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 Vaccine Information Resources: SIDS and Seizures  
 
Crib death was so infrequent in the pre-vaccination era that it was not even mentioned in the statistics, but it started to climb in the 1950s with the spread of mass vaccination against diseases of childhood. It became a matter of public and professional concern and even acquired a new name, “sudden infant death of unknown origin, or, for short, SIDS.

This name is significant, in the light of subsequent controversies, since of unknown origin” means exactly that. So, when the medical establishment assures us that SIDS is unrelated to vaccinations, the obvious response is, How do you know?, if it is defined as "of unknown origin"? At this (as with most common-sense questions about vaccinations) the medical establishment prefers to retire from the debate in dignified silence.

So we have witnessed a steady rise in the incidence of SIDS, closely following the growth in childhood vaccinations. But information on the progress of this epidemic has been radically suppressed in the official literature. Whereas in earlier decades -- up to the end of the 1950s -- the medical establishment could recognize the fact of death after vaccination, more recently, as the official position has hardened, the earlier concessions have been withdrawn, and vaccinations of all kinds are now declared absolutely safe at all times and in all places. This has required some fancy footwork with the epidemiologic statistics, as we will see below.

And since no physician or scientist with a normal IQ could really believe this “epidemiology,” one is forced to conclude that the medical establishment, in its wisdom, has decided that 7000-8000 cases of crib death every year are a reasonable price to pay for a nice steady flow of vaccines with all their concomitant benefits for the public health (except, of course, for these same 7000-8000 babies each year who have already enjoyed all the possible advantages of childhood vaccines).

After all, they say to themselves, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. But the the eggs being broken are small, helpless, and innocent babies, while the omelette is being enjoyed by the pediatricians and vaccine manufacturers.

Death after whooping-cough vaccination was first described by a Danish physician in 1933. Two Americans in 1946 described the deaths of identical twins within 24 hours of a DPT shot (on the background and history of SIDS see H. Coulter and B. Fisher, DPT: A Shot in the Dark). E. M. Taylor and J. L. Emery in 1982 wrote: "we cannot exclude the possibility of recent immunisation being one of several contributory factors in an occasional unexpected infant death."

But the early 1980s were a turning-point in the official line. In that same year of 1982 matters came to a crisis when William C. Torch, M.D., Director of Child Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Nevada School of Medicine, at the 34th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, presented a study linking the DPT shot with SIDS. Torch concluded: “These data show that DPT vaccination may be a generally unrecognized major cause of sudden infant and early childhood death, and that the risks of immunization may outweigh its potential benefits. A need for reevaluation and possible modification of current vaccination procedures is indicated by this study.

Torch's report provoked an uproar in the American Academy of Pediatrics. At a hastily arranged press conference he was soundly chastised for using "anecdotal data," meaning (will you believe it?) that he actually interviewed the families concerned!

This mistake was not made again. Gerald M. Fenichel, MD, chairman of the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in 1983 published an article on vaccinations entitled “the danger of case reports,” and the pro-vaccination literature produced in profusion in later years and decades has generally steered away from and around any such thing as a "case report." These researchers will examine with minute precision hospital card files, medicare cover sheets, even physicians’ records, but God preserve us from contact with the children themselves or their families!

Another sign of the hardening official position was a two-part article by Daniel Shannon, M.D., in a 1982 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Shannon was Director of the Pediatric Pulmonary Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a “principal investigator” of SIDS. His article on the causes of SIDS (financed by the U.S. Public Health Service) never mentioned vaccination even though, at a 1979 FDA meeting on "The Relation between DPT Vaccines and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," Shannon had described 200 infants with severe breathing difficulties after a DPT shot, such that they required resuscitation. In 1979 he had said: “We do have all this data. It is all recorded on tabular sheets, and we have it on nearly 200 infants that we have evaluated this way. It is in a capacity that it can be pulled, but in 1982 he preferred not to pull this information after all.

When Barbara Fisher and I queried him on this in a 1982 letter, he replied: "I did not mention DPT shots in my review article on SIDS in the New England Journal of Medicine because there are no data collected in a scientific way [no anecdotal data, if you please!] that support an association. This includes Dr. Torch’s report."

So the cat was let out of the bag by Dr. Torch, who has been effectively silenced by his colleagues since that memorable date. In his editorial attacking “case reports” as a basis for evaluating vaccine damage, Gerald Fenichel alluded to an ongoing study by the NIH on “risk factors” in sudden infant death syndrome which, Fenichel asserted, "excluded DPT as a causal factor in sudden infant death syndrome."

