Respectful Insolence

Shifting goalposts, shifting stories

On Wednesday, Steve Novella did a nice analysis of the recent study showing that signs of autism can be detected as early as six months of age. However, it was flawed by one clear misstatement, which was brought to his attention in the comments and which he then promptly corrected. Not that that stopped our old “friend” J.B. Handley, chief anti-vaccine propagandist for Generation Rescue from leaping into the fray with a goalpost-shifting, disingenuous, and insulting misrepresentation of the overall point of Steve’s post. Par for the course for Mr. Handley.

Today, Steve has responded with a beautiful takedown and deconstruction of Handley’s nonsense, in which he revisited his post, admitted his mistake, and then showed how, even with his mistake Handley was clearly being intellectually dishonest:

Further, Handley is now trying to argue that this new study supports a correlation between vaccines and autism. In fact, it does nothing of the sort. It does all but eliminate MMR, varicella, and Hep A as having any potential role in autism, as these vaccines all come after the onset of autism in most cases. Handley, if he were being intellectually honest, should admit this, but he doesn’t, and very dishonestly implies that MMR specifically is still a potential cause.

I had been planning on applying a bit of my usual insolence to J.B. Handley, who was clearly begging for it yet again. After all, Steve’s too much of a class act to get really down and dirty over JB’s anti-vaccine proselytizing. However, these sorts of antics are typical of JB, and Steve handled him more than competently. Besides, Andreas Moritz angered me far more than JB did because, let’s face it, JB’s attack on Steve was just JB being JB. He can’t help it. Still, I noticed this paragraph in which JB states:

More importantly, autism is not an event, it’s a process. It is exceptionally rare that I hear the story, “my son was 100% fine, and at 2 years old after one vaccine appointment he lost everything.” I have heard that story, but very rarely.

Hmmmm. That’s exactly the sort of story I see time and time again presented by anti-vaccine believers, J.B. included, as “evidence” that vaccines cause autism. Is this the same J.B. Handley who has touted at least since 2005 how common stories of children declining right after vaccines are? Let’s see, a couple of years ago he complained to the AAP:

Ms. Martin, let me give you a little insight into my world. If I wanted to find parents who had autistic children and who believed their child’s autism was impacted by vaccines, I wouldn’t need to email the nation’s pediatricians hoping I might find one or two. I could just open my window and yell, because these parents are everywhere in my neighborhood and town! Worse, our numbers continue to grow.

You see, not a day goes by without Generation Rescue receiving an email from a new parent who watched their child decline following a vaccination appointment with their pediatrician. While you search for the handful of parents with autistic children who may support immunizations, we can’t respond to emails fast enough from the thousands we hear from who feel vaccines contributed to their child’s autism.

“Not a day goes by…”? Sounds like Handley was arguing that regression after vaccination is very common. Let’s look a bit more, say, from a post JB wrote before going on Larry King Live! last April:

Finally, we have tens of thousands of case reports of parents reporting that their child developmentally regressed, stopped talking, and was later diagnosed with autism after a vaccine appointment. The number of vaccines have risen along with autism rates, vaccines are known to cause brain damage, and parents report regression and later autism after getting them. Is it really so hard to believe we think vaccines are a trigger?

Wow. Tens of thousands of case reports!

You know, it appears to me that there’s a bit of goalpost shifting going on here. After all, the “stereotypical” (or “prototypical”) story of the anti-vaccine movement is of the child between the ages of 1 and 3 who is brought to the pediatrician, receives vaccines, and then shortly thereafter loses language and social skills and develops regressive autism. Never mind that, given the number of children who are vaccinated every year and the number of children who develop regressive autism, there are bound to be overlaps such that by random chance alone there will be many children who regress in reasonably close temporal proximity to vaccination. Never mind that no one has ever shown that this regression occurs more frequently in vaccinated children. Anecdotes like the ones JB was touting up until (apparently) now are the very “evidence” that the anti-vaccine movement uses to blame vaccination for autism. And, in all fairness, in a single child not studied in the context of populations, such an event can look all the world as though the vaccine caused the regression even when it did not. Even so, the point is that parents who believe vaccines caused their children’s autism don’t blame a process. They blame vaccines, often specific vaccines like the MMR.

I wonder if JB has shifted the goalposts so far this time that they are no longer even in the stadium.

Comments

  1. #1 David N. Brown
    February 19, 2010

    Here’s my comment on this in the latest “Evil Possum” post:
    When it seemed that autism appeared around age 2, they blamed MMR, which is administered at 12 months or later. Now that strong evidence shows that 12 months is too late for a cause of autism, they are looking backward into vaccines before age 1. In a further display of selective memory and perception, 6 of the 25 “vaccines” listed are the PCV and rotavirus vaccines, which were added well after the early- mid-1990s “autism epidemic”. They do not just “move the goal posts”, as critics have charged; they also move the first-down lines, switch the end zones, rewrite the rule book and change the game to cricket.

  2. #2 David N. Brown
    February 19, 2010

    Here’s my comment on this in the latest “Evil Possum” post:
    When it seemed that autism appeared around age 2, they blamed MMR, which is administered at 12 months or later. Now that strong evidence shows that 12 months is too late for a cause of autism, they are looking backward into vaccines before age 1. In a further display of selective memory and perception, 6 of the 25 “vaccines” listed are the PCV and rotavirus vaccines, which were added well after the early- mid-1990s “autism epidemic”. They do not just “move the goal posts”, as critics have charged; they also move the first-down lines, switch the end zones, rewrite the rule book and change the game to cricket.

  3. #3 RJ
    February 19, 2010

    I read the SBM the other day, then J.B’s response yesterday. I was in shock! This guy really thinks he has a point to make and has no idea how ridiculous he sounds. It’s no different than some total dumbass coming into court and telling the judge he/she doesn’t know what they’re talking about because he watches daytime TV’s Judge Judy. But what else would you expect from a total narcissist who needs someone to blame for his tragedy…the cures of an autistic child?

    He really needs to stick with vinegar. I think that’s about the limit of his expertise in anything.

  4. #4 Berner
    February 19, 2010

    @#1

    David that last sentence made everyone in my lab look at me funny due to the fit of hysterics it put me in. Kudos.

  5. #5 zed
    February 19, 2010

    I just love that JB Handjob is calling someone else a “weirdo” maybe we should start calling him Gonzo the Muppet.

  6. #6 Smarter Than You
    February 19, 2010

    Wow, I finally agree with ORAC on something. You are absolutely correct when you say that MMR is not the cause of Autism. This is not to say it doesn’t complicate Autism further, however it is not the CAUSE! Good job ORAC, you finally got something right for once.

  7. #7 Orac's Wackosphere
    February 19, 2010

    I’m ‘telescoping’ myself out of this conversation… Whether it be an hour or a few days let me know when this thread dies out. :)

    Dr. Novella… most hilarious commentary EVER!

  8. #8 RJ
    February 19, 2010

    “This is not to say it doesn’t complicate Autism further, however it is not the CAUSE!”

    That’s right. It does not say it doesn’t complicate autism either. That’s a different subject. As it turns out, when you this is examined independently, it doesn’t complicate autism further, in addition to not being the cause.

  9. #9 DLC
    February 19, 2010

    Crusade’s over, JB. time to hand Jerusalem back to the Arabs.

  10. #10 Ian
    February 19, 2010

    I read JBs post the day it came out. While they are usually good for a chuckle and an “aw shucks, more kids are gonna die now” moment, this one was (gonna get slammed for this, I know it…) actually kind of reasonable.

    IF, for a moment, we assume that no studies have ever been done before this one that fail to show a connection between vaccines and autism, and IF we allow the findings of the new study – that autism develops over time and so does the vaccine schedule, then it MAY BE reasonable to conclude that there is some connection.

    Of course this is not the case, so his argument fails to persuade, but this is far from the usual flaming stupid I’m used to. Can we at least get behind a measured reduction below usual stupid levels? A drop in a bucket, maybe, but still some progress.

    It’s just that when we all line up to kick a brain-dead man every time he flails on his keyboard, we start to look exactly like the nuts at AoA. As Jay-Z quips: “my momma told me not to argue with fools, because from a distance you can’t tell who is who.”

  11. #11 Rene Najera
    February 19, 2010

    Ian said:

    IF, for a moment, we assume that no studies have ever been done before this one that fail to show a connection between vaccines and autism, and IF we allow the findings of the new study – that autism develops over time and so does the vaccine schedule, then it MAY BE reasonable to conclude that there is some connection.

    Don’t give him any ideas. Him and his ilk are not reasonable.

  12. #12 Kwombles
    February 19, 2010

    It isn’ that autism is a condition which develops over time; that’s a semantic problem. Autism is a condition that becomes apparent over time. These two sentences are vastly different in meaning. Autism appears to be a neurological difference set by birth that as developmental milestones are not met or gradually become delayed compared to the child’s cohort, the condition becomes manifest and diagnosable.

    Memory is faulty at best and denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. Having three on the spectrum, I can relate anecdotally that you can know the signs, know what to look for, admit your child has issues and still not be willing to call it autism until left with no choice.

    So, there’s my nitpick. The other is with the whole idea that autism is a disease. In a strict medical sense, yes, it does meet the criteria, but since the public does not use the same operationalized definition of disease, and because of the negative connotation it has, neurological difference is much more accurate and less pejorative.

    A succinct working definition of autism, then, would be this: autism is a neurological difference that is set in place by birth which becomes apparent as early as six months to a year in many cases. And no one associated with the mainstream field of autism research or clinical practice would quibble or be surprised by this working definition.

  13. #13 Unconvinced
    February 19, 2010

    You don’t suppose they know the vaccination status of the kids in this study (and the larger longitudinal study), do you? Most of the kids who developed ASD were from the high risk group from families with other kids with an ASD. That seems to clearly point to a genetic cause. There are probably quite a few of these younger siblings who developed an ASD even though they had not been vaccinated or were alternatively vaccinated.

    I, for one, would love to know the vaccine status for the whole high risk group, not just the 22 kids who went on to develop an ASD, because I’m sure there would be no difference in vaccination rates between the kids who went on to develop an ASD and the other high risk kids who didn’t. I wonder what the total number of kids in the high risk group in the larger longitudinal study is.

    A Prospective Study of the Emergence of
    Early Behavioral Signs of Autism

  14. #14 Joseph
    February 19, 2010

    It needs to be pointed out that, despite the interpretations given, the study doesn’t demonstrate that the “onset” of autism is 6 months of age or anything of the sort. It simply says that, developmentally, they couldn’t detect any differences of note between 6-month-old autistic babies and non-autistic babies.

    This is not surprising at all. If the baby is too young, there’s not much “development” to compare and contrast, especially if you’re looking at language and socialization delays.

