Monday, August 15, 2005

Dispatches from the road, part II: The Danish autism studies

This is a first for this blog.

I'm going to post something written by a guest blogger, Kristjan Wager. The reasons I'm posting are twofold. First, Kristjan, a fairly regular commenter on this blog who also happens to live in Denmark, has something interesting and informative to say about the Danish institute that did the widely-cited studies that failed to find a link between the thimerosal in childhood vaccines and autism. Second, I'm on vacation, and it's great to be able to put up at least one substantive post while I'm gone, with my only effort being to type a pithy introduction of a paragraph or two and do a little minor editing of the text for grammar and style. (English isn't Kristjan's first language, but minimal editing was required; I wish I could write so well in another language.)

One of the tactics used by those advocating a thimerosal-autism link is to attack the Danish study, since it is so widely quoted. Sometimes they try to attack the methodology, but, because the methodology was generally sound, such attacks usually don't get much traction. So, the next attack is to do a variant of the "pharma shill" attack, but this time on the scientists who did the studies, because they work for a government institute that manufactures vaccines. Indeed, RFK Jr. himself has said:

The Institute of Medicine as well as the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration base their defense of Thimerosal on four flimsy studies ginned up by the pharmaceutical industry and federal regulators who green-lighted the use of Thimerosal in the first place. Those fraudulent studies deliberately targeted European populations which were exposed to a fraction of the Thimerosal given to American children.
He's referring mainly to the Danish studies here. Never mind that he never says why the studies are "flimsy" or "fraudulent," never shows any evidence to support his assertion that they "deliberately targeted" any population to "hide" a link, and never showed that they were "ginned up" by pharmaceutical companies. In this background, Kristjan's commentary is more relevant. So, enough of my blathering (even on vacation I can't shut up). Here's Kristjan. Either leave your comments here, or you can e-mail Kristjan at public{AT]kristjanwager[DOT}dk.


*****
When debating autism and a possible link to childhood vaccinations and/or thimerosal, the Danish studies of a possible link are often brought up. There are several such studies, looking at different aspects of possible problems with childhood vaccinations, and so far they have all reached the conclusion that there is no link between neither childhood vaccinations nor thimerosal and autism.

When the studies are brought up, the proponents of a link often attack them based on their methodology and the authors of the studies. I haven’t analysed the studies well enough to be able to speak with any authority on the subject of the methodologies, however I can comment on the validity of the attacks on the authors. A good example of such an attack can be found on the blog adventures in autism, in which the author, ginger, writes:
The study is further compromised by the fact that several of the coauthors were employed by the Statens Serums Institut, the government owned vaccine manufacturer who would be held liable if it was indeed found that the use of thimerosal in vaccines contributed to autism.
Besides being an ad hominem fallacy, it also shows a lack of knowledge about the Danish health system and the Danish legal system. This post is an attempt to address the lack of knowledge. While doing this, I will also try to show why the idea that Statens Serums Institut might want to hide the connection, so it won’t influence their income, also is implausible.

First a little background on the Danish health system and Statens Serums Institut.

Denmark has universal health care, which means that everything except medicine
is free, and you will get financial aid for most medicine. In some countries with universal health care, there is a two-tiered system, in which most people have health insurance, ensuring that they get treated in a private hospital if they get sick. In Denmark that is not the case. Private hospitals exist, but were only allowed within the last two decades, and are not used much. The Danish health system also covers the cost for people with special needs, such as some people with autism. Vaccinations are considered normal health care, and as such they are given with no charge to the public.

Statens Serums Institut is a public enterprise that operates as a "market-oriented production and service enterprise". It operates under the Ministry of Health, and is covered by the Danish Health Law (Sundhedsloven) § 222 which, among other things, states that the institute secures the delivery of vaccinations, including the vaccinations to the childhood vaccinations program. According to § 222 2) the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior decides the rules regarding payment of the institute. A description of the Danish Childhood Vaccination Program can be found here.

