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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Science, Autism, and Vaccines

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism

Retraction Watch reports that a journal has removed an article connecting autism to vaccines.
The abstract — published online in Frontiers in Public Health after being accepted November 21 — reported findings from anonymous online questionnaires completed by 415 mothers of home-schooled children 6-12 years old. Nearly 40 percent of children had not been vaccinated, and those that had were three times more likely to be diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, the study found.
After receiving criticism on Twitter, Frontiers released a public statement, noting that the study was only “provisionally accepted but not published,” and is being re-reviewed. When asked for a comment, a Frontiers spokesperson referred us to the statement.
A cached version of the abstract of “Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports,” is still available online.

Twitter users also noted that the study appears to have asked for crowdsourced funding via the Age of Autism online newspaper. A user also linked to a site that posted a letter first author Anthony Mawson, a visiting professor at Jackson State University, allegedly wrote in support of the now-discredited work of notorious anti-vaccine researcher Andrew Wakefield.
In 2011, Mawson filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi State Department of Health, alleging that the state health officer interfered with his then-position at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (resulting in his contract not getting renewed) after he advocated the need for more studies on vaccine safety. In 2012, the suit was dismissed.
At Medscape, Lara C. Pullen reports:
Neither influenza infection nor influenza vaccination during pregnancy increase the risk for autism, according to a new study published online November 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.
That said, the data showed a nonsignificant trend for increased risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among offspring of mothers who received an influenza vaccination during their first trimester. Although the findings could be a result of chance, the investigators call for additional studies on the relationship between maternal influenza vaccination and autism.