Respectful Insolence

Damn you, mercury militia.

I had had another topic entirely in mind for this week’s post, but, as happens far too often, news events have overtaken me in the form of a story that was widely reported towards the end of last week. It was all over the media on Thursday evening and Friday, showing up on CNN, Larry King Live, the New York Times, and NPR. It happens to be the story of a girl from Georgia named Hannah Poling whose case before the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which had originally part of a much larger proceeding known as the Autism Omnibus, was settled. This settlement was based on the fact that Poling had a rare genetic mitochondrial disease that may have been exacerbated by a series of vaccines that she had, after which, among many other problems, Hannah regressed and developed some autism-like symptoms and, months later, a seizure disorder. Instantly, it was being trumpeted all over the Internet, blogosphere, and media that the government had “admitted” that vaccines cause autism. One particularly excitable antivaccinationist named Kent Heckenlively (whom we’ve met before), even went so far as to foreshadow the propaganda blitz that was to come as he wrote on the antivaccine blog Age of Autism a full week before this news blitz began:

It’s official.  The sky has fallen.  The fat lady has sung.  Pigs are flying.

[...]

In a settlement, the settling party tries to admit as little as possible.  It’s like what I imagine the settlement claim against Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case must look like.  Nowhere in the document does he admit to dropping his pants in a hotel room and asking her to kiss it.  It likely says something along the lines of he concedes they were in a hotel room together, they were alone, and something happened which formed the basis of her law suit.

But we all know what happened there.  And we know what this settlement means.

The government just dropped its pants.

One thing this shows me is just how the blogosphere can be bubbling with information that lets one anticipate a story like this. The mainstream press seemed to have been totally blindsided by this story, but if reporters had only been checking the right blogs, they would have known about it a full week before, if not longer, as an associate editor at Forbes realized. In any case, since Thursday, the mercury militia has been treating the U.S. to a very well orchestrated public relations campaign to frame this settlement as the government “admitting” that vaccines cause autism. It’s not, as I will try to explain, but framing it that ways has thus far been a very effective PR strategy for antivaccinationists. In my nearly three years of following this topic, I thought that I had never seen anything like it before.

But I had.

This case is nothing more than a demonstration that everything old is new again and that, no matter what the science says, it’s always all about the vaccines, the claims of antivaccinationists otherwise notwithstanding, as I will now show. What we are seeing now, as we did a few years ago, is the rebranding of autism as a condition in order to serve the purposes of the antivaccination movement. I apologize in advance, but some of this post may seem a bit repetitive, given all the posts I did about this topic last week. However, in the tradition of our “complementary and alternative” medicine colleages, I wanted to try–shall we say?–an “integrative” approach to this topic, bringing together multiple sources of information, my own blog included, to do my more or less definitive post on this topic, barring new developments, that is.

Please indulge me for a moment as I step back to discuss a bit of background. Regular readers of this blog may think that I’ve been dealing with this issue for a long time. In blogospheric terms, perhaps I have, but in the “real world,” not so much. I first developed an interest in the antivaccination movement in 2005. Before that time, in my meanderings on the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative, I had seen some posts claiming that vaccines caused autism (not to mention just about every other chronic condition or malady under the sun). However, I hadn’t paid much attention to them. In the spring of 2005, a “journalist” named David Kirby (given his behavior since then I have a hard time calling him that without quotation marks around his name, rather like the way Dr. Evil likes to do) wrote a book called: Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Autism and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy. In this book, he reported on a small but vocal group of parents and “scientists” (the quotation marks are there for the same reason as when I refer to David Kirby as a “journalist”) who claimed that a preservative in vaccines called thimerosal, which is ethyl mercury, was the cause of the huge increase in autism diagnoses since the early 1990s, a phenomenon that these autism activists like to refer to as an “epidemic” (or, more crassly, a “tsunami” or even a “holocaust“). In reality, the true reason for the huge increase in autism prevalence over the last 15 to 20 years is because of the broadening of the diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) beginning in the early 1990s resulting in widespread diagnostic substitution.

The second shock that got me interested in this issue came in June 2005, with the publication of an article called Deadly Immunity simultaneously on both Salon.com and Rolling Stone. The article was a a pièce de résistance of confusing correlation with causation, cherry picking sources and quote-mining from sources to misrepresent them, and conspiracy-mongering to tell a false story of the Centers for Disease Control attempting to cover up the “fact” that mercury in vaccines causes autism. Meanwhile, antivaccination group Generation Rescue was stating explicitly that “childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.” (You will note that I used Archive.org to pull up an old version of the GR webpage; it no longer says that. More on why later.) Meanwhile, antivaccinationist sympathizer Don Imus was inviting David Kirby and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on his show to spread their message across the airwaves. At one point, as I recall, Don Imus wanted to host a “debate” between Kennedy or Kirby and a defender of vaccines. I don’t recall if it ever happened, because I don’t listen to Imus, but a more hostile environment for a scientist defending vaccines would be hard to imagine.

Fast forward two years to spring 2007. In the intervening time, science had not been kind (to put it mildly!) to the claim that the mercury in thimerosal in vaccines causes or contributed to autism. However, in spite of that, a large legal action known as the Autism Omnibus, in which just under 5,000 parents are seeking compensation under the VCIP for their autistic children based on the claim that vaccines were a cause or major contributor to their children’s autism was moving forward. One thing that has to be understood about the VCIP is that it was created in response to fears that vaccine manufacturers would abandon the vaccine business due to liability concerns (a legitimate fear) and that it designed to compensate any injury that could be attributed to vaccines, with a standard of evidence that is a legal, not a scientific standard that’s been likened to “50% and a feather.” These two points are both very important to remember when you hear vaccine opponents trumpeting the Poling case as “proof” of vaccines causing autism. Another thing that’s very important to remember is that the Autism Omnibus is not a court proceeding in the usually understood sense of the term. The adjudicators are called Special Masters and are judges trained in vaccine issues, and the parents can still sue if the ruling goes against them. Moreover, given the volume of cases, the Special Masters decided to hear a small number of “test cases” to test the claim upon which the claims for compensation are based: that some combination of mercury and vaccines triggered autism in these children. In essence, the plaintiffs were asked to choose their most convincing cases and present them. The rulings on these test cases will, as I understand it, then determine if the remaining parents are entitled to continue and will provide precedents upon which to rule on future cases. Thus far, the test cases have not been going well, with plaintiffs’ attorneys generally preferring to tug on the heart strings and present dubious “authorities” to testify on their behalf, while government witnesses demolished nearly every plaintiff scientific claim. This may not matter, however, as the Daubert standard, which for regular court cases sets fairly strong standards on the allowability of expert testimony and the qualification of experts who testify, does not apply for the Omnibus.

Finally, it’s important to understand that apparently Hannah Poling was to be one of these test cases.

Why Poling was removed from the case and settled separately is not known. However, nearly a full week before the media “tsunami” regarding the government concession hit (sorry, I couldn’t resist), David Kirby wrote about the concession on that repository of antivaccinationism, The Huffington Post, in which he gloated about the ruling and asked “nine questions,” while the Age of Autism published the entire text of the government concession and David Kirby did the same on The Huffington Post. Where Kirby got the text of the government concession he isn’t saying precisely (and, make no mistake, it was almost certainly Kirby who got his hands on it), but it’s not clear whether it was entirely legal for whoever gave it to him to do so or for him to publicize what should have been a sealed court document about the case of a minor. Be that as it may and since the parents (one of whom was a neurology resident at the time of Hannah’s deterioriation) are now showing up on Larry King Live and all sorts of other media outlets, the cat’s out of the bag and there’s no reason for me not to excerpt relevant parts of the ruling to explain what happened:

At seven months of age, CHILD was diagnosed with bilateral otitis media. Pet. Ex. 31 at 20. In the subsequent months between July 1999 and January 2000, she had frequent bouts of otitis media, which doctors treated with multiple antibiotics. Pet. Ex. 2 at 4. On December 3,1999, CHILD was seen by Karl Diehn, M.D., at Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (“ENT Associates”). Pet. Ex. 31 at 44. Dr. Diehn recommend that CHILD receive PE tubes for her “recurrent otitis media and serious otitis.” Id. CHILD received PE tubes in January 2000. Pet. Ex. 24 at 7. Due to CHILD’s otitis media, her mother did not allow CHILD to receive the standard 12 and 15 month childhood immunizations. Pet. Ex. 2 at 4.

According to the medical records, CHILD consistently met her developmental milestones during the first eighteen months of her life. The record of an October 5, 1999 visit to the Pediatric Center notes that CHILD was mimicking sounds, crawling, and sitting. Pet. Ex. 31 at 9. The record of her 12-month pediatric examination notes that she was using the words “Mom” and “Dad,” pulling herself up, and cruising. Id. at 10.

At a July 19, 2000 pediatric visit, the pediatrician observed that CHILD “spoke well” and was “alert and active.” Pet. Ex. 31 at 11. CHILD’s mother reported that CHILD had regular bowel movements and slept through the night. Id. At the July 19, 2000 examination, CHILD received five vaccinations – DTaP, Hib, MMR, Varivax, and IPV. Id. at 2, 11.

According to her mother’s affidavit, CHILD developed a fever of 102.3 degrees two days after her immunizations and was lethargic, irritable, and cried for long periods of time. Pet. Ex. 2 at 6. She exhibited intermittent, high-pitched screaming and a decreased response to stimuli. Id. MOM spoke with the pediatrician, who told her that CHILD was having a normal reaction to her immunizations. Id. According to CHILD’s mother, this behavior continued over the next ten days, and CHILD also began to arch her back when she cried. Id.

On July 31, 2000, CHILD presented to the Pediatric Center with a 101-102 degree temperature, a diminished appetite, and small red dots on her chest. Pet. Ex. 31 at 28. The nurse practitioner recorded that CHILD was extremely irritable and inconsolable. Id. She was diagnosed with a post-varicella vaccination rash. Id. at 29.

Two months later, on September 26, 2000, CHILD returned to the Pediatric Center with a temperature of 102 degrees, diarrhea, nasal discharge, a reduced appetite, and pulling at her left ear. Id. at 29. Two days later, on September 28, 2000, CHILD was again seen at the Pediatric Center because her diarrhea continued, she was congested, and her mother reported that CHILD was crying during urination. Id. at 32. On November 1, 2000, CHILD received bilateral PE tubes. Id. at 38. On November 13, 2000, a physician at ENT Associates noted that CHILD was “obviously hearing better” and her audiogram was normal. Id. at 38. On November 27, 2000, CHILD was seen at the Pediatric Center with complaints of diarrhea, vomiting, diminished energy, fever, and a rash on her cheek. Id. at 33. At a follow-up visit, on December 14, 2000, the doctor noted that CHILD had a possible speech delay. Id.

To make a long story short, we now know that “CHILD” was Hannah, thanks to the PR blitz. Hanna regressed after the last round of vaccinations and continued to have ear infections and was ultimately seen by Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, who diagnosed her as having: “encephalopathy [that] progressed to persistent loss of previously acquired language, eye contact, and relatedness” or “regressive encephalopathy with features consistent with an autistic spectrum disorder, following normal development.” He also noticed features consistent with a mitochondrial disease and had Hannah undergo a neurogenetics evaluation. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a disorder of her mitochondria due to a point mutation in the gene for the 16S ribosomal RNA (T2387C). We also know that Dr. Poling did something that strikes me as highly dubious from an ethical standpoint by authoring a case report with Dr. Zimmerman about his own daughter. Be that as it may, the conclusion of the Special Masters was:

Medical personnel at the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, Department of Health and Human Services (DVIC) have reviewed the facts of this case, as presented by the petition, medical records, and affidavits. After a thorough review, DVIC has concluded that compensation is appropriate in this case.

In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, respondent recommends that compensation be awarded to petitioners in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-11(c)(1)(C)(ii).

So what does this mean? First, one thing that it doesn’t mean, contrary to all the P.R. over the last few days, is that the government has conceded that vaccines cause autism. Mitochondrial disorders of the sort suffered by Hannah are genetic in nature and rare, an estimated 5.7 individuals per 100,000 worldwide, and, as described well in this New Scientist article, the subset of these disorders that cause autism-like symptoms is even more rare. It is also known that children with mitochondrial disorders are prone to develop an encephalopathy in response to stress or fever that can cause them to regress. The source of this stress is often an infection, such as a cold or normal childhood illness, that results in a fever. The reason is that the mitochondria are the “batteries” or energy sources of the cell, and mitochondrial diseases can lead a child to be “energy challenged,” so to speak. Because neurons have such a high constant resting energy requirement, stressors like fever can in these children result depletion of cellular energy. Moroever, mutations in the same gene that Hannah had a mutation in are incredibly rare. According to Salvatore DiMauro, an researcher who studies mitochondrial diseases, only four other cases are known. It is also important to see what is really meant about this diagnosis. Kevin Leitch, a prominent autism blogger, did a quick and dirty comparison of the actual DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for ASDs and found that only three of the behaviors described in the ruling appeared to match up with criteria for ASDs (poor eye contact, poor relatedness, and fixating on fluorescent lights during the examination). Of course, it’s entirely possible that there were other aspects fo this diagnosis that have yet to be reported, but, even so, what was really diagnosed was a regressive encephalopathy that had some features of ASD. It may have been exacerbated by the fever that occurred in the wake of the series of vaccines described; it may have been exacerbated by the girl’s recurrent bouts of otitis media. Either way, the government decided that the temporal course of vaccination and regression was close enough that under the law “compensation is justified.”

Another aspect of this question is that it has indeed been noted that mitochondrial diseases may be more prevalent in children with autism or ASDs (the highest estimate of which is here), but it is not at all clear if mitochondrial diseases have anything to do with the “run-of-the-mill” (if you’ll excuse the term) variety of autism and ASD that is commonly diagnosed or whether the apparently higher level of mitochondrial disease noted in some studies of children with ASD is an epiphenomenon. As neurologist Steve Novella said in an interview in the New Scientist:

“It’s not surprising that mitochondrial function is abnormal,” says Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University. “With neurodegenerative disorders almost any marker of cell health will be worse than in controls.” Without more research, he adds, it is impossible to say whether the mitochondrial problems are the cause of the disease or its by-product…Those who argue otherwise, are “making multiple assumptions that are not established”, Novella warns.

