Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Measles not worth the risk

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 10, 2008

I’m in a hospital bed, gasping for breath. Through the clear plastic of an oxygen tent, I see my Mom. Her face is red and she’s crying and crying. I feel hot. Every few hours a nurse opens the oxygen tent and gives me a shot. It hurts.

It’s 1959. I’m in second grade. I’d caught the measles, just like my brothers and sisters and friends. Except unlike them, my measles didn’t go away. It got worse and turned into something I’d never heard of: pneumonia. I spent a month in the hospital, survived, and spent a few more months recovering at home. But more than four million children got measles in the United States in that year and 385 died.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “AJC”

Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on September 8, 2008

A new study published in PLOS One shows no association between the MMR vaccine and autism or the presence of measles virus in the gut of children with autism and GI symptoms. This is yet more evidence against the claim that the MMR vaccine is responsible for some autism cases. Of course, no one study can clearly settle a complex medical question. The entire literature must be taken as a whole, and when we do this it becomes clear that the evidence is strongly against any association between MMR and autism. This new study is an important addition, and strengthens this conclusion.

This study has some interesting features. The lead author is Mady Hornig – who (until this study) was one of the research darlings of the anti-vaccine crowd. It will be difficult for the anti-vaccinationists to dismiss this study as coming from a vested interest or someone with an agenda, as they have previously be extolling the virtues of this particular researcher. Further, in the press release we learn:

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

The media’s MMR hoax

Posted in Bad Science by Skepdude on September 2, 2008

Before we begin, it’s worth taking a moment to look at vaccine scares around the world, because I’m always struck by how circumscribed these panics are. The MMR and autism scare, for example, is practically non-existent outside Britain. But throughout the 1990s France was in the grip of a scare that hepatitis B vaccine caused multiple sclerosis.

In the US, the major vaccine fear has been around the use of a preservative called thiomersal, although somehow this hasn’t caught on here, even though that same preservative was used in Britain. In the 1970s there was a widespread concern in the UK, driven again by a single doctor, that whooping-cough vaccine was causing neurological damage.

What the diversity of these anti-vaccination panics helps to illustrate is the way in which they reflect local political and social concerns more than a genuine appraisal of the risk data, because if the vaccine for hepatitis B, or MMR, is dangerous in one country, it should be equally dangerous everywhere; and if those concerns were genuinely grounded in the evidence, especially in an age of the rapid propagation of information, you would expect the concerns to be expressed by journalists everywhere. They’re not.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD SCIENCE”

Antivaxxers and the media

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on August 6, 2008

I have said this before, and I will say it again many times in the future: antivaxxers are potentially the Number One health hazard in America.

These are people who (very incorrectly) think that vaccines are linked to autism. It has been shown, conclusively, that no such link exists. Every time an antivaxxer is shown this data, they move the goalposts, claiming it’s some other vaccine feature causing autism, or cite outdated and flawed studies. The problem (for them) is, you can show that the number of autism cases diagnosed is totally unrelated to vaccines. They deny this, they spin, they distract, but in the end this simple fact proves them wrong.

We need vaccines. We have stopped smallpox cold with vaccines. Rubella, measles, and pertussis can be stopped. Where antivaxxers have sown distrust in vaccines, these diseases have been making a comeback, and kids have died.

Read the rest of this entry at the “Bad Astronomy” blog.