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Beth Clay is the present Senior Vice President of Capitol Strategy Consultants in Washington DC, where she works with corporate and nonprofit organizations and government relations. Much of her work is focused now on dietary supplement regulation and alternative health policy issues, particularly regarding vaccination and autism. Formerly she was a senior on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness with Chairman Congressman Dan Burton. It was her work with Rep. Burton’s investigation into CDC failures over mercury in vaccines leading to autism that has made her best known. She has also worked with the NIH’s Office of Alternative Medicine, and was a member of the US delegation to Codex Alimentarius’ Committee on Nutrition and Food for Special Dietary Uses.
Emily Tarsell is the mother of 21 year old Christina Tarsell who died suddenly following her third injection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. She is a licensed clinical counselor and is now the volunteer Director of the Gardasil Network Development group at Barbara Lo Fisher’s National Vaccine Information Center and doing out reach to families who have experienced the loss of a daughter or have suffered serious adverse events from the HPV vaccine.
THE COALITION FOR VACCINE SAFETY CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON FEDERAL AGENCIES’ FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SAFETY RESEARCH
The Coalition for Vaccine Safety (CVS) calls for independent vaccine safety agency and Congressional hearings on government’s lax record on safety issues
Friday, March 12th, 2010
The McGlynn: Verification of the facts concerning Paul Thorsen as the scientist involved in a potential fraud has now been confirmed by various news sources.
Poems about Autism – Harmonies from the heart
Autism – A Fact and The Crime
Profit Driven Swine Flu Propaganda – Pump Up the Volume
Study points to Hepatitis B tripling rates of autism
“It’s The Vaccines Stupid!”
Autism & Vaccines Is there a link???
Catlin family seeks more answers on causes of autism
Autism – Press Complaints Commission Orders Sunday Times to Remove MMR Journalist’s Stories on Dr. Wakefield from Paper’s Web Site.
Autism Petition for Michigan Residents
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Forced to Pay for Autism Care In Landmark Case
Autism and Toxins
By Jay Gordon, MD-Nationally renowned pediatrician on the faculty of UCLA School of Medicine
Senator Gillibrand’s Autism Plan
Top US Panel: Some Vaccine-Autism Research is “Appropriate,” “Worthwhile” and “Warranted”
By David Kirby
On Tuesday, the Federal Government’s leading immunization advisory panel unanimously approved a sweeping list of vaccine safety research recommendations for the US Department of Health and Human Services, including several that are directly or indirectly linked to the vaccine-autism debate. The endorsement, from the highly influential National Vaccine Advisory Committee, will surely intensify the argument.
Proponents of continued research into possible relationships between vaccination and a wide variety of immunological, metabolic and neurodevelopmental disorders will be cheered by many of the recommendations, while their critics will take comfort in noting that the NVAC declared that the epidemiological evidence to date assured them there is no link between vaccines and autism, at least within “the general population.”
Still, major gaps in research plague our complete understanding of vaccine safety, the committee seemed to be saying. We don’t really know how our current immunization schedule might affect certain susceptible populations that might be at greater risk for vaccine injury. It is plausible that some children — for a variety of reasons — cannot handle the one-size-fits-all vaccine schedule and its many ingredients. Those subgroups should be separated out and studied on their own, the NVAC said.
Despite its rejection of vaccines as a general cause of autism, the panel nonetheless backed two vaccine-autism related measures — plus a lengthy list of study ideas that mirror what autism and vaccine-safety advocates have been requesting for years. Many of those advocates had direct input into the formulation of the groundbreaking document.
Call it the “democratization of science.” The very idea must drive some people to fits of apoplexy, but I see it as a healthy sign of a responsive — and responsible — government.
As a bit of background, the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office (ISO) created a 5-year research agenda for vaccine safety issues and asked the NVAC to review and critique the plan — and to propose new measures as the panel saw fit. The NVAC in turn reached out for public comment from around the country. To their credit, panelists listened very carefully.
A Controversial Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated Study
Without influence from autism and vaccine safety groups, it is unlikely that the august NVAC (see roster of NVAC members, including experts from CDC, HHS, academia and the pharmaceutical industry) would have unanimously endorsed first-step measures to study and compare vaccinated, unvaccinated, and “alternatively vaccinated” groups of children for a number of immunological and neurological disorders — including autism.
The controversial idea was not part of the CDC’s original research agenda. But NVAC soon discovered that, “Members of the public, stakeholders, and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (or IACC, the Federal Government’s central autism research body) have articulated an interest in a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children to determine if there are differences in health outcomes between groups with varying exposures to vaccines.”
How and whether to conduct such studies — which would be costly, complicated and subject to ethical questions — is a hot-button question in itself. For example, prospective clinical trials, where children would be randomized into vaccinated and placebo groups, would be patently unethical, and therefore impossible.
But public participants in the NVAC process suggested an alternative plan: An “observational study” to look at “natural variation in vaccination schedules, including some children where vaccination is declined through parental intent,” the NVAC wrote. In other words, if parents decided not to vaccinate their kids on time, or at all — even after they had been strongly urged to do so — then it would not be unethical to enroll their children in an observational study of health outcomes.
Some autism parents and others also lobbied hard to include comparison studies of vaccines and vaccine ingredients in test-tube and animal models, (for example, vaccine-vs-placebo clinical trials on infant primates), and NVAC concurred. “Consideration should be given to broad biomedical research including laboratory studies, and animal studies,” the panel wrote.
But first, NVAC wants to study the feasibility of doing such studies, at least on kids.
An “external expert committee,” such as the Institute of Medicine, the NVAC said, should consider “strengths and weaknesses, ethical issues and feasibility, including timelines and cost” of various ways to study vaccinated, unvaccinated and possibly, partially vaccinated children or “children vaccinated by alternative immunization schedules.”
Such studies should look at outcomes like biomarkers for immune and metabolic dysfunction (for example, autoimmunity and mitochondrial problems) plus “neurodevelopmental outcomes, allergies, asthma, immune-mediated diseases, and other developmental disabilities such as epilepsy, intellectual disability and learning disabilities,” the panelists said.
Most parents I know could not agree more with that assessment. But that was not all.
“The inclusion of autism as an outcome is desired,” the NVAC declared, in what can only be described as a major victory for many ASD advocates.
Finally, in yet another nod to parents, the NVAC added: “This review should be conducted expeditiously, in a transparent manner, and involving broad public and stakeholder input.”
A three-day-old request for an interview with someone at NVAC is still pending. Meanwhile, James Moody, an attorney for the mercury-autism group Safe Minds, called the unanimous vote a “huge win” for parents who want more vaccine research, but said the idea deserved more than just a commitment to a feasibility study.
“All the other recommendations are to actually do particular research projects, so why is this one singled out?” he told me. “Of course, all projects must be methodologically sound and ethical, etc., but why do we need a separate study for this? I think it is just kicking the can down the road, and I made that point in public comment at the NVAC.”
And there is a serious risk of delay, he said. The IOM could take up to two years to do a feasibility study, and the idea could also “easily be buried or killed at IOM.”
But, Moody added, the NVAC report is “a huge admission as to a crucial gap in necessary safety science — and furthers the ethics point that the current vaccine schedule has not been shown to be minimally safe and therefore is unethical mass population human research.”
“Plus,” he said, “ignorance and uncertainty are the enemies of public confidence in vaccines.”
Autism is “Appropriate” to Study as Clinical Outcome of Vaccination
As part of its 5-year plan, the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office proposed looking at a number of possible “clinical outcomes” following vaccination. Many autism parents and others have been urging science and the government to investigate these same potential links for years.
The advocates will be pleased to learn that NVAC concurs with them and with CDC that such clinical outcomes are “appropriate” for study. The outcomes include:
Autoimmune diseases — which might include asthma, diabetes and some ASD symptoms.
Central nervous system demyelinating disorders — which might include MS and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, which the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or vaccine court, recently said was a precursor to ASD in one child’s case.
Encephalitis — brain swelling, often seen in ASD.
Encephalopathy — any type of brain disease or damage.
Complications from post-vaccine fever — such as the autism case of Hannah Poling, from vaccine court.
Also on the list of clinical outcomes to study: “Neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder.”
The committee chose to comment specifically — and only — on the clinical outcome of ASD. “The relationship between vaccine exposure and autism/ASD is an area of intense public interest,” the panelists said. But they were, “assured by the many epidemiological studies that have demonstrated no association between vaccination and autism spectrum disorders in the general population.”
For example, in 2004 the IOM concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship at the population level between MMR vaccine (or thimerosal) and ASD.”
On the other hand, as the NVAC rightfully acknowledged, the IOM included a very important caveat in its 2004 report: “Further research on the possible occurrence of ASD in a small number of children subsequent to MMR vaccination is warranted.”