In fact, mitochondrial disorders are not benign diseases. Children who have them almost invariably also have other serious (and characteristic) health problems due to their mitochondrial dysfunction. Moreover, the question of vaccinating versus not vaccinating is quite clear-cut–but not in the direction Kirby and other antivaccinationists would have you believe. A person whose friend has a child with mitochondrial disease showed up at the Autism Vox blog and said:

FYI…vaccines ARE recommended for children with mito!!!! Some are advised to avoid a shot, ONLY if a history of bad reactions exists (which holds true for the general population). My friends whose children have mito ALL vaccinate their children and are mortified by people who opt to not give shots to their kids because of quack science (vaccines=autism). Those un-vaccinated children put my child and my friend’s children at risk for contracting serious diseases. Diseases that most certainly would land a child with mito in the ICU & possibly kill them.

Go here: http://www.umdf.org/site/c.dnJEKLNqFoG/b.3616911/apps/s/content.asp?ct=4211851 and read. I will also add, it is HIGHLY unlikely that a child with autism has mito, especially if that child has never been hospitalized, doesn’t have severe health issues, eats on their own, there is no muscle-wasting, vision impairment, heart defects, etc. Read more about mito at umdf.org & see how autism doesn’t equal mito, and how this case has nada to do with what Kirby is fighting for!

Kevin Leitch’s guest blogger SL has rounded up more information on the severity of mitochondrial disorders and the need to vaccinate children who have them.

The bottom line is that it is fever from any source, be it a vaccine reaction or, more commonly, an infection that can exacerbate mitochondrial disorders and provoke encephalopathy. Moreover, because of the confounding factor of multiple ear infections, it’s not 100% clear that her vaccinations even caused her regression, although it is certainly possible. None of this, of course, has stopped antivaccinationists from taking this ball and running with it as far as they can as though it were some sort of bombshell admission that’s suddenly going to invalidate the years of science that have gone against them.

I rather suspect that the reason is that even the most die-hard among them now realizes that the previous tactic of blaming mercury for autism is increasingly a losing proposition, given the science and the number of studies now that have failed to find a link. Consequently, as a buildup to the Poling press conference on Thursday, the antivaccine blogs, particularly the Age of Autism, were in full gloat mode, with Kent Heckenlively writing more drama queen posts and Mark Blaxill ranting about “bullshit from apparatchiks” (unfortunately, CDC Director Julie Gerberding’s response wasn’t exactly the most inspiring); David Kirby showing up on the Don Imus show making statements about how the government wouldn’t “allow the parents to speak” (actually, the only ones who aren’t allowed to speak are the doctors who examined and diagnosed Hannah) and being coy about where he got the settlement papers and CNN; Deidre Imus doing her usual his and her antivaccination act on her husband’s show; and comedienne and former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy (now turned antivaccinationist) writing articles and trying to organize protests demanding that the head of the CDC resign (this, apparently, to follow up her previous call for a demonstration in June at the headquarters of the CDC in Atlanta). Worse, this settlement is not even a real “bombshell” admission. As Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver (an excellent book that I highly recommend, by the way), points out in an article for The Washington Independent, the Poling case is by no means the first case in which the VCICP paid out compensation for “autism-like” symptoms after vaccination:

I have since learned that the 934 families paid out more than $800 million since 1990 by the vaccine court included several with injuries that resulted in “autism-like symptoms.” At least a few of these cases involved tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic condition in which tumors pop up in the brain and other organs, sometimes causing severe mental disability. Like mitochondrial disease, tuberous sclerosis can occur in the form of a regression in a normal-seeming child–and has been known to follow a shot. A senior court official tells me that a handful of TSC kids awarded by the court were, for all intents and purposes, autistic–though no one called it autism.

This media circus about the Poling case appears to be nothing more than a carefully orchestrated PR campaign by antivaccination groups funded by people with deep pockets, like Generation Rescue founder J. B. Handley, a wealthy investment banker, and now apparently the newest recruit to the cause, Jenny McCarthy. Moreover, it is very likely that the reason the Poling case was dropped as a test case from the Autism Omnibus is because it is so unusual and atypical. If it weren’t, don’t you think that the plaintiffs’ lawyers would have been chomping at the bit to have it included as a test case that would give them the “in” they need to gain compensation for nearly 5,000 parents?

I do.

All of this brings me back to my original point, an idea I alluded to sarcastically but didn’t fully develop last week. What we are witnessing here is something that we witnessed before in 2005: the “rebranding” of autism. Oddly, Kim Stagliano, the editor of the Age of Autism blog, showed me this in no uncertain terms in a post she published on the day of the Poling press conference:

Is Miss Hannah Poling patient #1 in the new paradigm for “The disorder formerly known as autism?”   Perhaps we’lll come up with a really funky sign like Prince did?  Was Hannah misdiagnosed with autism, when she actually had a mitochondrial disorder that was triggered by her childhood vaccines? If so, there may be tens of thousands of children who have been misdiagnosed.  That opens up rather a large can of wigglers, doesn’t it?

It might if it were true (for one thing, mitochondrial disorders are genetic disorders with maternal inheritance; they are not “triggered” by vaccines), but what really struck me about Stagliano’s observation is that we have indeed seen this all before. Remember how at the beginning of this post, I reiterated something I’ve posted about before multiple times, namely how the the mercury militia flagship Generation Rescue used to say that autism is a “misdiagnosis” for mercury poisoning? It no longer says that now. Indeed, if you look at the Generation Rescue site now, what you will see is this:

We believe these neurological disorders (“NDs”) are environmental illnesses caused by an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria. Proper treatment of our children, known as “biomedical intervention”, is leading to recovery for thousands.

Autism isn’t a “misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning” anymore, it would appear. It’s been rebranded again. First, we see the zealots back away from the claim that “it’s the mercury, stupid” when scientific evidence failing to find a link between mercury in vaccines becomes overwhelming. Instead, we now see an attempt to link all sorts of “toxins” to vaccines. Now, with the revelation that the government settled a case where vaccines may have exacerbated an underlying mitochondrial disorder and led to an encephalopathy with some features of regressive autism, antivaccinationists now think they have a new “brand” for autism. No longer is it a “misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.” Now it’s a “misdiagnosis for mitochondrial disorders.” However, as has been explained on Steve Novella‘s blog and elsewhere, the government settlement in this case says nothing about any but possibly a very, very few children, and even about them it does not say that vaccines do more harm than good. Moreover, the claim isn’t even a winner as far as obtaining compensation goes, given how unusual Hannah’s case is. Indeed, this “rebranding” of autism as a “mitochondrial disorder” drives home that the idea that vaccines cause autism is the incredible shrinking hypothesis. It’s gone from concrete claims three years ago that mercury or vaccines cause nearly all cases of autism to a lot of speculation based on one highly atypical case, a far cry from previous incriminations against vaccines as the cause of an “autism tsunami.” We shouldn’t forget that. It’s gone from a claim of causation due to vaccines for nearly all autistic children to tortured interpretations of a single case of a rare mitochondrial disorder. Even if mitochondrial disorders are not an epiphenomenon in autism but rather a true cause, of some forms, it is unlikely that they would account for more than a very small number of cases every year, too few to contribute much to the overall total. It is not The Cause of autism. We shouldn’t forget that, either. The goalposts have been moved, and they continue to move, because it is all about the vaccines.

The take-home lesson from this attempt to rebrand autism as a mitochondrial disorder is that everything old is new again. A few years ago, antivaccinationists in the U.S. tried to rebrand it as “mercury poisoning” due to vaccines while ignoring the far larger sources of mercury in the environment. When that rebranding withered in the face of science failing to find a link between vaccines and autism, they pivoted on a dime and without missing a beat are now trying to rebrand it as a mitochondrial disorder. What’s forgotten in all of this is that the commonality is, as it always is for antivaccinationists, vaccines. No matter what new causation hypotheses for autism they come up with, no matter what new discoveries in genetics and physiology are made about the pathophysiology of autism, there’s one thing you can predict: Antivaccinationists will try to torture the science into making it all about vaccines, just as they have always done and that there will be a new round of autism quackery based on mitochondrial disorders.

DCA, anyone? You know it’s coming to autism “biomedical” treatments soon.

Comments

  1. #1 vlad
    March 10, 2008

    Here’s where the anti-vax idiots lose me, one of the places at least. Mercury was (past tense) used heavily in most industrial processes and was in almost all cosmetics to some degree before it was found to be toxic. I mean come on, Mark Twain wrote about using quick silver soaked bread to find drowned bodies and one of the character ate the bread. So now that the mercury has been removed form everything except wild salt water fish and the Flu vaccine shouldn’t the Autism rates drop? There are areas of the world with a far higher environmental toxin (mercury is just one of them) level than here, yet they do not have higher rates of ASD, Autism, etc. The anecdotal evidence doesn’t really add up to anti-vax.

    P.S. So idiots still hold to the Amish myth. Oh wow the stupid is now incandescent hot.

  2. #2 Jritter
    March 10, 2008

    So…that means if you operate on someone, and they develop a staph. infection, and get a resulting fever it could exacerbate a mitrochondrial disease, trigger encephalopathy and cause autistic like symptoms!! Surgery causes autism!! STOP ALL SURGERY! MAKE OUR SURGERIES SAFE!!

    I guess Jenny McCarthy will have to start of more than just the CDC director. The surgeon general perhaps? And maybe McCain will have to change his tune. Its a changing world alright.

  3. #3 Susan B.
    March 10, 2008

    It seems pretty clear that, as you say, “it’s all about the vaccines”. When one aspect of the vaccines is ruled out as a cause, they just pick another aspect to target.

    What I don’t understand is WHY they are so determined to blame the vaccines. I mean, I can understand wanting somebody to blame for your child’s autism, and vaccines are certainly one potential scapegoat, but if it were just about fault wouldn’t they cast their net wider? Why is it only the vaccines?

    Is it because vaccines go against God’s plan or something? I know some people won’t vaccinate for religious reasons alone, but this whole issue doesn’t sound like a religious one.

  4. #4 vlad
    March 10, 2008

    “Why is it only the vaccines?” Vaccines are one of the few things they can easily blame completely on someone else. “The feds said it was safe, I was lied to.” This absolves the parent from thinking that they could have done something different, to prevent it. Also the other possible culprits don’t have deep pockets, mother nature won’t pay them money.

    My personal theory is that the stress of having a disabled child does things to you. Some people can handle it some can’t. The stress turns some people into raving conspiracy mongering nut jobs. Thus when they hear about vaccine=autism they latch onto it and can not be dissuade. The other thought I have is that since perseveration is one of the key Autism traits the parents may not be as neuro typical as they think.

  5. #5 daedalus2u
    March 10, 2008

    It is easy, vaccines are made by pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical companies have deep pockets, companies with deep pockets can pay a lot of money if a court can be tricked into making them do so. Just like Dow Corning.

  6. #6 Flex
    March 10, 2008

    In the ninth paragraph down, I think you may be missing a comma. …with a standard of evidence that is a legal, not a scientific standard, that’s been….

    I normally wouldn’t nick-pick, but that missing comma throws off the meaning of the sentance and probably could do to be fixed.

  7. #7 Bruckner
    March 10, 2008

    “for one thing, mitochondrial disorders are genetic disorders with maternal inheritance”

    Some are. That is, those that are due to defective enzyme or transporter proteins encoded by mitochondrial DNA. Other mitochondrial enzymes & transporters are, however, encoded by nuclear DNA; their inheritance is Mendelian.

    Also, some defects of mitochondrial DNA are due to deletions and duplications, rather than point mutations. These tend to be sporadic, rather than inherited.

  8. #8 Prometheus
    March 10, 2008

    Susan,

    I’m not sure that there is a plan anywhere in the vaccines-cause-autism camp. They seem to be operating on pure reaction.

    Why they’ve latched on to vaccines is, I think, easy to explain. Vaccines are one of the very few government-mandated health interventions that directly impact individuals. Clean water and safe, effective drugs don’t have as much of a personal impact as the “jab” of a vaccine.

    Given a child with a disability that is poorly understood, with no consistent cause (although genetic mutation is looking pretty promising right now) and no clear treatment (and, did I mention, an extremely variable course?), it is not surprising that many parents want to find someone they can blame, in order that they can stop blaming themselves (NB: the parents are not to blame – period).

    And who better to blame than “the government”? Nameless, faceless and with extraordinarily deep pockets (all the better to sue you, my dear), it is the current scapegoat for all that is wrong with the world. Everybody hates “the government” these days. And since “the government” is the one forcing children to get all of those vaccines, we have a “happy” confluence of hatred.

    The final piece in this puzzle (and how ironic it is that many of the groups have adopted puzzles or puzzle pieces as their logo) is that by blaming vaccines, the parents can remove the blame from their own shoulders – where it never belonged in the first place – and place it on the shoulders of “the government”, which they never really trusted in the first place (not since the Viet Nam war and Watergate) and which cannot retaliate. Not that “the government” deserves the blame, either.

    So, we have a target for anger that cannot retaliate and that might actually pay for the therapies that a number of opportunistic parasites are selling the desperate parents. On top of that, “the government” gets to shoulder the blame and keep the parents from feeling responsible for their child’s autism (again, not that the parents are responsible, but they tend to feel that way).

    I doubt that there will be a “turning away” from blaming vaccines in the near future. The beauty of the vaccines-cause-autism obsession is that there are so many permutations and combinations of vaccines and vaccine components that the proponents of vaccines-cause-autism will be able to say “You haven’t studied the combination of X and Z or A and G!” until the end of the Universe.

