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The "Retracted" Studies.

There are no long-term studies that have compared overall health of totally non-vaccinated children to those who are fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC schedule. The US Institute of Medicine noted this lack in its 2013 report "The childhood immunization schedule and safety: Stakeholder concerns, scientific evidence, and future studies." Although drug interaction and overdose are accepted realities in medicine, the CDC continues to add new vaccines and extra doses of older vaccines to the childhood schedule despite evidence that adjuvants in some vaccines have adverse neurological and immunologic effects.

Comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated children in the US has been problematic because most of the population has been at least partially vaccinated; the number of never-vaccinated children is so small in general population samples that detecting rare, but serious, adverse effects is impossible. (1) Withholding vaccines from children to act as a control for long-term studies is considered unethical. Professor Anthony R. Mawson and colleagues at Jackson State University (Jackson, MS) teamed up with Brian D. Ray, President of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), to see if a population of homeschool children might include sufficient numbers of vaccinated and never-vaccinated children to provide a statistically viable means for comparison. Homeschoolers are known to have lower vaccination completion rates.

The Mawson pilot study was published by the peer-reviewed Journal of Translational Science in April 2017, along with a second study involving a subset from the pilot study. The pilot study compared the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated homeschool US children, ages 6-12. (2) The second study reported associations between preterm birth, vaccination, and neurodevelopmental disorders. (3) As is typical of epidemiologic studies, Mawson and colleagues used chi-square tests, odds ratios, and 95% Confidence Intervals in evaluating their null hypothesis: "If the effects of vaccination on health were limited to protection against the targeted pathogens as is assumed to be the case, no difference in outcomes would be expected between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups except for reduced rates of the targeted infectious diseases."

With Brian Ray's help, Mawson and colleagues contacted statewide homeschool organizations in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oregon and asked them to forward an email to their members that explained the study's purpose and provided a link to an online survey. The researchers were not looking for a representative sample of all homeschool children in the US. Rather, they sought a "convenience sample of sufficient size to test for significant differences in outcomes" for this pilot study.

Qualtrics, a marketing research software company, hosted the online survey website for three months in the summer of 2012. Respondents were asked to consent to participation, give their zip code and state of residence, and confirm that they had biological children between ages six and 12. In addition to demographic information and child vaccination and health history, the questionnaire also asked about confounding factors such as the use of antibiotics, acetaminophen, alcohol, and antacids during pregnancy, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, Rhogham shot during pregnancy, and whether they lived near a hazardous waste or manufacturing site. The survey questionnaire consisted of yes-no, closed-end questions. "Financial incentives to complete the survey were neither available nor offered."

The survey gained 415 completed questionnaires, providing data on 666 homeschool children: "... 261 (39%) were unvaccinated, 208 (31%) were partially vaccinated, and 197 (30%) had received all of the recommended vaccinations." As expected, the incidence of chickenpox and pertussis was significantly less in the vaccinated group; "but, contrary to expectation, [the vaccinated children] were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with otitis media, pneumonia, allergic rhinitis, eczema, and neurodevelopmental disorders [ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, learning disability]," write the authors. Partially vaccinated children "had an intermediate (apparently detrimental) position in terms of allergic rhinitis, ADHD, eczema, and learning disability." In the adjusted analysis, neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) were significantly associated with vaccination (OR 3.1, 95% CI: 1.3, 6.8); male gender (OR 2.3, 95% CI: 1.2, 4.3); and preterm birth (OR 5.0, 95% CI: 2.3, 11.1).

The second published study investigated a possible association between preterm birth, vaccination, and neurodevelopmental disorders. None of the children who were born preterm and remained unvaccinated (n=12) had a neurodevelopmental disorder. The authors found that vaccination, not preterm birth itself, was associated with NDD: "... vaccination coupled with preterm birth was associated with increasing odds of NDD, ranging from 5.4 (95% CI; 2.5, 11.9) compared to vaccinated but non-preterm children, to 14.5 (95% Ci: 5.4, 38.7) compared to children who were neither preterm nor vaccinated." Preterm infants are routinely administered vaccines according to CDC schedule at two, four, and six months after birth, regardless of gestational age.

The authors admit the limitation of the small sample in this report and say more studies are needed: only 51 of the 666 children in the original study were born pre-term and 50 of the 666 had a neurodevelopmental disorder. But they say the link between vaccination in preterm infants and neurodevelopment disorder is biologically plausible:
Receipt of one or more vaccines could precipitate NDD in some preterm
infants by exacerbating a preexisting inflammatory state associated
with prematurity, leading to hepatic encephalopathy and
hypoxic-ischemic brain damage. Impaired liver function is a
predisposing factor for preterm birth and the latter is associated with
increased risks of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. (3)

The Mawson studies were nearly never published--not because of scientific flaws or misconduct but because journals did not want to deal with the controversy, pushback, and smear that the results would attract. In the Q&A after his presentation at the 2017 Autism One conference, (4) Dr. Mawson explained that the study had originally been accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Public Health but was then rejected before publication. Rejected, not retracted as Retraction Watch falsely claimed. An online post of the study's abstract drew the ire of those who view anything that questions vaccine safety as being "anti-vaxx." Celeste McGovern reports a tweet from Leonid Schneider claiming credit for getting the study pulled: '"I pride myself to have caused the Frontiers anti-vaxx retraction with one tweet! The anti-vaxx paper was published as abstract, a reader alerted me, I tweeted, Frontiers got scared, pulled the paper.'" (5) Whether or not Schneider's tweet was fully responsible, Frontiers backtracked and declined to publish the full study.

Mawson said a second journal, hearing about the Retraction Watch claim that the study had been retracted by Frontiers, immediately returned the study. Journal of Translational Science (JTS) accepted the study; but upon hearing about Frontier's "retraction," this journal also pulled it. Retraction Watch falsely claimed that Mawson's study had been retracted a second time. At this point, Dr. Mawson sought legal advice; "retraction" indicates scientific misconduct, a serious charge. The lawyer sent a letter to JTS, clarifying that the study had never been retracted. So, JTS published the studies. Dr. Mawson emphasized this is a pilot study, a preliminary step in determining whether this line of research is worth pursuing. Funding is required to do a necessary and larger one.

There was a time when controversial results were tested with additional studies by independent researchers. Now, it seems, smear campaigns and censorship rule--at least in the area of vaccines.

We have learned a tremendous amount about neurodevelopment and the immune system since the smallpox vaccine was first used two hundred years ago, and not all vaccines have the same risk-benefit for every person. Yet, the CDC continues to add vaccines to the schedule as if they were all benign, magic bullets against disease. Meanwhile, the integrity of any practitioner or researcher who questions CDC vaccine policy is trashed by smear-mongers, who whether from ideology or personal profit, prefer to leave the growing vaccine schedule unexamined and unchecked.

From my perspective, media is doing everything it can to ignore these questions and maintain the status quo: the widely disseminated belief that any and all vaccines provide vital health benefits that outweigh any risks. Vaccination is being treated like an issue of religion: dogma vs. heretics. The problem is that government agencies are forcing that dogma on parents and practitioners. Government agencies in Australia, Italy, Romania, and California are requiring full vaccination in order for children to attend school. In some cases, parents can lose government financial aid, must pay a fine, or face the intrusion of child protective services if they do not comply. California doctors who give medical exemptions because of a family history of autoimmune disorders or patient history of an adverse reaction attract attention from the state medical board.

Do we really want health safety issues to be determined by smear campaigns, propaganda, and censorship?

Jule Klotter


(1.) Three Alleged "Vax-Unvax" Studies Debunked. May 12, 2017.

(2.) Mawson AR, et al. Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old US children. J Trans Sci. 2017;3(3).

(3.) Mawson AR, et al. Preterm birth, vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders: a cross-sectional study of 6- to 12-year-old vaccinated and unvaccinated children. J Trans Sci. 2017; 3(3).

(4.) Pilot Comparative Study on the Health of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated US Children. Autism One presentation. May 27, 2017. Available on YouTube.

(5.) McGovern C Has Snopes Been Snoped? Will Retraction Watch Retract? May 19, 2017.
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Title Annotation:child vaccination
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2017
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