“Importance” of Studying the Mitochondria-Vaccine-Autism Link
The NVAC said that the conclusions of the 2004 IOM report “regarding the lack of a population-level relationship between MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines and ASD risk remain sound.” But, it added, “Recent developments around mitochondrial dysfunction reinforce the importance of studies of (vaccine injury) in rigorously defined subsets of the ASD spectrum.”
And though vaccination, “almost certainly does not account for the recent rise in ASD diagnoses,” public concerns over vaccines, and the fact that ASD is such a common and severe disorder warrant, “additional study in well defined subpopulations.”
One reason for the “important” caveat about high-risk subgroups, the NVAC wrote, was “recent case studies and research reports around the incidence of mitochondrial dysfunction in children with ASD,” which have been estimated at somewhere between 7%-to-30% of all ASD children, and possibly higher among children who regressed following normal development.
In December, researchers from Cleveland Clinic, Harvard and Johns Hopkins Univeristy wrote in PLoS Online that mitochondrial dysfunction “may be present in a substantial percentage of children with ASD.” And they said there “might be no difference between the inflammatory or catabolic stress of vaccinations and that of common childhood diseases, which are known precipitants of mitochondrial regression.”
“Large population-based studies will be needed to identify a possible relationship of vaccination with autistic regression in persons with mitochondrial cytopathies,” the authors wrote, and it looks like members of the NVAC concur.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, “carries an established risk of brain damage subsequent to infectious disease,” the NVAC wrote. “Thus, a small and specific subset of the general population (such as those with mitochondrial dysfunction) may be at elevated risk of reduced neurological functioning, possibly including developing ASD, subsequent to live virus vaccination.”
The NVAC added that, “the size of the subpopulation is too small for population-level epidemiological studies to have sufficient power and precision to detect such a risk factor,” which is exactly with what many autism parents and researchers have been saying for quite some time.
But just how “small” is that subpopulation? Is it only 1-in-5,000, as some research suggests?
The NVAC wrote that mitochondrial dysfunction is “rare at the population level.” But recent investigations have suggested that genetic susceptibilities for mitochondrial dysfunction are far more common than anyone previously realized.
In August, the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation announced a “landmark research finding” showing that at least one-in-200 healthy humans, “harbors a pathogenic mitochondrial mutation that potentially causes disease.” The finding was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
And another autism researcher at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore told me that between one-in-400 to one-in-50 people may have specific nuclear DNA mutations that could also confer risk for mitochondrial dysfunction.
Vaccines and Regressive Autism Are “Of Particular Interest”
“In the context of vaccination research, the ASD clinical subset of particular interest is regressive autism” the NVAC wrote. The panelists said the regressive form of ASD was found in about 15% of all cases, though even some of the studies they cited seemed to refute this.
Last year, for example, Ambulatory Pediatrics reported that 15% of ASD children studied had lost both language and social skills. But another 41% lost either language or social skills. To the parents, at least, that meant that 56% of the ASD children had regressed in some form. As the authors of this study said, the percentage of regressive cases in ASD varies, “depending on the definition used.” And, they concluded, “Requiring loss of language significantly underestimates the frequency of developmental regression.”
And the PLoS Online article about mitochondrial autism stated that, of the 25 children in the chart review, 56% (14) had “regression of previously acquired skills.” That rate was significantly above the roughly “one third of autistic children” who are reported to have regressed, the authors said.
The NVAC repeated the oft-quoted statement that, “the temporal occurrence of this regression and the vaccination schedule is not evidence of a causal relationship,” but it added: “Regressive autism does fit the recommendations of the IOM (immunization) committee for further research in rigorously defined subsets of ASD.”
Such studies might entail, “comparison of immune cytokine profiles between regressive and non-regressive ASD to screen for differential immune system profiles, or prospective vaccination response profiling in siblings of children with regressive ASD, a subpopulation who are at higher risk (somewhere between 3%-35% increased risk, depending on the study and number of siblings affected),” the NVAC wrote.
Most autism parents I know have been saying for years that their regressive ASD kids have very abnormal immune cytokine profiles.
“Worthwhile” to Study Vaccine Injuries and the Risk of Autism
Another autism subpopulation that should be included in vaccine studies is what the NVAC called “the intersection of ASD cases with (clearly defined vaccine outcomes) such as fever, febrile seizure, or hypotonic-hypo-responsive episode (HHE).”
Do these adverse effects correlate with ASD? “It would be worthwhile to assess,” the NVAC wrote. “On a molecular level, it might be feasible to compare ASD cases with history of adverse events following immunization against cognitively normal controls with a similar history of adverse events, to assess whether there are significant differences in immune response profiles between groups.”
The obvious place to do these analyses, it seems to me, is the Omnibus Autism Proceedings in vaccine court, where some 5,000 regressive cases are pending. And, more than 1,300 vaccine court cases were already paid out for encephalopathy and seizure disorders. We will soon learn how many of those children also have an ASD, though I can confirm now that it appears to be far, far higher than the1-in-150 rate reported by CDC.
Study At-Risk Subpopulations, Including Families With Autoimmunity and Prior Vaccine Injury
Are certain subpopulations at increased risk for vaccine injury? What are the potential biological mechanisms for those injuries? Are there certain “risk windows” in these groups, such as times when substantial neurodevelopment is occurring?”
Again, many parents and researchers have been asking these same questions for years – and now they are in official good company.
Both the CDC and the NVAC now agree that it is “important” to study vaccine injury susceptibility in “special populations,” such as premature and low birth weight infants, pregnant women, adults over 65 years, people with immunodeficiency, people with autoimmune disorders, and children with “inborn errors of metabolism.”
NVAC declared that “these groups are at increased risk for many adverse health outcomes” following immunization.
Autoimmunity, in particular, has been a big concern among advocates of vaccine-autism research. That’s partly because children with ASD are five times more likely to come from families with a history of autoimmune disorders.
The NVAC now agrees with the CDC that autoimmunity and adverse events from vaccination “is appropriate to study in several contexts,” including the “study of correlations between vaccine exposure and autoimmune disease onset, and the possibility that predisposition to autoimmune disease might indicate more global immune dysregulation and thereby increase risk of adverse events.”
But NVAC went even further that the CDC agenda by recommending that children with “a well-documented family history of autoimmune disorders,” be added to the list of potentially vulnerable subpopulations.
And there was more. The NVAC recommended adding other high-risk subpopulations to study for adverse events, including “children with siblings or parents who experienced an adverse event following immunization,” and “children who have previously suffered an adverse event following immunization.”
And, the NVAC added, results from such studies could provide, “opportunities to develop profiles that might be used to prevent AEFI by screening out children at elevated risk of AEFI.
Once again, these are many of the same things that thousands of autism parents and their supporters have been asking about for years. I imagine that most of them will be extremely grateful to the NVAC.
Study Multiple and Simultaneous Vaccination and “Alternative” Schedules
Many parents have questioned whether their child was adversely impacted by receiving too many vaccines — either over time, or at once. This line of inquiry has earned them scorn and ridicule in some scientific circles – but not among some of the world’s leading vaccine experts at the CDC and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.
A 2002 IOM report determined that there was inadequate evidence to support or reject an association between multiple vaccinations and allergic diseases and asthma. “Since publication of that report, there are several new publications in the literature with respect to diabetes and asthma,” the NVAC said.
As for simultaneous vaccination, the NVAC said the following: “Although the compatibility of candidate vaccines with routinely used vaccines is evaluated during development, the potential exists for complex interactions amongst vaccines that may not be apparent until large scale use post-licensure, such as with the use of MMRV.” The quadruple-combo MMRV vaccine — measles, mumps, rubella plus varicella (chicken pox) — was found post-licensure to double the risk of seizures.
And, in a move sure to hearten some parents and displease some doctors — the NVAC suggested that the CDC, “consider studies to examine more alternative immunization schedules vs. the current one.”
And given the fact that parents are ALREADY deviating from the recommended schedule, this may have an unintended benefit: “to study immune system disorders and other relevant vaccine safety outcomes” due to multiple vaccination.
The same may hold true for simultaneous vaccination, the NVAC speculated, by asking: “Is there sufficient variation in the sequence in which vaccines are administered in practice to allow for an assessment of the safety of simultaneous vaccination?” Likewise, “if there is sufficient variation in the timing of vaccine administration,” then CDC “should consider outcomes of interest and consider appropriate studies,” the panel wrote.
Study Cumulative Exposures to Vaccine Components and Adverse Events
Many people who reject any vaccine-autism link often state that the number of antigens per vaccine has fallen substantially over time, so they could not implicated in any vaccine injury. But what about non-antigen components?
