Dr Richard Halvorsen, Babyjabs, and Single Vaccines: Misleading Advertising, Exaggeration, Harm & Offence

August 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Richard Halvorsen) (, , , , , , )

Dr Richard Halvorsen is the founder of Babyjabs, a clinic that offers single vaccines and baseless scaremongering about the MMR vaccine. I took a look at some of the claims on the Babyjabs website and submitted a complaint to the ASA.

Here’s what I complained about:

Most experts now agree that the large rise has been caused partly by increased diagnosis, but also by a real increase in the number of children with autism.

No citation is given for this claim. This paper: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/107/5/e84.short states that ‘Most data indicate increased recognition and reporting as primary factors, but the epidemiologic data are insufficient to determine if there has been a true increase in the incidence of ASD’, which seems to contradict the claim made on the Babyjabs website. In any case, there is no justification for Babyjabs using the reported increase in rates of autism to scaremonger about MMR or promote their single vaccines.

The ASA ruled that this claim breached CAP Code rules on misleading advertising, substantiation, exaggeration, harm and offence, and medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products.

Research, including large population studies, has since shown that the MMR is not causing the large majority of autism, but has been unable to exclude the possibility that it is causing autism in a small number of susceptible children.

This is misleading – there is no good reason to think that MMR is causing autism in a small number of susceptible children. Babyjabs cite four studies in support of this claim (see references 7-10 on the Babyjabs website). In the first paper (Madsen et al), they found that MMR-vaccinated children are less likely to be autistic than unvaccinated children: “After adjustment for potential confounders, the relative risk of autistic disorder in the group of vaccinated children, as compared with the unvaccinated group, was 0.92 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.24), and the relative risk of another autistic-spectrum disorder was 0.83 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.65 to 1.07)“. The first study cited by Babyjabs in support of their claim actually contradicts it.

It doesn’t get any better as you look at the other references. In the second paper, the authors found “evidence against a causal relation between MMR vaccination and the risk of autism”. In the third paper, which didn’t even look at MMR and autism, there was a decreased risk of inflammatory bowel disease in vaccinated children (which was only significant in children older than 18 months) In the fourth paper, the odds ratio for association between MMR and pervasive developmental disorder was 0.86 (95% CI 0.68-1.09) – again, the risk was lower in vaccinated children.

In three of the papers that Babyjabs cite to support their claim that research has been unable to rule out a possible link between MMR and autism in a small number of children, the papers actually indicate (if anything) lowered risk of autism and IBD. Babyjabs claim that these papers are “unable to exclude the possibility that it is causing autism in a small number of susceptible children” – in fact, if anything, these papers suggest there may be a protective effect.

If you’re going to cherry-pick evidence, at least cherry-pick evidence that actually supports your point of view.

This means that the vaccine could be causing autism in up to 10% of autistic children in the UK – between 300 and 400 children a year.

No substantiation is provided for this claim. The ASA thought that this claim, considered in the context of the previous one, was misleading. They ruled that it breached CAP Code rules on misleading advertising, substantiation, exaggeration, harm and offence, and medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products.

In response, the Babyjabs clinic have removed the claim and replaced it with an astonishing statement.

The Advertising Standards Authority has ordered BabyJabs to remove information relating to the alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Though the medical authorities strongly refute any link between the MMR vaccine and autism we note that an Italian Court, based on independent medical advice, ruled in March 2012 that the MMR vaccine had caused autism in a 9 year old boy.

That’s right. Like the Daily Mail’s Sue Reid, Babyjabs want you to think that the MMR and autism issue is all about authority rather than evidence. And, like Sue Reid, they think a court judgement is relevant to a question that should be answered by scientific research.

Onto the next claim…

The vaccine strain measles virus has been found in the guts – and brains – of some autistic children; this research supports many parents’ beliefs that the MMR vaccine has caused autism in their children.

There is research that failed to substantiate reports of measles virus being found in autistic children. See http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/4/1664.short and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmv.20585/abstract for examples. The ASA decided that this claim was in breach of the CAP Code on misleading advertising, substantiation, exaggeration, harm and offence, and medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products.

In the Babyjabs response, the utterly discredited Andrew Wakefield was cited, as was Richard Halvorsen’s own book (which I reviewed here).

The ASA ruling is here. They investigated three complaints and upheld all three, ruling that Babyjabs had breached rules on misleading advertising, substantiation, exaggeration, harm and offence, and medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products. Sadly, the Babyjabs page on MMR is still pretty awful. Perhaps another complaint is in order?

