While much of science centers on the “little things,” sometimes big picture perspectives are essential for understanding trends, patterns, and the root cause of health conditions. Such is the case when we talk about neurodevelopmental disorders, which have been increasing in prevalence over the course of the last few decades. While neurodevelopmental research on conditions like autism have primarily focused on genetic causes, scientists conducting this research have yet to make truly significant breakthroughs, nor have they been able to explain how a population’s genetic predisposition for a disorder like autism could increase so rapidly within a few generations.
It’s for this reason that scientists Mark and David Geier have studied the potential environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, and their “big picture” epidemiological assessment of neurodevelopmental disorder individuals over the course of six years—from 1994 to 2000—offers up convincing evidence that the sharp increase in neurodevelopmental disorder diagnoses the United States has witnessed isn’t the result of more genetic mutations.
The Geiers’ assessment involved compiling data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a large database that collects information on individuals that experienced adverse effects after receiving vaccines. The Geiers’ looked at a database focused on vaccine adverse events because their previous research had shown that vaccines had the potential to increase an individual’s risk of developing autism. Specifically, vaccines that contained the toxic mercury-containing compound Thimerosal demonstrated a causal relationship to a child’s risk for developing autism. By looking at a large sample study over the course of a protracted period of time, the Geiers would now be able to contribute even more credibility to their findings.
So just what did their big picture assessment turn up?
The Geiers used data from the VAERS database to make comparisons on varying criteria. First, they identified the number of children who developed neurodevelopmental disorders after receiving DTaP vaccines that contained Thimerosal (which were administered between 1994 and 1997), to the number of children with neurodevelopmental disorders that received DTaP vaccines without Thimerosal (which were administered between 1997 and 2000). The same comparison was conducted with the DTPH vaccine, which combined the traditional Thimerosal-containing DTP vaccine with the HiB vaccine, which also contained mercury.
In making these two comparisons using an accepted framework for statistical analysis, the Geiers found there to be significant statistical evidence of a relationship between cases of neurodevelopmental disorders, and children who received a vaccine that contained Thimerosal, noting that children who received doses of vaccines that didn’t contain Thimerosal had a much lower number of reported neurodevelopmental disorders. The relationship between Thimerosal-containing vaccines and the risk for neurodevelopmental disorder was evident even when tested against each of the seven individual categories of common neurodevelopmental symptoms
The Geiers thus have shown that existing research on the risks of Thimerosal simply can’t be disregarded; when such apparent relationships appear over the course of many years, using vast sample sizes from individuals throughout the entire country, there’s no doubt that closer attention ought to be given to the subject. The numbers don’t lie.