Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Trust me, I’m a scientist

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 09 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3658

Re: Re: Re: Evidence is not bullying (addendum)


As Bernardine Healy, pointed out we now have a very complex vaccine
schedule (not quite as complex here as in the US) so it is going to be
difficult to know what is going on if - as some suspect - vaccines are
influencing the autism rate. Moreover, you would have to split the shots
up - administering the components more or less simultaneously but in
separate shots does not do it (which was problem with the Honda/Rutter
study [1,2]).

One thing that shocks me about the prevailing scientific attitudes to
autism is the complacency. I was told by a friend that locally (Haringey)
we have been getting 20-30 ASD cases coming to adulthood in the past
recent years as against 1 or 2 a decade ago, and 53 forecast for next year
(including my son), while Baron-Cohen et al detected a rate of 157 in
10,000 in a Cambridgshire school population in the early part of the
decade [3]. If I understood what you were saying in your previous post you
believe this is a genetic phenomenon. If so it is an odd one - not only is
there little evidence that autism existed at such rates in the past, if it
was a genetic variation you would not expect it to be very successful or
persistent. Nor have attempts to detect an autism gene had impressive
results. So, I do think we need to know what is causing autism and we need
to find this out urgently, and without professional intimidation.

The final point I would make in relation to adverse vaccine events is
that they and their possible sequelae have to be systematically
investigated and monitored, as Wakefield tried to do. Otherwise we simply
have a hit and run situation, which is wholly unethical and undesirable.

It is not only a question of which tests but of deeply flawed culture
(as in fact you have pointed out).


[1] Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M, 'No effect of MMR withdrawal on the
incidence of autism: a total population study', J Child Psychol
Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;46(6):572-9,


[3] Baron-Cohen S, Scott FJ, Allison C, Williams J, Bolton P,
Matthews FE, Brayne C, 'Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK
school-based population study', Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Jun;194(6):500-9,

Competing interests:
autistc son

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 September 2009
John Stone
Contributing editor: Age of Autism
London N22