    Not that it will make any clinical or biological sense, but that hasn’t stopped them yet.

    Prometheus

  9. #9 dwight meredith
    March 10, 2008

    It is quite possible to be anti-mercury in vaccines while being pro-vaccine.

  10. #10 vlad
    March 10, 2008

    “It is quite possible to be anti-mercury in vaccines while being pro-vaccine.” I don’t think anyone in science would be against removing all mercury from vaccines. I’m just not sure that it can be done effectively. Given all of the screaming and yelling about mercury and vaccines I’m sure that if the manufacturer could remove all of it they would. Drug makers are not stupid if they could remove the compound they would have done it for PR reasons. It’s either a cost issue or a stability issue. Before everyone starts jumping up and down on cost look at it this way.

    You have a 50K budget for the year. You can make 5000 units of vaccine with an agent that may or may not be harmful or you can make 50 units with an agent that you know is less harmful then the first. Keep in mind that as far as you know (disregard raving lunatics) neither compound is actually dangerous based on how you are using it.

    The drug companies are under pressure from many sides, two opposing ones are. The socialists who think the any decreases in the supply of vaccines is a conspiracy to wipe out the poor. The anti-vax nut jobs are certain that producing vaccines is a horrible conspiracy to poison their children.

  11. #11 Natalie
    March 10, 2008

    Sure, Dwight, but good luck finding those people in the sea of anti-vaccinationists.

  12. #12 SLC
    March 10, 2008

    Apropos of the discussion of vaccines, I am posting a story about a success story involving vaccines. Jenny McCarthy can go take a long walk on a short pier.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/health/11glob.html

  13. #13 cooler
    March 10, 2008

    Mitochondrial disease? Give me a break, she was totally healthy, and now the establishment is trying to blame some non existent mutation, when it was probably the vaccines.

    1) what evidence is there that this “mutation” causes people to be sensitive to “trauma”, are there and epideimelogical studies that prove this? What evidence is provided that she even had this? Do other healthy people exposed to vaccines and who dont develop Autism have this “mutation?”

    2) If it were such a serious defect why didnt she have any symptoms before the vaccines?

  14. #14 SLC
    March 10, 2008

    Apropos of the discussion of vaccines, I am posting a story about a success story involving vaccines. Jenny McCarthy can go take a long walk on a short pier.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/health/11glob.html

  15. #15 notmercury
    March 10, 2008

    Cooder said: “If it were such a serious defect why didnt she have any symptoms before the vaccines?”

    She did.

  16. #16 cooler
    March 10, 2008

    At seven months of age, CHILD was diagnosed with bilateral otitis media. Pet. Ex. 31 at 20. In the subsequent months between July 1999 and January 2000, she had frequent bouts of otitis media, which doctors treated with multiple antibiotics. Pet. Ex. 2 at 4. On December 3,1999, CHILD was seen by Karl Diehn, M.D., at Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (“ENT Associates”). Pet. Ex. 31 at 44. Dr. Diehn recommend that CHILD receive PE tubes for her “recurrent otitis media and serious otitis.” Id. CHILD received PE tubes in January 2000. Pet. Ex. 24 at 7. Due to CHILD’s otitis media, her mother did not allow CHILD to receive the standard 12 and 15 month childhood immunizations. Pet. Ex. 2 at 4.
    According to the medical records, CHILD consistently met her developmental milestones during the first eighteen months of her life. The record of an October 5, 1999 visit to the Pediatric Center notes that CHILD was mimicking sounds, crawling, and sitting. Pet. Ex. 31 at 9. The record of her 12-month pediatric examination notes that she was using the words “Mom” and “Dad,” pulling herself up, and cruising. Id. at 10.

    At a July 19, 2000 pediatric visit, the pediatrician observed that CHILD “spoke well” and was “alert and active.” Pet. Ex. 31 at 11. CHILD’s mother reported that CHILD had regular bowel movements and slept through the night. Id. At the July 19, 2000 examination, CHILD received five vaccinations – DTaP, Hib, MMR, Varivax, and IPV. Id. at 2, 11.According to her mother’s affidavit, CHILD developed a fever of 102.3 degrees two days after her immunizations and was lethargic, irritable, and cried for long periods of time. Pet. Ex. 2 at 6. She exhibited intermittent, high-pitched screaming and a decreased response to stimuli. Id. MOM spoke with the pediatrician, who told her that CHILD was having a normal reaction to her immunizations. Id. According to CHILD’s mother, this behavior continued over the next ten days, and CHILD also began to arch her back when she cried. Id.

    On July 31, 2000, CHILD presented to the Pediatric Center with a 101-102 degree temperature, a diminished appetite, and small red dots on her chest. Pet. Ex. 31 at 28. The nurse practitioner recorded that CHILD was extremely irritable and inconsolable. Id. She was diagnosed with a post-varicella vaccination rash. Id. at 29.

    Two months later, on September 26, 2000, CHILD returned to the Pediatric Center with a temperature of 102 degrees, diarrhea, nasal discharge, a reduced appetite, and pulling at her left ear. Id. at 29. Two days later, on September 28, 2000, CHILD was again seen at the Pediatric Center because her diarrhea continued, she was congested, and her mother reported that CHILD was crying during urination. Id. at 32. On November 1, 2000, CHILD received bilateral PE tubes. Id. at 38. On November 13, 2000, a physician at ENT Associates noted that CHILD was “obviously hearing better” and her audiogram was normal. Id. at 38. On November 27, 2000, CHILD was seen at the Pediatric Center with complaints of diarrhea, vomiting, diminished energy, fever, and a rash on her cheek. Id. at 33. At a follow-up visit, on December 14, 2000, the doctor noted that CHILD had a possible speech delay. Id.

    Lol an ear infection! Besides that she was totally healthy till the vaccines fried her brain. Was the “mutant” gene reposnsible for her ear infections too? Ear infections are pretty common in kids, I had them.

  17. #17 vlad
    March 10, 2008

    “when it was probably the vaccines.” Based on what? Your belief in NWO and the Illuminati are excluded from the realm of legitimate answers.

  18. #18 vlad
    March 10, 2008

    “Besides that she was totally healthy till the vaccines fried her brain.” Remind me again why ALL (or even most) children vaccinated are not Autistic?

  19. #19 cooler
    March 10, 2008

    Why don’t all smokers get Lung cancer? Thats why, environmental toxins merely increase the risk, they don’t guarentee illness.

    Illuminati, no, many kids are totally healthy and right after vaccines they have episodes like Hannah did.

  20. #20 S. Rivlin
    March 10, 2008

    Orac,

    There is no doubt you have invested much time, energy, expertise and thought into this whole sharade. It is time for you to get from behind the keyboard of your computer and to stand in front of TV cameras and radio microphones and to tell it like it is to the masses who do not blog, but do vaccinate their children and who are exposed by the media to the misinformation about vaccines and autism.

  21. #21 DanioPhD
    March 10, 2008

    Cooler are you honestly comparing childhood vaccinations with cigarette smoking??
    That is the most disingenuous analogy I’ve heard in a while–and as a regular participant in creation/evolution debates, that is saying something.

  22. #22 HCN
    March 10, 2008

    Ignore cooler… he still believes in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

  23. #23 Calli Arcale
    March 10, 2008

    cooler, you may be interested to note that the Polings do not dispute that their child has a mitochondrial disease — indeed, if I’m not mistaken, she was diagnosed with it before the Autisum Omnibus ever got started. So the government didn’t just come up with some BS — her parents actually brought that diagnosis to the table. I doubt you intend to blame her parents for coming up with a diagnosis which could exonerate the government.

    On the contrary, her parents are arguing that the vaccines aggravated her mitochondrial disorder, resulting in an encephalopathy that produced autistic symptoms. You can get autistic symptoms through other methods than being born with autism. My brother, for instance, most likely acquired his symptoms as a result of extensive brain damage suffered when he had an acute asthma attack and suffocated as an infant. This happened before he was old enough to receive a vaccine, BTW. Infectious encephalitis (such as west nile virus) could presumably also cause these sorts of symptoms, but you have to understand that each case would fundamentally be unique — the child’s specific situation would be a result of which parts of the brain lost out and happened to suffer damage. And other neurological symptoms would be just as likely as autistic symptoms — paralysis, tremors, short term memory loss, impulse control, etc.

    You are behind the times, cooler. The anti-vax crowd are now saying that autism is a result of a mitochondrial disorder which might be aggravated by vaccines. If you attribute that claim to the government, then you may not realize the logical pitfall you’ve just stumbled into.

    In any case, the anti-vaxers supporting the mito theory are missing a key point, though, in that this particular extremely rare mitochondrial disorder can be aggravated by basically anything that causes a fever. Vaccines can cause fever. So can ear infections. The source of the fever is really not important. In this case, it may have been the vaccine, so the parents are entitled to compensation.

    Another point they overlook is that children with mitochondrial disorders are more vulnerable to infectious disease than the general population. Thus, in most cases it’s actually *more* important to vaccinate them. The exceptions would be cases like this girl, whose condition maybe is exacerbated by vaccines. In which case, children like this girl are dependent for their very lives on everybody else getting vaccinated. That is perhaps the largest irony of all in this. For those rare few who maybe should not get vaccinated, the vaccines-cause-autism crowd will take this case and use it as a reason to put at risk the lives of other children like Hannah Poling.

  24. #24 cooler
    March 10, 2008

    Yeah actually I am, mercury is much more toxic than nicotine, try swallowing a gram of nicotine vs the same amount of mercury and see what happens. See whats worse……….If anything that comaparsin I made was to easy on mercury.

  25. #25 SLC
    March 10, 2008

    Re cooler

    When is cooler the schmuck going to demand that the electric power companies stop burning coal and spewing mercury compounds into the atmosphere?

  26. #26 notmercury
    March 10, 2008

    Cooler, the lethal dose for Nicotine in adults is between 40-60 mg. If your math is anything like your spelling, ask a second grader to help you with this one. Better yet, go ahead and ingest that gram of nicotine.

  27. #27 cooler
    March 10, 2008

    Each cigarette you absorb about 1-2 mg of nicotine, if you took the same amount of mercury youd be much more screwed. The nicotine patches have 21mg of niocotine in them. Try taking a 21ml patch of mercury and see whats worse.

    EPA ‘safe’ levels are: .1 microgram for mercury

  28. #28 notmercury
    March 10, 2008

    This guy wasn’t harmed very much:
    ftp://210.101.116.17/kiss8/07809143.pdf

    How about 3 kilograms (that’s 3,000 Grams, Cooler)

    J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1993;31(3):487-92.Links
    Massive oral ingestion of elemental mercury.Lin JL, Lim PS.
    Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan, Republic of China.

    A 42 year old male, while repairing a sphygmomanometer, intentionally ingested an estimated 3 kg (220 mL) of metallic mercury. During admission, only tremor, irritability, forgetfulness and fatigue were noted. There were no obvious gastrointestinal or hepatic complications. Blood and urine mercury levels were significantly elevated. Most of the metallic mercury was cleared from the gut within 10 days. A few months later, hepatic dysfunction with jaundice developed. Serial investigations did not suggest a viral etiology or alcoholism. Liver function tests and blood and urine mercury levels returned to normal over the next 10 months. The observation suggests that massive and prolonged retention of metallic mercury may facilitate the conversion of metallic, elemental mercury to divalent mercury and its subsequent absorption with development of hepatic dysfunction.

  29. #29 notmercury
    March 10, 2008

    This guy wasn’t harmed very much:
    ftp://210.101.116.17/kiss8/07809143.pdf

    How about 3 kilograms (that’s 3,000 Grams, Cooler)

    J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1993;31(3):487-92.Links
    Massive oral ingestion of elemental mercury.Lin JL, Lim PS.
    Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan, Republic of China.

    A 42 year old male, while repairing a sphygmomanometer, intentionally ingested an estimated 3 kg (220 mL) of metallic mercury. During admission, only tremor, irritability, forgetfulness and fatigue were noted. There were no obvious gastrointestinal or hepatic complications. Blood and urine mercury levels were significantly elevated. Most of the metallic mercury was cleared from the gut within 10 days. A few months later, hepatic dysfunction with jaundice developed. Serial investigations did not suggest a viral etiology or alcoholism. Liver function tests and blood and urine mercury levels returned to normal over the next 10 months. The observation suggests that massive and prolonged retention of metallic mercury may facilitate the conversion of metallic, elemental mercury to divalent mercury and its subsequent absorption with development of hepatic dysfunction.

  30. #30 Joe
    March 10, 2008

    Cooler wrote “{snip} mercury is much more toxic than nicotine, try swallowing a gram of nicotine vs the same amount of mercury and see what happens.”

    According to the 11th edition of the ,i.Merck Index, occasional swallowing of mercury is harmless.

    Cooler wrote “Each cigarette you absorb about 1-2 mg of nicotine, if you took the same amount of mercury youd [sic] be much more screwed. {snip}

    EPA ‘safe’ levels are: .1 microgram for mercury”

    Cooler, you ignorant scum. That (0.1 microgram) is not a “dose,” you have to complete it with the rest of the dosage units; and, what form of mercury it refers to. I have been exposed to much more than 0.1 micrograms of mercury (by mass, not a dosage) and nothing happened to me (except, I used to be tall and handsome).

  31. #31 Monado, FCD
    March 10, 2008

    I don’t get it. What is the motivation for trying to prove that vaccines are harmful? Don’t they remember the side effects of childhood diseases, up to and including death?

  32. #32 Joe
    March 10, 2008

    notmercury posted essentially the same thing I did, sorry for the duplication.

    Cooler wrote “The nicotine patches have 21mg of niocotine [sic] in them. Try taking a 21ml patch of mercury and see whats worse.”

    Cooler, you ignorant wretch- 21 mL of mercury is not 21 mg, it is 271 g. That’s more than a thousand times as much (by mass, which is what counts). One could conceivably absorb most of the nicotine in a “patch.” Absorbing 271 g of mercury metal through the skin can only be a wet dream for your ilk.

