Anti-Vaxx Group Funds Vaccine Study, but It Doesn’t Go as Planned

SafeMinds, an organization that wishes “to end the autism epidemic by advancing environmental research and effective treatments”, paid to study the link between vaccinations and autism. The results came back negative. There’s no link. Shocker! IFLScience reports:

A six-year study looking into the effect that vaccinations have on the neurological development and social behavior of rhesus macaque infants, funded in part by the anti-vaccination and autism advocacy group SafeMinds, concluded that there was no evidence at all for such a link.

The study seemed pretty straightforward.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved 79 infant monkeys in six groups. Two groups were given thimerosal-containing vaccines. Thimerosal is an antiseptic and antifungal agent that was frequently used in vaccinations until it was removed in the U.S from vaccines given to children in the 90s, and is frequently cited by anti-vaxxers as a cause for autism. The next two groups were given the MMR vaccine (also claimed to cause autism) without thimerosal, and the final two were given saline injections as a control.

Yea, okay, so far this follows scientific control.

The scientists then studied the behavior of the macaques as they interacted in social situations, looking for “autistic-like” behaviors. They found nothing.

Nothing? Not even, a little something? The anti-vaxx crowd wants any tiny morsel of information that they can then magnify as the whole truth.

Some people diagnosed with autism have been observed to have smaller hippocampal cells and lower numbers of cells in the amygdala. After euthanizing the monkeys, the scientists conducted post-mortems on the animals’ brains, looking for these changes. They found no differences between the groups, stating that: “Our data do not support a role for thimerosal-containing vaccines in the neuropathology of autism spectrum disorder.”

If you asked whether or not SafeMinds will accept these results, then you must be asking a rhetorical question. According to their statement,

SafeMinds has concerns about changes in the study design protocol and analysis that may have led to these contradictory results. We are in the process of collecting and reviewing additional information regarding this study.

Not sure if they understand how science works. They have issue with the fact an initial trial during the study showed support for a link. Yet, when expanded to a wider sample size, the study concluded no link existed. But, but…we KNOW there is a link! SafeMinds will NOT stop until they prove there’s a link, science be damned! Even if science doesn’t prove it, well, screw it. We BELIEVE there’s a link. Numbers? SafeMinds has numbers!

The epidemic of autism is expected to cost the country $1 trillion by 2025 if prevalence trends continue. In a recent study, over 40 percent of parents agree or strongly agree that vaccines played a part in the development of their children’s autism.

So interesting. Only 40% of parents with autistic children point to vaccines as a factor. The other 60% are like, nah, we don’t believe vaccines caused it. In true SafeMinds fashion, they went ahead and ignored that sixty percent.

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Jake Crosby
8 years ago

What type of “Anti-Vaxx [sic]” group is run by an Autism Speaks supporter?

8 years ago

what kind of longitudinal study dismisses the autism vaccine connection that evolved for one piece of questionable science? Let’s put the entire research project out for people to see and question “why one part of the project countered others”

8 years ago

I would like to understand, as well, why the change in 1996 , when the newer DTaP was introduced, which was not the whole cell Dtphib, thereby requiring a separate series of HIB fully loaded adding 4x 25 mcg to the schedule was not included as a factor?