No, there is not a vaccine for autism!

April 25th, 2013

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Many of my skeptical and pro-science friends are extremely passionate about the issue of autism and vaccines.   The scientific data indicates, very compellingly, that vaccines do not cause autism.  So when a press release came out claiming that a new vaccine could actually reduce autism, many jumped on and posted it all over social media feeds, as if it was vindication of the positive effects of vaccines and science in combating disease and disorders.

But lest be careful, because it’s not quite what it seems.

Via Science Daily:

First Vaccine to Help Control Some Autism Symptoms

A first-ever vaccine created by University of Guelph researchers for gut bacteria common in autistic children may also help control some autism symptoms.

The groundbreaking study by Brittany Pequegnat and Guelph chemistry professor Mario Monteiro appears this month in the journal Vaccine.

They developed a carbohydrate-based vaccine against the gut bug Clostridium bolteae.

C. bolteae is known to play a role in gastrointestinal disorders, and it often shows up in higher numbers in the GI tracts of autistic children than in those of healthy kids.

More than 90 per cent of children with autism spectrum disorders suffer from chronic, severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Of those, about 75 per cent suffer from diarrhea, according to current literature.

“Little is known about the factors that predispose autistic children to C. bolteae,” said Monteiro. Although most infections are handled by some antibiotics, he said, a vaccine would improve current treatment.

“This is the first vaccine designed to control constipation and diarrhea caused by C. bolteae and perhaps control autism-related symptoms associated with this microbe,” he said.

Autism cases have increased almost sixfold over the past 20 years, and scientists don’t know why. Although many experts point to environmental factors, others have focused on the human gut.

Some researchers believe toxins and/or metabolites produced by gut bacteria, including C. bolteae, may be associated with symptoms and severity of autism, especially regressive autism.

There are some real red flags that stand out right away. First, the statement “Autism cases have increased almost sixfold over the past 20 years, and scientists don’t know why.” In fact, most scientists agree that the apparent rise in cases is simply due to greater awareness and broadening of diagnostic criteria.

Anyone who knows the first thing about autism will realize that it’s not a digestive disorder. Autism is primarily a social development disorder, which also has cognitive and general behavioral symptoms. It’s neurological, not gastric. The hypothesis that autism was caused by or exacerbated by gastric problems has been around for some time, but has never gained much favor in the mainstream scientific community. In part, because no known mechanism could account for how a change in gut flora would have such profound neurological effects, and in part because there is no real scientific data to show a causal link. Also, this seems to apply mostly to those with severe autism.

There is some truth that autistic children will have a high incidence of gastric problems, although a large percentage of children who are non-autistic will also suffer gastric discomfort at some point. The fact that severely autistic children tend to be more prone to some gastric issues has been the subject of research, and the conclusion has generally been that it is the behavior that causes these issues, rather than the other way around.

As one major study in the Journal Pediatrics concluded:

As constipation and feeding issues/food selectivity often have a behavioral etiology, data suggest that a neurobehavioral rather than a primary organic gastrointestinal etiology may account for the higher incidence of these gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism.

In other words, the fact that autistic children do not behave and eat in the same manner as non-autistic children is then most likely cause of differences in gut flora, rather than the other way around.

As such, this vaccine really does not treat or prevent any symptom associated with autism. What it does is possibly suppress one strain of bacteria that is known to cause gastric problems. These problems do not cause autism or the symptoms of autism. But, of course, gastric discomfort can certainly make a difficult child even more difficult.

Therefore, while it might be able to help some autistic children with gastric problems, it does not actually have much to do with autism itself.


This entry was posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013 at 2:53 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Good Science, media, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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16 Responses to “No, there is not a vaccine for autism!”

  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    One of the things that irritates me about the rise in autistic spectrum disorder diagnoses is that it reminds me of the sudden popularity of learning disability disorders diagnoses that were being handed out wholesale in the past. Both, in my opinion, are more reflections of the collapse of professional standards in education where an attempt is being made to blame the student for the incompetence of the teachers and the inflexible system that has driven off better.

    Vaccines cause/ vaccines can prevent autism meme is itself symptomatic of our collective refusal to examine the state of education in the West and to make the changes that desperately need to happen.


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  2. 2
    ebohlman Says:

    There is in fact a vaccine that prevents certain cases of autism: the MMR vaccine! Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) is one of the few known causes of autism.


