Fenger Pointing

Becky Fenger | February 24, 2010

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Becky FengerA vaccine vindicated

Perhaps in no other field are there more bogus claims than in the area of health and nutrition. I have spent over three decades in cataloging some of the more egregious ones. That is why it was such welcome news to read this month that the British medical journal The Lancet formally retracted its report from 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield which linked autism to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and admitted it should never have published the research. Pediatricians across the world breathed a huge sigh of relief.

My friends at The American Council on Science and Health have long cautioned the public against boycotting vaccinations out of fear their children would contract autism. The false claims led to a marked decrease in vaccination rates and a significant increase in those diseases which the vaccines were designed to prevent. Maybe this public retraction will prevent epidemics from occurring.

Putting the lives of patients at risk in order to gain prestige or wealth is the stock in trade of sham artists. It becomes a bigger sin when the patients are children. Dr. Wakefield had twelve co-authors on his article. Ten of the twelve disassociated themselves from the article after it was criticized, but Wakefield held steady. Maybe that's because, prior to publishing, he had received well over a half million dollars from lawyers salivating to sue vaccine companies.

That's not all. Not only is Wakefield accused of falsifying his data (hello, Al Gore), but he had previously applied for a patent for a brand new measles vaccine. Now we know why he was hot to trot to prove the old vaccine was dangerous!

According to the UK General Medical Council, Wakefield apparently paid his son's buddies $8 to let him draw their blood and perform spinal taps which the Council said showed "callous disregard" for the youngsters and violated ethical codes. I'll say; that's not even enough to go to a movie and buy popcorn and soda! And this man heads an autism research center in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said: "The paper did a lot of harm. Hundreds of people in England were hospitalized and four children died of measles because parents thought MMR caused autism. Will those children get their lives back?"

The truth is that the link between autism and the MMR vaccine (including mercury, a constituent) has been subjected to worldwide study after study, and no association has ever been found. The largest study took an epidemiological look at well over a half million children in Denmark and found absolutely no difference in kids who received or did not receive the vaccine. The sad part is that many parents have been so brainwashed by now that they may not accept the safety of the vaccines and act accordingly.

Organizations, such as the American Council Against Health Fraud, were set up to deal with people like Dr. Mark Geier and his son David Geier whose scientific background is shaky but who nevertheless set up autism "clinics" to treat autism with the drug Lupron. Since Lupron alters levels of testosterone and is used to chemically castrate sex offenders and has shown no effect on autism, the pair is courting trouble. Or should be.

quackWhen a U.S. court ruled a year ago that there is no scientific evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism in children, it dashed the hopes of parents seeking compensation from the federal government. Their suffering is real, but the culprit is not the vaccine.

One in every 110 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Such a large number will attract quacks. Fengernails to these frauds who will know where I stand when they see my T-shirt.