    There’s absolutely no difference between an autistic newborn and a non-autistic newborn (I’m talking idiopathic essential autism) but this doesn’t mean the newborn is not autistic at the time of their birth.

    A related principle is that the earlier the autism diagnosis, the less stable it is, i.e. it’s harder to tell if a baby is truly autistic the younger the baby is.

  15. #15 Prometheus
    February 19, 2010

    Orac,

    Is it possible that JB doesn’t know what “tens of thousands” means? Maybe he’s not good with large numbers and can’t get his head wrapped around what “tens of thousands of cases” would look like.

    Just a short “reality check” here. If you could read aloud the names of each of the children who make up 10,000 cases (one “tens of thousands”) at a rate of one name every two seconds (which is pretty fast; try it yourself – get out the telephone directory and read the names as fast as you can), it would take over five and a half hours (no breaks, no tea, no bathroom stops) to read their names.

    If you printed out just the names – ten point font, single-spaced, two columns, one name per line – it would take 143 pages to list 10,000 names. Just the names.

    Even if I knew nothing about JB’s veracity, I would find it hard to believe that he is aware of “tens of thousands of cases”. At best, he has been told that “tens of thousands of cases” exist.

    And now, in order to demonstrate his reliability as an information source, he wants us to believe that after telling us he has

    “…tens of thousands of case reports of parents reporting that their child developmentally regressed, stopped talking, and was later diagnosed with autism after a vaccine appointment.”

    that he “rarely” hears about children who were

    “…100% fine, and at 2 years old after one vaccine appointment [they] lost everything.”

    Thus my question. If JB thinks that “tens of thousands” is the same as “rarely”, perhaps he simply doesn’t understand numbers very well.

    Or, he could just be pulling numbers out of the air…or some other, less ethereal location.

    Prometheus

  16. #16 Todd W.
    February 19, 2010

    @Prometheus

    You know, I just love reading your comments.

  17. #17 Joseph
    February 19, 2010

    More importantly, autism is not an event, it’s a process. It is exceptionally rare that I hear the story, “my son was 100% fine, and at 2 years old after one vaccine appointment he lost everything.” I have heard that story, but very rarely.

    Make no mistake. This quote will come in handy as a canned message in response to various types of trolls.

  18. #18 Unconvinced
    February 19, 2010

    @15 Well, and the funny thing is I don’t think he even realizes how insignificant and almost irrelevant his 10,000 number is. (My numbers are a little high because I’m rounding up a bit, but bear with me.) There are close to 100 million kids in the U.S. and about 1% of them have an ASD so that’s about 1 million kids and his 10,000 (not that it’s right) would only be about 1% of the kids with an ASD anyways. So, I’m thinking that even according to him 99% of autistic kids didn’t regress.

  19. #19 Katharine
    February 19, 2010

    I see Dumber Than Everybody Else On the Planet still doesn’t understand autism.

  20. #20 Pablo
    February 19, 2010

    More importantly, autism is not an event, it’s a process. It is exceptionally rare that I hear the story, “my son was 100% fine, and at 2 years old after one vaccine appointment he lost everything.” I have heard that story, but very rarely.

    He needs to talk to Jay Gordon, who once claimed here that he gave an 8 mo old a vaccine and THAT AFTERNOON the child stopped communicating with his older brother.

    That was the first time I realized that Jay Gordon was full of shit and not serious.

  21. #21 rob
    February 19, 2010

    i guess there are lies, damned lies, statistics and j.b. handley.

  22. #22 Joseph
    February 19, 2010

    I don’t know if this has been pointed out already, but the study in question is essentially on familial autism only. All of the autistic children studied were considered high-risk because they had an autistic sibling, right? None of the control group children ended up being diagnosed with autism.

    This could be relevant to the extent that children with non-familial autism might show developmental differences at 6 months of age. Children with familial autism appear entirely “normal” developmentally at that age.

  23. #23 Sullivan
    February 19, 2010

    Joseph,

    a fraction (3 out of 25 or thereabouts) of the ASD kids in the study came from the “low risk” group.

  24. #24 Unconvinced
    February 19, 2010

    Three of the 25 kids later diagnosed with an ASD were from the low-risk group.

    The primary inclusion criteron for the
    Low-Risk group was status as a younger sibling of a
    child (or children) with typical development. Low-risk
    status of all older siblings was confirmed by an intake
    screening questionnaire and scores below the ASD
    range on the SCQ. Exclusion criteria for the Low-Risk
    group were birth before 36 weeks of gestation, developmental,
    learning, or medical conditions in any older
    sibling, and ASD in first-, second-, or third-degree
    relatives.

  25. #25 Joseph
    February 19, 2010

    I stand corrected, but it’s largely familial autism still.

  26. #26 Moses
    February 19, 2010

    What I’d like to know is the rate of autism in non-vaccinated children. I’ve read some claims that it’s the same. Some claims that it’s higher. Some claims that it’s lower.

    But I trust none of the claims because I’m not getting source or links to source. Or they’re from organizations that have a, well, particular bent… And I really don’t trust them as I’m not willing to get sucked in by the rabid-anti-vax crowd.

    So I’d like a link if anyone has one… With real, peer-reviewed studies. My wife is a scientist so I can get past a lot of journal fire walls because, well, she has access through the University.

    And, for the record, I don’t think all vaccines are perfectly safe as I know they’re not. I also know that most medicines can have side effects, though for some it’s pretty damn rare. Even OTC medicines.

    I just know that, as a population, we’re better with medicine and vaccinations than without them. So I use them, but never as a lark and always exactly as prescribed.

  27. #27 Unconvinced
    February 19, 2010

    Joseph, Just wanted to let you know I linked to the study @13 so you can have a look just in case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

  28. #28 Chris
    February 19, 2010

    Try starting at PubMed, there is also a list of journal articles at http://www.immunize.org/journalarticles/conc_aut.asp . You can also find a list of papers being discussed at (including Orac) at Research Blogging.

    The studies you want are the large epidemiological studies done in several countries covering millions of children, that really show no difference in autism rates between fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated children (you will not find a population of purely unvaccinated children because they are often in groups that eschew all medicine and are not in the databases).

    To get an explanation on how these studies work, and why Kirby’s ideas are bogus go to the library and check out Paul Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets, and read Chapter 6.

    You can also look at the

  29. #29 Chris
    February 19, 2010

    Oops, I hit a button to soon…

    You can also look the study summaries and commentaries here:
    http://sciencebasedmedicine.org/reference/vaccines-and-autism/

  30. #30 Ian
    February 19, 2010

    @Moses

    You are the kind of people I think a) make up the majority of the population, even though you don’t speak the majority of the rhetoric, and b) we should be writing to. Sniping back and forth between people whose minds are already made up is fun and diverting, but hopefully at least a FEW Moseses (Mosei?) read these blogs. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be mocking the ridiculous beliefs and pointing out the gaping flaws in the logic, but every time we allow our arguments to get personal, we erode our credibility.

    Good on ya, Moses. However, the question is far from a simple one. Non-vaccinated children are not representative of the child population at large. They are usually present in demographic clusters rather than spread out among the general population. If you do find the kind of study you’re looking for, it may not be terribly informative one way or another, because a lower rate (or a higher rate) of autism MIGHT be due to the vaccine status or could be due to any number of other confounders (extraneous variables) present in that population. It is possible to control for some confounding (matching, statistical control) but not all. Just keep that in mind when you read any study.

  31. #31 cynic
    February 19, 2010

    Never mind that no one has ever shown that this regression occurs more frequently in vaccinated children.

    C’mon Orac. You’ve continued to opine against an observational study of both populations to determine autism prevalence… don’t turn around and pretend it now supports your position.

  32. #32 LK PhD
    February 19, 2010

    @Ian
    Agreed. The thing that frustrates me about this whole “debate” is that people like JB, who are the loudest (but definitely not smartest) make it difficult for people like Moses to be heard. The people who should be most upset by this state of affairs are the parents of children with autism.

  33. #33 Chris
    February 19, 2010

    So, cynic, are you seriously suggesting that large swaths of children should not be vaccinated just to prove a point? Considering that last year children have died from Hib, and several infants have died from pertussis, and if more are not protected by the MMR there will be actual deaths instead of the occasional bit of deafness, pneumonia and such that have happened in the USA. A further explanation of why this is a very bad idea is in this podcast.

    If you have any evidence that vaccines have any connection to autism, please present it.

  34. #34 Denice Walter
    February 19, 2010

    Parents may attribute the diagnosis of ASD *to* vaccines because diagnosis *follows* vaccines. Reminds me a bit of something Fuller Torrey wrote about young people newly diagnosed with schizophrenia: their parents often attribute the illness to some significant, recent, negative, *external* event – usually problems in school,at work,or in relationships -as though the person became ill *because* of some recent external event (one really major difference: here causation may actually be reversed as SMI can “cause” problems at school,work,or in relationships)although the SMI has been developing for a long time, often marked with significant differences throughout the child’s earlier years (learning problems,social differences,differences in movement- as analysed from videos, etc.).

  35. #35 jen
    February 19, 2010

    You guys are a complete joke. Get it through your head. Kids are showing regression. Besides Rett’s syndrome, when did you hear about all these “regressing toddlers” in American folklore or greek tragedy or Shakespearian plays. That’s right. You didn’t. You are all splitting hairs about when children regress. My God they are being vaccinated on day one of their life! The regression would stand to start at different points for different children depending on their tolerance and vulnerabilities and what they’ve been exposed to.
    I looked at a hep b vaccine insert (infanrix). They mention contraindications. These include: allergies to any component of the vaccine- yeast, neomycin, polymyxin. How the hell would you know if your kid had a yeast allergy or any of the other allergies on his/her first day of life?? Seriously?!! If anyone can anser me this I will admit defeat. But NONE of you will be able to and you know it. Are they f’g kidding me? They go on to state that infants who have progressive neurologic disorders or infantile spasms should not get the vaccine. Again, how in hell would you know if your hours old baby had any of these conditions. You may not even know any of these “contraindications” until they were maybe half a year or year old. My God people. Use your brains!
    The dpt and hep b vaccine inserts give plenty of pause for thought when it comes to side effects and when these finally accumulate for a particular child would just be a matter of time for regression to happen.

  36. #36 Chris
    February 19, 2010

    jen (the cranky one):

    Get it through your head. Kids are showing regression.

    Do you have some kind of evidence that shows this? Something other than your argument by blatant assertion?

    Besides Rett’s syndrome, when did you hear about all these “regressing toddlers” in American folklore or greek tragedy or Shakespearian plays. That’s right. You didn’t.