If you look at Statens Serums Instituts annual report (pdf), you can see that the institute had a net revenue of 979.9 million kroner in 2004, and had a operational profit margin of 1.9%. All in all, the institute had a net income of just over 11 million kroner in 2004. That is approximately $2 million. In other words, Statens Serums Institut is by the standards of medical companies a non-profit business, and the institute has a very small profit in making the vaccinations.

One of the reasons why Statens Serums Institute has such as small net income is that it puts a lot of money into research and development, not only of new products, but also of existing products. Since the Institute, by law, has to ensure the delivery of childhood vaccinations, a lot of research goes into this aspect, which is why studies authored or co-authored by employees of the Institute are often cited when debating links between childhood vaccinations and other diseases/ailments. If you look at the annual report, you can see that they have the following comment:
On the research front, the Institute has documented that childhood vaccines do not cause other diseases such as autism and diabetes. This is of great importance to childhood vaccination programs world-wide.
In other words, it’s not only a link between childhood vaccinations and autism they research, its links between childhood vaccinations and any diseases/ailments. Statens Serums Institut doesn’t have anything to do with the monitoring the vaccinations once they are on the market. Instead the Danish Medicines Agency monitors the occurrence of side-effects of all medicines in Denmark, and can recall any medicine if there is a risk that they have serious side-effects.

The liability of Statens Serums Institut

First of all, if a link between childhood vaccinations, or any components in them, and autism was found, this would not make Statens Serums Institut liable. Since the childhood vaccination program is a state run program, it would be the State of Denmark that would be liable. Of course, since Statens Serums Institut is owned by the state, it doesn’t mean that employees there wouldn’t want to try to cover up a connection, so the state wouldn’t be held liable. However, there are some other things to take into consideration before reaching such a conclusion.

The Danish law system is different from the American law system, and it’s not possible to sue the state as it would in the US. Instead the liability is covered by "Lov om klage- og erstatningsadgang inden for sundhedsvæsenet", which deals with such issues within the Danish health care system. In chapter 3 of that law, the rules governing compensation for ailments gotten as a result of treatment are defined, while chapter 4 deals with compensation following ailments as a result of medicine. I haven’t been able find out if vaccinations would be considered treatment or medicine, but most people I’ve spoken to tend to believe it would be covered under medicine.

The law makes it clear that liability is not dependent upon the knowledge of harmful effects at the time of the administration of the medicine, nor even upon the fact that such effects should be plausible at the time. However there are some strict time frames for how long after a medicine (or treatment) was administered that it is possible to try to obtain compensation. In the case of treatment, it can happen up to five years after the patient or a relative discovered that there was a connection between the ailment and the treatment. In the case of medicine, it can happen up to three years after. In both cases it can’t be more than ten years after it happened. So, in the case of childhood vaccinations, it would mean that even if a link was found between the childhood vaccinations, or a component in them, and autism, any person who had the vaccination administered more than 10 years ago, would not be able to get any compensation under Danish law.

Now let’s go back to the original quote:
The study is further compromised by the fact that several of the coauthors were employed by the Statens Serums Institut, the government-owned vaccine manufacturer who would be held liable if it was indeed found that the use of thimerosal in vaccines contributed to autism.
Here we see that ginger is concerned that the coauthors would cover up a thimerosal-autism link because of liability. However, as I stated, any cases more than ten years old would make neither the state nor Statens Serums Institut liable according to Danish law, and, since Statens Serums Institut stopped using preservatives in their vaccinations in 1992, there would be no liability even if a definite link between autism and vaccinations were to be found now. I repeat, there would, under Danish law, be no liability for childhood vaccinations containing thimerosal causing autism.

All in all, I think it's reasonable to conclude that it is extremely unlikely that researchers at Statens Serums Institut would choose to risk their careers to cover up a thimerosal-autism link. And I haven't even gotten into all the legal aspects of what would happen to that person if they did in fact cover up so a link. This might be something I can cover in a future post, if Orac will let me post again.

151 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 8/15/2005 9:23 AM, Anonymous Big Al said...

Any good scientist, would jump at the chance to make new science, with dreams of a Nobel in the back of his mind. The thrill of seeing something new and saying "I did it!" Note for his also read her.

