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:
- Stoner R, Chow ML, Boyle MP, Sunkin SM, Mouton PR, Roy S, Wynshaw-Boris A, Colamarino SA, Lein ES, Courchesne Patches of disorganization in the neocortex of children with autism. N Engl J Med. 2014 Mar 27;370(13):1209-19. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1307491.
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.
h/t: Bryan L.