Angry Toxicologist

Vaccines and Autism

The Washington Post reported yesterday on the vaccine court proceeding that starts today. Almost 5000 families will make the case that vaccines caused their children to develop autism. I don’t think the families have a good case. To start off, the large majority of findings would suggest that there is not link. There are, however, some very good reasons why these studies could be wrong and that’s what’s keeping the theory alive. Let’s look at a couple of arguments that people like to make and what I think about them.

Con – The IOM said that overall there was no link. While this is true, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) did note possibility that some children may be genetically susceptible to thimerosal, which is a logical assumption since almost all diseseases are a combination of genetics and environment. In this case, which I see as the only possibility, the number of effected children would only be a sliver of the children who were vaccinated.

Pro – Thimerosal is mercury! Sort of, it’s ethyl-mercury which isn’t as toxic as methyl mercury, the mercury in polluted waters and in fish.

Con – Thimerosal is ethyl-mercury which isn’t very toxic. Wrong. Although not as bad as methyl-mercury, the ethyl version still gets into the brain and does damage after reverting back to elemental mercury, just like methyl.

Con – Autism advocates are crazy. Hmmm…very scientific. Let me note that citizen advocates for almost anything can seem a bit, um…enthusiastic, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong, it just means they don’t have a PR firm. Some are probably a bit nuts, but let me ask you, how many organizations, even professional ones, don’t have a few nuts? Heck, even the Senate has some.

Pro – Mercury poisoning looks like autism. In many ways it does, although autism usually develops in a different way than mercury poisoning does.

Con – It takes tons more mercury to create mercury poisoning than the amount of mercury present in the vaccines. This is a very strong con-point. It is possible that the timing of the mercury exposure or the co-administration of the rest of the vaccine may effect the child in a different way that mercury poisoning does, but the size of the dose doesn’t support a link.

Con – When we took mercury out of most vaccines, there wasn’t a sharp drop in autism, so they couldn’t be related. This is the one I hear the most from other scientists and I think it’s premature if not wrong. Why? Most autistic kids are diagnosed between 3-7 yrs old but there’s a lot of diagnoses out side of that range too. The thimerosal phase out began in 1999. That means that we are just getting near the end of when the majority of kids would be diagnosed from this period. So if you don’t get diagnosed until 3-7 yrs after your exposure then there would be no sharp drop off, only a gradual one. We are just getting there so we won’t be able to tell for a couple years whether there will be a drop off or not. (Update: there are reasons why we simply shouldn’t use most of this data anyway, pro or con)

Con – The increase is mostly due to increased awareness and diagnosis. There are a couple of well reasoned papers on why the increase is unlikely to be due to increased diagnosis alone (it certainly is part of the increase). This doesn’t mean it’s vaccines, though; it could be another type of exposure.

Pro – Many autism patients seem to have decreased ability to get rid of metals such as mercury. This is too complicated to go into for this post (perhaps some other time), but suffice it to say that there are a lot of chicken and egg problems with this line of thinking but it does offer one of the better insights into how some of the children might be treated.

Pro and Con – Anecdotes. Stop using them. I ate some Cheerios the day I broke my arm when I was 6. My brother ate them every day and never broke his arm. Think this says anything about the role of Cheerios in arm fractures? The WP does a nice job of juxtaposing two conflicting ones.

The Angry Toxicologist’s Conclusion: The case for thimerosal is plausible but I see no hard evidence that would make me conclude that it’s real. I do know this though: Putting mercury in vaccines was a very stupid thing to do. The public health community should say so in a clear way. They are afraid to do so, thinking that people won’t trust the vaccine program anymore and not get vaccinated. What really hurts the vaccine program are the directors of these programs not being straight with the public. Medical professionals that think autism advocates are crazy and the advocates that think there is a vaccine maker/government cover-up conspiracy aren’t helping matters either. This problem needs to be researched with open minds but both sides are so bull-headed I fear that we may never come to understand what’s really going on.

AT’s Tip: Thimerosal is still used in multi-dose vials of flu-vaccine. If you’d rather not get one of those in the fall, just ask if it is preservative-free (most are now).

Update: As with the vegan post, people seem to be mis-reading the point of the post which is the majority of the work out there supports no link but there are major problems with the work that make it, as I see it, still an open question that can be debated. From practical standpoint (a legal and/or public health question that I had to act on), I’d say there is no link. No one has threatened to eat my kids yet so we’re off to a better start.

Update 2: To make this absolutely clear: Everyone should follow the vaccination schedules that are currently recommended for infants. There are still serious risks out there to serious diseases. My kids are vaccinated and I wouldn’t recommend otherwise, professionally or personally.

Update 3 for Science Blogs readers: Please seethe original post for the many back and forths in the comment section.

Comments

  1. #1 Tyler DiPietro
    July 18, 2007

    “Most autistic kids are diagnosed between 3-7 yrs old but there’s a lot of diagnoses out side of that range too.”

    But what is the distribution within that range by age, or the mean age of diagnoses? 1999 was 8 years ago, most of the kids born during that interval are outside of the 3-7 y/o range. If you removed a major causal factor of some “autism epidemic” you would certainly have seen a decrease in diagnoses by now, especially if they all agregate around earlier ages (as you seem to suggest they do).

    As for the last comment (the “update” in patentheses), why wouldn’t the epidemological data thus far be reliable? And most of it, from what I understand, shows a continued increase in autism.

    “Con – The increase is mostly due to increased awareness and diagnosis. There are a couple of well reasoned papers on why the increase is unlikely to be due to increased diagnosis alone (it certainly is part of the increase). This doesn’t mean it’s vaccines, though; it could be another type of exposure.”

    Well, this is kind of ill-stated. It seems to overlook the role of reclassification (we now have a whole array of disorders on an “autism spectrum” rather than simple “autism”) rather than simple increased awareness. I would be interested in seeing these papers.

  2. #2 _Arthur
    July 18, 2007

    Note that in the current preeceedings before the Vaccines Court, the Petitioners argue that *measles* is the cause of Michelle C autism, while handwaving that thimerosal may have somehow affected her immune system for the virus to take hold in her guts and in her brain.

    The Petitionner’s elderly toxicologist was a poor witness, complaining of bad hearing, wishing his wife was with him on the stand to help him, and, most seriously, continually conflating the toxicities of metal mercury, methyl mercury, and ethyl mercury.

    Dr Aposhian finished his testimony by denying overtly the main tenet of toxicology, that “the dose makes the poison”.

    His counterpart the Respondant’s expert reminded the masters that there is a known and huge difference in toxicity between ethyl alcohol and methyl alcohol, and that similar differences exist and are known between various mercury compounds.

  3. #3 James Stein
    July 18, 2007

    Con – When we took mercury out of most vaccines, there wasn’t a sharp drop in autism, so they couldn’t be related. This is the one I hear the most from other scientists and I think it’s premature if not wrong. Why? Most autistic kids are diagnosed between 3-7 yrs old but there’s a lot of diagnoses out side of that range too. The thimerosal phase out began in 1999. That means that we are just getting near the end of when the majority of kids would be diagnosed from this period. So if you don’t get diagnosed until 3-7 yrs after your exposure then there would be no sharp drop off, only a gradual one. We are just getting there so we won’t be able to tell for a couple years whether there will be a drop off or not. (Update: there are reasons why we simply shouldn’t use most of this data anyway, pro or con)

    England, moreover, has stopped using mercury-based vaccines in anything except their DPT vaccines since the early 90s*. The autism rates did not drop, and a study on more recent UK autists (born in the late 90s) showed no significant correlation to their vaccine intake (New England JoMedicine, 350;26, “Autism and DPT Vaccination in the United Kingdom”).

