July 20, 2005


No Vaccine-Autism Link, Parents Are Told (GARDINER HARRIS, 7/20/05, NY Times)

Top officials from three of the nation's premier public health agencies held an unusual news conference on Tuesday to say that childhood vaccines are life-saving medicines with no proven link to autism.

"The science says very clearly that vaccines save lives and protect our children," said one of the officials, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To many, that declaration might have seemed akin to an announcement so basic as that high cholesterol readings are linked with heart disease. But the officials felt a need to make a forceful defense of vaccines because a growing number of parents contend that a mercury-containing vaccine preservative called thimerosal caused their children to become autistic. Indeed, several parents held a vigil outside the news conference, with one holding a large sign blaming vaccines for her child's disorder.

Representative Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican who champions the notion that thimerosal has caused an explosion of autism cases around the world, attended the news conference and, after it ended, gave his own press briefing criticizing the public health officials.

"It seemed that this was an effort to assuage public concerns, but I think parents are much smarter than some people give them credit for," said Mr. Weldon, who was a practicing physician before his election to the House in 1994.

They aren't. They just want a diagnosis that allows them to blame someone.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 20, 2005 10:19 AM

It's hard to argue with the scientific studies that keep proving there isn't a link. I'm not trying to be sarcastic.

I guess one reason there is skepticism is the large jump in autism cases. Is is all "better reporting" and adding "Asbergers" to the mix?

Posted by: BB at July 20, 2005 11:23 AM

How many kids (or heck, even adults) are considered "normal" these days by mental health professionals? 25%?

In any dinner-party size gathering of academic types, you'll find numerous stories from those in the room, or their siblings, of a child simply not speaking or interacting normally at school far longer than usual. Then at some point, things just "clicked" and the child grew into the (relatively) normal and functional adult you know. How many of these kids today are diagnosed with autism or some similar condition? And how does a mis-diagnosis affect the development of these children?

Standard disclaimer: Yes, autism is real, and devastating. BUT, a 6 year old who rarely speaks is not at all unusual, and in no way necessarily disordered in any way.

Posted by: b at July 20, 2005 11:34 AM

The simple scientific fact is that mercury is toxic. Injecting infants and children with mercury is an abominable solution to pharmaceutical corporations' insatiable craving for profit, notwithstanding the beneficial effects of vaccinating against disease.

Posted by: lonbud at July 20, 2005 11:44 AM

One theory is Simon Baron-Cohen's assortive mating theory.
Mind Hacks blog says:
"He argues that 'systemizing', a tendancy to think in terms of rules, laws and systems, is more prevalent in some, particularly males, and is expressed as autism or Asperger's syndrome in its extreme form.
The child of two systemizers is more likely to have this trait, both due to genetic and parental influences, and is therefore more likely to be on the autistic spectrum."

Assortive mating is when people marry someone like themselves. The Bell Curve showed that people were increasingly marrying those with similar i.q.s and that tendency would only increase. This is due to increased mobility.
Another instance of assortive mating is that 85% of people with profound deafness marry another deaf person.

Are we so mobile and segregate ourselves so well that his theory has validity? I don't know, but I was astounded at the statistic of deaf people. I can count on one hand the deaf people I've known.

Posted by: Emily B. at July 20, 2005 11:50 AM

You had to figure lonbud would buy into this nonsense.

Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 11:52 AM

So lonbud, how do you feel about fluorinated water?

Posted by: b at July 20, 2005 11:53 AM


Many moons ago we posted a personality test here in which all the Brothers, including those by other mothers, and most readers were demonstrated to be either autistic or Aspergic.

Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 11:55 AM

Now you've done it, OJ. There are no wackos like the vaccine wackos.

To answer the two points (using the term loosely) made here:

1. The increase in Autism diagnoses has been matched with a corresponding decrease in the diagnosis of other types of mental retardation. Overall, levels of mental retardation including Autism have not changed.

2. Several countries, most notably Denmark, banned Themerisol about a decade ago (Denmark in 1992). Their incidence of Autism has not declined in the years since demonstrating, conclusively for everyone except the wackos, that there is no link.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 20, 2005 11:56 AM

geez, but that lonbud guy is really dense.

'..Injecting infants and children with mercury is an abominable solution to pharmaceutical corporations' insatiable craving for profit..'

solution? huh?

I'm imagining some PhD biochemist working for a big pharma house -- 'well, we got all this mercury lying around we need to get rid of, le'ts just add it to the vaccines.'

hey, lonbud, you've LOST THE PLOT agaim.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 20, 2005 12:06 PM

Mercury isn't the only poison in those vaccines, lonbud. They also have dihydrogen oxide in them. I agree, corporations have no shame.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 20, 2005 12:14 PM

Joe, that's no joke. Here in Seattle, nearly 100% of the population suffer from overexposure to Dihydrogen Oxide. Some speculate this has led to the proliferation of serial killers that seem to thrive in this region of the US and it may also lead to increased isolation and depression.

Posted by: Patrick H at July 20, 2005 12:32 PM

the plot, brothers, is that statistics can be marshalled to prove anything you want to prove. in the realm of corporate decision-making, any individual life is of no consequence; only when the effects on enough individual lives can be shown to hinder the propects for profit will an alternate course be considered.

it matters not whether the incidence of autism in denmark decreased in the wake of the banning of thimerosal: danish children born after 1992 are better off not having been injected with one of the most toxic substances we know.

flouridated water and dihydrogen oxide are both quite off-topic here.

Posted by: lonbud at July 20, 2005 12:37 PM


So it's just theological.

Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 12:42 PM

from the CDC:

'Thimerosal is used as a preservative in some multi-dose vials of vaccines to prevent contamination. .. As a preservative, thimerosal is added at the end of the production process to the bulk or final container to prevent contamination after multi-dose vials are opened. Until 1999, vaccines given to infants to protect them against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and Hepatitis B contained thimerosal as a preservative. Today, with the exception of some flu vaccines, none of the vaccines used in the U.S. to protect preschool aged children against 12 infectious diseases contain thimerosal as a preservative. Thimerosal still may be used in the early stages of manufacturing of certain vaccines, but is removed through a purification process, with only trace, or insignificant, amounts remaining. '

SOOO, to expand on lonbud's point, children around the world would have been better off not having to have been injected with mercury except for the fact that without an ability to preserve the vaccines, there would be less of these vaccines available and lots of these children would be dead.

(having to explain this is really, really tiresome)

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 20, 2005 12:58 PM

well, you're close, jonofatlanta... the reason the drug companies used thimerosal is they simply didn't want to incur the expense of producing single dose vials of vaccine. i don't understand you folks' incentive to just accept the pharmaceutical industry's imperative to "trust us: we must inject your children with mercury in order to protect them from diptheria."

Posted by: lonbud at July 20, 2005 3:23 PM


So it's just theological.
Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 12:42 PM"


Posted by: lonbud at July 20, 2005 3:27 PM


There's no empirical reason for your opposition, just faith-based: "danish children born after 1992 are better off not having been injected with one of the most toxic substances we know."

Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 3:31 PM

>water and dihydrogen oxide are both quite off-topic here

Do you know anything about chemistry, lonbud? A compound containing mercury is not equivalent to mercury. Fluoride & fluorine are incredibly toxic--have you ever seen a picture of what happens to someone who gets HF (hydrofluoric acid) spilled on them? Google it if you want to have nightmares for the rest of your life. And yet we fluoridate the public water supply, and only moonbats who don't care about dental hygiene are still opposed to doing so.

Posted by: b at July 20, 2005 3:39 PM

Ah for the good 'ol days when the nutbars who worried about the Purity of Our Precious Bodily Fluids were considered rightwingers.

Lithium is poisionous (and highly reactive), too, which probably explains why the Left has collectively gone off their meds.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 20, 2005 3:53 PM

This is great. Having lonbud comment here means I don't have to head over to Blame Bush. quite as often to get my parody fix.

Posted by: John Resnick at July 20, 2005 5:21 PM

lonbud: basic economics.

A) use thimerasol for multi-dose application
B) create only single-dose application

B) is more expensive

therefore, if pharma goes with B),price of vaccine commodity is relatively higher

which: suppresses demand and reduces availability

Result: less children immunized (or to put it more prosaically, more DEAD kids).

this is not that hard.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 20, 2005 5:22 PM

Because, to bring it full circle, there is no evidence that Thimerosal is harmful.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 20, 2005 6:21 PM

Fluoride & fluorine are incredibly toxic [...] yet we fluoridate the public water supply, and only moonbats who don't care about dental hygiene are still opposed to doing so.

Not quite.

Fluoride is somewhat helpful in preventing tooth decay, but it's also a powerful carcinogen.

Simply dumping it into the water supply, without taking into account the recipients' age, weight, gender, sensitivity, or health status, and with an essentially random dosage per recipient, is pure quackery.

Even if one could argue that there was a state of dental "emergency" at one point that justified such crude methods, that time has long since passed, and water fluoridation should pass as well.

If anybody cares to defend water-supply-based delivery of medication, then why not just dump vaccines and anti-depressants in there as well ?

What could go wrong ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 20, 2005 7:18 PM

jonofatlanta: OR, in return for getting the government contract to produce the vaccine supply, big pharma could be required to accept a smaller profit on the vaccine and your supply/demand/dead kids scenario is obviated.

i've got to stop forgetting that if i just keep genuflecting at the altar of profit, all my questions will be answered and all my dreams will come true.

Posted by: lonbud at July 20, 2005 7:44 PM

'government contract' !!

right! let's let the bureaucrats in DC decide how much vaccine to produce.. it worked so well when the Russians let Moscow do it !

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 20, 2005 7:51 PM


Why don't non-profits manufacture innovative drugs?

Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 7:52 PM

I LOVE the 'forced to accept a smaller profit' bit.

when a capitalist enterprise is forced to 'accept' that, they cut back on , hmmm ... what does a pharma house spend its capital on? ....

why , research, of course -- good bye wonder drugs

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 20, 2005 8:00 PM

funny. seems "pharma houses" spend at least as much on advertising these days as on "research."

Posted by: lonbud at July 21, 2005 4:44 AM


maybe you should apply to Pfizer or Merck as a chief executive officer - you apparently know how to run a
pharma corporation better then they do.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at July 21, 2005 8:35 AM

Yes, I'm personally tired of all those fold out advertisements for cancer treatments and vaccines.

Posted by: Timothy at July 21, 2005 5:16 PM

Sad,isn't it?

One of the first things you learn about "incredibly toxic" substances in pharmacy school is that toxicity depends on the DOSE as well as the material. An example? Sure. Arsenic is quite toxic -- we use it for rat poison and poisoners used it for murder. But people have lived long lives in Bakersfield, California: where the soil naturually contains some arsenic, so people breathe, and eat trace amounts of it continuously through their lives. And live long anyway. Yes, it is bioaccumulative: but a lifetime's worth is insufficient. Dose, Mr. Lonbud, dose.

End of sermon.

Posted by: Arnold Williams at July 22, 2005 8:37 AM