PDA

View Full Version : Unreasonable reasoning?



Fazor
2008-Apr-02, 05:51 PM
Vaccines and autism...

I know it's been talked about here before, but I didn't find any real recent discussions on it. But I'm more writing about the apparent reasoning of the family at the center of this article.

Now, maybe some of you have followed it more closely than me, which is why I wanted to ask about it here. From what I've seen, the only connection between the two is the age at which they occur. Autism typically sets in between 12 and 24 months of age...which is also a time where babies typically get vaccines.

My understanding is that when you look at autism rates between groups of vaccinated children, and unvaccinated children, there is no difference.

So, is there any reasonable evidence to the contrary, or are the parents simply ignoring the facts because they are too emotionally vested in the case?


In reaching its conclusion, the Institute of Medicine pointed to five large studies finding no link between autism and the preservative thimerosal, which contains mercury, and 14 large studies finding no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Childhood vaccines no longer contain thimerosal, though it remains in some flu shots.

and the parent's counter-claim:


At Michelle Cedillo's hearing last year, Dr. Marcel Kinsbourne, a pediatric neurologist who is a professor at The New School in New York, testified that he thought the measles vaccine was a "substantial factor" in causing the girl's autism. Traces of the measles virus were found in Michelle's gut, leading the Oxford University-trained doctor to conclude the girl's immune system had not rejected the virus. Kinsbourne told the court the measles virus invaded cells in Michelle's brain, resulting in her autism.

I'm not a doctor, but the claim that measles invaded her brain and caused the autism doesn't seem likely to me.

How many kids who contracted measles naturally, also developed autism? If measles doesn't cause autism under normal circumstances, can it be assumed that the measles virus here did?

Anyway... in short I was just wondering if the lawsuit was following reasonable questions, or if they're simply ignoring facts in order to blame someone for their daughter's ailment?

NEOWatcher
2008-Apr-02, 06:42 PM
So, is there any reasonable evidence to the contrary, or are the parents simply ignoring the facts because they are too emotionally vested in the case?
Is this national autism week or something like that? There are plenty of stories, and some of them seem quite contradictary.

That, in itself, tells me that there's not a lot of solid evidence. I have read that there was some ingredients in some vaccines that were thought to cause autism, but those formulas have since been changed.

Every vaccine-caused story I hear seems to be individual cases, and the contrary evidence seems to be studies. The media isn't making the story clear either. Each story is taking each case individually. It seems like they are taking a single story for the emotion, and then applying a random autism fact to it.

Here's one...Jenny McCarthy: My son's recovery from autism (http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/02/mccarthy.autsimtreatment/index.html)
Everyone tells her that her son was probably mis-diagnosed from the start. So; why does she not believe them, and what evidence is there one way or another. Besides, even if he was autistic, who has his baseline information to determine the effects of the treatment.

Oh; she's writing a book... Casting doubt might hurt sales.

KaiYeves
2008-Apr-02, 08:35 PM
I got lots of vaccines when I was a kid, and I'm not autistic. I don't even have a problem with needles.

sarongsong
2008-Apr-02, 08:41 PM
Define "lots".

Larry Jacks
2008-Apr-02, 08:42 PM
Perhaps it's better diagnosis or perhaps something else, but it seems the number of autism cases is increasing rapidly. I think a lot of desperate parents are looking for reasons why their children are autistic. This is an area where the pain and fear of having an autistic child might overwhelm more rational thinking about the cause.

Infinity Watcher
2008-Apr-02, 09:52 PM
I typed up a big rant on this, decided against it, decided not to post here for fear of going on a major rant and what am I doing? I'm posting here, I swear most of the posts I make are in threads I say I won't post in.

Anyway on with the show.

This keeps cropping up and is one of the few things in medicine that makes me twitch a bit, diagnostic criteria have changed which has lead to a much broader definition of autism than was previously recognised, result: autism rates go up. The relationship between MMR and autism has been tested into oblivion and there is still no sign of it in decently constructed trials, in fact what was a "smoking gun" paper in recent years: the one published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield was actually withdrawn by most of the authors (not Dr. Wakefield who still stands by his conclusion to my knowledge, and it took a long time for the media to drop the whole "persecuted maverick" thing of course things got a bit sticky once conflicts of interest started showing up bt the science had been distinctly dodgy from the outset).