The NVAC said these were “appropriate to study” and recommended that CDC “evaluate cumulative levels of non-antigen component exposure possible through the schedule of recommended vaccinations.”
“The determination of which ingredients have a higher priority for study should be based both on the intrinsic nature of the compound and potential levels of exposure,” the panel wrote.
And, in another move that was in line with many parents’ and scientists’ wishes, the NVAC wrote:
“Risk assessment should consider other environmental exposures. Cumulative exposures should be considered when environmental exposures are comparable to vaccine ingredient exposures. For a cumulative assessment, exposures in the ambient environment should be considered, including the same substance or substances that are structurally similar and may possibly share a similar mode of action. There may also be situations where consideration of interactions between vaccine ingredients and environmental exposures is worthwhile.”
This is particularly true for thimerosal. In fact, the CDC 5-Year agenda proposed studying nearly ALL non-antigen components — except for thimerosal.
But the NVAC recommended that the study of thimerosal and adverse vaccine events should continue.
Don’t Stop Looking at Thimerosal and Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Again, the NVAC said it was assured that epidemiological studies to date, “have demonstrated that thimerosal in vaccines is not associated with autism spectrum disorders in the general population.”
But there have been “a few studies that have suggested that thimerosal exposure may be a risk factor for tics. First there was the 2003 CDC Verstraeten study, “in which there were inconclusive findings,” the NVAC said, adding that, “This study has been criticized for its methods.”
But a second study, based on the same CDC data, “with improved methods,” showed statistically significant associations not only with tics, but also speech and language delays. “Protective associations” with thimerosal were detected for other neuropsychological disorders, however. And a third study in the UK also suggested a relationship between thimerosal and tics, the NVAC said.
The CDC had proposed looking at thimerosal and tics and/or Tourette syndrome (the presence of both phonic and motor tics) and the NVAC agreed that this was appropriate.
But the vaccine experts at NVAC added: “Because two of the studies above also found associations between thimerosal and speech and language delay,” these were also valid outcomes to study, and should be included.
Finally, in a move that surprised thimerosal critics, the NVAC called for a reanalysis of the most recent CDC study, “Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years,” published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
That study found that prenatal and postnatal thimerosal exposure had no “consistent pattern of effect.” Even so, the NVAC wrote that, “further evidence on whether any associations suggested are real, spurious, or artificial is needed.”
The NVAC also questioned certain “methodological considerations” on data collection and analysis in the NEJM study, including the “failure to evaluate the cumulative exposure to thimerosal and methyl mercury prenatally and thimerosal after birth, and cumulative prenatal and infant exposure.” Yet again, this is an issue that groups like Safe Minds have insisted should be investigated.
“The (CDC) Immunization Safety Office (should) sponsor an external and multidisciplinary reanalysis” of the study, the NVAC wrote. It also called for a reassessment of the children selected for the study, to “examine who did and did not agree to participate, in order to assess the potential for selection bias.” The study had a very low response rate of just 30%.
It will be very interesting, to say the least, to see how the Obama Administration responds to this comprehensive and thoughtful list of vaccine safety issues — including the lingering billion-dollar question about vaccines and autism in a small subgroup of children
The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???
By Jim Carrey, Huffington Post
Recently, I was amazed to hear a commentary by CNN’s Campbell Brown on the controversial vaccine issue. After a ruling by the ‘special vaccine court’ saying the Measles, Mumps, Rubella shot wasn’t found to be responsible for the plaintiffs’ autism, she and others in the media began making assertions that the judgment was in, and vaccines had been proven safe. No one would be more relieved than Jenny and I if that were true. But with all due respect to Ms. Brown, a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won’t be adversely affected by the MMR, let alone that all vaccines are safe. This is a huge leap of logic by anyone’s standards. Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer. After 100 years and many rulings in favor of the tobacco companies, we finally figured that out.
The truth is that no one without a vested interest in the profitability of vaccines has studied all 36 of them in depth. There are more than 100 vaccines in development, and no tests for cumulative effect or vaccine interaction of all 36 vaccines in the current schedule have ever been done. If I’m mistaken, I challenge those who are making such grand pronouncements about vaccine safety to produce those studies.
If we are to believe that the ruling of the ‘vaccine court’ in these cases mean that all vaccines are safe, then we must also consider the rulings of that same court in the Hannah Polling and Bailey Banks cases, which ruled vaccines were the cause of autism and therefore assume that all vaccines are unsafe. Clearly both are irresponsible assumptions, and neither option is prudent.
In this growing crisis, we cannot afford to blindly trumpet the agenda of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or vaccine makers. Now more than ever, we must resist the urge to close this book before it’s been written. The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who’ve seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician’s office must be seriously considered. The legitimate concern they and many in the scientific community have that environmental toxins, including those found in vaccines, may be causing autism and other disorders (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD), cannot be dissuaded by a show of sympathy and a friendly invitation to look for the ‘real’ cause of autism anywhere but within the lucrative vaccine program.
With vaccines being the fastest growing division of the pharmaceutical industry, isn’t it possible that profits may play a part in the decision-making? That the vaccine program is becoming more of a profit engine than a means of prevention? In a world left reeling from the catastrophic effects of greed, mismanagement and corporate insensitivity, is it so absurd for us to wonder why American children are being given twice as many vaccines on average, compared to the top 30 first world countries?
Paul Offit, the vaccine advocate and profiteer, who helped invent a Rotavirus vaccine is said to have paved the way for his own multi-million dollar windfall while serving on the very council that eventually voted his Rotavirus vaccine onto our children’s schedule. On August 21, 2000 a congressional investigation’s report titled, “Conflicts in Vaccine Policy,” stated:
It has become clear over the course of this investigation that the VRBPAC and the ACIP [the two main advisory boards that determine the vaccine schedule] are dominated by individuals with close working relationships with the vaccine producers. This was never the intent of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires that a diversity of views be represented on advisory committees.
Isn’t that enough to raise questions about the process of choosing the vaccine schedule?
With many states like Minnesota now reporting the number at 1 in 80 children affected with autism, can we afford to trust those who serve two masters or their logic that tells us “one size fits all” when it comes to vaccines? Can we afford to ignore vaccines as a possible cause of these rising numbers when they are one of the fastest growing elements in our children’s environment? With all the doubt that’s left hanging on this topic, how can anyone in the media or medical profession, boldly demand that all parents march out and give their kids 36 of these shots, six at a time in dosage levels equal to that given a 200 pound man? This is a bias of the most dangerous kind.
I’ve also heard it said that no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism has ever been found. That statement is only true for the CDC, the AAP and the vaccine makers who’ve been ignoring mountains of scientific information and testimony. There’s no evidence of the Lincoln Memorial if you look the other way and refuse to turn around. But if you care to look, it’s really quite impressive. For a sample of vaccine injury evidence go to www.generationrescue.org/lincolnmemorial.html.
We have never argued that people shouldn’t be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio, but surely there’s a limit as to how many viruses and toxins can be introduced into the body of a small child. Veterinarians found out years ago that in many cases they were over-immunizing our pets, a syndrome they call Vaccinosis. It overwhelmed the immune system of the animals, causing myriad physical and neurological disorders. Sound familiar? If you can over-immunize a dog, is it so far out to assume that you can over-immunize a child? These forward thinking vets also decided to remove thimerosal from animal vaccines in 1992, and yet this substance, which is 49% mercury, is still in human vaccines. Don’t our children deserve as much consideration as our pets?
I think I’d rather listen to the more sensible voice of Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institute of Health, who says:
Listen to the patients and the patients will teach…I think there is an inexcusable issue, and that’s the lack of research that’s been done here…A parent can legitimately question giving a one-day old baby, or a two-day old baby [the] Hepatitis B vaccine that has no risk for it [and] the mother has no risk for it. That’s a heavy-duty vaccine given on day two [of life]. I think those are legitimate questions.
Dr. Healy is also calling for a long overdue study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. Dr. Frank Engly, a researcher and microbiologist who served on the boards of the CDC, FDA and EPA during the 70s and 80s, warned:
The CDC cannot afford to admit thimerosal is toxic because they have been promoting it for several years…If they would have followed through with our 1982 report, vaccines would have been freed of thimerosal and all this autism as they tell me would not have occurred. But as it is, it all occurred.
In all likelihood the truth about vaccines is that they are both good and bad. While ingredients like aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze may help preserve and enhance vaccines, they can be toxic as well. The assortment of viruses delivered by multiple immunizations may also be a hazard. I agree with the growing number of voices within the medical and scientific community who believe that vaccines, like every other drug, have risks as well as benefits and that for the sake of profit, American children are being given too many, too soon. One thing is certain. We don’t know enough to announce that all vaccines are safe!