    *The article above notes that DPT is the only remaining routinely used vaccine with thimerosal; not when the usage of others dropped off. I’m saying early 90s based on memory – Google’s not showing me anything specific about the UK’s usage of vaccines with and without thimerosal.

  4. #4 Ted Powell
    July 18, 2007

    Please note that “effect” (as a transitive verb) means “to cause to come into being” or “to produce”, whereas “affect” (as a transitive verb) means “to have an influence upon”.

    Since the phrase “the number of effected children” is not about the birthrate, it should probably be “the number of affected children”.

    Similarly, “effect the child” should probably be “affect the child”.

  5. #5 PalMD
    July 18, 2007

    I just diagnosed 2 cases of pertussis in 2 weeks. They were both adults, but they were both also around children. Given that the transmission rate to household contacts who aren’t vaccinated is about 98%, and for infants the hospitalization rate is about 60%, I would hope people would decide to vaccinate. But faith and fear trumps science far too often.

  6. #6 Phil Boncer
    July 19, 2007

    I mainly want to say congratulations on being one of the few people on this subject who is able to keep an open mind and try to make actual sense.

    I agree that vaccines should be as safe as possible, and continued efforts to make them that way are valuable, and also that currently getting them is much safer than not getting them.

    The main reason for adding the Thimerosal actually was for increased safety, in order to prevent bacterial contamination of the vaccines, at which it is effective. That is a very real risk, especially for vaccines that get transported to places where safe temperature-controlled storage is not assured, and where economics dictates that in order for the place to afford to have them at all, it is necessary for multiple-dose containers to be used. So I actually wouldnt necessarily say that mercury in vaccines was a very stupid thing to do; there was a real benefit to be had, from a mercury dose that is comparable to what you get from eating a tuna sandwich (which are not being blamed for autism).

  7. #7 Shinga
    July 19, 2007

    I found your pros and cons to be very interesting.

    I think that one of the issues seems to be that this is an area that polarises readily into emotion v. science where the science seems to be black and white, but, as per your account it isn’t.

    Would it be an undue burden for you to add an update that lists all of the relevant papers that were mentioned in the comments on your previous site? E.g., the comment where you wrote:

    One of the points of the paper you note is that you can not generalize accross various Amish populations. For different numbers:

    Briss P, Fehrs L, Hutcheson RH, et al. Rubella among the Amish: resurgent disease in a highly susceptible community. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1992;11:955�9.

    Hostetler JA. Amish Society. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1993.

    Fry AM, Lurie P, Gidley M, et al. Haemophilus influenzae type B disease among Amish children in Pennsylvania: reasons for persistent disease. Pediatrics. 2001;108:60�65.

    Dickinson N, Slesinger DP, Raftery PR. A comparison of the perceived health needs of Amish and non-Amish families in Cashton, Wisconsin. Wis Med J. 1996;95:151�156.

    Another reason not to use the Amish as a control for autism studies. They, like most other groups and as you point out, can not be easily categorized.

  8. #8 angrytoxicologist
    July 19, 2007

    Phil,
    Thanks for the kind words. I do think that the look back at thimerosal gives a sense of false choice: either use a preservative or don’t. One could make the arguement that we should have developed another preservative long ago instead.

    Shinga,
    Thanks for pulling over my comment (that one is kind of important). I would really encourage readers to go to the original post where many of these arguements (and others) have been given the back and forth. http://angrytoxicologist.com/?p=81

    I’m afriad if I pull them all over this post will be a mess. I’m not e-phisticated enough to do it so it looks all tidy (I’ve already tried, issues with MoveableType platform versus WordPress)

  9. #9 marble
    July 21, 2007

    Con – … the IOM (Institute of Medicine) did note possibility that some children may be genetically susceptible to thimerosal…

    I think you may have been reading some of the anti-vaccine people’s versions of the IOM report. Right after they say there could imaginably be a genetic susceptibility, they say there’s no evidence to support that contention. And none has surfaced since the time of that report.

    Con – …the ethyl version still gets into the brain and does damage after reverting back to elemental mercury, just like methyl.

    This might be interesting or important if we didn’t already have excellent evidence about what happens to human beings exposed to thimerosal. Gigantic epidemiological studies powerful enough to find a needle in a haystack have been done, over and over, and come up empty. If there were a deleterious effect associated with vaccine-sized doses of ethylmercury, they would have picked it up.

    Con – Autism advocates are crazy….it doesn’t mean they’re wrong, it just means they don’t have a PR firm…

    If you take out the crazy ones, the litigants, the expert witnesses, and the chelation purveyors, do you have anyone left?

    Pro – Mercury poisoning looks like autism. In many ways it does, although autism usually develops in a different way than mercury poisoning does.

    Do you actually know anything about autism? See Nelson & Bauman, Pediatrics, 2003 Mar;111(3):674-9.

    Con – …we are just getting near the end of when the majority of kids would be diagnosed from this period. So if you don’t get diagnosed until 3-7 yrs after your exposure then there would be no sharp drop off, only a gradual one. …

    The trend is toward younger and younger diagnosis. By the end of the first quarter of 2002, thimerosal was eliminated from the childhood vaccine supply, except for some influenza vaccines (not all of them, and not that many kids get flu vaccine anyway). If there were a connection, it is implausible that there would not have been some downward motion by now, even in educational counts, as weak a measure as those are.

    Con – …There are a couple of well reasoned papers on why the increase is unlikely to be due to increased diagnosis alone…

    There are other well-reasoned papers showing exactly how non-exposure-related influences can account for the increase all by themselves.

    Pro – Many autism patients seem to have decreased ability to get rid of metals such as mercury…

    If there’s one whit of evidence for this hypothesis, I haven’t seen it. The labs and methods involved are highly suspect.

    The Angry Toxicologist’s Conclusion: … I do know this though: Putting mercury in vaccines was a very stupid thing to do. The public health community should say so in a clear way…What really hurts the vaccine program are the directors of these programs not being straight with the public. … This problem needs to be researched with open minds but both sides are so bull-headed I fear that we may never come to understand what’s really going on.

    I’m sorry to be sarcastic, but do you think they just threw thimerosal in there for no reason? Just top it off with a little mercury for the heck of it? By acquiescing to the panic of uninformed laypeople, we have made vaccines more cumbersome and expensive to administer in the US (by forcing the use of single-dose vials) and threatened the acceptability of these same vaccines in the developing world, where single-dose is horribly impractical.

    In what way do you think public health officials have not been straight with the public? The only way I can think of is by *over*stating the risk when they made the hasty decision to recommend discontinuing the use of thimerosal. Talk about fuel for the fire.

    I think what you’re not getting is the danger inherent in continuing to describe this as an open question. For parents, this is as good as saying vaccines are dangerous. Possibly dangerous, maybe dangerous, potentially dangerous…all adds up to “dangerous” in the minds of people looking to do right by their kids. What they need to hear, loud and clear, is that the science shows there is no issue as to thimerosal. I know you said that…after a long post insinuating the opposite.

  10. #10 JScarry
    July 21, 2007

    Please look up the definition of “effect” and “affect”. They are not the same word.

    You should spend some time reading the transcripts from the hearings. Most (if not all) of your cons were debunked by reputable scientists who cited research in peer-reviewed journals to back up their claims.

  11. #11 cooler
    July 22, 2007

    Finally someone whos a nice normal guy on science blogs who doesnt mock people who dont want mercury in their bodies, these other militant geeks who were rejects in college and high school get redundant.

    Some of these idiots are so militant about mercury, there has been no study comparing no mercury vs 1991 levels of mercury in children, comparing the effects, so the militant geeks who go “woo woo” all the time dont even know what they are talking about.

