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autism/MMR scare timeline
[This timeline is in response to Sharon Begley's Newsweek article that gives the impression that there has been a significant amount of publication in reputable journals in support of the vaccine/autism link. It is important to emphasize the need to look at all the evidence and accept what the preponderance of the data supports. All of us are susceptible to confirmation bias and too many of us go with our gut instinct rather than with the data. Your "mommy instinct" or gut feeling isn't as reliable as you think it is when it comes to complex causal matters.]
Background: The anti-MMR-vaccine movement has two camps: one sees the vaccine as harmful, the other sees thimerosal (an ethylmercury based preservative that has never been used in the MMR vaccine*) as harmful. In the US, the anti-vaccine movement began as one aspect of a larger movement that blames mercury and other neurotoxins in the environment for most neurological disorders. After thimerosal was removed from most vaccines, the focus shifted to the quantity of shots given to children and to the speculation that some children are "especially sensitive" to vaccines. The evidence, as you can see for yourself by following this timeline, is overwhelmingly in favor of the notion that neither the vaccines nor their preservatives are harmful, but that not getting children vaccinated has harmful, sometimes deadly, consequences.
Fewer youngsters worldwide are dying of childhood diseases now than at any other time in history. About 80% of children today are vaccinated against such deadly illnesses as measles and polio, compared with 20% in the early 1980s.*
There were an estimated 30 to 40 million cases of measles in 2000, causing some 777,000 deaths.*
...immunization can be credited with saving approximately 9 million lives a year worldwide. A further 16 million deaths a year could be prevented if effective vaccines were deployed against all potentially vaccine-preventable diseases.*
"Health officials say aggressive efforts to vaccinate young children against measles have resulted in a 74 percent global decline in the number of deaths due to the illness [between 2000 and 2007]. Experts say the biggest decline, 90 percent, occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean region."* In England and Wales, measles cases increased 36% in 2008.* Measles cases more than doubled from the year before during the first half of 2008 in the United States.*
1916: 4 children die, 26 develop local abscesses, and 68 develop severe systemic infections after receipt of a typhoid vaccine contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus. "As a consequence of this and similar incidents, preservatives have been required for vaccines contained in multidose vials (with some exceptions) since the 1930s."*
1993: A group of researchers led by Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital, London, suggests an association between both wild and vaccine measles viruses and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), based on a small case series of children with Crohn's disease.
1996: Andrew Wakefield begins receiving money from lawyers, led by Richard Barr, wanting to file lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. Of £3.4m distributed to doctors and scientists recruited to help build their case, Wakefield received £435,643 in fees, plus £3,910 expenses.*
1997: Andrew Wakefield applies for a patent for a measles vaccine on behalf of the Royal Free hospital medical school and the Neuroimmuno Therapeutics Research Foundation, the private company of controversial immunologist Professor H. Hugh Fudenberg of Spartanburg, South Carolina. (Fudenberg claims in a 2004 interview with Brian Deer that he cures autistic children with his own bone marrow.) The vaccine is a potential competitor to the MMR vaccine.
1997: In a major push to lift immunization rates in Australia, the Federal Government begins giving Maternity Allowance payments to those completing immunization at 18 months of age, as well as linking Child Care Assistance and the home child care allowance to immunization status.* 97 per cent of parents favor immunization, but only 53 per cent of Australian children are fully immunized for their age.
1998: The Wakefield group (of twelve) reports in The Lancet an apparently new syndrome of an unusual type of IBD associated with developmental disorders such as (but not limited to) autism. They suggest that measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may cause IBD, resulting in decreased intestinal absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients and possibly leading to developmental disorders such as autism. Wakefield opines (without any scientific evidence) that such perturbations are less likely if the components of MMR are given separately, spaced several months apart. The study involved only 12 children. Both studies were:
conducted on highly selected patients referred for gastrointestinal ailments. The studies had no controls, were unblinded and were not designed to test aetiology or harm....the association between vaccination and autism was based primarily on parental recall....*
In 2009, it is discovered that Wakefield fixed his data.