So Fazor "Your scepticism serves you well". The thing is as larry jacks got it, there is no cure for autism and the aetiology is very poorly understood, you get salmonella because you ate bad food or drink (can't remember whether it's water-borne), you get malaria because you got bitten by the wrong mosquito, you get autism because ?

As a result people look for answers, it's a very human trait to look for a cause and if course it makes sense if this causes X bad thing I won't do it again. Unfortunatly there is nothing like that known for autism so it is possible that people grab at whatever they can that seems associated as a cause, this is in no way meant to be derogatory, it is very human but if you look at the evidence vaccines aren't supported as a cause, forst ypu had thimerosal mooted as a cause, that was removed from many vaccines as something of a publicity thing despite lack of any real evidence of risk (wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal_controversy#Scientific_background))
didn't do much for the autism rates though, then as mentioned above the MMR controversy surfaced and was tested into oblivion and pretty much dropped as a hypothesis by the medical community (I cood look up citations but I can't be bothered at the moment to do a literature search that would do the whole thing justice).

Another one I've heard is "overloading the immune system". Pardon?! three weakened pathogens overloading the immune system? unless you're immune deficent I'm not buying it, the number of pathogens we are exposed to daily, even as young kids is much higher than three.

The thing that risks triggering a rant in me over this stuff is what gets forgotten by people claiming that we should stop the MMR vaccine or similar (why do i get the feeling I'm risking huge amounts of PMs from anti-MMR people by saying this, still onwards and upwards.) is that in setting policy you need to consider the risks of doing somethign compared with not doing the intervention. Remove MMR and you increase the risk of one of it's component pathogens infecting the populace and some of the complications of these are actually really nasty and not that uncommon, measles is not just a simple "childhood illness" I'm going to cite a WHO Factsheet here (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/): "encephalitis... in 1 in 1000 cases", "pneumonia on 5-10% of cases". Rubella famously causes significant malformations of gestating children and Mumps can cause sterility amongst other things. These diseases are dangerous, they can and did kill in some cases. It is also worth pointing out that of course some people can not be given the vaccine for various reasons such as immune deficency and once herd immunity stops being a factor you start putting these people at risk since they are no longer shielded from exposure.

I havn't ranted as much as I might have done but I can feel my control slipping so I'll shut up now before I go off into frothing at the mouth territory and close with:to the best of my knowledge there is no body of evidence in existance which makes a reasonable connection between vaccines and autism.

Gillianren
2008-Apr-02, 10:20 PM
So Fazor "Your scepticism serves you well". The thing is as larry jacks got it, there is no cure for autism and the aetiology is very poorly understood, you get salmonella because you ate bad food or drink (can't remember whether it's water-borne), you get malaria because you got bitten by the wrong mosquito, you get autism because ?

Food-borne. Think chicken.

But yeah. Parents are grasping at straws. Something has to be at fault. But I'll tell you, if Jenny McCarthy told me it was raining, I'd look out my window to check. And I live in/near a rain forest. (Actually, we had snow a couple of times last week, and it's bright and sunny now. The point still holds.)

Infinity Watcher
2008-Apr-02, 11:02 PM
Food-borne. Think chicken.

But yeah. Parents are grasping at straws. Something has to be at fault. But I'll tell you, if Jenny McCarthy told me it was raining, I'd look out my window to check. And I live in/near a rain forest. (Actually, we had snow a couple of times last week, and it's bright and sunny now. The point still holds.)
Thanks, I knew it was food-borne, i just couldn't remember if it was water-borne as well, that was a just in case disclaimer whilst I was writing the post (i.e. just in case I forget to go back and check, guess what I did? but then i don't have a copy of Kumar & Clark anyway (I get so used to having access to the uni library that I miss it when i don't have it), so I'd just have wikied it.

I'm not familiar with Jenny Clark but implying a conspiracy amongst doctors and public health authorities is pretty low.