    If you dont know what the effects of a nuerotoxin like mercury are, and you cant because there has been no study comparing 1991 levels of thimerosol to no thimerosol, it shouldnt be in any vaccine.

  12. #12 Dr. Alethia Nomos
    July 22, 2007

    Dear Vaccine Enthusiasts,

    There is an interesting document posted on the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness website entitled, “How to predict epidemics,” that you should be aware of. It is a time line essentially of recent documented evidence regarding the relationship between vaccines, and epidemics that I’m sure anyone who took the Hippocratic oath would want to be aware of.

    http://www.ddponline.org/vande.htm

    You also might want to see the following:

    2006 (March) An article in the March 10, 2006 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS.org) shows that since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the alarming increase in reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders (NDs) in children not only stopped, but actually dropped sharply � by as much as 35%.

    Using the government�s own databases, David A. Geier, B.A. and Mark R. Geier, M.D., Ph.D. analyzed reports of childhood NDs, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives. The authors analyzed data from the CDC�s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) in �Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines.�

    “The numbers from California show that reported autism rates hit a high of 800 in May
    2003. If that trend had continued, the reports would have skyrocketed to more than
    1000 by the beginning of 2006. But in fact, the Geiers report that the number
    actually went down to only 620, a real decrease of 22%, and a decrease from the
    projections of 35%. This analysis directly contradicts 2004 recommendations of the Institute of Medicine which examined vaccine safety data from the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC. While not willing to either rule out or to corroborate a relationship between mercury and autism, the IOM soft-pedaled its findings, and decided no more studies were needed. The authors write: �The IOM stated that the evidence favored rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism, that such a relationship was not biologically plausible, and that no further studies should be conducted to evaluate it.�

    While the potent neurotoxins mercury or aluminum have been and still are used as vaccine preservatives, studies show that despite their use, many vaccine lots are contaminated with bacteria.

    More problematic, there is a wealth of evidence that infants (particularly during the 1990′s) were injected with as much as 42 times the amount of mercury that is said by the EPA, the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), or FDA to be safe (O.1 micrograms/Kg. verus 62.5 micrograms/KG-see David Kirby’s new book, Evidence of Harm, page 49).

    “When FDA researchers finally did their math and converted the amount of ethylmercury in vaccines from volume percentages to actual weight, they found that most American Children were being exposed to levels in excess of federal limits, especially when calculated in single-day bolus doses. For example, a two-month-old child weighing 5 kilograms could have been exposed to 62.5 micrograms of mercury in a single day. This would have been 125 times more than the EPA limit for that child (0.5 micrograms/day), 42 times more than the ATSDR limit (1.5 micrograms/day), and 31 times more than the FDA limit (2.0 micrograms/day).”

    The question is not whether mercury causes autism spectrum disorders, multiple schlerosis, arthritis, and other autoimmune syndromes. The question is, whether, as a parent, you want the Public Health Service to mandate a vaccine be given that contains a potent neurotoxin such as mercury into your dear new baby or child at concentrations that exceed FDA, ATSDR, and EPA limits by as much as 42 times, so they won’t acquire an STD when they grow up and become promiscuous, needle-sharing heroin users? How could these recommendations possibly be generated by anyone even if they don’t like children?

    (From Evidence of Harm, by David Kirby).
    “On November 13, 2002, when the House of Representatives was about to pass the Homeland Security Bill, some unnamed agent had secretly inserted a last-minute provision into the bill, adding two brief paragraphs onto the massive document before the roll call. The provision would dismiss hundreds of civil suits filed by parents against Eli Lilly and other drug companies for allegedly allowing dangerous levels of mercury into their kid’s vaccines. Very few members of Congress knew it was there.”

    “The language of the {two paragraphs} dismissing the lawsuits was nothing new. It had been drafted the year before-written as part of a larger vaccine injury bill-crafted by a Senator from Tennessee, Bill Frist, a conservative republican with strong ties to the vaccine industry�”

    Also, it should be mentioned, at least, that toxic adjuvants have been used to boost the non-specific immune response (adjuvants are compounds such as squalene that are supposed to boost the non-specific immune response stimulated by a vaccine antigen, because the modern molecular design of the vaccines don’t work as well as Pasteur’s did, against rabies, cholera, or anthrax more than 120 years ago). For example, there is evidence that adjuvants like squalene (MF-59), when they have been added to certain lots of anthrax and perhaps “HIV” vaccines given to soldiers on threat of court martial if they don’t roll up their shirt on command (in contrast to Walter Reed’s voluntary experiment), have induced autoimmune syndromes in almost 100% of every sick Gulf-War I veteran tested, and have evoked antibodies to squalene in their blood (P. B. Asa et al., Exp. Mol. Pathol 68, 196-197, 2000; Asa PB, Wilson RB, Garry RF. Antibodies to squalene in recipients of anthrax vaccine. Exp Mol Pathol. Aug;73(1):19-27, 2002; see Gary Matsumoto’s book, Vaccine A, Basic Books Publisher). This type of dangerous and mindless vaccine experimentation on our young soldiers is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that squalene and other adjuvants have been used by scientists for many years to induce rodents to develop arthritis, macrophagic myofasciitis, mutliple-sclerosis (demyelinating syndromes), and lupus (Holmdahl et al. Arthritis induced in rats with nonimmunogenic adjuvants as models for rheumatoid arthritis Immunol Rev. Dec;184:184-202, 2001; Gherardi NK. Lessons from macrophagic myofasciitis: towards definition of a vaccine adjuvant-related syndrome. Rev Neurol (Paris). Feb;159(2):162-4), 2003).

    I think when the truth gets out about the level of damage that vaccines have done to our children, and the enormous human experiment that vaccination represents is seen for what it is, there will be movements not unlike the Above Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in order. Who will be blamed?

    St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey, 1959-1970
    Baby Tooth Survery graphic, 1959
    Image from the Rosenthal Collection, Washington University in St. Louis Archives

    The Baby Tooth Survey was initiated in December 1958 as one of the activities of the Greater St. Louis Citizen�s Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI). The Committee was organized in April 1958 by a group of scientists and public-minded citizens who felt that the community should be given accurate information on the known effects of nuclear energy and radiation. Founding members included Mrs. Edna Gellhorn, a tireless and effective worker for civic causes in the city of St. Louis, the state of Missouri, and the nation for sixty years; Barry Commoner, professor of Plant Physiology at Washington University; John M. Fowler, a Washington University physicist; the Reverend Ralph C. Abele, head of the Metropolitan Church Federation; and Alfred S. Schwartz, assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine.

    Though many members of the group were vocally against nuclear testing, CNI never took an official position for or against the testing of nuclear weapons. Scientific facts were assembled, studied by the Committee and its Scientific Advisory Group, and then made available to the public through regular bulletins, newsletters, and a speaker�s bureau.

