The Autism Omnibus, Day 1: Autism Diva has the testimony

The first day's testimony for the Autism Omnibus has been posted, and Autism Diva has the scoop.

I haven't had a chance to peruse the PDF file of the testimony, but what the Diva reports is plenty damning. Maybe I was wrong to be so pessimistic in my earlier post. Dr. H. Vasken Aposhian's testimony is even lamer than my post suggested. On the other hand, the emotionalism in this trial still worries me, as does the uncritical press coverage concentrating on the plaintiffs' "feelings" and only mentioning in a single sentence or two, down near the end of the article or report, that--oh, by the way--there is no science to support a link between vaccines and autism and the scientific consensus is that there is no link.

As bad is Dr. Arthur Krigsman, a Wakefield accolyte who also thinks that the MMR vaccine causes autism and "autistic enterocolitis." The Diva nails it:

Today they have Dr. Krigsman on the stand. He says that Michelle Cedillo got damaged intestines from measles in the MMR vaccines, apparently. He spent a long time describing how he knew that her intestines are damaged (she has ulcers and nodular hyperplasia, inflammatory bowel disease, maybe Crohn's disease). He said when he put her on some prescription drugs to suppress her immune system, she stopped suffering from apparent bowel pain, diarrhea and that her arthritis got better. But if Michelle Cedillo has live measles virus in her gut that are causing the lymphoid hyperplasia, wouldn't it be a really bad idea to suppress her immune system with powerful immune suppressants? Didn't she get the measles in her intestines because the thimerosal in her other vaccination suppressed her immune system?

Does that make sense at all?

Nope. Immune suppression is usually reserved for diseases with an autoimmune component, like inflammatory bowel diseases. But then no one ever said that the antivax contingent cared much for keeping their own stories straight. Any story will do, as long as it blames vaccines for autism.

More like this

My wife was actually told once by an antivax loony that our daughter (who is autistic despite all of her vaccines occuring after thimerosal was no longer used in our country) actually caught the dreaded mercury from her childhood vaccinations.
The more that I look at it, the more that this looks like the 70s/80s satanism scare. Mercury is a demon that takes you over and destroys your personality, and chelation is exorcism.

By Pseudonym (not verified) on 12 Jun 2007 #permalink

I get the same fools who try to tell me my son's neonatal seizures were caused by vaccines. Even after I tell them they happened when he was only 48 hours old (and he was born before HepB was available, or even the Hib).

Actually, one guy claimed the seizures were from drinking milk. When I explained the kid had only been breastfed for the whole two days of his life... the guy told me it was the milk I drank.

Dr. Aphosian comes out as confused, and seems unable to recall his own Expert Report.

One pearl (among many others):

Q You also stated in your testimony today that immune suppression is significant in the development of autism. Is that correct?
A I think I may have said that in that figure that I showed that one of the possible pathways for ethyl mercury triggering something was it would first trigger immune disregulation, and this would lead to immunosuppression. Again, that was a model that I had up on the screen, and, again, it's a hypothesis.
Q Do any papers or peer-reviewed articlesconfirm your hypothesis?
A The hypothesis was made less than three or four weeks ago, so the answer is no.
This guy is incredible! His Expert Report contains speculative hypotheses he made up while writing his report !!!

And he says his recollection of some scientific papers is hazy, since he hasn't read them in 10 years, (but he cites them in his report).

He mentions the Holmes "baby haircut" study, and he say that other studies may have failed to replicate Holmes results because "There is no question about the fact that if hair studies are not done in an experienced laboratory who had experience doing them, that the values are meaningless."
He even mentions, without prompting that the Holmes study hair samples were analyzed by Doctors Data "which probably analyzes more mercury samples than any other laboratory in the world." And are FDA approved.

I can't stand the fact that the vaccine/MMR etc... business is still going on with regard to causation for Autism. What the hysterical parental units need to understand is that it has more to do with genetic variants and little "Jane" or "Johnny" is going to be just fine.

Indeed, it can be difficult to manage dependent upon where your child exists upon the Spectrum but what everyone needs to remember that it is a Spectrum Disorder.

With the right supports and finding out what will assist your child to be happy--that's key--not to try and "normalize" them--they already are "normal!"--just allow them to develop into their own personhood.

I know some people who have a son on the Spectrum and through diet (no wheat, dairy--this may work for some) and who participates in ABA (find a therapist who isn't an idiot and who you can trust with your child) he went from being completely non-verbal to basically making quite excellent eye contact (when he's not getting tired) now and being completely verbal (when he's not tricking you!) He's what the world would consider basically "normal." Even his "embarrassing" (give me a break) stimming has been toned down. Who cares if people stim. Even NTs stim--they're called "nervous habits."