More

There are other oddities on the Babyjabs website. Here’s one example:

The MMR is no more effective than the single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. In fact, the single mumps vaccine may be more effective than the mumps component of the MMR: the percentage of children protected against mumps by one dose of the single mumps vaccine is estimated to be 75%-97%, whereas the effectiveness of the mumps component of the MMR vaccine, calculated from an outbreak of mumps in North East London in 1998/9, is that a single dose is only 64% effective.

This implies that single vaccines are better than MMR. The Babyjabs clinic does not offer mumps vaccine (see http://www.babyjabs.co.uk/mmr_vaccines.htm), which therefore means that protection is only available against measles and rubella. Essentially, Babyjabs have been marketing the two single vaccines they do make available on the basis that three single vaccines might be better than a triple vaccine. How the relevant effectiveness of a vaccine that Babyjabs do not offer is a selling point for single vaccines is beyond me.

Update, 1st November 2012

Along with 14 others, I submitted a complaint to the ASA (independently of the others) regarding the text of the amended information on the Babyjabs website. The ASA upheld this complaint regarding substantiation and also upheld their own complaint regarding marketing of Prescription-Only Medicines to the general public.

The ad must not appear in its current form. We told BabyJabs to ensure they did not advertise POMs to the public without the necessary approval.

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40 Comments

  1. Catherina said,

  2. Science Mom said,

    Nice work and yes, their passive-aggressive attempt at making false claims in light of the order demands another complaint.

  3. Cybertiger said,

    Dribble

  4. Tony said,

    Great blog. Keep up the good work.

    What do you mean ‘PERHAPS another complaint is in order’??? For the sake of babies like Francesca and Dana write as many as it takes!

    http://frannystrong.org/
    http://danamccaffery.com/

  5. The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Skeptic News: ‘MMR vaccine causes autism’ claim banned said,

    [...] The complainant looked at Halvorsens claims, in his book and on the babyjabs website, and found them to be unsubstantiated and unscientific. In particular the claim: [...]

  6. Science Mom said,

    Hi Mr. Struthers, perhaps CHS will be next. Oh and perhaps put the bottle down when you post, your incoherence is showing again.

  7. Cybertiger said,

    Widdle

  8. Jenny Allan said,

    They say no publicity is bad publicity!! Good luck to Dr Halvorsen and all the responsible parents who take their children to his clinic for their immunisations. If parents wish to pay for single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, so what? Their children are immunised and the UK Government saves the cost of MMR vaccinations. Methinks some people protest too much!!

  9. Tony said,

    “all the responsible parents who take their children to his clinic” – misinformed parents are the issue. Responsible parents might hope for better from web sites than lies.

    Profiteering from the fraudulent work of the (ex)Dr Wakefield(1) is the issue here.

    “the UK Government saves the cost of MMR vaccinations” – perhaps, but the government, the parents and the babies that we lose (2) & (3) all pay a higher price from the diseases.

    (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield
    (2) http://frannystrong.org/
    (3) http://danamccaffery.com/

  10. ChrisP said,

    Jenny Allan, the way I see Halvorsen’s behaviour is that it is unethical. He is telling lies as a way of attracting business. If a pharmaceutical company were to do the same, my guess is that you wouldn’t be saying “Good luck” to them?

    Your argument that if parents go to Halvorsen’s clinic for single vaccinations, then no harm is done does not stand scrutiny. Halvorsen only supplies single vaccines for measles and Rubella. That would leave children exposed to mumps.

  11. Chris said,

    Jenny Allen:

    . If parents wish to pay for single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, so what?

    In case you missed it, there is no single mumps vaccine available. Read the article: “The Babyjabs clinic does not offer mumps vaccine”.

    So those kids may actually end up with mumps. And if they are male and into or past puberty, they will be very upset at Dr. Halvorson! And those who become deafened, will also be a bit peeved.

    Way to go, irresponsible parents!