If the CDC, the AAP and Ms. Brown insist that our children take twice as many shots as the rest of the western world, we need more independent vaccine research not done by the drug companies selling the vaccines or by organizations under their influence. Studies that cannot be internally suppressed. Answers parents can trust. Perhaps this is what Campbell Brown should be demanding and how the power of the press could better serve the public in the future.
An Outbreak of Autism, or a Statistical Fluke?
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr., NYT, March 17, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS – Ayub Abdi is a cute 5-year-old with a smile that might be called shy if not for the empty look in his eyes. He does not speak. When he was 2, he could say “Dad,” “Mom,” “give me” and “need water,” but he has lost all that.
He does scream and spit, and he moans a loud “Unnnnh! Unnnnh!” when he is unhappy. At night he pounds the walls for hours, which led to his family’s eviction from their last apartment.
As he is strapped into his seat in the bus that takes him to special education class, it is hard not to notice that there is only one other child inside, and he too is a son of Somali immigrants.
“I know 10 guys whose kids have autism,” said Ayub’s father, Abdirisak Jama, a 39-year-old security guard. “They are all looking for help.”
Autism is terrifying the community of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, and some pediatricians and educators have joined parents in raising the alarm. But public health experts say it is hard to tell whether the apparent surge of cases is an actual outbreak, with a cause that can be addressed, or just a statistical fluke.
In an effort to find out, the Minnesota Department of Health is conducting an epidemiological survey in consultation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This kind of conundrum, experts say, arises whenever there is a cluster of noncontagious illnesses.
While there is little research on autism clusters, reports of cancer clusters are so common that health agencies across the country respond to more than 1,000 inquiries about suspected ones each year. A vast majority prove unfounded, and even when one is confirmed, the cause is seldom ascertained, as it was for Kaposi’s sarcoma among gay men and mesothelioma among asbestos workers.
It is “extraordinarily difficult” to separate chance clusters from those in which everyone was exposed to the same carcinogen, said Dr. Michael J. Thun, the American Cancer Society’s vice president for epidemiology.
Since the cause of autism is unknown, the authorities in Minnesota say it is hard to know even what to investigate.
“There are obviously some real concerns here, but we don’t want to make a cursory judgment,” said Buddy Ferguson, a health department spokesman. Even counting autism cases is difficult because the diagnoses are first made by the schools, not doctors, and population estimates for Somalis vary widely. Results are expected late this month.
Even if the department confirms that a cluster exists, it will not answer the question why. Still, Dr. Thun said a possible focus in one ethnic group “increases my sense that investigating it is essential.” The next step, he added, would be to look at Somalis in other cities.
A small recent study of refugees in schools in Stockholm found that Somalis were in classes for autistic children at three times the normal rate.
Calls to representatives of Somali groups in Seattle and San Diego found that they were aware of the fear in Minneapolis but unsure about their own rates. Doctors familiar with the Somali communities in Boston and Lewiston, Me., had heard of no surges there.
“It’s a concern here, but we haven’t done anything to look specifically,” said Ahmed Salim of Somali Family Services in San Diego.
Shamso Yusuf of the Refugee Women’s Alliance in Seattle said tearfully that her own daughter had been given a diagnosis of autism, “and I see a lot of parents who have 5-year-olds who cannot speak.” But no Seattle study has been done, she said.
Somalis began arriving in Minneapolis in 1993, driven out by civil war; now their population in Minnesota is estimated at 30,000 to 60,000. The city is welcoming and social benefits are generous, but many live a life apart as conservative Muslims, the women in head scarves and long dresses. Many Somali men have jobs as taxi drivers or security guards; others are accountants or run shops in the mini-malls catering to Somalis.
Antivaccine activists are campaigning among them, which worries public health officials, especially because some families go back and forth to Somalia, where measles is still a significant cause of childhood death, according to Unicef.
One of the first to raise the alarm was Anne Harrington, who worked in special education in the Minneapolis schools for 21 years.
In the last decade, she said, “we’ve begun seeing a tremendous number of kids born here who have the more severe forms of autism.”
Last year, she said, 25 percent of the children in preschool classes offering the most intensive treatment had Somali parents, while only about 6 percent of public school enrollment is Somali.
Dr. Daniel S. McLellan, a pediatrician, said that when he began practicing at Children’s Hospital six years ago, he was struck by how many autistic Somali children he saw.
“They had classic symptoms,” he said. “Really impaired language, didn’t watch faces, didn’t make eye contact, didn’t communicate with gestures, just lost in their own worlds. Nobody would mistake it for anything else.”
Speculation is rampant about possible causes: living conditions in Somalia or in refugee camps in Kenya; traditional medicines; intermarriage; genetic predisposition; vitamin D deficiencies due to a lack of sunlight; and, of course, vaccines.
But each theory has weaknesses.
Most of the children, said Idil Abdull, one of the first mothers of an autistic child to ask the authorities to investigate, were born here and have had the same medical care and shots as any child on Medicaid. It is not a case of misdiagnosis because of language problems; many have siblings doing well in school.
The Hmong, from Southeast Asia, who also immigrated here through refugee camps, do not have high autism rates, Ms. Harrington said.
Somali refugees have many illnesses, said Dr. Osman M. Ahmed of the East Africa Health Project in St. Paul, including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, depression from the civil war, and vitamin D deficiencies.
But lack of vitamin D is a dubious explanation. Rates of the disorder are similar among black and white Americans, according to the C.D.C., and Somalis, on average, are no darker-skinned than black Americans.
In Somalia, cousins do marry cousins. Globally, according to the March of Dimes, birth defect rates are highest in Arab countries with close intermarriage. But Somalia’s birth defect rate is moderate, and autism is not part of such studies.
In any case, many Somali parents are baffled and scared.
“It’s beyond denial,” said Hassan Samantar, a parent advocate at the Pacer Center for disabled children. “There was no word for this in Somali. We’ve seen Down syndrome and schizophrenia, but loosely termed – our word is more like ‘crazy.’ People are calling it ‘otismo’ or ‘the American disease.’ And some are saying it’s something you did or your parents did, and the curse is catching up with you.”
Many Somali parents here do not read English or watch American television, he said, so they first hear of autism only when a pediatrician suggests testing a child.
Some send their children back to relatives in Somalia.
“They say, ‘There’s more sunshine, there’s less pollution, the food is fresher because the animal was killed that morning,’ ” Ms. Abdull said. “They say: ‘My kid won’t talk? Throw him in the middle of 20 other kids, and he’ll talk. They’ll tease him till he has to.’ You know the way kids run around in Africa? People are so isolated in their apartments here. They think maybe they’ll snap out of it.”
Antivaccine groups have noticed. In November, J. B. Handley, a founder of Generation Rescue, which advocates treating autistic children with wheat- and dairy-free diets, vitamins and chelation to remove mercury, wrote an open letter to “Courageous Somali Parents.”
He warned them not to trust the state health department and suggested they slow down their children’s shots and get exemptions to school vaccination requirements. He also offered to pay for some to attend an antivaccine conference.
The appeal has had an effect. Many parents, including Ayub’s, now say that their children’s autism began after seizures that started after they got shots.
“People in the Somali community have gravitated to that theory, and many are resisting immunization,” Dr. McLellan said.
But there are also children like 8-year-old Shumsudin Warsame, who does not speak more than one word at a time, runs in circles and hurts himself jabbing pens into his face. He was born in Somalia, grew up in Egypt and arrived here six months ago. He started having seizures before he was a year old, his father, Abdiasis, said, long before he had any vaccinations.
To Mr. Warsame, finding something to blame is beside the point. He is a single parent, and he and Shumsudin were at a health center hoping to find a part-time home care aide.
“I have a friend from Somalia with three kids with autism, all born in Minnesota,” Mr. Warsame said. “I need help; we all need help. I don’t see a lot of people trying to help us. It’s better than it was in Egypt or Somalia, but it’s not what I expected.”
ANOTHER AUTISM CASE WINS IN VACCINE COURT
By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
On February 12, the federal “Vaccine Court” in Washington issued a sweeping ruling in three highly touted “test cases” against families who claimed that their childrens’ autism had been caused by vaccines. The Special Masters in those three cases found that Petitioners failed to establish causation between MMR vaccines, the mercury-laced vaccine preservative thimerosal, and autism (the court decision, which is under appeal, deferred any finding on a thimerosal-only theory of causation). The rulings could have a significant precedential impact on some 5,000 families who opted to bring their cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP) hoping that the vaccine court would officially hold that the MMR vaccine or thimerosal had caused autism in their children.