Again, it's a Spectrum Disorder and you just never know what your children are capable of with lots of love and acceptance of the Disorder and your genes being responsible. People need to deny some bogus explanation and accept the science as responsibility.

Okay, rant over.


Baby Michelle was one of the 17 autistic babies in which measles RNA was found in the gut by Dr. Wakefield, in Ireland...

Oh that's right! The McMartin preschool case in Los Angeles. Boy now there was a Salem witch case of our modern era.
The police has back hoes running all day and night trying to find the secret tunnels based on intense and quite irresponsible cross examination of the children (leading questioning of pre-school age children) by untrained personnel from some "for hire psychology group". Case was initiated by a parent that had documented mental health issues who then got all the other parents into a froth. Started out as sexual abuse which turned into satanism worship and secret tunnels. A few people went to prison and it took years to unravel that chicanery.

By Uncle Dave (not verified) on 12 Jun 2007 #permalink

This also reminds me of a recent trip to the Costco where as my wife reaches for the Estroven (off the shelf soy, black cohash, yada yada yada)found in the vitamin isle and used primarily by some as a hormone suppliment. A woman walks over and says quite emphatically, "I don't mean to butt in, but I was taking the Estroven and it gave me breast cancer" . She was quite convinced that the Estroven was the initator of her recent and unfortunate episode with breast cancer. We both acknowledged her insistance as my wife continued to place the box into her cart.
So what gave my brother Non-Hodgkins lymphoma?????

By Uncle Dave (not verified) on 12 Jun 2007 #permalink

_Arthur said "Baby Michelle was one of the 17 autistic babies in which measles RNA was found in the gut by Dr. Wakefield, in Ireland..."

Wakefield was paid good money to come up with those findings! See:

Krigsman took the stand today. It has been claimed that he replicated Wakefield's "bought-and-paid-for" findings, but has never bothered to publish them.

Uncle Dave, there are those who still believe there are tunnels under the old preschool:

Maybe, if we are lucky, those who demonize vaccines will faid back into the fringe.

So what gave my brother Non-Hodgkins lymphoma?????

Can't have been Hodgkin.

Hmm, I guess it's ironic that Hodgkin's name now crops up mostly because of a disease that isn't the one he discovered. What a way to celebrate your life's work!


Being identified with something that is nothing of what you are identified with? How bad could that be?
A rose by any other name?
My aplogies to Mr. Thomas Hodgkin.

By Uncle Dave (not verified) on 13 Jun 2007 #permalink

At Autism Diva's blog I posted a comment where I linked to an old medical text (of 1907) which discussed what doses of mercury to use for treating various diseases like colic, diarhea, diptheria. The doses are not small. The smallest dose mentioned is 1/20 of a grain, 3.24 mg of HgCl, every half hour until the color of the stools changes.

I suspect that the mercury was actually therapeutic (though not through the mechanisms discussed). I suspect it actually activated the immune system by inducing oxidative stress. Sort of reduced the threshold for turning things on and getting them all reved up. Psychological stress does act as an adjuvant, I suspect that mercury does too. One of the things that activates immune cells is a "respiratory burst", the production of ROS.

Krigsman testimony is on-line now.
Baby Michelle mother met him at a DAN! meeting.
Although Michelle shows almost all the clinical signs for Cronh's disease, he treated her for autistic enterocolitis. He argues that the treatments for both Cronh and the new illness he's pionneering are identical anyways.

He's a colleague of Dr. Wakefield thru the Thoughtful House Center for Children in Austin, TX.

His diagnostic of baby Michelle vacillated between Enterocolitis, Cronh's disease, and Autistic Enterocolitis.
What clinched his final diagnostic of autistic enterocolitis caused by the MMR vaccine was the discovery of measles RNA in baby Michelle gut samples, at an Irish Laboratory used by Dr. Wakefield.

He acknowledge that the two main Gastro-Intestinal reference textbooks, Fedlman-Sleisenger-Forottrans, and Kumar-Robbins-Cotran make no mention of ASD-GI nor Autistic Enterocolitis.

I wouldn't worry about the Special Masters basing their decisions on sympathy. They can be sympathetic and still find against the claimants. They do it all the time.

Here's a good example -- the Grace case, in which the DTap was claimed to have caused "infantile spasms," a disorder featuring severe developmental delay and seizures.

The mom and grandma in Grace testified that Grace had been a perfectly normal kid until a couple of days after her DTaP vaccination, when she became almost completely nonresponsive. Special Master George Hastings compared what the family members said to the contemporaneous medical records and concluded that the testimony was inaccurate. He didn't believe it. He didn't call them liars, though, but graciously said that "it seems understandable that loving family members, desperate to pinpoint a cause for an awful disorder, may in such circumstances be greatly susceptible to exaggeration or to confusing the timing of events."