    Actually, there have been many stories and tales of “changelings.” These are kids that is was assumed that a demon took over. Sometimes they were abandoned to die in the wild.

    Again, if you or cynic have some actual evidence that vaccines are really associated with autism, please present it. Something other than “argument by assertion.”

  37. #37 jen
    February 19, 2010

    o.k. there are some stories of changelings. I will read the link. Now, answer my question about how on earth you would know to avoid giving your hours old infant a hep b vaccine because they have allergies to the above listed ingredients (yeast, neomycin, polymyxin) OR a neuropathy related condition?? You wouldn’t know that as a parent and the inanrix people damn well know it. It’s completely non-sensical!!!!!!!!

  38. #38 Agashem
    February 19, 2010

    Oh Jen, you idiot. Do tell me how my daughter was diagnosed with autism when she didn’t have a vaccine on day one? The MMR later, please, she would tell you to your face you are an idiot. She gets incensed when idiots like you say that vaccines cause autism. She is happy and proud being autistic and would not want to be ‘normal’ like you if you paid her. How do you live with yourself when you make bald statements that have no basis in reality? You can pick apart all you want the fact is, autism was here before, will be here after and all your blather matters not one wit in the life of my daughter and never will. You are doing NOTHING to help these kids in spite of your talk otherwise. Learn to accept neurological differences and stop looking for causes that have nothing to do with anything. Tell me what you tell parents with autistic children do you tell them that vaccines were the cause and hence they are responsible? Go away and stop telling people you are Canadian – you embarrass the rest of us.

  39. #39 jen
    February 19, 2010

    Agashem: Name calling will get you nowhere. Answer my question from # 37. Anyone? Anyone?

  40. #40 mk
    February 19, 2010

    Jen…

    You are the one suggesting vaccines are causing autism.

    Show. Us. The. Evidence.

    Cannot possibly be more clear than that. Stop with the “well, what about this?” or “How can that be good for children?” kind of rhetoric.

    Evidence is what is demanded. Show it.

  41. #41 gaiainc
    February 19, 2010

    A contraindication to any medication is known allergy. To become allergic, one must first be exposed then exposed again. People have anaphylactic reactions to ampicillin. By jen’s logic I should not use that medication in my septic neonates because they might be allergic. The other conditions that jen can be apparent before any vaccines are given. For something to be progressive you have to have a starting point. Quite frankly, Jen, I find you nonsensical.

  42. #42 jen
    February 19, 2010

    gaiainc: Then perhaps they should not be giving anything to an hours old infant. It is still nonsensical on THEIR part to be stating that on the package insert when they know that it will be given to infants on their first day of life. I do not even understand your fifth sentence. “The other conditions that jen can be apparent…

  43. #43 Chris
    February 19, 2010

    jen, you should read this book: Not Even Wrong, A Father’s Journey into the Lost History of Autism.

    More information on allergies. It is an immune response, but first the immune system needs to be exposed first. One does not need to worry about the first bee sting, it is the second bee sting that could cause trouble!

  44. #44 Agashem
    February 19, 2010

    How do you know a neonate is not allergic to wool? Or latex? Or bees? You don’t – occasionally life is unpredictable. If you want 100% certainty, then wait a while and you will die. That is about it; science rarely deals with absolutes. The numbers don’t support your contention. You keep talking about a vaccine that my daughter didn’t have and yet here she is autistic. Try something else. Maybe computers? Maybe global warming? Maybe the increasing availability of mangoes in Canada? How can you say it wasn’t any of those things? Whatever education you purport to have I hope didn’t occur in Canada. I can’t believe you are a product of our country.

  45. #45 LK PhD
    February 19, 2010

    Cheers, gaiainc. You beat me to it.

    Jen: are you the same JenB who comments at AoA, claiming that you don’t read Orac anymore?

  46. #46 jen
    February 19, 2010

    BTW, gaiainc, I would doubt that even if a day old baby became sensitized to say, the yeast component, that by the second or even third vaccine this would be properly identified. You would basically have an infant presenting with some problems but nothing that would cause a ped to say, “My God, I think this infant may have some kind of yeast or neomycin allergy. Let’s skip the rest of the hep b series.” I seriously f’g doubt it.

  47. #47 Chris
    February 19, 2010

    jen, you should read this book: Not Even Wrong, A Father’s Journey into the Lost History of Autism.

    There was an error in the that link.

    Jen, if you have data that shows the HepB vaccine is causing issues, please present. Do not make assertions without data (especially when you are telling a real medical doctor, gaiainc, who works with newborns that she is wrong!).

  48. #48 jen
    February 19, 2010

    Hagashem: Knock it off with the rude bullshit. Where were you educated? So your daughter didn’t have the hep b shot- the dpt’s also have similar product insert contraindications. We don’t know specifically what causes autism and what doesn’t cause autism. There are no double-blind randomized studies comparing vaccinated to non-vaccinated children.

  49. #49 Agashem
    February 19, 2010

    What are you talking about? The recent British study looking at adults who didn’t have these vaccines and were found to have similar rates of autism is not good enough for you? What do you want? A study that would not ever, ever ,ever, ever be allowed? My education is not in question. Yours is. Cough up the goods……

  50. #50 jen
    February 19, 2010

    to all:
    o.k. so do the monkey have some kind of Helsinki declaration that would preclude us from studying them in a randomized double-blind study comparing vaccinated and non-vaccinated monkeys and looking at things like mitochondrial changes, digestion, brain circumference, immune system etc.?? I’ll answer for you. No. The time is now!!! The pharmaceutical industry needs to reassure their consumers! Parents aren’t buying their crap.

  51. #51 mk
    February 19, 2010

    @Jen…

    E.V.I.D.E.N.C.E.

  52. #52 Agashem
    February 19, 2010

    What study are you citing? Reference please. And since you work in the school system you may have noticed that children are not monkeys and if a study such as you propose is done/has been done and doesn’t meet your expectations wouldn’t you say the same?

  53. #53 Tigger_the_Wing
    February 19, 2010

    All the actual evidence so far points to autism being genetic. Yet, despite searching over many years, I have seen no evidence whatsoever (anecdotes aren’t evidence) for the assertion that vaccines ‘trigger’ let alone ’cause’ autism.

    As Agashem states, how can a vaccine that our children did not have cause their autism? I have four autistic sons and (in the middle of the bunch) a non-autistic daughter. My husband and I are both autistic as are my father, one sister, several nephews and at least one of my grandchildren. Oh, and my paternal grandfather was autistic; I’d like to know which vaccines caused his autism!

  54. #54 jen
    February 19, 2010

    Hagashem: you are a pompous, fucking bitch. Your education is most certainly in question every bit as much as mine.

  55. #55 Agashem
    February 19, 2010

    Oh sorry, did I upset you? It seems to me that you criticized me for insulting you and using insults. Is it ok now? Or is it just reserved for you. Really, let me know by whose rules we are playing so I can keep track.

  56. #56 Tigger_the_Wing
    February 19, 2010

    All the actual evidence so far points to autism being genetic. Yet, despite searching over many years, I have seen no evidence whatsoever (anecdotes aren’t evidence) for the assertion that vaccines ‘trigger’ let alone ’cause’ autism.

    As Agashem states, how can a vaccine that our children did not have cause their autism? I have four autistic sons and (in the middle of the bunch) a non-autistic daughter. My husband and I are both autistic as are my father, one sister, several nephews and at least one of my grandchildren. Oh, and my paternal grandfather was autistic; I’d like to know which vaccines caused his autism!

  57. #57 Tigger_the_Wing
    February 19, 2010

    Oops, I seem to have re-posted my earlier comment instead of this one. Perhaps grannies shouldn’t use the internet…

    jen how does being irrefutably correct = pompous?

    If you had any evidence, jen, you could have posted that instead of your pointless and juvenile insult.

    Do you have evidence? That is all it takes to convince other people – simple, really.

  58. #58 Unconvinced
    February 19, 2010

    I was looking around the google to see if I could find out how many kids are in the high-risk group in that larger longitudinal study and it turns out there are 180 in the sibling group. The article about the infant sibling study that had the information is really interesting. The infant sibling study: Finding the earliest possible clues to autism

    A cutting-edge UC Davis MIND Institute research project, the Infant Sibling Study, is leading the way in identifying early behavioral manifestations of autism by studying the younger siblings of children already diagnosed with the disorder. For reasons that are not entirely clear, these children are among the most likely to be subsequently diagnosed with the condition. While the chance that a first child will have autism is about 1 in 100, the chance that a sibling of a child with autism will also have autism is as high as 1 in 5.

    -snip-

    The second five-year phase of the study is focused on examining even earlier potential indicators of autism for clues to vulnerability to the disorder.

    “So far, we haven’t been able to find behavioral signs of autism at 6-to-9 months of age,” Ozonoff said, “but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We may not have been looking at the right things in our first study.”

    “We are now turning our focus to very basic, low-level processes that might help us identify the highest risk infants,” Ozonoff said.

    -snip-

    The Infant Sibling Study is part of the Baby Siblings Research Consortium, a voluntary network of more than 15 universities in the United States, Canada and Israel studying infant siblings of children with autism, and working together to examine questions that require large sample sizes. Ozonoff is currently the chair of this large, multi-site group and as such is directing many of the projects undertaken by the consortium. One particularly important undertaking of the consortium is understanding the recurrence risk of autism, that is, how likely a family with one child with autism is to have another child with the condition.

    Now I wonder how many baby siblings are being studied in total through the consortium. A few thousand probably isn’t much of a sample size to be meaningful and who knows how the baby siblings break down in terms of fully vaccinated, alternatively vaccinated and un-vaccinated. But I’m thinking that by showing there is no difference in the vaccination status between the baby siblings that end up with an ASD diagnosis and the one’s that don’t, that could be one more nail in the coffin of the anti-vaxxers. Hopefully they’re collecting the medical records of these baby siblings because not doing so could be a big missed opportunity.

  59. #59 jen
    February 19, 2010

    Tigger, as far as I know, genetics accounts for only a small percentage of autism. In your case it sounds as though it is the answer. Many other families, though, have been through extensive genetic testing and have found that there is no genetic explanation for their child’s autism. Hagashem can’t deal with a monkey study because it might actually reveal something. Suck it up, honey. The truth hurts.

  60. #60 Agashem
    February 19, 2010

    You still haven’t cited.

  61. #61 triskelethecat
    February 19, 2010

    @Jen: the problem with animal studies is that they DON’T have syndromes of developmental delay like autism. There were many problems with Wakefield’s monkey study (search RI…Orac did a good tear down of the study…but I think I remember you commenting on THAT thread and still getting things wrong). A study that monitored monkeys much longer found no long term delays from the vaccines.