1998: The Lancet publishes a study that concludes: "No evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine-associated inflammatory bowel disease or autism in a 14-year prospective study."
1999: On July 7, 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Public Health Service issue a warning about the preservative thimerosal in many vaccines. A statement notes that there are "no data or evidence of any harm" from thimerosal, but warns that children's cumulative exposure to mercury from vaccines "exceeds one of the federal safety guidelines" for mercury. Infants who received all of these vaccines could have been exposed to a cumulative dose of ethylmercury as high as 187.5 µg (or 0.00000661 ounces) by 6 months of age. This value exceeded guidelines recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but did not exceed those recommended by the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) or the FDA. "Guidelines from the EPA were based in part on data from pregnant women in rural Iraq who were exposed to large quantities of methylmercury."* Thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines by 2001 "as a precautionary measure."*
The FDA, which regulates commercially caught fish, sets an "action level" of 1 part methylmercury per million parts. That's "about 480 micrograms (0.000017 ounces) of methylmercury in one pound of fish."* The EPA, which does not regulate commercial fish, has a "reference dose" that says people can be exposed to 0.1 microgram per kilogram of body weight per day, which is roughly “5 to 7 micrograms (0.00000018 to 0.00000025 ounces) per day for someone who weighs 100 to 154 pounds”, said Kate Mahaffey of the EPA.*
The AAP statement did not mention autism.* Nor did it note that thimerosal contains ethyl mercury and the federal safety guidelines are for methyl mercury.* Methyl mercury is absorbed more quickly and retained much longer than ethyl mercury, and is thus significantly more dangerous.*
2000: Rep. Dan Burton chairs a congressional hearing on the link between vaccines and autism. Burton implies his grandson's autistic behavior was caused by receiving nine shots in one day. Wakefield testifies that he had studied scores more children since the 1998 paper, "identifying almost 150 in whom MMR had triggered autism."* Irish pathologist John O'Leary testifies that "Wakefield's hypothesis is correct." O'Leary later states: "At no time have I set out to prove that MMR causes autism. Instead, I have sought to investigate a novel bowel pathology in children with autism. In our Molecular Pathology paper we have described an association between the presence of measles virus and new variant inflammatory bowel disease. We have never claimed that this is causal and indeed I have been forthright in transmitting this information to the public at large in the form of press statements. I have and continue to urge people to vaccinate their children. My advices and findings were consistently and persistently to vaccinate children and to use MMR."*
2000: Finnish researchers release the results of an MMR study that began in 1982 and analyzed data through 1996 for 2,000,000 people who took 3,500,000 doses of MMR. "There were no cases of autism, and no cases of ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or any chronic disorder affecting the gastrointestinal tract."*
2000: The journal Pediatrics published a review of studies and concludes that "the available evidence does not support the hypothesis that MMR vaccine causes autism or associated disorders or IBD."
2000: A large measles outbreak occurs in Ireland, with over 1600 cases reported and three associated deaths.
2001: Parents began filing petitions for compensation with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, alleging that certain childhood vaccinations might be causing or contributing to autism or autism spectrum disorders.
2001: The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies issues a lengthy report rejecting the claim that there is a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder.
2001: The British Medical Journal publishes "Mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by general practitioners: a time trend analysis." Conclusion: "the data provide evidence that no correlation exists between the prevalence of MMR vaccination and the rapid increase in the risk of autism over time."
2002: The British Medical Journal publishes "Relation of childhood gastrointestinal disorders to autism: nested case-control study using data from the UK General Practice Research Database." Conclusion: "No evidence was found that children with autism were more likely than children without autism to have had defined gastrointestinal disorders at any time before their diagnosis of autism."
2002: The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes "A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism." This study on over 500,000 Danish children concludes: "This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism."
