When Fleet Street was the traditional home of national newspapers in the UK it was lampooned as the street of shame. But whatever their faults, journalists then did to try and beat each other to a good story. Not nowadays. Not Sally Beck. When she filed her latest scare story about “independent” research that supported a link between MMR and autism with the Mail on Sunday she couldn’t wait to share the good news with Beezy Marsh who used to write anti vaccine stories for the Mail before moving on to the Daily Telegraph.
Marsh showed her gratitude by adding Beck’s name to her story when she filed it with the Telegraph.
Of course she didn’t just copy it word for word. You can understand why when you read this quote from team leader, Dr Stephen Walker in Beck’s account.
What it means is that Dr Wake-field’s implication is it may be coming study is correct. That study from the MMR vaccine. If that’s didn’t draw any conclusions about the case, and this live virus is specifically what it means to find residing in the gastrointestinal measles virus in the gut, but the tract of some children, and then they have GI inflammation and other problems, it may be related to MMR.
It must have been a very bad line from North Carolina that night!
The Times weighed in with a piece by Sam Lister, who was more measured. He stated correctly that the research had not yet been subject to peer review and had not been published in a scientific journal. He also reminded readers that
A recent analysis of 31 MMR studies by the Cochrane Library, one of the most authoritative sources of evidence-based medicine, showed no credible grounds for claims of serious harm.
Lister’s report also differed from the others in one important respect. He wrote that the study was led by Arthur Krigsman, of New York University School of Medicine. But even Lister missed the real story here.
Forget the research. As Lister says, it has not been peer reviewed. It has not been published. It is not even being presented at the IMFAR conference. It will be a poster on a display board describing a work in progress. The real story has been blogged by Kev If journalists spent more time investigating stories instead of just reporting them then Lister would have quickly discovered that this so called new, independent research is irrelevant.
He could have contacted the NYU School of Medicine to see if they were supporting Krigsman’s research and did they know he was also working down in Texas as a partner of Andrew Wakefield’s Thoughtful House Centre for Children. He could have visited the Thoughtful house website and discovered that Steven Walker is an advisor to Thoughtful House. The NAA website reveals that Wakefield was a consultant to the study which is funded by ARI and NAA. No mention of NYU or Wake Forest as participating in this study in any way. So we have Wakefield acting as a consultant to a study that is being carried out by one of his partners and a member of his advisory board and funded by Wakefield’s supporters. No conflict of interest there, then.
But there is an even bigger story that everyone has missed. This from the Thoughtful House FAQ
What is the purpose of doing a diagnostic endoscopy/colonoscopy in a child with an autistic spectrum disorder?
Children with ASDs and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms often have a disorder known as Autistic Enterocolitis. The only way to diagnose this with certainty is to perform a diagnostic endoscopy and biopsy and inspect the tissue under a microscope.
What can be done for a child with autistic enterocolitis?
Proper medication may be given and dietary intervention may be prescribed in order to alleviate any or all of the symptoms, including diarrhea, pain, constipation, abdominal distension, malabsorption, and growth retardation. It is not an attempt to treat their autism.
Why not simply treat all ASD children with gastrointestinal symptoms as if they had autistic enterocolitis, and bypass the need for an invasive endoscopy?
In general, it is poor medical practice to empirically treat conditions that have not been properly diagnosed. This is especially true for treatments that involve the use of medications with the potential for unpleasant or dangerous side effects, and for conditions in which empiric treatment would interfere with subsequent proper diagnostic tests.
What is really happening here? Parents are being told that their children have to undergo this endoscopic test to prove that they do in fact have autistic enterocolitis. Then they take specimens and send them to Steve Walker as part of a research program set up to determine if autistic enterocolitis exists!
Is there a doctor in the house? Would you require an endoscopy before treating any or all of the symptoms, including diarrhea, pain, constipation, abdominal distension, malabsorption, and growth retardation, in a child at your clinic? Is this standard practise?
So Wakefield has set up his centre to help children. Except that he cannot help them with the blood tests, stool tests, and abdominal X-ray that they have to do before Dr Krigsman decides if he will see them. These are necessary to diagnose a problem. But they are no use to Wakefield. He needs to stick those cameras on flexible tubes inside kids to see if it is worth his while to take biopsies that he can use to prove his hypothesis about MMR and autism.
Thoughtful House exploits parents fears and abuses kids by turning them into lab rats. Who is going to write that story? Is there a journalist in the house?