A new storm of vaccine outrage was unleashed before Christmas with the publication, and then withdrawal, of a study in Frontiers of Health which appeared to show a significant association between vaccination and NDDs (Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and/or a learning disability). As usual in the vaccine debate, voices of reason were drowned out by the passionate advocates on both sides. And sadly this survey did very little to illuminate the debate.
The study was based on anonymous questionnaires sent to 425 mothers of 666 home educated children of whom 39% were unvaccinated. There were no medical records to validate the mother’s recollections – and recollections are notoriously unreliable – while the number of children involved was very small and totally un-representative of the population at large. Virtually none of the wider population are home educated and only 5–15% are un-vaccinated. So any conclusions drawn had to be highly suspect. Critics had many further objections in terms of the paper’s peer reviewers, funding etc etc. Google ‘Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports‘ and you will find plenty of critiques.
The problem, as always with this debate, is that in the heat of the argument everyone ignores the fact that although mass vaccinations may bring population wide health benefits, they are, and always have been, dangerous. And that there always is, and always has been, a small group of people who will suffer harm as a result of vaccinations. The excellent BSEM conference organised by the late Dr David Freed in 2011 made this all too clear. This is not to say that vaccines should not be given but it is to say that they should be given with much more thought and care. See the presentation by Dr Richard Halverson at that conference for a balanced view of how to proceed.
But although it is the MMR autism issue that always hits the headlines, there are many other areas of concern within the vaccine debate.
Back in 2010 researcher Heather Fraser, mother of a peanut allergic child, put forward the suggestion that the epidemic of peanut allergy that has swept the western world over the last 20 years may have been caused by the use of peanut oil as a carrier in vaccines. The huge increase in the number of vaccines using peanut oil as a carrier, and given at ever earlier ages from the 1990s onwards, could have sensitised children to peanut proteins before they ever got to eat them thus making them very much more likely to have an allergic reaction to them when they did. See my review of her book here.
But while mainstream medicine may take issue with Andrew Wakefield, or the BSEM or with an ‘unqualified’ researcher, they really cannot ignore the work of a group of eminent immunologists let by Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld of Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases at Tel-Aviv University.
In 2011, after studying gulf war veterans, Professor Shoenfeld identified a new syndrome which he called ‘ASIA’, Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants. Adjuvants are substances which are added to vaccines to stimulate the immune system so that it reacts more effectively to the vaccine. The oldest, cheapest and most widely used adjuvant used in vaccines is aluminium, followed by silicone. The suggestion is that vaccine adjuvants such as aluminium may create, in certain patients, a state of chronic immune stimulation which results in autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
Meanwhile a world registry of ASIA cases was set up in January 2014 and within a month it had registered 283 confirmed cases of the syndrome, 73% following vaccination. It would appear that vaccinations for Hepatitis B were most commonly involved.
For a long and interesting article on the whole subject by Celeste McGovern, see GreenMed Info here.
However, while whole days may be spent at international autoimmunity symposia on the discussion of vaccines and the role of aluminium, very few others in the medical profession have ever heard of ‘ASIA’ or have very much idea what an adjuvant in a vaccine even does. Which suggests that, if Professor Shoenfeld and his colleagues are right about that damage that adjuvants may be doing, there is a long hard battle ahead….