2002: Molecular Pathology publishes "Potential viral pathogenic mechanism for new variant inflammatory bowel disease." Conclusion: "The data confirm an association between the presence of measles virus and gut pathology in children with a developmental disorder."
2002: North Cheshire Health Authority (NCHA) says that the MMR vaccination rate in north-west England has dropped to only 77%. "Public health experts say that anything below 80% over a prolonged period means there is the opportunity for a measles outbreak to get a foothold in the community as more and more children go unvaccinated." The BBC refers to the MMR vaccine as "controversial."*
2002: Measles outbreak occurs in Scotland.*
2002: The Office of Special Masters (OSM) holds a series of meetings with an informal advisory committee to address the task of dealing with the many claims for compensation under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Of more than 5,000 claims, the OSM agrees to hear three test cases that attorneys for the claimants will select. The OSM would rule on the issue of the MMR vaccine causing autism, vaccines with thimerosal causing autism, and thimerosal itself causing autism.
2003: Pediatrics publishes "Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases." The study's lead author is Thomas Verstraeten. Conclusion: "No consistent significant associations were found between TCVs [thimerosal containing vaccines] and neurodevelopmental outcomes." However, since some of the studies were conflicting, there was a call for further studies. This is the same Thomas Verstraeten who will be cited by Rep. Dave Weldon and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for testifying that there is a causal link between vaccines and autism at a meeting in 2000. Kennedy called the meeting "private" and labeled it part of a government and pharmaceutical firm conpsiracy, even though the co-conspirators have published a 286-page account of their "private" meeting. In that report, Verstraeten is quoted (while referring to a slide he is showing the audience): "This is the result for autism, in which we don't see much of a trend except for a slight, but not significant, increase for the highest exposure. The overall test for trend is statistically not significant."* The cohort for this study included over 100,000 children.
2003: Pediatric Neurology publishes "Elevated levels of measles antibodies in children with autism." The authors find measles antibodies "in 83% of autistic children but not in normal children or siblings of autistic children," and speculate that "autistic children have a hyperimmune response to measles virus, which in the absence of a wild type of measles infection might be a sign of an abnormal immune reaction to the vaccine strain or virus reactivation."
2003: Dr. Arthur Krigsman (formerly of New York University School of Medicine), now a colleague of Wakefield at Thoughtful House, testifies before the Government Reform Committee of the United States Congress on the safety of MMR and other vaccines. He claims to have found severe intestinal inflammation in 43 autistic children.* Dr. Krigsman noted that his conclusions were "independent of Dr. Wakefield's findings" and "completely support his explanation and his observations of the abnormalities in the bowels of these children." He said he didn't know, however, "whether his patients' illnesses were linked to MMR."
2003: Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick's MMR and Autism is published. According to one reviewer, Fitzpatrick "demolishes the argument that MMR causes autism."
2004 (May): The Immunization Safety Review Committee at the Institute of Medicine issues an updated report on its examination of scientific studies worldwide. Conclusion (the same as in 2001): there is no convincing evidence that vaccines cause autism.
2004 (June): Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida, before the Institutes of Medicine, denounces the NIH and CDC for its selective use of data to make the vaccine-autism link disappear. He urges more studies be done and implies that studies should continue until a link between vaccines and autism is proved.
2004: It is revealed that Wakefield was paid more than £400,000 by lawyers trying to prove that the MMR vaccine was unsafe. The payments were part of £3.4m distributed from a legal aid fund for doctors and scientists who had been recruited to support a now-failed lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers.* At the time he published his 1998 report in The Lancet, he had already been paid £55,000 to look for links between the vaccine and disorders. Worse, Wakefield had patented his own 'alternative' MMR vaccine prior to conducting his research. He did not disclose either fact when he submitted his work for publication. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, says that he would not have published Wakefield’s paper had he known of the conflict of interest. Wakefield hired a lawyer and demanded an apology from The Lancet.* No apology was given.
