Scientific Panel Dismisses Vaccine-Austism Link

In the long-running controversy over whether vaccines can cause autism, the prestigious Institute of Medicine is weighing in again. And it’s taking the same stance that it has before: there is no evidence that immunizations lead to the developmental disorder.

That conclusion, however, is hardly going to be the last word in the debate. As FairWarning reported in May, a recent report in a New York law journal figures to help keep the issue alive. After evaluating cases in which claimants won settlements or awards in federal vaccine court, the authors found 83 instances in which victims demonstrated evidence of autism – even though, perhaps as a legal tactic, their lawsuits emphasized other injuries.

To try to quell the vitriolic dispute and to provide guidance for vaccine court compensation decisions, the federal government asked the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, to investigate. A committee of experts assembled by the institute reviewed more than 1,000 research articles dealing with eight vaccines. It concluded in its report, which was released Thursday, that few health problems are caused by, or clearly associated, with vaccines.

In particular, the committee dismissed the notion of a link between childhood vaccines and autism or Type 1 diabetes. “Repeated study has made clear that some health problems are not caused by vaccines,” Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, the committee chair and director of a biomedical ethics center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said in a news release.

Still, even while finding that existing studies show that measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR vaccine, does not cause autism, the scientists said the shot can cause a rare form of brain inflammation in some people with severe immune-system problems. Left unaddressed was the likelihood that the inflammation, or seizures related to vaccinations, could cause brain injuries producing autism-like symptoms.

The committee also said, in rare instances, the varicella vaccine against chickenpox can induce brain swelling, pneumonia, hepatitis, meningitis and shingles. Yet the panel members backed U.S. medical authorities’ consistent position that vaccines are essential for protecting public health, with the benefits vastly outweighing the isolated cases of problems.

“With the start of the new school year, it’s time to ensure that children are up to date on their immunizations, making this report’s findings about the safety of these eight vaccines particularly timely,” Clayton said.

However, Sallie Bernard, president of SafeMinds, a group that contends there is a link between vaccines and autism, told the New York Times that the report  excluded important research and found, in many cases, that more study is needed. “I think this report says that the science is inadequate, and yet we’re giving more and more vaccines to our kids, and we really don’t know what their safety profile is,” Bernard said. “I think that’s alarming.”

STUART SILVERSTEIN

Related Posts:
A Boy’s Death Sheds Light on a Rare Vaccine Hazard
Landmark Research on Vaccine Link to Autism a Hoax, Investigation Finds
In Vitriolic Autism-Vaccine Debate, Report Lifts Some of the Fog

 

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One comment to “Scientific Panel Dismisses Vaccine-Austism Link”

  1. Sandy Gottstein

    I wonder if there is anyone in a position of authority who cares that most, if not all, research allegedly vindicating vaccines has been either paid for directly or otherwise influenced by the vaccine manufacturers.

    The liability alone, were it to be found that the “experts” never properly studied these vaccines (especially comparing the vaccinated to the never-vaccinated), is enough to discourage any honest appraisal.

    It’s too bad that the IOM no longer is concerned about being “handicapped” (http://bit.ly/pPSvY5) by the poor quality of the research.

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