    I really, really wish you would get off your HepB horse. HepB wasn’t even a consistent part of the immunization program when Handley blamed vaccines for causing the autism epidemic. And if it was through parental exposure, well, my kids should have been autistic, since both their father and myself had the hep B series for work (and I, personally, would not have blamed the Hep B series because I have family members, all the way back to at least the 30′s who would now be considered autistic or ASD or PDD-NOS. AND the letters describing their behaviors. In fact, one letter plays with the possiblity of autism, but since the child doesn’t strictly fit (in 1943) the definition set by Kanner, they decided that wasn’t the problem. He was institutionalized as a teen and died in his 20′s.)

  62. #62 mk
    February 19, 2010

    Any evidence yet, Jen?

  63. #63 Unconvinced
    February 19, 2010

    Tigger, Has your family been able to participate in AGRE the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange? There are probably a lot of scientists who would be very interested in learning about autism by studying the genetics of your family. Or do you already know which gene is implicated in your family’s autism?

    And I suppose it’s possible it’s not due to a DNA difference but an epigenetic change. These can persist for generations. You might find this article on epigenetics interesting. Epigenetics research takes aim at cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism and other illnesses

  64. #64 Militant Agnostic
    February 19, 2010

    Agashem @44, I think you are on to something with the mangoes :)

    Chris @36 I have had the some thought about “changelings”. Although my understanding of a changeling is that it was a child left behind by fairies etc. to replace a child that was abducted.

  65. #65 Tigger_the_Wing
    February 19, 2010

    jen: “Many other families, though, have been through extensive genetic testing and have found that there is no genetic explanation for their child’s autism.”

    Citations please.

    “Hagashem can’t deal with a monkey study because it might actually reveal something. Suck it up, honey. The truth hurts.”

    What are you talking about? Vaccines have been extensively tested in all animal groups already and there is, as yet, no way of testing for specific genetic markers of autism in humans and no way of telling whether a monkey is autistic or not.

    Please stop with the infantile insults and actually give us links to actual evidence to support your assertions.

    Please, stop pretending that you can make something real just by repeating unfounded assertions and insulting the people who ask you to prove them.

  66. #66 jen
    February 19, 2010

    Tigger, who are you? The Hag’s protector? Infantile insults? You must be talking about post 38.
    So, you’re telling me that the monkeys are good enough for doing some quick vaccine safety/toxicity studies (where they’re usually killed immediately after) but they’re not good enough to give the entire vaccination schedule and study in a randomized, double-blind experiment to look at mitochondrial changes, digestion, brain inflammation etc.? I’d say it’s you guys that are changing stories.
    I agree with Militant Agnostic. I’m not convinced from her reference that “changelings” were children who regressed into what we call autism now but who perhaps developed more slowly or differently than other kids.

  67. #67 Luna_the_cat
    February 19, 2010

    jen,

    No-one has an allergy to anything on the first exposure. Allergic response can only develop on re-exposure. See http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2008/11/allergies_of_the_first_kindtyp.php.

    The allergy warning on hep b is more likely for people like me, who get these periodically as adults because of possible occupational exposure or where we travel.

  68. #68 Luna_the_cat
    February 19, 2010

    Ah, nevermind, I see that has been covered already.

    jen, the monkey study was picked apart in great detail on another thread. It isn’t a good study for real methodological reasons, but if you didn’t understand there I don’t hold out a lot of hope that you would understand anywhere else.

    I’m going to join the chorus, here: all you are doing is whining about people insulting you, you ignore all the substantive answers which have been given to you (or deny they exist; do you not understand them? I’m holding that out as a possibility) and you produce no evidence of your own, all the while feeling free to insult everyone else. Enough. Put up real data, or shut up.

  69. #69 Matthew Cline
    February 20, 2010

    @jen:

    gaiainc: Then perhaps they should not be giving anything to an hours old infant.

    Are you suggesting that if a newborn has a bacterial infection, that they shouldn’t be given antibiotics? If that is what you’re saying, then what should be done for such neonates? Just pray that they don’t die?

    And a word of defense for jen: she’s saying that there should be non-behavioral monkey studies on vaccination. Basically a pre-phase-I safety study of vaccines, but rather than examining the general/overall health of the test subjects, examining specific things that autism/vaccine-link advocates think might have a causative role in autism.

  70. #70 Tigger_the_Wing
    February 20, 2010

    Matthew Cline: “…examining specific things that autism/vaccine-link advocates think might have a causative role in autism.”

    But what are these ‘specific things’, and why does what the autism/vaccine-link advocates ‘think’ have to be continually, time-consumingly and expensively refuted when they consistently fail to come up with any evidence for their ‘thoughts’?

    Every time any alleged link is proved not to exist, they keep moving the goalposts. It is the very opposite of science; they never look for evidence to support their assertions but expect everyone else to believe the assertions unexamined and get really, really annoyed when called out on it.

    I think they are particularly annoyed that the only ‘study’ that ever ‘found a link’ was proved to be fraudulent.

    Suppose I ‘think’ that autism is caused by weaning. I might even manage to convince a whole lot of other people to ‘think’ the same thing. Then we could scream and shout about how science is ignoring us, how Big Retail is profiting out of everyone having to eat food and they are in a big conspiracy. Would you expect scientists to respect us to the extent of doing animal research?!

    Truth is about facts. Facts are supported by evidence. Thoughts need to be backed by evidence before they can be considered for research. Until the anti-vaccine people have evidence there is no reason to give them any more credence than my hypothetical anti-weaners.

  71. #71 Todd W.
    February 20, 2010

    @jen

    I noticed that you have yet to answer my follow-up questions from the other thread. Here they are again, for your convenience:

    1) Do you have some studies to support the safety of removing the vaccines you indicated from the recommended schedule?
    2) Should “biomed” treatments like chelation and Lupron be used or offered without evidence supporting their safety and efficacy?
    3) You admit that you have no evidence showing the vaccines cause autism and make the tired call for a vaxed vs. unvaxxed study (I’m assuming prospective, random, controlled trial?). Please review the Declaration of Helsinki, the Nuremburg Code, the Belmont Report and the ICH Guidelines on Human Research Protections. Please explain to me how such a study, in light of the documents just listed, would be designed to satisfy ethical requirements. Please also address the issue of subject enrollment (i.e., if randomized, how will you get people to agree to potentially not receiving a vaccine if they support vaccines or potentially receiving a vaccine if they think vaccines are dangerous).

    As to the package inserts, the information contained there is comprehensive. It is not specific to newborns. As others have already addressed, allergic reactions occur at the earliest on the second exposure.

    Second, you propose using animals as models for autism. Please cite a couple studies that establish any valid animal model for autism.

    Finally, leave the insults offline. (As frustrating as jen can be, I would encourage others to also try to keep their tempers in check. Stick to the facts.) If you cannot conduct yourself in a calm manner, perhaps it would be best for you to not comment at all.

  72. #72 Smarter Than Katha(e?)rine's Dumbass
    February 20, 2010

    @19 Katharine, first of all who the hell spells their name that way! Second of all I know more about Autism in my left pinky toe than all of the rest of you on this entire site put together. I should call you all “fat lazy asses” that hide behind your computer and think you can understand the science that way. Try going out and interviewing the doctors and scientists behind all of this and then you too will see how big of a joke your side is. I can tell you every answer to every question you could possibly ask related to the cause of Autism, but I won’t even if you ask because you will have all of the answers very soon and it would take way too long to do it here. I, unlike you, have actually read the science and traveled the world talking to the scientists who did the science. I don’t expect dumb people like you to understand the science and to be able to put it all together in a way that proves everything to a T. You will see very shortly as like I’ve said before, this is the year all of you dipshits will bury your heads between your legs and realize how your actions and ignorance have caused so many children harm. The clock is ticking before the big bombshell is dropped and everything is proved, and it has nothing to do with a new study that is coming out, or anyone such as Wakefield, Jenny, J.B. or anything else. I can assure you it’s something no one on this planet has seen before and it will give everyone the answers they have been so desparately seeking. In the meantime, I hope you shut your mouth so you stop putting future children at risk for this devastating neurological disorder.

  73. #73 Kristen
    February 20, 2010

    @Kwombles

    I can relate anecdotally that you can know the signs, know what to look for, admit your child has issues and still not be willing to call it autism until left with no choice… A succinct working definition of autism, then, would be this: autism is a neurological difference that is set in place by birth which becomes apparent as early as six months to a year in many cases.

    I swear, I could kiss you right now! This is so simple, and so profound. I hope some reading this will really think about what you wrote.

  74. #74 David N. Brown
    February 20, 2010

    GR and JB Handley (aka “Hairy Biped”) already did a vaccinated-unvaccinated study. This proved two things. One is that, if entrusted to perform a study, they will commit massive fraud. (Among other things, they exagerated the autism rate in the fully vaccinated group FIFTY THREE PERCENT!) The other is that they cannot commit fraud competently enough to hide inconvenient facts, like the wholly unvaccinated group having a ca. 2% rate that might be plausible for a sample of the general population and the partially vaccinated having the highest autism rate of all. It appears the Hairy Biped is now pretending the study doesn’t exist.

  75. #75 CulturalIconography
    February 20, 2010

    Re: Comment #72

    “You will see very shortly as like I’ve said before, this is the year all of you dipshits will bury your heads between your legs and realize how your actions and ignorance have caused so many children harm. The clock is ticking before the big bombshell is dropped and everything is proved, and it has nothing to do with a new study that is coming out, or anyone such as Wakefield, Jenny, J.B. or anything else. I can assure you it’s something no one on this planet has seen before and it will give everyone the answers they have been so desparately seeking.”

    OK. Rather than making us wait for this revelation, why don’t you just tell us now? So why wait? Go ahead and show us how wrong we all are for relying on silly things like actual evidence and science-based medicine. Think how satisfying it will be for you to put us in our place! Come on, then, let us have it!

  76. #76 BdN
    February 20, 2010

    @Smarter Than Katha(e?)rine’s Dumbass

    Hmmm, are you like, starfart’s brother or something ?

  77. #77 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    Militant Agnottic:

    Although my understanding of a changeling is that it was a child left behind by fairies etc. to replace a child that was abducted.

    Actually, you are right. I mis-remembered, but the google search shows that it is mostly fairies. Though there are some areas where it is types of demons, it kind of depends on the time and place. I was probably also misremembering Paul Collins’ book Not Even Wrong, where he described in detail the fate of Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron. Perhaps a child who was abandoned because he “changed” and could not speak.

    Agashem:

    Oh Jen, you idiot.

    jen:

    Agashem: Name calling will get you nowhere.

    jen (again):

    Hagashem: you are a pompous, fucking bitch. Your education is most certainly in question every bit as much as mine.