  12. Tim said,

    The Precautionary Principle.
    1. Measles.
    This principle; which requires one to have a viewpoint based not on selective and potentially inaccurate scientific analysis and conflicts of interest, ( see the end of the measles paper quoted above for evidence of this ); notes that if a disease increases in incidence four-fold in boys between the years of 1988-93, during the same time frame as that observed for the introduction of MMR, then warning bells should sound in any sensible ear. The fact that cases were rising whilst vaccination coverage remained in the high 90′s %-wise should not distract one from the underlying close temporal association between the phenomena.
    The absolute requirement to remember this Principal is particularly compelling given the Wikipedia-derived fact that cases of measles had already dropped by half, in the group for which statistics were available, in the six years prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine.This phenomenon is often seen if one takes the trouble to investigate the history of medicine; viz., much-vaunted positive changes in epidemiology are usually far more strongly associated with dietary and hygienic improvements amongst the population, than with the introduction of some magic bullet from the pharmaceutical industry. Those drugs which undeniably work, eg antibiotics, have other drawbacks, some of which we are beginning to witness in today’s world; their efficacy is now under sustained attack via the adaptation of the organisms against which they were originally targeted.
    The Precautionary Principle is further indicated if one realises that the incidence of measles is inversely associated with blood levels of Vitamin A. This factor alone is probably the reason why the occurrence of measles in a well-nourished population is approximately 10% of its incidence in the third world. One could easily and uncontroversially argue therefore that a programme of dietary supplementation for at-risk groups would be far cheaper, less contentious, and potentially far safer and more effective than the programme which has been instituted.
    Complications for measles are usually less severe in the young compared with the old; amongst which latter group the death rate in well-nourished populations is set at 0.3 %, ie three per thousand. One therefore wonders why the young, who are by definition immunologically immature, should be preferentially targeted with these vaccines.
    And briefly, as I value my time as well as yours,
    2. Mumps.
    A self-limiting disease. Generally not severe in well nourished children. Problems if older males contract the disease. The PP indicates that one should allow children to contract the disease, this will result in later immunity for the herd; or depending on morbidity, a vaccination could be offered to older males if indicated by the epidemiological evidence.
    3. Rubella/German measles.
    Mild condition in children. Naturally increases Herd Immunity at no cost to the public purse. Complications potentially severe for pregnant women, but early infection will provide these individuals with antibodies against later exposure. Once again, better to offer sexually active women a blood test +/- vaccination, rather than needlessly expose immuno-incompetent children to the vaccination, when the outcome is potentially so severe for them, their families, and society as a whole.

    I should remind you that the above-referenced debunking papers have in no way provided definitive evidence as to the relationship between MMR and autism. They simply state that no evidence can be incontrovertibly adduced based on the state of knowledge which we have at the moment. This stance is of course contradicted by the recent Italian court ruling, which was based foursquare on informed medical opinion in that country, and not on uninformed opinion, as the author of the above piece wrongly suggests..But this may well change, hence the suggestion that the Precautionary Principle should be invoked.

    A final point; Merck has recently been fined 2 billion dollars for vaccine fraud ( ie saying that their vaccine produced a significant antibody response when it didn’t ). GSK has been fined 3.5 billion for massive financial manipulation of its target audience, ie doctors. They admitted all charges in this regard. We have to ask ourselves therefore whether the push to vaccinate as many individuals as possible, including a vast sub-group which cannot give informed consent, is designed to increase the public health, or rather, to increase the return to shareholders.

  13. ChrisP said,

    Tim, your post is so wrong that I don’t quite know where to start. Firstly you have confused correlation with causation. The recent increase in autism diagnoses is mainly the result of expanded diagnostic criteria. It has nothing to do with any vaccines.

    The incidence (i.e. number of cases of measles) decreased after the introduction of vaccines not before. The usual argument of anti-vaxxers like yourself is that the number of deaths decreased before the introduction of vaccines. You couldn’t even get the usual argument correct. This argument is frequently used to try to show that vaccination is unnecessary. It is completely wrong for that purpose.

    Vitamin A has no influence on the incidence (number of cases) of measles. Vitamin A is supposed to help reduce the severity of some of the symptoms of measles, like blindness in children.

    Reading more of your post left me with a decreased will to live, so I gave it away at that point.

  14. Ross Coe said,

    Why is it that any doctor who suggests caution regarding vaccination or a change in vaccination strategy is villified? Isn’t this what doctor-patient relationship is? Its obvious someone is very uncomfortable and has something to gain, lose or hide. Rather than civil, controlled and professional reactions we get vicious attacks. There’s a reason behind this. If you cross the Pharmafia you better have a good lawyer, because they will kill your career and destroy your reputation.

  15. jdc325 said,

    @Jenny,

    You are defending something which has not been criticised in the blog post, or in the comments above yours (parents opting for single vaccines) and failing to defend that which has been criticised (Babyjabs’ misleading and unsubstantiated claims). It seems that you have no problem with my complaint, the ASA judgement, or the blog post I have written.

  16. jdc325 said,

    @Tim,

    “cases of measles had already dropped by half, in the group for which statistics were available, in the six years prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine…”
    The only way you could possibly find a significant decrease in cases of measles prior to the introduction of the vaccine would be to cherry-pick a peak and a trough and compare the two. Only someone ignorant or dishonest would do such a thing. Perhaps you’d like to tell us how you came to choose that particular period and how you justify your selection?

