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Mark Blaxill on Wakefield in USA Today: 'Believe objective science and parents, not the medical industry or the media frenzy"

Posted Feb 16 2010 12:00am

Usa today Mark Blaxill is featured in USA Today this morning for an opposing view to, Debate on Fighting Disease: Vaccine Fear Mongering Endgangers Child Health. Mark takes ownership of his opposing view --which USA Today titled  "Unjustly accused -- Medical industry seeks to suppress science to protect vaccine profits," we have restored Mark's original title here -- and we are left wondering who wrote the "Vaccine fear mongering" editorial, excerpted below.

Americans no longer routinely see people disfigured by smallpox or crippled by polio, so it's easy to forget what terrible scourges those diseases were before vaccination eradicated them here. Routine shots also nearly wiped out measles, a dangerous childhood illness that killed 450 and caused 4,000 cases of encephalitis annually in the USA before a vaccine became widely available in the mid-1960s.

But reported cases of measles, while still tiny, are now ticking upward, and the probable reason is troubling: Fearful parents are refusing to let their children be vaccinated against once-common childhood diseases. Anxiety — fanned by a discredited British researcher and misguided celebrities — has grown that childhood vaccines, chiefly the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella), are a reason for an alarming spike in the number of children with autism, a disorder that impairs a child's social and communication skills, often severely... (Read and comment on the full article Debate on Fighting Disease: Vaccine Fear Mongering Endgangers Child Health. )

Here is Mark Blaxill's response. Please comment at USA Today using the link below.

Believe objective science and parents, not the medical industry or the media frenzy 

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, a memorable scene follows the protagonist (working at the satirically named Ministry of Truth) as he rewrites the news to erase a man’s life and work from history. That’s what Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, just attempted when he retracted a case series report by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital from the scientific record. Horton should be ashamed of himself, and anyone who believes in the free and open discussion of controversial scientific questions should be concerned about what has happened to our civil discourse in the process.

There’s a lot of name-calling and misinformation swirling around this issue that should stop. Parents concerned about vaccine safety issues are branded “anti-vaccine.” Dedicated scientists who simply reported a series of cases combining bowel symptoms, autistic regression and exposure to the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) stand accused of fraud and misconduct. Meanwhile, the medical industry has dismissed concerns over exploding autism rates in a crusade to protect their policies and vaccine profits.

Anyone convinced that Wakefield is the problem should ask a simple question: Can you name a single instance of fraud or misconduct by Wakefield, describe it simply without deferring to the authority of some faceless tribunal and defend the evidence to an informed skeptic? You won’t succeed. Why? Because the evidence clearly shows there was neither fraud nor misconduct. The parents whose children Wakefield studied never complained, and most have gone public with their support of Wakefield and his colleagues. Why wouldn’t they? Their children were treated by Wakefield’s colleagues, experts in pediatric gastroenterology, and the children’s intestinal symptoms and symptoms of autism improved.

The Lancet parents are not alone. Thousands of parents all over the world — dedicated, educated parents of children with autism — have done their own scientific diligence and reached conclusions that differ from the media frenzy stoked up by government officials and the medical industry. They trust Wakefield and believe he and his colleagues stand unjustly accused. They also believe that scientific censorship is a pernicious thing and should stop. You should, too.

Mark Blaxill is Editor-at-Large for Age of Autism and a Director of SafeMinds, an organization that researches the role of mercury in autism.

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