    My mother used to tell us “People in glass houses should not throw stones.” Does this ring a bell with you, jen? Perhaps you have heard of “the pot calling the kettle black”?

    Now, jen, about that evidence. Need we need to remind you that Argument by Assertion is not sufficient? List the journal, date, title and author of the paper that shows that the HepB vaccine is causing the issues you are claiming. Until then, you should be ignored.

  78. #78 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    “Smarter Than Katha(e?)rine’s Dumbass” … there is this part of English grammar that you might not have heard of… it is called “paragraphs.”

    Paragraphs are used to break up what you are writing about into digestible bits. This is to avoid a “wall of text” that many people find annoying.

    Though, after reading your “wall of text” that is full of insults and absolutely no evidence, I can see why you use this technique. It shows the level of your discourse, and that we are correct in just ignoring you.

  79. #79 nsib
    February 20, 2010

    Katharine, first of all who the hell spells their name that way!

    Oh, no one notable, I’m sure.

    Second of all I know more about Autism in my left pinky toe than all of the rest of you on this entire site put together.

    In that case, I request that your left toe pick up from here; I’m sure that its conversation will be infinitely more enlightening.

  80. #80 gaiainc
    February 20, 2010

    I’m posting from my phone and sometimes I forget to put in a few words when my son decides he wants my phone. The sentence probably should have stated that the conditions jen was so het up about can apparent prior to the initial hep b vaccine. jen’s idea of not giving any neonates anything strikes me as a pretty good way to increase the infant mortality rate. As a consequence autism rates may also go down as fewer kids grow old enough to show signs of autism. Since I don’t see autism as a death sentence and letting babies die from sepsis is a bad thing, I will ignore jen’s advice.

    A true allergic reaction is pretty unmistakeable. The few I’ve witnessed have often let me wondering whose heart is beating faster: my patient who just got epi or me as I wait firvthe EMTs?

    As to the Smarter than everyone else poster, wow. Really? Disagreeing with how someone’s name is spelt (a name, BTW, that does have a variety of spellings) is your argument? Wow. That’s a pretty good epic fail.

  81. #81 Unconvinced
    February 20, 2010

    A succinct working definition of autism, then, would be this: autism is a neurological difference that is set in place by birth which becomes apparent as early as six months to a year in many cases.

    Not to be contrary, but in the interest of maintaining our credibility I just want to say that I don’t think it’s quite correct to believe we have the science to support this statement at this time. That’s one of the implications of this first-phase of the infant sibling study that is the subject of Dr. Novella’s analysis. I’m pretty sure what the author’s are saying is that based on the indicators they used, there weren’t significant differences at 6 months between the babies later diagnosed with ASD and the babies who had typical development. (Just to be clear, I don’t mean to suggest in any way that this means vaccines cause autism.)

    From the study:

    Most convincingly, the
    effects were in the opposite direction as predicted,
    with the ASD outcome group demonstrating
    (nonsignificantly) better social communication
    behavior at 6 months than the TD outcome
    group on all variables. After 6 months, the ASD
    group shows a rapid decline in eye contact, social
    smiling, and examiner-rated social responsiveness.
    Group differences were significant by 12
    months in gaze to faces and social smiling and by
    18 months on all other variables. Similar declining
    trajectories in the onset of autism symptoms
    have also been reported by others.35

    Here’s a link to the study in case anyone missed it.

    A Prospective Study of the Emergence of
    Early Behavioral Signs of Autism

    Objective: To examine prospectively the emergence of behavioral signs of autism in the first
    years of life in infants at low and high risk for autism. Method: A prospective longitudinal
    design was used to compare 25 infants later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder
    (ASD) with 25 gender-matched low-risk children later determined to have typical development.
    Participants were evaluated at 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months of age. Frequencies of gaze
    to faces, social smiles, and directed vocalizations were coded from video and rated by
    examiners. Results: The frequency of gaze to faces, shared smiles, and vocalizations to
    others were highly comparable between groups at 6 months of age, but significantly declining
    trajectories over time were apparent in the group later diagnosed with ASD. Group differences
    were significant by 12 months of age on most variables. Although repeated evaluation
    documented loss of skills in most infants with ASD, most parents did not report a regression
    in their child’s development. Conclusions: These results suggest that behavioral signs of
    autism are not present at birth, as once suggested by Kanner, but emerge over time through
    a process of diminishment of key social communication behaviors. More children may present
    with a regressive course than previously thought, but parent report methods do not capture
    this phenomenon well. Implications for onset classification systems and clinical screening are
    also discussed. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 2010;49(3):256 –266. Key Words:
    Autism, Onset, Infancy, Regression.

    And this link is to an article about the larger study that this study is a part of and about Sally Ozonoff who is lead scientist of the team and chair of the large, multi-site Baby Siblings Research Consortium. It’s encouraging to see that they’re going to try to find earlier potential indicators of autism so they can better evaluate the differences amongst babies younger than 9 months old so that maybe they will find differences that they so far haven’t had the tools to identify.

    The infant sibling study: Finding the earliest possible clues to autism

    The second five-year phase of the study is focused on examining even earlier potential indicators of autism for clues to vulnerability to the disorder.

    “So far, we haven’t been able to find behavioral signs of autism at 6-to-9 months of age,” Ozonoff said, “but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We may not have been looking at the right things in our first study.”

    “We are now turning our focus to very basic, low-level processes that might help us identify the highest risk infants,” Ozonoff said.

  82. #82 Unconvinced
    February 20, 2010

    Todd W. @ 71,
    I agree with you about using animal models for autism. I just don’t understand how that works. This guy wants to compare social behaviors in mice and humans…..what??

    His group’s ongoing research, continued Hakonarson, focuses on investigating the exact mechanisms by which these genetic variations cause autistic disorders. “For instance, we expect to manipulate similar cell-adhesion genes in mice to see if the animals show altered social behaviors that may correspond to human behaviors.” In addition, other genes remain to be discovered.

    Autism Genes Discovered; Help Shape Connections Among Brain Cells

  83. #83 Militant Agnostic
    February 20, 2010

    From Dumber than You can Possibly Imagine regarding revelations about the TRUE CAUSE of autism.

    I can assure you it’s something no one on this planet has seen before and it will give everyone the answers they have been so desperately seeking.

    I can assume this means that the Greys will emerge from their secret base behind the moon and enlighten us with regards to the causes of autism.

    Next time you are waiting at the checkout in the grocery store, check out the National Enquirer – the headline at the top reads “Dr Oz is a Fake” – the article is on page 43 or a little further in and has quotes from Steve Novella and Oracs “friend”. Instead of a comment from a toke skeptic they have for skeptics and a comment fomr a token woo.

  84. #84 Matthew Cline
    February 20, 2010

    But what are these ‘specific things’, and why does what the autism/vaccine-link advocates ‘think’ have to be continually, time-consumingly and expensively refuted when they consistently fail to come up with any evidence for their ‘thoughts’?

    I wasn’t defending that part of what jen was arguing for. I was just pointing out that people seemed to be misinterpreting her call for primate vaccine research.

  85. #85 Catherina
    February 20, 2010

    Jen – Infanrix is not a hepB vaccine (but DTaP) – European countries do not have a birth dose of hepB, but they have the same autism prevalence.

  86. #86 Tigger_the_Wing
    February 20, 2010

    Unconvinced @ 63: Sorry I missed that. I have no idea which gene(s) is/are implicated and I doubt that such a simple explanation exists. It may well be that many different genes in different combinations have to come into play. I suspect that autism is as normal a variant of human neurology as white is a normal variant of human skin. Both can be problematic if the person with that variation is treated erroneously as if they have the dominant phenotype but if proper care is used neither has to be a disability. As for taking part in a study, that might be difficult as we are great travellers and live scattered across the globe! I shall check the link, though. Thank you!

    Jen @ 66: Who is the hag? I see no-one on this blog who needs protecting; everyone is perfectly well able to stand up for themselves. Just because two or more people may agree does not make them a gang and just because someone other than the object of your insults points out that you are being somewhat unnecessarily rude does not mean that there is a conspiracy. Insults are infantile. Politeness does not cost anything.

    Matthew @ 84: Sorry, on re-reading my post I realise that my tone could seem somewhat accusatory; it was supposed to be ‘puzzled’. Oops!

    Post 69:
    “And a word of defense for jen: she’s saying that there should be non-behavioral monkey studies on vaccination. Basically a pre-phase-I safety study of vaccines, but rather than examining the general/overall health of the test subjects, examining specific things that autism/vaccine-link advocates think might have a causative role in autism.

    I am still curious to know, what are these specific things and what could their causative role be? Did you mean jen’s list at post 50?

    Post 50:
    “to all:
    o.k. so do the monkey have some kind of Helsinki declaration that would preclude us from studying them in a randomized double-blind study comparing vaccinated and non-vaccinated monkeys and looking at things like mitochondrial changes, digestion, brain circumference, immune system etc.?? I’ll answer for you. No. The time is now!!! The pharmaceutical industry needs to reassure their consumers! Parents aren’t buying their crap.”

    So far as I know none of those things on the list have anything to do with autism.

  87. #87 Matthew Cline
    February 20, 2010

    it was supposed to be ‘puzzled’. Oops!

    No problem.

    I am still curious to know, what are these specific things and what could their causative role be? Did you mean jen’s list at post 50?

    She does mention damage to mitochondria, and there was that one case where a girl with a genetic mitochondrial disorder who was vaccinated, the vaccine was the (probable) cause of her getting a fever, and the fever interacting with the mitochondrial disorder was the (probable) cause of her getting brain damage. The Hannah Polling case, I think? Anyways, after that case, lots of the autism/vaccine people latched onto mitochondrial disorder as a likely causative factor in their “vaccination -> autism” theory. So I’m guessing that jen is presenting a more generalized idea that, in addition to vaccines causing oxidative stress which aggravates a pre-existing mitochondrial disorder and leads to autism, that vaccines can cause mitochondrial disorders, which later oxidative stress aggravates and leads to autism.

  88. #88 cynic
    February 20, 2010

    Chris @33 – are you seriously suggesting that large swaths of children should not be vaccinated just to prove a point?

    Where did I do that? I’m talking about people that have already refused vaccines… hence the word “observational”. Bacterial conjugate vaccines carry their own issues that will require addressing after their implementation into the program, not to mention, they don’t prevent carriage of the organism. I happen to agree that measles vaccine works quite well. My comment, directed to the author, was that he has repeatedly stated that an observational study of both vaccinated and unvaccinated cannot be done due to confounders, etc… yet then infers that because of the absence of such a study that autism prevalence isn’t greater among the vaccinated. Misleading at best.

