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A new and massive study in the Annals of Internal Medicine puts to rest any doubts about an MMR-autism link. Here’s why.
And FYI, things get REAL at around 6:30 in the live video. Just sayin’. #sorrynotsorry
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What is up, Z-Pac, it’s your boy, ZDoggMD, Dr. Zubin Damania, and I’m wearing a coat today because we’re talking about some serious, serious stuff. And that is, what can we tell parents who are on the fence about vaccinations, who’ve been sort of influenced by the fraudulent work of Andrew Wakefield and others and their Lancet paper in ’99 that was since withdrawn? And he doesn’t really practice medicine anymore and should probably be in jail.
How do we talk to parents about the falsely proposed link between MMR, measles, mumps, rubella vaccination and autism? So ever since that paper came out, this has been a thought virus, a bad meme that has poisoned public health. And whereas measles had been effectively eradicated from America by 2000, we now see it resurgent in multiple outbreaks throughout the country. And as you saw from my CME talk on recognizing measles, this is not a harmless disease. This can be a fatal and disabling disease.
And if you’re a supporter of the show, by the way, you can get CE credit for it, that and future shows, so definitely sign up. That pitch aside, shameless self-promotion, let’s get to shameless public health.
A brand-new study just released, and I was lucky enough to get sent an early review copy of this by the Annals of Internal Medicine editorial staff to check out before it came out, a new study in Annals basically looked at, for the first time, a huge population of 650,000 people in Denmark, using Denmark’s universal health registry. So there’s this national population registry where they can keep track of a lot of stuff for their population. That would, of course, never fly in the US, because everybody here is paranoid crazy about the nanny state, but it works great in Denmark, which has a relatively homogenous, both racially and socioeconomically, population.
They look at this huge cohort of patients from 1999 to 2010. And what they did that was really different is, first of all, they had the standard prevalence of autism that we’re seeing even in the US, which is around 1% to 1.5%, so in that population, about 6,500 of these children ended up carrying a diagnosis of something on the autism spectrum, Asperger’s, etc., and they have defined them in the paper. It turns out that there’s a Danish psychiatric registry that keeps track of that. So as soon as the diagnosis is made, you can note the age of the child, etc., and you can look at their vaccination status. Did they receive the MMR vaccination, which it’s standard to get around 15 months for the first shots in Denmark. And did they also have the diptheria, pertussis, etc., the other vaccinations prior?
So they had all this data, including people who declined vaccinations, and they could then say, okay, was there any association between the MMR vaccination and autism? Now, this has been looked at before in multiple studies, and there’s never been an association. But the anti-vaxers kept coming back and saying, but wait a minute, what about in children who have risk factors for autism? In other words, they’re at risk, maybe there’s something in the MMR that, well, they’re saying definitely there’s something in the MMR that’s triggering these children to develop what they call regressive autism. In other words, they’re developing normally, and suddenly they stop and there’s a delay, and the next thing you know, they have a diagnosis of autism. So what about that subgroup, that’s not really been looked at properly.
Well, yeah, it actually had, in smaller studies, but this is the first study where they said, okay, now we have enough numbers. It’s statistically powerful that we can look at these subgroup analysis and see, is there a statistically significant correlation between MMR and so-called regressive autism in children at risk, and so, what are some of the risk factors for autism they looked at? They said, well, what about paternal age, maternal age, those are correlated with higher risk of autism, if those are older. What about head circumference, five-minute Apgar scores, history of smoking in pregnancy, pre-term birth? What about a sibling or a relative who has autism? Those are all correlated risk factors for autism. Let’s subgroup and analyze those patients.
What did they find, no correlation between MMR and autism, even in those high-risk patients, boom. The second thing that the autism, that the anti-vaxers will often talk about is, well, what about this idea of timing? So regressive autism happens when you give the vaccines, and then, just shortly thereafter, they stop developing. And I bet these cluster and you could see the effect of the vaccine temporally, in time, causing this regressive autism. So they looked at that, and guess what? Nope, doesn’t happen, in fact, the risk of having autism was something like 0.93%. In other words, it was lower if you got vaccinated with MMR than if you didn’t. Now, this wasn’t statistically significant. In other words, it really just showed that there was no correlation one way or the other, and there could be some biases that might have made it a little lower. But the bottom line is, guys, the final verdict in a huge cohort study, I mean, it’s very difficult to differentiate bias there because the bias can go both ways in this study. And I read the entire study and went through it before it was released, I can tell you that this is by far the most definitive, convincing population-based evidence, in a controlled and predictable population with autism risk factors, that vaccination with MMR does not increase the risk of autism.
So here’s the call to action. I want you to share this video with mothers and fathers and family members and grandparents and people you know on Facebook who are on the fence about vaccinations. We in the medical community try our best to get data when we’re presented with challenges to the orthodoxy. And in 1999, there was a challenge to the orthodoxy. MMR may cause autism, okay, let’s look at it. It has been looked at exhaustively.
So step one, share this video.
Step two, it is time to stop talking about a link between MMR and autism. How much effort and time and money went into this study that is already looking at something we’ve looked at before, just to shut up the delusional anti-vaxers, delusional! These people are threats to public health. They’re resulting in the deaths and disability of children from preventable illnesses that we had practically wiped out. And we are spending time and money and breath talking about this still, still!
Do you think that the effort we put into this couldn’t have been spent in finding out what’s actually going on with autism, what’s actually causing autism, and actually helping these children, instead of rehashing the same old crap? Because people like Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree and Joe Mercola and Sherri Tenpenny and these people who make money, they make money off of the suffering of parents and children with autism by creating this thing that doesn’t exist, and then saying, we can help you. They can’t, it’s time we as a society shamed them into nonexistence, all right? I’m glad this study was done, because I can rant and rave about how we already know this stuff. But now it’s clear, debate over. There was no debate, it is time we put an end to this. Paul Offit said, the tipping point’s come. The anti-vaccine movement, the days are numbered, okay?
But it’s on us, guys, it’s on us to drive the final stake in to this vampire of a delusional movement that is harming our children, okay, okay? I got that off my chest on live Facebook. Probably shouldn’t have said half the stuff I said, but I don’t care, I’ll tell you what we care about: children and their health. All right, guys. Become a supporter of the show. Hit share, do your part to improve public health, and we out, peace.