    What makes you think you have any reliable information? Are you in high school? In five years you will be amazed at how much your parents have learned since you were a sophmore.

  33. #33 Joe
    March 10, 2008

    Monado wrote “I don’t get it. What is the motivation for trying to prove that vaccines are harmful? Don’t they remember the side effects of childhood diseases, up to and including death?”

    I think you get it, they don’t remember/know. For example, when I was a child, every spring brought the spectre of polio. We had a national campaign “The March of Dimes” to collect money for the defeat of polio. I have a book on Viruses by Arnold Levine that features a photo of a huge, hospital ward with children in “iron lungs” (primitive respirators). Nobody sees that today.

    Today, we rarely encounter babies dying of pertussis (whooping cough), or born with chronic rubella. People do not realize those problems are not eradicated.

    It is not just the studied ignorance of fools like “cooler” that is a problem. There may be a general feeling that the diseases for which we vaccinate are not important.

  34. #34 Leila
    March 10, 2008

    This is how it happens. Most autistic individuals showed atypical development early on. However there’s an estimate of 20% of autism cases as being regressive – toddlers that were verbal, social and presented normal motor skills, will have an episode of high fever and then regress, lose skills and speech. This child will subsequently be diagnosed with autism. Those parents think that the fever was a result of the vaccine – which may be true, or just a coincidence. What happens is that their child had a low threshold for fevers, and that triggered the encephalopathy that resulted in brain damage with regression and autism symptoms. But for the parents and quack doctors, the vaccine was directly responsible for the autism, with no genetics involved. Those cases, though not as frequent as early onset autism, are setting the agenda in the alternative biomed circles. Even parents of children who did not have regression after a fever believe the vaccines gradually impacted their babies’ immune systems.

    The biomed support groups have parents of all degrees of education/culture, most of them do not understand the difference between good science and quackery. They believe the anecdotes and fall for the whole group-think.

    It is ridiculous to generalize vaccines as being the main cause of autism, and the thimerosal and MMR theories are basically dead, but we still can’t rule out the possibility that children like Hannah could have been spared if that high fever had never happened. Scientists need to examine what went wrong in cases like hers. Is it possible to avoid a reaction from a vaccine? Is there something parents can do? Would the reaction be milder if she had received less jabs on the same day? As long as we don’t take those questions seriously, there will be more and more parents delaying their babies’ shots.

  35. #35 Anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “So…that means if you operate on someone, and they develop a staph. infection, and get a resulting fever it could exacerbate a mitrochondrial disease, trigger encephalopathy and cause autistic like symptoms!! Surgery causes autism!! STOP ALL SURGERY! MAKE OUR SURGERIES SAFE”!!

    Another stupid argument. When you start operating on healthy babies for nonsense… let me know and we can discuss your point.

  36. #36 Anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “My personal theory is that the stress of having a disabled child does things to you. Some people can handle it some can’t. The stress turns some people into raving conspiracy mongering nut jobs”.

    No, not true. Mostly it is anger about children being unnecessarily hurt. Most sane people frown upon that.

  37. #37 Monica
    March 10, 2008

    Yes, thank you Leila. That is all I am asking for, is that children like my daughter are investigated, to learn what went wrong, and work towards preventing it in the future.

    My daughter had typical development, vaccines, high fever, seizures, then regression.

    I am terrified that our vaccination rates will start dropping, as parents have become fearful. We need to restore the faith in vaccines by investigating the cases where children DO regress shortly after vaccination.

    So far, the CDC has only looked at numbers.

    Sadly, an autism dx is handed out as freely as a script of ritalin, with no testing to rule out other conditions.

    I feel there is more at work than just vaccines alone. Perhaps multiple pharmaceuticals, or chemicals in our water? I have contemplated many factors.

    Not all parents report a regression, or even a reaction to vaccines in their autistic children, (in fact most don’t see a regression) but there are enough that do report this to warrant a case by case study.

    Perhaps then, they may even be able to develop treatment for these children, and work to prevent these cases in the future.

  38. #38 S.L.
    March 10, 2008

    Orac,
    This is my first visit to your blog, and I’m looking forward to reading more. I appreciate your mention of me, btw. Obviously I agree with you 100%. I was at my computer for about 2 days, reviewing reports, making phone calls, my husband crunching numbers. After my post was on LB/RB, I discovered the “mito dysfunction in autism” paper, and that’s when it all hit me like a ton of bricks: this is all about “rebranding” autism. It truly sickens me. Someone just commented on LB/RB that from a message board, a DAN doc states that 8 out of 10 of his patients (autistic) has mitochondrial disorder. Lovely.

    Jritter:
    Your statement about surgery is spot-on and made me laugh! :)

  39. #39 bsci
    March 10, 2008

    If taken at face value, this case does open up an issue for me.
    Here is the current data points as I see them:
    1. A small minority of children with mitochondrial disorders (or possibly other conditions) react really poorly to fevers or other stresses on the immune system.
    2. The reactions can affect neurodevelopment and the earlier the reaction occurs, the earlier neurodevelopment gets a significant disruption. This might cause diagnosis in the autism spectrum or some other neurological problems.
    3. Vaccines can cause low to moderate fevers and minor stresses to the immune system.
    4. Diseases, including those that vaccines prevent, can cause moderate to high fevers and significant stresses to the immune system.

    The first issue is whether it is worth identifying children with these risks. If a person has this problem there needs to be a balance delaying vaccination to perhaps age 6-7 and/or spacing them out with partial doses as done with infant flu shots vs. risking the even worse consequences of getting one of the preventable diseases (or even getting the same response from an ear infection induced fever regardless of vaccination) during that time period. Which is better seems like a real question with an unclear answer.

    For perspective, I think I saw that the mitochondrial disorder rate in autistic children is around 5% and autism prevalence rates seem to peak at around 1/150. This means this could potentially be an issue for as many as 1/3000 children. Not a huge number, but not non-existent either.

    —–
    Also to response to some of the questions about why the focus on vaccines. The answer is they don’t focus on vaccines. Anyone who has seen Dr. Strangelove knows about the “humorous” portrayal of the real fears about fluoridation of our drinking water. Why vaccine now? Probably because enough people have forgotten how bad the diseases are.

  40. #40 Monica
    March 10, 2008

    Seeing as how autism is a dx made by observation only, perhaps there are more than one cause. I don’t see it as rebranding, but simply a “subclassification”.

    I don’t think fragile x or rhett’s are “rebranding” a person’s form of autism.

    Perhaps now doctors will start testing children for this additional disorder when they dx children. Perhaps if the children test positive for a treatable condition, they may be offered a treatment plan tailored to them.

    Once my daughter was treated for her underlying immune deficiency and candida overgrowth that stemmed from her immune deficiency (this was all done by mainstream doctors, not a DAN), she improved significantly.

    There are many disorders that were once all labeled “mental retardation”, including autism. Is it not impossible to have various “autisms” brought about by various causes, such as mito, fragile x, rhett’s, congenital ruebella, etc.

    Science is forever evolving. To think we have all the answers now is plain silly.

  41. #41 has
    March 10, 2008

    Saying that Hannah Poling displays some autism-like symptoms is like saying that mercury-militia parents display some Munchausen’s by Proxy-like symptoms.

    I’m sure the analogy would be lost on them, however (especially the ones that really do poison their kids).

  42. #42 dura mater
    March 10, 2008

    Monica-
    You are absolutely right. There clearly are many “autisms.” “Autism” is just a description of the surface phenomenology, not an explanation of the cause. Many different underlying causes, some actually identified (!), give rise to the autistic phenotype.

    The rebranding of autism as “mitochondrial disorder,” or “mercury toxicity” shows little imagination or mental elasticity, but instead a need to reach for a great big ideological sledgehammer! Orac, this is my first visit to Respectful Insolence Land, and I shall indeed be back.

  43. #43 Azkyroth
    March 11, 2008

    Heh, if I were a superstitious man I might be inclined to suspect that anti-vaccine advocacy was a “misdiagnosis” for demonic possession.

  44. #44 Dangerous Bacon
    March 11, 2008

    It doesn’t matter how inapplicable the Poling case is to the “vaccines cause autism” mindset – they’ll be dining off this for years into the future, as with the other, increasing stale items in their larder.

    Noting this ability to keep going and going with little sustenance, I’ve started thinking of antivaxers as a composite entity akin to one of those reptiles that only need to eat every few months – Antivaxiosaur, perhaps?

    It lumbers along, feeding periodically on half-baked opinions, its bowels full of toxic misperceptions that can never be purged, belching gassy fumes.

  45. #45 Doctor Brain
    March 11, 2008

    Orac,

    Bravo! This was one of the best summaries and assessments of this issue I’ve come across over the past few days as I’ve been trying to formulate my own analysis and potential response to questions from patients. Let’s yell “Goooaaaaallll!” for the Evidence Based Medicine team.
    First question: will the mercury militia be changing their name to the mitochondria militia?
    Next question: While I *think* I grasp the nuance of the term “biomedical intervention”, wouldn’t pretty much any conventional medical treatment be considered “biomedical”; and shouldn’t the antivax folks be opposed to “interventions”?
    Another, more general point/question on the issue of the “autism epidemic”…are there any serious studies that separate out the incidences on the different ends of the autistic spectrum, so to speak…i.e., more severely affected children and the “milder” Asperger’s patients?

  46. #46 vlad
    March 11, 2008

    “No, not true. Mostly it is anger about children being unnecessarily hurt. Most sane people frown upon that.” Ah and now we get to the root of the problem. You still think that polio was either a conspiracy or cured by sanitation. Yes most sane people frown upon children being hurt unnecessarily. The question is how do you define necessary.

  47. #47 HCN
    March 11, 2008

    Anonymous said “No, not true. Mostly it is anger about children being unnecessarily hurt. Most sane people frown upon that.”

    Well, since my child suffered a massive seizure because of an infection that is now vaccine preventable… I agree. It would have been much better if he had had the vaccine and skipped the disease.

    Of course, my kids got chicken pox before the vaccine was available, which meant a whole month of itchy children and sleepless nights. Even though they all came through fine (even the baby, who was more vulnerable to ill effects), I would rather have had them miss that experience.

    It is hard to believe that some parents actually try to purposely host pox parties to intentionally make the kids sick. Some even do that for the even more dangerous measles!

  48. #48 SLC
    March 11, 2008

    We’re still waiting for Mr. cooler to rail against electric power companies for burning coal and spewing mercury compounds into the environment. Apparently, Mr. cooler thinks that the mercury from coal burning plants is harmless but the mercury no longer in vaccines was harmful.

  49. #49 makita
    March 11, 2008

    I think Monica and dura matter are right in that there are multiple explanations for children who have symptoms on the autistic spectrum. My son is autistic (meaning he has many typically autistic features), but does not have classical autism, in the sense that his symptoms can be explained by physical malformation. The therapy he receives is otherwise the same as for children with classical autism, since there is no way to fix his physical defect.

    I don’t really want to add another controversial subject to this already heated post, but I feel that I have to respond to Anonymous’ comment:

    Another stupid argument. When you start operating on healthy babies for nonsense… let me know and we can discuss your point.

    Wouldn’t genital mutilation (i.e. infantile circumcision) qualify as “operating on healthy babies for nonsense”? They could develop an infection, get a high fever, and …. be at high risk for autism?

  50. #50 Junior
    March 11, 2008

    I have a question.

    How does mitochondrial disease and regression due to the stress of illness, and in particular fever, fit in with this recent study http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/120/6/e1386 , that suggests behavior improves with fever and also asserts “Clinical case reports have suggested that the behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorders may improve with fever.”?

  51. #51 Joseph
    March 11, 2008

    It doesn’t matter how inapplicable the Poling case is to the “vaccines cause autism” mindset – they’ll be dining off this for years into the future, as with the other, increasing stale items in their larder.

    I agree. This is probably bigger than Wakefield historically. Brace yourselves for reduced vaccination rates and a come-back of some diseases. It will be some time before it is realized, as it probably will, that this new hypothesis has not produced any practical results either.

  52. #52 Lucas McCarty
    March 11, 2008

    Junior, it isn’t just fever *but any illness*. The study unfortunately focused on just fever. Reports about Autistic children seemingly being more relaxed and happy when they are ill pop up all the time. The explaination is a social one: when children are ill, they are treated differently. The enviroment is made to be quieter, more consistent and people are more self-concious of how their behaviour affects the mood and motivation of others. This is absolutely bound to be a good thing for any child, but especially an Autistic one. A child with less energy from illness will conserve their energy too, they’re too tired to try and fight for something.

    As of yet, proponents of the idea that there is a such thing as ‘regressive Autism’ have failed to demonstrate any objective difference between those they claim are regressed and other Autistics. If their development histories are so different at such an early stage for one thing, their scores in intelligence scales should show it; they don’t.

  53. #53 alyric
    March 11, 2008

    “Moreover, it is very likely that the reason the Poling case was dropped as a test case from the Autism Omnibus is because it is so unusual and atypical. If it weren’t, don’t you think that the plaintiffs’ lawyers would have been chomping at the bit to have it included as a test case that would give them the “in” they need to gain compensation for nearly 5,000 parents?”

    As unusual as it is, if handled correctly it can persuade parents that their cases have merit and the whole thing can go on and on for as long as possible. It’s not a bad source of income just as long as the parents remain convinced that their cause is just. Given the hammering the Omnibus has taken, the Polings look like manna from heaven. No way was Kirby going to walk past that one. He also has a vested interest in keeping things going as long as possible. Meanwhile, the Omnibus parents are probably in worse case than they were pre-Poling. I doubt, given the ruckus, that the Special Masters will be giving anybody any more latitude than they must.

