OK. So my last post was a silly one, make no mistake this one is Deadly Serious.
I will again start with the disclaimer that, with this post, I hope to neither cause offence, or to patronise. However I am aware that it is a hot topic, and those that disagree with my position may feel that I have done both.
I remember when we had Bart there was a big controversy over the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella). Was it safe? Did it have links to autism?
Bart was born back in 2000, just a couple of years after Andrew Wakefield had published his paper on the link between MMR and autism, and so we were making the decision during the peak of the controversy. Even though every radio show and TV talk show was giving equal credence to both sides, once you scratched the surface it was clear which side the evidence was accumulating. Wakefield’s initial study was based on 12 children who had developed autism spectrum disorders soon after having their MMR vaccination.
While this was cause for concern and reason for further investigation in itself it proved nothing. That is the way science works … a hypothesis is formed based on initial observation, it is then followed by a detailed study to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Each subsequent study hopefully being subject to tighter controls and applied to a statistically significantly larger test group, and therefore increasing its reliability and therefore relevance to the debate.
In this case, when you look at this evidence, the tighter the test, and greater the test group, the less deviation these tests showed from the statistical average.
This strongly indicates that MMR presents no statistically significant increased risk of autism. Let me repeat that … MMR PRESENTS NO STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT INCREASED RISK OF AUTISM!
Thus Bart got his Jabs, and subsequently so did Lisa and now Maggie.
The problem is due to the controversy and the way the media insist on giving balance, you still get programs where you have one person from each side giving their point of view. The problem with this “Balance” is that the overwhelming weight of medical opinion is being represented by one person, and a fringe few by another. This was bad enough.
But now we have celebrities entering the fold. Jenny McCarthy, yes with her MTV medical credentials, has decided to take the anti-Vaccine fight to the public. So now we have one anonymous doctor who is representing the majority of medical opinion verses a celebrity mom who blames the vaccines for her child’s autism. Now I feel very sorry for Ms McCarthy, and I understand her desire to have somebody/entity to blame, but she is consequently endangering innocent children.
Last year in the UK alone there were 1,217 cases of measles from January to November. This has caused the UK to be labelled as “one of the worst countries in Europe for measles”.
I will stress that obviously this is not by any means a medical blog, it is merely that this subject captured my attention 8 years ago and only seems to become more and more important. I also understand that you would be even crazier to take medical advice from “Some Bloke on the Internet” than Jenny McCarthy (Although not by much), but I do urge you that if you are in any doubt whether to immunise, do some research, read some of the following.
stopjenny.com More on the surrounding of the Jenny McCarthy story and why she is wrong.
The Times article on Wakefield’s conflict of interest.
Wikipedia list studies since Wakefield’s Lancet publication overwhelmingly indicating there is no link between MMR and vaccination.
Phil Plait talks about the American problems of the Anti-Vaccine movement
Or for far a more detailed look at this topic than I can begin to offer, Autism’s False Prophets by Paul A. Offit
Please note that I am not attacking parents that have chosen not to vaccinate their child, I am sure that they have made the decision based on the evidence presented to them at the time (although I do hope to direct them to more recent and scientifically accepted evidence). I know it seems to be the default fall back, but I do feel much of the mainstream media have indeed let parents down (Don’t get me started on Oprah!).