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  3. 3
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    One of the things that irritates me about the rise in autistic spectrum disorder diagnoses is that it reminds me of the sudden popularity of learning disability disorders diagnoses that were being handed out wholesale in the past. Both, in my opinion, are more reflections of the collapse of professional standards in education where an attempt is being made to blame the student for the incompetence of the teachers and the inflexible system that has driven off better.

    Vaccines cause/ vaccines can prevent autism meme is itself symptomatic of our collective refusal to examine the state of education in the West and to make the changes that desperately need to happen.

    I would have to agree. It used to be that being “autistic” meant you were severely disabled. You could not interact with an autistic without knowing there was something wrong. They either did not talk at all or could not communicate well, could not stand still, seemed incapable of understanding commands.

    Of course, severe autistic are still like that, but today we have people who are clearly not incapable of functioning, can talk, can take care of themselves, but we say “they are on the autism spectrum”

    What does this mean? They have a touch of social anxiety from time to time? Who doesn’t! They sometimes like to be alone? So what?

    By the current definition, if you have ever had a relationship problem or are not constantly walking around shaking hands and smiling, like a game show host or a politician, you are autistic. We used to say “He’s a little geeky” now we say “he is on the autism spectrum”


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  4. 4
    Lowell Says:

    Why is this article ignoring the major success of biomedical treatment in now and endless number of children. Biomedical treatment in a large part involves healing the gastrointestinal situation with the gut, and then major improvement is often seen for many children. This below information fits entirely with this articles information; however this article has it entirely wrong. The gastrointestinal disorders are caused by vaccines, and for the most part the MMR vaccine, but not the only one.

    Would you actually call CDC funded epidemiological studies done on only one vaccine and one vaccine ingredient, a sufficient amount of vaccine safety studies? Apparently the CDC and the federal vaccine court thinks so.

    Biomedical Treatment in Autism (ASD)
    http://www.vacfacts.info/biomedical-treatment-in-autism-asd.html

    The Vaccine Damage-Science
    http://www.vacfacts.info/the-vaccine-damage—science.html

    Aluminum Adjuvants – Lack of Safety Data – Lack of Aluminum Adjuvant Safety Studies
    http://www.vacfacts.info/aluminum-vaccine-adjuvants.html

    National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – Payout Data
    http://www.vacfacts.info/national-vaccine-injury-compensation-program—payout-data.html


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  5. 5
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well that was fast


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  6. 6
    DV82XL Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Well that was fast

    For sure. Must be running a bot to scrape for any provax traffic.


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  7. 7
    DV82XL Says:

            Lowell said:

    Why is this article ignoring the major success of biomedical treatment in now and endless number of children.

    I’d say because it is outright quackery and those that practice it criminals for placing children at risk.


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  8. 8
    money for autism Says:

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth used to be a entertainment account
    it. Glance complicated to more brought agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we be in contact?


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  9. 9
    John Q Says:

    When I was a kid I had persistent gastric problems. Nothing serious, but a lot of indigestion and constipation. it basically cleared up when I was about 12 or 13. It obviously was not lactose intolerance or celiac, because I am fine now. I wonder if this would have helped me, but I do not know what kind of bacteria caused the problems or if it was bacteria at all.

    BTW, I am not autistic.


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  10. 10
    deltmachine Says:

    the culture industry – the ideology of death

    ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-961596


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  11. 11
    Matte Says:

    I thought vaccines caused autism and therefore could not possibly, ever and never cure, stop or alleviate the symptoms of autism… [//devils' advocate sarkasm off]

            money for autism said:

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth used to be a entertainment account
    it. Glance complicated to more brought agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we be in contact?

    Say what? Seriously, I know my english is bad…but seriously!?


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  12. 12
    Robert Sneddon Says:

            Matte said:

    Say what? Seriously, I know my english is bad…but seriously!?

    It’s blogspam, nothing more.


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  13. 13
    deltmachine Says:

    MAY DAY!

    reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1deo0i

    the culture industry – the ideology of death


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  14. 14
    Shafe Says:

    Markuze?


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  15. 15
    Matte Says:

    Could we have deltmachine’s posts removed please?

    His posts offends me on the deepest level possible, so deeply am I offended that I think the first amendment should not apply to people like him/her…

    Just saying, mind.


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  16. 16
    zespół na wesele mazowieckie Says:

    Temperatures in spring and as well as fall make really good camping weather.
    And also the main benefit is usually that it is proudly owning very low risks.


    Quote Comment

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