles, we would expect to see thousands of children developing “autistic conditions” following measles every year in the UK.

        But this doesn’t seem to matter to Mr Miller. You see he can kid himself that ADEM from measles is entirely harmless (though he will paradoxically and rather bizzarely insist that ADEM from vaccination is a neurological hell on earth). All that matters to him is that someone once conceded post-vaccination ADEM “caused” an autistic “condition”, and that’s reason enough for him to label it causative, and to cry for an end to vaccination.

  11. “The figure they give is the proportion of weight of thiomersal attributable to the atomic weight of mercury it contains in organically bound molecular form. ”

    Do you realize that the above statement is meaningless? You have strung together a lot of words into a sentence that conveys no information, other than to demonstrate your lack of science acumen.

    That said, HepB vaccines in the 1990’s contained 12.5 micrograms of mercury or zero micrograms. Also, there were combined HiB-HepB vaccines which contained 25 micrograms so for analysis the study authors considered those combination shots as though they were two vaccines, one HiB with 12.5 micrograms and one HepB with 12.5 micrograms.

    It is all very clearly spelled out in the technical reports.

    • Do you realise you have just demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of organic chemistry and the physics of the molecular bonding of the organo mercury compound sodium ethylmercury thiosalicylate called thiomersal or merthiolate – C9H10HgO2S.

      “It is all clearly spelled out in the technical reports” looks like you have looked up [no doubt on Wikipedia] information about this organo-mercury compound in an effort to demonstrate some kind of “superior knowledge” and just dug a hole for yourself.

      The sentence you cite is an accurate statement. Thanks for telegraphing to everyone your lack of knowledge.

      Thiomersal or merthiolate is a complex organo-mercuric compound.

      Thiomersal/merthiolate does not “contain” any free mercury at all. It is a complex organic chain molecule one of the atoms of which bound to the rest of the atoms comprised in molecule is an atom of mercury.

      If you add up all the molecular weights of the atoms comprised in the molecule, the proportion of the weight attributable to the single mercury atom is just over 49%.

      As you do not appreciate the point, whilst it is a convenience to explain to non-scientists that sodium ethylmercury thiosalicylate is 50% mercury, as the mercury atom in the molecule is physically bound, it will not behave as pure unbound metallic mercury, at least until the compound is broken down in the body, which it appears it is as metallic mercury [ie. non organically bound] can apparently be found in tissues like brain tissue.

      So what subject did you major in? Knitting. Now it is clear why you spend so much time pontificating on medicine and science on Kev Leitch’s blog pretending to a superior knowledge when it seems you have none.

      Thanks.

  12. Sullivan says:
    September 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm
    Rubella causes autism (and many other disabilities)–when the infection occurs during gestation.There is no science indicating that rubella infections in infants causes autism.

    Not quite,but take a look at this

    When they looked for metabolic differences between the Norwegian children who’ve been diagnosed with autism versus those who don’t appear autistic, they discovered that the autistic kids are three times as likely to have elevated levels of a protein found in people who are vitamin D deficient; the body produces it in a desperate attempt to squeeze as much benefit as possible from the vitamin D that it does receive. If Lipkin and Hornig can find further evidence that a shortage of vitamin D contributes to autism, they’ll look for genetic markers that could identify a child who is susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. They’ll also consider if additional risk factors can combine with vitamin D deficiency to make a child autistic. Hornig’s previous research provides some clues about what to look for. She’s demonstrated in laboratory studies that mice who experience viral or bacterial infections early in life go on to display autistic-like behaviors: They avoid each other and do back flips obsessively. Hornig suspects that a lack of vitamin D can exacerbate the dangerous effects of an infection, as the vitamin is known to bolster the immune system.

    “If this turns out to be true, the clinical implications would be clear,” says Hornig, who hasn’t yet published the findings on vitamin D. “If your baby has a severe infection, this could tell doctors to watch his vitamin D levels, and maybe even give him vitamin supplements as a precaution.”

    Only a portion of the autistic children in the MoBa study appear to be vitamin D deficient. But Lipkin and Hornig say that this type of targeted approach to autism research will lead to the best prevention methods and treatments. “There’s no one type of autism, just as there’s no one type of cancer,” says Lipkin. “And as we learn how different types of autism work, we’ll figure out ways to help subgroups of these children, one by one.”

    I assume that would be infection in infancy,as a trigger,in children who already have the “right” genetic mutations for autism,as it was with me.Yes I have lifelong problems with low D as well.Even before I was tested,I had rickets for years.

  13. “In the Pediatrics study all were exposed to vaccines.”

    right, so you’ve shifted the goalposts again.

    Will you now accept that Thiomersal does not cause Autism?

    c

    • What a ridiculous comment.

      If controls have identical exposure to cases a case control study will tell you nothing.

      Do you accept that. It is fundamental to being able to make any comparison between cases and controls.

      • As I have tried very patiently to explain to you before, if controls have identical exposure to cases, it tells you that the exposure is not associated with the outcome.

        It may not be the message you want to hear since it doesn’t fit in with your anti-vax prejudices, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in any way invalid.

      • And as I have very patiently explained, if controls and cases have identical exposure to the putative risk factors you cannot detect any effect.

        As previously stated, to detect any correlation between smoking and lung cancer, controls would have to be selected regardless of whether they smoke.

        Controls should be a representative population sample of smokers and non smokers [ie. exposed and unexposed].

        That would enable the putative risk factors to be compared between controls and cases.

        If the lung cancer cases were all smokers but not all controls were, the comparison would indicate smoking as a potential risk factor for lung cancer.

        If all are smokers you cannot tell either way.

        In the Pediatrics study controls and cases had the same exposure to vaccines.

        Ergo, the study can tell us nothing. Ergo, the Pediatrics study is junk. No more no less.

        Or as SafeMinds have put it:-

        “Planning for this study began in 2001. Over the nine year study period, the large external panel of consultants providing input to the investigators was reduced to a small subset by study end. The original large panel recommended against the study design ultimately employed, as insufficient to answer the question of early thimerosal exposure and autism rates. The CDC and AHIP overruled the external consultants.”

        So it was known well before the study commenced that is would produce junk results but the CDC went ahead with it anyway. It is not the first time the CDC has engaged in using US tax dollars in commissioning junk studies to justify themselves.

        If you cannot accept the essential requirements for a valid case control study then I cannot help you.

      • “As previously stated, to detect any correlation between smoking and lung cancer, controls would have to be selected regardless of whether they smoke.”

        That’s correct. And in the study we’re talking about, controls were selected regardless of their exposure to vaccines.

        If you believe that not to be true, please explain why.

