Vaccination Conspiracy - Adding ADHD to the Mix

i-6eb9515bd222d0649cd5a72e57298f23-387px-Poster_for_vaccination_against_smallpox.jpgThere has been a whole lot crap floating around the press in the last couple weeks since the trial started that is seeking to link vaccination with higher incidence of autism. Now a survey funded by one of these anti-vaccination groups is correlating, through a random telephone survey, more mental health issues like ADHD with vaccination. So why do you think this correlation exists? Is there a simple way of simply explaining away this correlation (think less pirates = more global warming).

Here's some of the info from medical news today:

The survey, commissioned by Generation Rescue, compared vaccinated and unvaccinated children in nine counties in Oregon and California. Among more than 9,000 boys age 4-17, the survey found vaccinated boys were two and a half times (155%) more likely to have neurological disorders compared to their unvaccinated peers. Vaccinated boys were 224% more likely to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and 61% more likely to have autism.

For older vaccinated boys in the 11-17 age bracket, the results were even more pronounced. Vaccinated boys were 158% more likely to have a neurological disorder, 317% more likely to have ADHD, and 112% more likely to have autism. Complete survey results are available at

Generation Rescue commissioned the phone survey. Data was gathered by SurveyUSA, a national market research firm, which surveyed parents by phone on more than 17,000 children, ages 4-17, in five counties in California (San Diego, Sonoma, Orange, Sacramento, and Marin) and four counties in Oregon (Multnomah, Marion, Jackson, and Lane).

The survey asked parents whether their child had been vaccinated, and whether that child had one or more of the following diagnoses: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder -- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), or Autism. The phone survey was chosen to mirror the methodology the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses to establish national prevalence for neurological disorders in their national phone survey.

First of all a survey is not the way to show a link between anything!

Now that the correlation does not equal causation comment is out of the way...

It is quite possible that people who do not vaccinate their children are also less educated and have less money (Which seems to be true in Korea but I have no idea about the counties surveyed in the present study). These factors, if they are true, imply a couple things. The first is that they simply don't have the money or education to know why their kid is completely off the wall or that their autistic kid has autism instead of being just 'slow' or 'retarded'. And secondly this group of people is likely to have a more negative opinion and less trust of the medical establishment than more highly educated people. Even if the groups are equal in education and socio-economic status the people not getting vaccines are also less likely to admit to their children having mental health issues... and even less likely than that to take their kids to a psychiatrist to be given drugs to fix it.

The survey given had no way of assessing these other factors since it did not ask ONE question about socio-economic status, education level, cultural factors and certainly not attitudes toward medicine and mental health! It upsets me that this study is going to continue to be cited as 'proof' that vaccinations = mental health issues (anyway I'd rather be alive with ADHD than be paralyzed with polio). Check out the pdf survey here.

More like this

Could you prove that 2X2=5? Following your logic, you should not have any trouble. Also, who paid you for this article?

By nomercuryvaccines (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Yes, the fact that this was a survey of parents, rather than of the kids themselves, mean that the results are likely to be skewed by non-diagnosed conditions, which as Steve points out, are likely to be correlated with socio-economic status and other things.

Also note that the survey was done by "an independent opinion research firm"! These are people who usually ask your views about consumer products and politicians. This is not peer-reviewed epidemiological research.

Hi Steve:

The anti-vac liars came right out of their holes to attack your comments. Generation Rescue owner, one JB Handley, is well described in several articles by your fellow Science Blogger, Orac, at Respectful Insolence. JB is such a lovely person that he stole "Oracknows" as a domain name and, when you try to load that, you get his General Rescue website. Just remember, Generation Rescue has produced such lovely people as John Best, a/k/a Foresam, of Hating Autism. Johnnie would subject his son to any treatment, no matter how abusive or weird, so long as someone say that it can cure his son's autism.

Dude, I'm devastated that you didn't read my takedown of this silly survey. Oddly enough, J. B. didn't even bother to show up to complain. Maybe even he realizes what a stinking pile of poo his survey is.

Or maybe he's ticked off that he actually spent $200,000 for it.

Wow, this is absurd. And I hate how information like this just sort of leaks into the popular media and society without anyone noticing or evaluating where it came from. My sister is pregnant and she was like, "I heard you're not necessarily supposed to get your kids vaccinated right away and that you're supposed to wait a bit." Argh! She's a really smart person! Fads are ridiculous, and it's so hard to know where to look as a reliable source if you need health information.