  54. #54 Ms. Clark
    March 11, 2008

    I just wanted to add my thanks for this Orac. I’m afraid that Joseph may be right, that the only thing that will cool the heels of the antivaxers is seeing dozens of children die in every town of vaccine preventable diseases. The antivaxers may stick with their crazed conspiracy theories about how the Illuminati want to rule the world through vaccine (they implant nano-chips in people, you know, along with the vaccines, so they can do their nefarious mind control stuff…), but the general population will start to think that maybe seeing your baby in the hospital or in the grave from a vaccine preventable disease is not such a good idea.

    And the ones who are most susceptible to vaccine reactions are NOT going to be the ones who fare the best with a wild-type germ run amok in their bodies causing serious fevers. If they hadn’t vaccinated Hannah and she had run into wild chickenpox she’d have ended up the same way, and measles could have conceivably killed her, never mind polio and diphtheria.

    Someone on EoHam yesterday tried to twist a scripture around to mean that people are better off dealing with the fallout of an (God given?) epidemic, than dealing with fallout from vaccine side effects (because they reason that God made germs to do what they do but man made the vaccines). That’s just moronic, from any angle. But sometimes the antivaxers will admit that they wouldn’t mind seeing germs wipe out the vulnerable because they think that’s a good idea. They seem to presume that they would not be among those vulnerable to the epidemics.

  55. #55 Ms. Clark
    March 11, 2008

    Having comma challenges today. Here’s the first two sentences with a few of commas added for clarity:

    I just wanted to add my thanks for this, Orac. I’m afraid that Joseph may be right, that the only thing that will cool the heels of the antivaxers is seeing dozens of children die, in every town, of vaccine preventable diseases.

  56. #56 AnnaM
    March 11, 2008

    In a few comments, it was suggested that testing children for mitochondrial disease was the best pathway to take. I have multiple family members with mitochondrial disease (unusual, but that’s the beauty of genetics)and was told recently that the most accurate tests for it involve multiple biopsy analyses. It seems to be mostly a diagnosis after ruling out every other possibility.

    While we can blame the vaccines, those children who would be caught by testing and remain unvaccinated would most likely experience the same fever and regression after a normal childhood illness and would be more likely to suffer permanenet disability or death from normally vaccine-prevented diseases.

    Regardless of the possibility that vaccination MIGHT exacerbate mitochondrial diease, it is way too rare to use it as another excuse. The defense against this one from the anti-vax nuts is pre-made and waiting.

  57. #57 Anonymous
    March 11, 2008

    “Well, since my child suffered a massive seizure because of an infection that is now vaccine preventable… I agree. It would have been much better if he had had the vaccine and skipped the disease”.

    Which vaccine preventable infection is that, HCN? Sorry about your child’s seizure… but of course you know that it is pretty common for kids to have massive seizures after vaccinations — so what’s your point again?

    “Of course, my kids got chicken pox before the vaccine was available, which meant a whole month of itchy children and sleepless nights. Even though they all came through fine (even the baby, who was more vulnerable to ill effects), I would rather have had them miss that experience”.

    Sorry that you had some itchiness going on… tragic. Guess what happened to one of my children after both the chicken pox vaccine and the mmr… yeah, you probably can guess… Major unspecified “viral rashes” (doctors seemed confused – I’m no longer confused) … Perhaps if his immune system had not been so damaged by the mercury, aluminum, formeldehyde, etc…his body could have actually tolerated the live virus. That crowded vaccine schedule gets you every time. Interesting about your kid not being of age to have the chicken pox vaccine… I didn’t know the ages of your kids. So, about that Prevnar vaccine – are you concerned that your kids didn’t get that one? How about the Hep A? Worried? How about rotovirus? Did you get it? Did they recommend the flu shot to you when you were pregnant? How about annual flu shots starting at 6 months… did you get them?

    Such silliness… the vaccination schedule is out of control. What are you doing about it?

  58. #58 Anonymous
    March 11, 2008

    “Well, since my child suffered a massive seizure because of an infection that is now vaccine preventable… I agree. It would have been much better if he had had the vaccine and skipped the disease”.

    Which vaccine preventable infection is that, HCN? Sorry about your child’s seizure… but of course you know that it is pretty common for kids to have massive seizures after vaccinations — so what’s your point again?

    “Of course, my kids got chicken pox before the vaccine was available, which meant a whole month of itchy children and sleepless nights. Even though they all came through fine (even the baby, who was more vulnerable to ill effects), I would rather have had them miss that experience”.

    Sorry that you had some itchiness going on… tragic. Guess what happened to one of my children after both the chicken pox vaccine and the mmr… yeah, you probably can guess… Major unspecified “viral rashes” (doctors seemed confused – I’m no longer confused) … Perhaps if his immune system had not been so damaged by the mercury, aluminum, formeldehyde, etc…his body could have actually tolerated the live virus. That crowded vaccine schedule gets you every time. Interesting about your kid not being of age to have the chicken pox vaccine… I didn’t know the ages of your kids. So, about that Prevnar vaccine – are you concerned that your kids didn’t get that one? How about the Hep A? Worried? How about rotovirus? Did you get it? Did they recommend the flu shot to you when you were pregnant? How about annual flu shots starting at 6 months… did you get them?

    Such silliness… the vaccination schedule is out of control. What are you doing about it?

  59. #59 Natalie
    March 11, 2008

    “but of course you know that it is pretty common for kids to have massive seizures after vaccinations ”
    [citation needed]

  60. #60 grenouille
    March 11, 2008

    Perhaps if his immune system had not been so damaged by the mercury, aluminum, formeldehyde, etc…his body could have actually tolerated the live virus. That crowded vaccine schedule gets you every time.

    The shifting goalpost yet again. The live virus vaccines damage BECAUSE of the now pretty much non-existent thimerosal in the others. Is that what you are saying? Once you are vaccinated, every health problem ever can be blamed on them?

    As for newer vaccines, I cannot speak for HCN, but my parents would certainly have welcomed the Hib vaccine in the early 70′s. When I was 2, I almost died of orbital cellulitis, which has been pretty much eliminated with the Hib vaccine.

    You can mock the rotavirus vaccine all you want from your privileged 1st world location. I can imagine that the mothers in Africa who bury hundreds of thousands of babies every year because of rotavirus deaths would disagree. The new vaccines are not useless additions, no matter how hard the anti-vax groups would like them to be.

  61. #61 grenouille
    March 11, 2008

    Perhaps if his immune system had not been so damaged by the mercury, aluminum, formeldehyde, etc…his body could have actually tolerated the live virus. That crowded vaccine schedule gets you every time.

    The shifting goalpost yet again. The live virus vaccines damage BECAUSE of the now pretty much non-existent thimerosal in the others. Is that what you are saying? Once you are vaccinated, every health problem ever can be blamed on them?

    As for newer vaccines, I cannot speak for HCN, but my parents would certainly have welcomed the Hib vaccine in the early 70′s. When I was 2, I almost died of orbital cellulitis, which has been pretty much eliminated with the Hib vaccine.

    You can mock the rotavirus vaccine all you want from your privileged 1st world location. I can imagine that the mothers in Africa who bury hundreds of thousands of babies every year because of rotavirus deaths would disagree. The new vaccines are not useless additions, no matter how hard the anti-vax groups would like them to be.

  62. #62 notmercury
    March 11, 2008

    For some reason AnonySue thinks the mercury in thimerosal causes immune suppression which caused one of her kids to develop diabetes and the other Celiac. Never mind that neither are caused by immune suppression.

    Question for you Sue, do vaccines work? Yes or no.

  63. #63 HCN
    March 11, 2008

    grenouille: “You can mock the rotavirus vaccine all you want from your privileged 1st world location. I can imagine that the mothers in Africa who bury hundreds of thousands of babies every year because of rotavirus deaths would disagree. The new vaccines are not useless additions, no matter how hard the anti-vax groups would like them to be.”

    A gastrointestinal bug that could have been a rotavirus caused the dehydration that precipitated my son’s seizures and subsequent ambulance trip to the hospital. No fever. It was a rare event that through the neurologist for a loop.

    (oh, for the mercury milicia who complain about rivers of shit… you’ve not seen the likes until your kid has had a rotavirus!)

    I have also met other moms who have either lost a child to Hib or had the child permantly disabled from Hib.

    So is the “great and wise” anonymous the infamous Common Sue? So I guess AnonySue works just as well.

    She probably just as soon go back to the days when measles, Hib and pertussis killed and maimed children on regular basis. Back to the good ol’ days when measles, Hib and congenital rubella were major causes of mental retardation:
    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/160/3/302

    (oh, let’s not forget Rh incompatibility, since now RhoGam is being blamed for various problems!)

  64. #64 Patrick
    March 11, 2008

    I hope their (antivax/biomeds) blind faith is as powerful as they seem to make it out to be.

    (Flips on the Darkbeams)

    As they are asking to have the mettle of their childrens immune systems tested full out.

    At least the part of the gene pool they represent will be naturally de-selected by their own actions.

  65. #65 HCN
    March 11, 2008

    Two things I will never understand:

    1) Why people think it is better for kids to experience the actual diseases with the higher risk of bad outcome, versus getting a vaccine… which does have risk, but at a tiny fraction of the actual disease.

    2) Why people who are freaked over the teeny tiny bit of a chemical in vaccines will turn around and subject their kids to all sorts of chemical assaults with chelation (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RecoveredKids/message/5903), supplements, vitamin shots and chemical castration, http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/109/lupron-geier-index .

    It just does not make sense. But, then again, these are the same people who go to chemical engineers (Andy Cutler), financial specialists (Blaxill), actresses (McCarthy) and journalists (Olmsted, Kirby) for medical advice.

  66. #66 Anonymous
    March 11, 2008

    “but of course you know that it is pretty common for kids to have massive seizures after vaccinations”

    No citations necessary. I’ve heard the stories over and over again. I don’t need citations. If you do… find them yourselves.

  67. #67 Anonymous
    March 11, 2008

    Oops, copy and pasted the wrong sentence … I figure you can figure it out.

  68. #68 daedalus2u
    March 11, 2008

    Sorry, I didn’t get the signal and just got back from an autism meeting.

    junior, I discuss (in detail) the physiology behind fever affecting autism symptoms. I think it is due to NO from iNOS which can be expressed in high amounts during fevers.

    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/2008/01/resolution-of-asd-symptoms-with-fever.html

    The technique called “fever therapy” was the “standard of care” for treating neurosyphilis for decades (before penicillin). It involved giving people malaria and letting them go though about 10 cycles of fever. It was a desperate treatment for a disease that was uniformly fatal in a couple of years. With fever therapy most people did recover. Some did die, but that risk was considered justifiable and acceptable.

    I am working on a blog to explain the physiology behind how mitochondria are turned off during immune system stimulation. It is also done by NO from iNOS but higher levels. Physiology is inherently non-linear, so it is not a surprise that NO can both resolve autism symptoms and cause mitochondria turn off.

    The state of insufficient mitochondria can become self-sustaining. In adults that is called chronic fatigue syndrome. The diseases that fever therapy was effective for were all characterized by neuroinflammation (as is autism). High NO (but not too high) can reverse the effects of neuroinflammation temporarily. The high NO has to be prolonged, and I discuss in detail the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques.

  69. #69 Anonymous
    March 11, 2008

    “The live virus vaccines damage BECAUSE of the now pretty much non-existent thimerosal in the others”.

    I also added formeldehyde and aluminum, etc. etc… (so no, it isn’t only about the thimerosal — said that from the beginning). Point is… why don’t doctors know enough to spread vaccinations out — minimally no other vaxx’s with a live virus vaccination. Too confusing for doctors, huh?

    Funny how you bring up the HIB when I didn’t… hey, guess what? Perhaps that is one that I would keep on the schedule …

    “You can mock the rotavirus vaccine all you want from your privileged 1st world location”.

    Yup, just checked my mail to be sure… I’m still living in the US. Phew…

  70. #70 Anonymous
    March 11, 2008

    “(oh, for the mercury milicia who complain about rivers of shit… you’ve not seen the likes until your kid has had a rotavirus!)”

    Well actually… you can’t really say that. My child had rotavirus and it wasn’t that bad at all. Of course this was my least vaccinated child so his immune system is pretty strong. Now, my child who was injured by the mmr … that was rivers of sh*tty diarrhea on and on and on… So, please don’t act as if rotavirus is worse that the GI issues associated with mmr reactions and or GI issues associated with autism. It may have been bad in your case but you are of course making huge generalizations.

  71. #71 Robster, FCD
    March 11, 2008

    Stay away from fruit juices, Anon. They are chock full of formic acid, formaldehyde, acetone… way more than you sould get in a vaccine. And if you make it from concentrate, lots of contaminates, including aluminum.

    But guess what! The minuscule amounts in a shot are within any kids ability to clear. If they weren’t a cup of juice would be lethal.

  72. #72 ozzy
    March 11, 2008

    Hey Sue,

    By the way breast milk contains ~25 ug of aluminum per liter. I guess breast milk must be a putative contributor to autism incidence or could it be that since Al is one of the most abundant elements on earth we have evolved to be able to effectively excrete it?

  73. #73 HCN
    March 12, 2008

    The big brave Anonymous said “No citations necessary. I’ve heard the stories over and over again. I don’t need citations. If you do… find them yourselves.”

    The plural of anecdote is not data. Give us the real evidence.

    By the way, your anecdote of one with rotavirus is still not data, along with my very unusual anecdote.

    But it is still true that I had to hold my son in my lap while he was in the ambulance being taken to the hospital… he was very unconscious, plus it may have been the incident that caused his disability that still affects him.

    I’m sorry, how is the rotavirus vaccine so terrible again?

    Oh, wait… looking at the comments posted by Sue M., Common Sense (Common Sue), now posting as anonymous… or more accurately AnonySue: Do not expect data, empathy or intelligent discourse from this person. She is representative of the mercury militia who seem to worship celebrities (oooh Jenny McCarthy!), and take medical advice from those least able to give it (note references to financial types and formally employed journalists).