    The initial impetus for the Baby Tooth Survey came from an article in the British scientific journal Nature by Dr. Herman M. Kalckar, a Johns Hopkins University biochemist (and former research fellow in the laboratory of Carl and Gerty Cori at the Washington University School of Medicine from 1940 to 1943). Kalckar suggested that primary teeth, as they were extracted or shed, might provide valuable information as to the absorption of radioactive elements by the body. He proposed an International Milk Teeth Radiation Census, which would �contribute important information concerning the amount and kind of radiation received by the most sensitive section of any population, namely, the children.�

    When the Baby Tooth Survey was first considered by the CNI, the program was presented to the deans and other representatives of St. Louis and Washington University Schools of Dentistry, the St. Louis Dental Society and leaders in the local dental community. They approved the project and assured support and cooperation by forming with representatives of CNI the Scientific Advisory Group* of the Baby Tooth Survey. The Washington University School of Dentistry further aligned itself with the study by establishing a research team which immediately applied for a grant from the National Institute of Dental Research of the U. S. Public Health Service. An initial five-year grant for $197,454 was approved and a laboratory to conduct the strontium-90 studies was established.
    Baby Tooth Survey submission forms, 1959
    Image from the Rosenthal Collection, Washington University in St. Louis Archives

    The Greater St. Louis Citizen�s Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI) initiated and conducted the collection of teeth in the St. Louis area, assisted by area dentists who collected and submitted teeth. A large and active group of CNI volunteers coordinated the distribution of tooth collection forms to all St. Louis City and County schools, private and parochial schools, libraries and even drugstores throughout the area. Assistance came from church and social organizations and Boy Scout, Girl Scout, YMCA and YWCA groups. Under the direction of Dr. Louise Z. Reiss, the project collected and catalogued almost 15,000 baby teeth in its first year. By the end of Baby Tooth Survey in 1970, almost 300,000 teeth had been collected and analyzed. Other Baby Tooth Surveys were formed, patterned after the St. Louis program, including ones in New York, the five Gulf Coast states, Canada, and Germany.

    Washington University School of Dentistry professors Harold L. Rosenthal, John T. Bird, and John E. Gilster conducted the scientific study of the baby teeth. They found that the radioactive strontium-90 levels in the baby teeth of children born from 1945 to 1965 had risen 100-fold and that the level of strontium-90 rose and fell in correlation with atomic bomb tests. Early results from the Baby Tooth Survey, and a U. S. Public Health Service study that showed an alarming rise in the percentage of underweight live births and of childhood cancer, helped persuade President John F. Kennedy to negotiate a treaty with the Soviet Union to end above-ground testing of atomic bombs in 1963.

    * The Scientific Advisory Group consisted of: Dr. John T. Bird, Jr., associate professor of Dental Medicine and assistant dean, Washington University of Dentistry; Dr. Donald Flieder, associate professor of Dental Pathology, St. Louis University School of Dentistry; Dr. Stephen P. Forrest, dean, St. Louis University School of Dentistry; Dr. Leroy S. Boling, dean, Washington University School of Dentistry; Dr. Barry Commoner, professor of Plant Physiology, Washington University; Dr. John E. Gilster, associate professor of Dental Pediatrics, Washington University School of Dentistry; Dr, Eric Reiss, assistant professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine; Dr. Harold Rosenthal, assistant professor of Biochemistry, Washington University School of Medicine and School of Dentistry; Dr. Alfred S. Schwartz, assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine; Dr. E. S. Khalifah, editor of the Journal of the Missouri State Dental Association; Dr. Louise Reiss, internists and director of the Baby Tooth Survey; and Dr. Philip Vierheller, president of the St. Louis Dental Society.

    You also might want to see:

    http://www.homefirst.com/faqs/examples/the_age_of_autism_the_final_word.html

    The Age of Autism The Last l Word

    which essentially is derived from a large study done in Chicago on non-vaccinated children in a special cohort in the tens of thousands conducted by one of The Internationally respected Dr. Robert Mendelsohn’s students, Mayer Eisenstein (Mendelsohn was the head of Illinois State Licensing board for many years: he was also head of Michael Reese Hospital where the first case of vaccination polio was reported in 1955 during the first Salk vaccine that was contaminated with SV-40 in addition to polioviruses that caused paralysis in children 3 and 15 times background incidence in California and Oregon, and hundreds of times the polio rates above background incidence in certain select places in the South).

    By DAN OLMSTED
    UPI Senior Editor

    WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) — This is my 113th and final Age of Autism column. United Press International, which has been the hospitable home for this series, is restructuring, and I’m off to adventures as yet unknown — although I intend to keep my focus on autism and related issues.

    Why? Because it is the story of a lifetime.

    “Autism is currently, in our view, the most important and the fastest-evolving disorder in all of medical science and promises to remain so for the foreseeable future,” says Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, chairman of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University’s school of medicine.

    Most mainstream experts believe autism is a genetic disorder that’s “increasing” only because of more sophisticated diagnoses. But based on my own reporting, I think autism is soaring due to environmental factors — in the sense of something coming from the outside in — and that genes play a mostly secondary role, perhaps creating a susceptibility to toxic exposures in certain children. As the saying goes: Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.

    So to me, the issues autism raises — about the health and well-being of this and future generations, about the role that planetary pollution, chemical inventions and medical interventions may have inadvertently played in triggering it — are so fundamental that by looking at autism, we’re looking very deeply into the kind of world we want to inhabit and our children to inherit.

    It is impossible to summarize all the issues I’ve raised in my columns, but to me, four stand out:

    – The first question I asked when I started looking at autism in late 2004 was this: What is the autism rate among never-vaccinated American children? Vaccines are the leading “environmental” suspect for many families of autistic children. So I was stunned to learn that such a study had never been done, given that it could quickly lay to rest concerns that public health authorities say are dangerously undermining confidence in childhood immunizations.

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced — and just reintroduced — a bill to force the Department of Health and Human Services to do just that (generously crediting this column for finding enough never-vaccinated children to show that such a study is indeed feasible). She calls it “common sense,” and it is an example of ordinary people — through their representatives — telling the experts they want better answers, and fast.

    Recently, such a study was in fact done with private funds. It was a $200,000 telephone survey commissioned by the advocacy group Generation Rescue that, as limited as it is scientifically, suggested a disturbing trend: Higher rates of autism in vaccinated vs. never-vaccinated U.S. children, along with similar ratios for other neurodevelopmental disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

    I reported the same possible association in the Amish community. That’s been criticized as inherently unscientific and undercut by the fact that Amish genes may differ from the rest of us and that increasingly, the Amish do receive at least some vaccinations.

    All true, but intriguing nonetheless. I also found a family medical practice in Chicago called Homefirst that has thousands of never-vaccinated children as patients. According to its medical director, Mayer Eisenstein, he’s aware of only one case of autism and one case of asthma among those kids — not the 1 in 150 and 1 in 10 that are the national averages for those disorders — and he has the medical records to prove it.

    I wrote about that in 2005, yet when I met again with Mayer in Chicago last week, he told me not one public health official or medical association has contacted him to express any interest. Nor has any other journalist — not a one.

    – That brings me to my second theme. I am sorry to say my colleagues in the mainstream journalistic community have, in the main, done a lousy job covering this issue. They, of course, would disagree — two were quoted (anonymously!) in the Columbia Journalism Review saying, “Olmsted has made up his mind on the question and is reporting the facts that support his conclusions.”

    Actually, my mind is made up about only one thing: Both vaccinations and autism are so important that definitive, independent research needs to be done yesterday — and the fact that it hasn’t should be making more journalists suspicious.

    I think Big Media’s performance on this issue is on a dismal par with its record leading up to the Iraq war, when for the most part it failed to probe deeply into the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and the assertions about Saddam Hussein’s link to al-Qaida. And it’s bad for the same reasons — excessive reliance on “authorities” with obvious conflicts of interest; uncritical enlistment in the “war on terror” and “the war on disease” without considering collateral damage or adverse events; a stenographic and superficial approach to covering the news, and an at-least-semiconscious fear of professional reprisal.

    In the case of Iraq, that fear included being cut off — like my exemplary fellow ex-Unipresser Helen Thomas — from precious “inside sources” in the government; in the case of autism, fear of alienating advertisers lurks silently in the background.

