Monday, February 22, 2010

Shame on Dr. Wakefield

I'm late to mention this, so I'm sure most of you saw this:

Yea, it has rocked the world of Autism. And for me, that rocking is a wonderful, happy news. Because you know what? I'm scared of all the people not vaccinating their children.

I may sound silly, because I have not had to deal with Autism outside of a school setting (yes, I did have one child with mild Autism in a preschool class), and because it is not my child that has it, it may be easy for me to say this, but personally-for me-I would rather deal with Autism than to deal with my child getting Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Chickenpox, Polio, and the like. All those things can-and most likely will-severely cripple or worse, kill your children. Autism though, does not.

But even for me, someone who was steadfast FOR getting every vaccination possible for all members of our family (yes, I even keep up with getting booster vaccinations) I still had that seed of doubt there, that made me a little edgy after shots were given. I'd watch the kids like a hawk, seeing if anything changed. Apparently, though, that was a lot of needless worry.

Apparently, Dr. Wakefield cooked the books to make his theory work-so that he could then finish development an MMR vaccine replacement. See, he was getting thousands upon hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a new vaccine-and to ensure his was used, he got 12 kids to give blood during his son's birthday party, and based his entire thesis on those 12 kids and the one blood sample he took.

In fact, The Lancet, who originally published his findings and started the whole scare, could never reproduce Dr. Wakefield's results. No one could. And slowly, Dr.s who had jumped on board to support it, quietly took their name off the paper. And now, The Lancet has not just said, "Hey, this theory was disproven", they have EXPUNGED it. They have declared it a fabricated, fixed and biased study that never held water and that should have never made it as a scientific study. They are taking all record of it out of their scientific findings.

Do you know how many children in England (Where Dr. Wakefield's study on Autism and the ties to vaccinations were first published) have died now from Measles and Mumps?

And if you have been to the parks around here where I live, you'll run into a great many parents that haven't vaccinated their children. And why do I care? I'm not a scientist, but I do know that vaccinations work as a MASS protection-meaning if everyone is vaccinated then the group as a whole is safe, but if only a few are vaccinated, and an outbreak of say, Polio, comes, then even though your children have been vaccinated, they could still catch it because their bodies are coming into contact with the virus on such a large scale.

So, for Dr. Wakefield, SHAME on you for the fear, anxiety and now danger you have put on parents and children with your bogus study.

And parents, please vaccinate your kids. Now, Let's put all our efforts now on studying Autism, and figuring it out, instead of studying vaccines, because there is an answer to Autism out there, we just haven't looked in the right place yet.

**I'm not any kind of Dr. or scientific person. In fact, I barely made it out of Organic Chemistry with a passing grade in college, so DON'T take what I say as the absolute answer, theory, or whatever. Find the answers and information for yourself and come to your own conclusions.***


Alexandra said...

We agree on so much I wondered if there would be a post somewhere along the line I disagreed with! lol.

I think what Dr. Wakefield did was horrible. Because of him there is now a HUGE setback in REAL vaccine research. From now on people will be skeptical of any research that comes out.

That being said I think that people to often follow the vaccine schedule without thinking. Because the face is that vaccines DO cause awful side affects, including death. People tend to forget that vaccines are just another medical procedure that have potential side affects. There ARE nasty chemicals in vaccines that I do not want in my kid's body. There IS NOT enough research about the safety and side effects of vaccines. People are not educated about vaccines at all. I have many friends who have gotten the HPV vaccine and don't even realize it's for an STD!!!! Anyways....I could go on and on so I will stop now. :)

Shell said...

I hadn't heard about this!

People not vaccinating their kids bothers me. Because that can affect MY kids. Most other parenting decision, I just sort of shrug and say to each their own, but not vaccinating.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I don't want to sway anyone either way, but there is MUCH more to the story- here's some excellent answers in response to the latest about it all:

For me, personally, I have had children have adverse reactions to vaccines. And because I still moderate an epilepsy webgroup, I see a heartbreaking amount of parents joining, affected by reactions to vaccines. Autism is NOT the only danger. It's good to be educated on both sides.


Miche said...

Alexandra and Steph make really good points-you have to learn both sides and figure out what is going to be good for your family's health.

Overall though, in my opinion, the risk of side effects and adverse reactions is terribly small when compared to the devastation catching and dying from one of those illness.

Caitlin said...

Miche, I love you! For real!

Alexandra, to answer you question (as a scientist who has worked with new potential vaccines and sees them go through the clinical process) vaccines are rigorously vetted. If you'd like, I can send you information on that process and how they are tested. Yes there are side effects. However, the vaccines now compared to the vaccines you and I got as children? 100x better and safer. They are getting BETTER not worse.

