Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Autism Exec Axes the Autism-Vaccine Theory

Kudos to Alison Singer, the executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks, who publicly declared vaccines do not cause autism. The weight of solid scientific evidence finally convinced Singer, a mother of an 11-year daughter with autism, who had to resign from the autism organization that's still married to the idea of a link. So I hate to point out a rather minor gaffe she'd made in an interview at Newsweek with Claudia Kalb:


"There are more than a dozen studies that show no causal link between the MMR [measles-mumps-rubella] vaccine and autism, and thimerosal [a mercury-containing vaccine preservative] and autism. Over and over, the science has shown no causal link between vaccines and autism."


Yes, she's right. We have no evidence of a causal link. Nor could we ever because we have no experiments on the issue. No researcher could ever do an experiment to find out if vaccines cause autism, a randomized study being both ethically and practically impossible. Here, you parents vaccinate. You, don't. No, what we have is an increasing body of evidence that finds no link, no correlation between the two. Am I in any criticizing the evidence? No. There are all manner of issues that we simply cannot examine in an experiment. All types of human behaviors that we cannot possibly manipulate. Like breastfeeding. Can you imagine assigning some mothers to breastfeed and others, formula feed? Some for 3 months, others, 6 months?


Why care about this minor misstatement? Geez, guess I'm just disappointed that on such a weighty topic, we still find mistakes that perpetuate a misunderstanding of the scientific process.

2 comments:

Psychomama said...

Hey Dr. Polly,
Have you heard about the recent article from the Sunday Times of London calling into question the data from the original MMR-Autism link study? I linked to it on my blog, check it out, there are of course lost of opinions about this one!

Dr. Polly said...

No, thanks for the update! I'll be reading it. I do know the New York Times reported sometime within the past year (I posted on it) that several authors recanted their authorship and several had some serious conflicts...including the primary author who'd been working on an alternate vaccine. I think the funding source was also an issue. Many thanx.