By George W. Mead
Increasing coverage has been given to what is being termed an "epidemic" in autism and neurobehavioral disorders. Statistics gathered by the State of California Department of Education show that as many as 1 child in 150 suffers from autism. This represents an increase of almost 1200% in the last 10 years of reported cases.
The CDC, FDA, the American Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have all taken the position the "epidemic" is attributable to improved diagnoses and a purely coincidental temporal connection between the vaccine schedule given to most American children, and the diagnosis of late onset autism and other learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD. Representatives of the CDC, FDA and Amercian Academy of Pediatrics have all gone on record as stating there is no connection between vaccination and autism. They have all gone on record as stating there is no known study showing a connection between thimerosal, a preservative used in all but one of the childhood vaccines.
In June of 2000, 53 scientists from the CDC, FDA, ACIP and industry met to review the findings of Dr. Thomas Verstraten., an epidemiologist hired by CDC to review data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which consisted of approximately 500,000 children from the North California Kaiser cohort. Dr. Verstraten found a "statistically significant connection" between thimerosal and tics, verbal delays and ADHD/ADD and autism.
Specifically Dr. Verstraten stated:
"...we have found statistically significant relationships between the exposures and outcomes for these different exposures and outcomes. First, for two months of age, an unspecified developmental delay, which has its own specific ICD9 code. Exposure at three months of age, Tics. Exposure at six months of age, an attention deficit disorder. Exposure at one, three and six months of age, language and speech delays which are two separate ICD9 codes. Exposure at one, three and six months of age, the entire category of neurodevelopmental delays, which includes all of these plus a number of other disorders." (p40)
The findings were diluted by Dr. Verstraten's own colleagues and buried. Dr Philip Rhodes, another CDC epidemiologist, in attempting to dilute the findings of Dr. Verstraten, outlines his approach:
"…We are in a situation where the exposures are nearly universal and others have argued that the unvaccinated do form an unrepresentative subgroup…So are we in a hopeless situation? No, there is variation in the amount of Thimerosal by the type and amount of vaccine. If there wasn't or if there weren't changes in vaccination policy over time we would be in a more or less hopeless situation (93-94)
. CDC continues to take the position there is no known study.
Attached is the transcript, verbatim, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act in which Dr. David Johnson announces in June of 2000 that his newly-born grandson will not be getting thimerosal containing vaccines. Also, in this transcript Dr. Robert Brent states;
The medical legal findings in this study, causal or not, are horrendous and therefore, it is important that the suggested epidemiological, pharmacokinetic, and animal studies be performed. If an allegation was made that a child's neurobehavioral findings were caused by Thimerosal containing vaccines, you could readily find a junk scientist who would support the claim with "a reasonable degree of certainty". But you will not find a scientist with any integrity who would say the reverse with the data that is available. And that is true. So we are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits if they were initiated and I am concerned." (p229)
Dr. Clements of the World Health organizations stated of the report:
And I really want to risk offending everyone in the room by saying that perhaps this study should not have been done at all, because the outcome of it could have, to some extent, been predicted, and we have all reached this point now where we are left hanging, even though I hear the majority of consultants say to the Board that they are not convinced there is a causal direct link between Thimerosal and various neurological outcomes. I know how we handle it from here is extremely problematic. (p247)
The Simpsonwood meeting and the consequent failure of the CDC, FDA and ACIP to act on what it found here is as clear a failure of the public health system as we have seen since the institution of American Public Health.
Go here for the transcript of the Simpsonwood meeting.
The transcript is a large PDF file and may take a long time to download via a dial-up modem. For those who do not have a PDF reader, you can go to http://www.adobe.com, and download a reader for free.