      • As already stated, it does not make any difference whether they intended the controls to have the same exposure or it was accidental.

        If controls and cases have identical exposure a case control study will tell you nothing.

        I really cannot assist any more than I have done.

      • Sorry, but you’re just wrong. It makes all the difference in the world.

        If cases and controls had the same exposure by design, that would have been a fatal flaw.

        If cases and controls had the same exposure because the exposure just happened to be the same in the two groups (as was the case here), then that shows that there is no association.

        That is how case control studies work. If you don’t believe me, try a thought experiment.

        Can we agree, for the sake of argument, that banana milkshakes aren’t associated with autism? Suppose you took 1000 children with autism and 1000 randomly selected age matched controls, and then measured how often they had drunk banana milkshakes. Would you expect the exposure to banana milkshake to be roughly the same in both groups?

        If so, what would you conclude from that?

        If not, why not?

      • Banana milkshakes?

        As previously stated:-

        “All you can say about such a situation is that some children [cases] may develop autistic conditions when others [controls] do not when both groups are exposed to the putative causative factor.”

        The only way this can be resolved by epidemiology is by comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated for total health outcomes. The excuse such as being unethical etc simply does not work. And there are enough unvaccinated individuals to carry out such a study.

      • One more go at this.

        All epidemiology can achieve is to demonstrate if there is a relative risk in cases compared to a properly selected population of non cases.

        It cannot demonstrate there is no risk.

        The assumption being made is that if an association between putative cause X and outcome Y is NOT shown by a case control study then there is NO potential association.

        Just because you do not demonstrate such a risk with an epidemiological study does not mean there is no association.

        Further, you can never demonstrate any meaningful relative risk where cases and controls have identical exposures to the risk.

        The relative risk will always be 1 +/- the bounds of confidence.

        In the study in question it was known before it was undertaken that the likelihood was cases and controls would have had the same exposure.

        Ergo, it had to have been known what the likely outcome of the study was going to be before it was undertaken.

        The end result is:
        “All you can say about such a situation is that some children [cases] may develop autistic conditions when others [controls] do not when both are exposed to the putative causative factor.”

        There will be NO relative risk arising from a study undertaken in such a manner.

      • Ah, you seem to be shifting the argument now.

        You are no saying that it is never possible to say that there is zero risk, only that the risk is probably less that the confidence limits for the risk as specified in the study.

        Correct?

        Well, for once, you are right about that. It is possible, I agree, that vaccines could increase the risk of autism, but that that risk is simply too small to measure.

        Are we now agreed?

      • Sorry, that should of course have been “you are now saying”, not “you are no saying”.

        BTW,

        “In the study in question it was known before it was undertaken that the likelihood was cases and controls would have had the same exposure.”

        So in other words, you agree that even before the study it was known that there was no association between autism and vaccination? That is the only circumstance in which it could reasonably be said that cases and control would have the same exposure.

      • To Adam’s comments @ September 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm.

        What I am saying is that there is an inherent limitation in what can be achieved with epidemiology.

        And we are looking at “relative” risk not absolute risk. With representative control populations relative risk is never zero. It is always 1 or higher.

        In case control it is measured by looking at the incidence/exposure of the putative risk factor in the control population and comparing that to the incidence/exposure in the case population.

        A relative risk of 1 means the risk of the putative risk factor being observed in either population is the same.

        So what we are comparing is not the incidence of the outcome but the incidence of/exposure to the putative risk factor.

        It works in only one direction – signalling a possible association – but not in signalling no association. The classic example of lung cancer/smoking demonstrates this.

        If all controls in the smoking example smoke, then you cannot tell whether smoking causes lung cancer or not. The relative risk is always 1.

        This is the problem with vaccination and autism with a case control study. The likelihood the cases and controls have the same exposure to the risk factor under study is going to be the same regardless. The relative risk will always be 1.

        If half the controls and all the cases in the smoking example smoke the relative risk is 2. That makes it a 50:50 probability that smoking might be associated with causing lung cancer.

        The higher the relative risk the more likely it becomes that factor X is causally associated with outcome Y. But epidemiology alone cannot establish this. That is why the Bradford Hill criteria must be brought into play in any epidemiological study – the clinical factors.

        With vaccination the same situation seen in the smoking example will never happen because the majority of cases and controls are vaccinated. So a case control study is unlikely ever to tell you whether vaccines might have an association with causing autistic conditions.

        If none of the controls smoke then the relative risk is very high and you have a signal that smoking is statistically a potential causative factor. It does not establish a causal factor – just a signal that an association which might be causal.

        And as you can see from the Pediatrics study, no clinical factors are considered and nor is the problem that the cases and controls would always have the same exposure regardless of any other factor.

      • To Adam’s comments @ September 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm.

        No.

        As previously explained what is being compared between the two groups is the relative risk of exposure to the putative causal factor.

        I am saying that it was known before the study was undertaken that regardless of anything the authors did their study design was bound to find no likelihood of an association. And that was because the control and case populations were always likely to have had the same exposure irrespective of whether these was or was not a causal association.

        This study design was bound never to find one.

      • OK, this time I give up. You’re talking such complete bollocks that I realise there is no chance you are ever going to listen to any explanation of how case control studies actually work.

  14. ho hum

    Does the amount of thiomersal contribute to the number of autism or autistic spectrum diagnoses? Is there a dose-response relationship? or is any amount of mercury [hg2]+ from thiomersal sufficient to contribute to the number of autism or autistic spectrum diagnoses (which you seem to be arguing)?

  15. I am saying is this study can tell us nothing because there can be no meaningful comparison. There can be no meaningful comparison because controls and cases had the same exposure to the putative risk factors.

    This is basic epidemiology and specifically applies to case control studies.

    If you cannot acknowledge that I cannot help you.

    • So what you’re saying is that you would only accept the results as valid if the researchers had somehow fiddled it to include more vaccine-exposed children in the cases group than in the controls group, so that the study would give the results you want it to give?

      There is a really simple point which you seem unwilling to grasp here. The fact that vaccine exposure was similar in the cases and controls was not dictated by the study design. The study was designed to determine whether or not the exposure to vaccines would be similar, and as it happened, it found that it was.

      Therefore, we draw the conclusion that there was no association between vaccination and autism.

      • No.

        I am saying is this study can tell us nothing because there can be no meaningful comparison. There can be no meaningful comparison because controls and cases had the same exposure to the putative risk factors.

        This is basic epidemiology and specifically applies to case control studies.

        If you cannot acknowledge that I cannot help you.

      • I still don’t think you’ve understood why cases and controls had the same exposure. That’s absolutely key here.