    (is it me, or does this “anonymous” scream IDIOT to every else?)

  74. #74 Doctor Brain
    March 12, 2008

    Last point by HCN well-taken. However, as I felt my blood pressure rising reading anonymous’ uninformed *opinions*…

    as far as which vaccines to include in the recommended immunization schedule, I’m assuming anonymous is not better educated or trained as the groups responsible for revising the immunization schedule year in and year out based on infectious disease patterns and the efficacy of specific vaccines on morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases. But to anonymous, Hib is okay, but Prevnar, not so okay? I’ll let the parents of one of our favorite pediatric ICU patients, with severe disability secondary to pneumococcal meningitis, know how anonymous feels about the Prevnar recommendation…Hep A. Can you say fulminant hepatitis? Rotavirus…already well-described by HCN, thank you.
    Far better for an uninformed parent to pick and choose immunizations based on Jenny McCarthy’s recommendations or the stories that circulate online. As a caring and concerned parent, why not expose their child to potentially fatal pneumonia secondary to varicella, or for that matter, good old staph scalded skin syndrome or necrotizing fasciitis after varicella (especially after a child spends a few weeks scratching those lesions…) From measles to subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Congenital rubella and mental retardation and deafness. Good times…

    “why don’t doctors know enough to spread vaccinations out — minimally no other vaxx’s with a live virus vaccination. Too confusing for doctors, huh?”

    Uh, no. There are various subgroups of our patient populations that miss the occasional or frequent well-child visit. The immunization schedule is created that way in an attempt to ensure that these patients (and I’m not talking just about Medicaid families, but also the affluent families that are too busy to bring their kids in for checkups or forget to remind the au pair) actually receive a minimum of the recommended immunizations. In practice, I was perfectly comfortable creating individual immunization schedules based on parent preference and assured follow-up. So, no, not too confusing for most doctors…understandably a bit confusing for most parents. Regardless of education level, medicine and medical practice is a hard beast to get a hold of, and there is a reason why continuing education is required for physicians to remain licensed and boarded.

    “My child had rotavirus and it wasn’t that bad at all. Of course this was my least vaccinated child so his immune system is pretty strong.”

    I think I missed learning this concept in immunology. And hey, if *your* child had a mild case of rotavirus, there’s no reason for anybody to need the vaccination (HCN?)

    Peace and love.

  75. #75 Anonymous
    March 12, 2008

    “Stay away from fruit juices, Anon. They are chock full of formic acid, formaldehyde, acetone… way more than you sould get in a vaccine”.

    I very rarely gave my kids fruit juices but as you guys say all the time… citation, please? I’d like any information that you have in regards to formaldehyde and acetone being in kids’ fruit juices – I will pass it along to all my friends. Thank you! Minimally, I feel a little bit better that your kids’ system has a chance with the digestive system helping rid the toxins found on a day to day basis… injecting into the system … not so much…

  76. #76 Anonymous
    March 12, 2008

    “By the way breast milk contains ~25 ug of aluminum per liter. I guess breast milk must be a putative contributor to autism incidence or could it be that since Al is one of the most abundant elements on earth we have evolved to be able to effectively excrete it”?

    Probably a good reason to stop carelessly injecting it into newborn babies. We certainly don’t need MORE aluminum in our bodies, now do we? Hello, alzheimers…

    By the way, I’m anonymous :)

  77. #77 Anonymous
    March 12, 2008

    “But it is still true that I had to hold my son in my lap while he was in the ambulance being taken to the hospital… he was very unconscious, plus it may have been the incident that caused his disability that still affects him”.

    I’m so sorry… I had one of those horrific rides in the back of an ambulance as well. My kid almost died. Guess what? The trigger was a vaccination and the effects are permanent. I suppose our stories cancel each other out. The issue seems to be, I am for an intelligent and thoughful look at the vaccination schedule with less vaccines on a spread out schedule with much more research being done and consideration given to what vaccinations are actually necessary. You seem to take a give them the kitchen sink plus some attitude when it comes to vaccinations. How’s the hang nail vaccination coming along, HCN?

  78. #78 Laser Potato
    March 12, 2008

    Hey anon!
    Do you vaccinate your dog or cat against rabies?
    If not, why not?
    PS: even rainwater contains up to a nanogram of mercury per liter. OH NOES!

  79. #79 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    I wonder what the ND rates for these guys are. Here’s a great chance to prove that while toxic it will not cause ND.
    http://www.rudracentre-malaysia.com/
    parad_mercury__properties.htm.

    Orac you want something for YFDOW I’m pretty sure these nut jobs qualify.

  80. #80 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    Look they aren’t FDA or any other government agency. These are alties just like the mercury=autism and chelation.

  81. #81 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    “Orac you want something for YFDOW I’m pretty sure these nut jobs qualify.” Sorry came out wrong. Should have read.

    Given the recent mercury militia crap I think the use of Parad for medicinal purposes would be fitting for YFDOW.

  82. #82 Robster, FCD
    March 12, 2008

    Anon, here you go. But the point is, it is there naturally. Fresh squeezed has all this. The only reason I mention concentrate is that most people make it up with tap, which has lots of potential contaminants (most of which are too low to be a concern). All citrus juices have a bit of d-limonene in them, which causes cancer in male rodents (but not in humans).

    In the case of aluminum, the tiny amount in any shot or series of shots can be excreted by the body with no concern whatsoever. We only see aluminum toxicity in a few specific conditions, such as a patient receiving total parenteral nutrition. In this case, if the water used to make up the IV fluids has to be aluminum free, because if it isn’t, it can overwhelm the body’s ability to excrete it.

    A guiding principle in toxicology is “the dose determines the poison.”

    Cyanide is poisonous, but only if the dose is high enough. Carbon monoxide is poisonous, but only if the dose is high enough. Water is poisonous, but only if the dose is high enough. Some things have useful properties but become toxic above a certain level.

  83. #83 ozzy
    March 12, 2008

    By the way Anon, formaldehyde is also a by-product of endogenous metabolism of purines and amino acids. The amount the maximum amount in vaccines administered at any one time would only increase the total body burden by less 20-30% and the body has very efficient means of maintaining formaldehyde homeostasis. The levels of CH2O in vaccines are reported as less than a certain value, so this is a conservative estimate.
    avg human CH2O blood conc – ~ 2.5 ug/ml
    ~ 85 ml blood/kg BW
    so for a 5 kg child that’s about 1.1 mg of endogenous formaldehyde
    vaccines containing formaldehyde have less than 0.1 mg/dose

  84. #84 Save the Dogs
    March 12, 2008

    “Hey anon!
    Do you vaccinate your dog or cat against rabies?
    If not, why not?

    I’ll answer this one. No dog here but looking forward to it someday… To be honest with you… I’d be very worried about vaccinations for my doggie-poo. Can any of you smarty-pants tell me if there is thimerosal in the rabies vaccine?

    On another note, I have a book called “Puppies for Dummies”. Pretty mainstream book – not a hokey-pokey holistic vet book or anything. Let me quote from page 315:

    “Vaccines aren’t guaranteed 100 percent. Some dogs are allergic to them. In others, antibodies don’t build up enough of a defense. Postvaccine illnesses are tragic. Keep your puppy at the animal hospital for 30 minutes after he receives his initial vaccines, and find out the signs and symptoms of each illness so you can recognize them. When possible, spread the vaccines out so that your puppy isn’t exposed to many on the same day. This plan may cost you a little more in veterinarian visits, but in the long run it may prevent your pup from having an adverse reaction”.

    I only hope you all feel stupid right now. Here’s a mainstream book about puppies for crying out loud warning about the dangers of vaccinations. I was reading something else about how the rabies shot should never be given to a puppy before the age of 6 months!!! Get over yourselves. You are on the wrong side of history.

  85. #85 Elaine
    March 12, 2008

    I don’t think anyone feels stupid. Does the book tell you NOT to vaccinate your dog? I sure hope it doesn’t, since rabies is not any fun at all.

    Of course there can be negative reactions to vaccines, no one’s disputing that. No one is disputing that vaccines don’t work 100% of the time. Sheesh.

  86. #86 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    “I only hope you all feel stupid right now. Here’s a mainstream book about puppies for crying out loud warning about the dangers of vaccinations.” Um, no one here has ever suggested that ANY vaccine is completely safe. Also there are a few breeds of cats that can not handle rabies vaccines at all. I can’t imagine how this supports your no vaccination stance. All the books says is keep th puppy in the hospital for 30 minutes post vaccination. Also if your dog or cat is not vaccinated and they do get outside they can very easily catch rabies. No treatment and no cure for it that would mean a dead dog or cat. Now you can keep your dog and or cat at home (which I personally recommend for many reasons) but they don’t do home school for college or work from home after home school.

    Vaccines have a risk involved, there is a very small chance that if the animal is vaccinated it may die. It will not go from dog to cat, magically learn to read, or become mentally handicapped due to the reaction. They will have a much lower chance of getting rabies (no not 100%) thus if they get outside and into a fight with a rabid animal they live. Else they die horribly and slowly. Have there been children injured due to vaccination. Yup don’t think anyones arguing that it does happen, however the number of children saved is much much higher. You can not prove that all of the problems you ran into would not have happened anyway. They may have happened later but the result may have been the same.

  87. #87 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    Save the dogs: I think your misunderstanding our stance on vaccines, intentionally. You make broad generalization then when asked for specifics refuse to give them, firmly jam your fingers in your ears and scream “I right and your wrong cause I know”.

    The question is if you hold off the vaccines how many children will get sick and be permanently disabled or killed. Now when the child is at home till kindergarten I can see your rationale (though I still think your wrong) for a delayed schedule. If the kid is going into day care at 1 or 2 your really really want them vaccinated. More so in lower income neighborhoods, worse sanitation. Now if your wealthy and your kids will not have to work, they have a trust fund and can wile away their days at home (no trips to the Bahamas or Europe) your right you don’t need to vaccinate.

  88. #88 Save the Dogs
    March 12, 2008

    “I don’t think anyone feels stupid. Does the book tell you NOT to vaccinate your dog? I sure hope it doesn’t, since rabies is not any fun at all.

    Of course there can be negative reactions to vaccines, no one’s disputing that. No one is disputing that vaccines don’t work 100% of the time. Sheesh”.

    You should feel stupid. You don’t see mainstream books on babies warning people about vaccination dangers (other than the standard 1 in a million chance of tragic event). You don’t see (mainstream) books telling parents to spread out vaccines. Here’s a book which proves that there is much more sense being put into vaccinating your dog than your child. Shame. Shame. Shame.

    ps. I’m quite certain that I would vaccinate my doggie for Rabies (unless I find out that there is no thimerosal-free vaccine). I would wait until 6 months and make sure that no other vaccinations were given at least one month before or one month after. Concensus is that the Rabies vaccine is very difficult on pups. Someday maybe we will be able to put some sense into the human babies vaccination schedule as well. Here’s to hoping…

  89. #89 Save the Dogs
    March 12, 2008

    “I don’t think anyone feels stupid. Does the book tell you NOT to vaccinate your dog? I sure hope it doesn’t, since rabies is not any fun at all.

    Of course there can be negative reactions to vaccines, no one’s disputing that. No one is disputing that vaccines don’t work 100% of the time. Sheesh”.

    You should feel stupid. You don’t see mainstream books on babies warning people about vaccination dangers (other than the standard 1 in a million chance of tragic event). You don’t see (mainstream) books telling parents to spread out vaccines. Here’s a book which proves that there is much more sense being put into vaccinating your dog than your child. Shame. Shame. Shame.

    ps. I’m quite certain that I would vaccinate my doggie for Rabies (unless I find out that there is no thimerosal-free vaccine). I would wait until 6 months and make sure that no other vaccinations were given at least one month before or one month after. Concensus is that the Rabies vaccine is very difficult on pups. Someday maybe we will be able to put some sense into the human babies vaccination schedule as well. Here’s to hoping…

  90. #90 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    “You don’t see mainstream books on babies warning people about vaccination dangers (other than the standard 1 in a million chance of tragic event). You don’t see (mainstream) books telling parents to spread out vaccines.” How about a DVD, try looking up babies and vaccinations on Amazon. I don’t know if he’s a fringe nut job or not but they are there.

    “You don’t see (mainstream) books telling parents to spread out vaccines. ” The other reason dogs and cats are more sensitive to vaccines certain breeds more then other is inbreeding. Animals are heavily line bread to produce certain characteristics. I’m assuming most people are not inbread.

  91. #91 vlad
    March 12, 2008

    “Vaccines: What You Should Know, Third Edition (Paperback)” by Paul A Offit. is also a good choice it’s on Amazon for direct order and in stock, pretty mainstream.

  92. #92 themadlolscientist
    March 12, 2008

    If mercury compounds in vaccines cause autism:

    [1] Why isn’t a sizeable portion of the pre-Bactine generation sitting in a corner rocking back and forth from all the shots we got as babies and having merthiolate (=thimerosal, AKA “that red sting-y stuff”) slopped all over our cuts and scrapes (sometimes followed by a mercurochrome-pad Band-Aid) when we were kids?

    [2] Why have autism rates not started coming down since thimerosal was phased out of vaccines in the late 1990s?

    [3] does a similar correlation exist between autism and prenatal exposure to ethylmercury (the breakdown product of thimerosal in the body) due to high consumption of ocean fish by the mother?

    I wonder if the “correlation” between vaccines and autism is anything more than coincidence. Children can begin to show the first signs of autism around the time they’re getting the most shots. They also start talking clearly not long after that batch of shots, and a few kids even start potty training themselves. Shall we say then that vaccines cause speech development? Bladder and bowel control? :-P

    “No citations necessary. I’ve heard the stories over and over again. I don’t need citations. If you do… find them yourselves.”

