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More Than 1 in 10 Parents Skip, Delay Kids' Shots
USA Today - 10/3/11
By age 6, children should have vaccinations against 14 diseases, in at least two dozen separate doses, the US government advises. More than 1 in 10 parents reject that, refusing some shots or delaying others mainly because of safety concerns, a national survey found.
Editorial: Put to rest false link of autism, vaccine
Chicago Sun-Times - 8/29/11
Belief in a false link between vital childhood vaccinations and autism has persisted for years, fueled by bad science and distressed parents searching for answers. It is time to put this falsehood to rest. One study after another has found no link, and now the most comprehensive, independent analysis of research on childhood vaccines has come to the same conclusion. The vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) does not cause autism, according to a review released last week by an expert committee of the Institute of Medicine. The review is considered the best analysis of potential side effects of eight common childhood vaccines.
Vaccine Safety: New Report Finds Few Adverse Events Linked to Immunizations
TIME - 8/25/11
In a new report investigating adverse events caused by vaccines, a panel of experts says there are relatively few health problems caused by the most commonly recommended immunizations, which public health experts advise that all children receive. The conclusions, issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its latest report, "Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality," represent the most comprehensive review of the available literature on the potential side effects of eight vaccines – for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR); chicken pox; influenza; hepatitis A; hepatitis B; human papillomavirus (HPV); diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP); and meningococcus.
Report: Vaccines safe, side effects rare
USA Today - 8/25/11
Common childhood immunizations do not cause chronic diseases such as autism and diabetes, finds a new expert report that may ease parents' fears about the safety of vaccines. Authors of the nearly 700-page report, released Thursday, say they took pains to carefully consider virtually every potential complication. While all drugs have side effects, the report notes that vaccine-related complications are extremely rare. Overall, vaccines' enormous benefits far outweigh the risks, says study co-author S. Claiborne Johnston of the University of California-San Diego.
Autism Doctor Here Under Scrutiny
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) - 7/28/11
An autism doctor who operates clinics in St. Peters and Springfield, Ill., has been suspended in two states for alleged mistreatment of children. Dr. Mark Geier has been accused of misdiagnosing children with early puberty and treating them with high doses of Lupron, a drug used to suppress the hormone testosterone. Geier operates autism treatment clinics called ASD Centers in at least eight states. Maryland, his home base, suspended his license in April. Washington state followed a month later.
MMR Vaccine Take-up on the Rise After Declining Years
Guardian (UK) - 7/26/11
The number of two-year-olds getting the MMR jab, the triple measles, mumps and rubella vaccination, is at its highest level since 1998, after years of worrying measles and mumps outbreaks among teenagers and young adults. More than nine in 10 infants under 24 months across the UK have had their first jab against the highly infectious viral diseases for the first time since the now discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield suggested a link between the jab and autism. The controversy so undermined public confidence that vaccination rates fell to dangerously low levels – with then prime minister Tony Blair being quizzed repeatedly in 2001 as to whether his son Leo had had the jab.
Environment May Be Especially Key to Autism: Study
U.S. News and World Reports - 7/4/11
Contrary to current thinking, environmental factors may play a larger role than shared genes in the development of autism, a new study in twins suggests. A second study in the same journal finds that anti-depressants during pregnancy may be one important environmental trigger. In the first study, researchers from Stanford University identified 192 pairs of twins from a statewide California registry of children who receive services for developmental disabilities. At least one twin was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which researchers confirmed by examining and testing each child. The study included 54 pairs of identical twins (meaning they share all of the same genes) and 138 pairs of fraternal twins (who share half of their genes). About 42.5 percent of the male-male pairs and 43 percent of the female-female pairs of identical twins both had autism. About 12.9 percent of the male-male fraternal twins and 20 percent of the female-female fraternal twins both had autism, researchers said.
Vaccine Concerns Common among Parents of Young Children
American Medical News - 6/20/11
Family physicians and pediatricians should be prepared to talk to parents during office visits about the safety of vaccine ingredients, pain from the shots and the number of immunizations recommended for young children. These are some of parents' most common worries about childhood vaccines, according to a study published in the June issue of Health Affairs. The report found that while about 8 in 10 parents follow the childhood vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many have concerns about immunization.
