Autism’s False Prophets

Salon has a good discussion of a new book on the culture and pseudoscience of vaccination scares by a paediatrician who received death threats after his public debunking of the overblown dangers.

The book is Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure and the paediatrician is Paul Offit, who examine both the claims and culture of the anti-vaccination lobby who are currently obsessed with autism.

This hasn’t always been the case though. As Ben Goldacre has noted, the US lobby seems to be concerned with thimerosal while the UK lobby believe the same thing about MMR, whereas previous unsupported scares have focused on hepatitis B jabs and multiple sclerosis.

In fact, as a BBC Radio 4 programme documented, a vaccination scare happened as the first ever vaccine for small pox appeared.

It’s a timely article, note least because yet another study has recently been published showing MMR vaccination was unrelated to autism. This is one of many many others, and an excellent article by Respectful Insolence rounds up the past evidence but also notes this latest study is particularly poignant as the first author is someone who has previously supported the scare.

Link to Salon article.
Link to more info on book Autism’s False Prophets.
Link to Respectful Insolence summary article.

4 thoughts on “Autism’s False Prophets”

  1. My 2 cents. Autism and schizophrenia symptoms are very similar. I believe a major cause of Autism is food allergy. As it is known children have a much higher allergy rate than in the past, examples of Asthma “Asthma rates in children have jumped fourfold” and allergy to peanutbutter “According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, peanut allergies in children increased twofold from 1997 to 2002.”
    William Philpott, MD (author of Brain Allergies: The Psycho-Nutrient Connection, 1980) claims that more than 50% of schizophrenics display some form of cerebral allergy which contributes to symptoms. Common sensitivities in schizophrenia include:
    * Wheat
    * Dairy products
    * Tobacco
    * Gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley – 4% of schizophrenics are gluten intolerant).
    Some tests for (defin. proof of)food allergies are difficult to perform on children.

  2. Sorry Mark, but I won’t buy that (not even for 2c). Schizophrenia and autism are not remotely similar conditions. Apart from everything else, I think it’s pretty offensive to suffers and family of people with both conditions. These are serious conditions, causing serious suffering. Any crackpot who offers miracle cures based on non-existent mechanisms (“cerebral allergy”?! Ask your GP) is just exploiting the vulnerability of people in need. Sorry for coming down heavily, but this is no joke.

  3. Who is joking? I am not. I have been diagnosed schizophrenic and I think I am allergic to wheat and gluten.
    MishaD, How is this possible allergy offensive to you?

    J Intern Med. 1997 Nov;242(5):421-3.
    Schizophrenic symptoms and SPECT abnormalities in a coeliac patient: regression after a gluten-free diet.
    “This is the first case in which, in an undiagnosed and untreated coeliac patient with psychiatric manifestations, the (99mTc)HMPAO SPECT demonstrated a dysfunction of frontal cortex disappearing after a gluten-free diet.”

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