    I can sum up that attitude in two words: willful ignorance. Why would any parent of a child with a severe illness or developmental disorder not want to be fully informed and armed with the best available medical evidence? No child should have to suffer because his or her parents listen only to “the stories” and refuse to look at all the evidence. It makes no sense, and if taken too far, it’s skating awfully close to child abuse.

  93. #93 Prometheus
    March 12, 2008

    Themadlolscientist,

    Just one small correction – the form of mercury found in fish is methyl-mercury. It’s more toxic and apprently less rapidly excreted than the ethyl-mercury that thimerosal breaks down to (also, apparently much slower than many people think).

    Other than that, I think you’re spot on. Especially the part about willful ignorance. That sort of “I know what I know; I don’t need the facts” attitude is all too common among the vaccines-cause-autism cultists.

    Prometheus

  94. #94 themadlolscientist
    March 13, 2008

    Prometheus: You’re right about the methylmercury in fish. As for the actual toxicity of ethylmercury, there isn’t much direct information available – the exposure guidelines are based on those for methylmercury.

    When I was looking for info on thimerosal earlier today, I did see some numbers on the relative excretion rates of the two. A recent study by researchers at the University of Rochester gives the half-lives of ethyl- and methylmercury in vaccinated infants as 3.7 and 44 days respectively. (EtHg seems to clear out even faster than previously thought. Its half-life had been estimated at 7 days.)

    What I didn’t know before was that merthiolate was the original brand name of thimerosal when it was patented in the late 1920s. It was a little surprising to find out that I really did know whereof I snarked…..

  95. #95 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “How about a DVD, try looking up babies and vaccinations on Amazon. I don’t know if he’s a fringe nut job or not but they are there”.

    I know that they are there… you simply have to search to find them AND you have to go against your own doctors suggestions. Some people either don’t know that it is smart to ignore their doctors advice or are too intimidated to do that. That was my point. Trust me, the majority of the people here would consider anyone a “fringe nut job” who goes against the recommendations of the CDC…

    “The other reason dogs and cats are more sensitive to vaccines certain breeds more then other is inbreeding. Animals are heavily line bread to produce certain characteristics. I’m assuming most people are not inbread”.

    Oh really? So, I’m supposed to believe that the ONLY reason that vaccines can be dangerous for some breeds is due to inbreeding? That’s it? Not buying it… perhaps it’s a genetic issue for other reasons (outside of inbreeding)… ie – heart concerns, autoimmunity issues, etc. etc… You must know that different humans have different health status’, correct? You sound like the CDC trying to blame all autism on bad genes, bad genes, bad genes as they move to inject babies with toxic substances.

  96. #96 vlad
    March 13, 2008

    “perhaps it’s a genetic issue for other reasons (outside of inbreeding)… ie – heart concerns, autoimmunity issues, etc. etc…” Right and all of these are exacerbated by inbreeding.

    “Trust me, the majority of the people here would consider anyone a “fringe nut job” who goes against the recommendations of the CDC…” Not if you have a good reason. There are cases where even the CDC says don’t vaccinate or delay them. If your child has a compromised immune system then the CDC says be very very cautious about vaccinations. Now if one of your children had an unexpected reaction to vaccination then YOU and YOUR doctor should have looked into it further. Individuals are not the responsibility of the CDC.

    Every time I have had any type of vaccination the doctor always asked me if I was feeling well. Every time I had a cold or something else he would delay vaccinations till I felt better.

  97. #97 vlad
    March 13, 2008

    “Not buying it… perhaps it’s a genetic issue for other reasons (outside of inbreeding)… ie – heart concerns, autoimmunity issues, etc. etc…” So genetics explains dog but some how humans can’t fall under this same option?

    No one here that I can tell is debating that there are some harmful effects for some people due to vaccines. The question is cost benifits. Are more children hurt with or without vaccines, all current data points to vaccines being better than no vaccine. I’d love to see a set of tests developed to determine vaccine safety on an individual level. Given your hefty medical and chemical background would you suggest what these tests are or at least how one would develop them?

  98. #98 Anonymous
    March 13, 2008

    “Vaccines: What You Should Know, Third Edition (Paperback)” by Paul A Offit. is also a good choice it’s on Amazon for direct order and in stock, pretty mainstream”.

    I think that I will *assume* that you are kidding. If so, good one. If not, wtf?

  99. #99 notmercury
    March 13, 2008

    Sue The Dogs said: “You sound like the CDC trying to blame all autism on bad genes, bad genes, bad genes as they move to inject babies with toxic substances.”

    No one is injecting babies with toxic substances, Sue. You seem to be missing the point that these substances are not toxic at the concentrations found in vaccines and you never answered my question. Do vaccines work, yes or no?

  100. #100 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “Right and all of these are exacerbated by inbreeding”.

    Yeah, so? There are also dogs/children who have immune systems which are vulnerable to being damaged by vaccinations having nothing to do with inbreeding. You made it seem as if the only reason why vaccinations could be dangerous to dogs was due to inbreeding issues… I’m simply saying that there are many reasons and that’s why we need to be much more careful about vaccinating on a “one size fits all” schedule.

  101. #101 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “The question is cost benifits”.

    The question is safety first for me.

    “Are more children hurt with or without vaccines, all current data points to vaccines being better than no vaccine”.

    Well, I disagree. Add up all the kids with autoimmune, neurological disorders, etc. etc… that’s a lot of kids with a lot of issues. We are injuring the “herd”.

  102. #102 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “Every time I have had any type of vaccination the doctor always asked me if I was feeling well. Every time I had a cold or something else he would delay vaccinations till I felt better”.

    Well, that seems like a reasonable start. Would you consider mandatory jail time for those doctors who do not take into consideration the health status of their patients before vaccinations? We could work something out.

    ps. I don’t know how old you are or if you are talking about when you are younger (in regards to when you got vaxx’s)… I’m much less concerned about older children and/or adults. I’m mainly concerned about infants-age 2. At that age, it is more difficult and/or impossible to tell what is going on with a baby. Is the baby really sick or… teething? or tired? or hungry? or simply has “defective genes”? You know, the “defective genes” which reacts negatively to neurotoxins.

  103. #103 vlad
    March 13, 2008

    “Well, I disagree. Add up all the kids with autoimmune, neurological disorders, etc. etc… that’s a lot of kids with a lot of issues. We are injuring the “herd”.” That would be an opinion which is not supported by fact or even historical anecdote. Do you actually believe that all of these problems arose on after vaccinations started? There were no autoimmune or neurological disorders before vaccinations?

    “At that age, it is more difficult and/or impossible to tell what is going on with a baby.” Nope, don’t even have my own and I have been able nail within 10 minutes what’s bothering the kid. One of my relatives had one of the ND. Not looking for them most everyone missed it. My wife who works with developmentally delayed children saw it, saw it before he was vaccinated. His parents delayed the vaccination for medical reasons.

    “You know, the “defective genes” which reacts negatively to neurotoxins. ” You do know that water is a neurotoxin above a certain dose right. If you have genetic predisposition to kidney problems that dose drops drastically.

    “I’m much less concerned about older children and/or adults.” Now your just making stuff up. You point blank refuse to even consider getting a flu vaccine. So no that’s not your stance.

  104. #104 vlad
    March 13, 2008

    “Would you consider mandatory jail time for those doctors who do not take into consideration the health status of their patients before vaccinations?” Up to a point yes. Vaccinating someone with a severely compromised immune system should be criminal. However the doctor must KNOW that a person has XYZ. They will get in very serious trouble for doing if caught, willfully injuring a patient IS criminal. Just cause mommy and/or daddy are out of their damn mind after listening Best or any of the other cretins does not justify jail time if something goes wrong.

  105. #105 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “Do you actually believe that all of these problems arose on after vaccinations started? There were no autoimmune or neurological disorders before vaccinations”?

    No, I certainly didn’t say that ALL of these problems arose after vaccinations started. I do believe that many cases of neurological issues and autoimmune issues are in fact from vaccine injury. Not all, but many.

    “Nope, don’t even have my own and I have been able nail within 10 minutes what’s bothering the kid”.

    LOL! You’re not even a parent and you are spouting nonsense about being able to “nail within 10 minutes what’s bothering the kid”. Please, talk to me when you grow up. I bet your kid won’t misbehave either, right? I’m sure that you kid will also eat all their vegetables too, right? Please… I just figured out what is wrong with you… You live in La-La Land.

    “One of my relatives had one of the ND”.

    OMG… are you kidding me? “Had one of the ND”?? I’m embarrassed for you right now.

    “You do know that water is a neurotoxin above a certain dose right”.

    Yeah, I’ve heard this before (about a thousand times)… Let me know when we start injecting babies with large amounts of water. Until then, please refrain from the “water is a neurotoxin” argument. On the other hand, if you are able to PROVE that thimerosal is safe to be injected into babies… by all means, back it up.

    “Now your just making stuff up. You point blank refuse to even consider getting a flu vaccine. So no that’s not your stance”.

    What? Making stuff up? And you are telling me my stance? What an idiot… Let me repeat… “I’m MUCH LESS concerned about older children and/or adults.” This is in fact my opinion whether or not you think it is or not… You are correct that I would NEVER EVER get a flu shot… what does that have to do with me being MORE concerned about the younger children (with developing immune systems and brains) being injected with neurotoxins every few weeks/months with little break.

    You have a lot to learn…

  106. #106 ozzy
    March 13, 2008

    “On the other hand, if you are able to PROVE that thimerosal is safe to be injected into babies… by all means, back it up.”

    It’s been shown time and time again that:
    1. removal of thimerasol from vaccines failed to result in decreases in autism rates
    2. non-vaccinated children are diagnosed with autism at similar rates to vaccinated (thimerasol or not) children.

    So us logical thinkers can think if 1. you remove it and nothing changes and 2. those exposed to it were no more likely to be autistic than those not exposed to it – It is safe and does not cause neurodegenerative diseases.

  107. #107 vlad
    March 13, 2008

    “You have a lot to learn…” Yes and I intend to. You on the other hand have such a vast supply of wisdom you must be 90 plus years of age.

    “I bet your kid won’t misbehave either, right? I’m sure that you kid will also eat all their vegetables too, right? ” None of the ones I regularly spend time with misbehave with me and usually eat the vegtables. Just cause the kid isn’t mine does not mean the experince is not valid.

    “You live in La-La Land. ” Coming from someone who is utterly delusional I take this as a compliment.

  108. #108 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “1. removal of thimerasol from vaccines failed to result in decreases in autism rates”

    Not true. You don’t know that. Remember the rates of autism have supposedly only gone up due to “better diagnosing”… (according to most of you)… so how could you claim that the removal of thimerOsAl failed to result in the decrease in autism rates? Hint: You can’t. Never mind the question of aluminum and thimerOsAl still in flu shots recommended to pregnant women and young babies.

    “2. non-vaccinated children are diagnosed with autism at similar rates to vaccinated (thimerasol or not) children”.

    Oh, really… WONDERFUL. Please show me the evidence of this.

  109. #109 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “None of the ones I regularly spend time with misbehave with me and usually eat the vegtables”.

    That’s because you aren’t his/her parent… That’s easy. Again, showing your naivety in regards to parenting.

    Listen, this comment:

    “Nope, don’t even have my own and I have been able nail within 10 minutes what’s bothering the kid”.

    was simply ridiculous and wrong. You don’t always know what is going on with your child… You can’t always tell if something is really wrong (in terms of sickness) with your infant. To say otherwise, is just foolish. Whatever.

    I did notice that you didn’t comment on your “ND” commentary… I wonder why?

  110. #110 DanioPhD
    March 13, 2008

    Save the Dogs: FYI, there is a recent study on how quickly babies can metabolize and excrete thimerosal–it’s fast, and adds to the large body of evidence supporting the safety of this particular compound in vaccines:
    http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/news/story.cfm?id=1848

    Orac has also blogged on this very study, here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/02/at_least_eli_stone_was_good_for_one_thin.php

    *Sits back and waits for StD to move the goal posts*

  111. #111 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “Save the Dogs: FYI, there is a recent study on how quickly babies can metabolize and excrete thimerosal–it’s fast, and adds to the large body of evidence supporting the safety of this particular compound in vaccines:
    http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/news/story.cfm?id=1848

    Yeah, sure… evidence of safety… Please.

    One Name: Burbacher

  112. #112 vlad
    March 13, 2008

    “I did notice that you didn’t comment on your “ND” commentary… I wonder why?” Your sarcasm at the expense of a sick (neurologically disabled) child puts you far beneath my contempt. Put simple you disgust me.

    Happy?!?

  113. #113 DanioPhD
    March 13, 2008

    Burbacher???? Is that your biggest gun, StD? Pathetic, but not surprising. The Burbacher study was poorly conducted, and, at best, inconclusive because of the really critical controls they didn’t do–or perhaps just didn’t report. Stacked up against the reams of scientifically rigorous studies that have shown NO LINK between thimerosal and ASD, or any other toxic effects, the Burbacher study has no weight. Moreover, whatever weight those findings might have had in the past, thimerosal is no longer a component of childhood vaccines.

    By all means, though, keep trotting out Burbacher. I’m sure it’s really popular fodder for your antivax circle jerks.

  114. #114 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “Burbacher???? Is that your biggest gun, StD? Pathetic, but not surprising. The Burbacher study was poorly conducted, and, at best, inconclusive because of the really critical controls they didn’t do–or perhaps just didn’t report”.

    Yes, Burbacher. Say what you want but Burbacher’s studies raise serious questions in regards to Pichichero’s studies. Anytime questions are raised (important questions)… You, as a PhD, should really look into the issues more closely.

    Come on now… you guys hang your hat on epidemiological studies done by Fombonne… You know him, right? The guy who doesn’t know the difference between Montreal and Quebec City… But Burbacher…. his study was poorly conducted. Please, spare us.

    Hey did Orac ever post a follow-up to the bogus Fombonne study? Since he has had glowing things to say in regards to Fombonne previously — it probably would have been a good idea to admit the fraud. Can someone point out the follow-up blog posts from Orac… Thanks in Advance!

