Whilst most health experts agree that the link between childhood vaccines and autism is based on nothing but speculation, some advocacy groups continue to claim that this correlation is indeed fact. Despite the study, that is lauded as the go-to evidence for many anti-vaccination groups, being disproved based on falsified data, there are many who wish to recommence the conversation on how vaccinations can affect a child’s risk of developing the condition.
In 2003, anti-vaccine group, SafeMinds funded a $250,000 study with the hope that it would uncover a conclusive link between autism and vaccinations – one of their biggest platforms.
The outcome of the ten year study was finally displayed to the world last week, and the results were surprising for the group, who had based a large amount of their rhetoric, on what they perceive to be, an undeniable link between vaccinations and the growing number of autism cases.
“Between 2003 and 2013, SafeMinds provided scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, the University of Washington, the Johnson Center for Child Health & Development and other research institutions with approximately $250,000 to conduct a long-term investigation evaluating behavioural and brain changes of baby rhesus macaques that were administered a standard course of childhood vaccines. (The National Autism Association, another organisation that has questioned vaccine safety, also provided financial support for this research.) The latest paper in the multiyear project was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In it, the researchers concluded that vaccines did not cause any brain or behavioural changes in the primates.”
The overwhelming evidence has thrown a spanner in the works of SafeMinds as the study was funded with the intention to prove their theory correct.
SafeMinds has responded with a press release outlining the reasons why they believe the study to be falsified and misleading.
Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation, commended SafeMinds for their financial support of the study, but shared her concern about the types of questions some autism advocates are asking. ”
I’m not saying that we need to stop funding research in the environment, because we know the environment does impact neurodevelopment,” she says.
“First, the proposed association was between the MMR vaccines and autism,” she says. “Then that was disproven. Then it was the thimerosal components in vaccines; now that has been further disproven in a carefully designed animal model study that aimed to specifically examine that question. It has also been suggested that the association is because of vaccine timing, but that too has been disproven. The target always seems to be moving, and the expectation is that scientific resources will be diverted to address each new modification of this hypothesised link.”
What is your opinion on the results of the study?