    “I should remind you that the above-referenced debunking papers have in no way provided definitive evidence as to the relationship between MMR and autism. They simply state that no evidence can be incontrovertibly adduced based on the state of knowledge which we have at the moment.”
    That is untrue. They do not “simply state that no evidence can be incontrovertibly adduced based on the state of knowledge which we have at the moment”. The first paper states that the study provides “strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism”. In the second paper, the authors found “evidence against a causal relation between MMR vaccination and the risk of autism”. In the third paper, which didn’t even look at MMR and autism, there was a decreased risk of inflammatory bowel disease in vaccinated children (which was only significant in children older than 18 months). In the final paper, the authors state that their “findings suggest that MMR vaccination is not associated with an increased risk of pervasive developmental disorders”. They don’t simply state that no evidence can be incontrovertibly adduced – they state that there is evidence against a relationship between MMR and autism.

    “the recent Italian court ruling, which was based foursquare on informed medical opinion in that country…”
    Oh really? As Just The Vax reported, the doctor, Massimo Montinari (misspelled as Montanari in the court decision), “has no proper biomedical research papers on autism or MMR or vaccines in general”. So what you are holding up as being contradictory to the research of a number of scientists in different countries is the opinion of a non-expert. I’ll remind you that even the opinion of an expert is considered less valuable than evidence of the type gathered by those researchers and presented in the papers whose conclusions you so dislike.

    Your post is badly-argued and contains no substantiation for the claims you make. As has been pointed out, some of your claims are flat wrong.

  17. jdc325 said,

    @Ross Coe

    Why is it that any doctor who suggests caution regarding vaccination or a change in vaccination strategy is villified? Isn’t this what doctor-patient relationship is? Its obvious someone is very uncomfortable and has something to gain, lose or hide. Rather than civil, controlled and professional reactions we get vicious attacks. There’s a reason behind this. If you cross the Pharmafia you better have a good lawyer, because they will kill your career and destroy your reputation.

    This is nonsense from start to finish. Babyjabs has not simply suggested caution – the Babyjabs clinic made claims that were misleading, unsubstantiated, exaggerated, and breached CAP Code rules on harm and offence. They went a lot further than simply suggesting caution. A lot further. And they have been rightly criticised for it. As for it being obvious someone is very uncomfortable and has something to gain, lose or hide and the Pharmafia remarks, this is conspiracy theory nonsense. Neither I nor the ASA have any connection with Big Pharma and you have no grounds for suggesting any connection – these are just empty words on your part. On the characterisation of criticism of Babyjabs involving “vicious attacks”, perhaps you would like to point out the viciousness you’ve unearthed on this blog? Or consult a dictionary…

  18. Tim said,

    @ChrisP.
    “You have confused correlation with causation”.
    Not so. I make the point that there is a clear temporal association between the MMR vaccination and diagnosed autism which should alert any sensible person to a possible causative link.

    Your point about autism diagnosis being more related to diagnostic criteria than any real increase in this condition is very cynical. No parent having a child thus diagnosed will agree with you that it took a doctor to recognize it.

    Your para. 2.
    I draw your attention once more to the Wikipedia piece on “measles”. I enlarged their first graph; it shows very clearly that what I said about the incidence of measles dropping by half before vaccination was introduced is precisely true. They even indicate this fact with arrows, for those who cannot understand words.I advise you therefore to argue with what WP is saying, rather than with what I am saying.

    Your third paragraph is wrong.
    Wikipedia again; susceptibility to infectious disease increases 9-fold when vit A levels are suboptimal. The vitamin is not given to reduce the severity of some of the effects of this disease, but to prevent it from happening in the first place.

    Having answered each of your criticisms, I hope I have restored your will to live, and that you will now go on to read the rest of what I said.

  19. Tim said,

    @jdc325
    In your first paragraph, you indirectly accuse me of being either ignorant or dishonest.
    I am neither.
    I refer you to my response to Chris P above, and specifically, to the section headed “your para 2″. Please join with him in looking at and understanding the implications of the graph.

    Your paragraph 2 misses the crucial and self-evident point that “( some )evidence against something” or ” ( some ) evidence for something” is not logically synonymous with “there is no causative link between these somethings”. It simply means that if there is evidence, it has not been found, or if it has been found, it may have been been inappropriately marginalized, misunderstood, or simply buried in the small print.