The New York Times joined the government Health Agency (HRSA) and its big pharma allies hailing the decisions as proof that the scientific doubts about vaccine safety had finally been “demolished.” The US Department of Health and Human services said the rulings should “help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism.” The Times, which has made itself a blind mouthpiece for HRSA and a leading defender of vaccine safety, joined crowing government and vaccine industry flacks applauding the decisions like giddy cheerleaders, rooting for the same court that many of these same voices viscously derided just one year ago, after Hannah Poling won compensation for her vaccine induced autism.
But last week, the parents of yet another child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were awarded a lump sum of more than $810,000 (plus an estimated $30-40,000 per year for autism services and care) in compensation by the Court, which ruled that the measels-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine had caused acute brain damage that led to his autism spectrum disorder.
The family of 10-year-old Bailey Banks won their case quietly and without fanfare in June of 2007, but the ruling has only now come to public attention. In the remarkably clear and eloquent decision, Special Master Richard Abell ruled that the Banks had successfully demonstrated that “the MMR vaccine at issue actually caused the conditions from which Bailey suffered and continues to suffer.”
Bailey’s diagnosis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder — Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) which has been recognized as an autism spectrum disorder by CDC, HRSA and the other federal health agencies since at least the 1990s.
In his conclusion, Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which, in turn, had caused the autism spectrum disorder PDD-NOS in the child:
The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD [an autism spectrum disorder]. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was… a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.
The Bailey decision is not an isolated ruling. We now know of at least two other successful ADEM cases argued in Vaccine Court. More significantly, an explosive investigation by CBS News has found that since 1988, the vaccine court has awarded money judgments, often in the millions of dollars, to thirteen hundred and twenty two families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines. In many of these cases, the government paid out awards following a judicial finding that vaccine injury lead to the child’s autism spectrum disorder. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs’ attorneys made the same tactical decision made by Bailey Bank’s lawyer, electing to opt out of the highly charged Omnibus Autism Proceedings and argue their autism cases in the regular vaccine court. In many other successful cases, attorneys elected to steer clear of the hot button autism issue altogether and seek recovery instead for the underlying brain damage that caused their client’s autism.
Medical records associated with these proceedings clearly tell the tale. In perhaps hundreds of these cases, the children have all the classic symptoms of regressive autism; following vaccination a perfectly healthy child experiences high fever, seizures, and other illnesses, then gradually, over about three months, loses language, the ability to make eye contact, becomes “over-focused” and engages in stereotypical head banging and screaming and then suffers developmental delays characteristic of autism. Many of these children had received the autism diagnosis. Yet the radioactive word “autism” appears nowhere in the decision.
Instead the vaccine court Special Masters rest their judgments on their finding that the vaccines caused some generalized brain injury, mainly Encephalopathy/encephalitis (brain inflammation) or “seizure disorders” — conditions known to cause autism-like symptoms. A large number of the children who have won these judgments have been separately diagnosed with autism. HRSA acknowledged this fact in a recent letter, but told us it does not keep data on how many of these children were autistic.
The Vaccine Court, in other words, seems quite willing to award millions of dollars in taxpayer funded compensation to vaccine-injured autistic children, so long as they don’t have to call the injury by the loaded term “autism.” That hazard is particularly acute for vaccine victims who appear before the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP). Since that body’s decisions are closely watched, published and accorded the weight of precedent, many lawyers consider the burden of proof for petitioners to be impossibly high before the OAP Panel. It was for this reason that Bailey’s attorney, Mark McLaren, elected to opt out of the OAP and try his case separately, even though Bailey has been receiving autism-related services in his home state and was eligible to file a case in the Court’s Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP)…………………………………
Vaccine Court judges are equipped with a draconian armory of weapons deployable against plaintiffs intent on proving the causal connection between vaccines and autism. Jury trials are prohibited. Damages are capped; awards for pain and suffering are strictly limited and punitive damages banned altogether. Vaccine defenders have an army of Department of Justice attorneys with virtually unlimited resources for expert witnesses and other litigation costs. Plaintiffs, in contrast, must fund the up front costs for experts on their own. In a cultural choice that clearly favors defendants, vaccine court gives overwhelming weight to written medical records which are often inaccurate — over all other forms of testimony and evidence. Observations by parents and other caretakers are given little weight.
Worst of all — plaintiffs have no right to discovery either against the pharmaceutical industry or the government. Since autism is a behavioral affliction rather than a precisely defined biological injury — epidemiological studies are critical to establishing its causation. But the greatest source of epidemiological data is the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) — the government maintained medical records of hundreds of thousands of vaccinated children — which HHS has gone to great lengths to keep out of the hands of plaintiffs’ attorneys and independent scientists. Unfortunately the vaccine court has judicially anointed this corrupt concealment by consistently denying every motion by petitioners to view the VSD. The raw data collected in the VSD would undoubtedly provide the epidemiological evidence needed to understand the relationship between vaccines and autism. The absence of such studies makes it easy for judges to say to plaintiffs they have not met their burden of proving causation.
Meanwhile, CDC has actively, openly and systematically suppressed and defunded epidemiological studies that might establish a causal link. CDC has ignored repeated pleadings that it fund peer reviewed studies of unvaccinated American cohorts like the Amish and home-schooled children. At the same time the agency has worked overtime ginning up a series of fatally-flawed European studies purporting to dispute the link. Even a cursory critical examination reveals that the oft-cited Danish, English, and Italian studies are rank tobacco science. Many of them were funded by CDC, a badly compromised agency, performed by vaccine industry scientists, and published in miserably conflicted journals.
Needless to say, the existence of these phony studies, combined with the deliberate dearth of epidemiological evidence makes it easy for the special masters to dodge a politically explosive finding by holding that there is “insufficient evidence.”……………………………………….
A NEW THEORY OF AUTISM CAUSATION?
By David Kirby
A ruling from Federal Vaccine Court — that MMR vaccine caused an autism spectrum disorder in a young boy named Bailey Banks — flies directly in the face of the triple-play decision against a vaccine-autism link issued by the Court on February 12.
The Special Masters in those three cases inferred that the vaccine-autism theory was the stuff of Alice in Wonderland fantasy, and virtually accused the childrens’ physicians of medical malpractice. (CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta called the Court’s language “snide,” and we agree).
Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human services said the rulings should “help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism.” But why should parents feel reassured when two out of five autism cases (40%) – that we know of – have won taxpayer-funded compensation in Vaccine Court?
In his decision, Special Master Abell ruled that the MMR vaccine produced a side effect in Bailey called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). ADEM is a neurological disorder characterized by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The disorder results in damage to the myelin sheath, a fatty coating that insulates nerve fibers in the brain. ADEM can be caused by natural infections, especially from the measles virus. But it also is a recognized post-vaccination injury, especially from vaccines for rabies, pertussis, influenza, and MMR.
Evidence presented to support an MMR-ADEM link was compelling. It included a 1994 report from the Institute of Medicine that said it was biologically plausible for a vaccine to “induce… an autoimmune response… by nonspecific activation of the T cells directed against myelin proteins.”
In fact, both parties in the Banks case agreed “that the IOM has cited demonstrative evidence of a biologically plausible relation between the measles vaccine and demyelinating diseases such as ADEM,” the Court wrote.
Most cases of ADEM (80%) are in children. Symptoms usually appear within a few days to a couple of weeks. They include: headache, delirium, lethargy, seizures, stiff neck, fever, ataxia (incoordination), optic nerve damage, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, irritability and changes in mental status.
I know of thousands of parents who witnessed many of these same symptoms afflict their children shortly after vaccination, most typically the MMR. Did these children with autism also suffer initially from ADEM or some subclinical version of the disorder? We may never know (physical signs like myelin damage are transitory).
Bailey Banks was given an MRI when his parents brought him to the hospital 16 days after his MMR vaccine, and that helped confirm his diagnosis. The children I know who were brought in with similar symptoms were instead given Tylenol and told to go home.
(Interestingly, Tylenol can affect production of glutathione, an essential antioxidant and detoxifier. A preliminary study from UC San Diego showed that children who were given Tylenol after their MMR vaccine were several times more likely to develop autism than other children. “Tylenol and MMR was significantly associated with autistic disorder,” the authors wrote. “More research needs to be completed to confirm the results of this preliminary study.”)…………………………………………………..
Robert Kennedy, Jr. and I would love nothing more than to reassure parents that the nation’s current vaccine program is 100% safe for all kids, and that zero credible evidence has been presented to link vaccines with autism. But that simply isn’t true — as at least two court cases have found.
Bad Justice, Bad Journalism, A Maligned Doctor And A Dead Mother
By Barbara Fischkin,
As an Autism Mom, I spent last week with my head spinning. Ultimately though, I could see that the events – in a conflicted American court, a decimated American home and a misguided British newspaper – were all connected, albeit in a deep, unsettling manner. But one that also illuminates that the debate is far from over.
