Your resource: the definitive collection of vaccines-don’t-cause autism papers

Peter Hotez is co-editor-in-chief of the journal PLOS NTD (Neglected Tropical Diseases), is an expert in vaccination. Here are his qualifications:

Prof. Peter Hotez MD PhD is professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, where is also Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics, and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine. He is also the President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

Those credentials are given at the bottom of his latest post on the PLOS Blog Speaking of Medicine, a post called “The ‘Why Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism’ Papers.” This is a site worth bookmarking.

He has another qualification to pronounce on the issue of vaccination and autism:

But I’m also a father of four children, including my adult daughter Rachel who has autism and other mental disabilities. These two parts of my life place me at an interesting nexus in a national discussion of autism and vaccines. My position is firm: there is no link and I also believe there is no plausibility to such a link. My position is mostly based on the scientific literature, together with my perspective as an autism father witnessing first-hand the impact of this condition on Rachel and our family

And so, in a generous move, Hotez has put together a list of papers refuting the connection between vaccines and autism:

Regarding the scientific literature, I thought it might be helpful to share with the community of interested individuals, the major peer-reviewed articles I consult regularly to back up my pro-vaccine sentiments and position. These are the papers I often cite when speaking with journalists and other interested individuals. Together they refute allegations that autism is linked to vaccination, including:

  • the MMR vaccine,

  • trace thimerosal used in some vaccines,

  • the close spacing of vaccines.

His post is a useful resource for those of us who encounter the anti-vaxxers on a regular basis, as it cites the most relevant scientific literature after 2014, including some papers within this year. I thought it would be helpful to put up one excerpt (below) from his blog, but do remember that his post exists and can come in handy when arguing with this species of loon (Gavia antivaxxis).

Absence of plausibility

I also point out that the lack of plausibility of any link between childhood vaccines and autism. Numerous studies indicate that autism is associated with changes neocortex of the brain in early pregnancy well before a child receives vaccines. The data are nicely presented in this New England Journal of Medicine article by Eric Courchesne’s group at the University of California San Diego:

Such studies, showing profound changes in the reorganization of the brain strongly reinforce the genetic and epigenetic basis of autism.  A vaccine simply could not do this, and the data supports this.

Instead, there are a lot of exciting studies identifying new genes and epigenetics linked to autism. For example, this excellent overview in Nature Neuroscience. My position is that if there is also any environmental component to autism, it would have to be something that occurs early around the time of conception or in the first trimester of pregnancy. The major vaccine given in pregnancy regularly is flu vaccine, but as the paper in JAMA Pediatrics points out there is no link.

From my perspective the antivaxxer movement is growing in strength and momentum. In order to counter allegations that vaccines could cause autism, it is both useful and informative to have access the some key recent scientific literature.

Indeed.

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h/t: Bryan L.

37 Comments

  1. Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on aspiblog and commented:
    A vital resource for people interested in Autism…

  2. Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    +1

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Sub

  4. Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
    I know how valuable this information can be. I worked in a major hospital and had ICU nurses I worked with who were adamant that vaccines caused all these other problems. They constantly refused flu vaccines and other vaccines needed to work in our units. I hope this reaches the people who need to hear it. Thanks to Jerry Coyne for posting it. Hugs

    • somer
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      ICU nurses believing in the anti vax lurk? That’s truly scary

      • Mike
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        I have a cousin who will not shift from her anti-vaxxer position,no matter what evidence is shown, it’s with almost a religious fervour they believ their nonsense.

      • Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        yes. Hugs

  5. dabertini
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I don’t think this kind of information could ever be overstated. Thanks for posting!!

  6. Eli Siegel
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Based on twin studies, of all behavioral disorders autism has the greatest genetic component.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      The parents will NEVER accept that! Because if it’s genetic, it’s kind of their fault for having bad genes. If it’s nasty vaccines then it’s someone else’s fault. Guess which way they’ll jump.