    Given the utterly disgraceful way in which the pharmaceutical industry has been exposed as behaving recently; ( and if you cannot find the evidence for this, I am happy to point you in the right direction; just put Merck or GSK or Baxter into your search engine), I think that it is beholden upon us to have the severest reservations about the research which this industry has presented in support of its extremely tenuous claims wrt vaccination. I have looked at one of the papers you cited, and I note out that there is clear evidence for the financial backing of the authors by the very industry which they are attempting to vindicate. 85% of the seminal research papers which this industry has allowed to enter the public domain cannot be reproduced by others. This is a truly shocking state of affairs.
    ( Citation available if required.)

    You go on to disparage the evidence which was placed before the Italian court. Having now looked at this, it is abundantly clear that the individual cited was the lead author amongst several others; presumably therefore, they would disagree with you that he has no credibility.This is the very reason why the court asked him to testify. It would seem, from the ensuing ruling of the court, that the opposing viewpoint could not undermine his assertions. He is part of the Dept of Paediatrics at the University of Bari, and I suspect inter alia, an acknowledged expert in that department. His conclusions apply to all vaccination theology ( I use the word advisedly ), and suggest that there is a definitive link between vaccination and the immediately-apparent demyelinating disease which results in some of those exposed to this assault.

    Here is the link to the study which clearly indicates his expert status.

    http://www.mednat.org/cure_natur/montinari.htm

  20. Tim said,

    @jdc 325
    My response to you, sir, seems to have vanished.
    I will not reiterate at length what I said.
    Suffice it to say;

    Your paragraph one.
    Please read my reply to ChrisP above, and do as I asked him to do.

    Your paragraph two
    The evidence from pharma-supported authors is not credible. 85% of pharma’s seminal papers cannot be replicated.
    Citation available if required.

    Your paragraph three
    The Italian ruling was based on evidence from a credible expert. If you doubt that, please look at the paper which gave him that status, and understand the grave implications therein for the whole of the vaccination paradigm.

    http://www.mednat.org/cure_natur/montinari.htm

  21. Tim said,

    @jdc325
    I have posted two alternative replies to you. Neither has appeared on the site. I assume this is because I have embarrassed you and you do not wish for others to be aware of your discomfiture.
    That is fine. But please modify your future pieces in line with the evidence which I have placed before you.

  22. mrsP said,

    Good work JDC.

    @ Tim

    Please explain the difference between correlation = causation and a temporal association between MMR and diagnosis.

  23. Tim said,

    @jdc325
    Now a posting has appeared. So I will briefly reiterate what I said at somewhat greater length in those two previous postings. Numerals refer to your paragraph number.
    1. Please note what I have said to ChrisP, in regard to his paragraph 2, and follow suit.
    2. Pharma bases its modus operandi on seminal studies which have been shown to be 85% fabricated. We are therefore extremely foolish to follow its paradigm, if there is the slightest suspicion that this is causing untold grief and harm.
    Citation for this assertion readily available if required.
    3. The Italian court ruling was based on compelling evidence from a credible witness.
    I link to one of his original papers so that you may acknowledge this fact.

    http://www.mednat.org/cure_natur/montinari.htm

  24. Tim said,

    @mrsP
    Clearly correlation does not equal causation, as I have tried, apparently unsuccessfully, to explain to ChrispP.
    For the temporal association, please read the introductory rubric to the papers cited, which fully acknowledge it.

  25. ChrisP said,

    Tim, you clearly don’t understand either of the terms correlation and causation. There is a clear temporal association between my birth and the decline of the UK coal industry. That temporal association is simply a correlation and has nothing to do with the cause of the decline.

    Autism spectrum disorders are frequently diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 4. There are often signs earlier, but as the traits that lead to diagnosis: lack of imaginative play, poor social interaction and specific communication issues, do not become strongly apparent until after the age of 18 months, that is when diagnosis is most common. MMR vaccine is normally given at 12 to 15 months with a booster at 3 to 4 years. These ages are coincident with autism diagnosis.

    You might like to look at the scientific literature related to expanded diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders rather than assuming what parents might think. This is not a bad place to start. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800781/

    Tim, is it true you can’t read? Measles vaccine was introduced in the US in 1963. In the 19 years prior to that date the incidence of measles varied from 130,000 cases to over 750,000 cases in some years with an average of about 500,00 cases per year. By 1968 this had declined to less than 50,000 cases. So no, the incidence of measles in the US did not decline before the vaccine was introduced. The data for the UK, where measles vaccine was first introduced in 1968 is similar with an average of about 400,000 cases per year up to 1967, although the decline in cases is not so stark as in the US.