  89. #89 MPW
    February 20, 2010

    Jen and similar thinkers like to say, “Maybe autism is caused by this… prove that it isn’t. What about this? Prove it isn’t. Or this? Prove it isn’t.” Ad nauseum. Cluelessness about the concept of “burden of evidence” is a major characteristic of all kinds of cranks. They think any idea they toss into the ring is the default position and that everyone else is obliged to convince them it isn’t true.

  90. #90 Pablo
    February 20, 2010

    MPW – I have noted many times that at least the MMR/autism link has an air of plausibility, given that onset of autism symptoms at least correlates with the time of MMR. Of course, the link has been tested, and shown to be not there, but you can understand the post hoc ergo prompter hoc problem.

    However, with all the other crap, there just isn’t anything there to even suggest a link at all. See my comments about the accusation that HepB vaccines cause autism. Where in the heck does that come from? There is no basis at all for associating autism with HepB, and it merely comes from an anti-vaccine perspective that 1) vaccines are bad by definition, and therefore 2) that means they cause autism.

    We should get into the “prove it isn’t” game. Breastfeeding rates in the US are on the rise – prove that breastfeeding doesn’t cause autism. Lots of babies get diaper rash, and there is a new “creamy” version of Desitin. Prove it isn’t the cause of autism (it’s got zinc in it!). Etc.

    Why is it always vaccines? There is just as much of an association between Desitin and autism as there is with vaccines, but for some reason, no one ever mentions that. Or any of the countless other things babies are exposed to.

    Oh, but it must be the vaccines…

  91. #91 Kwombles
    February 20, 2010

    @Unconvinced #81,

    Actually, we do in fact have a great deal of evidence to suggest that autism is set in place by birth, that there are neurological differences from the controls set as the neurotypical norm. The problem is that the bulk of scientific research on autism does NOT make it to the public for consumption.

    I’d recommend, for a short primer, Mary Coleman’s The Neurology of Autism. If you’re up to a nearly 1500 page read, there is always the Handbook of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Second Edition.

    @Kristen, :-)

  92. #92 Perky Skeptic
    February 20, 2010

    @83, Militant Agnostic quotes “Smarter Than You” as saying:

    “I can assure you it’s something no one on this planet has seen before and it will give everyone the answers they have been so desperately seeking.”

    Then Militant Agnostic says:

    “I can assume this means that the Greys will emerge from their secret base behind the moon and enlighten us with regards to the causes of autism.”

    Sadly, a very close relative of mine genuinely believes that people with autism are of alien origin, and that we were sent to Earth to observe the human race and bring enlightenment, or something. *sigh*

  93. #93 Katharine
    February 20, 2010

    Shit. I mean, shit.

    What the fuck are Dumber Than the Rest of the World’s and jen’s background’s in? I wonder.

    (For the record, I’m an undergraduate biology student.)

  94. #94 Matthew Cline
    February 20, 2010

    Jen and similar thinkers like to say, “Maybe autism is caused by this… prove that it isn’t. What about this? Prove it isn’t. Or this? Prove it isn’t.” Ad nauseum. Cluelessness about the concept of “burden of evidence” is a major characteristic of all kinds of cranks. They think any idea they toss into the ring is the default position and that everyone else is obliged to convince them it isn’t true.

    I don’t meant to defend them, but to correctly characterize them: they think that their collection of anecdotal evidence is rock solid evidence that vaccines cause autism, but don’t know how it causes autism. But they don’t say “we know that vaccines cause autism, but we don’t know how they cause autism” because:

    1) they want to stop more children from becoming autistic now

    2) they want to cure their own autistic children now

    So when one explanation on “how” gets shot down, they latch onto another.

    Also, if research scientists said “your collection of anecdotal evidence has convinced us that vaccines do cause autism, so we will now bend all of our resources to figuring out the ‘how’”, then they’d probably feel a lot less of a need to play armchair-scientist.

  95. #95 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    cynic:

    Where did I do that? I’m talking about people that have already refused vaccines… hence the word “observational”.

    Well, that is the standard that the AoA wants, the new cry is the vax/unvax study where children are randomly selected to get fake placebo vaccines. Which is what is not very ethical.

    Those who have actually refused vaccines are self-selected, or are part of groups that typically refuse all medical procedures (and would not participate in the group, even to the point of not allowing diagnosis of autism, and note that one group has created a backlash in the form of a group called Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, CHILD, Inc.). Or there was the group that Handley found in a phone survey that found that those who were not vaccinated or partially vaccinated had higher autism rates (possibly because the parents stopped vaccinating after the first diagnosis, and then did not vaccinate any further, like Kim Stagliano whose youngest autistic daughter has had no vaccines!) Those are the confounders.

    If you have a way of obtaining a large group without confounders, go for it. Do tell how you would get them and then do a case match with a fully vaccinated group. Then find a way to finance a large enough study.

    Until that time you will have to be satisfied with the several large epidemiological studies done in the USA, Japan, England, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Denmark. They are listed in this freely available review.

    Personally I feel enough money has been thrown at the idiotic and thoroughly disproved link between vaccines and autism. Having an adult child who is disabled (possibly due to seizures while ill with a real now vaccine preventable disease) I am more concerned with services for disabled adults. And until someone actually shows me that the vaccines cause more disability than the actual diseases, your objections to the present scientific consensus will fall on deaf ears.

  96. #96 jen
    February 20, 2010

    Matthew Cline#69: Thankyou for your post and your clarifications on the primate research I proposed. I do see your point about an infant having a bacterial infection. By all means, if it is clear an infant is suffering from a bactrial infection we should treat it (hours old or not!). For me, that goes without saying but I see how my phrasing was too general.
    There is some interesting research coming from Dr. McFabe from Western Ontario on inducing autism in rodents. I really feel the vaccine program is failing its consumers(although you can still say the majority of parents vaccinate there is concern about vaccine compliance or we wouldn’t be having this conversation) and they will need to step up the safety studies- maybe a pre-phase-1 safety type study looking at things like brain swelling, mitochondria, digestive or immune differences over time.

  97. #97 Pablo
    February 20, 2010

    matthew kline wrote

    I don’t meant to defend them, but to correctly characterize them: they think that their collection of anecdotal evidence is rock solid evidence that vaccines cause autism,

    But the problem, as I keep pointing out, is that there aren’t even any anecdotes that vaccines other than MMR cause autism. At least with MMR, the onset of autism symptoms corresponds with the timing of MMR vaccines. But recall the recent poster who was blaming HepB. What in the world suggests that HepB, given at birth, is the cause of autism symptoms 18 months later? That’s not an anecdote, that’s fantasy. Similarly, DTaP is given at 2 mos. Flu vaccines are given all over the place. There is no association with any of these with autism. So where is even the anecdotal evidence? “MMR has been accused of causing autism, but since it doesn’t, it must be some other vaccine” is not evidence of anything.

    But if you look at it, that’s all they have.

  98. #98 The Domestic Goddess
    February 20, 2010

    Actually, Pablo, there are those that do claim the flu shots, DTaP and others cause autism. I even read one site that said their kid was fine after MMR, it was the Booster at age 4 that did their kid in. Started seizures, etc. Sounds more like Landau Kleffner to me, but what do I know? My kid was born autistic so I don’t get to blame vaccines. He didn’t have any until 3 months (not even the usual ones at birth) and by then we were already convinced that something was amiss.

  99. #99 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    The Domestic Goddess:

    I even read one site that said their kid was fine after MMR, it was the Booster at age 4 that did their kid in. Started seizures, etc. Sounds more like Landau Kleffner to me, but what do I know?

    I was quite surprised when after hearing Jenny McCarthy blame the MMR for her son’s seizures, that the seizures happened when he was over 2 and half years old. That is between six months to a year after the vaccine!

    A good neurologist would do a sleep EEG to rule out Landau Kleffner. Even though my son’s last seizure had a cause (a now vaccine preventable illness), he was tested for LKS.

    I also knew a family whose youngest had LKS. He even went through surgery. I recently saw them, he is a young man now, and still quite disabled. (I have been running into my son’s special ed. preschool classmates lately, some are still quite disabled and some are doing okay. My son is in the middle. Funny how that works.)

  100. #100 Pablo
    February 20, 2010

    Actually, Pablo, there are those that do claim the flu shots, DTaP and others cause autism.

    Oh, DG, I know very well that they CLAIM that, but as I said, there is no basis for that. See our recent poster blaming HepB. What in the world could make one conclude that HepB given at birth caused autism symptoms at 18 months? It’s just like the Jenny McCarthy claim that Chris mentions, where she is blaming MMR for autism onset 6 months later. With DTaP or HebB or Hib, it is even longer. That’s not even post hoc ergo propter hoc. That’s “it happened somewhere in the past and therefore it must be the cause.”

    I still am trying to figure out what could actually happen to make someone even think that HepB given at birth caused autism, outside of “vaccines are bad, but it wasn’t MMR so it must have been some other one.”

  101. #101 Jay Gordon
    February 20, 2010

    @PABLO: He needs to talk to Jay Gordon, who once claimed here that he gave an 8 mo old a vaccine and THAT AFTERNOON the child stopped communicating with his older brother.

    That was the first time I realized that Jay Gordon was full of shit and not serious

    Pablo, that was the first time?! I thought your disdain for me was boundless far before then. :-)

    I’d rather not step into this fray right now except to correct the facts of the incident. What actually happened was, a week after a nine month old had received a vaccine, the family called my office for a second opinion and some help. Within hours after receiving a vaccine at another doc’s office, a week earlier, their son had regressed, stopped communicating with his older sister, lost language, facial interaction and motor skills.

    Causation implied but not proven.

    I gave them the help I could and then referred them to autism experts, both conventional therapists and also to a pediatrician who practices judicious and successful dietary and other biomedical interventions. At the same time, I referred them to a neurologist for evaluation and scans to look for other causes of this regression such as a stroke. The child has since improved greatly.

    Best,

    Jay

  102. #102 Pablo
    February 20, 2010

    Pablo, that was the first time?! I thought your disdain for me was boundless far before then.

    I was new to the forum.

    So basically what you are saying, Jay, is that when you claimed that you gave an 8 month old (and you said 8 mo, I clearly remember, because I asked why you were giving shots to an 8 mo old, since that is non-standard), and that the baby that afternoon stopped talking to his brother (as others said, 8 mo olds don’t talk much), you were making it up. As I said, I knew you were full of shit. You just admitted it.

    Since then, of course, you have done nothing to change my mind.