    To see how squeamish and slow-on-the-uptake the media can be in the face of an urgent health crisis, look no further than the early days of AIDS, as chronicled in Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played On.”

    – Another angle I explored intensively involved a group of families in Olympia, Wash., who noticed their children regressing into autism after getting four live-virus vaccines — mumps, measles, rubella (MMR) and chickenpox — at an early age and in close temporal proximity. These cases seemed to have little or nothing to do with the mercury preservative in other vaccines, called thimerosal, that many parents blame for autism (it was phased out of most routine immunizations starting in 1999).

    That raises an ominous prospect: The still-rising autism rate might be related to some other aspect of the immunization schedule as well — timing, age, total load or other ingredients. (I didn’t invent that idea; the head of an expert panel mandated by Congress expressed it to me in an interview — and again, her comments were largely ignored.)

    One focus of that seven-part Pox series last year was a case of autism following a small clinical trial of a new vaccine called ProQuad, which contains the live-but-weakened MMR and chickenpox viruses in one shot. The chickenpox virus in ProQuad is about 10 times the amount in the standalone chickenpox shot, a boost needed to overcome “interference” among the four viruses (and a possible sign of trouble right there). Manufacturer Merck says the vaccine is safe and not related to autism.

    Earlier this year the company announced it was suspending production of ProQuad — barely a year after its introduction — because supplies of chickenpox vaccine had run unexpectedly low. The company, however, will keep producing its other products containing chickenpox virus: the standalone chickenpox shot and a new vaccine for shingles.

    A Merck spokesman told me the suspension of ProQuad had nothing to do with any safety concerns, that it had been selling well and would be reintroduced as soon as chickenpox vaccine supplies were replenished. As I’ve written before, I found Merck to be quite accessible and forthcoming when I asked questions about this issue — much more so than the Food and Drug Administration, in fact.

    So I take Merck at its word. But — in the spirit of trust-but-verify — I’ll be watching for the return of ProQuad.

    – The Age of Autism columns that may mean the most over time (IMHO, of course) are about the first cases of autism, reported in 1943 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore among 11 children born in the United States in the 1930s.

    With crucial observations from Mark Blaxill of the advocacy group SafeMinds, I’ve suggested a pattern in some of those early cases: exposure, through the father’s occupation, to ethyl mercury in fungicides. That’s the same kind of mercury used in vaccines, and both were introduced commercially around 1930, right when those first autism cases were identified.

    This is only a hypothesis, and critics have suggested it is a classic case not of connecting the dots, but of finding what I went looking for. That may be, but put yourself in my place when — more than a year after publicly proposing the mercury fungicide idea in a column — I identified the family of autism’s Case 2 and located an extensive archive for the father, a distinguished scientist.

    I sat down in the North Carolina State University library and opened the first box, took out the first folder and opened it to the first page. It was a yellowed, typewritten paper from spring 1922 summarizing a fungicide experiment the father conducted as a grad student in plant pathology — an experiment in which mercury was the main ingredient (and in the title). By the time his son was born in 1936, he was working with the new generation of ethyl mercury fungicides — yes, the kind used in vaccines.

    Though others will disagree, I find that just a bit outside the parameters of chance, given the timeline of the disorder and the independent belief of so many of today’s parents that the same kind of mercury, in a totally different context, triggered their children’s autism.

    It also suggests that whatever is causing autism could be coming at us from several directions — our increasingly mercury-toxic environment as well as any medical interventions that may be implicated. Check out “Mercury Link to Case 2″ in the series to get the full picture.

    So thanks to UPI for supporting this work. And thanks for reading, responding to — and critiquing — this column. Truth is, you haven’t heard the last word from me. Not by a long shot.

    You also might want to see the following:

    2006 (March) An article in the March 10, 2006 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS.org) shows that since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the alarming increase in reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders (NDs) in children not only stopped, but actually dropped sharply � by as much as 35%.

    Using the government�s own databases, David A. Geier, B.A. and Mark R. Geier, M.D., Ph.D. analyzed reports of childhood NDs, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives. The authors analyzed data from the CDC�s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) in �Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines.�

    “The numbers from California show that reported autism rates hit a high of 800 in May
    2003. If that trend had continued, the reports would have skyrocketed to more than
    1000 by the beginning of 2006. But in fact, the Geiers report that the number
    actually went down to only 620, a real decrease of 22%, and a decrease from the
    projections of 35%. This analysis directly contradicts 2004 recommendations of the Institute of Medicine which examined vaccine safety data from the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC. While not willing to either rule out or to corroborate a relationship between mercury and autism, the IOM soft-pedaled its findings, and decided no more studies were needed. The authors write: �The IOM stated that the evidence favored rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism, that such a relationship was not biologically plausible, and that no further studies should be conducted to evaluate it.�

    While the potent neurotoxins mercury or aluminum have been and still are used as vaccine preservatives, studies show that despite their use, many vaccine lots are contaminated with bacteria. More problematic, there is a wealth of evidence that infants (particularly during the 1990′s) were injected with as much as 42 times the amount of mercury that is said by the EPA, the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), or FDA to be safe (O.1 micrograms/Kg. verus 62.5 micrograms/KG-see David Kirby’s new book, Evidence of Harm, page 49).

    “When FDA researchers finally did their math and converted the amount of ethylmercury in vaccines from volume percentages to actual weight, they found that most American Children were being exposed to levels in excess of federal limits, especially when calculated in single-day bolus doses. For example, a two-month-old child weighing 5 kilograms could have been exposed to 62.5 micrograms of mercury in a single day. This would have been 125 times more than the EPA limit for that child (0.5 micrograms/day), 42 times more than the ATSDR limit (1.5 micrograms/day), and 31 times more than the FDA limit (2.0 micrograms/day).”

    The question is not whether mercury causes autism spectrum disorders, multiple schlerosis, arthritis, and other autoimmune syndromes. The question is, whether, as a parent, you want the Public Health Service to mandate a vaccine be given that contains a potent neurotoxin such as mercury into your dear new baby or child at concentrations that exceed FDA, ATSDR, and EPA limits by as much as 42 times, so they won’t acquire an STD when they grow up and become promiscuous, needle-sharing heroin users? How could these recommendations possibly be generated by anyone even if they don’t like children?

    (From Evidence of Harm, by David Kirby).
    “On November 13, 2002, when the House of Representatives was about to pass the Homeland Security Bill, some unnamed agent had secretly inserted a last-minute provision into the bill, adding two brief paragraphs onto the massive document before the roll call. The provision would dismiss hundreds of civil suits filed by parents against Eli Lilly and other drug companies for allegedly allowing dangerous levels of mercury into their kid’s vaccines. Very few members of Congress knew it was there.”

    “The language of the {two paragraphs} dismissing the lawsuits was nothing new. It had been drafted the year before-written as part of a larger vaccine injury bill-crafted by a Senator from Tennessee, Bill Frist, a conservative republican with strong ties to the vaccine industry�”

    Also, it should be mentioned, at least, that toxic adjuvants have been used to boost the non-specific immune response (adjuvants are compounds such as squalene that are supposed to boost the non-specific immune response stimulated by a vaccine antigen, because the modern molecular design of the vaccines don’t work as well as Pasteur’s did, against rabies, cholera, or anthrax more than 120 years ago). For example, there is evidence that adjuvants like squalene (MF-59), when they have been added to certain lots of anthrax and perhaps “HIV” vaccines given to soldiers on threat of court martial if they don’t roll up their shirt on command (in contrast to Walter Reed’s voluntary experiment), have induced autoimmune syndromes in almost 100% of every sick Gulf-War I veteran tested, and have evoked antibodies to squalene in their blood (P. B. Asa et al., Exp. Mol. Pathol 68, 196-197, 2000; Asa PB, Wilson RB, Garry RF. Antibodies to squalene in recipients of anthrax vaccine. Exp Mol Pathol. Aug;73(1):19-27, 2002; see Gary Matsumoto’s book, Vaccine A, Basic Books Publisher). This type of dangerous and mindless vaccine experimentation on our young soldiers is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that squalene and other adjuvants have been used by scientists for many years to induce rodents to develop arthritis, macrophagic myofasciitis, mutliple-sclerosis (demyelinating syndromes), and lupus (Holmdahl et al. Arthritis induced in rats with nonimmunogenic adjuvants as models for rheumatoid arthritis Immunol Rev. Dec;184:184-202, 2001; Gherardi NK. Lessons from macrophagic myofasciitis: towards definition of a vaccine adjuvant-related syndrome. Rev Neurol (Paris). Feb;159(2):162-4), 2003).