Opinion by Seth Mnookin: An Early Cure for Parents' Vaccine Panic
Washington Post - 6/10/11
Almost exactly 15 years ago, top officials of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met in Atlanta to strategize for what would have been one of the most remarkable public health victories in history: the eradication of measles, one of the most infectious microbes known to humankind. By the mid-1990s, widespread use of the measles vaccine had halted transmission of the virus among residents of the United States and Britain.
Autism Linked to Hundreds of Genetic Mutations
Los Angeles Times - 6/9/11
Autism is not caused by one or two gene defects but probably by hundreds of different mutations, many of which arise spontaneously, according to research that examined the genetic underpinnings of the disorder in more than 1,000 families.
O'Malley Ousts David Geier from Autism Commission
Baltimore Sun - 5/20/11
Gov. Martin O'Malley removed David A. Geier from Maryland's Commission on Autism on Friday, telling his one-time appointee in a letter that 'you do not at the present time qualify to serve.' O'Malley told Geier, who has only a bachelor's degree, that he does not qualify under Maryland law to serve as a 'diagnostician,' the title he held on the advisory commission. The governor also cited charges brought against him this week by the Maryland Board of Physicians.
Doctor's Son Charged with Illicit Practice
Washington Post - 5/19/11
The state panel that oversees doctors in Maryland has charged a man with practicing medicine without a license just weeks after his father's license was suspended for allegedly putting autistic children at risk. The Maryland Board of Physicians says David Geier worked with his father, Mark Geier, at the Rockville and Owings Mills offices of Genetic Consultants of Maryland, where they used a drug therapy that autism experts say is based on junk science. The two have built a national following of parents who believe autism is linked to mercury in vaccines, a theory discredited by mainstream medicine. The Geiers developed a treatment using Lupron, a testosterone suppressant approved for prostate cancer and ovarian fibroids. Lupron also is sometimes used in the chemical castration of sex offenders. In children, the drug is used for "precocious puberty," which the board said Mark Geier over-diagnosed in autistic children.
Video: Paul Offit on the Dangers of the Anti-Vaccine Movement
Medscape - 4/27/11
I think we're at a tipping point and it worries me. The tipping point is evidenced by outbreaks, the likes of which we haven't seen recently. For example, we have a whooping cough outbreak in California that's bigger than anything we've seen since 1947.
The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru
New York Times - 4/20/11
As people streamed into Graceview Baptist Church in Tomball, Tex., early one Saturday morning in January, two armed guards stood prominently just inside the doorway of the sanctuary. Their eyes scanned the room and returned with some frequency to a man sitting near the aisle, whom they had been hired to protect. The man, Andrew Wakefield, dressed in a blazer and jeans and peering through reading glasses, had a mild professorial air. He tapped at a laptop as the room filled with people who came to hear him speak; he looked both industrious and remote.
What Science Says about Science Deniers
MinnPost.com - 4/20/11
Minnesota's measles epidemic has now reached 20 confirmed cases (twice as many as occurred during all of the previous 10 years), including 13 hospitalizations. And, as has been reported here and elsewhere, a misguided fear of vaccines – particularly the fear that they cause autism – is the main fuel behind the epidemic. Study after study – solid empirical evidence – has shown that vaccines do not cause autism, but many parents continue to cling to that dangerous belief. Of course, the vaccine-autism link is not the only scientific topic that has its stubborn deniers.
Most Parents Vaccinate Kids, Trust Docs' Advice on Shots
HealthDay - 4/19/11
About 93 percent of parents said their children either had or were going to get all of the recommended vaccinations, and more than three-fourths said they trusted their doctor's advice on immunizations, two new surveys find. Pediatricians and infectious disease experts say this is good news. After years of hype about a supposed autism/MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) link – a claim that has been roundly discredited – it seems parents are heeding the advice of medical experts and protecting their children from potentially devastating diseases.
Seth Mnookin: On vaccines, autism and how science shapes public debate
Smart Planet - 4/12/11
Do vaccines really cause autism? And if not, why do we hear so much about it? And what are the implications for organizations such as the Gates Foundation, which is plowing millions of dollars into preventative medicine for infectious diseases? Seth Mnookin is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear. I asked him to crack open his reporter's notebook and tell me more about what he discovered when he explored the scientific links between vaccines and autism – and what he learned about how debate in today's society is as easily shaped by hearsay as actual fact.
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