Let us take a look at this study, published some years later as "Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Immunization and Sudden Infant Death: Results of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Cooperative Epidemiological Study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Risk Factors," coauthored by: Howard J. Hoffman, Jehu Hunter, Karla Damus, Jean Pakter, Donald R. Peterson, Gerald van Belle, and Eileen G. Hasselmeyer (Pediatrics 79:4 [April, 1987], 598-611.

This "retrospective case-controlled study" involved finding 838 children whose deaths had been classified as SIDS by the attending physician and/or the coroner and comparing them with 1514 "controls."

The 800 "cases" were selected from among all children who died with a diagnosis of SIDS between October, 1978, and December, 1979, at or near certain designated centers. Excluded from the group were: (1) those on whom an autopsy was not performed or was performed with deviations from the standard protocol, (2) those younger than 14 days or older than 24 months, (3) those who died after more than 24 hours in a hospital, and (4) those for whom the parents refused permission to perform an autopsy.

The selection was made by a panel or panels of pathologists who examined the records of the children’s deaths and autopsies and who decided whether or not the child had really died of SIDS or from some other cause.

There are two major objections to this procedure. The first is that the "case" group contained some children who were vaccinated and some who were not. The second is that we are not given the criteria by which the panel of pathologists decided whether or not to include a child as one of the "cases."

On the first objection, the investigators are searching for a tie with vaccination in a group of 800+ infants, some vaccinated and others not. This is contrary to common sense. Why water down the sample with babies who were never vaccinated? At this point the whole methodology for determining whether a previous vaccination may or may not have contributed to the SIDS death in question rapidly becomes incoherent.

This leads to objection #2, which is that we are not given the criteria according to which children were accepted as “cases” by the panel of pathologists, and we cannot judge whether or not this was done correctly.

A typical SIDS post-vaccination case would be the baby with a slight bacterial or viral infection who is vaccinated and then dies of the infection. These cases are invariably classified by attending physicians and coroners as “death from an infection” without taking into account the fact that vaccinations are known to lower resistance momentarily (for a day or two).

In this state of lowered immunity the baby might well die from the infection which would otherwise have been innocuous. So such a case would not even be classified as SIDS (since the infectious “cause” is known), and certainly not as “SIDS after a vaccination,” even though the baby would not have died in the absence of a vaccination. How many such cases were rejected by the "panel of pathologists"? We are not told.

The combination of (1) mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated babies with (2) failure to provide the criteria for acceptance into the “case” group taints this same “case” group irredeemably and, in itself, should prevent any further consideration of this study.

The next step in the investigation was to select two live "controls" for each "case." Control A was "matched" for age with the corresponding "case," meaning that he or she was born as close as possible to the same day. Control B was “matched” not only for date or birth but also for birth weight and race. Again, as with the "cases," these "controls" were mixed with respect to vaccination status, some yes and some no.

The obvious criticism here is that date of birth is simply not relevant to whether or not a baby is vulnerable to the effects of a vaccine (unless the selection is being made on astrological grounds!). Birth weight and race are slightly more relevant, since children of low birthweight and black children (who are more often of low birthweight than white children) are more likely to be affected adversely by vaccination.

However, sex was not included as a criterion, even though males die of SIDS, and are adversely affected by vaccinations, five times more frequently than females. This was a peculiar oversight.

The only comment to be made about this "control" group is that it was selected on entirely incomprehensible grounds. It stands to reason that, when one group is being compared with another group, the two groups must be "matched" with respect to the variable being studied. In this case the variable being studied is “tendency to die after receiving a vaccination. Date of birth has nothing at all to do with this variable, whereas weight and race are only marginally related to it. Sex of the baby, which is related, was not included in the analysis.

Even though these two groups are not comparable, Drs. Hoffman et al. compared them anyway, finding that "only" 39.8% of the "cases" had received at least one DPT shot, while 55% of Control A infants and 53.2% of Control B infants had received at least one DPT shot. Since fewer “cases” than "controls" had received the shot, the authors concluded that “DTP immunization is not a significant [what do they mean by "significant?"] factor in the occurrence of SIDS.

This sort of attempted comparison can only be described as a shambles, a grotesque imitation of scientific method designed to fool the public (and the journalists who are supposed to be monitoring precisely this sort of intellectual dishonesty). It would have made as much sense to interview the first 1600 people they could pick up in the Greyhound Bus Station and ask them about their vaccination status.

But this article had its effect. Dr. Torch was effectively silenced, and for years this pseudo-science has been cited as one of the medical establishment’s principal weapons in its drive to extend childhood vaccination programs.

How do you react when your own government lies to you systematically about life-and-death questions? As I have noted earlier, the answer is political action in the state legislatures, and one weapon in the hands of the public is an understanding of the pseudo-science and pseudo-epidemiology represented by articles like this one.

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