    Tim, you really cannot read. I cannot find that quote about susceptibility to infectious diseases reducing 9-fold with Vitamin A in either the page on vitamin A or the one on measles. What I did find was this: “Measles vaccination programs are often used to deliver other child health interventions, as well, such as bed nets to protect against malaria, antiparasite medicine and vitamin A supplements, and so contribute to the reduction of child deaths from other causes” which states something entirely different. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measles

  26. Tim said,

    ChrisP
    1st paragraph.
    Your logic is flawed. There may be a causative association between your birth and the decline of the coal industry. You may quite possibly, behind your online persona, bear the name of Margaret Thatcher. If you acknowledge the truth of this proposition, then your argument is severely undermined.
    2nd paragraph.
    Let me play the part of the devil’s advocate for a moment. Two vaccinations are given between the ages of 15 and 36 months. ASD is diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 48 months. ( your figures, simplified ) Nothing in this data set rules out the possibility that there may be a direct causative relationship between the two sets of figures.
    3rd paragraph.
    Parents can recognize autism in their child without the slightest assistance from nih.gov. The latter’s activities could be likened to those allegedly engaged in by the Emperor Nero, as Rome burned.
    4th paragraph.
    Wikipedia’s Measles page shows beyond all possibility of obfuscation that cases of measles were in significant decline from 1958; the vaccine arrived in 1964.
    Final paragraph.
    You started your fourth paragraph with an ad hominem attack. The fifth began in a similarly peculiar vein by suggesting that I cannot read because you cannot find a reference in Wikipedia.
    You want to know whether vitamin A has such a powerful effect on infection rates as I have stated.
    Go to “vitamin A deficiency”. Look under “Rates of Infection”. Read the final line in that section.

  27. ChrisP said,

    Tim, my logic, unlike yours, is fine. I have never lived in the UK, so it would be impossible for my birth to have caused the decline of the UK coal industry. If my name did happen to be Margaret Thatcher, my birth would not have coincided with the decline.

    Tim, because you believe a causative relationship cannot be ruled out that makes the relationship true? Your logic really is flawed. For a causative relationship you need more than correlation. First you need a probable mechanism. There is no probable mechanism. Study after study, spurred by Wakefield’s wrong and unethical work, has failed to find a correlation, let alone a probable mechanism. Indeed research indicates there is a very strong genetic component to autism.

    It is my experience that untrained parents are quite poor at diagnosing their children’s genetic disabilities. Certainly, we had no idea what the name of the condition our first child had was called and what caused it until after it was diagnosed by a professional. That is why there are strict diagnostic criteria for diseases, so conditions are not confused. Now that there is more information about autism spectrum disorders and greater help available, parents and doctors are more likely to apply a diagnosis.

    Tim, it is simply not true to say that measles was in decline from 1958. 1958 was simply the high point on a very variable graph. 1962, the year before introduction of the vaccine in the US had about 480,000 cases – about the average for the previous 19 years. What you have done is called cherry picking. It is a form of lying.

  28. jdc325 said,

    @jdc325
    I have posted two alternative replies to you. Neither has appeared on the site. I assume this is because I have embarrassed you and you do not wish for others to be aware of your discomfiture.
    That is fine. But please modify your future pieces in line with the evidence which I have placed before you.

    @Tim,

    I’m afraid your assumption is incorrect. Your comments were marked as spam by Akismet. I’ve fished them out of the filter and published them. So no, I’m not at all embarrassed. The only reason they weren’t published is because the filter thought you were a spammer.

  29. jdc325 said,

    I draw your attention once more to the Wikipedia piece on “measles”. I enlarged their first graph; it shows very clearly that what I said about the incidence of measles dropping by half before vaccination was introduced is precisely true. They even indicate this fact with arrows, for those who cannot understand words.I advise you therefore to argue with what WP is saying, rather than with what I am saying.

    @Tim,

    The Wikipedia page shows a graph. You have cherry-picked the highest data point on the graph and compared it to a later data point. Wikipedia does not say that measles incidence dropped by half – you do. And you do so on the basis of two cherry-picked data points. Perhaps this article might prove informative: Wiki. “Cherry picking can refer to the selection of data or data sets so a study or survey will give desired, predictable results which may be misleading or even completely contrary to actuality.” As ChrisP says, 1958 was simply the high point on a very variable graph.

    Given the utterly disgraceful way in which the pharmaceutical industry has been exposed as behaving recently; ( and if you cannot find the evidence for this, I am happy to point you in the right direction; just put Merck or GSK or Baxter into your search engine), I think that it is beholden upon us to have the severest reservations about the research which this industry has presented in support of its extremely tenuous claims wrt vaccination. I have looked at one of the papers you cited, and I note out that there is clear evidence for the financial backing of the authors by the very industry which they are attempting to vindicate.