We (the science community) are now starting to think that the "adverse" reactions our children have are not due to the vaccines, but due to the conditions in which our children live. It's a situation known as the Hygiene Hypothesis, and it may be responsible for the dramatic increase in autoimmune diseases that we see.

While I agree that for your family you have to find out what works for you, as a scientist I find it reprehensible and irresponsible to not vaccinate your children. Herd immunity is what we NEED. Herd immunity is what got rid of small pox. And reduced polio. And measles. And mumps. And rubella. If you do not vaccinate your children and they do not get sick, it is not because of you or anything you did, it is because of parents who vaccinated their children, keeping yours safe in the process. Make sure you thank them.

Caitlin said...

(sorry Miche for continuing to comment, but this is a subject near and dear to my heart)


I looked at the website you provided. And honestly, from a scientific standpoint it is basically trash. The other two papers she cited? 1) they are in terrible journals. I mean laughable at best. 2) The Japanese study doesn't even remotely make sense. Long story short, but there is no way to be able to detect mRNA from the H and F genes of measles virus, but no N mRNA. The way the virus replicates, it is an absolute impossibility. Levels of N mRNA from measles virus are at higher levels than any other mRNA because of the gradient of transcription the virus uses to replicate. 3) The paper from the medical school is also crap. To start with, it has nothing to do with vaccination, it simply states that ASD children may have more highly responsive PBMCs to bacteria than do non ASD children, and that that can contribute to autoimmunity. Funnily enough, so can the hygiene hypothesis. And frankly, the error bars on their data were high enough (given the small group of subjects they had) that it basically makes all the data equal, with no difference.

The point of all of this, is that you cannot find one good article from a reputable, peer-reviewed journal that gives any indication that vaccination leads or contributes to in any way, shape, or form to autism. Just because something is published (sadly) doesn't make it true.

Alexandra said...

hi Caitlin!

I will read anything you care to send to me!! Thanks!

But I have researched this a ton and as I can not change your mind you probably can not cahnge mine. :) But I am open to reading what you have.

And while I am not easily offended it does anger me a little to read comments such as this:

"I find it reprehensible and irresponsible to not vaccinate your children."

I have done much research and talked with my doc and hubby extensively about what to do. Each family has the right to decide what to do with their children. I hate the implication that if I do not vaccinate I do not care about my children as much as someone that does. I am not pro or against vaccinations. I am pro education. If from what you reseach you come to the OPINION that vaccines are ok for your family then cool. But from my research I have come to the OPINION that they are not right for my family right now. I never appreciate being accused of being "irresponsible" for doing the right thing for my kids. I love my kids enough to research. Most people unfortunaly just do whatever the doc tells them.

Caitlin said...


If you want to send me your email, I can send you some articles.

And I am sorry that the comment offended you. However, my views are not an opinion. They are facts, based on sound scientific evidence and decades upon decades of research. I'm sorry if that angers you, but it's the truth. I am a doctoral candidate about six months out from a PhD in virology with extensive work in viral vaccine vectors against such agents as smallpox and influenza. I work closely with a professor responsible for the development of the HPV vaccine. I work with another professor who has had one vaccination against the plague pass through clinical trials and is now available to the military. We have also submitted another vaccine against pseudomonas aeruginosa. In short, this is my life. This is what I do and read all day. And there is no factual basis for your claims that vaccines hurt children.

And it is my opinion that those who do not vaccinate their children are irresponsible. And again, I am sorry that that angers you. However, it is NOT okay that by choosing to not vaccinate your children, common, preventable childhood diseases can and will become more prevalent. It is not okay that by not vaccinating your healthy, able children, you are putting a part of the population at risk that for real reasons cannot be vaccinated. I agree that you have the right to do what is best for your family. However, when your decisions impact the lives and well beings of others, that is not okay. And unless you intend to have your non-vaccinated children living in a bubble, run that risk. NOT okay.

Alexandra said...

hey Caitlin!

Great debate we have going on here. ;)

I am not saying that your opinions are not valid. I just happen to disagree with them. We have both looked at the FACTS and made OPINIONS about them. It's cool that you are a Phd candidate. We need good researchers out there who are not biased and will get us correct information. But I have access to the same info you do and I have read it. Believe me, when it comes to my kids I read as much as I can get my hands on. And what gets me is you seem to be ignoring the research and children who have been hurt and/or gotten sick by vaccines (and I am not talking just about autism). Because it is out there. I have looked at both sides and decided what is right for my kids. That and there are just some things I don't mind my kids getting. Chicken pox for one. I would rather my kids have a natural immunity to that one vs. a human made one.