      Morons. (The parents I mean).

      cr

  7. Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this, Jerry.

  9. Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Very good collection.

    I wonder if a few other things could be rolled in, like any materials describing the uptick in diagnosis being due to changes in behaviours of diagnosticians, etc.

  10. Denis Westphalen
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I still think this is the most accurate website on the subject:

    http://www.howvaccinescauseautism.org.

    • Denis Westphalen
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Edit: this is the website I was looking for:

      http://howdovaccinescauseautism.com

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      A model of admirable economy of expression. Except for this bit : (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
      (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
      m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
      })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');

      ga('create', 'UA-59022412-1', 'auto');
      ga('send', 'pageview');
      That’s somewhat obfuscatory.

  11. Katherine Mechling
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. Maybe this will save another life.

    One little thing I like to point out to anti-vaxers –there is far less mercury in vaccines than there is in most tattoos. Red tattoo ink is usually mercury.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Red tattoo ink is usually mercury.

      Care to share some evidence for that. I can believe that people have tried using cinnabar powder as a pigment in inks over the centuries. But I also wonder how long it would remain red when finely powdered and immersed in oxygenated bodily fluids – which it must be for the tattoo to persist longer than one epidermis sloughing.
      I also bet that people who tried using powdered cinnabar as a pigment had a lot of dead or very ill customers – possibly ones who were literally “as mad as a hatter” – and that the practice would not have persisted much after … the turn of the last century (19 to 20)?

      • Katherine Mechling
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but mercury and other heavy metals are still quite common in tattoos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_ink
        Kind of like “nutritional supplements”, no particular federal regulation.

        Interestingly, the rash associated with secondary syphilis would not affect the skin around red tattoos, which led many sailors last century to consume mercury to treat their disease.

        The metals are probably benign to the wearer as long as it remains in the dermis, but with laser ablation, toxicity has been reported.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          “Quite common” is a long step back from “usually”. I could go out and make some cinnabar and mix up a batch of red tattoo ink like that, but I don’t think I’d do it.
          Well, you’ve achieved the near impossible : you’ve reduced the likelihood that I’d voluntarily get tattooed from it’s previously almost zero level. Now, if I had reason to get a tattoo (blood group in the elbow joint being the only reason I’ve contemplated), I’ll just have to add making my own ink to the pile of discouragements. Federal or other regulations or no, and enforcement of regulations or no, I’ll mix my own.

  12. Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    The fact that anti-vaxxers have latched onto autism as The Worst Thing Ever in order to scare the shit out of parents has helped increase prejudice and misunderstanding towards those of us on the spectrum.

    Autism scares parents more than cancer – and nobody would describe a child with cancer as monstrous..

    I saw one Facebook group called Ban MRR and Stop Autistic Monsters.

    This is the kind of thing we have to put up with:

    This was from a NYT article:

    “It’s the worst shot,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “Do you want to wake up one morning and the light is gone from her eyes with autism or something?”

    Then there’s this stuff:

    ‘My son is a monster with autism’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-475649/My-son-monster-autism.htmlThe monster inside my son

    ‘The monster inside my son’

    http://www.salon.com/2009/03/26/bauer_autism/

    And that demonisation can lead to parents murdering their otherwise healthy child:

    ‘If A Parent Murders An Autistic Child, Who Is To Blame?’

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2013/09/05/if-a-parent-murders-an-autistic-child-who-is-to-blame/?client=safari

    • Tom
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Oddly, these sort of headlines seem a lot similar to the old superstition that a person is in some way possessed. Is there any correlation between strong religious beliefs and the ideas of the AntiVax movements?

      • Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        I have two anecdotes.
        (1) Rev. Lisa Sykes closely collaborates with Geier & son, quacks who “treat” autistic boys with a chemical castration drug, and subjects her son to the “treatment”. She thinks that God cannot create autism, so it must be vaccines (my interpretation: she believes that God would never let autism afflict the child of a good person like her).
        (2) Texan pastor Terri Pearsons, instead of spreading the good news, preached that vaccines caused autism until a measles outbreak spread in her church’s community in 2013.