2004: The British General Medical Council (GMC) began an inquiry into allegations of professional misconduct against Wakefield and two former colleagues. Three years later Wakefield was working in Texas at an autism clinic and was still waiting for the GMC hearing to begin. In the meantime, he sued Channel 4, 20-20 Productions, and Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer for libel. He dropped the suit, claiming he had to concentrate on the upcoming GMC inquiry. Deer's investigation had found that Wakefield didn't reveal to The Lancet that some of the children who took part in his research were also subjects in another study funded by legal aid to find out whether they had a possible compensation claim against vaccine manufacturers.
2004: A statement is issued by 10 of the 12 authors of the 1998 Wakefield study. It reads: "We wish to make it clear that in [the 1998] paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient. However, the possibility of such a link was raised and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon [the] findings in the (1998) paper, according to precedent."
2004: The Lancet publishes "MMR vaccination and pervasive developmental disorders: a case-control study." Conclusion: "Our findings suggest that MMR vaccination is not associated with an increased risk of pervasive developmental disorders."
2005: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. publishes an article in Rolling Stone that claims there is a government/Big Pharma conspiracy to "poison a generation of American children" by vaccinating them.
2005: David Kirby's anti-vaccination book is published: Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy. Kirby blames thimerosal in vaccines for the autism epidemic.
2005: The CDC reports on poliovirus infections in four unvaccinated children in Minnesota.
2006. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no significant difference in adverse neuropsychological or renal effects between children with mercury dental fillings and those with non-mercury fillings. Even so, because of fear that mercury fillings might be dangerous, there are some 70 million dental amalgam removals and replacements with non-mercury substances done annually in the United States.
2006: Pediatrics publishes "Pervasive developmental disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: prevalence and links with immunizations." Conclusion: "The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorder in Montreal was high, increasing in recent birth cohorts as found in most countries. Factors accounting for the increase include a broadening of diagnostic concepts and criteria, increased awareness and, therefore, better identification of children with pervasive developmental disorders in communities and epidemiologic surveys, and improved access to services. The findings ruled out an association between pervasive developmental disorder and either high levels of ethylmercury exposure comparable with those experienced in the United States in the 1990s or 1- or 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations."
2006: The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons ["abbreviated JPANDS, because "JAPS" has some rather obvious negative connotations"] publishes "Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines [TCVs]." Conclusion: "From data presented here and other emerging data, it appears clear that additional research should be undertaken concerning the effects of mercury exposure, particularly from TCVs." Orac responds: I first discovered JPANDS in early 2006, when it published a paper by Dr. Mark and David Geier purporting to find a downward trend in autism diagnoses after the removal of thimerosal from vaccines. The paper was so ludicrously, execrably bad in design, execution and analysis that I had a hard time believing that any self-respecting journal would publish such tripe. Kathleen Siedel shows that JPANDS is published by a political advocacy organization driven by ideology not science.
2006: Senator John Kerry tells Don Imus an anecdote he heard from a UPS driver about how the driver's child, a twin, got autism after getting vaccinated, while the other twin didn't get vaccinated and didn't get autism. The driver blames thimerosal and Kerry says "yet, we still have mercury in vaccinations around the country. It's absurd. I don't get it. We ought to stop...." Imus asserts that "we know that thimerosal is a neurotoxin, and that it's ethyl mercury, and it's 50 times stronger than the mercury we'd find in fish...." The mercury in fish is methylmercury and is usually given in terms of parts per million, so it is hard to compare the two. The Chicago Tribune had eight common types of fish tested for mercury. The highest amount was in one of the samples of swordfish, 3.07 ppm. The lowest was a sample of salmon at 0.01 ppm. I have no idea how Imus arrived at his statistic. The average can of tuna has about 0.3 ppm of mercury. (See above for EPA and FDA standards.)
2006: The Combating Autism Act is signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 19, 2006. It authorizes nearly one billion dollars in expenditures over the next five years to combat autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and PDD-NOS [Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified] through screening, education, early intervention, prompt referrals for treatment and services, and research.
2006: A study of the outbreak in the German city of Duisburg finds that at least 80% of 614 measles cases in 2006 were reported as "unvaccinated." The main reasons given were that parents either forgot to take their children to be vaccinated or rejected the vaccine, for various reasons including the mistaken belief that it was dangerous.*
2006: Measles cases in England are at a 20-year high.*
2007 (September): Oprah provides a bully pulpit for two women she calls "mother warriors": model/actress Jenny McCarthy and actress/singer Holly Robinson Peete. McCarthy and Peete present themselves as fighting the medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry to save their children. McCarthy claims that vaccines caused her son's autism, but that she cured him thanks to her "mommy instinct." She promotes her book Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism. A year later, McCarthy's book Mother Warriors is in the bookstores. In 2009, she came out with Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide. McCarthy calls the MMR jab "the autism shot."
2007: NEJM publishes "Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years." Conclusion: "Our study does not support a causal association between early exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immune globulins and deficits in neuropsychological functioning at the age of 7 to 10 years."
2007: The National Disease Surveillance Centre in Ireland issues a paper on controlling measles after immunization rates plummet.*
2008: The Stop Jenny McCarthy campaign is launched by Kylie Sturgess, Michael Rosch, and others who remain anonymous.
2008: The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks issues its report on the safety of amalgam dental fillings. Alternatives that are tooth colored might be more aesthetically pleasing, but they are not safer than mercury-based fillings.
2008: Measles cases in England and Wales rose by 36% in 2008. Confirmed cases increased from 990 in 2007 to 1,348, the highest figure since the monitoring scheme was introduced in 1995. Health Protection Agency experts said most of the cases had been in children not fully vaccinated with combined MMR and so could have been prevented.*
2008: PLoS ONE publishes "Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study." Conclusion: This study provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent measles virus RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure. Autism with GI disturbances is associated with elevated rates of regression in language or other skills and may represent an endophenotype distinct from other autism spectrum disorders.
2008: A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry finds that as vaccines with the mercury-containing additive thimerosal were removed from use, the incidence of autism continued to rise at a steady rate.*
2008: The first test case is ruled on by a special court for some 5,000 lawsuits claiming a vaccine/autism causal link. The Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, Department of Health and Human Services (DVIC) special master (judge) ruled in favor of the plaintiff, despite little evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the child even has autism, much less that her autism was caused by vaccines. The child has a disorder that affects every cell in her body and it is speculation that vaccines caused her autism-like symptoms or seizures. This was the first of three cases selected. No ruling was made on whether the MMR causes autism, vaccines with thimerosal cause autism, or thimerosal itself causes autism. The DVIC special court granted the family $810,000 (plus an estimated $30-40,000 per year for services and care) in compensation. What was shown was that after receiving vaccinations, the child suffered from brain damage. Anti-vaccinationists like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claim the court ruled that a vaccine caused autism. It did no such thing. Kennedy takes any neurological damage to be equivalent to autism, which it isn't.
2008: San Diego parents don't vaccinate their seven-year-old child for measles. When she caught the disease on an overseas trip, "this decision became a whole community's problem. The outbreak infected 11 children and endangered many others."* The LA Times reports: The United States is on track to report its highest incidence of measles cases since 2001, exacerbated by a rise in outbreaks worldwide and by clusters of people who are opting out of the vaccine because of religious beliefs or fears of a purported link between the shot and autism. As of April 25, there were 64 reported cases of measles nationwide this year, including 12 in San Diego.
2008: National Health Service figures show that only 49% of all five-year-olds in London have had the MMR vaccine and booster jab.*
2008: Actress Amanda Peet teams with Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, to counter the assault on vaccines by Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and Holly Robinson Peete.*
2009: A study in California concludes that there has been a dramatic rise in autism that can't be accounted for by changes in diagnostic criteria. Dr. Steven Novella and Socratic Gadfly dispute the conclusion.
2009: News reports announce that Wakefield fixed his data in the studies that started the autism scare.
2009: Eight cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, have been reported in Maine. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak involves an elementary school, a middle school, and a worksite.
Dr. Dora Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease and Prevention, said childhood vaccines have been effective in reducing incidents of pertussis.
“Maine’s schools — certified private and all public schools — are required to maintain vaccine records,” Mills said, “and all students are required to have certain vaccines, including against pertussis, although there are exemptions for those whose parents have signed objections to the vaccines due to strongly held philosophical or religious reasons. We have seen a large increase the last few years of parents signing these forms.”
“The more unvaccinated children we have, the more likely that all of us can contract pertussis,” she said. “The vaccine is extremely effective, but like any medicine, is not 100 percent effective.
“Before the pertussis vaccine, this disease was one of the leading causes of childhood death, especially of infants. Since I’ve been in this job, 13 years, I’ve not known of a child to die of pertussis.
“We see about 50 to 200 cases a year, but in the pre-vaccine era, that number was in the thousands.”*
2009: The "Vaccine Court" in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP) Rules Autism Not Caused by Childhood Vaccines. Special master George Hastings said the parents of Michelle Cedillo -- who had charged that a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused their child to develop autism -- had "been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment...." Thousands of cases charging childhood vaccines cause autism have been filed in the vaccine court in recent years. To simplify proceedings, the court initially decided to hear three test cases that suggested different mechanisms by which vaccines might have caused autism. The court rules that the evidence does not establish that either the MMR or vaccines with thimerosal cause autism. No decision was made on the issue of thimerosal alone causing autism. The ruling is likely to have a major impact on the remaining 5,000 or so cases before the special court.
2009: "Five Minnesota children have grown sick — and one of them died — from a germ that can cause meningitis, causing U.S. health officials to warn of the importance of a common childhood vaccine."*
2009: British actress and radio host Jeni Barnett goes on for 45 minutes about the dangers of vaccines in what Holford Watch describes as "some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves." Although her radio station removed the show as soon as criticism started pouring in, the bloggers Science Punk, The Lay Scientist, PodBlack Cat, The Skeptic’s Book, and Holford Watch created a complete transcript of the nearly-hour-long anti-MMR talkback that Jeni Barnett featured on her show.
2009: Jenny McCarthy tells Michigan Avenue magazine: "I love Botox, I absolutely love it. I get it minimally, so I can still move my face. But I really do think it's a savior." Botox is botulinum toxin, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, is the most dangerous neurotoxin to humans.* Oddly, botulinum toxin can also heal, demonstrating an important point: not all dangerous toxins are always dangerous to your health.
2010: 'Vaccines court' rejects mercury-autism link in 3 test cases The federal "vaccines court" ruled Friday in three separate cases that the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal does not cause autism, a finding that supports the broad scientific consensus on the matter....More than 5,300 parents had filed claims with the vaccines court, a branch of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking damages because they believed their children had developed autism as a result of vaccinations....
Special Master Denise K. Vowell wrote in one of the decisions that "petitioners propose effects from mercury in [vaccines] that do not resemble mercury's known effects in the brain, either behaviorally or at the cellular level. To prevail, they must show that the exquisitely small amounts of mercury in [vaccines] that reach the brain can produce devastating effects that far larger amounts experienced prenatally or postnatally from other sources do not."
Parents and advocacy groups such as (Jenny McCarthy's) Generation Rescue argued that the ruling represents a conspiracy to protect vaccination programs. Of course, they provided no evidence for their claims and made no effort to refute the monumental scientific evidence against them.
new 6 Jan 2011. The British Medical Journal calls the Wakefield study that started the vaccine/autism scare "fraudulent." In a series of articles starting this week, seven years after first looking into the MMR scare, journalist Brian Deer shows the extent of Wakefield’s fraud and how it was perpetrated.
The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin is published, detailing the case against Wakefield and the anti-vaccinationists.[/new]
* AmeriCares *