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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Type 1 Diabetes: It's the Milk, Not the Shots!



I was listening to a self-educated, self-styled health expert who was talking on the radio yesterday. He said something about some vitamin therapy for type 1 diabetes, and then he said something that shocked and upset me. He mentioned what he believes is the cause of type 1 diabetes. I expected him to say “cow’s milk.” There’s plenty of evidence to support the role of cow’s milk in causing type 1 diabetes. If more parents knew about the link between cow’s milk and type 1 diabetes, it’s likely that fewer children would come down with type 1 diabetes. Instead, he said, “vaccinations.” I’d never before heard of any link between vaccinations and type 1 diabetes, so I quickly did a MEDLINE search. I looked for articles on vaccinations and the cause of type 1 diabetes in humans. If you click on this link, you’ll see the same articles I did:

 
For me, this search yielded 60 articles, many of which I could read for free. By the time that you repeat this search, there may be more. Some of them were about the ability of vaccines to provide protective immunity in children who already had type 1 diabetes. Several articles were about the attempts to develop a vaccine to prevent type 1 diabetes. 

One article pointed out that rubella infection was the only infectious disease that has been clearly implicated as a contributing cause of any form of type 1 diabetes. Of course, rubella could be completely eradicated, along with measles, if all of the world’s countries participated in a comprehensive vaccination campaign. Unfortunately, many people are refusing to get their children vaccinated against rubella because they are convinced that the MMR vaccine causes autism. I remember one woman in particular telling me that her child’s autism resulted from mercury in the MMR shot. I told her that I was sorry that her child has autism, but I can guarantee that mercury in the MMR shot had absolutely nothing to do with it. That’s because the mercury-containing preservative thiomersal has never been used in the MMR vaccine. I also explained to her that since congenital rubella infection is a possible cause of autism-spectrum disorder, then her efforts to scare people away from the MMR vaccine might make the problem worse, not better. If the world’s population worked together to eradicate measles, mumps, and rubella, then the MMR vaccine would no longer be needed.

The studies that looked for evidence of a statistical relationship between various vaccinations or vaccination schedules and type 1 diabetes kept coming up empty-handed. As the biggest and best-designed study concluded:  
These results do not support a causal relation between childhood vaccination and type 1 diabetes.

If there really were some sort of cause-and-effect relationship, it would leave some evidence of its existence. In other words, we don’t have an absence of evidence, we have evidence of absence! There's no rational reason to blame vaccinations for causing type 1 diabetes!

So far, vaccination campaigns have led to the complete eradication of two infectious diseases: smallpox and rinderpest. Smallpox is a human disease that was once a major cause of death and disfigurement. Rinderpest killed hundreds of millions of cattle. The next human disease that is about to be eradicated by vaccination is polioGuinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) is about to be eradicated by a campaign of education about sanitation. It is technically possible to eradicate measles, mumps, rubella by vaccination and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and cysticercosis (pork tapeworm) by other methods. There is even talk of eradicating malaria.
 
Nowadays, it’s no longer necessary to vaccinate people against smallpox. Soon, it will no longer be necessary to vaccinate people against polio. I look forward to the day when measles, mumps, and rubella are eradicated and the MMR vaccine will no longer be needed. In the meantime, there's no need to worry that the currently used vaccinations pose any risk of type 1 diabetes.

2 comments:

  1. You said:
    "I also explained to her that since congenital rubella infection is a possible cause of autism-spectrum disorder, then her efforts to scare people away from the MMR vaccine might make the problem worse, not better."

    It made me think that, even if it wasn't the mercury in the vaccination that caused her son's autism, perhaps it was the fact that he was given a small dose of an congenital disease that is known to be a possible cause of autism. I have heard numerous stories of children behaving radically differently after receiving vaccinations and I know there has to be a relation of some kind.

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  2. When a woman gets rubella infection during her first trimester of pregnancy, there is a substantial risk that her baby will be born with severe birth defects, including deafness, blindness, and mental retardation. Autism spectrum disorders are among the problems that have been shown to occur in children who were exposed to rubella infection before birth. On the other hand, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that rubella vaccination of children contributes to autism spectrum disorders. In fact, there's strong evidence that it DOESN'T. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021134

    Here's an article in which epidemiologists from Emory University estimate how many cases of autism spectrum disorders have been prevented by rubella immunization in the years 2001 through 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21592401
    That's why I think that efforts to scare people away from the MMR vaccination are increasing, rather than decreasing, the number of cases of autism spectrum disorder.

    I would like to see rubella eradicated. Then there would be no further need for rubella vaccinations.

    Be very careful about assuming that timing is proof of a cause-and-effect relationship. Children may start getting acne when they're in junior high school, but it would be silly to blame their school for the acne.

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