Jun 04 2008

Dr. Offit Article on Vaccines and Autism in the NEJM

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Comments: 3

Dr. Offit is an infectious disease and vaccine specialist who has been extremely active in defending the science of vaccine safety and effectiveness against ideological attack from antivaccinationists. He has recently published an excellent article in the New England Journal of Medicine in which he reviews the Hannah Poling case – the case of the girl with a mitochondrial disorder who developed encephalopathy following a series of vaccines. He makes many very good points and the entire article is worth reading.

I wrote previously about the Hannah Poling case. This remains a vexing case because it in no way supports the claim that there is a link between vaccines and autism, but it is a complex case and is easily presented by antivaccine activists as if it does support a link. Dr. Offit echoes my position that the details of the case, when put into proper perspective, do not support claims for such a link.


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Dr. Offit Article on Vaccines and Autism in the NEJM”

  1. ticktockon 04 Jun 2008 at 10:21 am

    There are anti-vaccine activists that are coming to my blog post about Time Magazine’s vaccine article and telling me that Dr. Offit isn’t a credible source of info because of his conflicts of interest.

    What should a skeptic’s rule of thumb be for experts with a potential bias? Should we hold them to greater scrutiny? Or should his experience, expertise, and education trump his potential bias?

    How should I respond to commenters quoting his statement that a human could handle “10,000 vaccines”. That seems a bit irresponsible of him to say, or no?

  2. HCNon 04 Jun 2008 at 11:57 am

    What you do is to get the actual original quote from:

    Which says “A more practical way to determine the diversity of the immune response would be to estimate the number of vaccines to which a child could respond at one time. If we assume that 1) approximately 10 ng/mL of antibody is likely to be an effective concentration of antibody per epitope (an immunologically distinct region of a protein or polysaccharide),39 2) generation of 10 ng/mL requires approximately 10^3 B-cells per mL,39 3) a single B-cell clone takes about 1 week to reach the 10^3 progeny B-cells required to secrete 10 ng/mL of antibody39 (therefore, vaccine-epitope-specific immune responses found about 1 week after immunization can be generated initially from a single B-cell clone per mL), 4) each vaccine contains approximately 100 antigens and 10 epitopes per antigen (ie, 10^3 epitopes), and 5) approximately 10^7 B cells are present per mL of circulating blood,39 then each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time (obtained by dividing 10^7 B cells per mL by 10^3 epitopes per vaccine). ”

    Basically, that commenter is either a liar, or did not understand the quoted paragraph.

    Also, that commenter is ignoring the paragraph that follows:

    “Of course, most vaccines contain far fewer than 100 antigens (for example, the hepatitis B, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines each contain 1 antigen), so the estimated number of vaccines to which a child could respond is conservative. But using this estimate, we would predict that if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be “used up.”"

  3. cp cerebralon 10 Jun 2008 at 3:07 pm

    cp cerebral…

    The Kentucky Post reports that Covington\’s Glenn O. Swing Elementary School’ s protest has been sustained. The KDE incorrectly classified two kids at the school as learning disabled who were not. Once these kids were removed from the school’ s l…

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