In America last week, our Vaccine Court very curiously threw a hearty dose of cold water over the widely reported connection between autism and vaccines. I use this phrase — widely reported– to emphasize that the connection between autism and vaccines has been spotted by multitudes of front line participants and observers — parents and physicians who have seen children and patients fall apart after being vaccinated. Ignoring these eyewitness accounts is akin to dismissing testimonies from soldiers until those testimonies are “peer reviewed” by scientists who may have no first hand experience in war zones.
There is, of course, also the issue of conflict of interest. Or, as Jay Gordon, a California pediatrician with plenty of front line autism experience, put it in a recent newsletter: “The pharmaceutical industry controls which research gets into journals and which does not. This creates public perception of vaccine risks and benefits which may be at odds with what is actually observed in the medical community.”
The Vaccine Court’s decision, like so many complicated matters can be obscured by too much information and, alternately, clarified with a dose of simplicity. So here goes: This year the Vaccine Court, in looking at three specific cases, ruled that, in effect, vaccines and/or their ancillary, toxic ingredients do not cause autism. But last year – with evidence produced by a neurologist father and a mother who is a nurse and an attorney – the court ruled that, in effect vaccines could cause autism. Thousands more cases are pending which it why I believe this matter is far from settled. Ask any bookie: Second guessing an outcome with as many variables as this one is risky business.
As this was happening in the United States, in England a journalist reported that a certain gastroenterologist who treats children with autism – and whose license over there is under intense judicial scrutiny — fabricated his data. There are, not surprisingly, counter allegations that the journalist strategically created some of the controversy himself so that his story would get more play. This does not surprise me.
As a journalist for more than thirty years myself, I never really believed, even in the pre-blogger days that any journalist was purely objective. Like those scientists about whom I just griped, we all bring some baggage to the table, overt and otherwise. What concerns me more in this case is not the lack of objectivity on the part of that journalist as much as the lack of common sense. After accuracy, common sense is what I emphasize with my college journalism students. You can’t report out any field – be it battlefield or baseball field – without common sense.
Here’s how that British journalist let common sense fly out the window in his quest for a sensational story: He questioned the gastroenterologist’s accounts of parents who said their children had adverse reactions to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination. Those accounts, the journalist wrote, did not jive with the supposedly confidential and protected medical records of other physicians.
Well, I had to slap my knee on that one. Did I read this correctly? How many times have any of us been to the doctor and reported symptoms which were never actually written down on medical records either because the recording physician was too busy, too tired – or simply didn’t believe us? That this should be one of the bases of a heralded piece of “investigative reporting” downright astounds me.
Probably, it shouldn’t astound me. The history of getting to the bottom of what causes autism has been littered with these lapses of common sense. In coming up with his long-discredited “refrigerator mother” theory Bruno Bettelheim’s researchers asked mothers if they had hugged their babies. The mothers replied that they had tried but the children couldn’t tolerate it; what we now identify as sensory defensiveness and a recognized symptom of autism. The researchers, though, simply noted that these mothers did not hug their babies and from there it was extrapolated that the moms were cold fish who had damaged their offspring. The mothers were sent to see shrinks. The kids were not treated for what ailed them and in many cases sent to Willowbrook or similar hell holes – and the science of autism was delayed for decades.
Complicating this British matter even more is the amazing allegation that the gastroenterologist in question, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, single handedly caused the return of measles by writing about his findings on only 12 children, 8 of whom did present with symptoms of autism soon after receiving the vaccine. Yes, there were more cases of measles reported after Dr. Wakefield’s findings were publicized. But some of those children had been vaccinated against measles. And the numbers, heartbreaking though they may be, still paled with the autism epidemic and the heartbreak and yes, the deaths, it has caused.
My take on this: Fleet Street made Dr. Wakefield into a hero. And then — because Fleet Street loves to taken away what it bestows, loves the movement inherent in that – it made that physician into a villain.
I’d say he is neither. I’d say that Andrew Wakefield is part of a cadre of hard working, well-qualified, learned, physicians and scientists who are responsibly trying to quell the autism epidemic by finding what has caused it. Vaccines are part of what they are exploring. But it is not all they are exploring. Dr. Gordon is in that cadre as is my son’s physician Dr. Michael Elice of Woodbury, New York. Often, these physicians are at odds with the medical establishment, even though they can go mano-to-mano with any number of doctors when it comes to credentials.
I think what they’d rather do is find the right medicines to prevent events like the one in Ohio last week. A political science professor from Kent State died after sustaining injuries inflicted by her son with autism. I know many autism parents who have imagined this happening to them. I have. My beloved older son Dan is more than six feet tall and he weights more than 200 pounds. He is glorious in his strength but he is also tortured by his autism. Often, when he was younger, I would speak to him frankly even before a trip to the supermarket. “Dan,” I would say. “We are going to do this and get home alive.” There were times I wasn’t sure if we would.
For years Dan was on Haldol, also known as Haloperidol, an anti-psychotic which ultimately can have serious side effects, particularly in the long term. But it was a one of those nightmarish kinds of balancing acts autism parents do all the time. Haldol enabled us to keep Dan living at home; to keep him and the people around him safe. But we knew that we couldn’t, for the sake of his health, keep him on Haldol much longer. In recent weeks, Dr. Elice has helped us to take Dan off of this drug, replacing it with bio-medical interventions that deal with problems in his immune system rather than his brain. After more than a decade on Haldol, Dan is off it and he is sleeping well, going to his work sites – and smiling at his mother.
I know that the dead professor’s son smiled at her. I know too that the doctors who are working to find a cure for autism — the doctors whom the powers-that-be love to malign– have these smiles from our kids in mind as a long term goal.
I don’t think that is subversive. With the memory of that dead mother in mind, I hope in my heart in soul that the Vaccine Court, in its next ruling, agrees with me and that the court in Britain does as well. What happens in those courtrooms could have a chilling effect on research. Alternately, it could help our doctors to find a cure.
Autism Expert on Vaccine Decision: Parents Know Best
CEO, Fully Recovered From Autism, Issues Statement Responding to Thursday’s Ruling on Autism and Vaccines
SHEFFIELD, MA – Raun K. Kaufman, CEO of Autism Treatment Center of America, issued the following statement Thursday:
“We disagree strongly with the court’s ruling and stand firmly behind parents of children with autism and other developmental disorders. Although there is currently ostensibly no statistical proof that vaccines have caused some cases of autism there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence. We work with thousands of parents, hundreds of whom have told us stories about how their children appeared completely typical before being vaccinated and within days or weeks of vaccination displayed the symptoms of autism. The program we teach, The Son-Rise Program, is built upon the idea that the parent is the child’s best resource. No one has the love, life-long dedication and day-to-day understanding of their child that parents have. When parents tell us that their child was typical, received the vaccines, then developed autism soon after, we believe them. In everyday language we call these true stories. We do not believe in waiting 20 years for the right kind of statistics, but rather helping parents and their children now. Apparently the court disagreed.”
When Mr. Kaufman was diagnosed with severe autism, no language, and a tested IQ of less than 30 his parents ignored the statistical evidence and instead developed The Son-Rise Program, which led to his complete recovery from autism.
Although vaccines do not cause all autism occurrences, Mr. Kaufman disagrees with those who say that so many parents are making up or imagining a link, and further disagrees with the position that the autism/vaccine link is coincidental.
Mr. Kaufman does not support canceling the vaccination program but believes it’s prudent for parents to ensure their child’s vaccines are thimerosal-free, administered separately and not at too early an age — and never when a child is ill.
Autism Treatment Center of America is a non-profit organization that teaches parents to help their children with autism and other developmental challenges. As providers of an educational intervention it has no vested interest in whether vaccines have caused some cases of autism but always stands by parents. Parents know their children and have an ability to help their children that is unparallel.
The Hazlehurst Decision
Autism Court Utterly Confused By The Unknown
By Kent Heckenlively, Legal Editor for Age of Autism.
February 13, 2009
There’s a line in the movie, “The Right Stuff” in which an astronaut explains to an engineer the truth about funding by saying, “If there’s no bucks, there’s no Buck Rogers” and subsequently no space program.
The polite fiction maintained by this court is that those questioning vaccine safety have been listened to and substantial financial resources were directed to researching those claims. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it forms a necessary backdrop to a discussion of the Hazlehurst case.
Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith begins by noting that this trial “does not and cannot offer a determinative explanation” for what causes autism. She then goes onto notes the number of articles submitted and the parade of experts and their qualifications, before finally noting that the government’s witnesses were more persuasive than the witnesses for the families.
