Unreliable Anti-Vaccination Websites:
The Case of Alan Yurko (from the site of Harold Buttram)

One of the more disturbing references on many anti-vaccination websites is to Alan Yurko who was convicted of murdering a 2 month old child in 1997. Yurko is currently serving a life sentence in prison after being convicted of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) in the death of Baby Alan. Yurko plans an appeal based on the idea that a vaccine reaction, rather than SBS, was responsible for the death of Baby Alan. His anti-vaccination supporters have also employed misleading scientific information in an effort to discredit vaccines.

An example may be seen here . Buttram and Yazbak have used multiple pieces of information that are not, in fact, supported by the same medical literature that they reference (the laboratory values used below are also from Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics). Here are a few examples:

The APGARS were 8 and 9 indicating that the infant was *not* immediately in distress.

Normal pH is generally considered to be between 7.35 -7.5 in a preterm infant. Normal oxygen levels (pO2) are 8-24 at birth, 33-75 at 5-10 minutes, 31-85 at 30 minutes, 55-80 at 1 hour of age, and 54-95 at one day of age. "Severe hypoxia" is quite an exaggeration.

These are considered to be normal values in a newborn (BUN 3-25 in a premature baby, creatinine 0.3-1.0 in newborn)

Normal LDH is 170-580 in a newborn. Normal ALT is 6-50.

The Nelson textbook says no such thing. The page that is referenced lists lab findings with clinical pertussis disease - not a pertussis (vaccine) reaction. A lymphocyte percentage of 61% is considered a relative lymphocytosis as opposed to an absolute lymphocytosis.

From: Leukocytosis - Basics of Clinical Assessment by NEIL ABRAMSON M.D. (American Family Physician Volume 62 •• Number 9 •• November 1, 2000): “Relative lymphocytosis occurs in a number of clinical situations, such as INFANCY, viral infections, connective tissue diseases, thyrotoxicosis and Addison's disease.”

In other words, the elevated white blood cell count in Baby Alan was NOT indicative of a reaction to the pertussis vaccine.

What Nelson actually says is: “In exceptional circumstances, kernicterus in VLBW infants with serum bilirubin concentrations as low as 8-12 mg/dL has been associated with an apparently cumulative effect of a number of these factors.” VLBW = very low birth weight and is a term generally used to refer to newborns less than 1500 grams at birth (that’s less than 4 pounds). Baby Alan was not VLBW at over 5 pounds birth weight. This piece of information referenced from Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics does not even apply.

Baby Alan was breastfed. Breastmillk jaundice can persist for 6-8 weeks and is considered physiologic - not pathologic. Many of us breastfeeding moms know this.

I can't know for certain the guilt of Alan Yurko - that was decided by a jury some 4 years ago. I, however, do not understand the reason for the deceptive use of the scientific literature in an effort to support Yurko and discredit vaccines. At the suggestion of several people, I did send the above information to Yurko in prison. I received a reply and posted it to the vaccination debate board. You can read a summary of his letter and my reply here . There was also a discussion about another Yurko piece entitled "Yurkotale" on the debate board here

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