Reward offered for proof of Michele Bachmann’s “HPV caused mental retardation” claim

Michele Bachmann got into some testy waters earlier this week when, after confronting Gov. Rick Perry on his executive order in Texas to require 12 year old girls to get vaccinated for HPV, she said she met a mother who claimed the vaccine caused her daughter to become “mentally retarded.”

Now an $11,000 offer has gone out to anyone who can prove the child Michele Bachmann mentioned repeatedly on television this week actually became “mentally retarded” from the HPV vaccine. One of the scientists is from Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota.

From the StarTribune: Steven Miles, a U of M bioethics professor, said that he’ll give $1,000 if the medical records of the woman from Bachmann’s story are released and can be viewed by a medical professional.

His offer was upped by his former boss from the University of Minnesota, Art Caplan, who is now director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. Caplan said he would match Miles’ challenge and offered $10,000 for proof of the HPV vaccine victim.

“These types of messages in this climate have the capacity to do enormous public health harm,” Miles said of why he made the offer. “The woman, assuming she exists, put this claim into the public domain and it’s an extremely serious claim and it deserves to be analyzed.”

As others have said, words are very powerful – especially those spouted in a public forum that parents may respect. I don’t know the science, but it’s possible some parents may not get this vaccine for their little girls because they heard Michele Bachmann say this in public.

I’d hate to think, if proven wrong, that an important medicine was demonized because of some possible politicking.