        Tell me what you think the reason was.

      • It is not but why don’t you say why you think that makes a difference.

        All you can say about such a situation is that some children [cases] may develop autistic conditions when others [controls] do not when both are exposed to the putative causative factor.

        There is no differential data in order to draw any other conclusions.

      • OK, because the whole point of a case control study is to estimate the relative prevalence of exposure in the case and control groups. If the exposure is higher in the case group, it suggests that the the exposure causes the outcome, and if the exposure is lower in the case group, it suggests that the exposure protects against the outcome. If the exposure is equally common in both groups, it suggests the exposure neither causes nor protects against the exposure.

        Do you understand so far?

        So, if the exposure was equally common in both groups by design, for example if the researchers screwed up and matched on exposure when selecting controls, then you wouldn’t have any information on whether the exposure was really equally common in both groups.

        If, on the other hand, the exposure was not specified by design, and yet the exposure is the same in both groups anyway, then you have evidence that the exposure is not associated with the outcome.

        You say:

        “All you can say about such a situation is that some children [cases] may develop autistic conditions when others [controls] do not when both are exposed to the putative causative factor.”

        That’s exactly right. Some children develop autism, and some don’t. What the study tells us that who does and who does not is random, and not connected with vaccination.

      • No.

        Please see reply to your previous comment @ September 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm:-

        http://tinyurl.com/2vz8u6v

        It is an inherent limitation in case control studies that they cannot be used to detect anything where cases and controls have identical exposure.

        You have to choose a representative mixed population where the exposure is not identical.

        This has been explained here several times by reference to 1) standard epidiological practice in carrying out case control studies 2) the example of lung cancer/smoking 3) and of heart disease/obesity 4) any other disease condition where cases and controls have identical exposure – you will always get a relative risk of 1 where cases and controls have identical exposure despite there being in fact a causal association.

        The latter point is also way case control studies are a one way street. They can only show a possible association. They can never show there is no association particularly when cases and controls have identical exposure.

        When cases and controls have identical exposure all you are doing is separating the cases from the controls and comparing them for the risk factor. Even if the risk factor is the causal factor for the disease in question you will always get a relative risk of 1 – no association when there can be.

        Epidemiology can only demonstrate general causation. That factor X can cause outcome Y. It cannot demonstrate that factor X did cause outcome Y in a particular individual. It cannot show that factor X did not cause outcome Y.

        If you choose populations with identical exposure and separate them into two groups cases and controls you will always get a relative risk of 1 – implying no potentially causal association even where there is a causal association in fact.

      • Here is a simpler way to explain this.

        If you compare cases of lung cancer to a control population of only smokers without lung cancer, you will conclude smoking does not cause lung cancer.

        If you compare cases of heart disease to a control population of only obese people without heart disease you will conclude that obesity and heart disease have no association.

        If you compare cases of flu to aa control population of all people who were exposed to flu virus but did not contract flu you will conclude that flu virus does not cause flu.

        Now do you understand?

      • Do you understand that that’s not what they did in the vaccine study?

        Anyway, I’m giving up on this. For reasons, see comment on thread above.

      • That is exactly what they did:

        “On average, case-children and control
        children had similar cumulative ethyl-mercury exposures at the end of each exposure period (Table 2).”

        End of page 660-661 – “Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism”

      • Adam, there’s little point continuing this particular discussion – It’s reminiscent of arguing with a 14 year old boy. If CHS cannot see that the groups were not preselected on the basis that mercury exposure was identical, and that this exposure varied within both groups (from a minimum of 0mcg up to 250mcg) then then nothing will convince him.

        I can see why he is trying to put the spin on the study that he does, but he is wrong in using the analogies he chooses. Firstly they are not appropriate here as he selects categorical variables rather than continuous time dependent variables, and he fails to understand that a failure to show an association is in itself evidence that there is unlikely to be an association.

      • Fine Jimbo.

        We will have to agree to disagree.

        Using pejoratives like “14 year old boy” does not advance your case. It is just plainly wrong on basic principles of epidemiology and logic.

        Pre-selection is irrelevant where exposures in fact in both groups are identical – you will never detect an association whether there is one or not.

        And there was pre-selection by default. Obviously both groups were likely to have identical exposures whether selected explicitly on that basis or not. And Table 2 in the paper and the authors’ quoted statement is confirmation enough.

      • Odd you call my comment perjorative, yet you are willing to imply someone else who you you disagree with on the internet may be a paedo (Sept 14 @ 6.11).

        My comment relates to the questions about this case controlled study and I observed that the discussion is similar to the type of “yes it is” “no it isn’t” argument one has with a know-it-all kid.

        Your comment is a disgraceful and uncalled for slur on someone who you happen not to like, which you, your being a lawyer and all, should know is tantamount to libel.

    • CHS, your confusion about this study seems to be based on your belief that equal exposure to thimerosal was an inclusion criterion, whereas it was in fact the main outcome measure i.e., the dependant variable.

      To clarify, a group of autistic children were found. Control children were selected on the basis that they were the same age, gender etc. WITHOUT ANY KNOWLEGDE OF THEIR EXPOSURE TO THIMEROSAL. Thimerosal exposure was only investigated AFTER the subjects had been chosen for inclusion and therefore it was entirely possible that autistic and control groups would have had different exposures to the putative risk factor.

      To reiterate, the fact that the “controls and cases had the same exposure to the putative risk factors” was a RESULT, NOT AN INHERENT PART OF THE EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN. It is precisely that result that shows that thimerosal is not a risk factor for autism.

      • False analogy. For one thing there is a biological marker to lung cancer, unlike autism. There have been changes to autism diagnostic criteria, much more so that occurred with lung cancer in the 1940s and 1950s. And another thing is that the differences of thimerosal exposure were accounted for…

        … and similar studies were done on smoking where the subjects were chosen before their level of tobacco use was known. Which is how it was found that cigarettes were more dangerous than pipes or cigars:

        The cohort studies verified the association between smoking and lung cancer and also found that the lung cancer death rate was substantially higher in cigarette smokers than in smokers who used pipes or cigars; that the strength of the association between smoking and lung cancer increased with the amount of smoking;

        But the main objective that you have is that it does not say what you want it to say. Just like Sallie Bernard, who actually helped design the study!

        So while it took epidemiological, cohort and case control studies to show smoking causes lung cancer starting in the 1950s (over the objections of the tobacco companies), the similar studies on thimerosal and MMR show no real relationship to autism.

        There are studies that show not vaccinating is more harmful than vaccinating. But you tend to ignore those. Instead you post stupid graphs claiming measles would have died out before the vaccines, but list only deaths, and not the incidences (two completely different numbers).