 

At 8/15/2005 10:59 AM, Blogger OutEast said...

Very interesting! A worthy guest post indeed:)

 

At 8/15/2005 12:31 PM, Anonymous Kristjan Wager said...

"Any good scientist, would jump at the chance to make new science, with dreams of a Nobel in the back of his mind."

And if that wasn't enough motivation, there are quite a few Danish laws that would kick in, if a scientists discovered the said connection between autism and childhood vaccinations, or any components of such.
Both the carrot and the stick is in action.

 

At 8/15/2005 3:06 PM, Anonymous paul said...

Kristjan

Thanks for the insight. I'm curious, what is the general attitude in Europe regarding this subject, esp as it compares to the US?

Is there a lower level of "concern" because there may be a different litigation environment? Or is there the same or more scrutiny from independent "watchdog" groups?

Thanks

Paul

 

At 8/15/2005 4:17 PM, Anonymous Kristjan Wager said...

In Denmark there is no concern regarding Thimerosal, but there is quite a bit of concern about childhood vaccinations leading to autism and other ailments.

I have not heard anyone in Denmark doubt the findings of the Danish studies because of the connection to Statens Serums Institut, though some think the results might be wrong.

I hope that answered your questions Paul.

 

At 8/15/2005 6:51 PM, Blogger hollywoodjaded said...

Thank-you Kristjan and Orac!

"In other words, Statens Serums Institut is by the standards of medical companies a non-profit business...."

Precisely!

And this begs a question I have had with http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/

I am curious if "adventures in autism" is a non-profit entity? Why? Well, because there is a solicitation for donations: A button to click for Paypal to "Make a Donation" and a link entitled "Wanna help?" [Further Mom's Research] which takes one to a personal wish list via Amazon.com

Moreover, I wonder what is the official non-profit status of "adventures in autism"? Is it a 501-c-3 ? And further, what is their research specialty and expertise? Lastly, who is on their, say, Medical/Scientific Board?

Just lots of rambling curiosity here from someone who has had much fiscal responsibility in non-profits.

 

At 8/15/2005 7:05 PM, Blogger Prometheus said...

I still find it odd that the autism-thimerosal cabal are so quick to attack researchers' potential biases or conflicts when the outcome is not to their advantage but are able to turn a blind eye to the glaring biases and appalling conflicts of interest in the people turning out "research" that supports their assertions.

If Madsen et al have a potential conflict of interest - which Kristjan Wager has thoroughly disproven - then what about Amy Holmes (treats autistic children with chelation for "mercury poisoning"), Jeff Bradstreet (ditto) and Geier & Geier (paid witnesses for parents claiming vaccine injury until repudiated by the federal courts)?

Is there any scientist or doctor who supports a connection between mercury and autism who is not potentially tainted with a conflict of interest?

Prometheus

 

At 8/16/2005 12:22 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Quick answer to Paul re: Europe.

Concerns about thiomersal in the UK are not high. Over here the vaccine bad-guy is MMR as demonised by Andrew Wakefield. There are *still* people over here, despite the total debunking of his Lancet study that listen to misinformation given out about him.

Its the US position on Wakefield I find fascinating though. A lot of anti-vaxxers swear blind its the evil mercury in vaccines which causes the autism. They then rush to defend Wakefields MMR study apparently without realising (or caring) that there's no thiomersal in MMR vaccines. RFK Jr pulled a particularly amusing howler along those lines on a recent Huffington post blog entry - he went off on another hyperbolic tirade about the evils of thiomersal ending with a line about autistic kids writhing in pain from stomach disorders. Another one failing to see (or failing to care) that these disorders are reported with MMR, not with thiomersal based vaccines.

 

At 8/16/2005 1:12 AM, Anonymous sisyphusian tax said...

It looks like "ginger" is doing the same kind of "research" that another of the mercury cabal, Teresa Binstock, does. They read what parents post on lists like "autismmercury" and "EoHarm" and draw biased conclusions and then report them to further mislead.

But perhaps I am wrong and ginger will tell us exactly what she intends to do with her research monies, will an IRB be called upon or will she just grab some kids and give them some vitamin pills and take note on what the effect is.

