Originally Posted by Deborah
Okay, here is the big question.
Are the studies "proving" that MMR isn't connected to autism deliberately structured to miss the relevant children? To avoid collecting the inconvenient data?
We don't want to see that there is a connection between the MMR and sick children who are being labeled as autistic.
We will do studies that deliberately avoid looking at the actual sick kids, or if the studies do look at the actual sick kids we'll look at as small a group as we can possibly manage...And we'll set up the studies so the results can't possibly verify the existence of these children or the connection between their symptoms and the MMR.
The problem is, it's tough to have it both ways.
You can do a big epidemiological study that by its very definition can only tell you about population-level trends. If your study is really huge, you might be able to pull out some useful subgroup analyses. And at most, you can say that your data don't support a connection between, say, MMR and autism at the level of the population.
Or you can do a small targeted study in the lab, one that looks at individual kids. Apologies -- I only skimmed the first study, but it seemed to involve kids with GI symptoms + autism vs. GI symptoms + no autism, all of whom had undergone endoscopy. It involved actual biopsy specimens, and subjected those tissue samples to real-time PCR to look for measles. This is no trivial undertaking. It's no surprise that the numbers in this kind of study are tiny. And what can you say at the end? Well, we didn't find any more measles in one tiny group of kids versus the other. But you can't say anything about the group as a whole.
They're very different types of studies, performed in very different conditions (offices vs labs), by very different types of scientists (clinical vs basic) with very different types of training (MPH vs PhD in molecular bio).
As for the spin, well, that's coming from many different places. The scientists themselves are eager to get press, the press is eager to sell airtime (or ad space). True, there's a big desire to maintian the status quo, but I don't see it as a giant hush campagin.
From my reviews, the epidemiological evidence is limited in any given study, but starts to become more persuasive when several studies from different countries show the same thing. And the biomolecular data is intriguing but has the potential for major flaws that send everybody barking up the wrong tree (still have to review those studies).