Parents cause SIDS??
Cross-examining an Age of Autism “scare” story
By David N. Brown
In August 2008, Kim Stagliano of “Age of Autism” wrote an entire article to point out the fact that there were 83 VAERS reports of deaths following use of the Rotateq vaccine. Unfortunately, she appears to have made no attempt at data analysis, which has not stopped others sources from building on her story (in the distinctive fashion of an “urban legend”) with a recurring, cut-and-paste soundbites about “83 deaths caused by Rotateq”. For edification of the public, and my own amusement, I followed a link from her article to VAERS, and spent several hours compiling and analyzing the first 30 reports. (There are 142 now, which means I covered more than a fifth of them and almost half of those Stagliano mentioned.) I found the following facts of special interest:
-28 reports (93%) note that the child had received 3 or more vaccines. Hence, even those inclined to blame vaccination for a given death are in a weak position to argue that Rotateq in particular was responsible.
-17 (57%) of the deaths were reported as SIDS (the most feared of all technically non-existent maladies!). 11 of those deaths were noted to have occurred while the infant was in the parent’s bed, a situation which raises the strong possibility that the parent accidentally suffocated the child. Reports of 2 more “SIDS” deaths, of two identical twins in Virginia who died at the same time, mention brain edema (disruption of the blood-brain barrier) and fractured ribs, strongly suggesting child abuse. Thus, 13 (43%) of the deaths under consideration, and 76% of those involving so-called “SIDS”, not only need not have been caused by the vaccine, but could easily have been caused by a direct action of the parent. This only parallels what law enforcement has been saying for decades about kidnapping and homicide against children: Kids are far more likely to become victims of their own family members than anyone else.
-7 reports (23%) note that the amount of time between vaccination and “onset” (death or medical problems leading to it) exceeded ten days, which can be considered the outer limit for well-established vaccine adverse effects.
-In 5 cases (17%), the indicated cause of death is a birth defect or other pre-existing health problem.
-In 3 cases (10%), significant information was noted to be missing.
-In a more subtle problem, multiple reports came from the following states, with population (ca. 2008) noted for comparison:
California: 4 (37M)
New Hampshire: 3 (1M)
Texas: 2 (24M)
New York: 2 (20M)
Georgia: 2 (10M)
N. Carolina: 2 (9M)
Virginia: 2 (8M)
Mass.: 2 (6.5M)
Tennessee: 2 (6M)
W. Virginia: 2 (2M)
This presents clear evidence of “clustering” of reports independent of population, which in turn points to less than reliable reporting. Tennessee and New Hampshire are especially odd, because from each of them came back-to-back reports (18 and 19, 26 and 27) (The Virginia pair, already mentioned, are another example, but I would count them as a single incident.)This points to an “echo effect”: Once one incident as been reported, heightened concern can lead to a second report (I suspect of the same event in the New Hampshire cluster) independent of its merit. Hence, VAERS is probably unreliable, in no small part because of anxieties over vaccination which groups like AoA directly encourage.
Just as well, really: If VAERS were wholly reliable, it would be really embarrassing!