        On the other hand, I know quite a few believers who accept their child(ren)’s autism as “God’s will” and are, to my impression, wonderful disability parents. They also vaccinate.

      • Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        It looks a lot like archaic fears that fairies would replace children with changelings.

    • Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  13. Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this post. Good cartoon!

  14. DickK
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    “Numerous studies indicate that autism is associated with changes (in the) neocortex of the brain in early pregnancy well before a child receives vaccines.” I haven’t read the NEJofM article yet, but I hope that the studies controlled for the possibility that vaccines were given to the mother during earliest pregnancy. I suspect this is true, but the quotes from WEIT gave no indication of that being the case.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t read the NEJofM article yet, but I hope that the studies controlled for the possibility that vaccines were given to the mother during earliest pregnancy.

      It may be because I’ve grown up in a society with essentially 100% uptake of vaccination, and I’ve never had to waste time learning the medical procedures surrounding pregnancy – but I’ve never heard of someone being given a vaccination “because of” pregnancy.
      OK, I can conceive (sorry!) of someone who comes from a low-vaccination country, or whose medical records have been lost (refugees or adoptees), falling pregnant unplanned and taking a preventative dose of Rubella/ German Measels vaccine. But it would be a pretty tight timing requirement – it takes some weeks for the immune system to respond to a vaccine completely (time for the B- or T- lymphocytes to mature to prime the “acquired” branch of the immune system) which added to the weeks to detect a pregnancy … doesn’t leave many people in the group for whom it would be a useful intervention.
      Is that really a common intervention?

      • nicky
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        Only flu is recommended in early pregnancy.
        And Diteper (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) if not yet covered.

      • DickK
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        In reply to gravelinspector-Aidan, Nowhere did I indicate vaccines were given because of pregnancy. I said during pregnancy. Perhaps I should have included “for whatever reason”.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 3:01 am | Permalink

          I misunderstood that. (Then again, never needing to know anything about the medical implications of pregnancy, why would I know that one way or the other?) It sounded to me as if the two abnormal medical situations (pregnancy ; adult vaccination) were being associated.

    • reasonshark
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      “I suspect this is true, but the quotes from WEIT gave no indication of that being the case.”

      Incorrect. The check for pregnancy-timed vaccinations is discussed in literally the same passage you just quoted from:

      “Such studies, showing profound changes in the reorganization of the brain strongly reinforce the genetic and epigenetic basis of autism. A vaccine simply could not do this, and the data supports this.

      “Instead, there are a lot of exciting studies identifying new genes and epigenetics linked to autism. For example, this excellent overview in Nature Neuroscience. My position is that if there is also any environmental component to autism, it would have to be something that occurs early around the time of conception or in the first trimester of pregnancy. The major vaccine given in pregnancy regularly is flu vaccine, but as the paper in JAMA Pediatrics points out there is no link.

      Checking for controls is commendable, but considering you quoted from that passage easily enough, how exactly do you say there was “no indication” when it’s discussed right there, with the source mentioned, not a few sentences afterwards?

  15. nicky
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    It never ceases to astonish me how a small and deeply flawed -fraudulent- ‘study’ (and later found to also have financial interests) could start an anti-vax movement that survives untold debunking studies for decades. Amazing.
    Andrew Wakefield is one of the greater villains in my personal ‘pantheon’, right up there with the late ‘mal’ Manto (AIDS-denialist minister of Health under Thabo Mbeki) and the ayatollahs.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Wakefield does at least show us how one person can change the world. Unfortunately, it was for the worse …

      • nicky
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        Unfortunately indeed, the operative term, albeit slightly euphemistic.

  16. Posted March 11, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Interesting post. I just wrote a post about vaccines, bioterrorism, and Andrew Wakefield that is a 2 part series. Would love for you to check it out and perhaps join in on the discussion.


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