    The Madsen et al paper was funded by The Danish National Research Foundation (an independent organization established by the Danish Parliament), the National Alliance for Autism Research (a non-profit advocacy organization, founded by parents of children with autism concerned about the limited funding available for research), and the CDC (a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services). The second paper came from The Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program (which receives some funding from pharmaceutical companies), there was no specific funding for their study. The third paper was funded by the CDC, and the fourth is paywalled (so the funding information is unavailable to me). These papers were not presented by the pharmaceutical industry – they were presented by researchers, researchers who were not funded by the pharmaceutical industry. I should point out that one thing you seem to have missed is that these four papers were originally cited by Babyjabs to support their position. I didn’t choose these studies, I simply pointed out that the papers Babyjabs were so keen on referencing did not support the statements Babyjabs made.

    You go on to disparage the evidence which was placed before the Italian court. Having now looked at this, it is abundantly clear that the individual cited was the lead author amongst several others; presumably therefore, they would disagree with you that he has no credibility.

    So… you are claiming that he is an expert on the basis that you presume that a couple of individuals would believe their colleague has credibility?

    This is the very reason why the court asked him to testify. It would seem, from the ensuing ruling of the court, that the opposing viewpoint could not undermine his assertions.

    You seem to believe that a court verdict proves that the expert who was relied on in order to reach the verdict is an expert. I don’t think that follows.

    He is part of the Dept of Paediatrics at the University of Bari, and I suspect inter alia, an acknowledged expert in that department. His conclusions apply to all vaccination theology ( I use the word advisedly ), and suggest that there is a definitive link between vaccination and the immediately-apparent demyelinating disease which results in some of those exposed to this assault.

    You seem to have gone from presuming that he is an expert to suspecting it. I don’t think that presuming or suspecting someone to be an expert demonstrates that they actually are.

    Here is the link to the study which clearly indicates his expert status.
    http://www.mednat.org/cure_natur/montinari.htm

    And now you present a single unpublished study as evidence that someone is an expert in a field in which they’ve never been published. You’re countering Just The Vax’s contention that Montinari has never had a paper published by pointing out that he has written an unpublished paper?

    Let’s compare this expert’s publication record in relevant subjects with other experts. Offit on vaccination: 13 results on Pubmed. Your expert? Zero. Simon Baron Cohen on autism? 136. Your expert? Zero.

  30. Chris said,

    Ross Coe! It good to see you again. Could you finally answer my question on why Roald Dahl’s oldest child cannot tell us about her experience with measles? Surely, you know by now. I have only been asking you every time I see you post on a blog I visit for over a year.

    Oh, and Tim: the MMR vaccine was introduced in the USA in 1971. Almost two decades before the UK. Please give us the citations that show there was a sharp increase in American autism rates starting in the 1970s or 1980s. This will help us figure out where Wakefield got the idea that the MMR vaccines used in the UK were causing autism, because the only reason that has been verified was the cash he received from Richard Barr (from legal aid funds paid for by the UK taxpayers).

  31. ChrisP said,

    Tim, I didn’t comment earlier on the Wikipedia quote about Vitamin A deficiency increasing susceptibility to disease 9-fold, because there was something distinctly odd about that passage in Wikipedia. Firstly, it uses in text references, which are not Wikipedia policy and secondly it does not provide the whole reference – just author and date – again this is against Wikipedia policy.

    So I decided to look up the reference cited. It does not exist in PubMed, nor in Google scholar. The only author Dole who has published on Vitamin A is Kuldeep Dole, who has done all their work in Pune in India.

    A search for the study – a longitudinal study of pre-school children in Indonesia – also turns up nothing that matches. Such a study is not even mentioned in later papers on Vitamin A supplementation of Indonesian children, such as this one http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/71/2/507.full This is distinctly odd.

    This passage seems to have been inserted in Wikipedia as some sort of joke. I checked the other edits of Wikipedia by the same user at the same time and they are all similar. Stuff that has been invented. Just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read in Wikipedia.

  32. Jenny Allan said,

    Just to make a correction to the above article:-
    The ‘Babyjabs’ form linked to the article is dated 2009, when the single mumps vaccine was temporarily unavailable in the UK. This was not the fault nor choice of Dr Halvorsen. A single mumps vaccine, manufactured by Merck, is now available and properly licenced.

