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Vaccines & Autism: Two Letters-to-the-Editor

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Don’t forget that this weekend weekend (October 28th & 29th) is the 2011 SASHA Fall Conference!

Someone from Columbia named Cynthia Parker, who admits to having no medical background (a former or retired lawyer, from what I can tell from public records), wrote in to the local paper with the following:

Bachmann backs victims of vaccines

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Editor, the Tribune: Michele Bachmann is right about the HPV vaccine. Thousands of girls in the United States have reacted to it since it was developed nearly 10 years ago, as can be seen in the 10,000 reports of adverse side effects submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System. Eighty deaths have been reported as well. India withdrew it from the market after it killed several tribal girls. Google Zeda Pingel to read about the case of a young girl who got the vaccine in 2008, had a severe reaction to it and is now in a hospital bed in her living room, unable to walk or talk, with a feeding tube and a tracheotomy.

The mother Bachmann talked to said her daughter became mentally retarded after getting the shot. As can be read on the package insert of any vaccine, encephalitis is a not-uncommon side effect of vaccines. In some cases it can cause brain damage, autism and/or mental retardation. My daughter reacted to the hepatitis B shot at birth with encephalitis and autism. More parents are afraid of exposing their children to the dangers of vaccines, and it gives us hope when courageous politicians come forward to support us.

Cynthia Parker

My mother, a hematologist & clinical oncologist, med school professor, and Fellow of the American College of Physicians, wrote in as well in response:

Data don’t support vaccine-autism link

Friday, October 21, 2011

Editor, the Tribune: This is in response to the Wednesday letter falsely claiming a link between autism and vaccines.

Autism is a terrible, unfortunate condition, but linking cause and effect is a delicate process, and in the interest of public health, we must make sure the data back us up.

The field of statistics tells us that repeated, large, controlled studies are necessary to link cause and effect. Before vaccines, many people died or were seriously harmed by measles, mumps, hepatitis B, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, meningococcal meningitis and many other diseases.

There is a horrifying movement in this country, with no basis in science, blaming vaccines for autism. This not only distracts us from the real causes, but previously wiped-out diseases are coming back because parents are making misinformed choices about vaccination.

Putting forth a small number of patients to illustrate a point that is unsupported by the larger numbers is a fallacy called misleading vividness. Further, linking cause and effect just because one comes after the other is the fallacy of “after this, therefore because of this.” We do large-scale studies to protect ourselves from fallacious thinking — to see if there really is a link.

Despite many large-scale studies to date, vaccines cannot be shown as a causal factor in autism, let alone, as Cynthia Parker says, the leading cause(!). Who is Cynthia Parker? Is she a doctor, an epidemiologist, a microbiologist? Don’t get your science from “residents.” Do get your kids vaccinated!

Mary S. Muscato, MD

For the reference to vaccines as the leading cause of autism, and the reference to Cynthia Parker as a “resident” of Columbia, see this guest article in the Tribune by Parker from this past May.

The part that bothers me the most is that Parker encourages “high-profile figures [to] follow suit and dare to give their testimony.”

Does this sound familiar? Don’t bother with statistics or evidence; let’s listen to some charismatic, high-profile figures talk about their personal experiences as though that is sufficient to form a conclusion on the big picture? As my mother pointed out in her letter, this is a textbook case of misleading vividness.

As far as her letter, all I can say is, “Go Mom!”

– Dave

P.S. See you at the SASHA Fall Conference this Friday/Saturday!
(573) 424-0420 cell/text

Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is

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3 comments on “Vaccines & Autism: Two Letters-to-the-Editor

  1. cynthia parker
    December 16, 2011

    To Dr. Muscato:

    All of these studies which you say exonerate vaccines from causing autism were funded by pharmaceutical companies. Hundreds of thousands of parents, including me, say that their children became autistic or developed bowel disease shortly after getting the MMR or hep-B vaccines, sometimes after DTaP. The Merck Manual states that vaccination sometimes causes encephalitis and subsequent autism. Vaccination is designed to cause an inflammatory response to force the creation of antibodies. Sometimes this inflammatory response is so extreme as to cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and the brain damage can cause autism. This inflammation of the lymph tissue in the GI tract can cause bowel disease.

    The Manitoba study published in 2008 found in its observations of thousands of children that among babies receiving the pertussis vaccine at the recommended age of two months, 13 % had asthma at age seven. In those who didn’t get it until four months, only 6 % developed asthma. M.A. Miller published a study in Pediatrics 1995 (4) proving that babies given the pertussis vaccine at the standard age of two months develop no antibodies at all to pertussis. That means that parents following the recommended schedule do not protect their two-month old babies from pertussis, but do more than double his chances of getting asthma. Why has this information not been publicized?

    I have a law degree and a Ph.D., and a vaccine-damaged child, and I, unlike you, have no financial or professional stakes in promoting the standard vaccine schedule.

    Cynthia Parker

  2. Pingback: Anti-Vaccine, Continued « The Official MU SASHA Blog, Updated Daily

  3. ron
    January 18, 2012

    Hmmm my kids are all healthy and vaccinated. Seems odd……

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This entry was posted on October 24, 2011 by in Author: Dave Muscato, In The News, Web Links & Videos.
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