Validation of the Phenomenon of Autistic Regression Using Home Videotapes (original Taylor number = 11, second Taylor number = 16, current Taylor number =20)
Correct citation: Werner E, Dawson G. Validation of the phenomenon of autistic regression using home videotapes. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Aug;62(8):889-95. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16061766
Authors' Affiliations: At the time the paper was published, Geraldine Dawson was p Professor at the University of Washington. Werner was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Washington.
Nature of Journal: The Archives of General Psychiatry was renamed JAMA Psychiatry in 2013. It has an impact factor of 13.722.
Methods: This actually is a well-done and interesting paper that took advantage of a technological change (affordable video cameras) to investigate the phenomenon of autistic regression, using 56 children's first and second birthday party videos. Dawson and Werner were able to document the change in 15 children who regressed. This is the last in a series of papers Dawson co-authored on using homre recording devices to document autistic behavior.
- Osterling, J., & Dawson, G. (1994). Early recognition of children with autism: A study of first birthday home videotapes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 247-257.
- Werner, E., Dawson, G., Osterling, J., & Dinno, J. (2000). Recognition of autism before 1 year of age: A retrospective study based on home videotapes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 157-162.
- Osterling, J., Dawson, G., & Munson, J. (2002). Early recognition of one year old infants with autism spectrum disorder versus mental retardation: A study of first birthday party home videotapes. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 239-51.
- Werner, E. & Dawson. G. (2005). Regression in autism: Validation of the phenomenon using home videotapes. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 889-895.
Does this paper then validate the notion that "vaccines can cause autism"? Of course not.
I wonder why the list-makers included this one. I am assuming some reasoning along the lines of:
- The regression occurs around the time of one-year-old vaccines
- There is a form of autism that has a period of normal development followed by regression
- Therefore, vaccines cause autism.
It's the correlation equals causation fallacy.
For those of you who are interested in more recent work on developmental trajectories in autism, this robust 2012 paper might be of interest:
Fountain C, Winter AS, Bearman PS. Six developmental trajectories characterize children with autism. Pediatrics. 2012 May;129(5):e1112-20. Epub 2012 Apr 2.
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.