Thursday, July 28, 2005

On the uselessness of chelation therapy for autism, update

A while back, I commented on the uselessness of chelation therapy as a treatment for autism. Yesterday, Kathleen Seidel posted a preview of an excellent overview written by Dr. James Laidler explaining on what basis scientists and doctors conclude that chelation therapy is useless for treating autism. Dr. Laidler also points out how quacks use bogus "mercury testing" to convince parents that their autistic children have been "poisoned" and that they "need" chelation. Highly recommended reading.

Of note, Dr. Laidler also makes an interesting observation about the VAERS reporting system so beloved by mercury/autism advocates like the Geiers in "proving" a link between mercury and autism:
The chief problem with the VAERS data is that reports can be entered by anyone and are not routinely verified. To demonstrate this, a few years ago I entered a report that an influenza vaccine had turned me into The Hulk. The report was accepted and entered into the database.

Because the reported adverse event was so…unusual, a representative of VAERS contacted me. After a discussion of the VAERS database and its limitations, they asked for my permission to delete the record, which I granted. If I had not agreed, the record would be there still, showing that any claim can become part of the database, no matter how outrageous or improbable.

Since at least 1998 (and possibly earlier), a number of autism advocacy groups have, with all the best intentions, encouraged people to report their autistic children—or autistic children of relatives and friends—to VAERS as injuries from thimerosal-containing vaccines. This has irrevocably tainted the VAERS database with duplicate and spurious reports.
Consider this when examining any report that uses the VAERS database as its source.

6 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 7/28/2005 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To demonstrate this, a few years ago I entered a report that an influenza vaccine had turned me into The Hulk. The report was accepted and entered into the database.

Because the reported adverse event was so…unusual, a representative of VAERS contacted me. After a discussion of the VAERS database and its limitations, they asked for my permission to delete the record, which I granted. If I had not agreed, the record would be there still, showing that any claim can become part of the database, no matter how outrageous or improbable."

But do they stay in the database?

Do we know what they do if he refuses to delete the record? The assumption here is they just stop and allow it to sit, is that accurate? The assumption also is he was called because his was so extreme, but what's the criteria to be contacted by VAERS?

 

At 7/28/2005 1:53 PM, Anonymous Sotek said...

Doesn't matter what the criteria for deletion are, anon.

As long as they don't require downright verification of the event, it's going to be prone to pollution.

Pollution from nonrespondant bias.
Pollution from false reporting. (Someone says "The vaccine did this" when "this" would have happened anyway, or even "this" never happened, but "that" was mistaken for "this").
And even pollution from downright lies. (Which "The Hulk" would have qualified as, if it weren't so absurd.)

It's not a useful database for any sort of statistical analysis.

 

At 7/28/2005 3:46 PM, Anonymous sysiphusian tax said...

Doctor Laidler is great.

He described what he had sent in as a flu vaccine reaction in detail on a health fraud list. His comment was making the same point there about the reliablity of the VAERS system as a resource of hard facts on vaccine reactions.

He reported to them in detail about turning dark green and growing huge muscles, as I remember it.

It's funny how tame the reaction from the VAERS people was when they called him.

We need more guys like Dr. Laidler, I say.

 

At 7/28/2005 5:59 PM, Blogger Orac said...

I'd love to read his detailed description of what he entered. Any links?

 

At 7/30/2005 3:48 PM, Blogger Ginger said...

I wrote a critique of Dr. Laidler's piece on my blog. It can be found at:

http://tinyurl.com/b9qh3

I don't disagree with him on his assertion that the VAERS database is a poor source for good studies, but I do comment on much of the other assertions he makes.

I am looking for good, constructive input, so please feel free to come and comment on my comments.

Ginger

 

At 8/13/2005 2:05 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

Ginger,

I still think you would have better luck debating Dr. Laidler if you joined the Healthfraud listserv. There are other interesting people there who would be able to help you with biochemistry.

Do not worry... contrary opinions are treated quite politely. Members will object to spamming and rude behavior, but I do not think you could do anything like that.

Here: http://www.quackwatch.org/00AboutQuackwatch/discuss.html

 

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