For good or bad, a lot of people go to medicine, like a lot of other public services (which it is most definitely over here with the NHS) to help people, granted you get bad apples and goodness knows I've had bad experiences as well as good ones since I've spent a fair bit of time on the wrong end of the needle so to speak but implying every single doctor in family medicine and paediatrics plus neurology and goodness know who else who might be professionally involved in Autism would keep this hidden from their patients and that no-one in the profession would have whistle-blown is pretty incredible as a claim since if there was significant evidence of a harmful effect especially of the level of autism from a treatment and this was being withheld from competent patients (or in the case of minors their parents or legal guardians) that as far as I am aware would be grounds certainly to be called before a profesional governing body and possibly being struck off the medical register.

But I'm going into rant territory again so I'll stop now.

KaiYeves
2008-Apr-02, 11:26 PM
Define "lots".
All the ones doctors recomend a kid born in 1993 should have.

Moose
2008-Apr-03, 12:07 AM
It's a garbage claim. Here's the smoking gun why:

Thimerosal, which most anti-vaccinator types claim is the agent that causes autism, hasn't been a part of vaccines since 2000 or so (something the OP points out.) And yet the diagnoses of autism have not only not gone down since then, the rate of increase hasn't decreased at all either.

Several skeptical podcasts have talked at length on the subject, including Skeptics Guide to the Universe's, Skeptico, and Quackcast. Those episodes are worth tracking down.

Jens
2008-Apr-03, 01:26 AM
Not really a rant, but just a few ideas. It may be that autism is more prevalent because guidelines have changed, or because it is more recognized, but it seems that it really is increasing. And nobody knows why. The same thing can be said about asthma and atopy, which are both clearly increasing, and nobody is really sure why. People used to think it was because of bad air, but air quality is actually better now in many places than it was in the 1930s, for example, but the rate is still going up. And just going back a bit further in history, I read in a book about the history of medicine that heart attacks were quite uncommon until the beginning of the 20th century, but became common and it's not as simple as just oil consumption. So people end up grasping for straws in a way, because they want to explain it. There is now a theory that heart disease is inflammatory, and there is a hypothesis that asthma is caused by a lack of exposure to pathogens. And I agree that vaccines are probably not the cause, but still, people are looking for reasons.

Kadava
2008-Apr-03, 02:14 AM
A report I just read may be relevant.

Premature babies at higher risk of autism (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/03/2206942.htm)


Canadian researchers say one out of four toddlers born prematurely showed early signs of autism in a study, and the risk was greatest among those children who were the smallest at birth.

If this is indeed a significant risk factor, it would help explain the rising rate due to increasing numbers of premature and small birth weight children surviving due to modern medical intervention.

Fazor
2008-Apr-03, 01:27 PM
Well, the consensous here seems to be what I thought. I mean, from the sympathetic side, I can understand desperately wanting to know "Why us?"...but to go as far as full-scale class action law suits based on nothing other than "I know it contradicts all proof, but it has to be the cause!" is very aggravating to me. Wouldn't the time and money be better spent by, say, actually paying attention to the data and the studies, and putting your effort into further research?

I've always thought that autism was a birth defect, not something that one could "catch" at some later point in life. You often hear the parents say, "He was perfectly normal until he was 2 or 3"...but what is that based on? "They could do the things that are human nature, and they didn't get autism until it was time for them to learn to talk!" is kinda like saying "I developed perfectly normally until I had that taco for lunch, then I was bitten by a shark on my after noon dive...tacos cause shark attacks!".

*shrugs*

Moose
2008-Apr-03, 02:23 PM
You often hear the parents say, "He was perfectly normal until he was 2 or 3"...but what is that based on?

It's based on the unfortunate fact that the symptoms of autism don't become readily apparent until the kid hits 2 or 3.

The logical fallacy at the very core of this argument is called Post hoc ergo propter hoc (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc). "After this, therefore because of this."

The hypothesis that Kadava's link implies seems to have some promise. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it.

closetgeek
2008-Apr-03, 02:34 PM
criteria have changed which has lead to a much broader definition of autism than was previously recognised, result: autism rates go up.

You know, I pondered on that after I met parents of a child they said was diagnosed as a functioning autistic child. I thought that if there was different levels of autism, then the increase might just appear to be so because more people can fit the criteria.


It's based on the unfortunate fact that the symptoms of autism don't become readily apparent until the kid hits 2 or 3.

The logical fallacy at the very core of this argument is called Post hoc ergo propter hoc. "After this, therefore because of this."