    We know so little about vaccines and their relationship to epidemics. There are certain principles that seem to emerge though, by examining this history, other than they don’t work very well in humans:

    1. Epidemics are predictable to the extent that vaccine campaigns and epidemics have been frequently associated. Nobody predicted The Black Death of 1347- 1353. As far as we know, there were no plague vaccines in existence then.
    Similarly, nobody predicted The Great Plague that killed a fifth of London’s population in 1665-1666. There was no universally mandated plague vaccine back then. Nor were there plague vaccines during the 313 years (between 1353 and 1665) to prevent a plague epidemic during those years.

    Therefore, a plague vaccine played no role whatsoever in the occurrence or recurrence of these two plague epidemics, and nobody could have predicted that the two great epidemics would be separated by 313 years.

    Evidence from the 1800′s in the Lancet and elsewhere shows that the medical profession of that era was aware of this alarming relationship, which they tried to stop as shown by the British Parliament outlawing inoculation and vaccination in 1840. In the 1900′s, much evidence demonstrates that through proper nutrition, sanitation, adequate care of the sick, or lack of war or vaccination, that epidemics can be avoided, and common diseases vanquished. The positive examples that Dr. Tom Spies and others who helped erect our public health system without vaccination during and after the FDR era are numerous (De Kruif, 1949).

    2. Vaccination is a history of the infusion of lymph puss (cells), cellular materials, associated microbes, toxins, and other substances into the human body that are foreign. From a tissue grafting point of view, inoculation was practiced in Persia and elsewhere as an operation where the surface of the body was injured with needles or lancets, and foreign puss from “pox” or perhaps other eruptions similar to pox was made to have contact directly to the bloodstream (or mucus membranes of the nose-as in the case of the Chinese method of smallpox inoculation). This practice suggested moreover, that the smallpox of that era was not particularly frightening with respect to its virulence, although there are reports that natural epidemics carried off 50% of the population during small outbreaks (Crookshank, History and Pathology of Vaccination Vol 1, p 7). In this context, there was intense discussion regarding whether to use year-old puss (dried out from a previous bout of illness, versus obtaining material directly from an ill person). The application of aged versus fresh lymph from a pock probably made quite a difference in the severity of the inoculated disease. Pasteur’s later findings with rabiesvirus are relevant to this claim in that he found that drying of neural tissue infected with highly virulent rabies for at least 10-12 days could attenuate the most virulent (8-day-lethal) strains of that virus and provide immunity.

    3. In a real sense, inoculations, as well as vaccinations were and are a complex and dangerous medical procedure, not unlike blood transfusions or liver transplants, and should be regarded as such by the scientific and medical communities, as well as the general public. On medical questionnaires, next to the box that asks if you have ever had a blood transfusion or cancer, there should also be a box asking about what vaccines you have had. The infusion of foreign cells such as lymph early during the vaccine era is not unlike the early experiments that revealed graft versus host disease at the beginning of the 1900′s. In graft versus host disease, foreign lymphocytes were infused into mice, and these foreign lymphocytes rejected the host’s lymph nodes first. The Peyer’s patches of the intestines were affected soon after the infusion, as were the cervical, axillary, and inguinal lymph nodes of the neck, arm-pit, and groin, followed by massive rejection of the recipient’s tissues, followed by extreme morbidity and death in >50% of the recipients, depending upon their genetic background. In the case of vaccination, history suggests that it should never be forgotten that one is attempting to alter the entire immune system and its future responses to the universe of antigens. Although intact and living eukaryotic cells are no longer infused, their components are, and some of these components can evoke massive responses of the immune system. Consider that if we found that individuals with type Ss blood were superior in a particular circumstance such as resistance to malaria, would we try to infuse the rest of humanity with that blood type to protect against malarial outbreaks? There is little difference between this scenario and a scenario that ignores the natural resistance of individuals to disease, while mounting an impassioned crusade to vaccinate everyone on the planet with a particular antigen.

    4. Pasteur was challenged to give an anthrax vaccine demonstration that was very well documented before the Agricultural Society of Melun, at the farm of Pouilly-le-Fort. On Europe’s most famous horse doctors, human doctors, animal breeders, senators, reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle and London Times, farmers, and scientists anxiously waited, and watched, as 24 out of 24 anthrax-inoculated sheep grazed happily next to a row of 22 out of 24 dead ones, because the 22/24 dead ones weren’t vaccinated with Pasteur’s anthrax vaccine. The promise of this experiment alone deserves support for continued intensive experimental research (on animals), but by no means signals the wholesale and wanton experimentation on humans at this point. These accomplishments remain intriguing for the experimentalists, but should not constitute carte blanche permission to try out in humans a medical procedure that may alter the entire immune system or a medical intervention such as vaccination which lacks a predictable outcome, not to mention a sound theoretical and empirical foundation.

    5. Soldiers (young adults) have always been the best victims for vaccine experimentation, and war efforts have always been associated with epidemic disease, and in recent times, with mandatory vaccination. Thus, the negotiating tongue, rather than the poisoned needle, would go far in preventing epidemics such as the 1918 “Spanish Flu,” or Gulf-War Syndrome. Next in the hierarchy of human guinea pigs have been unsuspecting new parents who would do anything authorities told them to do to protect their cherubs. Blacks, gay persons, and those groups deemed to be impoverished, inferior, prisoners, or handicapped have also been extensively used as victims of vaccinology.

    6. Similar problems have been associated with vaccines both before and after the molecular era. For instance, contamination has always been an issue. Early vaccinologists in the middle 1800′s were afraid that diseases such as leprosy were transmitted through cuts caused by the vaccinator’s lancet in regions of the world where lymph was derived from potentially leprosy-bearing peoples, and there is some evidence from the middle to late 1800′s to support the idea that in some instances, smallpox vaccination caused outbreaks of both leprosy and syphilis, as well as other diseases. Similarly, vaccinologists in the middle of the 1900′s, were afraid that the Salk and Sabin vaccines were contaminated with SV40, the so-called simian virus that was shown to be capable of causing mesotheliomas, lymphomas, brain tumors, and other cancers in animals. During the “polio era” this fear accounted for published statements suggesting that “The Soviets would lose the 1964 Olympics because their athletes would all have tumors thanks to SV40″ (Bookchin and Schumacker, 2004). Even in the 35 year post-polio vaccine mortality studies, initiated because a so called potent cancer-causing virus, SV-40 was inoculated into more than 100,000,000 Americans, along with the polio virus, has not been long enough to determine if SV-40 is contributing to escalating cancer rates. Indeed, the thirty-five year mortality study on people now in middle age following receipt of SV40-simian-(cancer) virus-contaminated polio vaccine show that out of 1073 newborns that were vaccinated and carefully followed for 35 years, (which the authors claim is not really long enough) of the 100,000,000 individuals or more that were given this “cancer virus-contaminated vaccine, ” between 1959 and 1963, there was no apparent increase in cancer above the expected background incidences in this carefully followed subgroup (Carroll-Pankhurst et al., British Journal of Cancer 85 (9) 1295-1297), although others would contest this claim and argue that the polio vaccine has contributed greatly to certain cancer rates, such as lymph cancers.

