Generation Rescue

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Generation Rescue is a nonprofit organization that advocates the fringe view[1] that autism and related disorders are primarily caused by environmental factors,[2] particularly vaccines.[3] These claims are biologically implausible and are disproven by scientific evidence.[1] The organization was established in 2005 by Lisa and J.B. Handley. They have gained attention through use of a media campaign, including full page ads in the New York Times and USA Today.[4] Today, Generation Rescue is known as a platform for Jenny McCarthy's autism and anti-vaccine advocacy.[5]

Media campaign[edit]

The organization was established in 2005 by Lisa and J.B. Handley and 150 volunteer "Rescue Angels" that included many members of the biomedical treatment movement at the time. Beginning in the spring of 2005 and running through January 2007, Generation Rescue began a national media campaign in the US, placing advertisements in such publications as USA Today.[4] More recently it has been led by Jenny McCarthy, an author, television personality and former Playboy model.[5]

Causes of autism[edit]

Generation Rescue has proposed a number of possible causes for developmental-related issues, such as vaccines, the increase in the number of vaccines administered,[3] and thiomersal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative.[6] Generation Rescue claims that biomedical intervention can help children recover.[7] The hypotheses that vaccines, such as MMR, or thiomersal cause autism have been refuted by scientific research,[1] as have claims that diets or drugs can cure autism.[8] Because of Generation Rescue's public profile through national advertising and because its point of view is not shared by the mainstream medical community, its message has been controversial.[9] and the organization has been described as anti-vaccine.[10][11]


Claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism, promoted by Andrew Wakefield, were declared in January 2011 to be based on manipulated data and fraudulent research.[12][13][14][15] Parental fears over vaccines have led, in turn, to decreased immunization rates and an increased incidence of whooping cough and measles, a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease.[16] Generation Rescue issued a statement that the "media circus" following the revelation of fraud and manipulation of data was "much ado about nothing".[17] responded to Generation Rescue's statement with:

But any organization using a celebrity to mislead parents with claims of "new" data that rely on decade-old vaccine formulas and schedules is more than disingenuous, it's flat-out dangerous.

— Mary Elizabeth Williams[18]

Much of Generation Rescue's case is based on publications that do not go through a proper peer review process.[19]


Generation Rescue has previously co-sponsored an annual conference in Chicago along with another charity, AutismOne[20] The choice of speakers at these conferences led critics to accuse both organizations of promoting unproven therapies, such as bleach enemas, as a purported cure for autism.[21][22][23] These conferences have also been criticized because Andrew Wakefield, the physician whose fraudulent research first proposed a vaccine-autism link, has spoken at them.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Vaccines and autism:
  2. ^ "Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's autism organization – Generation Rescue". Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  3. ^ a b "About vaccines". Generation Rescue. Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  4. ^ a b "USA Today Ad". Generation Rescue website. Archived from the original on April 14, 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Coombes R (2009). "Vaccine disputes" (PDF). BMJ 338: b2435. doi:10.1136/bmj.b2435. PMID 19546136. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  6. ^ "Is it the mercury?". Generation Rescue. Retrieved 2009-10-26. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Treatment: what's biomedical treatment?". Generation Rescue. Retrieved 2009-10-26. [dead link]
  8. ^ Claims of autism cures:
    • Christison GW, Ivany K (2006). "Elimination diets in autism spectrum disorders: any wheat amidst the chaff?". J Dev Behav Pediatr 27 (2 Suppl 2): S162–71. doi:10.1097/00004703-200604002-00015. PMID 16685183. 
    • Broadstock M, Doughty C, Eggleston M (2007). "Systematic review of the effectiveness of pharmacological treatments for adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder". Autism 11 (4): 335–48. doi:10.1177/1362361307078132. PMID 17656398. 
  9. ^ Miller, Nick (2010-02-04). "Debunking the link between autism and vaccination". The Age (Melbourne). 
  10. ^ Sharon Begley (February 21, 2009). "Anatomy of a Scare". Newsweek. 
  11. ^ Jennifer Steinhauer (October 15, 2009). "Swine flu shots revive a debate about vaccines". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Godlee F, Smith J, Marcovitch H (2011). "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent". BMJ. 342:c7452: c7452. doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452. PMID 21209060. 
  13. ^ Deer B (2011). "How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed". BMJ 342: c5347. doi:10.1136/bmj.c5347. PMID 21209059. 
  14. ^ "Study linking vaccine to autism was fraud". NPR. Associated Press. January 5, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds". Atlanta: CNN. January 6, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ Lin RG II (2008-05-02). "Rise in measles prompts concern". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  17. ^ "Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue". Generation Rescue. Retrieved January 6, 2011.  Official website
  18. ^ Williams, Mary Elizabeth (January 6, 2011). "Jenny McCarthy's autism fight grows more misguided". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  19. ^ Alan D.T. Barrett; Lawrence R. Stanberry (2009). Vaccines for biodefense and emerging and neglected diseases. p. 264. ISBN 0080919022. Retrieved September 2014. 
  20. ^ "AutismOne / Generation Rescue Conference 2012". May 2012.  Official website
  21. ^ "AutismOne throws their support behind the Geiers in "Autism Science Digest"". 16 June 2011. 
  22. ^ David Gorski (28 May 2012). "Bleaching away what ails you". 
  23. ^ "MMS, or how to cure autism with bleach. Brought to you by AutismOne.". 29 May 2012. 
  24. ^ Perry, David M. (17 July 2013). "Jenny McCarthy and fear-based parenting". CNN. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 

External links[edit]