        Now answer these questions that you have been ignoring:

        1) How much autism is caused by vaccines?

        2) Is it the thimerosal or the MMR, have you made up your mind yet?

      • That does not make any sense. Similar studies on smoking were done in the 1950s, and results shows that lung cancer was more prevalent when smoking one thing over another.

        So what are the answers to the questions:

        1) How much autism is caused by vaccines?

        2) Which vaccine factor is the culprit, thimerosal or the MMR? Remember the MMR has been used since 1971 in the USA and has never contained thimerosal.

      • “The Pediatrics study is the same as comparing smokers with lung cancer to smokers without and concluding smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer.”

        No, moron/troll.

        The Pediatrics study is the same as:

        1: taking a bunch of people with lung cancer *before gaining any knowledge of their smoking habits*

        2: identifying an equivalent non-cancer control group (matched for age, weight etc.) *before gaining any knowledge of their smoking habits*

        3: investigating the smoking habits of both groups and *finding out* that the cancer group smoke more than the non-cancer group.

        It’s pretty clear that you’re either deliberately misunderstanding this (fingers in ears, lalalalalalaaa!) or you’re too stupid to understand. So there’s little point pursuing it. Bear in mind, if you have to lie (which you clearly are) to defend what you think is the Truth (Troof?) then your “truth” obviously can’t be taken on its own merits and can happily be discarded.

      • “moron/troll”. Thanks for the abuse.

        Controls were selected from a group which had the same exposure as cases.

        This is the same as taking 100 people into a hayfield and concluding exposure to pollen does not cause allergic reactions because 70 of the hundred did not have an allergic reaction.

      • You are a moron and/or a troll and/or someone who has a vested interest in actively worsening child health.

        Your analogy is obviously nonsense because (among many other reasons) it would be an intervention not, as the Pediatrics study is, retrospective.

        I can’t be bothered hammering any more nails into the coffin of your “argument” so I will just repeat jimbo’s requests below:

        1. Please copy and paste the section from teh methodology which shows that the 2 groups were *pre*-determined (i.e., by experimental design) to have the same exposure. I’ve read the methodology and I didn’t spot it so if it’s there, please show us.

        2. If the groups were *pre*-determined to have the same ethylmercury exposure (which you would have obviously proved by now by responding to point 1), why is it that the study found that “increased cumaltive exposures in the age ranges from birth to 7 months and birth to 20 months were both associated with *decreased risk* of all 3 ASD outcomes”? If the study can make “no meaningful comparisons” and the groups were pre-selected to have the same exposure, how is it that this finding came about?

        Oh, I’ve just thought of another option of what you might be. You’re actually a pharma shill who’s employed to make the anti-vax brigade look even more idiotic, uneducated and swivel-eyed than they really are. Go on, admit it. You’ll feel better when you’re no longer taking money from “the man.”

      • Oh, and I’ll reiterate another request:

        If the gaping flaws in this study are obvious to someone of the meanest intelligence (such as you) why were they missed by the highly qualified editorial board at Pediatrics and the reviewers (qualified people in the field) who critiqued this paper before publication.

        As has been suggested before, a letter to Pediatrics pointing out everything wrong with this paper seems well in order if your comments are at all valid (and not just the green-ink frothings of a delusional crank).

        We’ll look out for your letter in Pediatrics shall we?

  16. @ChildHealthSafety.

    You say vaccines may cause autistic “conditions”.
    Please can you tell us how frequently you think this happens with vaccination?

    Is it one in a million vaccinations, or one in a hundred?

    The frequency is of crucial relevance, so I’d be obliged if you could give us a ballpark estimate. Presumably you do have some idea. (Without it there is little point debating the topic).

    • “You say vaccines may cause autistic “conditions”.”

      I said:-

      “The US DHHS, HRSA and Julie Gerberding, [currently Merck’s Vaccine Division Director] have all conceded that vaccines can cause autistic conditions.”

      The frequency is of crucial relevance …. Without it there is little point debating the topic.

      Fine. I am not here debating it. This is about the Pediatrics study.

      • I can see you are not willing to debate except on your own terms. But you have made claims about autism and vaccines, and I would like to know how frequently you think vaccination is associated with causing autism.

        It is an extremely simple question, and an estimate will do.

        Failure to answer would be a tacit admission that either 1) you haven’t the faintest idea, or 2) that vaccination is in fact an exceedingly rare cause of autism, and you will appreciate you will do everything in your power to avoid admitting it.

      • Jimbo was replied to twice [September 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm].

        Here:-

        “childhealthsafety says:
        September 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm

        Fine.”

        And here:-

        “childhealthsafety says:
        September 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm

        That’s fine.”

      • “fine” is not an answer to the question of “How frequently is vaccination is associated with autism?”

        Care to give an answer?

      • No. This is about the Pediatrics study.

        “The US DHHS, HRSA and Julie Gerberding, [currently Merck’s Vaccine Division Director] have all conceded that vaccines can cause autistic conditions.”

      • Untrue. You are changing the meaning of the words. Vaccines can cause encephalopathy in very rare cases, especially to those diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease.

  17. Has anyone picked up the real shock finding from this study – that between 0-7 months, higher levels of mercury exposure seem to be statistically significantly PROTECTIVE against autism?

      • Who wants to squirm. I can visualise the full page drug company ads already in Pediatrics already.

        “Mercurix – worried about autism, ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome and more?

        Give you kid a shot of Mercurix now. FDA approved and US CDC endorsed.”

        And the patient information leaflet will have in small print:- “Mercurix: contains 49.6% mercury, the most toxic non radioactive metal on earth and neuro-toxic in parts per billion.”

        The FDA is sure to approve it. It has never been tested for safety – a surefire guarantee.

      • Wriggle, wriggle, squirm, squirm.

        The problem from the point of view of CHS is that he argues this study means nothing, because the mercury exposures in the cases and controls were “identical”. (It has been repeatedly pointed out to him that one can draw an appropriate inference from this, considering how the study was designed).

        But now CHS is faced with the problem of explaining away the inconvenient truth that the mercury exposures were not “identical” between cases and controls.

        Indeed it looks like those with not just ADS but also with regressive autism have had LOWER mercury exposure than controls from birth through to 20 months of age.

        Any comments on this, CHS? Should we give our kids mercury to help prevent autism?

        As another thought experiment, let us hypothesise what the antivaccination groups would be saying had this particular study showed the opposite of what it did, and that exposure to mercury between birth and 20 months was statistically siggnificantly higher in those with autism.

