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In response to the August 25, 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declaration defending the validity of the 2004 DeStefano et al. study, PhD biochemist Brian Hooker responded and outlines inconsistencies in the agency's research practices and position.
Central to Hooker's response is "the irrefutable fact that valid information about race -- for the entire study sample of 2,448 children -- was available and accessible in school records."
The CDC maintains that birth certificates, which were available for only a smaller portion of the children in the study, were necessary to extract race and other information. However, in the original data Hooker obtained from the CDC through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), race information was directly obtainable through school records, which were available for all children in the study.
In addition, Dr. William Thompson, a CDC scientist since 1998, also released a statement on August 27, 2014 that supports Dr. Hooker's assertion that the CDC withheld important data that significantly altered the study's outcome.
According to Dr. Thompson's statement, "Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected." Thompson's conversations with Hooker confirmed that it was only after the CDC study co-authors observed results indicating a statistical association between MMR timing and autism among African-American boys, that they introduced the Georgia birth certificate criterion as a requirement for participation in the study. This had the effect of reducing the sample size by 41% and eliminating the statistical significance of the finding, which Hooker calls "a direct deviation from the agreed upon final study protocol -- a serious violation."
Hooker and Thompson both concluded that the study's original data revealed a strong, statistical association between the timing of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism incidence in African-American boys.
"Ten years ago (February 2, 2004), Dr. Thompson expressed concerns about the [MMR] study's findings in an urgent letter to CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding," said Dr. Hooker. [Thompson] wrote: 'I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of the MMR vaccine and autism.' Referring to the upcoming Institute of Medicine (IOM) meeting on immunizations and autism.
Dr. Thompson received no reply from Dr. Gerberding but was removed from the IOM speaker schedule just days before the meeting. The 2004 IOM report, which omitted his findings, was cited in the Omnibus Autism decision that denied 5,000 families compensation for vaccine injury claims. The report continues to be widely cited for its position of exonerating vaccines' role in causing autism.
Dr. Gerberding subsequently left the CDC in 2008 and in 2009 became president of Merck's multi-billion dollar vaccine division, a position she still holds today.
Hooker's statement also quoted an internal CDC memo from 2004 which termed Dr. Thompson's role in carrying out statistical analysis for the MMR study "pivotal," it described him as having "excellent statistical skills...exceptional epidemiological skills...[an] outstanding reputation within his highly specialized field," and confirmed his leadership of multiple large CDC studies.
Dr. Hooker points out Dr. Thompson's impeccable scientific credentials provide extra weight to his current revelations. Thompson states:
"I regret my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African-American males who received the MMR [measles, mumps, rubella] vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed."
The CDC has a history of manipulating data in order to achieve a desired outcome and then misleading the public. The agency has been criticized in a number of government investigative reports for its failure to warn and protect the public.
In 2008, the CDC withheld information regarding the toxic formaldehyde found in trailers provided to victims of hurricane Katrina and failed to alert the public that formaldehyde is a carcinogen.
An Office of the Inspector General (OIG) 2009 investigation concluded the CDC was allowing many scientists and medical experts, with significant conflicts of interest, to participate in numerous research studies.
Then in 2010, a congressional investigation found the CDC "...knowingly used flawed data to claim that high lead levels in the [DC] District's drinking water did not pose a health risk to the public." The Washington Post reported, "The committee reveals that the missing data showed clear harm to children from the water -- and that CDC authors knew the data was flawed."
In addition, former CDC vaccine/autism researcher, Poul Thorsen, who co-authored several studies widely cited as "proof" there is no link between vaccines and autism, has been indicted and charged with 13 counts of wire fraud and nine counts of money laundering awarded to the CDC for autism related research. Thorson is now a fugitive on the Inspector General's most wanted list.
"Given this abysmal track record and the fact that an astonishing 1 in 68 American children have an autism diagnosis, one has to wonder why the revelations made by Dr. Thompson and Dr. Hooker hasn't become a major news story or prompted greater congressional scrutiny of the CDC," said Barry Segal, founder of Focus Autism.
The Focus Autism Foundation was founded by humanitarian and philanthropist Barry Segal. The foundation is dedicated to investigating the cause(s) of the autism epidemic and the rise of chronic illnesses in children. A Shot of Truth is an educational campaign sponsored by Focus Autism. Mr. Segal also founded the Segal Family Foundation, which provides approximately $10 million annually to Sub-Sahara Africa to promote education, health, and family planning.