    Among the acellular or molecular vaccines, the fear is finally beginning to emerge that the effects of contaminants such as adjuvants like squalene used by vaccinologists to bolster the non-specific immune response can cause autoimmune diseases with high frequency. Yet, these adjuvants are thought to be necessary in modern vaccinology, because it is clear that the molecularly designed vaccines or highly purified components of antigens seldom can be shown to evoke an adequate, or any, immune response on their own, probably because the antigens are too pure, too fragmentary, or they are non-immunogenic because of faulty isolation (as demonstrated by the more than 15 or more so-called “HIV” trails that have completely failed), or too denatured because of harsh reagents used to isolate or purify the various pathogens or their parts, or because the immune system doesn’t really work the way the textbooks say it does (or the way Jenner hypothesized that it does-that a single or even multiple exposures of a foreign substance, organism, or molecular epitope will protect for life). The frequent tetanus vaccines foisted on us at hospitals every few years, despite the fact we constantly are cutting ourselves, or the failure of the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent rather than promote the syndrome in Gambian teenagers, and the increase in polio and smallpox rather than their abatement following near universal vaccination campaigns are all good examples why Jenner’s hypothesis is not applicable in practice.

    7. So-called epidemic diseases have historically been, and continue to be, a hodge-podge of various syndromes and symptoms lumped together under a single name or disease entity.

    8. Vaccinology has always been fraught with politics and financial interests. Despite the fact that inoculation was outlawed by the British Parliament in 1840, in 1853 The Compulsory Vaccination Act in England was passed by Parliament and every parent was required to have their baby vaccinated within 3 months of birth or face a fine of 20 shillings. In modern times, we face similar threats that our children won�t be admitted to school unless they are jabbed with the hepatitis B vaccine (a rare syndrome) and whose safety data we have yet to see. The school nurse and Public Health Department, or school admittance policies should not be used to threaten you that you cannot enroll your kid, based on the madness surrounding the possibility that your 5-year-old will transmit a sexual, or needle-borne, or blood-product-transmitted �syndrome� that has a 99% or greater spontaneous resolution rate in otherwise healthy individuals, to someone else’s 5 year old, (when they have sex or shoot heroin in the gym locker-room, or if they share razor blades-are the reasons typically given to support mandatory vaccination) as the pharmaceutical company and Public Health Service logic goes. Currently, parents are being threatened that their daughters have a 70% chance of acquiring cervical cancer unless they fork over $300.00 dollars for a series of 3 HPV shots. More frightening and more egregious, and as the co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center recently wrote: “There is no question that, right now, the fear and hysteria that is being whipped up by politicians and public health officials about bioterrorism in the aftermath of September 11 is paving the way for a serious threat to informed consent to vaccination. The passage of oppressive Emergency Health Powers Acts in the states will allow public health officials to use the state militia to arrest, quarantine and forcibly medicate and vaccinate citizens without their consent. It gives unprecedented power to public health officials who, in some states, will not even have to have a state of emergency declared by the Governor in order to detain and forcibly vaccinate whole families without a court order if they so choose. It is the most serious threat to civil liberties since the Constitution was written…”(Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC).

    Finally, regarding conflicts of interests and fear-mongering, is it ethical or for the good, that VaxGen be awarded an $877.5 million contract from our tax money to produce and manufacture a new Anthrax vaccine (potentially loaded with squalene or other adjuvants), against a rare disease that Pasteur with his 2 lab technicians and his somewhat limited resources successfully immunized ungulates against over 100 years ago? In this regard, since 9/11, there has been much discussion and even Hollywood movies made regarding the destructive potential of technological achievements such as box-cutters, but little discussion for some reason regarding the source and destructive potential of the weaponized anthrax derived from Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground “found” in the mail of Tom Brokaw and Senator Daschl. This could have been a new chapter in the History of Vaccine timeline, but wasn’t.

  13. #13 noreen Martin
    July 23, 2007

    One increase in the numbers could be attributed to better diagnosis than in the past. Since it has been shown that Amish children do not acquire autism, we need to be studying them to find out why this is so. They routinely are not vaccinated. Could electro-magnetic fields, EMF, be a factor, which the average American household is bombarded with each day. Our children are exposed to hours and hours of these just by watching telvision, which has become the second baby-sitter. There again, the Amish are not being exposed to this either. There has to be reason why this is happening to the children and I hope that someone is smart enough to figure this tragedy out.

  14. #14 Kristjan Wager
    July 24, 2007

    Amish children do get diagnosed as autistic, and what’s more, they are also frequently vaccinated. The study shows that in 84% of all households that answered, the children had gotten all vaccinations, and only in 4% of the households, none of the children had been vaccinated.

    Repeating Olmsted’s lies won’t make them true.

  15. #15 HCN
    July 24, 2007

    One problem with using the Amish. They actually DO vaccinate, and may actually get autism. It is just that it is that they do not use the public school system, so their children are not often counted.

    They also get several other genetic disorders. Because they have a small genetic pool, they are prime subjects for genetic research:
    http://clinicforspecialchildren.org/Research.html

    “Dr” Nomos, quoting the Geiers and Kirby removes absolutely any credibility you might have had… even if you didn’t cut and paste that rant over several other places. Kirby was paid to write his book, and even agreed that a set amount of time after thimerosal was removed from vaccines there would be drop in autism… that time as come and gone, and that has not happened. The Geiers are have been kicked out of courtrooms because of their lack of expertise, and are now experimenting on chilren by chemically castrating them with Lupron:
    http://www.neurodiversity.com/main.html

  16. #16 angrytoxicologist
    July 25, 2007

    HCN,
    I agree with your assessment of the Geiers. I’ve also met them and the impression is not one of people I’d trust even if their data was good, which it is not.

    Noreen and HCN,
    The Amish are not a good population to study because their rates of immunization vary drastically from community to community (see the comments by Shinga above http://scienceblogs.com/angrytoxicologist/2007/07/vaccines_and_autism.php#comment-505363). It’s not a homogeneous group.

    marble,
    Please go back to the original post (link is in the post above) and look at the comments most of the issues you brought up were already rehashed. Further more, your argument that we need to say firmly that there is nothing going on is the absolute worst crap that infuriates me. You’re premise is: Vaccines are good, people should take them, we should tell them what they need to hear to get them. Your implication is that people are stupid and can’t understand complexity. I refuse to believe that or not to give people the whole truth, complicated as it may be. Furthermore, as I mentioned, most vaccines are single use so the thimerosal issue is one of the past, it has no impact on what is going on now.

    Lastly, who do you think the public will listen to?
    Public health official 1: No problem, no problem, no problem. Anything you’ve heard otherwise is wrong.

    Public health official 2: I understand the concerns and the scientific issues behind them. When you look at the whole picture, however, the picture of thimerosal is of safety.

    You will convince no one with your ‘no problem no problem’ and in fact will get people’s backs up and less likely to trust you. This is the problem with much of the government and the public health community in general – “Don’t scare the public, they’re like little kiddies you don’t want to spook”. The end result is that when something really does become a problem that you didn’t think was a problem, the public realizes you weren’t being straight with them and loses all trust. The same applies for preparing for a flu pandemic/epidemic that Effect Measure covers so well. Let’s not do shit to prepare or research a potential problem all in the name of people keeping calm.

