This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vaccine Safety Research and Parental Trust

Time and time again there is a media blitz in which we are told repeatedly that vaccines are safe, that studies have been done, that the question has been asked and answered.  So many voices in a position of authority are saying the same thing, so isn't it true?  Every time one of these blitzes happens we find many people asking why anyone is still holding onto the idea that there may be a link between vaccines and autism.  Well, it turns out that the state of vaccine safety research is not quite that simple.  Yes some studies have been done but the outcomes are not as one-sided as we are led to believe, many studies are done by people with significant conflict of interests, and many of the questions have never been studied.  None of this proves that vaccines are unsafe or that they are involved in any way in the development of autism, but it doesn't exonerate them either. First and foremost, the responsibility rests on those who produce and mandate vaccines to demonstrate that they are safe rather than on consumers or others to prove that they are unsafe.

The Verstraeten study, which was released in 2003, is generally considered to be the central study that proved that there is no link between thimerosal (mercury) and autism.  The study that was published was actually inconclusive- not really supporting either conclusion.  However, the study that was actually published was NOT the original study that was done.  The original study actually did show an association between thimerosal exposure and a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.  The group SafeMinds got access to the transcript of a meeting that was held between the researcher, members of the CDC, and representatives of vaccine makers discussing the findings and implications of the original findings.  You can read excerpts from that meeting here.

As another parent said so well in this editorial,  the research that consumers are provided with are shown to be scant and dubious at best if even a small amount of work is done to look into how they were performed and by whom.  Essentially consumers are asked to take the claims of vaccine safety and efficacy on faith...but as the pharmaceutical industry has been wracked by scandal after scandal, and conflict-of-interest is rampant, that is a tall order.  The father who wrote the above-mentioned editorial points out very well that those who worry about declining vaccination rates are quick to blame parents for their diminishing faith in the system but are oddly silent when it comes to the actions of that system that caused the lack of confidence.  How can parents be expected to trust a system that does not function in a trustworthy manner?  As this father says, it is only high-quality, independent, and transparent research that can restore faith in the vaccination program.

In this brief video clip of Robert Kennedy, Jr, he says essentially this...that trust is the issue when it comes to declining vaccination rates.  This is a transcript of part of the video:

"Robert Kennedy Jr. testified in front of a Senate executive committee. While stressing he's not anti-vaccine, he did say there needs to be more transparency in the Centers for Disease Control, the federal agency that oversees vaccinations.  He says more people would be willing to get vaccines if they trusted the organization responsible for making sure they're safe.

"The CDC is a cesspool of corruption. There's been four now, separate, federal investigations that have been scathing in their criticism of the financial ties of the vaccine industry in the CDC," Kennedy said.

Kennedy called on lawmakers not to tighten vaccine requirements unless more is done to make sure the CDC is operating without influence from profitable medical companies. "