There were once two professors in Oxford who wrote a letter to The Guardian on 28/1/10. It went like this:
From Professor Chris Ponting (“Genomics”) and Professor Kevin Talbot (Neurology) (Oxford).
“Despite the enormous complexity of the human genome, geneticists are continuing to reveal many DNA changes that explain disorders such as Autism and learning disability. These changes are often private to each individual. This tells us that different parts of the human genome can be disrupted independently in people with a single disease: there are likely to be many dozens, possibly hundreds, of “autism genes” for example.
“It is, indeed, “extremely unlikely that there are single genes for major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia” but this does not indicate that genetics plays no part. Like the brain itself, the genetic contribution to behaviour is complex.
“This is not a “fallback position” but a straightforward and dispassionate appraisal of the facts. Far from having to “admit defeat” geneticists have begun to disperse the fog that has enveloped genetic disease. Their new insights should ensure that unwarranted pronouncements of fault are not levelled at parents who produce anything other than a “normal” child.”
To which I wrote a(-n unpublished) reply:
Apparently a range of minor and seemingly randomly distributed individual changes to the genetic material can now “explain” autism and learning difficulties where they arise. One “disease” [condition?] but hundreds of different, uniquely tailored causative sequences. [Profs Ponting and Talbot, letters, 28/01/10.] Although we can all now happily accept that there is no gene causing, say, schizophrenia this is not “dispersing a fog that has enveloped genetic disease”. This is more like an illusionist plucking rabbits out of a hat. “Here, this gene is contributing 1.9% to your condition and, hey, look that one gives you another 0.7%. No wonder you are like you are”.
Might just as well say life is a genetic illness!
Chris Hemmings, BSc (Genetics), MSc
The point is, surely, that there is no “normal” child or adult. We all carry variation – that is the norm. Consequently each of us are both different and “imperfect”. To be “perfect” would preclude flexibility and so be impossible, anyway. To say that :
“The biology of certain individuals leaves them slightly more vulnerable to an assault on their immune system in the form of several injected doses of antigens and toxic carrier chemicals, as their repair mechanisms/anti toxicity mechanisms/immune precursor cells are marginally or even greatly below par” I could accept. But that’s a very different proposition! In normal conditions their biology is quite adequate, as it is for all of us rather imperfect animals.
And then I remembered this letter I wrote on 5/5/09, after reading an aggressive article in said newspaper imploring all MMR refusnics to have their children jabbed. His daughter, too young to have had the jab, has suffered measles and been very ill. I dont believe she died, just he and partner were very worried:
I sense a media driven witch hunt here and would like to reply to the inflammatory article, published on Saturday2nd May as “Let this MMR idiocy end”.(Randerson).
In a highly stressful situation it is no wonder that your correspondent is very emotional. In fact it is probably not the best time to be writing generalisations or accusations.
My aged aunty caught measles at a similar age to Randerson’s daughter (way back in 1919) and lost the sight in one eye. More recently this was noticed frequently in a poor and deprived population in New York. Many kids caught measles young and lost sight as a consequence, even though otherwise they returned to good health (as did my aunty, now 92). The problem was totally eliminated by giving Vitamin A supplements, after analysis of their diet. I wish this information had been available to my equally impoverished Granny in post war, starving 1919 Britain.
I would also point out very strongly the potential risk of the terrible degenerative condition SSPE developing if a child who has gone through natural measles infection and developed a natural immunity is subsequently given an MMR jab. I can supply detailed references to this problem. SSPE (Sub accute schlerotising para encephalitis) is a long and lingering decay to death. It was first described in the 1960s and has only more recently become a more common problem. It was never a sword of Damocles hanging over anyone who had gone through a measles infection in their childhood. Recently it has been portrayed as such.
There is no “herd immunity” – and what an insulting term, which shows how the public are viewed by these people. It is a fallacy to think that vaccinating all children achieves this supposed nirvana. Natural immunity is so complicated a structure that it is fair to say no-one has even near to a full understanding of it. The patterns have evolved with life over three billion years. We are not improving on it by short cutting the body’s patterns of defence and then overloading infants’ underdeveloped metabolisms with syringefuls of antigens into their bloodstream.
There is evidence of amelioration of infant infection through a mothers milk – immunoglobins are carried in it and can be absorbed directly through the infant gut mucosa. This seems to be lost when the mother has no natural immunity to the infection (ie has been vaccinated). Or when the child is bottle fed! Thus we could be losing any “herd immunity”, that is population wide biological memories, we had. What we should be doing is helping to boost the individual’s immune response mechanisms, not hijacking them.
The MMR saga did not begin in 1998. Ask Edwina Curry! We decided in 1994 not to have our first child vaccinated after rational, scientific analysis of much scientific and anecdotal evidence. In all the evidence that I have seen over 15 years no never-vaccinated child has developed autism. That is a fact, unlike the spurious data which have been endlessly regurgitated by the Department of Health, the GMC and their research bodies and, of course, the Pharmaceutical Industry.
I agree with criticism of Wakefield’s work – it goes nowhere near far enough. However he was and remains very brave for daring to suggest that an Established Medical Practice might be flawed. Peer group pressure is a phenomenal force – you could have asked Prof Benveniste, late of the Pasteur Institute in Paris about this, but he sadly died last year.
“No evidence exists of a causal link….” “ experts have found no credible evidence for…” is the crux of Randerson’s information about the perceived problem. Horatio Nelson comes to mind – I see no ships. If you turn a blind eye to evidence then surely you don’t see it but that does not mean the evidence does not exist. Comparing those who were given the MMR to those who did not receive it but had a range of other childhood jabs misses the point. You must compare with the never vaccinated. They are the only clear control group. and so all the studies Randerson quotes are wholly invalid.
Clearly vaccinations precipitate in vulnerable infants a range of damaging outcomes. Read the labels, many are mentioned there. Longer term negative outcomes, though, are not entertained as possibilities. If the damage is not visible in the first few hours no association is allowed. As the immunity is supposed to take some time to develop post jab then clearly side effects can, too. There is a vast record of such cases, at last being recognised at least through the American courts. Truth will out
There is no openness and no integrity in this matter. Doctors and nurses should have confidence in their abilities to manage acute infection, as should parents, too. We are built to survive, we have the mechanisms to stem bacterial and viral infections if they establish themselves and after a few days of intense activity we end up stronger than ever with a lifelong immunity to the infection and an all round strengthened immune response. Yes, its painful – for parents as well as the child – but if we work to support the patient – eg with vitamin A supplement or a carrot juice – then in two weeks it’s all forgotten.
And Autism, of course, is for life as well. Which would you prefer?