  115. #115 notmercury
    March 13, 2008

    Sue, the only thing Burbacher shows is that EtHg and and MeHg are transported and excreted at different rates. Period. That’s it. Something we already knew.

    Maybe you should be asking about the status of the follow up study where he was supposed to look for actual changes in brain cells. You know, the one SAFEMINDS funded and should have been completed awhile ago.

  116. #116 DanioPhD
    March 13, 2008

    Come on now… you guys hang your hat on epidemiological studies done by Fombonne…

    No, StD, the point I and others have tried repeatedly to make is that it is not just ONE study. It’s many–all addressing the same set of questions, and all coming to the same objective conclusions, again and again. Overwhelmingly many. Enough to accommodate even Bartholomew Cubbins comfortably. Evidence trumps posturing and inflammatory rhetoric every time.

    Anytime questions are raised (important questions)… You, as a PhD, should really look into the issues more closely.

    What valuable vocational advice! Thank you! As a matter of fact, there is a long list of things far more worthy of this PhD’s attention than you. Troll on, Dog–I’m done.

  117. #117 Joseph
    March 13, 2008

    Not true. You don’t know that. Remember the rates of autism have supposedly only gone up due to “better diagnosing”… (according to most of you)… so how could you claim that the removal of thimerOsAl failed to result in the decrease in autism rates? Hint: You can’t. Never mind the question of aluminum and thimerOsAl still in flu shots recommended to pregnant women and young babies.

    Better diagnosing? That’s a straw-man. You know that, right? Otherwise, please refer me to where someone said that better diagnosing alone accounts for the increase in diagnoses of autism.

    Now, since the data available only points to diagnoses, and not the entirety of actual cases, yes, we can’t know for sure if true rates have gone up or down. But we do know about trends in diagnoses. If thimerosal removal had any effect in true rates, something should’ve changed in diagnosis trends, most notably in California. This is obvious, and did not happen.

    Any remaining thimerosal in the flu vaccine or whatever is given to pregnant mothers is of no consequence to that conclusion. There was a major policy shift. Unless you think such a major shift was matched by some other major change at precisely the right time, the diagnosis trend should’ve flinched at least.

  118. #118 Joseph
    March 13, 2008

    “2. non-vaccinated children are diagnosed with autism at similar rates to vaccinated (thimerasol or not) children”. Oh, really… WONDERFUL. Please show me the evidence of this.

    Generation Rescue (the organization that initially said “autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning”) did a phone survey of non-vaccinated children. You might want to go ask them how common autism was among children who weren’t vaccinated, according to their (flawed) survey. (Answer: It was about 6.5 times as common as the concensus prevalence of ASD).

  119. #119 DT
    March 13, 2008

    You might want to think again about GR’s report on vaccination and autism and what it actually shows (or not as the case may be). Both Orac and Prometheus have expertly disassembled the study, among others.
    http://www.scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/06/fun_with_phone_surveys.php
    http://www.photoninthedarkness.blogspot.com/2007/06/survey-says-nothing.html

  120. #120 DT
    March 13, 2008

    PS – the last comment was not at you Joseph. I was just adding some flesh to your bones.

  121. #121 Save the Dogs
    March 13, 2008

    “No, StD, the point I and others have tried repeatedly to make is that it is not just ONE study. It’s many–all addressing the same set of questions, and all coming to the same objective conclusions, again and again”.

    All your studies thought turn out to be either completely bogus (Danish studies and Fombonne studies) or inconclusive.

  122. #122 Soylent Scream
    March 14, 2008

    StD,

    How much mercury should there be in a soy protein bar? As an example, let say a Genisoy Chunky Peanut Butter Fudge bar. Is there a safe level of mercury for this protein bar to contain? How many of these bars would it be safe for a 30 month old child to eat per day or per week? How many are safe for a pregnant woman to eat per day or per week? Assuming that she doesn’t want her child to be damaged by the mercury and genistein, aluminum and cadmium in them? And assuming that the child isn’t already autistic because of the high levels of aluminum, cadmium, and genistein in it’s infant formula as we can see contributed to Hannah Poling’s mitochondria dysfunction.

  123. #123 Soylent Scream
    March 14, 2008

    StD,

    How much mercury should there be in a soy protein bar? As an example, let say a Genisoy Chunky Peanut Butter Fudge bar. Is there a safe level of mercury for this protein bar to contain? How many of these bars would it be safe for a 30 month old child to eat per day or per week? How many are safe for a pregnant woman to eat per day or per week? Assuming that she doesn’t want her child to be damaged by the mercury and genistein, aluminum and cadmium in them? And assuming that the child isn’t already autistic because of the high levels of aluminum, cadmium, and genistein in it’s infant formula as we can see contributed to Hannah Poling’s mitochondria dysfunction.

  124. #124 Joseph
    March 14, 2008

    All your studies thought turn out to be either completely bogus (Danish studies and Fombonne studies) or inconclusive.

    It’s always possible to be picky and think of some confound or something the authors did not consider in any ecological or case-control study. What you’re saying is that it doesn’t matter how much science there is that contradicts your position, you’ll always find an excuse to disbelieve it because it’s not absolutely perfect science.

    BTW, when it comes to studies of this type, it doesn’t get much better methodologically than Thompson et al. (2007). I mean, come on, 42 outcomes, 360 or something measures total, actual evaluation of outcomes rather that relying on existing diagnoses, something like 20 authors, use of outside consultants including SafeMinds, etc. They basically demonstrated that statistics works. I’m still in awe of the scope of that study.

  125. #125 DanioPhD
    March 14, 2008

    What you’re saying is that it doesn’t matter how much science there is that contradicts your position, you’ll always find an excuse to disbelieve it because it’s not absolutely perfect science.

    You win the set of steak knives, Joseph. At the core, antivaxers like StD are no different from evolution deniers. In both cases their stubborn insistence that science is ‘weak’ and ‘flawed’ betrays a staggering ignorance of the very nature of science. Like myopic drones picking up cigarette butts on the rim of the Grand Canyon, they mindlessly, doggedly focus on the ‘flaws’ and refuse to look at the bigger picture.

  126. #126 Adrian
    March 14, 2008

    “Like myopic drones picking up cigarette butts on the rim of the Grand Canyon, they mindlessly, doggedly focus on the ‘flaws’ and refuse to look at the bigger picture.”

    Beautiful. Consider it stolen for future use :)

  127. #127 Save the Dogs
    March 15, 2008

    “They basically demonstrated that statistics works. I’m still in awe of the scope of that study”.

    “In awe of the scope of that study”… Cool! Were you also “in awe” on the bogus Fombonne (I don’t know the difference between Quebec City and Montreal) study? I know that Orac spoke glowingly about that one (where’s the retraction, Orac)? How about those Danish studies … Were you “in awe” of their scope and the sheer number of studies coming out of Denmark? I’m “in awe” of your inability to realize what damage has been done with our current unsafe vaccination schedule.

  128. #128 Laser Potato
    March 15, 2008

    “Cool! Were you also “in awe” on the bogus Fombonne (I don’t know the difference between Quebec City and Montreal) study? I know that Orac spoke glowingly about that one (where’s the retraction, Orac)”
    I think you’re referring to the SafeMinds “rebuttal.” Heh.
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/07/still_more_evidence_that_vaccines_dont_c_1.php

  129. #129 Robster, FCD
    March 15, 2008

    StD, Disagreeing with a study does not debunk it, nor make it bogus. Evidence and data are required for that, something you do not have.

  130. #130 Joseph
    March 15, 2008

    “In awe of the scope of that study”… Cool! Were you also “in awe” on the bogus Fombonne (I don’t know the difference between Quebec City and Montreal) study? I know that Orac spoke glowingly about that one (where’s the retraction, Orac)? How about those Danish studies … Were you “in awe” of their scope and the sheer number of studies coming out of Denmark?

    The Fombonne and Danish studies are not necessarily bad studies, but their scope is obviously not of the magnitude of Thompson et al. nor is their methodology nearly as thought through. I actually couldn’t name a study off the top of my head with broader scope than Thompson et al.

    Rational discussion of potential problems in Fombonne et al. can be found here.
    This is what I said in that discussion a year ago:

    “I suspect Fombonne et al. did make a mistake in the paper, and if so, they should publish errata. If not, they should explain why there’s no error. That would be the right thing to do.”

    Despite the methodological issues and errors there might have been in Fombonne et al., these are the facts:

    1. Thimerosal was largely removed from the Canadian vaccination schedule in 1994.

    2. There are lots of autistic kids in Canadian kindergartens right now. They did not go away.

    I’m “in awe” of your inability to realize what damage has been done with our current unsafe vaccination schedule.

    FYI, throwing unsubstantiated assertions around countless times doesn’t make them true.

  131. #131 Joseph
    March 15, 2008

    “In awe of the scope of that study”… Cool! Were you also “in awe” on the bogus Fombonne (I don’t know the difference between Quebec City and Montreal) study? I know that Orac spoke glowingly about that one (where’s the retraction, Orac)? How about those Danish studies … Were you “in awe” of their scope and the sheer number of studies coming out of Denmark?

    The Fombonne and Danish studies are not necessarily bad studies, but their scope is obviously not of the magnitude of Thompson et al. nor is their methodology nearly as thought through. I actually couldn’t name a study off the top of my head with broader scope than Thompson et al.

    Rational discussion of potential problems in Fombonne et al. can be found here.
    This is what I said in that discussion a year ago:

    “I suspect Fombonne et al. did make a mistake in the paper, and if so, they should publish errata. If not, they should explain why there’s no error. That would be the right thing to do.”

    Despite the methodological issues and errors there might have been in Fombonne et al., these are the facts:

    1. Thimerosal was largely removed from the Canadian vaccination schedule in 1994.

    2. There are lots of autistic kids in Canadian kindergartens right now. They did not go away.

    I’m “in awe” of your inability to realize what damage has been done with our current unsafe vaccination schedule.

    FYI, throwing unsubstantiated assertions around countless times doesn’t make them true.

  132. #132 Soylent Scream
    March 16, 2008

    Sue,

    did you know that one Genisoy bar tested as containing a higher concentration of mercury in it than is necessary to kill neuroblastoma cells in culture? How much higher concentration? 2X? 6X? 8X? 17X? (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140)

    How much higher is the ppb level of that Genisoy bar compared to the EPA allowable amount of mercury in drinking water?

  133. #133 lisa
    March 25, 2008

    Just one question?
    Why are the vaccinated groups so scared of the non vaccinated group. If the vaccines have the effect they claim,the vaccinated should feel safe.

  134. #134 Shiritai
    March 25, 2008

    lisa,

    Read up on herd immunity.

  135. #135 daedalus2u
    March 25, 2008

    Vaccines are not 100% effective. Even a vaccine that is “only” 90% effective can be enough to prevent an epidemic from propagating through the population.

    Some people cannot be vaccinated because they are too young, have compromized immune systems due to disease or immunosuppressant drugs due to organ transplants.

    Some people have not been vaccinated because they don’t have health care, or because their parents don’t appreciate the need for preventative health care.

    Most people in vaccinated groups understand these things and don’t want susceptible people to get preventable diseases. Even when those susceptible people are anti-vax pseudoscientist whackos or their children.

  136. #136 DanioPhD
    March 25, 2008

    Lisa, there’s a phenomenon known as ‘herd immunity’, whereby the potential for outbreak of a disease (like Measels, e.g.) in a given population is dramatically reduced by ensuring that a large percentage of that population is vaccinated (the CDC has specific threshold numbers on this if you care to look it up). Children whose parents choose not to vaccinate, or who are advised not to follow the regularly prescribed vaccine schedule due to specific, individual medical conditions, would be far more vulnerable to infection from these diseases without the benefit of herd immunity. If a disease that transmits from person to person is introduced into their community, most people will have vaccine-conferred immunity to it and will not pass it around to those who are unvaccinated and thus at risk of infection.

    Note that the success of this protection hinges on the numbers game–there is a baseline number of people in the community who must be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to be effective. What we are ‘scared’ of is a situation in which enough people buy into the antivaccination propaganda so as to drop the population immunity down to a level at which a debilitating disease could take hold. This exact scenario has played out in Japan, England, and most recently San Diego, where measles rates soared due to widespread misinformation about vaccine safety. Vaccination programs have eradicated many deadly diseases for children and adults over the last century, and here in America we scarcely remember what it’s like to deal with an epidemic (e.g. Polio or Smallpox). Herd immunity has played a significant role in this success, and it is in danger of coming undone if a large enough percentage of the population decides, for arbitrary and unscientific reasons, that vaccines, in general, aren’t ‘safe’. Doesn’t that sound scary? Don’t let it happen in your community.

  137. #137 Tabitha
    April 23, 2008

    I’m definitely pro-vax and also pro-spreading out the schedule. There are some vaccinations whose timing I question — why would a newborn in a US hospital need a Hep B vaccination right at birth? for example, or would vaccinating my child against chicken pox put her at a greater risk for shingles as an adult? but other than that, I see no reason not to vaccinate, and also no reason not to spread the vaccines out while taking one’s situation into account (daycare, living in Africa, etc etc.)

    As a layperson very interested in this issue, my personal belief is that autism spectrum disorders will be found to be an autoimmune issue, a multifactorial one, and that there won’t be one magic bullet cause. It could be likely that vaccine reactions are the final straw for a cascade of other factors in triggering an autoimmune response, but that the vaccine is not the CAUSE of that disorder. There’s so much more random crap in everything — PCB’s in breastmilk, GMO soy in everything, RGBH, general pollution and radiation, drugs and pollutants in drinking water, and the FDA is a joke. I think it is fair to say that the average human being is being exposed to a level of chemicals in general that weren’t a factor when human beings evolved.

    My heart goes out to parents who are looking for a magic solution to something that has obviously caused them a lot of pain, but being knee-jerk anti-vaccine is probably (in my personal opinion) not the answer.

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