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1% You (Didn’t) Say?: EBCALA press conference on New Study on Autism and Vaccines

May 10, 2011

The “vaccine injury” community has been buzzing over the press conference and release of Holland et al’s supposedly earth shattering “study” published in the Pace Environmental Law Review. Some of them proclaim triumphantly that they have proof the government has lied about the lack of a link between vaccines and autism. Now, here, they have the evidence. Some parents feel it’s time for a revolution, time to make the government pay for their lies. None of this rhetoric is new. Not even the information supposedly revealed in this non-scientific study published in a law review. 

Holland et al. write that parents of vaccine injured children have been unhappy with the VCIP (Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). Of course they have; they didn’t get what they felt they deserved. Unhappy parents aren’t proof that the program isn’t fair (a concern of Holland et al’s), nor is it proof that the VCIP doesn’t do a good job at compensation for vaccine injury. 

One of the problems here is that this group of people sees vaccine injuries everywhere. Vaccines are responsible for a whole host of things from SIDS, to MS, to asthma, to autism, to allergies. 

Another problem here are the sorts of things that Holland et al. think are credible sources. On page 428, even if a person reading were unaware of the writers’ biases concerning autism and vaccines, Holland and her fellow “researchers” reveal that they have built their house of cards on a very shaky foundation: “In The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic, a historical account of autism’s rise, Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill traced the actual identities of most of the original children in Kanner’s 1943 case series. Kanner first noted many of the characteristics that form the core of the syndrome: impaired language, social skills, and repetitive behaviors. But his careful case series analysis failed to ascribe significance to certain related symptoms, including unusual feeding patternsand gastrointestinal problems in the children, and he failed to look at possible environmental exposures that might have been causal.78 All of the identifiedchildren in the case series had experienced known or plausible exposures to ethyl mercury, a then newly-created synthetic chemical.79 Ethyl mercury was used at that time in both vaccines and as an agricultural fungicide the children in the case serieshad parents either in the medical profession working on vaccines or parents in agriculture using fungicides.80 While the mercury connection to autism is not proven, there are many sources, including the Olmsted-Blaxill book,81 that give the hypothesis plausibility.82” 

First off, the only readers or critics who would consider Olmsted and Blaxill’s work historical or plausible are the people who have already decided that their children or they were vaccine-damaged. While it would be fallacious to dismiss this paper solely on the authors or their fondness for Olmsted and Blaxill and the failed thimerosal hypothesis, it has to send red flags up.  

Holland et al. at least admit they aren’t doing science: “This assessment of compensated cases showing an association between vaccines and autism is not, and does not purport to be, science. In no way does it explain scientific causation or even necessarily undermine the reasoning of the decisions in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding based on the scientific theories and medical evidence before the VICP. Nordoes this article have anything to say about state childhood immunization mandates in general.”  

No, what it does is purport to gather evidence that they “found eighty-three cases of autism among those compensated for vaccine-induced brain damage.” Of course, of those eighty-three cases, even Holland et al. admit that only 39 of those 83 (out of a total of 2,500 compensated cases) had confirmation of an autism diagnosis beyond the parents reporting. They report this as a whopping 47%! Of course, if we do the math and take the 39 out of the 2,500, we have 1% of compensated cases having an autism diagnosis. And what’s the prevalence rate again? It’s 1%? Oh. Never mind. 

References:
 Mary Holland, Louis Conte, Robert Krakow, and Lisa Colin, Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, 28 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 480 (2011) Available at:http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol28/iss2/6

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