  103. #103 brian
    February 20, 2010

    Jen,

    It’s commendable that you devote so much effort to keeping up with the literature, including that concerning rodent models for ASD. Was your enthusiastic support for seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccination in pregnant women derived in part from the well-studied mouse model in which influenza infection of the pregnant dam leads to neurodevelopmental changes early in prenatal development and in pups that are deficient in social interaction, or did you miss that?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2312390/?tool=pubmed

    http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/full/23/1/297

  104. #104 Todd W.
    February 20, 2010

    I recently became aware of a study examining a link between in utero exposure to valproate (Depakote), an anti-seizure medication, and autism. This appears to be following up on a study that was published in Neurology in 2008 that found an increased risk of autism in children whose mothers used Depakote while they were pregnant.

    One thing, though, is that despite this risk, it is still recommended that anti-seizure meds be used, even if pregnant, because of the risk of other severe complications of having a seizure while pregnant.

    It seems to me that this sort of research is probably the way to go from here. The purported vaccine link is more or less dead, with no promising leads to follow. Genetic and epigenetic causes, however, seem to be more promising.

  105. #105 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    A real Dr. Jay Gordon comment:

    I just saw an eight-month-old boy who got two vaccines then lost his language, motor skills, reaction to his own name and responsiveness to his 3 year old sister. This all happened three hours after a DPT/HIB combination. All previous observation and video of this little boy is normal. Lots of great video of a vibrant, talkative happy baby.

    He has autism now. No proof, but the temporal proximity of the regression to his vaccines is daunting to those of us who would like more rigorous proof rather than just a collection of hundreds of pieces of anecdotal evidence. Tempting to assume causation even if only this one case/child.

    Wow.

  106. #106 Vindaloo
    February 20, 2010

    Oh my, this Jen has really stepped on herself. The spittle-spewing anger mixed with the unearned arrogance and scientific illiteracy brings to mind a nexus of woo: a chimera of Kevin Champaign, JB Handley, Sue M, John Best and Cooler. The only question is does the hind end of the chimera come from Handley or Sue M? The profane tongue is itself a mix of KC (late at night version) and John Best. The rapid fire stupid is all Sue M while the arrogance smells like JB.

  107. #107 jen
    February 20, 2010

    Vindaloo: listen to yourself! You sound quite angry and bitter. I guess it pisses you off that some of the other posters like Matthew Cline actually understand what I am talking about in terms of the monkey research and you find this threatening. Oh well.

  108. #108 Jennifer B. Phillips
    February 20, 2010

    Matthew Kline said:

    Also, if research scientists said “your collection of anecdotal evidence has convinced us that vaccines do cause autism, so we will now bend all of our resources to figuring out the ‘how’”, then they’d probably feel a lot less of a need to play armchair-scientist.

    Um…what? “Research scientists” certainly have taken the anecdotal evidence seriously enough to devote the time and resources to several major studies exploring this purported link. The data are in, they do not support this hypothesis. Parents who truly want a solution now would do well to consider the value of exploring a correlation that has already been quite thoroughly studied and disproved, particularly as further studies necessarily takes resources away from more productive avenues of research into genetics, environmental factors impacting neural development, etc.

  109. #109 medescape
    February 20, 2010

    Jen: You seem to want to use science to prove a causal link between vaccines and autism, yet you ignore/wave away all the science showing that there is no link. Don’t you see how hypocritical that seems? Show me good, reliable studies that support the vaccine-autism-link and I will be happy to change my position on this topic. Why do you not do the same

  110. #110 Matthew Cline
    February 20, 2010

    I wrote:

    Also, if research scientists said “your collection of anecdotal evidence has convinced us that vaccines do cause autism, so we will now bend all of our resources to figuring out the ‘how’”, then they’d probably feel a lot less of a need to play armchair-scientist.

    Jennifer B. Phillips responded:

    Um…what? “Research scientists” certainly have taken the anecdotal evidence seriously enough to devote the time and resources to several major studies exploring this purported link.

    The autism/vaccine hypothesis advocates wouldn’t want scientists to consider it a possibility, investigate it, and then dismiss it when the results come up negative. They would want the scientists to consider it a fact, and for them to put all of their resources into studying it, and when one study doesn’t turn up anything to consider it from a different angle, and then a different angle, and a different one, until they figured out how vaccines caused autism. (Of course, since every study would come out negative, they’d eventually come to the the conclusion that the scientists were incompetent and/or In On the Conspiracy)

    (To re-iterate: the autism/vaccine hypothesis advocates are misunderstanding the nature of science, but there’s multiple ways of misunderstanding the nature of science, and I think that the exact manner in which they’re misunderstanding science has been mischaracterized)

    Parents who truly want a solution now would do well to consider the value of exploring a correlation that has already been quite thoroughly studied and disproved,

    If they were thinking rationally, yes. But they aren’t.

  111. #111 Unconvinced
    February 20, 2010

    Kwombles @ 91,

    Thank you for the references. I appreciate you taking the time. Looks like they have a copy of the Handbook at our local university. I’ll try to get up there soon to take a peak at it (well probably not all of it : ) it sounds pretty hefty) but at least the chapters that address the early signs of autism. The bad thing is their copy is an edition from 2005 (and I imagine that means it was mostly written in 2004) so it’s a little disappointing that they don’t have a copy of the current edition.

    The problem is that the bulk of scientific research on autism does NOT make it to the public for consumption.

    Wow, this is really troubling and I’m surprised at this. I don’t understand what the point of keeping autism research under wraps would be. Do you have any idea why this is happening? I was under the understanding that a lot of the research into autism was being funded by non-profit organizations like Autism Speaks and the NIH or other government sources of funding. Research funded that way isn’t being kept from the public, is it?

    Oh, if you have the time, and since I probably won’t get up to take a look at the Handbook right away, and since you’ve already got a good deal of knowledge in this area, could you give a guess as to why in this study they weren’t able to see the signs of autism in the 6 month old babies later diagnosed with ASD. Was it a problem with how they were assessing the differences or some other study design flaw? I don’t have enough expertise to figure out where they went wrong.

    Thanks!

  112. #112 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    Unconvinced:

    Wow, this is really troubling and I’m surprised at this. I don’t understand what the point of keeping autism research under wraps would be. Do you have any idea why this is happening?

    Actually, I believe most of it is in the academic journals and does not get into the mainstream media. When you go to the library look for journals on autism, pediatrics, special education, speech therapy, occupational and physical therapy. There you will find much of the research. (when my son was getting private speech therapy in middle school it was at a clinic where the bookcase of journals of the American Speech and Hearing Association were kept near the therapy room, every so often I would flip through a copy… realizing why I was paying so much per hour because I could not understand most of what was written in it!)

    I just did a search at PubMed just on the word “autism” and there were 15000 cites. Then I clicked on the button that showed some of the over 2000 of the free articles (some of them are suspect, like the articles in the Alternative Medicine Review).

  113. #113 SC OM
    February 20, 2010

    I first lost respect for Dr. Jay on this thread

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/07/dr_jay_gordon_pediatrician_to_the_stars.php#comment-1013666

    due to this comment in particular:

    So . . . drop the formaldehyde stuff? OK. Can I have the rest then?

  114. #114 Joseph
    February 20, 2010

    What actually happened was, a week after a nine month old had received a vaccine, the family called my office for a second opinion and some help. Within hours after receiving a vaccine at another doc’s office, a week earlier, their son had regressed, stopped communicating with his older sister, lost language, facial interaction and motor skills.

    That’s a bit different to how you told it the first time, Dr. Jay. You said the baby was 8 months old, and you said he became autistic. That immediately raised a red flag, because I don’t believe any autism specialist would be able to diagnose autism at 8 months with any degree of certainty.

    You said he became autistic after receiving the DTP/HIB combination, even though he DTP vaccine was replaced with the DTaP vaccine a while back.

    You said the baby was not reacting to his own name. At 8 months, is this actually unusual for a baby? I’ve read about the ‘name test’ and it’s suggested at 12 months. Of course, even at 12 months, not responding to your name doesn’t make you autistic.

    You said the baby was flapping his hands a lot. I don’t think this is unusual for a baby. But apparently the baby also lost his motor skills. So no motor skills, but was able to flap his hands a lot. What, he lost the ability to do back flips or something?

  115. #115 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 20, 2010

    My comment, directed to the author, was that he has repeatedly stated that an observational study of both vaccinated and unvaccinated cannot be done due to confounders, etc… yet then infers that because of the absence of such a study that autism prevalence isn’t greater among the vaccinated. Misleading at best.

    I’m afraid that you’ve either misread, or misunderstood some crucial points in what you’ve read, and jumped to incorrect conclusions. Observational studies of vaccinated and unvaccinated can and have been done, but it is difficult to extract meaningful data from them because there are so many confounders – to the point that when these observational studies report, as they not infrequently do, that children who received their scheduled vaccines have lower rates of autism than unvaccinated children, science-based writers such as our current host caution that this is no proof that vaccines have a protective effect against autism, which would be the most obvious interpretation of the results. But enough observational studies have been done that if vaccination did anything to increase or decrease the chances of children developing autism, or having autism “triggered”, or however you wish to phrase the hypothesis, we would have seen that effect showing up consistently in the data. It doesn’t. Those who keep insisting that “more research is needed”, based on this hypothesis or that hypothesis of possible mechanisms for such an effect, are putting the cart before the horse.

    The studies that cannot be done of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children are randomized controlled trials, because conducting such trials would mean that a significant number of children who entered the study would be deprived of proper medical treatment – not so that they would benefit, but so that science would benefit. Researchers are constrained to follow ethical codes that prohibit such utilitarian exploitation of subjects. Antivaccinationists may be okay with depriving children of vaccinations because they think vaccinations aren’t “proper medical treatment” to begin with, but we don’t base important ethical decisions based on what “someone” thinks; we base them on what the science says and when the science says that the vaccination makes a big difference in that child’s chances of not being killed or maimed by disease, we listen to that science and we don’t deprive the child of that protection without a damned good reason. The psychological denial in which antivaccinationists wrap themselves is not that reason.

  116. #116 Unconvinced
    February 20, 2010

    Thanks Chris,

    I use PubMed a lot to find information on my daughter’s health issues and used to go get copies of full articles at the university if I found an abstract that looked interesting. I haven’t done that much lately. Of course, like you said, there are a lot free articles on PubMed which I’m always happy to find. It seems like there are more free articles now than there used to be. I wonder if that’s because of this: National Institutes of Health Public Access

    The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

    I’ve got another trick I use when I find an interesting abstract on PubMed. I google the title of the article and often a site with a full copy of the article will pop up. It works pretty well. I was happy I was able to find a full copy (in .pdf form) of the infant siblings early signs study.