  33. dingo199 said,

    Sorry Jenny, I think you will find that Merck stopped production of single mumps vaccine permanently in 2009. It is not available, period.
    http://www.merck.com/product/vaccines/home.html

    And your comment doesn’t square either with this Babyjabs statement from Halvorsen:
    http://www.babyjabs.co.uk/news.asp?article=2

  34. jdc325 said,

    @Jenny Allan,

    I can’t see any date stamps on the webpages I’ve linked to. There is a copyright notice at the bottom of these pages that refers to 2009, but that appears on every page I’ve looked at – including this one from this month: link.

    The single vaccines webpage currently states: “The single mumps vaccine is currently unavailable.” I’d expect this to be updated if a single mumps vaccine became available to the Babyjabs clinic. As Dingo199 notes, there is no reference to the single mumps vaccine on Merck’s list of available vaccines.

  35. dingo199 said,

    Perhaps Jenny is thinking that Halvorsen may be obtaining the “new” Medi-Mumps single antigen vaccine (which has nothing to do with Merck).

    I believe the antivaxers think this vaccine is the equivalent of injecting bubonic plague bacilli directly into an innocent, vulnerable baby’s bloodstream.

    I should know – it is made from fetid dingo kidneys, after all.

  36. Chris said,

    Is there a single mumps vaccine even licensed in the UK?

    Now when Wakefield called on parents to use single vaccines, the only vaccine in the UK licensed for mumps was the MMR. So some were imported by enterprising clinics, except for one problem: the one available was the Urabe strain of mumps. Which was exactly the reason two MMR types of vaccines were removed from the UK in 1992.

    Ms. Allen should read this about the illegal imports of unlicensed mumps vaccines.

  37. CAM News Spin Fail of the Month Award – August 2012: The Alliance for Natural Health « The Exit Door Leads In…. said,

    [...] I give marks for technical ability and artistic merit, a full background can be found over at Stuff and Nonsense, and within the ASA [...]

  38. John Jones said,

    Very disappointing and ironically, ‘scare mongering’ post about these terrible flakes out there.
    Accusations of ‘scaremongering’ on what evidence?
    Simply the blog owners interpretation and clearly an interpretation that hasn’t actually been based on a rational analysis of the site in question.

    I’m an educated informed rational parent and I found Dr Halvorsen’s website and book to be a rare source of real information that allows me to become more informed about the pro’s and cons of vaccination. I know several other highly educated parents who have used this information or seen Dr Halvorsen in person and found him to be an oasis of genuine discussion about advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

    This post just perpetuates the idea that parents should be patronised by those who cannot see the flaws in the current research base.
    It is abundantly clear to any clinician or legal professional in the field that there are situations where vaccines of many types that cause significant damage to children (and adults) and immense suffering to the child and parents as a consequence.

    Why not contribute to a meaningful debate that can inform and educate parents rather than vilifying, those like Dr Halvorsen who have the significant courage needed to encourage that debate. Parents who have concerns do not need to be patronised as either flaky hippies or dullards incapable of making a clear assessment, they need real information with which to make their difficult choices.

    I find this post depressingly cowardly in the way in which it contributes nothing meaningful or constructive but also ignorant of basic understanding about the limitations of the current research base around vaccinations.
    Where is the prospective study that would allow such strong claims about the safety of MMR?

    The ‘crusading’ tone of how you have struck a blow against the flaky Dr Halvorsen and his ilk is also particularly distasteful and self-aggrandising, when in fact what you have done is simply towed a line and brought into play advertising guidelines largely driven from drug company lobbying and based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes evidence.

    Hurrah for your great blow against freedom of information for parents!
    Well done!

    I suggest you read Bad Pharma and see what it is like when this is done with real courage against a real ‘enemy’ and a genuine passion for truth.

  39. jdc325 said,

    I’m an educated informed rational parent and I found Dr Halvorsen’s website and book to be a rare source of real information that allows me to become more informed about the pro’s and cons of vaccination. I know several other highly educated parents who have used this information or seen Dr Halvorsen in person and found him to be an oasis of genuine discussion about advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

    I’ve read his output too. The website, the books, the newspaper articles. I haven’t been impressed. The posts in that category include four on his book, “The Truth About Vaccines”. Here’s my summary from post #2:

    I have only ‘scratched the surface’ of this book, and already noted misinterpretations of findings, selective referencing of scientific papers, and the citing of evidence that it seems cannot possibly support contentions made. A worrying start.

    I suggest you read Bad Science. You might find the chapter on the media’s MMR hoax an eye-opener.

  40. Children’s Immunisation Centre’s Advertising: Misleading And Unsubstantiated | Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] August 2012, I wrote about an ASA judgement on a complaint I’d submitted about Richard Halvorsen’s Babyjabs clinic. A new adjudication on a different website’s marketing of single vaccines is now available on […]

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