Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism?(Original Taylor number = 53; second Taylor number =3 )
Correct citation: Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA. Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism? J Inorg Biochem. 2011 Nov;105(11):1489-99. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Aug 23.
Authors' affiliations: Shaw is a professor in the Department of Ophthamology and Visual Science, specifically in the Graduate Program of Neuroscience, at the University of British Columbia. Tomljenovic appears to be a post-doctoral fellow in Shaw's group. Interestingly, while Shaw references his interest in "the potential for compounds such as aluminum to be neurotoxic," he does not list this or his other papers with Tomljenovic on his university biography page. This paper lists the following sources of funding:
The authors would like to thank Dr. James Garret tfor his invaluable help with statistical analysis. This work was supported by the Katlyn Fox and the Dwoskin Family Foundations.
The Katlyn Fox Foundation is a Canadian charity that funds research finding vaccines dangerous. The Dwoskin Family Foundation funds a number of different projects, but has been quite generous to organizations that find vaccines to be dangerous.
Claire Dwoskin is a board member of the anti-vaccine group National Vaccination Information Center. Her husband, Albert, is president and CEO of A.J. Dwoskin & Associates, Inc. Through their foundation, they funded The Greater Good Movie, giving $25,000 to the project in 2010. Two years ago, they made two donations to the American Foundation for University of British Columbia, academic home to Shaw and Tomljenovic. One contribution, for $10,000, was just for "general expenses". The more significant donation was for lab costs for the "Aluminum Toxicity Project", for which they donated $125,000.
Were the authors' findings influenced by their funding?
Nature of Journal: Reputable journal addressing among other things, "the role of metals in medicine"; impact factor 3.197.
Methods: The methods section of this paper reveals it to be fatally flawed. The methods are discussed at length in the posts below:
- http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/12/08/and-global-warming-is-caused-by-the-decr/ In particular, note:
the authors are plotting ASD incidence in each year (1991-2008) against total aluminium content for the pediatric schedule *in that year*. Not (as you might expect) the aluminium exposure for the ASD cases themselves, according to the pediatric schedules of 6 to 21 years previously, but no, that same year.
In effect they are looking for a correlation between the number of people who developed ASD decades earlier, and the number of vaccinations given to other children, in the current year. This is an interesting model of causality!
The World Health Organization's Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety reviewed this study and another from the same researchers at their June 2012 meeting. The report of that meeting read
The GACVS reviewed 2 published papers alleging that aluminium in vaccines is associated with autism spectrum disorders and the evidence generated from quantitative risk assessment by a US FDA pharmacokinetic model of aluminium-containing vaccines.
GACVS considers that these 2 studies are seriously flawed. The core argument made in these studies is based on ecological comparisons of aluminium content in vaccines and rates of autism spectrum disorders in several countries. In general, ecological studies cannot be used to assert a causal association because they do not link exposure to outcome in individuals, and only make correlations of exposure and outcomes on population averages. Therefore their value is primarily for hypothesis generation. However, there are additional concerns with those studies that limit any potential value for hypothesis generation. These include: incorrect assumptions about known associations of aluminium with neurological disease, uncertainty of the accuracy of the autism spectrum disorder prevalence rates in different countries, and accuracy of vaccination schedules and resulting calculations of aluminium doses in different countries.
Remember that the compiler of this list of papers made the following assertion:
Here we provide for the reader research that demonstrates the link between vaccines and autism, and the mechanisms by which vaccines can cause autism.
Does this paper effectively demonstrate a link between vaccines and autism? No.
Does this paper demonstrate the mechanism(s) by which vaccines can cause autism? No.