The hypothesis that Kadava's link implies seems to have some promise. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it.

So is this another media induced frenzy? Sort of similar to the past couple of mornings, Fox doing new stories about cellphones causing brain cancer, despite the fact that there is no significant increase in brain cancer cases being reported?

Moose
2008-Apr-03, 02:56 PM
So is this another media induced frenzy? Sort of similar to the past couple of mornings, Fox doing new stories about cellphones causing brain cancer, despite the fact that there is no significant increase in brain cancer cases being reported?

Sort of. It's an artificial problem caused by a massive jump to conclusions that simply aren't supported by the evidence.

Certainly the media is a major part of feeding the frenzy and giving it false-legitimacy, but I'm not quite ready to put the whole mess on their doorstep. The Jenny McCarthys of the world have to take ownership of a big part of this as well, claiming expertise outside of their field of knowledge.

Infinity Watcher
2008-Apr-03, 03:06 PM
You know, I pondered on that after I met parents of a child they said was diagnosed as a functioning autistic child. I thought that if there was different levels of autism, then the increase might just appear to be so because more people can fit the criteria.



So is this another media induced frenzy? Sort of similar to the past couple of mornings, Fox doing new stories about cellphones causing brain cancer, despite the fact that there is no significant increase in brain cancer cases being reported?

Just so its clear: I'm pretty sure this is the case but I'd have to do some searching to confirm it since I was running off of memory when I said that (probably should have said this in the initial post but better late than never)

NEOWatcher
2008-Apr-03, 03:07 PM
...Fox doing new stories about cellphones causing brain cancer, despite the fact that there is no significant increase in brain cancer cases being reported?
What brought up that old chestnut? I can't find it on FoxNews, but I did find a few other doozies that might be worthy of other threads, but here goes. (all titles are from the main page headline, they seem to tone it down in the actual story)
5th-Grader Outsmarts Smithsonian (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345488,00.html) Ok, so he caught a minor mistake. So what... Oh yeah, thats a Fox Show...that's what.
Toddlers Can No Longer Marry in Arkansas (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345692,00.html)
So they fixed a typo in a law... It must be fairly common if they needed to create an entire commission to fix technical errors.
Study: Skip the Water, Have a Soda Instead (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345576,00.html)
Ok; maybe water's not that important. Why mention soda?
Woman Asks to Have Wrinkles Removed, Wakes Up With Bigger Breasts (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,344829,00.html)
Did they ever tell her how they were going remove the wrinkles? I'm sure stretching it around an implant worked pretty good.:whistle:
Physicist Says Time Travel Is Not Only Possible, but Likely (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345234,00.html)
Go ahead and make up your own minds, but I'm sure there's a big blurring of likelyhood of the science vs the likelyhood of the application.

closetgeek
2008-Apr-03, 03:24 PM
What brought up that old chestnut? I can't find it on FoxNews, but I did find a few other doozies that might be worthy of other threads, but here goes. (all titles are from the main page headline, they seem to tone it down in the actual story)
5th-Grader Outsmarts Smithsonian (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345488,00.html) Ok, so he caught a minor mistake. So what... Oh yeah, thats a Fox Show...that's what.
Toddlers Can No Longer Marry in Arkansas (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345692,00.html)
So they fixed a typo in a law... It must be fairly common if they needed to create an entire commission to fix technical errors.
Study: Skip the Water, Have a Soda Instead (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345576,00.html)
Ok; maybe water's not that important. Why mention soda?
Woman Asks to Have Wrinkles Removed, Wakes Up With Bigger Breasts (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,344829,00.html)
Did they ever tell her how they were going remove the wrinkles? I'm sure stretching it around an implant worked pretty good.:whistle:
Physicist Says Time Travel Is Not Only Possible, but Likely (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345234,00.html)
Go ahead and make up your own minds, but I'm sure there's a big blurring of likelyhood of the science vs the likelyhood of the application.

Yesterday and the morning before, Fox and Friends had "experts" discussing brain cancer caused by cellphones. One person finally came on and said something like, "every few months they rehash the scare of brain cancer caused by cellphones..." I just checked and it's not in their archives. I swear I am not crazy. Is there anyone else that surfs the news channels that may have seen this to back me up?