    People can handle things better than you think. They deal with uncertainty and complex problems every day, scientists (as much as we like to think we do) don’t have a monopoly on understanding complexity. Sure, some people will over-react because they don’t want to take any risk voluntarily and they may be harmed. For me, I’d rather tell the truth and let people make informed decisions, than lie in the name of health.

  17. #17 Karl Gallagher
    July 26, 2007

    Good discussion. I’ve come to the issue as someone who does risk analysis for aerospace systems and I’ve been very disappointed at the unwillingness of both sides to try to figure out a balance. I’ve also been amazed as what gets passed off as a valid study in the medical field. I’ve hardly ever seen one use a statistically valid sample.

    There’s also a huge gap in research in looking at the cumulative effect of multiple vaccinations. The current schedule has 24 doses in the first 18 months of life. Nobody’s ever tried to test “Are we past the point of diminishing returns? Is there a limit to how many jolts an immature immune system can handle?” So I worry more about the total load and the timing in the schedule (as Dr Nomos mentioned) than mercury. I also wish someone would research how vaccine reactions correlate to family histories of autoimmune disorders.

    For my kids I’d like to get them vaccinations on a spread-out schedule: no three-in-ones, just protect against the most dangerous diseases. But we can’t find a doctor willing to do that, we have to take the whole schedule or nothing. So as our society does a grand experiment to see how many vaccinations a kid can handle before having an adverse reaction my kids are going into the control group.

  18. #18 marble
    July 26, 2007

    One question.

    If the average person is so smart, why did the North Carolina House of Representatives vote today to ban thimerosal-containing vaccines?

    I didn’t say don’t research. The research has been done. I am saying let the science speak clearly. There is no legitimate controversy here, and if you think I’m wrong about that, you don’t know enough about the issue to be blogging it.

    Karl Gallagher, did you ever think there might be a good reason for getting vaccines into kids as quickly as is safely possible to do? Do you have any idea of the comparative antigenic load of the current vaccine schedule as compared to, say, spending an hour on a playground?

  19. #19 cooler
    July 26, 2007

    until you have a study that compares thousands of people with no mercury vs 1991 levels of thimerosol everything you say is pure speculation, you can nitpick on the details, but the ” mercury woo woo” clan are the most unscientific group of morons I’ve ever seen.

    The study I mentioned could prove or falsify the mercury hypothesis, but instead of realizing no one knows what the effect potent nuerotoxin until there is a properly designed study, and that there is a lot of good anecdotal evidence that thimersol is dangerous, you guys go “woo woo” saying that anyone that questions the CDC is a fraud, when its you people who don’t have one properly designed study to back your claim. Until there is that properly designed study no one can claim mercury is safe, and it shouldnt be in vaccines.

  20. #20 Karl Gallagher
    July 27, 2007

    Karl Gallagher, did you ever think there might be a good reason for getting vaccines into kids as quickly as is safely possible to do?

    “Safely” is the question under discussion here. I’ll point out that when a baby’s immune system isn’t even designed to stand on its own (receiving maternal antibodies via milk) giving it a shock to respond to is probably not a good idea.

    Do you have any idea of the comparative antigenic load of the current vaccine schedule as compared to, say, spending an hour on a playground?

    Yep. Much, much larger. Sure, if we lived someplace where smallpox and polio were everpresent infection would be a major hazard and we’d get vaccinations as needed. But that points out the issue of risk trade offs. When you make a decision you have to look at the probabilities and consequences. A bad reaction rate from a vaccine isn’t so scary when you’ve got a good chance of contracting a lethal disease. If the disease is rare and mild even a small chance of bad reactions probably isn’t worth it.

    Doing that kind of analysis is tough. You’ve got to look at the disease distribution and how it changes with different vaccination rates, and try to figure out which kids are more likely to have a bad reaction.

    But for all the money we put into research it’s not being looked at because the official position is “vaccinations are good, and more is better.” The concept of “diminishing returns” applies to medicine, just like everything else.

  21. #21 marble
    July 27, 2007

    Karl, the safety of the current vaccine schedule is well-established. It wasn’t thrown together on a whim. Broadly speaking, it’s designed to protect children starting at the ages when they are at risk for the corresponding disease and are mature enough to mount an immune response. If maternal antibodies were sufficient to protect infants, there would have been no drop in infant mortality during the vaccine age. Instead, the drop has been precipitous. People who argue the way you do apparently would like to go back to the days when a mother had very good odds of seeing at least one of her children die before reaching kindergarten, not to mention become deaf, mentally retarded, etc.

    I don’t know where you get this business about “not designed to stand on its own.” That is exactly why vaccines are important for the youngest children.

    Why do you think today’s rates of vaccine-preventable diseases are so low that nitwits can go around saying they’re rare so vaccines aren’t really important?

  22. #22 Dan Kastrup
    July 30, 2007

    As a parent of a 13 year old boy, currently in his 3rd year of school, entering a modified 7th grade curriculum (along with his 7 other classmates). He does this as a result of his “High Funtional Autistic Spectrum” diagnosis confirmed when he was 7 years old. 4 years prior to his diagnosis(a very accurate one) was when his infant~3yr immunization regimen was “completed”. I “guess” it was just a giant cosmological congruence & great fucking bad luck, to catch the end of the thimerasol wave AND get a bunch of mercury laced injections, EARLY in his developmental life, and have A complete 180 degree change in personality, speech, eating, and physical gait, moaning sounds, laughter; in plain words, a stranger. What a coincidence? I think not.

  23. #23 Dan Kastrup
    July 30, 2007

    BTW, I also have a 6 year old daughter who has never had a vaccination shot. But, she was breastfed for the first 3 years of her life instead. Guess what? She speaks the kings english & is doing 2nd grade work as a homeschooled young girl, just fine. Socially AND medically. No Hg for her.

  24. #24 Tom Bowen
    September 14, 2007

    I liked your article on Air Fresheners,boy will my mother-in-law be pissed. Anyhow I am a Disabled Vietnam Veteran,having a mutitude of health problems;ie Hodgkins,Cardiac Arrthymias,Periheral Neuropathy(not a diabetic at this time) and slew of other things.I have recently pointed out to the Gov`t/EPA at Camp Pendleton about where I had knowedge of Chemicals that were routinely dumped at variuois locations on the base,however none of these sites are currently on the radar/epa clean-up list. I am trying to justify my claim with proof positive exposure to Chemicals other than Agent Orange that would have caused all my health problems with regards to having Neurotoxicity.Any input or info would be of interest to me. P.S. Bicylin,Could this be the corporate everyone is looking for with regards to Vaccines and causing Austism.My reseach indicates that Bicylin was used in Vaccines and that it causes Pain in the Arm( My Right) causes mininal movement ,Severe Headaches,which have plagued me since Boot Camp at Parris Isle SC in 1969.Additionally you think the polluted water(scandal)at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton would be the most likely cause,but I`m not a scientist,I just need supporting Documentation for my Claim to the VA.Look forward to hearing from you,Thanks Just another Poisoned Patriot

  25. #25 getnutri
    April 3, 2008

    Autism is complex, and scientists are still trying to understand what causes it. Researchers believe that genetics play a big part in causing autism and that other medical or environmental factors may also be involved.
    There is no scientific proof that vaccines cause mitochondrial disease or autism, but there is very little scientific research in this area,” Mohan says. “Persons with mitochondrial disease don’t necessarily have autism, and persons with autism don’t necessarily have mitochondrial disease. The tie-in is that in this case, mitochondrial disease was exacerbated by vaccination.”

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