        Does anyone seriously think for one moment that they would be arguing that this study was invalid as they (and CHS) are trying to do?

        No! They would be screaming from the rooftops, trumpeting the news across the interwebs as to how this was the one true definitive study which conclusively proves mercury causes autism.

        And you know that for a fact, CHS.

      • Nonsense.

        Imagine a hypothetical case controlled study for bowel cancer which looked at the variable of high fibre dietary intake.
        You might see a relative risk of 0.3 in the cancer group, indicating that low fibre intake is associated with cancer.

        Similarly, in this study, low mercury intake is associated with autism.

      • For clarification that should read:
        You might see a relative risk of 0.3 in the cancer group, indicating that low intake of a high fibre diet is associated with cancer.

      • “Imagine a hypothetical case controlled study”.

        Ha ha ha ha.

        “Image”, “Hypothetical”.

        In a properly conducted REAL case contolled study the statistically significant relative risk is 1 or higher.

      • In fact, I have just found a useful section in the technical report on this thimerosal study (section 8.3.3) which nicely explains the “less than 1″ odds ratios for CHS, seeing as how he is stuggling with this concept.

        “the odds ratio of 0.66 can be expressed as 1/OR (the inverse odds ratio) = 1.5, which means that the disease risk [autism] is 1.5 times higher in the unexposed than in the exposed [exposure here being to higher levels of mercury].”

      • It really isn’t difficult, Clifford. This isn’t rocket science.

        You want a “real” case controlled study showing ORs or RRs less than 1?
        Well you don’t like this thimerosal study for some reason, so I went hunting for others. It didn’t take me long.

        What might you expect the ORs would be for the use of say, aspirin in stroke? Or beta blockers in myocardial infarction? Yup, all less than 1, and significantly so. But let’s stick to the example I gave about bowel cancer. I couldn’t find one specific to diet, but here is a metanalysis which encompasses as many as 6 case-controlled studies on the use of 5-ASA and colorectal cancer. All of them have ORs below 1, and significantly so. The conclusion? Taking ASA may be protective against cancer.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15929768

        Now the study we are discussing…. would mercury protect against autism? Well I doubt that is the case personally, but the OR is “less than 1″, and significantly so, which ever way you look at it.

      • And the study you linked to was examining odds ratios of a treatment option – where you will expect odds ratios or relative risks to be 1 or less. [ie. effective treatment or no effect],

        Totally misleading to use that to compare in this case.

        The Pediatrics study was meant to be looking for the exact opposite. The relative risk should be 1 or higher where looking for an association with a disorder and a putative cause.

        “Intellectual honesty”?

        In fact this is worse. The Pediatrics study authors knew in advance that they could not detect such an association. They had selected groups where both groups had the same exposure and all in both groups or practically all had that exposure.

        That is just like comparing smokers with lung cancer and smokers without and concluding smoking is not associated with causing lung cancer.

        So instead what they claimed they were supposedly looking for was an increased risk from a higher dose of mercury compared to a lower dose of mercury.

        An even finer distinction – and using pretty much the bluntest epidemiological instrument they could find to do so.

        Frankly, the entire concept of the study is barking mad. “junk science” is too mild. And epidemiology is statistics not science.

      • We talk about odds ratios with these types of case-controlled studies, and odds ratios (and the concept of inverse odds ratios) have been explained to you. (Yes, relative risk is slightly different, but it also estimates the risk of developing disease relating to an exposure, and some statisticians do use this in case-controlled studies).

        An odds ratio is the ratio of the odds of an exposure in the case group to the odds of an exposure in the control group. The point here is that you do get ORs of less than one – and I have given examples of this. For you to say this doesn’t happen is to keep saying “it’s snowing” when someone has taken you outside into the midsummer sunshine.

        I don’t expect you to understand this, but to pretend the study doesn’t show what it shows, and that it is a bad epidemiological study is just ridiculous.

        Have you read the related technical reports that come with this paper?

        Now, this is likely to be my final comment on this:

        Since you know so much better than all the epidemiologists and statisticians that were involved in this study and all the peer reviewers, please can you write a letter to the editor of Paediatrics journal, and when they publish it we can see the reponse of the study authors to your objections to it. I look forward to it and will be scanning the journal pages.Then we can discuss furhter.

      • Waffle.

        The Pediatrics paper is not dealing with inverse odds ratios.

        Relative risk and odds ratios are completely different.

        Relative Risk:
        ratio of the probabilities of two events

        p is the probability of the first event, and q is the probability of the second,

        relative risk = p/q

        Odds Ratio:

        ratio of the odds, not the percentages = (p*(1-q))/(q*(1-p))

        Completely different.

        And mercury is neurotoxic in parts per billion yet these study authors say it helps prevent children becoming autistic.

  18. ““Mercurix: contains 49.6% mercury, the most toxic non radioactive metal on earth and neuro-toxic in parts per billion.””

    you don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?

    • You have a strange definition of abuse. You think sSuggesting someone is a troll is abuse, but your suggesting someone is a paedophile is not?

      Why are you so abusive, CHS?

  19. So, Miller and Stone, have you made up your mind what causes autism? Is it the thimerosal, which was removed from pediatric vaccines almost ten years ago? Or is it the MMR vaccine, which never had thimerosal even from its introduction in the USA in 1971?

    Which is it? Can you make up your mind?

    Oh, and where is your hero Wakefield? I hope he isn’t practicing medicine on children, because that would be very bad and quite illegal. In any country. You should tell him that he needs to be careful not to be photographed in a white coat wearing a stethoscope, or holding a needle preparing to draw blood. Just saying.

  20. Chris, if thousands of dedicated scientists hadn’t been obliged to waste decades of their time fruitlessly doing studies to refute the spurious “vaccine causes autism” association, we would probably know exactly what triggers autism by now, and have ways of preventing and treating it.

  21. Just a reminder…

    The science has been done, the link between vaccines and autism does not exist. It is a dead link… “It’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This link is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LINK!! ” (hat-tip to Monty Python and the dead parrot sketch)

  22. I’m afraid arguing with CHS is like trying to juggle water – pointless and boring. He knows where he is wrong – and boy is he wrong often – but simply cannot bring himself to admit it. He will twist, he will turn and he will rage (see his accusation that someone else he disagrees with is a paedophile) but he will never, ever learn. He’s a hopeless case.

    Leave him being hopeless is my two pence worth of advice.

      • Wait! You have not answered crucial questions!

        1) What fraction of autism is caused by vaccines?

        2) Which vaccines? The ones containing thimerosal (which was removed from the American pediatric schedule almost ten years ago, plus influenza is optional and available thimerosal free), or the MMR (which has never contained thimerosal since its approval in the USA in 1971)?

      • It is time to shut this thread down.

        I have answered but Chris does not like the answer. This was in my answer and it is true:-

        “The US DHHS, HRSA and Julie Gerberding, [currently Merck’s Vaccine Division Director] have all conceded that vaccines can cause autistic conditions.”

        As shown here:-

        http://tinyurl.com/2czqwx4

        And no one on this thread now denies that mercury is neurotoxic and toxic in parts per billion.

        Notably Chris and others on this thread acknowledge that vaccines can cause autistic conditions.

      • More evasion from CHS.
        He says vaccines cause autistic conditions, but won’t say how often.

        I agree they do, but maybe in one case in several million vaccines. That being the case, we must continue to vaccinate as to risk the disease is to risk brain damage or death at a much higher rate.

        Is mercury toxic?
        Yes, but the mercury component of vaccines does not cause autism. The exposure is so minimal that you could get more Hg from eating fish, or breathing air.

        CHS will say nothing, acknowledge nothing, commit himself to nothing. He just runs around in circles, mouthing irrelevancies.

      • Close the thread.

        Nobody here denies that autism even if it does occur as a result of vaccination, is a vanishingly rare phenomenon.

        Even CHS does not dispute this.

        End of story.

  23. Pingback: Science-Based Medicine » Using attacks on science by the anti-vaccine movement as a “teachable moment”

  24. oh for heavens sake. The toxicity of mercury is dependent on the type of compound you’re looking at; inorganic, elemental, alkyl, all have profoundly different LDLs and modes of action. Anyone conflating mercury toxicity from thiomersal clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    “colmcq do you agree now that mercury [isotope or normal atomic weight] is toxic in parts per billion?”

    what does that even mean?

    • You either do not understand the question, or are trying avoiding providing a real answer. Obviously you must realize that your premise is patently false, or you would have attempted to defend it with something less pathetic.

      In case you didn’t know, pediatric vaccines have been thimerosal since at least 2001 (Sallie Bernard was unable to find any for the Burbacher study, so he and others have had to add thimerosal to the vaccines they used on animals).

      Since you are so concerned about toxicities, please tell us which is the worse toxin of the following pairs:

      thimerosal versus tetanospasmin
      thimerosal versus diphtheria toxin
      thimerosal versus pertussis toxin

      Now remember that a ninth baby in California, and another infant in Australia have both recently died from pertussis. Knowing this, tell us which is more dangerous of the following pairs:

      DTaP versus pertussis
      Tdap versus pertussis
      DTaP versus diphtheria
      Tdap versus tetanus

      Be sure to support your answer with real documentation, which should be a real study and not a statement from a government employee.

      • You are behind the curve.

        colmcq had a big point to make about mercury toxicity saying @ September 17, 2010 at 11:06 am

        what’s the concentration of [Hg]2+ in tap water CHS?
        What’s the concentration of [Hg]2+ in bottled water?”

        But then got all shy. So we helped him/her out.

        You say:-

        “pediatric vaccines have been thimerosal since at least 2001″

        So this Pediatrics study is pointless on your assessment.

        We understand some flu vaccines still have 25 ug mercury and interestingly the US CDC is calling for everyone over 6 months to have flu vaccine – including pregnant women.

    • Let’s see – you want us to agree mercury is toxic?

      OK, it is.
      But then so is everything else. The toxicity is dependent on the dose and formulation.
      Oxygen is toxic.
      Water is toxic.
      Salt is toxic. Less toxic than sodium, or chlorine, but still toxic.
      Thimerosal is toxic. Less toxic than organic mercury.

      Happy now?
      Are you going to switch horses to the “toxin” gambit for vaccines, now your mercury nag has collapsed underneath you?
      Think of all that water and salt in the vaccine. How awful.

      • Pediatrics. 2010 Sep 13.
        Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism.
        Price CS, Thompson WW, Goodson B, Weintraub ES, Croen LA, Hinrichsen VL, Marcy M, Robertson A, Eriksen E, Lewis E, Bernal P, Shay D, Davis RL, Destefano F.

        Neurotox Res. 2010 Jul;18(1):59-68. Epub 2009 Sep 16.
        Are neuropathological conditions relevant to ethylmercury exposure?
        Aschner M, Ceccatelli S.

        Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 May;29(5):397-400.
        Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.
        Mrozek-Budzyn D, Kieltyka A, Majewska R.

        Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study.
        Hornig M et al.
        PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
        *Subjects: 25 children with autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone (controls)

        Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
        Baird G et al.
        Arch Dis Child 2008; 93(10):832-7.
        Subjects: 98 vaccinated children aged 10-12 years in the UK with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); two control groups of similar age: 52 children with special educational needs but no ASD and 90 children in the typically developing group

        Geographic clustering of nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements and associations with geographic clustering of pertussis.
        Omer SB, Enger KS, Moulton LH, Halsey NA, Stokley S, Salmon DA.
        Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Dec 15;168(12):1389-96. Epub 2008 Oct 15

        MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative Results Presented from Japan.
        Uchiyama T et al.
        J Autism Dev Disord 2007; 37(2):210-7
        *Subjects: 904 children with autism spectrum disorder
        (Note: MMR was used in Japan only between 1989 and 1993.)

        No Evidence of Persisting Measles Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
        D’Souza Y et al.
        Pediatrics 2006; 118(4):1664-75
        *Subjects: 54 children with autism spectrum disorder and 34 developmentally normal children

        Immunizations and Autism: A Review of the Literature.
        Doja A, Roberts W.
        Can J Neurol Sci. 2006; 33(4):341-6
        *Literature review

        Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunizations.
        Fombonne E et al.
        Pediatrics. 2006;118(1):e139-50
        *Subjects: 27,749 children born from 1987 to 1998 attending 55 schools

        Relationship between MMR Vaccine and Autism.
        Klein KC, Diehl EB.
        Ann Pharmacother. 2004; 38(7-8):1297-300
        *Literature review of 10 studies

        Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Institute of Medicine.
        The National Academies Press: 2004
        (w w w . nap.edu/books/030909237X/html) *Literature review

        MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-Control Study.
        Smeeth L et al.
        Lancet 2004; 364(9438):963-9
        *Subjects: 1294 cases and 4469 controls

        Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta.
        DeStefano F et al. Pediatrics 2004; 113(2): 259-66
        *Subjects: 624 children with autism and 1,824 controls

        Prevalence of Autism and Parentally Reported Triggers in a North East London Population.
        Lingam R et al.
        Arch Dis Child 2003; 88(8):666-70
        *Subjects: 567 children with autistic spectrum disorder

        Neurologic Disorders after Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination.
        Makela A et al.
        Pediatrics 2002; 110:957-63
        *Subjects: 535,544 children vaccinated between November 1982 and June 1986 in Finland

        A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism.
        Madsen KM et al.
        N Engl J Med 2002; 347(19):1477-82
        *Subjects: All 537,303 children born 1/91–12/98 in Denmark

        Relation of Childhood Gastrointestinal Disorders to Autism: Nested Case Control Study Using Data from the UK General Practice Research Database.
        Black C et al.
        BMJ 2002; 325:419-21
        *Subjects: 96 children diagnosed with autism and 449 controls

        Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Bowel Problems or Developmental Regression in Children with Autism: Population Study.
        Taylor B et al.
        BMJ 2002; 324(7334):393-6
        *Subjects: 278 children with core autism and 195 with atypical autism

        No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism.
        Fombonne E et al.
        Pediatrics 2001;108(4):E58
        *Subjects: 262 autistic children (pre- and post-MMR samples)

        Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Other Measles-Containing Vaccines Do Not Increase the Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case-Control Study from the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project.
        Davis RL et al.
        Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001;155(3):354-9
        *Subjects: 155 persons with IBD with up to 5 controls each

        Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California.
        Dales L et al.
        JAMA 2001; 285(9):1183-5
        *Subjects: Children born in 1980-94 who were enrolled in California kindergartens (survey samples of 600–1,900 children each year)

        Mumps, Measles, and Rubella Vaccine and the Incidence of Autism Recorded by General Practitioners: A Time Trend Analysis.
        Kaye JA et al.
        BMJ 2001; 322:460-63
        *Subjects: 305 children with autism

        Further Evidence of the Absence of Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Full Thickness Intestinal Specimens from Patients with Crohn’s Disease.
        Afzal MA, et al.
        J Med Virol 2000; 62(3):377-82
        *Subjects: Specimens from patients with Crohn’s disease

        Autism and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: No Epidemiological Evidence for a Causal Association.
        Taylor B et al.
        Lancet 1999;353 (9169):2026-9
        *Subjects: 498 children with autism

        Absence of Detectable Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tissues and Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes.
        Afzal MA et al.
        J Med Virol 1998; 55(3):243-9
        *Subjects: 93 colonoscopic biopsies and 31 peripheral blood lymphocyte preparations

        No Evidence for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine-Associated Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Autism in a 14-year Prospective Study.
        Peltola H et al.
        Lancet 1998; 351:1327-8
        *Subjects: 3,000,000 doses of MMR vaccine

        Exposure to Measles in Utero and Crohn’s Disease: Danish Register Study.
        Nielsen LL et al.
        BMJ 1998; 316(7126):196-7
        *Subjects: 472 women with measles

        Immunocytochemical Evidence of Listeria, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus Antigens in Crohn’s Disease.
        Liu Y et al.
        Gastroenterology 1995; 108(5):1396-1404
        *Subjects: Intestines and mesenteric lymph node specimens from 21 persons from families with a high frequency of Crohn’s disease

        Neuropsychological Performance 10 years after Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
        Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D’Elia L, Chiarotti F, Salmaso S.
        Pediatrics, February 2009, Vol. 123(2):475-82

        Mercury Levels in Newborns and Infants after Receipt of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
        Pichichero ME, Gentile A, Giglio N, et al
        Pediatrics, February 2008; 121(2) e208-214

        Mercury, Vaccines, And Autism: One Controversy, Three Histories
        Baker JP
        American Journal of Public Health, February 2008;98(2): 244-253

        Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System: Mercury in Retrograde
        Schechter R, Grether JK
        Arch Gen Psychiatry, January 2008; 65(1):19-24

        Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years
        Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al; Vaccine Safety Datalink Team
        N Engl J Med, Sep 27, 2007; 357(13):1281-1292

        Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunizations
        Fombonne E, Zakarian R, Bennett A, Meng L, McLean-Heywood D
        Pediatrics, July 2006, Vol. 118(1):e139-e150

        Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System Reporting Source: A Possible Source of Bias in Longitudinal Studies
        Goodman MJ, Nordin J
        Pediatrics, February 2006, Vol. 117(2):387-390

        No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.
        Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M.
        J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;46(6):572-9.

        Thimerosal in Vaccines: Balancing the Risk of Adverse Effects with the Risk of Vaccine-Preventable Disease
        Bigham M, Copes R
        Drug Safety, 2005, Vol. 28(2):89-101

        Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal
        Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T
        National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, April 21, 2005

        Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
        Heron J, Golding J, ALSPAC Study Team
        Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):577-583

        Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Retrospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
        Andrews N, Miller E, Grant A, Stowe J, Osborne V, Taylor B
        Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):584-591

        Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Critical Review of Published Original Data
        Parker SK, Schwartz B, Todd J, Pickering LK
        Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):793-804

        The Evidence for the Safety of Thimerosal in Newborn and Infant Vaccines
        Clements CJ
        Vaccine, May 7, 2004, Vol. 22(15-16):1854-1861

        Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases
        Verstraeten T, Davis RL, DeStefano F, et al
        Pediatrics, November 2003, Vol. 112(5):1039-1048

        The Toxicology of Mercury–Current Exposures and Clinical Manifestations
        Clarkson TW, Magos L, Myers GJ
        New England Journal of Medicine, October 30, 2003, Vol. 349(18):1731-7

        Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism
        Hviid A, Stellfeld M, Wohlfahrt J, Melbye M
        Journal of the American Medical Association, October 1, 2003, Vol. 290(13):1763-6

        Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data
        Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, et al
        Pediatrics, Sept. 2003, Vol. 112(3 Pt 1):604-606

        Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines. Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association
        Stehr-Green P, Tull P, Stellfeld M, Mortenson PB, Simpson D
        American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2003, Vol. 25(2):101-6

        Impact of the Thimerosal Controversy on Hepatitis B Vaccine Coverage of Infants Born to Women of Unknown Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Status in Michigan
        Biroscak BJ, Fiore AE, Fasano N, Fineis P, Collins MP, Stoltman G
        Pediatrics, June 2003, Vol. 111(6):e645-9

        Vaccine Safety Policy Analysis in Three European Countries: The Case of Thimerosal
        Freed GL, Andreae MC, Cowan AE, et al
        Health Policy, December 2002, Vol. 62(3):291-307

        Mercury Concentrations and Metabolism in Infants Receiving Vaccines Containing Thimerosal: A Descriptive Study
        Pichichero ME, Cernichiari E, Lopreiato J, Treanor J
        The Lancet, November 30, 2002, Vol. 360:1737-1741

        An Assessment of Thimerosal Use in Childhood Vaccines
        Ball LK, Ball R, Pratt RD
        Pediatrics, May 2001, Vol. 107(5):1147-1154

        Economic Evaluation of the 7-Vaccine Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule in the United States, 2001
        Zhou F, Santoli J, Messonnier ML, Yusuf HR, Shefer A, Chu SY, Rodewald L, Harpaz R.
        Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1136-1144.