Obviously my kids will not live in a bubble....and I will not allow them to. They will have the same life experiences as everyone else. We go to the park and my-gym and all sorts of places. You will just have to deal with the fact that your kids will come into contact with unvaccinated kids. And if yours are vaccinated then you shouldn't be to worried. And just so you know I am not at all worried about my kids getting sick.

looking forward to reading what you have for me :)

And I would love to meet and work with professors who develop vaccines. Whar a great learning opportunity! I just hate how uniformed people are who get it.

And Miche, you didn't offend me at all. I am all about healthy debates. I am just not about attacking people for their views.

Miche said...

Hey Guys,

I want to thank everyone for their comments and for the discussion on this topic-and for working hard to keep it all friendly, as I count every one of you who have commented as great "internet friends".

This discussion certainly is a volatile one, as it carries a lot of emotion for us parents and scientists, who tend to be on one spectrum or the other. I do agree that all of us have taken our choices very seriously and are doing what we feel are the best choices for our families.

I do think though, that what Dr. Wakefield falsified in his studies has caused a danger for parents that, instead of researching for their family, their genetics, etc, what is best choice, they are simply thinking with fear and not vaccinating at all. I think Dr. Wakefield caused a huge distrust of medicine that will probably always linger in parents of our generation-even though I am pro vaccination, I still have worried each time my kids got a shot, saying "what if..." But then, widespread disuse of vaccines WILL cause a whole new problem as polio, mumps and measles starts to kill our children again. England has already had to deal with such horrible consequences. It really is a catch 22 in the worst kind of way, when you think about it. You do vaccinate, and you worry forever from the seed of doubt Dr. Wakefield planted that they might cause harm-or caused-you don't vaccinate and your children could die from a horrible disease. It is a very stressful situation to worry about.

Again, I think all of us commenting here have done our research, and have come to our conclusions after careful investigation-annd it shows by all the facts and information everyone has shared.

I greatly appreciate the information from both sides, and GREATLY appreciate keeping the conversation friendly, as I count all of you as my friends. :)

Alexandra said...

also we have to take into account various religious reasons for not vacciating. My aunt follows a religious practice that is against vaccines. My reasons are not all religious, but they are in part. It would be awful if we lived somewhere we could not live out our religious convictions.

Alexandra said...

thanks Miche!! I agree he has done medicine and research a huge disservice. Now any research done on the subject from here on out will be questioned. Not good.

And how funny we made our last comments at the same time!! lol When I came back I thought it was weird I hadn't seen your comment when I was here before...if that makes any sense. :)

Caitlin said...

Alexandra, I do think we kind of live in a society where you can't practice your religion if you're not a christian..but thats a whole other post :)

Miche, you make great points as well. I think what is most important to remember is that even as parents have started to not vaccinate their kids (vaccinations in 2007 were down 14% in the US and Canada from previous years) the number of children diagnosed with ASD rose 343%.

Miche said...

Wow, Caitlin, that is a scary stat-and it does seem to be more and more obvious (to me, at least) that more and more is coming out to disprove the vaccine/autism relationship, so hopefully now we can start to actually hunt down what is making such a huge increase in autism, epilepsy, and other things people have blamed on vaccines since Dr. Wakefield's "paper".

Lora @ Motherhood Moments said...

I guess I fall somewhere in the middle, but lean hard towards the non-vaccinating side. I do think that vaccines have done immeasurable good, however I do *not* think they should *ever* be given to newborns. And there are some that I don't think should be given at all. With the good came a lot of bad, and it goes far beyond autism.

I don't view this opinion as irresponsible in any way. I guarantee you I've done more research into vaccines than most parents who fully vaccinate their children. I spent months and months reading everything I could get my hands on before I came to the decision I came to.

Just had to add my $0.02! This is a topic that's very important to me. :)

Anonymous said...

One thing I hope everyone will at least keep in mind when making this decision is that there are people, including children, who can't be vaccinated. They are protected only by herd immunity - by those around them being vaccinated so the disease never reaches them. Some people have auto-immune disorders so they don't respond to the vaccines even if they get them. Others have allergies to components of the vaccine or to the growth medium (egg allergy, for example).

Personally, I think the risks of vaccines are overplayed and the benefits dismissed or downgraded, and I choose to follow the standard schedule. But if you don't - that is your choice - and I am lucky enough that my child can have the vaccines, and as far as we know responds normally (no reason to doubt that).

Just asking you to consider those who are not so lucky. I know some will still come to the decision not to vaccinate, but hopefully some will be swayed to vaccinate.