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Correcting this week’s misinformation: December 29, 2022

This week, we are reviewing our most popular newsletter non-COVID stories of 2022. Last week, we looked at COVID stories.

Aluminum and Asthma

The Claim:

A story that receive a lot of your attention was the study that appeared to associate childhood asthma with aluminum adjuvants in routine vaccines.

The Facts:

Admittedly, this study does show a positive association between aluminum in vaccines given before the age of two and developing childhood asthma between the ages of 2 of 5. However, it is a retrospective study that generally cannot establish a causal relationship between a risk factor (aluminum in vaccines) and an observed outcome (asthma). You can’t assume, based on this study, that vaccines caused the observed asthma.

Retrospective studies look back on data collected before the study was designed. Data that would have the potential to impact the observed outcome may not have been collected as it would have in a prospective study.

Retrospective studies are very good at finding associations that need further exploration and testing. Now that a positive correlation has aluminum and asthma has been identified, further studies with different study designs need to be conducted to determine what may actually be causing the increase in asthma. No study at this point, including this one, has suggested that vaccines are the cause of increases in childhood asthma rates.

Young children are exposed to aluminum in many ways at many different times of their lives. Aluminum is the third most abundant element on earth and is present in many of the foods we eat, in much higher quantities than found in vaccines. Any aluminum injected from vaccines is metabolized in the body, and the vast majority of it is excreted within weeks.

This study does show that the CDC takes vaccine safety very seriously and that our monitoring systems work.

Is monkeypox airborne?

The Claim:

Do you remember earlier this year when monkeypox was circulating in the United States? One question many had was whether or not the virus is airborne.

The Facts:

ccording to the CDC, monkeypox (mpox) is spread via close personal contact. Such contact can be direct– via monkeypox lesions or body fluids from an infected person, via contact with objects or fabrics used by someone with monkeypox, or via respiratory droplets.

While the WHO has said that monkeypox could possibly be spread through short-range aerosols, we have no indication of this type of spread. Monkeypox has been studied for decades after its discovery in 1958, and airborne transmission has never been noted.


The Claim:

Because SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a diagnosis given when no other explanation can be found for a baby’s untimely death, parents often wonder if vaccination could be the cause. While Candace Owens worked to promote that idea this year, a study hinted at a possible non-vaccine cause.

The Facts:

As Jonathon Swift once wrote: “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.” Sadly, SIDS rates increased slightly in 2020, as newly published data shows.

The claims about 2020 are just another in a long list of non-existent correlations. A number of previous studies show no correlation between vaccines and SIDS. One meta-analysis even suggests that vaccines halve the risk of SIDS.

Public health initiatives such as back-to-sleep campaigns and vaccination can save lives.

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