Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More on autism.

Neurologica looks at some more attempts to claim a controversy.

Has the Government Conceded Vaccines Cause Autism?
No. But David Kirby and other anti-vaccinationist ideologues and members of the so-called mercury militia would like you to think so. For background, the Autism Omnibus refers to a set of hearings before the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program regarding claims by about 5000 parents that their childrens’ autism was caused by vaccines. These claims are primarily based upon the various hypotheses that the MMR vaccine, or thimerosal in some vaccines (but not MMR), or the combination of both, is a cause of autism.

So far there have been hearings, but only one final decision. In November the US government settled one case in favor of the petitioner. This is the case those who have supported the failed hypothesis that vaccines cause autism now point to as admission that they were right all along (or at least as a means of stoking the flames of fear about vaccines.) But the US government did not admit vaccines cause autism - they conceded one case that is highly complex and not necessarily representative of any other case and cannot be reasonably used to support the vaccine/autism connection.

David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm, wrote a highly misleading article the other day in the Huffington Post on this issue. Orac has already done an excellent job of tearing down Kirby’s claims. He points out that legal cases are often decided for legal - not necessarily scientific - reasons. That the government only conceded that “compensation is appropriate.” That is all - they conceded nothing about the larger question of vaccines and autism. Orac also points out that if this case were a concession of a connection why would the petitioner’s lawyers settle and give away a case that could win them all their other cases?


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