Infinity Watcher
2008-Apr-03, 03:49 PM
Yesterday and the morning before, Fox and Friends had "experts" discussing brain cancer caused by cellphones. One person finally came on and said something like, "every few months they rehash the scare of brain cancer caused by cellphones..." I just checked and it's not in their archives. I swear I am not crazy. Is there anyone else that surfs the news channels that may have seen this to back me up?

I remember there being a news scare (although i come fromt he wrong country to get FOX) but a quick search of the beeb shows up articles from Feb 2008 and if you include mobile phone masts it goes easily back to 2005 and probably further but I can't be bothered to trace it back all the way so no you aren't making things up, it wa sa news scare for a while but it seems to have faded a bit now until the next study comes out anyway.

Fazor
2008-Apr-03, 03:53 PM
You often hear the parents say, "He was perfectly normal until he was 2 or 3"...but what is that based on?It's based on the unfortunate fact that the symptoms of autism don't become readily apparent until the kid hits 2 or 3.

Exactly...I didn't make it clear in that post of mine, because I got mentally side-tracked, but that wasn't suppose to be a question, more a point. "The kids act normal" because they haven't learned to do anything yet. It's not until later in the development, when they should be able to do things (speak, for instance) that it becomes apparent. That doesn't mean that they just then "caught" autism...just that you couldn't tell they had it before then.

Gillianren
2008-Apr-03, 04:20 PM
Yesterday and the morning before, Fox and Friends had "experts" discussing brain cancer caused by cellphones. One person finally came on and said something like, "every few months they rehash the scare of brain cancer caused by cellphones..." I just checked and it's not in their archives. I swear I am not crazy. Is there anyone else that surfs the news channels that may have seen this to back me up?

When I do, that's the channel I skip. If I wanted fantasy, I'd put in my copy of Stardust or The Princess Bride instead.

Larry Jacks
2008-Apr-03, 04:53 PM
Well, the consensous here seems to be what I thought. I mean, from the sympathetic side, I can understand desperately wanting to know "Why us?"...but to go as far as full-scale class action law suits based on nothing other than "I know it contradicts all proof, but it has to be the cause!" is very aggravating to me. Wouldn't the time and money be better spent by, say, actually paying attention to the data and the studies, and putting your effort into further research?

Lack of proof has seldom hindered class action lawsuits. Just ask Dow Corning regarding silicon breast implants.

I can truly sympathize with heartbroken and desperate parents of autistic children. Everyone has hopes and dreams for their children and everyone fears things like autism happening to their child. No one knows the cause for autism so it becomes a wide open field for accusations and speculation. If one of my grandchildren developed autism, I'd be desperate, too.

NEOWatcher
2008-Apr-03, 05:46 PM
As far as the link to environment or vaccines, here's another story that casts doubt on that link.
Autistic children linked to same sperm donor (http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/04/02/autism.sperm.donor/index.html)

3 possibly 4 children with autism from the same donor. Sounds like a good trigger for more research.

farmerjumperdon
2008-Apr-03, 06:34 PM
Food-borne. Think chicken.

But yeah. Parents are grasping at straws. Something has to be at fault. But I'll tell you, if Jenny McCarthy told me it was raining, I'd look out my window to check. And I live in/near a rain forest. (Actually, we had snow a couple of times last week, and it's bright and sunny now. The point still holds.)

I thought it was turkey. Isn't that the usual scare around Thankggiving?

Infinity Watcher
2008-Apr-03, 06:42 PM
I thought it was turkey. Isn't that the usual scare around Thankggiving?
As far as I am aware poultry in general are a vector, eggs can be too.

Fazor
2008-Apr-03, 06:45 PM
Lets just say poultry...seafood is the other common food, though veggies can carry it aswell. It's a bacteria so I'd assume any food could support it's growth if the conditions were right.

But poultry and seafoods are, I believe, the highest risks...particularly when consumed raw or not properly stored.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-04, 08:41 PM
I have handled eggs with paranoic care for decades. A couple of years ago,
though, I heated a frozen chicken kiev thing in the microwave -- not enough.
Although it wasn't diagnosed, I'm sure what I got was salmonella. The
immediate effects were not that bad, but I've never really recovered entirely.
My paranoia was justified. You don't want salmonella poisoning.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis