Elizabeth posted an interesting comment/question on the Mattress Quest II post. What should we make of The Lancet’s announcement they are retracting the study they published in 1998 linking the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism?
When I heard the news, all I could think was: Giiilllly! (This is probably only funny to Paul because he may, in fact, be the only person who follows this blog and watches Saturday Night Live. For the rest of you, click on the link above to watch a Gilly skit. Then watch it again because it gets funnier.)
Apparently the General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in the UK, found the Wakefield study did not meet their ethical standards. They said “there was a biased selection of patients” and “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”
Gilly, did you throw a milk carton at the black board?
First, let me start by confirming that indeed, I am not a doctor and I have very little experience with or knowledge of Autism. But it is clear, even to me, that the Wakefield study has been thoroughly de-bunked. While I can still find publications that are willing to make the case that vaccines are linked to Autism, I cannot find a publication willing to defend the Wakefield study itself. As of today, there are no proven studies linking the MMR vaccine and Autism.
Does that mean that the vaccine, and for that matter all vaccines, are completely safe? There is a small voice in my head that says: just because there is no evidence proving a vaccine does cause harm does not mean that it doesn’t. Just because something has not been proven does not mean that it does not exist. This is one of my pet-peeves with the medical community. Doctors act as if the information they have today is everything. How long ago was it that we thought the world was flat? That leeches were used as a viable form of medical treatment? That Thalidomide was given to pregnant mothers? This is my general philosophy regarding medicine: there is SO much about the human body and how it works that we do not know and we do not understand. This governs all my decisions. I do my best to minimize exposure, to minimize risk.
Gilly, did you stab three pencils in Cindy’s body?
However, I am not only skeptical of the medical community, I am also quite grateful for it. Western medicine did save my life. Oh yeah. There’s that. Let’s not forget.
And, vaccines are very important. They save lives. Measles killed 160,000 in the developing world last year.
Gilly, did you light Bobby’s tie on fire?
Josie got way more shots starting at a younger age than I did. It’s a scary thought, injecting those tiny bodies with all those foreign substances at once. What can her little liver handle? How can her little immune system make sense of what we’ve given her?
Shit, I don’t know… The solution is different for every person/kid/family and depends on the individual risk factors and family history. The only recommendation I can make is to buy The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears. It lists the pros and cons of every vaccine. It provides a recommended delayed schedule. These are not long delays, these are delays of a few weeks or months that allow a little body to process some of what it has been given before it is given another. It provides a rational foundation to make educated decisions.
I know there are some of you out there who have more knowledge of vaccines and experience with Autism. What do you make of this?
Gilly, did you tell millions of people that MMR causes Autism?