- Age of Autism -
Readers of Age of Autism are aware of the term “the big hungry lie” coined by regular contributor J.B. Handley, used to describe the tactics of the CDC and the drug industry’s attempts to disassociate autism from vaccines in any way, shape, or form.
Perhaps the biggest lie of all is the one that has been repeated all too long, that after thimerosal was reduced or eliminated from vaccines, autism rates continued to go up. There have been multiple instances of this claim and each time it has been proven false, right up to the recent lie that after thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2001, autism rates continue to increase. These two claims, the first that thimerosal was removed from vaccines, and the second that autism rates have not gone down as a result, continue to be used to justify the injection of thimerosal into pregnant women and children with flu shots. The claims have also been used to justify the immunization of children in developing countries with vaccines preserved with thimerosal. Sadly, neither claim is any more truthful than previous equally erroneous claims, the earliest of which originated from Scandinavia, then spread to Canada and most recently came out of California.
The paper by Stehr-Green et al., for example, purported to study autism rates in Sweden after thimerosal removal in 1993, but only hospitalizations in relation to autism were analyzed. Anyone remotely familiar with autism knows that it is not the kind of condition for which one would typically go to a hospital for treatment.
In the same study were also analyses of autism rates in Denmark, which were even more flawed. Many here remember the infamous Danish studies published in 2003, which served as the primary basis for the IOM’s predetermined conclusion in 2004, that autism rates shot up after thimerosal removal in 1992. In reality what happened was the Danish were worried there was a connection between thimerosal and autism, and right after thimerosal was eliminated from all their vaccines, they rapidly changed their registration program to include a lot more children. Such an interpretation of these studies -- designed by the CDC, and conducted by Statens Serum Institut, the largest vaccine-manufacturer in Denmark -- that autism rates skyrocketed after thimerosal removal, can be regarded as little more than propaganda.
When SafeMinds reanalyzed the data of the latest Denmark study, Hviid et al., by applying the same standards of higher case ascertainment to children born before 1992, they found a prevalence of 1 in 500, compared to a prevalence of 1 in 1,500 ten years later, a 66% drop. Unfortunately, this would not be the last time the CDC would design such self-contradicting studies.
In Canada, Eric Fombonne, a psychiatrist with ties to Sanofi-Pasteur, who is not even an epidemiologist, conducted his own combined thimerosal-MMR study on a school district in Montreal, and it was a total failure. His claim that autism rates went up after thimerosal was removed rested entirely on the Kindergarten cohort, for which enrollment was optional, so only about half the kids out of the total enrolled. However, all the children with autism enrolled because the school provides many services to autistic children. In fact, the school district Fombonne studied has an autism center for excellence, and even draws children with autism from other districts. Had enrollment been mandatory, the estimated prevalence would have dropped by one-half, indicating a decrease rather than an increase. According to biochemist Dr. Paul G. King, this is what is called “negative enrollment bias.” Furthermore, there was also thimerosal exposure during the years where exposure was labeled “nil.”
His MMR data were no more reliable. Instead of using local MMR immunization rates to compare to autism rates, he used immunization data from Quebec City, 145 miles away. Even though the Cochrane Collaboration had this to say about his previous MMR study from 2001, "The number and possible impact of biases was so high that interpretation of the results was difficult," and even though the collaboration included a person who also acted as a legal consultant to MMR manufacturers, such discrediting apparently has not stopped Fombonne from doing more completely flawed, post-marketing research.
But back to thimerosal, because just two years ago, Robert Schechter and Judith Grether of the California Department of Public Health accessed the records of the California Database for Evaluation and Research (CDER) of the California Department of Developmental Services in children ages 3-5. The purpose was to see if autism rates had declined after the supposed removal of thimerosal from vaccines. According to Schecter and Grether's analysis, they hadn’t. Using their interpretation, the two researchers determined that thimerosal must not be a primary cause of autism, in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry entitled “Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System: Mercury in Retrograde.” However, their own errors, it now appears, contradicted their conclusions.
Read it all.