        An economic analysis of the current universal 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccination program in the United States.
        Zhou F, Reef S, Massoudi M, Papania MJ, Yusuf HR, Bardenheier B, Zimmerman L, McCauley MM.
        J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S131-45.

        Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.
        Chavez GF, Ellis AA.
        West J Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;165(1-2):20-5.

        Measles epidemic from failure to immunize.
        Dales LG, Kizer KW, Rutherford GW, Pertowski CA, Waterman SH, Woodford G.
        West J Med. 1993 Oct;159(4):455-64.

        Impact of universal Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccination starting at 2 months of age in the United States: an economic analysis.
        Zhou F, Bisgard KM, Yusuf HR, Deuson RR, Bath SK, Murphy TV.
        Pediatrics. 2002 Oct;110(4):653-61.

        Impact of specific medical interventions on reducing the prevalence of mental retardation.
        Brosco JP, Mattingly M, Sanders LM.
        Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Mar;160(3):302-9. Review.

        Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.
        Ray P, Hayward J, Michelson D, Lewis E, Schwalbe J, Black S, Shinefield H, Marcy M, Huff K, Ward J, Mullooly J, Chen R, Davis R; Vaccine Safety Datalink Group.
        Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.

      • Nice, but none of these confirm that autistic conditions as a result of vaccination are rare.

        Correct me if I am wrong but they seem to suggest vaccinations do not cause autistic conditions.

      • CHS, do you want US to provide evidence that YOU do not deny autistic conditions following vaccination are vanishingly rare? How perverse is that?

        The fact that you do not deny it is the proof.

        Or maybe you do deny it…. but if you never say, how will anyone know?

      • We have not said or agreed “Autistic conditions as a result of vaccination are vanishingly rare”

        Nor are we going to get side-tracked on that when this thread is about the Pediatrics paper.

        And it looks pretty much like it has run its course.

  25. childhealthsafety says:

    If you compare cases of flu to aa control population of all people who were exposed to flu virus but did not contract flu you will conclude that flu virus does not cause flu.

    That’s not really analogous to the thimerosal study under discussion here. What would be analogous would be taking a cohort of people, chosen at random, and then determining how many had the flu, then further determining how many had been exposed to influenza virus. If there is no relationship between influenza virus exposure and influenza infection, then yes, we can reasonably conclude that influenza virus does not cause influenza.

    This would be a challenging study to conduct, as it’s often not possible to know when you have been exposed to influenza. So let’s look instead at your smoking/lung cancer analogy.

    If you compare cases of lung cancer to a control population of only smokers without lung cancer, you will conclude smoking does not cause lung cancer.

    Again, this is not analogous to what was done in this study. The analogous study would be like this: take a random group of people (though make sure they’re close in age and things like that to rule out obvious confounding factors), then divide them into two groups based on which ones have lung cancer and which ones don’t. Then, determine the rate of smoking among the two groups, which though still imperfect as it depends on patient memory, is going to be fairly easy to determine. If there’s the same rate of smoking in both groups, then smoking probably isn’t a major factor in lung cancer, if indeed it has any effect at all. This has, however, been done, and the result was that there were more smokers in the lung cancer group than in the control group.

    If vaccines caused autism, I would expect to see more fully-vaccinated children in the autism group than in the control group. Instead, we see the groups are basically the same, though there is a slight trend suggesting a protective effect for thimerosal. I’m skeptical of a protective effect for thimerosal; I suspect it’s just that thanks to the efforts of Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield, etc., a significant percentage of parents, when they find their child is autistic, stop vaccinating. Thus, it’s not so much that thimerosal is protective as that some autistic children will not complete the series because their parents believe vaccines caused autism. I am thus rather relieved that it’s a small effect, because that means not many parents are delaying or halting vaccination in response to fearmongering.

    • Calli Arcale – the control population was bound to have the identical exposure from the outset. Controls were selected from a population which had identical exposure.

      Repeating over and over “that is not really analogous” is argument by “ya boo” theory.

      • Please link to or copypaste the methodology section in the technical report which shows they predetermined for identical exposure.

        Please answer why, if exposure was predetermined to be identical, the autistic group had significantly MORE exposure to thimerosal between birth and 20 months of age.

      • If both populations were truly identical in terms of vaccination status, how could the study have produced the counterintuitive result* that children with more thimerosal exposure had a lower risk of autism?

        I’m not sure what an argument by “ya boo” theory is, but I could also accuse you of simply trying to repeat something in hopes of it becoming true. I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to ask why you have not addressed this question. I am, after all, not the first person to ask it.

        How can you allege that the study looked only at children who were identical in terms of vaccination status when the results show they didn’t?

        *I am skeptical of thimerosal having a protective effect; I suspect it is not a causal relationship.

  26. “Repeating over and over “that is not really analogous” is argument by “ya boo” theory.”

    you just don’t get it do you? It’s really simple:

    you look at people who have lung cancer and then match them with a similar bunch whom do not have lung cancer and then you see what their level of exposure to smoking was.

    • No-one “made sure” they had the same exposure. Have you read the technical report yet?
      YES or NO? Can you copypaste or link to the section which explains that they predetermined identical exposure? If you can’t then shut up.

      And anyway, if they did have “the same exposure”, how come the study showed that there was a significantly HIGHER exposure among those with autism between birth and 20 months? According to you everything was identical, and was designed to be so.

      Your failure to understand anything about case-controlled trial design is not surprising, but your repeated insistence that you do in the face of evidence to the contrary tells us quite a lot about your character.

      Your inability to answer a straight question also tells us that you lack the assurance of knowledge and the confidence of comprehension of the subject under discussion.

  27. We have not said nor agreed “vaccination is a vanishingly rare cause of ‘autistic conditions'”

    Nor are we going to get side-tracked on that when this thread is about the Pediatrics paper.

    And it looks pretty much like it has run its course.

  28. Pingback: Friday’s Show Notes – Oct. 15, 2010 « CKUT's "Morning After" and "Lendemain de la Veille"

  29. Pingback: More Evidence that Mercury in Vaccines doesn’t cause Autism | Archit Chhabra

Comments are closed.