Autism: A Magnet For Junk Science

I'm Gambling With Your Kids Health!

Today Jenny McCarthy defends the fraudulent research of Andrew Wakefield often cited as proof that the MMR vaccine causes autism.   Despite the revelation that Wakefield faked the data, Jenny McCarthy takes the moral high ground:

The mainstream media is in a frenzy over a new “study” claiming that Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper was fraudulent. For years, the media has mischaracterized Wakefield’s work as implicating the MMR vaccine in the autism epidemic. This was never true, as Wakefield himself wrote in the conclusion to his paper:

“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.”

We hope the media will take the time to read the actual Lancet study, rather than repeating the message of a vaccine-industry funded media circus.

Excuse me?   Today’s allegation is that Wakefield faked the data.   So Jenny McCarthy tells us to read the study withdrawn from Lancet in Feb. 2010, and now shown to be a fraud.   Why?   And then follows up with a trite “well Wakefield never said he proved the vaccines caused autism.”

Oh, but wait, there’s more!

So later in their unbelievable defense of Wakefield, they reference studies regarding the Hepatitis B vaccine.   In one study:

RESULTS: Boys who received the hepatitis B vaccine during the first month of life had 2.94 greater odds for ASD (n = 31 of 7,486; OR = 2.94; p = 0.03; 95% CI = 1.10, 7.90) compared to later- or unvaccinated boys. Non-Hispanic white boys were 61% less likely to have ASD (OR = 0.39; p = 0.04; 95% CI = 0.16, 0.94) relative to non-white boys.

OK, how can you argue with the numbers?

CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that U.S. male neonates vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine had a 3-fold greater risk of ASD; risk was greatest for non-white boys.

Note the headline: “hepatitis B vaccine had a 3-fold greater risk of ASD”    Yes, their data suggests this for Hispanic males. For white males, the risk is 39%, not sexy 300%.    So if we believe the data, Hispanic males are several times more susceptible.   Considering that “non-white Hispanic” is an exclusionary term, i.e. refers to Hispanics of non-Caucasoid lineage,  is not a racial group, it is unlikely a common genetic disposition is at work.

So what can account for this difference?   As it turns out the the CDC’s own data has historically shown enormous ( 3-fold ) variations in ASD from state to state.  Between ethnic groups in those states, the racial divide is much narrower than the above statistics.   Its equally plausible that the salacious results achieved by  Gallagher & Goodman is sampling related.    Or there is some novel method of action that targets Hispanic males.    And perhaps that is soemthing worth looking into.

But the SAME researchers published a paper that links this difference to the Thimerosal ( mercury containing preservative used prior to March 2002 )  but that paper neglects to mention any difference by race.    So between they two, we have a conundrum.  So if Thimerosal is the cause of autism in children recieving the Hepatitis B vaccine, and presumably other vaccines, why is the distribution of autism, as measured by CDC, showing little racial divide?

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