January 6th, 2011
09:34 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Autism & Vaccines, Rising Uproar

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on 360°, you'll hear from the investigative reporter who has uncovered evidence he says proves that Dr. Andrew Wakefield deliberately faked his study on autism and vaccines. Brian Deer lays out his case in a series of articles that began appearing in the medical journal BMJ last night.

You may recall, Wakefield said last night on the program that he's the victim of a smear campaign. He claimed Deer is a "hit man" who has been brought in to take him down. Back in 1998, Wakefield was the lead author of a study that triggered a worldwide scare over childhood vaccines. It suggested vaccines may cause autism. That study, which involved just 12 children, has since been discredited. And last spring, Wakefield lost his medical license in the UK.

Deer responds to Wakefield's allegation and much more tonight.

We're also Keeping Them Honest at the Pentagon where for years they've had a list of 5,200 alleged child pornography customers who might work at the Department of Defense. So, why did they only check 3,500 names and prosecute only a handful?

And, we'll continue our special series on cold cases with a look at the unsolved murders of rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac. There is new developments in one of those cases. We'll have the latest.

Plus, see who we're adding to the 'Ridiculist.'

Join us for these stories and much more at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Rita

    Andrew Wakefields theory was based in large part of the preservative Thimerisol being used in 2.5ml of a 5ml solution of vaccine. The premise was that this preservative was causing or triggering autism in children. When globally Thimerisol was removed from ALL vaccines, with the exception of the Flu (it's still in that)In addition he looked specifically at a condition called "short gut syndrome" in his pediatric gastroenterology practice. It was that relationship that this fraud was intigated. As a parent of a child with Autism, I can tell you that while I don't have all of the answers, I do know that you cannot have it both ways. Autism is either triggered by vaccines or it's not. I have met many families with children who have autism who have never been vaccinated. I think vaccines in SOME children create a response in the body that damages the part of the brain that "autistic like" behaviours originate from. I believe that while that can look like autism, it is not the same thing as the true disorder. We have to look at this closely. There are other disorders that have nothing to do with autism that are autistic like. Rhetts syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Williams syndrome. I think to close the door on other theories is closing the door on potentially helpful treatments. To put Andrew Wakefield in the same category as legitimate reseachers, is offensive. He developed his own "alternative" vaccine. Through that, he saw a way to make millions and then found a presumable legitimate way to exploit parental fear for his own financial gain. that doesn't make him credible, it makes him creative. The Royal Victoria Hospital in London, fired him. When he came to the states and settled in Texas..with a legitimate autism clinic, he worked there until the other physicans began to question his ethics and the way he practiced. He was fired from that clinic as well. Since then, he has gone on the public speaking tour and my understanding is that he isn't working anywhere. I am concerned that desperate parents will try therapies that are not proven based on fear driven science. That they will withold potentially lifesaving measures because one person can sell it and sell it well. My son is who he is. Autism is only one small faucet of his very large personality. Over the years, I have watched Autism climb from 1:10,000 live births to 1:110 It is frightening..why is it happening? What is happening genetically that is triggering this epidemic? That's a question I hope is answered in my lifetime.

    January 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  2. Boon

    There is only 1 autistic child for every 110 children. Any work to connect MMR vacine to autism is just too easy to be dismissed and discredited. Just imagine, there are more than 100 cases to show that there is no connection between the two, and only 1 case to show that something might be going on there. Only the parent of that one unfortunate autistic child could sense and feel that there is actually something there. Hundreds others will think that the parent of that single autistic child is just desperate to hang on to something intangible. In a democratic society, that 1 out of 110 votes will always lose. Until we knew that the Earth is orbiting the Sun, it was just too easy to say that Earth was the center of the Solar system.

