Parents cause SIDS?? David Brown examines AoA's "scare" story

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!


Mom26children said...

Yes, my early fix of AoA has left me ticked off, yet again...when will I learn to wait until after I get my kids to school to read this crap ?
Dentists are mental ? is the title...
I hope every member of the ADA sues the pants off of AoA....
One can dream, can't they ???

Corina Becker said...

I'm having a hard time to not take this personally; a close family friend of mine lost her baby girl to SIDS. I was her "Auntie". Just a few weeks before her first birthday and her first Christmas (she was a New Year's Eve baby), she passed on. Her autopsy showed that she was a perfectly healthy baby.

Okay, trying to focus now. As usual, that is some really crummy "fact finding" on the behalf of AoA.

Mom26children said...

In high school and college, we learned about propaganda techniques used by various groups. AoA follows this procedures like they read a textbook about it.
The graphic pictures showing despair, the exaggerated "scary" stories to incite panic, the ability to insinuate that all is a great big conspiracy to harm them....etc, etc, etc...

davidbrown said...

I was sure that at at least some people would be uncomfortable or offended over this article, but felt that being very blunt was the best way to go. I hope it is clear that I am not accusing parents of wrongdoing (except in egregious cases). The Biblical story of the judgement of Solomon could be the archetype for "cosleeping SIDS", and illustrates how easily it could happen completely by accident. I also hope that more parents will reconsider keeping infants in their beds.
Very sincere condolences for the loss of your friends.

NightStorm The Aspiewolf said...

I also hope that more parents will reconsider keeping infants in their beds.

*eyebrow lift* Accually the deaths caused by co-sleeping are the result of parents doing it wrong. To co-sleep you must have flat matress on the ground must not be taken medication and the child must not between anyone. Most of the deaths are the result of mothers takening medication or the child being between someone. THere are also devices use for cosleeping that protect the baby as well.

So that statement is rather ingnorant and based on social information not direct facts.

Corina Becker said...

David, I'm not blaming you; you are merely reporting your findings behind the AoA article. I am upset, however, because AoA, in specific Kim Stagliano, is implying that parents are causing SIDS by vaccinating their children, when it's very obviously a complete misinterpretation of facts.

It's leading to a "how DARE they" reaction as I remember my and the family's grief, but it's not at you. It's at AoA for fear-mongering and preying upon grieving families.

kathleen said...

After I read that AoA piece, I talked to my Dr. He siad roughly the same thing that David says here-not as detailed though :) The unfortunate thing is-most parents will take that article as fact-most if not all will not bother looking at Ms. Staglianos research..Ms. Stagliano did not much bother looking at her research.She had an agenda, and she kep't it. It is mind boggeling isn't it?

KWombles said...

Saw that this morning, too. Remember, they write for whale.to as well. If folks haven't seen whale.to, go take a look; it makes AoA look almost reasonable by comparison.

KWombles said...

Okay, for an article on cosleeping and the safe way to do it, who should not do, and deaths that may be attributable to cosleeping: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sleep/cosleeping.html#.

davidbrown said...

To Nightstorm,
Your comments are appreciated. I freely admit I haven't read any studies on "cosleeping", but when it kept coming up in the data, a connection seemed impossible to deny. I would still say, as a matter of personal opinion, that it would be better to avoid "cosleeping" entirely.
As far as "societal" issues, I will admit that the connection I have found may not be causal. The most obvious alternative would be that "cosleeping" and "SIDS" are independent symptoms of lower-quality housing.