WoBioBlog: Reproduction of 1998 Wakefield Study Finds NO MMR/Autism Link

It’s pretty commonly known that Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper on the link between autism and the MMR vaccine has been the source of considered controversy over vaccinations and autism, even after the majority of the paper authors removed their names and the journal retracted the paper. Wakefield’s unethical conduct, the leaps of logic, and the small sample size itself, all contributed to reasons the paper was ultimately discredited.

Unfortunately, that sort of discrediting might hold weight in academic spheres, but doesn’t necessarily take hold in the public sphere. It’s much more entertaining to write scare-tactic headlines touting fears of vaccines and the rise of autism than it is to say “woops”, let alone “woops, we maybe made something worse… sorry about that, please go vaccinate your kids before measles skyrockets to new epidemic proportions.”

Hopefully the news that a reproduction of the Wakefield study shows absolutely no link between autism and the MMR vaccine will gain foothold in the media at large, and go a long way towards convincing parents that vaccinating their children…

Click to continue reading, or to comment.

WoBioBlog: A Month Without Plastics

Over on the BBC website, reporter Chris Jeavans is blogging about her August challenge: to live a month without buying or accepting anything wrapped in or made with plastic. Why? Because even though we’re all repeatedly implored to reduce, reuse and recycle, plastics are still one of the most common things to make it into our trash, our landfills, and our oceans. So she wanted to track exactly how life would change if she gave up plastics – first, of course, tracking how much plastics she and her family used over the course of one month.

The numbers were surprising…click to continue reading

WoBioBlog: Controversial Infant Heart Transplant Redefines Death

Surgeons in Denver are happily announcing a major break-through in infant cardiac transplants: using hearts from infants that have died of cardiac-related deaths. According to the Wall Street Journal,

Until now, it was thought that hearts from those donors were too badly damaged to be transplanted successfully. Only hearts from donors who were brain-dead — and whose hearts were still functioning after they were declared dead — have been considered suitable for transplant.

To make the donors’ hearts more viable, doctors at Children’s Hospital in Denver altered the standards for declaring the patients dead… The Denver researchers narrowed to as little as 75 seconds the time between when the donor was pronounced dead and when the heart was harvested. Current guidelines call for waiting up to five minutes as a way of making certain that the heart does not start beating again on its own. But removing the heart earlier increases the odds of a successful transplant since it limits the damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the organ.

Most professional medical types I know, be they bioethicists, doctors, nurses, etc, agree that there are significant and severe problems with how transplants are handled in this country, and that we need to do something to increase the number of available organs…(continue reading)

a pint a day keeps the doctor away?

From Wil Wheaton’s blog (yes, that Wil Wheaton) comes the fabulous news that Guinness? Is good for you!

According to a new study out of the University of Wisconsin, drinking a pint of Guinness a day gives the same healthy-heart benefits as an aspirin a day (keeps the heart attack away). Apparently something in Guinness – but no lagers – reduces the clotting activity… at least, in the dogs that were in the study. Something tells me recruiting human research subjects won’t be difficult!

No one is really sure what in the Guinness causes this anti-clotting activity; maybe it’s added anti-oxidants, maybe it’s just the effect of alcohol (leading speculation as to why the lager wasn’t as beneficial). I do know that many asthmatics are recommended they drink a glass of wine or pint of beer a day, to alleviate inflammation and constriction, and there are of course numerous studies on the benefits of red wine. So, this would not be the first time alcohol has shown to have potential medicinal benefits.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think this deserves a drink.
-Kelly Hills

[cross-posted to the Women's Bioethics Blog]

Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.