By Katherine (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

My son is autisic and non verbal (7 yrs old).
If this is something that is genetic then we
can live with it BUT if this is something that
was done TO him, caused by somebody elses
actions, then I want their balls on a plate.
And by the way we are involved in the suit.
Im curious how many of ya'll have a child whose
autitic mmm? Thank you, Cindy

By Marcels mom (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

First, let me say I'm undecided on this issue. I want to believe vaccines are all good. But I know everything has a down side.

Of course correlation does not equal causation. But it is a starting point to seek causation. To claim this study "proves" anything is irresponsible, but the results do merit more study, to uncover the true cause of the reported differences.

Keep in mind the human body is VASTLY more complex than any of us comprehend. To believe we know everything about immune response is hubris at its finest. Remember, vaccines have killed thousands of children. I know the arguments for herd immunity, it's worth the risk for the whole, etc. But if immune response to a single vaccine can occasionally kill, aren't other, less immediate, effects possible as well?

Also, be careful about throwing around assumptions of economic status. I'd wager many anti-vaccine folks are at the high end of the educational scale. That's certainly true of breastfeeding advocates. The truth is you (and no one) knows why that study came out the way it did. Guessing socioeconomic status of the respondents is worse than a survey. It's literally based on no evidence at all.

One last point. Don't think the "establishment" has all the answers. In the 1960s we were told baby formula was superior to breast milk. We've since learned that was laughably untrue. Now we're being told to get vaccinated for meningitis and HPV, both of which affect a very small number of people.

In my state, newborn babies are "required" to get hepatitis vaccinations. Never mind the vaccine was tested on teen-agers and adults, not babies. Never mind that newborns have virtually no immune system to stimulate.

So no, I don't necessarily buy that vaccines cause neurological problems. But I don't reject it either. At this point, as far as I know, there's no conclusive evidence either way. If you can point me to something you believe is conclusive, I'd be happy to read it.


By William Young (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Yeah........... what Bill said!! My kinda
guy, obviously a whole lot smarter than me
but my kinda guy!! Cindy (middle aged married
mommy~not rich but not completely broke

By Cindy Legros (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

To claim this study "proves" anything is irresponsible, but the results do merit more study, to uncover the true cause of the reported differences.

That's a stretch. This "study" doesn't even really qualify as a study. In reality, it's nothing more than a rather poorly designed phone poll. Indeed, look at the rates of autism/ASDs reported. They're up to 10 times the known incidence of, and even in the unvaccinated they are much higher than the accepted rate of 1 in 166 or so. This "finding" right there points to a major reporting bias in the study.

See Prometheus' take on it.

so, asides from your point about correlation and causation, your main argument is that poor people are usually stupid, and stupid people shouldn't be trusted when it comes to reporting things for surveys, rendering the survey useless because we don't know the makeup of the sample.

regardless, it would seem prudent to be at least somewhat skeptical about a mandatory program, and to require a significant amount of transparent study before such a program went into effect. i personally do not believe that the CDC is free of influence from pharmaceutical company agendas, and taking the CDC's own studies as evidence would be foolish in this case. Furthermore, as one poster noted there are many cases of grave, grave errors on the part of the FDA and CDC in determining a certain medication to be safe.

with respect to such mandatory programs, the insistence on hep b vaccination for newborns is patently absurd since the disease itself is overwhelmingly rare in such a population. babies basically only get it if their mother was a carrier. The conferred immunity will most likely not even last until the period of time when a person is likely to contract it through some high risk activity aver the age of 18 etc, or whenever people start doing that stuff.

the supposed intent of actual immunization to the disease is ludicrous. it is tantamount to prescribing pre-emptive chemo sessions to newborns in preparation for possible brain tumours at some point in life. At least, if it turns out that such vaccines have seriously negative effects in a significant (is one person significant?) portion of the population. you get chemo when you need it, get the hep b before you start drugging and having sex, like say 14 or so. that at least makes sense. for newborns, no way.

By jtwhitehouse (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Before 1990s Hepatitis B was not a required vaccine for babies like it is now. The number of babies or kids having Hepatitis B was non-existing. So how would a mercury filled Hepatitis B vaccine giving to babies whose blood brain barrier is not even developed yet at the day of their birth protect them from anything?

Here is another statistic; instances of ADHD/Autism went from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 150. Are you going to tell us that we simply able to detect autism better, or so called stupid or poor uneducated parents would not notice a child at age six who does not speak or develop normally? Where are those kids now?

In your article you are challenging the study done by the generation rescue. What about all the studies sponsored by the pharmaceutical giants, CDC or IOM? Surprisingly none of those studies prove a link between mercury in vaccines and autism. Those are the same organizations that tell the public to get rid of all mercury thermometers and not to eat tuna. Yet, they allow 300000 ppb of mercury to be shot into an unprotected brain of a baby per visit.

1 shot is 0.01% of ethyl mercury per 5mg of dose v/w equates to 50000ppb times six vaccines combined together equal to 300000ppb. EPA allowable limit before area becomes a toxic waste is 2ppb of mercury. Also, most of the childhood vaccines not just flu shot contains mercury in it. The removal only began in 2001; there are still plenty of stockpiles left in pediatricians offices.

wow, name calling is good, especially in open discussions. you must work in the soft sciences, if you will allow me to insult you in kind.

you missed the point. i guess i should have been more blunt. the point is that there is not sufficient motivation to do so, especially if in some cases a serious disability results. This was the point of the chemo analogy. It was an analogy of uselessness, not function.

furthermore, the low rate of hep b has nothing to do with vaccinations of infants, since this is a new event. such low rates in industrialized countries predates infant vaccination by a long shot. with rates already quite low and usually the result of totally voluntary behavior, why is it so important to give it to infants? its the immunity stupid, right? actually, there is question about whether or not the immunity extends past 7 years of age. i guess we could just vaccinate them again, right? That'll be $200 ma'am. have you paid yours yet?

Which leads to the second point of mine, which you ignored, probably because you think i have paranoid tendencies and live alone with newspaper on the windows. the consuming public must be able to have full transparency in public health issues. if the CDC and FDA, (both heavily influenced by pharmaceutical companies in terms of the deciding board members etc) are squashing debate without going forward with some sort of transparent and definitive study (claiming that they already did it), well i for one (not in the soft science mind you) think it is stupid not to cry foul and demand open investigation.

i notice that you have major issues with bad parenting. are you a disgruntled social worker, or blessed with above average parents who obviously had a highly above average and gifted child? lol

By jtwhitehouse (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink


You're not a target here because of your 'radical' ideas, you're a target here because you're parroting all of the talking points of the vaccine/autism denialists. There are MANY studies that have clarified the points that you bring up, and while it is NOT stupid to demand an open investigation, it is maybe a little silly to ignore all of the open investigations that have already been done, or to deny their results as conspiracy when they don't confirm what you wanted to find.

There are some good summaries of the main issues in the links people have posted above (reposted with a few additions below), but it is simply false to say that studies of the vaccine/autism link haven't happened, or aren't available.

In case you didn't click these discussions before:…

And wow, some real studies (hint: type 'autism, vaccine' into google scholar):………

So I'm not calling you stupid for asking that these studies be done. I'm just saying that it would be a bit silly to deny that they already exist!

Unless you have a child with autism,& unless
you deal with this every friggin day like I
do....... you really should keep your big fat
nose out of it!!!! Im sure there are plenty
of other things ya'll can argue about, let me
see there's religion, and politics, all sorts
of things. The last time my son talked was
three years ago when he said hat, put that in
your pipe and smoke it!!

By Marcels mom (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

Thank you Steve....... =)

By Marcels mom (not verified) on 04 Jul 2007 #permalink

I get frustrated with people who judge families
like mine who deal with this
every day. The last word
my son used was "hat" and that was three years ago. At
7 he isnt potty trained, & when we go out as a family
we have to put a leash on his pants so he wont wander off. Imagine if your child
couldnt even say "I love you mommy and daddy." We have no social life, which is okay with us but hard on
friends and family. Remember there was a time when we didnt know that cigarettes cause cancer and NOW its written on the side of cigarette packages. My brother works for a pharmaceutical company. I believe in innoculations. In
my oppionion the shots should have been given further and farther between.
Please, unless you have a child suffering from autism (not a cousin or a nephew)
but your own child, please dont judge so harshly. Thank you, Marcels mom
(I wrote this last night on another blog
when I was on a roll =)~~ )Im just glad people
are talking about autism alot more now adays.

By Marcels mom (not verified) on 04 Jul 2007 #permalink

lol, as if banning me were a punishment. i notice you didn't rebut. probably because i'm right. see ya. hahahahahaha

By jtwhitehouse (not verified) on 07 Jul 2007 #permalink

Boy can I clear a room =)~~

By Marcels mom (not verified) on 07 Jul 2007 #permalink