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Vaccine-Autism War Will Never End Unless Comparative Autism Research Is Done

Posted Aug 20 2009 10:09pm
The performance by Dr. Thomas Insel before US Senator Harkin's Senate committee recently did nothing to end the vaccine-autism war. The head of the IACC took absolute, black and white positions on the key issues which mark the vaccine-autism war. His performance has been critiqued by Katie Wright at Age of Autism. What I found most startling was Dr. Insel's assertion that a comparative study of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations could not be done for ethical reasons.

That is obviously true with respect to experimental studies but observational studies of existing unvaccinated and vaccinated populations could be done and autism rates compared. Dr. Bernadine Healy, Dr. Julie Gerberding and Dr. Duane Alexander have all said that such studies could be done. It is time to fund the comparative study and help bring the vaccine-autism war to an end.

The argument is made though that it would be difficult to conduct such a study because of the logistics involved as well as challenges presented by the lack of controls present in such a study. Personally I don't believe that such a study would actually be that difficult. It is essentially a survey method not substantially different than the epidemiological studies involving completely vaccinated populations relied upon by Dr Insel and others in their at times emotional assertions that a vaccine autism link has been disproved.

Even if it would be difficult to conduct an observational study comparing autism rates amongst existing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations ... so what? Dr. Paul Offit and the mainstream media have been involved in an unrelenting campaign to end the vaccine autism war, by marginalizing, browbeating and intimidating concerned parents into vaccinating their children. The bullying method has not worked. There is still suspicion, given the anecdotal evidence, which is still evidence whether any one wishes to admit it or not, of many parents who testify that their children regressed into autism after being vaccinated.

To say that such anecdotal evidence does not prove causation is fine but observational, anecdotal evidence is still evidence even if it is not conclusive evidence. The real issue is that public health authorities have not proved to the satisfaction of concerned parents that the numbers of children showing regression into autism after vaccinations is in fact just a coincidence. Many concerned parents, and some reputable health care professionals have called for the observational studies comparing autism rates between unvaccinated and vaccinated populations to be done.

If Dr. Insel and the IACC do not fund an observational, comparative study of unvaccinated and vaccinated populations they will fail to persuade those who do not subscribe to their religious like faith in the safety of vaccines. Their continued opposition to conducting such a study will itself create more suspicion around the possible role of vaccines in causing autism disorders. If Dr. Insel and the IACC do not fund such a study they will fail to persuade the very people they are seeking to persuade.

It is time to study, without pharmaceutical industry ties, the autism rates amongst existing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. If this is not done there will be no end to the vaccine-autism war and Dr. Insel and others on the IACC can accept their fair share of blame for that result ... for the continued reluctance of some parents to vaccinate their children.


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