Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Resource: Vaccines and Autism

Environmental and Science Education
by Edward Hessler

You may or may not be familiar with the journals published by PLOS, the Public Library of Science.

According to the Wiki entry on PLOS, it began in 2000 "with an online petition initiative...which called for all scientists to pledge that from 2001 they would discontinue submission of papers to journals that did not make the full text of their papers available to all, free and unfettered, either immediately or after a delay of not more than 6 months."  While many signed the petition, always the easy part, the follow through, the commitment to action was much smaller.  This led to the start of "non-profit publishing operation," made possible by two large grants.

The rest is history, as we say.  PLOS now publishes eight peer-reviewed journals and PLOS Blogs, all on-line and all open access. I am a somewhat regular reader—scanner is more accurate and honest way of saying this!—of PLOS Biology and PLOS One.

A few recent entries may provide a flavor of the width and breadth of the PLOS blogworld. Where does innate fear come from? Using arctic shrews (and their parasites) to understand the effects of climate change. On science blogs. The science of peer review (a podcast). A necessary retelling of the smallpox vaccine story. And the merry life of squirrels. (Huh?!)

I encourage you to read the latter for two reasons: it is about citizen science and includes a wonderful conversation between the author and his daughter, Mira, a kindergartner.  She had to write a report about squirrels. Her Dad tells her he is impressed that she remembered the word "habitat." Her response is perfect: "I know things."

The entry of interest today is the current featured PLOS blog from PLOS Medicine. It may be a useful and important resource to you as I think it will be to me.

The posting is by Peter Hotez who is the co-editor of the PLOS journal Neglected Tropical Diseases. This is his introduction to an essay on papers about why vaccines don't cause autism.

I have a unique perspective on the recent headlines surrounding vaccines and their alleged links to autism. I serve as President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to vaccines and immunization. In that role I am director of its product development partnership (PDP) based at Baylor College of Medicine – the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, which makes vaccines for neglected tropical diseases – a group of poverty-promoting parasitic and related infections – including new vaccines for schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis, among others.

But I’m also a father of four children, including my adult daughter Rachel who has autism and other mental disabilities. These two parts of my life place me at an interesting nexus in a national discussion of autism and vaccines.

h/t WEIT January 25, 2017

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