We received a comment on our Facebook page last week that linked to an article and asked a simple question: “Thoughts?” Only after composing a reply did I realized that I didn’t have the writer’s email address. So, because I did have “thoughts” about the linked article, I decided to post my reply here, this morning:
Dear Mrs. T,
Thank you for passing along the article that appeared on whiteoutpress.com. I requested that the post be removed from the Pediatric Alliance’s public wall for a few reasons:
> The link to the article does not work (I noted that several Facebook readers commented on that).
> The article in question comes from the”Autism Media Channel” which names Andrew Wakefield as its director. As you may know, Dr. Wakefield has been thoroughly and universally discredited in medical and scientific circles. His research paper published in the British Medical Journal in 1998 which suggested a link between MMR and autism was eventually retracted by the study’s authors on the basis of undeniable conflicts of interest and scientific fraud committed by the authors (including Dr. Wakefield, who ended up with his license to practice medicine revoked).
> Whiteoutpress.com is not a “news” organization in the journalistic sense and is therefore, by our estimation at The PediaBlog, not a credible source.
Now, my thoughts:
No one can deny the possibility that someone, somewhere in the world has had an adverse reaction to one or more of the vaccines that we give to children. Almost all the decisions by the vaccine court pretty much acknowledge that even if damage can’t be proven (which it can’t), the possibility of cause and effect can’t be denied either. There have been several cases settled on behalf of plaintiffs in the vaccine court, and there may be future cases settled as well. I think we can agree that nothing is 100% safe with certainty, though we can agree that vaccines come pretty close.
As far as the study published in PLOS ONE, THAT is indeed an interesting and important study! The video interview Dr. Wakefield did with one of the study’s authors nicely summarizes the results. This does confirm what Dr. Wakefield suspected in his BMJ study: that autistic children have organic (inflammatory) changes in their intestines. To my knowledge, no one has challenged that notion. In fact, in the 15 years since his study was published, most specialists who treat children with autism have assumed just that. Many therapeutic modalities have emerged due to this thinking: secretin therapy (an absolute disaster) and gluten/casein-free diets (the jury is still out on that, but many parents of autistic kids tell me it really helps; many say it doesn’t). This new study looks at the actual gene expression of disorders that cause inflammation in the ileum and colon (ileocolitis) of children with autism, as well as children with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. All three diseases appear to have their own, unique inflammatory markers. This means that specific treatment for autistic children and adults who have gastrointestinal inflammation and symptoms is on the horizon. This is very good news indeed!
(In the video, Dr. Krigsman blames everyone — politicians, doctors, the media — for ignoring the needed scientific research that he, himself was courageous to do. Of course, the only one to blame for that would be the person sitting on the other side of the camera — Dr. Wakefield! Even so, he’s being disingenuous: the knowledge and sophisticated technology necessary to do this particular study were not available to researchers 15, 10, even 5 years ago.)
What does this study tell us about a possible relationship between MMR vaccine, intestinal changes that Dr. Wakefield described in his original article, and autism? Nothing. Dr. Wakefield’s original BMJ article failed to make the connection between MMR and autism. This study does not make reference to Dr. Wakefield or his much-maligned study. Nor does it mention the MMR vaccine anywhere. This study, while interesting and important, has nothing to do with MMR. Nor does it address the causes of inflammatory bowel disease in autistic children, or the causes of autism. The sensationalist headline on whiteoutpress.com attempts to make the connection when there is none, further questioning the credibility of the source.
So, those are my thoughts! I appreciate your forwarding the article to The PediaBlog! I wonder if my comments (along with a link to the study) might make a good blog post. Please tell me if you think it would.
Anyway, I thought it would, and I think it does. So there it is!