Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Douchenozzle of the Year - 2009
So, it seems that research published in the February 1998 issue of The Lancet showing some link between the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was manipulated and misreported.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the lead author of this study and his co-authors are now defending themselves to the General Medical Council of Britain (equivalent to the AMA) for serious professional misconduct, specifically in regard to conflict of interest and manipulating data.

Meanwhile, advocates of the link continue to encourage families to skip vaccination leading to a jump in outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases. Whereas previously there had been one outbreak a year, in 2008 there were 30 outbreaks between January and July. 131 individuals were infected prior to July 30th and of those cases, 63 were in children whose parents had refused vaccination. Thankfully, at least in these cases, none died though 11% were hospitalized. Andrew Wakefield and his followers are lucky in this regard.

The Sunday Times of London stated this week that the rates of vaccination fell from 92% (below measles herd immunity) to below 80% after the publication of Wakefield's study, and that confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales have risen from 56 in 1998 to 1348 in 2008, with two child fatalities.

As I have learned, over and over again working in research, anecdotal information is NOT science. Peer reviewed and repeatable data is science. Period.

H/T Hoyden About Town

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6 Comments:

Blogger Marla said...

Hi Faith, I don't have anything relevant to say about this particular post (except Yay Science!) but just wanted to mention that I adore that Mucha artwork you're using. I was lucky enough to see the original several years ago at the NC Museum of Art, and I spent a lot of time just sitting on the bench in front of it. Gorgeous!

Blogger ajchampi said...

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Blogger Llencelyn said...

As a pre-physicist (finishing my undergrad degree this year!), this stuff enrages me. When people do science wrong, it undercuts the legitimacy of real science in the eyes of the public, on whom we rely for funding.

I just want to cry. ARGH. Thanks for posting about this, though.

(And I'm loving my teaspoon earrings. ^_^)

Blogger Lily's Mommy said...

I'm glad you mentioned this. Some people become almost rabid when talking about the relationship between MMR shots and autism. I try to explain that just because two things occur together, does not imply that one caused the other.

I don't remember the exact stats on how much autism has increased over however many years, but I know that more women are having children later (a la moi) and are using more fertility treatments. Could there be correlations with the above? I feel like the science isn't quite there to explain autism and avoiding inoculations when, as far as I know, there's no proof seems dangerous.

Also, the first time I've commented. Love your blog. :)

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Funny thing about bandwagons - they are just *so* easy to jump on. Especially when some "celebrity" or other is vociferously touting the righteousness of their perspective.

I do remember it was VERY difficult decision to make when WMG was wee; the pressure from both sides was enormous. Ultimately, I had to take a deep breath, do what I thought was best for her (really, there are *compelling* arguments on both sides, and it is so very difficult for a non-medically/analytically/etc.-minded person to distinguish between good/bad research), and hope that I made the right decision.

Fortunately, the only one that's ensnared me (lately) is the FebLadySweater, thanks to Ellen. :)

Blogger dale-harriet said...

Hoooo...RAY, Faith. I admit it, I'm old, and therefore entrenched in the Old School. I have no idea where the spaight of autism is coming from (and it seems like it's being used as an easy catch-all in some instances) but I tend to think vaccinations are valuable. The alternatives? Pox, for example? No, thenk yew just the same.

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