Special Master Hastings found against the claimants in Grace, but he was also sympathetic. "The record of this case demonstrates plainly that Grace {redacted} and her family have been through a tragic and painful ordeal. The entire family is certainly deserving of great sympathy.

Congress, however, designed the Program to compensate only the families of individuals whose injuries or deaths can be linked causally, either by a Table Injury presumption or causation-in-fact evidence, to a listed vaccination. In this case, as described above, no such link has been
demonstrated. Accordingly, I conclude that the petitioner in this case is not entitled to a Program award."

Joey Nilson's case was even more difficult emotionally. The day after he received his DTP, OPV, and MMR vaccinations, Joey collapsed while at the playground with his grandma. He suffered encephalopathy leading to his death a few days later. The claim was that one of these vaccinations, or the combination of them, caused his encephalopathy and death.

The expert witness on behalf of the Nilsons was Stephanie Cave. "Dr. Cave's clinical experience and focus on heavy metals, asthma, allergies, and vaccines led her to conclude that the vaccines administered to Joey on October 11, 1996, caused his encephalopathy and death. ... Dr. Cave explained that Joey was an immunocompromised, sickly child with a history of asthma who was on steroids much of the time. ... Despite that history, 'He was given very toxic vaccines. He was given ethylmercury and aluminum and viruses. And the very next day, within 24 hours, without any signs of asthma as he's had many times in the past, the child collapsed.'" Dr. Cave also thought it was significant that Joey received the whole-cell DPT vaccine because it has "10 times the safe level of ethylmercury, which can affect the neurological system and the immune system. It also had aluminum, which is a very toxic metal."

Special Master Sweeney concluded that Dr. Cave's opinion that these "toxic vaccines" caused Joey's death was scientifically unsupported. Instead, the evidence proved that Joey's death was caused by his chronic asthmatic bronchitis, a factor separate from the vaccines. About Dr. Cave, the Special Master said:

"Expert testimony must be "supported by appropriate validation." Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 590 (1993). Dr. Cave's expert testimony lacks
appropriate validation and thus falls into the realm of speculation and conjecture. Thus, petitioner's theory of causation rests on "personal opinion, not science." See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 43 F.3d 1311, 1319 (9th Cir. 1995) (on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court). Regardless of how genuinely a theory is believed by an expert, the passion with which it is believed is no substitute for scientific support. In the absence of reliable medical evidence to advance a theory, petitioner cannot establish a claim by a preponderance of the evidence."

It is true that serious injuries and death can occur from vaccines -- that's the reason why the vaccine program exists. I think that many of the cases filed under the vaccine program involve circumstances that are very difficult for the claimants. It doesn't seem to me, though, that the Special Masters overlook the scientific evidence (or lack thereof) in making their decisions.

In Cedillo, the emotional opening argument by petitioner's counsel wasn't for the benefit of the Special Masters. It was for the press. It was for the future jury pool for the case that will be filed against the pharmaceutical companies regardless of the outcome of this special proceeding.

By the way, did you know that, in a vaccine program proceeding, the petitioner's lawyers can get paid by the government even if they lose, as long as there was a reasonable basis for the claim? For example, in the Iannuzzi case, the law firm of Conway, Homer, and Chin-Caplan -- the same attorneys who represent the Cedillos -- got an award of over $350,000.00 in fees after the Special Master denied compensation to their client on the basis that she failed to demonstrate that her child's autism was actually caused by a vaccination. I suppose the reason for that is to encourage lawyers to take vaccine cases for people who can't afford their fee, thereby increasing vaccine claimants' access to the courts. Yeah ... that's it!

As far as the "Grace" case goes... how does infantile spasms get diagnosed after the age the DTap was administered? She was born in November, yet received these vaccines when she was 4 to 5 months old. That does not seem to be newborn to me.

In case someone has not noticed, my son had "infantile spasms" or neonatal seizures at the age of 2 days (48 hours, a period LESS than a week... and before routine vaccinations occured in 1988... not even the HepB, or even the Hib!). This was before any kind of puncture (his puncture to test for PKU had to be delayed and was combined with a puncture to test for phenobarbital level!). It does happen, sometimes without any known reason.

Joey Nilson was 5 years old when he was given all those vaccines... but he had a history of multiple hospital visits, usually for asthma. And to think there are those who dismss asthma as a "fake disease", even when it is deadly!

Thank you Anne, for searching out those cases!


There are folks who dismiss asthma as a fake disease?!? Seriously?

Yes... They are also the ones who think that allergies to peanuts are also fake. I've had people tell me that my seasonal hayfever is psychosomatic.

And folks who think that cancer and HIV/AIDS can be cured with a zapper. Or that myopia can be cured with eye exercises.

Just a few of the things one encounters on Usenet newsgroups like