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An anti-vaxxer is using this study from the Journal of Translational Science to convince that vaccines increase the probability of getting infected & learning disabilities. Can you help me by giving sources to counter his claims or debunk this study?

Daniel Garcia

Answered 19h ago

It is one of the first two papers ever to look at health outcomes of children receiving the US vaccine schedule compared to children who are not immunized at all.

What they found was surprising, children that were vaccinated had lower rates of vaccine preventable diseases, so you would them expect to be healthier but they weren’t.

They had a over 4 times higher risk of developing autism and an even higher risk of allergies asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders and learning disabilities, they were much sicker.

The second paper compared the rates of neurodevelopmental disorders in premature infants that were immunized and never immunized:

Preterm birth, vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders: a cross-sectional study of 6- to 12-year-old vaccinated and unvaccinated children

The differences were even bigger. Pre-term children had a 12 times higher risk of being diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders compared to pre-term children that were not immunized.

When the paper was about to be published, the vaccine industry and/or vaccine industry supporters went into panic mode and attempted to convince the journal not to publish the paper and were able to get it withdrawn.

It was then published in the Journal of Translational Science where it still remains published.

The paper has attracted a lot of criticism and been subject to many attacks mostly on the internet. Some of the criticism is legitimate but a lot could also be linked to vaccine industry funded astroturfing[1] activities.

Astroturfers can be recognized as they often use inflammatory language such as “crank,” “quack,” “nutty“, ”conspiracy theorist”, “pseudoscience”, “debunked”[2] etc. while promoting, defending or supporting industry products and practices.

Here is some of the criticism that had been made:

  • The study population was not representative of the general population as it looked only at homeschooled children.
  • It was a survey and the diagnoses weren’t based on medical records.
  • The results may have been biased because families who don’t vaccinate are less likely to see a doctor and receive a diagnosis.

It’s true that they looked only at homeschooled children but they didn’t compare unvaccinated homeschooled children to vaccinated non-homeschooled children. They compared vaccinated homeschooled children to unvaccinated homeschooled children.

Selection bias can be a problem in studies that compare vaccinated to unvaccinated children. Children that are not vaccinated tend to have parents that have above average income and education compared to caretakers of vaccinated children.

Looking only at homeschooled children means that you are comparing families that are more likely to have a similar socio-economic background not the opposite.

It’s true the study was a survey which is probably the biggest flaw however they did at least ask the parents for medical conditions that had been diagnosed by a physician and the parents were asked to rely on vaccine records.

It has been claimed that the results were inaccurate because parents that don’t vaccinate don’t see doctors that could diagnose their children but if we look we find that unvaccinated children were more likely to be diagnosed with vaccine preventable diseases and while the unvaccinated were less likely to see a doctor the differences weren’t that dramatic.

57.6% of the vaccinating families had seen a doctor for a routine checkup in the past 12 months and 37.2% of the non-vaccinating families.

The study does have limitations and the authors are aware of it and clearly point out that it’s a pilot study. One thing to keep in mind is that just because there is the possibility that there are biases that are affecting the results doesn’t mean that this must be the case or that the results can only be explained by biases.

The result are quite similar to what is seen in practices that have a large number of unvaccinated patients[3] and to the results that were discussed in the Simpsonwood[4][5][6] meeting the public was never told about.

One has also ask the question if this paper is really just junk science why is that the only study that we can find that looks at health outcomes of unvaccinated children in the United States. If the science is really settled – and science is rarely settled – there must be tons of literature on this topic, there isn’t. There is only one “junk” paper then.


[1] Astroturfing – Wikipedia

[2] A news consumer’s guide to ‘astroturf’ sources



[5] A Historical Overview—Pre-1999 to 2006 Chapter 2 • Children’s Health Defense

[6] CDC officials discuss neurological damage from vaccines in secret meeting – Simpsonwood


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