But this decision was not inevitable. Campbell-Smith notes that “when appropriate, medical opinion and circumstantial evidence is enough to prove causation.” There was abundant medical evidence, including some very powerful testimony from family members and physicians, including a Harvard gastro-enterologist which could have more than sufficed for a favorable decision.
One of the staggering examples of the lack of intellectual curiosity in this case is the question of whether mercury exposure in the young might look and cause significantly different problems than in more adult members of the population. While Campbell-Smith does an adequate job of recounting some of the petitioner’s theories on the functioning of the immune system, there seems to be little interest in trying to figure out what has gone wrong with these children.
Campbell-Smith’s willful blindness extends to her discussion of how there is “some evidence of a temporal connection” to the MMR shot received by Yates Hazlehurst and his subsequent deterioration. She notes it, but doesn’t seem to be able to go any further with it. Equally indicative of a lack of intellectual rigor is her discussion of Andrew Wakefield’s theories. At one point she mentions how the theory of measles virus persistence of Dr. Andrew Wakefield “continued to attract scrutiny”, when it was subject to vicious attack from the outset.
In her discussion of whether Yates suffered from immune system problems, she notes his 8 ear infections and treatment with anti-biotics, his normal development, his gastro-intestinal problems, but seems to be dazzled by the parade of the government’s expert witnesses who can offer no other explanation, other than it couldn’t possibly have been the vaccines.
I also find it amazing that certain assertions put forth by the government are not questioned, while straight-forward propositions such as that mercury can affect immune-system function are questioned with the scorn reserved for those who believe 9/11 was an inside job. The government continually talks about autism “genes” but despite millions of dollar spent in this pursuit still can’t find them. And when such genes show “an association” is found, a closer observation inevitably shows those genes to be involved in detoxifying the body of harmful substances.
The other day I was staggered to read a press release from Stanford University in which they announced they’d developed a test which might identify those suffering from problems with mitochondrial function. Their answer was to measure glutathione levels. That’s something the biomedical community has been doing for years.
The sad truth of the matter is that we are massively out-gunned in terms of research dollars. The medical personnel who undertake our cause do it knowing full well there will be many defeats. Judges will be dazzled by experts who claim to know so much, except for the question of what causes autism.
But there is a moral dimension to our cause that they can never match. I don’t know how long it will take, but we will someday have the answer that even the medical community’s best and brightest fail to provide us.
The witch-hunt against Andrew Wakefield
Wednesday, 11th February 2009
The Sunday Times last weekend resumed its witch-hunt against Andrew Wakefield, the gastro-enterologist who warned against the possible risks to children of the MMR vaccine following a paper he wrote in the Lancet in 1998. In this paper, he described a new childhood syndrome which he called autistic enterocolitis, which suggested a connection between a new type of bowel disease and autistic spectrum disorder and reported the fact that some of the parents of the children in the study thought there was a connection between these symptoms and the MMR vaccine. The titanic furore which subsequently engulfed Wakefield, in which virtually the entire medical establishment turned on him, effectively forced him out of Britain and has resulted in his being investigated by the General Medical Council for serious misconduct.
The campaign against Wakefield in the Sunday Times has been led by journalist Brian Deer. Last weekend, the paper published a two-page ‘investigation’ and a front-page spin-off story alleging that confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established Wakefield had changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism…amidst various other lurid charges. Deer claimed that his ‘investigation’ was confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council
What the Sunday Times did not report was that the GMC investigation into Wakefield was triggered by a complaint from… Brian Deer, who furnished the allegations against him four years ago. He has thus been reporting upon the hearing into his own complaint. Since when has a reputable paper published a story by a reporter who is actually part of that story himself — without saying so – and who uses information arising from the disciplinary hearing which he himself has instigated and which is investigating allegations he himself made in the first place?………………………………………..
It is of course precisely Wakefield’s concern that the MMR vaccine might, in a small proportion of cases, trigger a catastrophic reaction in a child with an as yet unknown pre-existing vulnerability. For that he is being hung out to dry – and any discussion about his concern is being suppressed by the intimidatory tactic of blaming anyone who says he might have a point for the reported rise in measles cases. As has been said over and over again from the very start, that problem could have been totally avoided if the government had provided single measles jabs. It refused — because it was determined not to concede any ground over multiple vaccines and so decided instead to play for the highest possible stakes in destroying Andrew Wakefield. It is the Department of Health – which never flags up similar concerns about the rise in cases of autistic spectrum disorder — that is responsible for the rise in measles cases.
Truly, health policy and a show trial straight out of Kafka.
Further: Olbermann’s apology for naming Wakefield, “Worst Person In The World”:
Here is Keith’s script from the February show, where Brian Deer received the bronze Worst Person in the World honors.
The bronze to Brian Deer.
He wrote the Times of London report that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had allegedly altered key research linking the Measles, Mumps and Rubella triple-vaccine to autism in children, which earned Dr. Wakefield a spot on this list yesterday.
The Times of London did not bother to mention that the British investigation into whether or not Wakefield did that was the result of a complaint by… Brian Deer.
The guy who wrote the article about the investigation never mentioned he was the complainant who precipitated the investigation.
The truth about the doctor’s research may be in doubt here, but not Deer’s vast conflict of interest nor the Times of London’s journalistic malfeasance.
The paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it’s my bad for forgetting his new motto: “We have never been a company that tolerates facts.”
Protest Federal Autism Committee’s Deceitful Reversal on Vaccine-Autism Research
January 26, 2009 Autism Action Alert: Click HERE to send your letter!
The inexcusable actions of the Federal members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) in retracting vaccine-autism studies must be stopped. Sound science must move forward, not thwarted by Federal agencies with vested interests in on-going vaccine-autism injury litigation. The autism advocacy organizations listed below implore parents of children with autism - and all those who care about the burgeoning rate of autism and its toll on the health of our children - to take immediate action. We are asking you to write a letter of disapproval to key government decision-makers on autism. Your letter will be sent to President Obama, your Senators and Representatives, HHS Secretary Tom Daschle, the Senate HELP Committee, Senators Christopher Dodd, Joe Lieberman, and Edward Kennedy, and Congressmen Chris Smith and Joe Barton. Your letters are needed NOW. The next IACC meeting is Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - less than two weeks away! Autism Action Alert: Click HERE to send your letter! Continue reading "Protest Federal Autism Committee's Deceitful Reversal on Vaccine-Autism Research" ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Autism, Vaccines and the CDC: The Wrong Side of History
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and David Kirby, January 27, 2009
Even as the evidence connecting America’s autism epidemic to vaccines mounts, dead-enders at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) — many of whom promoted the current vaccine schedule and others with strong ties to the vaccine industry — are trying to delay the day of reckoning by creating questionable studies designed to discredit any potential vaccine-autism link and by derailing authentic studies.
On January 12, a cadre of mid-level health bureaucrats left over from the Bush administration ignored Federal requirements for advance notice in order to vote to quietly strip vaccine research studies from funding allocated by Congress in the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006. Members of Congress had said that this money should be used to study the vaccine-autism connection.
These rogue bureaucrats — members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee — held an unannounced vote to remove previously approved vaccine studies from funding under the CAA. Nearly all of the “Federal” members of the panel voted to remove the two studies, whose estimated cost was $16 million – or 1.6% of the billion dollars authorized by Congress for autism. The panel’s civilian members, in contrast, voted nearly unanimously to retain the funding.
IACC’s action to halt vaccine-autism research flies in the face of congressional intent. The bill’s authors clearly stated that vaccine research should be funded. Even the esteemed Institute of Medicine has condemned CDC’s methods. In 2005, an IOM panel condemned CDC for its “lack of transparency” in vaccine-autism research.
The bureaucrats responsible for this scandal are on the wrong side of history and it’s hard to not attribute an obstructionist motive to their act since vaccine-autism research has already entered the realm of mainstream science. Serious scientists (except those tied to the vaccine industry) no longer debate whether vaccine-autism research should be done, but rather how it should be done, and by whom…………………………………
Our Melamine: There’s Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the FDA Has Known for Years
The Huffington Post
Posted January 27, 2009
Maybe Jeremy Piven didn’t get mercury poisoning from fish at all — according to the results of a new study released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trace Policy (IATP), the actor may well have been sickened by soda or candy or anything that contains high fructose corn syrup, which, if you eat processed food in this country means, well, just about anything.
Foodies and nutritionists alike have been griping about high fructose corn syrup for years, and the industry has responded with an “astroturf” campaign and a level of secrecy generally reserved for military officials or secret societies (see Corn Refiners’ Association president Audrae Erickson’s stonewalling performance in King Corn).