    And I agree that the mainstream media doesn’t report the results of studies (or, at least, not as much as I’d like) but I often have good like finding pretty detailed articles reporting on studies at Science Daily or WebMD.

    I’m sorry about the struggles of your son. It sounds like you are being the best parent you can be for him and that is a wonderful thing.

    I know a little guy who has Dravet Syndrome. He is a happy little guy with a great family but it is just so sad to see the suffering he endures.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  117. #117 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    Thanks, Unconvinced.

    Oh, goody, yet another seizure disorder. I once went to my son’s school when he was a bit older (and still in special ed.), but when I got near there I had to move out of the way of an emergency aid car. It stopped in front of the school, and followed by a car when a frantic mom carrying a baby got out and rushed in.

    In the special ed. preschool her child had his first seizure, with a twist. She told me later that every time he had a seizure that he would stop breathing. So until he grew out of that he had to be constantly monitored. The last I time I talked to her he was doing well in middle school.

    Fortunately my son has been weaned off of medication, and the seizure he had while ill was his last one.

    By the way, back when I started researching there was no PubMed, and we had no internet. I used to go to the library and ask a librarian to look up the database for me, and then she said she could get me the relevant paper. Then it evolved where I could look it up in the library with my library card. There was too much for me to absorb, but I did some good reprints from the speech therapists and the special ed. teachers. I also got some help from the Resource Library at the local Children’s Hospital (I checked out books and pamphlets). So much has changed.

  118. #118 Militant Agnostic
    February 20, 2010

    I just heard something about the height incidence of autism among Somali immigrants on CBC Radion One’s “The World This Weekend)

    http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/twtw_20100220_27852.mp3

    It is about halfway through the 30 minute podcast (at 14:50).

    Apparently this is observed in to many countries to be a founder effect. There is a hypothesis that this is due to a lack of sunlight (possibly vitamin D deficiency). Not only are the Somalis dark, but they do not go outside in the winter as often as people who grew up in Canada.

  119. #119 Unconvinced
    February 20, 2010

    Chris,

    Sorry, I was away from the computer. Yeah, that Dravet is a doozy. Everytime I’m heading away from our neighborhood and I see an ambulance going the other way, I always worry that it’s for him. Unfortunately he’s a frequent passenger.

    His mom was telling me that there is a drug that is helping some kids in other countries but that it isn’t FDA approved yet, so it’s a fight to get insurance to cover it here. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get it for him soon.

    I’m impressed that you were such a skilled and tenacious researcher even in the days before PubMed and the google. I’m sure that took a lot of time and effort and that says a lot about you.

  120. #120 Chris
    February 20, 2010

    Aw, you are sweet. But that is precisely why I was labeled as evil by the Mercury Militia that took over the listserv I joined that dealt with my son’s disabilities. I refused to take their word on anything (including the idiot who tried to get me booted off because I insisted the MMR never contained mercury).

    But I was an amateur. I was actually alerted by someone else on the Healthfraud listserv several years ago that one of the “moms” posting silly stuff was working for Bradstreet (her kids are about the same as mine). She is even a more skilled and tenacious researcher, since she has an MS in Library Science from Columbia University. She has even had a run-in with a vaccine lawyer, who even accused her and her husband of taking over Wikipedia. You can read about it here: Welcome to My Conspiracy.

    Sadly, she has had other obligations, so she cannot update her blog as often. Like me, she has adult children going to college so it is time to find real employment, so I have much less contact than before :-( . But it is worth looking back on what she has written on autism, and the legal issues involved.

    Go to your library and check out a copy of Paul Offit’s Autism’s False Prophets and read Chapter 7. This is where Dr. Offit describes her and her work.

  121. #121 Phoenix Woman
    February 21, 2010

    Dear antivaccine crusaders:

    Please send out better spokesbeings. The ones in this thread are about as persuasive as Benny Hinn, and about as ethical.

  122. #122 Unconvinced
    February 21, 2010

    I had to google to see who Bradstreet was. Yow. And the other mom is tenacious and extremely thorough. And she’s got quite the blogroll on that site.

    I’m familiar with Offit but never have read his book. I’ll check it out, especially Chapter 7.

  123. #123 Unconvinced
    February 21, 2010

    Tigger,

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way and I certainly don’t want to make you feel bad, but in order to stay above reproach and maintain our credibility, we want to be sure to keep logic and facts on our side.

    I noticed that @ 53 you said “anecdotes aren’t evidence” and then the next paragraph was the anecdote about your family.

    I think that would fly right over the heads of most of the anti-vax crowd, but there’s a chance some of them might catch it so I thought I would point it out just in case you wanted to avoid doing that inadvertently in other threads.

  124. #124 triskelethecat
    February 21, 2010

    @Unconvinced: if you can’t get to the library, or would like your own copy of Autism’s False Prophets, please contact me at triskele215 at aol dot com. I have 2 copies (one I purchased, and then won one from Sciblogs when they had the book club about it). I’d be happy to send it to you for you to share around.

    Actually, if anyone else wants a copy and Unconvinced does not, feel free to contact me. My library won’t accept books if they have a copy already and I hate it being wasted around here!

  125. #125 Matthew Cline
    February 21, 2010

    Chris, thanks for the link to “Welcome to My Conspiracy”. The hyperlink commentary of the legal documents in hilarious.

  126. #126 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 21, 2010

    Tigger,

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way and I certainly don’t want to make you feel bad, but in order to stay above reproach and maintain our credibility, we want to be sure to keep logic and facts on our side.

    I noticed that @ 53 you said “anecdotes aren’t evidence” and then the next paragraph was the anecdote about your family.

    I think that would fly right over the heads of most of the anti-vax crowd, but there’s a chance some of them might catch it so I thought I would point it out just in case you wanted to avoid doing that inadvertently in other threads.

    I think your concern may be misplaced, Unconvinced, for two reasons.

    One is that telling an anecdote is not inconsistent with saying that anecdotal evidence does not rise to the level of scientific proof. The antivaxxers say “we have anecdotes on our side, and that’s science!” or “we have anecdotes on our side, and that trumps science!” We could say “we have science on our side, and because that trumps anecdotes, we refuse to discuss any anecdotes we have”, or we could say “you have anecdotes on your side; we have anecdotes on our side and science, which trumps anecdotes.”

    The second reason is that sometimes anecdotes are evidence. If someone makes the statement “that gun has never been fired in its whole history” then an anecdote about watching it fire is evidence against that statement. If someone makes the statement “vaccine X is the cause of autism” then an anecdote about people who did not have vaccine X and had autism nevertheless is evidence against that statement. Again, there is nothing inconsistent between telling such an anecdote and saying that anecdotes don’t rise to the level of scientific proof, because the sort of statements that are so absolute that they can be refuted by anecdote usually aren’t scientific anyway.

  127. #127 Chris
    February 21, 2010

    triskelethecat, I donated my extra copy of Autism’s False Prophets to the elementary school where my son received special education services from preschool through to fifth grade. I also gave them my copy of Patricia Hamaguchi’s Childhood Speech Language and Listening Problems, What Every Parent Should Know. There is a section in their library for parents, from parenting kids in the regular program to books specific to the disabilities of their special ed. program.

  128. #128 Unconvinced
    February 21, 2010

    cat @ 124, That is really sweet, thanks. I checked and I can get it at the library and I’m already there a lot with my kiddos. I find it’s better for me when trying to read a book to have a deadline for finishing it…like when it’s due back at the library.

    I have a terrible time getting through books because I spend way too much time obsessively researching online.

    If you don’t have any takers here, you might try donating it to your local public school’s library. We have a parents resource section in ours.

    and A.F. @ 126, Thanks for the explanation about anecdotes.

  129. #129 triskelethecat
    February 21, 2010

    @Chris and Unconvinced: That is a very good idea. Since we moved to this town when our kids were almost out out of elementary, I am not as familiar with the school library. I’ll check and see if they will take it. I just hate having a copy sitting around unused.

  130. #130 Kwombles
    February 22, 2010

    @111 Unconvinced,

    Chris answered the question regarding research quite well; it’s in the journals, but much of the research is not free access; it requires going into universities and accessing it there unless you have online university database access.

    The Handbook is a massive undertaking, coalating all major research and threads into one huge work; it isn’t surprising that its most recent incarnation is a half a decade ago. We long ago passed the point where any one researcher, clinician, practitioner, academic, or parent could stay abreast on all autism research. There is a monumental amount of research being done in all aspects of autism, some of it downright contradictory, a fair amount of it poorly designed. It’s science.

    Public consumption of science likes hard pronouncements of absolutes. Many of the studies have small sample sizes and are preliminary studies; they were not meant to be and are not pronouncements of fact.

    The new study from UC looked at “gaze to faces, shared smiles, and vocalizations.” These alone are insufficient indicators of autism. They only looked at social indicators. Tactile defensiveness, overall disposition — does the child scream all the time unless held or scream if held– is just one area that could have also been looked at in the study as does not appear to have been.

    In addition, autism is a disorder that manifests over time. It is a developmental delay; it isn’t until a particular developmental milestone is missed that this delay becomes apparent. Autism becomes more and more apparent as the child ages and the peers surpass them socially, communicatively, and in other developmental areas. Babies aren’t doing a whole lot at six months. :-)

  131. #131 Dan Weber
    February 23, 2010

    could you give a guess as to why in this study they weren’t able to see the signs of autism in the 6 month old babies later diagnosed with ASD.

    One mistake that people who look at nature-versus-nurture for the first time make is to assume that the baby at birth is done with genetics, and everything from there on out is environment.

    The fact is that it takes genes a long time to express themselves. If there is such a thing as “smart genes” (a hotly contested topic), you couldn’t notice it in your newborn. People who are genetically susceptible to Alzheimer’s don’t act confused as toddlers. Homosexuality probably has a significant genetic component, yet (AFAIK) we cannot tell a gay baby from a heterosexual baby — at least, surely not at birth.

    We can’t tell the babies who will develop ASD symptoms from those who won’t until they reach enough of a development milestone that the differences could be noticed. (Now, maybe there is a difference pre-six-months, but it’s reasonable to think that whoever did the recent study either has been or is looking at the videotapes of the pre-six-month-olds intensively to find any differences. This is retrospective so any differentiators they find — if any — would need to be confirmed in a prospective study, but searching for theories to test retrospectively is fine.)

  132. #132 a-non
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t meant to defend them, but to correctly characterize them: they think that their collection of anecdotal evidence is rock solid evidence that vaccines cause autism, but don’t know how it causes autism.

    These “activist groups” could easily take the next step and do some ecological or cross-sectional studies. They could even pay to use the Vaccine Safety Datalink to do their research. But they won’t, because I think deep down they know what the answer is. It’s much easier to do half-baked animal studies instead.

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