Monthly Archive for January, 2010

Wakefield finding: Pro & con

As most readers probably know, the UK General Medical Council censured Dr. Andrew Wakefield for his research that supposedly shows a link between immunization with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. The Autism corner of the blogosphere has been rife with discussion (more than what I can up with keep). However, Liz Ditz has been maintaining a catalog of notes pro and con regarding the finding. For those who are interested, read Andrew Wakefield: Dishonesty, Misleading Conduct, and Serious Professional Misconduct: Blog Posts Critical of Verdict; Blog Posts Approving of Verdict

Also see theBBC news coverage, MMR scare doctor ‘acted unethically’ panel finds, and the UK Telegraph story, “GMC brands Dr Andrew Wakefield ‘dishonest, irresponsible and callous’.”

I want to note that readers should understand that the GMC investigation, though very important, did not expressly examine the scientific basis of Dr. Wakefield’s case. The findings discuss whether he was qualified to do the work and followed procedures in seeking approval for it. The scientific strength of the findings from the study in question have been examined extensively by well-qualified researchers and found wanting, though (see, for example, Hornig et al., 2008).

UK action on children’s mental health

Lord Jones of Cheltenham, a member of the the UK Parliament, has formally asked “what measures are planned to improve services for (a) children with serious emotional disturbance, and (b) adults with mental health illnesses.” The request is in response to recent UK report, Keeping Children and Young People in Mind – Full Government Response to the CAMHS Review that, in turn (and as the title shows), was a response to the government-sponsored review of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

Keeping Children and Young People in Mind calls for a system of universal services, targeted services, and specialist services accompanied by support for them from local and national government agencies. Get a copy of Keeping children and young people in mind: the Government’s full response to the independent review of CAMHS and visit the Web site of the UK Department of Children, Schools, and Families for more about “services supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.”

See the Parliamentary records for a written version of the request by Lord Jones.

Science, gastro-intestinal problems, diets, and Autism

In Pediatrics Dr. Timothy Buie and colleagues published a paper providing evidence-based recommendations for pediatricians who evaluate and treat gastrointestinal problems in patients with Autism. The authors, who represent many important scientific groups concerned with allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, nutrition, and similar problems, concluded that children with Autism and related disorders should be assessed and, as approriate, given medical care just as would individuals without Autism. The team encouraged pediatricians to develop and employ “evidence-based algorithms for the assessment of abdominal pain, constipation, chronic diarrhea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).”
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