Of course, I wouldn’t want to show my hand either, if the making of my product could be described as the undertaking of a “small Manhattan Project” (see eye-glazing production info here). But as it turns out, the HFCS industry has been hiding some major skeletons in its closet — according to the IATP study (pdf), over 30% of products containing the substance tested positive for mercury.
What makes this news truly shocking is not just that the manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup would put consumers’ health at risk, but that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew about the mercury in the syrup, and has been sitting on this information since 2005.
Here’s the connection, according to the IATP press release (pdf): The IATP study comes on the heels of another study, conducted in 2005 but only recently published by the scientific journal, Environmental Health, which revealed that nearly 50 percent of commercial HFCS samples tested positive for the heavy metal. Renee Dufault, who was working for the FDA at the time, was among the 2005 study’s authors. In spite of Dufault’s involvement in the study, the FDA sat silent on this one for three years, and in fact last August, allowed manufacturers to call the sweetener “natural.”…………………………………………..
The White House
Autism, January 21, 2009
President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to supporting Americans with Autism Spectrum Disorders (“ASD”), their families, and their communities. There are a few key elements to their support, which are as follows:
First, President Obama and Vice President Biden support increased funding for autism research, treatment, screenings, public awareness, and support services. There must be research of the treatments for, and the causes of, ASD.
Second, President Obama and Vice President Biden support improving life-long services for people with ASD for treatments, interventions and services for both children and adults with ASD.
Third, President Obama and Vice President Biden support funding the Combating Autism Act and working with Congress, parents and ASD experts to determine how to further improve federal and state programs for ASD.
Fourth, President Obama and Vice President Biden support universal screening of all infants and re-screening for all two-year-olds, the age at which some conditions, including ASD, begin to appear. These screenings will be safe and secure, and available for every American that wants them. Screening is essential so that disabilities can be identified early enough for those children and families to get the supports and services they need.
Go to: Whitehouse
Dr. Frank Engley: Farewell to a Truth-Teller
Most of the time, in the countless articles and news videos I look at, the controversy over vaccines and autism is presented as a debate with scientists and doctors on one side and parents along with the general population on the other side. We rarely hear about the experts who challenge the claims of health officials. This is a point of increasing frustration for me and countless others in the autism community.
This isn’t just an argument about proving vaccines have serious side effects. It’s really about who will be held responsible if it’s clearly shown that through complete oversight failure, a generation of children has been damaged by unsafe vaccines. That’s it—pure and simple. But we don’t talk about that. We pretend that autism is a puzzle we just haven’t been able to solve and that officials have earnestly looked for a link with vaccines, but they keep coming up empty.
Late last week, I received word from Linda Weinmaster of No Mercury that Dr. Frank Engley had died. Dr. Engley has an extremely important place in the story of the autism epidemic and he’ll be long-remembered for what he did to expose the truth.
Reporter Ashley Reynolds interviewed Dr. Engley as part of her incredible landmark series, Combating Autism from Within, on KOMU-TV in Columbia, MO in 2007. His comments deserve to be acknowledged now.
You can listen to him explain how officials ignored the recommendation to remove the mercury-based preservative thimerosal from medical products, especially children’s vaccines, back in the 1980s and about the fear that motives them now.
A Look into Vaccines
A while ago I learned the term “iatrogenic” and simply put, it’s an adjective that means “caused by doctor.” It’s used to describe a symptom or illness brought on unintentionally by something that a doctor does or says. I’m sure it’s a word that sends shockwaves through the medical community. Dr. Engley’s comments make it clear that autism is an iatrogenic epidemic.
Dr. Engley was a researcher and microbiologist who served on boards with the Centers for Disease Control, the FDA, and EPA throughout the 1970s and 80s. He researched the toxicity of thimerosal. He understood that there’s no such thing as “safe mercury” and he knew of the potential for harm from continued mercury use.
“I am afraid they [the FDA] have a tremendous amount of pressure being brought to bear by the medical profession, by the pediatricians, by Congress, and by industry, and so they are under pressure and someday they will have to live with the fact with what they said is wrong,” said Dr. Engley. He noted that the FDA knew about the dangers of thimerosal back at the time when he served on its board.
“I would say to you, the FDA is partly to blame for the mecuricals still being on the market all that length of time. If they would have followed through with our 1982 report, vaccines would have been freed of thimerosal and all this autism as they tell me would not have occurred. But as it is, it all occurred,” said Dr. Engley.
The date of 1982 has a chilling effect on me as a parent and I’m sure others share my thought: “If they had listened in 1982, my child wouldn’t have autism.” They were warned by a top scientist and one of their own board members and they did nothing. They allowed the drug industry to continue to expose our children to more and more deadly mercury and they pretended it was safe.
Dr. Engley addressed the role of the CDC in this disaster. He said that they were in on the production and development of some of these vaccines and that they have everything at stake in covering it up. He explained that “the CDC cannot afford to admit thimerosal is toxic because they have been promoting it for several years. Today they are in the process of getting vaccines all over the world to immunize 100 million children with vaccines, many of which contain thimerosal.”
The Combating Autism from Within series will ensure that Dr. Engley’s efforts have a lasting effect. They expose the lie that officials had no warning of the potential for harm because of mercury exposure. In one place I found this quote from Dr. Engley, “These people are being forced to say something sometimes they really don’t believe. But they are having to say it. I am not sure I can live long enough to see a lot of that taken away from them. I can only hope.”
Dr. Engley may not have seen the truth officially recognized in his lifetime, but it’s coming. There are too many voices out there all saying the same thing. There is an epidemic number of disabled children who can’t be explained away. The tired old claims from the CDC and medical organizations are falling on deaf ears. The public is going to be left with a welfare disaster when it comes time to support a generation of adults with autism who aren’t there now. They will demand to know the truth about what happened and Dr. Engley gave us that truth.
By: David Kirby
CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding has delivered a potentially explosive report to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, in which she admits to a startling string of errors in the design and methods used in the CDC’s landmark 2003 study that found no link between mercury in vaccines and autism, ADHD, speech delay or tics.
Gerberding was responding to a 2006 report from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which concluded that the CDC’s flagship thimerosal safety study was riddled with “several areas of weaknesses” that combined to “reduce the usefulness” of the study.
“CDC concurs,” Dr. Gerberding wrote in an undated mea culpa to Congress, (provided to me through a Capital Hill staffer) adding that her agency “does not plan to use” the database in question, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, (VSD) for any future “ecological studies” of autism.
In fact, Gerberding’s report said, any continued use of the VSD for similar ecological studies of vaccines and autism “would be uninformative and potentially misleading.”
Ecological vaccine studies are large, epidemiological analyses of risks and trends using computerized data from large populations — in this case children enrolled at several big HMOs — without ever examining a single patient in person.
Also “The Age of Autism” at: http://www.ageofautism.com/
The McGlynn comment:
Further, do not bother to got to CDC News at: http://www.cdc.gov/media/
There is nothing about this on their site. Fantastic Government we have, is it not?!
New Study Links Mercury from the Thimerosal in Vaccines with Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders
WASHINGTON, DC – A newly published study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences , the official journal of the World Federation of Neurology , links mercury from the Thimerosal in vaccines with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
This study represents six years worth of effort by independent researchers to gain access to hidden US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data in the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD). In 2003, the Government Reform Committee of the US House of Representatives asserted, “(a)ccess by independent researchers to the Vaccine Safety Datalink database is needed for independent replication and validation of CDC studies regarding exposure of infants to mercury-containing vaccines and autism.”
Nonetheless, this new analysis of some of the data in the carefully guarded VSD database, documenting the mercury poisoning of a generation of American children, would never have been possible without the intervention of Congressional leaders, parent autism advocacy groups, and legal experts. Ironically, only a few independent researchers have gained even this limited level of restricted access to the VSD database, despite the fact that the VSD Project is funded by hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
The new study, led by Dr. Heather Young, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, examined the CDC-supplied medical vaccination records from the VSD of 278,624 children, born from 1990 through 1996.
This study calculated the average mercury exposure children incurred from routine childhood Thimerosal-containing vaccines, by year of birth, during their first year of life. After calculating average mercury exposure by year of birth, the study then estimated the prevalence rates of various medical diagnoses for children born in each of the years examined.
The prevalence rate of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders correlated with the average mercury exposure children received: increasing/decreasing levels of mercury exposure from routine childhood Thimerosal-containing vaccines resulted in corresponding trends in prevalence rates of these diagnoses. By contrast, medical outcomes presumed to be unrelated to mercury exposure did not correlate with the average levels of mercury exposure from routine childhood Thimerosal-containing vaccines.
To read the complete study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences go to:
For further information go to: