Scientists agree that vaccines do not cause autism. Studies confirm the scientific community’s point of view. Anti-vaxxers agree that vaccines do cause autism and cited their own study—sort of. The study that anti-vaxxers brought up to justify their decisions used falsified data and has been retracted. Anti-vaxxers show up to a debate with no guns, not even a rock to fling: pro-vaxxers have many studies at their disposal proving that autism has no link to vaccines. Anti-vaxxers can counter the argument but have bunk to back up their claims.
So what’s an antivaxxer to do? How about commission studies that will support their ideologies? It’s a great idea, unless the data is not out there to back up their claims.
The anti-vaccination and autism advocacy group SafeMinds, funded a scientific study to prove their point that vaccines are dangerous for children. The extensive, six-year study analyzed the effect that vaccinations have on the neurological development and social behavior of infants monkeys. The findings are in: the research group’s study, paid for by anti-vaxxers, concluded that there was no evidence at all for such a link.
But instead of going away to hide and perhaps think of a new reason for choosing not to vaccinate their children, like, for example, philosophical reasons or religious beliefs, the group publicly claimed that the results didn’t change things.
In a statement, they say that they had “concerns about changes in the study design protocol and analysis that may have led to these contradictory results.” The contradiction they are referring to is the fact that they jumped the gun after preliminary results from a smaller, limited trial that seemed to back their claims. When the study was expanded to include more subjects studied longer and under more rigorous standards, it appeared that the quick, initial findings on a handful of subjects was a fluke.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study tested 79 infant monkeys divided into six groups. Two groups were given thimerosal-containing vaccines. Thimerosal is the antifungal component of a vaccine that was removed from the composition of the vaccines in the 1990s. Anti-vaxxers point out that thimerosal is the ingredient responsible for causing autism. The next two groups were given the MMR vaccine, which is also widely claimed to cause autism, without thimerosal, and the final two study groups were given saline injections as a control.
The scientists then studied the monkeys during periods of social interaction, looking for “autistic-like” behaviors. They saw no unusual social behavior that could be construed as autistic.
After euthanizing the monkeys, the scientists dissected the animals’ brains, looking for any abnormalities, especially in the amygdala. (Certain patients diagnosed with autism have lower numbers of cells in the amygdala.) Researchers found no differences between the three control groups and stated: “Our data does not support a role for thimerosal-containing vaccines in the neuropathology of autism spectrum disorder.”