    January 7, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  3. X

    Mr. Cooper, I have nothing but respect for you for you are a bearer of light when it comes to tough issues, I have a 6 yr. old with Autism, I took my child to all his doctor appt. and the doctor would tell me that my baby was healthy and fine, My son started to walk and talk late and even Birth to Three and my sons preschool started to look at me and my wife as if we were bad parents, I was watching CNN Larry King and he did a special on Autism, and because of my sons clapping, this became a key indicator that my son could have Autism. As we sought further treatment from a neurologist, My thoughts were confirmed, and the most bewildering thing about this whole issue is while my son attended pre-school, after making it known to them through documentation of 2 different doctors, and even after that, they fought us on this until they brought in their own specialist. Now my son is doing well as we are maximizing his abilities. My question to you Anderson is this, you state the increase in Autism occurred in 2002, the question now is what was added to the vaccines in 2002, could there be a silent but lethal combination in the vaccine, I think you need to find out what was added or taken from the vaccine in 2002, As I watched my child grow, I lean to the side that the vaccinations caused my sons Autism. And if Wakefield is telling the truth, Financially, Imagine all the lawsuits that would come forward due to Wakefield being right. And to make a radical change and admit wrongdoing has catastrophic consequences. This would "hurt" the vaccination industry. There would be no trust in vaccines and it would collapse the trillions of dollars made of vaccinations. This would also start a uproar never before seen as children are the victims in this situation. As for the parties responsible and the powers that be, I personally have a hard time accepting that if it were true, they would do everything in their power to cover this up like they do everything else.

    January 7, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  4. Fred

    I think that you as a reporter need to learn about "following the money" and that the evil corporations will do ANYTHING to make a buck. The pharmaceuticals are among the worst.
    Mercury never was totally removed from vaccinations AND mercury is the most dangerous element that we have. We are finally removing mercury from dental fillings and we need to do the same with vaccinations.
    I would NEVER let my kids or grandkids put that poison in their bodies!!!

    January 7, 2011 at 6:27 am |
  5. Lee Bollinger

    It is important to expose frauds, which seems to fit the description of Wakefield. However, when too much press/media attention is given to these frauds, they, the perpetrators, end up with national attention that is somehow flattering to them. I think the press/media attention needs to stop. Expose him, which has been done, and ignore him. Frauds, like other criminals, thrive on the attention. Silence still has tremendous power. Lee B.

    January 7, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  6. Kyandy

    I love you and your show Anderson BUT why didn't you let Dr. Wakefield talk. You yelled, cut him off, and didn't allow him to speak his points confortably. You for the first time in the years I've bee watching you seemed.... a little biased.

    Then when that UK man came on your show you were 1000 times more civil.

    I haven't formed an opinion about his findings but YOU Mr. Cooper were not fair to him.

    January 7, 2011 at 5:13 am |
  7. Eric Olsen

    This man is innocent. Anyone who is involved with the issues he studies will say the same. I am a sixteen-year-old boy that has experienced these horrors first hand. Although I do not have autism, I suffer from disabilities such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and have irrational fears. I have a strong vocal tick that has modified over the years. I received my first vaccine at age three. Prior to that I had no history of OCD, ADD or any of the previously stated conditions. However, almost immediately after I received my vaccines they began. My mother thought that was fishy and opted out of giving me any more vaccines. Eventually my ticks became such an issue I had to be pulled out of school because I’d become overly sensitive. Frantic for a cure we consulted many psychiatrists, all of which prescribed the household name drug Prozac. I took it as prescribed for over six months, my symptoms got worse. The dosage was upped and I took it for four more months, again my symptoms got worse. For a third and final time my dosage was upped. After a year of taking this drug and seining no improvements, we decided to seek other alternatives. We came across authors like Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Doris Wrap that questioned the western method of medicine and encouraged to explore alternative options such as homeopathy. At the time we were able to try anything and so we researched and found one of the top homeopathic clinic in the nation, located in Arizona. We didn’t expect much but again were willing to try anything. I was placed on a grueling diet and giving homeopathic remedies. We saw progress almost instantly. My OCD has been at a lifelong low, as well as all my other conditions, and I was able to go back to school where I have received straight A’s since the sixth grade. My mind became sharp and I look and feel healthy. There was no telling that the homeopathic treatment is what did the trick. If I hadn’t sought other options and just stuck with the western medicine there’s no telling what would have happened to me. Homeopathy is for some reason frowned upon, maybe it’s because it take business away from the pharmaceuticals. I’m not here to conspire; I’m here to tell a story. In my time in Arizona I shared a room with many autistic children and adults. All of which made some sort of minor or major improvement over time. It’s not fair for one to pass judgment before they hear both sides of the story, and no one has given Dr. Wakefield or anyone like him a fair change to explain their selves. All we do is make allegations towards them. I beg someone to ask one of the thousands of people who saw positive results from their work and then see if the allegations made are true, or the effect of a drug company feeling threatened by an opponent. Please, simply read their books; hear their side of the story that helped so many people through tough times, if after you still feel the same way then so be it. No one can disprove that this form of medicine works for some people.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  8. Rhonda

    I have two sons with severe Autism. They are my only children and I love them deeply. My oldest now 15, was diagnosed in 1997, then it was 1 in 10,000, now in 2011 it is 1 in 110. The numbers have not just risen since 2003 Anderson, the stats have been climbing for some time now. I believe if this were cancer rising this fast in children, more would be done by our government and private agencies. I would love to see a study done on children that have NOT been vaccinated, but have gotten Autism, are there any? This might be something for you to follow up on, for a future story. And by the way, gastrointestinal problems are not always part of Autism, neither of my boys have that problem, and I have several friends that have children with Autism and this is not a problem for their children either. The road that we as parents have to walk everyday with our children with Autism, is extremely difficlt. It is exhausting (emotionally and physically), hard on our marriages (85% get divorced),and the stares and comments people make about something they will never understand, wears on your confidence as a good parent. Please think more than twice before anyone that is reading this makes comments about a child with Autism, we are doing the best we know how, and until these children live with you 24/7, be thankful Autism has'nt touched your life YET!

    January 7, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  9. Barbara

    As a parent of a child with Autism, I take some issue in being portrayed as somehow desperate or gullible looking for someone to blame. I don't blame immunizations, but for my child, it was a factor. Dr. Wakefield and many other credible doctors who have researched and written about autism, it's potential causes and eleviations are not preying on me. The parents in the autism community that I know are organized, focused and dilligent. Since our regular pediatricians are so unfamiliar with autism, we do extensive research ourselves and make informed decisions in our childrens best interest. Respectfully, I think that many parents are better read and informed than many general doctors and journalists.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  10. Victoria

    Martin – as an RN. I do fully understand your explanation, and I say you nailed it on the head!

    January 7, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  11. Victoria

    I also believe in the connection between vaccines and disabilites in children. My son developed freeze stares days after receiving MMR in 1999. Doctors checked for seizure disorders which was negative. I was told it was a nerve glitch- just a phase- that my son would be fine and normal. Nothing to worry about it. My son has a mild form of Asperger's. Evaluators still note his brain will do a disconnect. But, yet... Doctors claim there is nothing wrong. He does get good grades, but it is with great effort. He does hyper focus and is absolutely brilliant in his interests. But, on my own- I correlated the MMR vaccine. Way back in 1999. Do you think it is funny those vaccines were given 1998-2001.. some still affected in 2002 from leftover vaccines. Everyone can deny the vaccines, but they did make changes to the formula. Isn't that the TRUTH? (Why would they deny the vaccines? you ask.) Do you think it would be, so there would not be a mass lawsuit against government? Vaccine makers? I do. Many children were harmed due to the changes made in vaccines. Thimerosal,

    January 7, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  12. Martin

    If you know anything about neurochemistry and immunology, you would be an idiot not to think that a vaccine could cause Autism. Any substance not natural to the human body can cause an inflammatory response, excite cytokines, and trigger neuronal cell death, thus altering the function of the brain.
    It's simple neurochemistry, it's how the body functions. You cannot alter basic neurochemistry, the body simply responds appropriately to an offensive stimulus or it responds inappropriately. Your result in how your cells respond, this is YOUR health or lack of health.
    Anderson, interview a neuro-chemist, not a medical doctor, and talk about neuronal cell death as it responds to cytokines (inflammation), then ask him or her the question "could the human brain respond to a toxin and present in behavior such as autism, dementia, etc" Now that's science!

    January 7, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  13. Meredith

    My son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last year at the age of 14 after YEARS of banging my head against the thick walls of the school system, the healthcare system and even my own family, trying to point out that my son was "different." After we got the diagnosis, I was strangely thankful for it. I truly believe it is a GENETIC or INHERITED disorder and not because he got the MMR vaccination. Come on, folks! Take a look at your family tree and I'm 100% certain you have some "quirky" relatives in those branches! Get over trying to place blame and get on with teaching your children how to cope with the world around them. And why do I feel so strongly about this? Because I'm an Aspie "kid" too.

    January 7, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  14. Michael

    Vaccines may harm people. They may cause various problems over which we have little control. The bigger issue is that this is the nature of every single medicine ever developed. All medications, including vaccines, come with the caveat of numerous side effects up to and including death. What the FDA does, in essence, is perform a risk/benefit analysis to determine whether or not it is in the best interest of the public to let drug X be certified for public consumption.

    I have encountered hundreds of parents in my role as an ER RN who do not vaccinate their children because of a threat of adverse side effect. These parents might well be advised to avoid giving their children ANY medicine because something terrible might happen. There is no medication without risk. There may be a better chance of the children being struck by lightning but why not mitigate risks over which they have control?

    The bottom line is that the vaccines do a great deal more good than harm. As the once eradicated diseases begin to re-surface (pertussis for instance)we should not act mystified as we ponder the etiology.

    January 7, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  15. Patricia

    If you are concerned about Dr. Wakefield's study, then perhaps you should take a look at the book "What your doctor may not tell you about children's vaccinations" by Dr. Stephanie Cave and Deborah Mitchell. They highlight many peer reviewed studies in reputable journals if you are unsure of Wakefield's credibility, there are other sources. Autism is not the only problem that might be linked to vaccinations, and other independent studies should be done because many of the adverse reactions are much worse than the diseases they are supposed to protect us from. Not to mention, the debates regarding their actual effectiveness and their abilities to mutate in response to increased immunizations.

    January 7, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  16. Bruce Brochtrup

    Great work guys! For years i have gone back and forth on this issue. I have studied up on both sides of the debate. One of the most interesting studies ive come across was the lack of a link between autism and the amish community, as they do not give vaccinations. Anyways, I wish someone would come on your show with a child who has NOT been vaccinated, yet is autistic. I feel that would help shed some light on the debate. The more families, the more convincing. Please do try. Thanks and goodluck!

    January 7, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  17. JB Handley

    When Wakefield says that his work has been replicated in five countries, he means the work proving that children with autism are suffering from severe bowel disease.

    Andy never did any "work" on the MMR-autism link, he simply mentioned that of the 12 families, 8 reported that their children regressed after MMR. He reported this in his study of bowel disease, which is the responsible thing to do. His study ends with these words:

    “We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described [autism].”

    When Anderson asked Andy if his work had been replicated, as a doctor Andy could only take that to mean his G.I. studies.

    He told you the truth, Anderson.

    On a lighter note, I am really glad America finally got to meet Brian Deer. They can reach their own conclusions about him, he brings a certain "imbalanced journalism" to the whole debate.

    JB Handley

    January 7, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  18. Rashid Conteh

    I have a brother who is autistic and was on the government program but now is off it because he spent about 2years outside of the U.S due to family issues and is no longer eligible for this program. both of my parents are here supporting 3 young kids and a out of state college student (me) with only one working parent because the other have to stay home to take care of the kids and cant find a job to fit the family schedule. they are making salary around the average American. This piece really touched me and i hope there's something that can be done for family such as mine. my parents are really struggling to make end meet.

    January 7, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  19. Dana

    Believe me, as a mother, I know within the deepest recesses of my heart that my child was harmed by the MMR vaccine. He not only has austism, but 3 other disorders as well, Tourette's Syndrome, Auditory Processing Disorder and Sensory Integration Disorder. He was a completely different child before the vaccine! If you could see him now, at age 14, how he is suffering, you would think twice about deliberately trying to destroy this doctor. How could anyone disbelieve that big drug companies have tremendous resources to silence any critics? You demonize big oil companies, do you think giant drug companies are holier? Wake up! I'm not blaming myself, I'm blaming the evil drug companies and their cover-up journalist accomplices!

    January 7, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  20. Kaileigh

    This is all ridiculous. This doctor is a freud and should be sued. Vaccines absolutely are not causing autism and parents who believe in this are only blaming vaccines because they desperately, and justifiably, need a reason why their child is the way they are. The cause of autism is unknown and the vaccine myth has been proven false

    January 7, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  21. Carly Ott

    Sequential does not equate with causality. Just because language issues occur on the developmental timeline shortly after the time when vaccines are given, does not mean that vaccines cause autism. That's like saying that twice a year when the sun sets at 5pm it causes rush hour.

    January 7, 2011 at 1:18 am |
1 2