Holford, MMR and autism again: why Holford needs to read Holford Watch more closely

Clearly, issues around the vaccination of and appropriate treatment for children and mothers are important – this is literally a matter of life and death. You’d therefore expect Holford to reference his claims in this area accurately, and only base these claims on the most reliable evidence. Well, you’d be disappointed. To give a sense of how disappointed I am, I’m going to analyse one example of inaccurate and unconvincing referencing in Holford’s work.

Shinga has already done a very thorough job of picking apart some of Holford’s poor use of and referencing of his sources. In yesterday’s e-mail re. MMR and autism, however, Holford repeats some of the same mistakes. For example, when discussing a supposed “high incidence of autism in children whose mothers had received live virus vaccines…immediately prior to conception during pregnancy, or immediately following birth”, Holford’s evidence is a URL for a Yazbak study: www.autisme.net/Yaxbak1.htm. More to the point, as Shinga has noted and as you will find out if you click on the link above, it’s a broken URL. Shinga even provided an updated link to the correct article: it’s a shame that Holford didn’t take advantage of the Holford Watch copy editing service…

As Shinga notes, the study in question focuses on a group consisting of “[m]embers of vaccine and parent groups were contacted via e-mail”, and isn’t clear on how the investigator(s) tried to deal with the obvious bias that this will have introduced. Even ignoring these serious potential problems, the Yazbak study looks at just 25 cases – hardly enough to draw any strong conclusions. If you wanted to be generous, one might note that two follow-up studies look at another 29 cases in total. However, for Holford, referencing the Yazbak study (with a broken link) is enough to let him say that “studies have shown a high incidence of autism in children whose mothers had received live virus vaccines (particularly the MMR or rubella vaccine) immediately prior to conception during pregnancy, or immediately following birth”. Frankly, I had hoped for better.

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1 Comment

Filed under autism, MMR, patrick holford, vaccination

One response to “Holford, MMR and autism again: why Holford needs to read Holford Watch more closely

  1. Shinga

    This whole area of Holford’s pronouncements on autism is getting more and more odd. I found an item on his website about autism.

    Under the heading of What Causes Autism we learn: “Being breastfed also increases the risk”. A trifle odd and at variance with the literature with which I am familiar, but difficult to counter because he doesn’t give a reference.

    Still under this section, we see the following: “Recently there has been a raging debate over the danger of the MMR vaccine causing autism in children. The official line is that there’s no good evidence of such a danger. There’s some truth in this, in that DR Andrew Wakefield’s research at the Royal Free Hospital, while important, is the first hint of a problem and it may be too early to jump to conclusions. For most children, the MMR vaccine is unlikely to be a problem, however no one really knows the full consequences or giving a child three immune attacks-mumps, measles and rubella- all at the same time. Getting all three illnesses at once simply doesn’t occur in nature, so there’s a logical argument for single vaccines if a parent so chooses, especially for children with weakened immune systems. Perhaps for children with nutrient deficiencies, lacking essential fatty acids, susceptible to food allergies and /or gut problems, these triple vaccines are the last straw”. [My emphasis.]

    Is it just me, or is that a leap of logic rather than an understandable extension of logic? And, again, there are no references for the claims about “nutrient deficiencies” etc. and any putative role as the “last straw”.

    I recently posed the question, Is Holfordism Harmless (part 1 and part 2): I wonder if that question needs to be re-cast.

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