 

At 8/16/2005 3:45 AM, Anonymous Mongrel said...

There are *still* people over here, despite the total debunking of his Lancet study that listen to misinformation given out about him.

And don't forget the tabloids are still pushing the MMR=BAD message

 

At 8/16/2005 8:17 AM, Blogger M said...

What Kev said.

Though the Chelators are trying to gain ground over here in the UK too:
http://www.actagainstautism.org.uk/conf-info.html
Note that the speakers mentioned are all from the USA or France, with one exception.

 

At 8/16/2005 1:50 PM, Anonymous paul said...

Kristjan/Kev

Thanks for the response to my question.

It is interesting to try and follow this debate "sans" science. I have tried to follow the progress in the media in the US, where I think the Kirby/RFK crowd is gaining slow, steady traction, and thought there would be a similar trend in Europe. I'll have to read up on Wakefield.(Immunoblogging - a New Zealand blog has posted about anti-vax groups there, and thimerosal seems not to be the focus).

Once thimerosal has been vindicated (2 years?), the next culprit will have been identified, tying up several more years of valuable time and resources of doctors and scientists that could be working on real and important issues.

 

At 8/16/2005 5:51 PM, Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Kristjan,

I think you make some excellent points regarding the suspicions arising from the funding of the Danish studies. On the other hand, you have not discussed the other point Ginger –- as well as others -– make about the studies, that being the problem of methodology. Many of us believe there is a connection between thimerosal and the development of autism spectrum disorders in genetically predisposed children. Are we wrong in saying that the Danish studies compared in-patient numbers for the statistics representing the prevalence before the removal of thimerosal, but then counted all reported cases after the removal of thimerosal? If that is true, the studies are of limited value, if they have any value at all, regardless of the funding.

 

At 8/17/2005 4:21 AM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Wade, I will refer you to the first part of the post, in which I make clear that I cannot comment on the methodology with any authority.

Having said that, I find the claims implausible, since the data would come from the ministry of health, and as such would be national. You can get regional data if you want to, but it would be more of an effort.

Another thing that speaks against this claim is that the article was published in a peer-reviewed magazine. Such a clear violation of simple research principles would have made the article get rejected straight away.

I am going to study the methodology of the studies at some stage, and then I will be more qualified to comment on it.

 

At 8/17/2005 4:57 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Orac, in your opening statement, suggested that attacks on the methodology of the Denmark Study are unfounded:

“One of the tactics used by those advocating a thimerosal-autism link is to attack the Danish study, since it is so widely quoted. Sometimes they try to attack the methodology, but, because the methodology was generally sound, such attacks usually don't get much traction.”

…but you don’t mention why you think the attacks are unfounded.

I have done a mini version of a ‘methodology attack’ on the blog post that Kristjan discusses, as well as two other posts.

If I am bringing up problems with the studies that are unfounded, or have been addressed somewhere, I certainly would like to know, as I don’t want to be standing on shaky ground. I have not found a source yet that can adequately address the doubts I have about the study’s validity.

Can you point me towards a discussion of how the changes in the database did not skew the results of the study?

Thank You.

Ginger Taylor

 

At 8/17/2005 4:59 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

When I wrote the piece that was the launching pad for Kristjan’s post here, she wrote to me in the comments section and pointed out that my concern for liability by the Statens Serums Institute was unfounded, and based on a misunderstanding of Danish law. I responded that I would certainly defer to her or any other Dane on that topic, as my expertise in that area is nill. Upon reading her piece on the system in her country, she certainly seems made her case as to that point.

I do however, in the interest of self-defense, want to challenge the characterization of my ‘attack’ on the Denmark Study.

Here are the links to all my discussions of the Danish Study:
http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2005/07/file-under-things-that-call-for-cdc.html
http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2005/08/heres-why-disdain.html
http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2005/08/hurry-up-offense.html

Kristjan states that my attack on the Danish Study is an ad hominem one, and therefore a logical fallacy. It is not.

The definition of ad hominem according to Orac that Kristjan linked to is this:

“This mode of reasoning is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem: attacking the person presenting the argument, instead of pointing out a flaw in their actual argument. It’s a fallacy because even if the criticism of the person is true, his argument may still be valid. You can only tell if the argument is valid by examining the actual argument to see if it is actually valid.”

If you read the entire post, or even just the few paragraphs preceding and the one following the comment that was addressed in this post, I do point out flaws in their actual argument. I will repost them here for your consideration:

“The findings in the Denmark study have come under serious criticism. When the data of study was reviewed, it was found that the sampling presented fatal flaws. The low incidence of autism during the use of thimerosal can be attributed to the fact that the database that was used only tracked inpatient cases of autism at the time. At the point in time where thimerosal was removed, the database was expanded to include cases that were diagnosed at a large clinic outside of Copenhagen where 20% of the countries autistic patents were diagnosed. At the point in time where thimerosal was no longer used, but the cases of autism seem to have skyrocketed, the database had expanded further to include all cases of autism, inpatient and outpatient, in the country.

The study is further compromised by the fact that several of the coauthors were employed by the Statens Serums Institut, the government owned vaccine manufacturer who would be held liable if it was indeed found that the use of thimerosal in vaccines contributed to autism.

Finally, even if the study were reliable, applying it to the U.S. population as the IOM has done presents problems. Children in Denmark were administered less than half the amount of thimerosal of US children and it was given over a longer period of time.

Further, American children are subject to an autism rate at least 10 times that of Denmark. It seems to me to be like doing a study of Sickle Cell Anemia in Denmark and applying it to the population of Baltimore. Clearly children here have some other intervening factor that increases the threat, be it genetic, environmental or even the thimerosal dosage.”

The ‘attack’ on the researchers motives was not ad hominem as it was in the context of pointing out the problems with the study. The question of the researcher’s motives comes into play because they published something that, in my reading, has bad methodology and makes conclusions not supported by the data.

In that scenario, one naturally then asks the questions, “Why would they publish something with such obvious flaws, and why would they not protest when it is used so poorly on a global scale”?

My first line of inquiry, as is most people, is who are these people and what do they have to gain from publishing a flawed study? And, at the top of everyone’s list, in this country any way, is money.

Kristjan has provided several reasons why the liability issue does not come into play in Denmark, as it would here. She and I had a conversation about this in the comments section of my blog, where I proposed several other motives for such action. Please read the full discussion for a better understanding of my take on this in the full context.

I will be withdrawing my concern about legal liability and noting her description of the differences between our two countries in the medical and legal systems, as I defer to her in her analysis of the legal liability issue of thimerosal in Denmark.

But my pride compels me to note that the liability question was the weakest part of my indictment of this study. Many questions remained to be answered as to why this study is being relied on the way it is.

I would ask that she withdraw her accusation of ad hominem as my criticism of the study still stands if the motive questions are removed, and it does not meet the criteria for said classification presented by Orac himself.

 

At 8/17/2005 5:03 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Kristjan,

I just read your post with the "peer review question". I seem to remember that there was a large criticism of the study that the journal didn't publish, saying that they didn't have space for it.

I think that was this study, but I might be getting it confused with one of the other thimerosal studies, so I could be talking out of my butt.

I will try to see if I can find that.

 

At 8/17/2005 5:13 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Dear Hollywood,

In response to your concerns and in the interest of full disclosure:

I, Ginger Taylor, am a For Profit entity who has grossed $10 in donations from my blog in 2004 and 2005.

My net profits are $.05 as the domain name cost me $9.95.

I make no claim as to what the profits from my site are to be used for. Currently I am saving up my largess for a book, but who knows, I could decide to buy a candy bar instead.

I plan on disclosing my $.05 net on my taxes, but I don't plan on making my taxes available to the public or the press as I am not the president and no one cares.

 

At 8/17/2005 5:19 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Prometheus,

IMHO everyone has conflicts of interest about everything, simply because we all have egos.

The big question is how do the interact with what we say and do and how much weight should they be given in evaluating our actions.

Questions for the ages my friend.

 

At 8/17/2005 5:26 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Sys,

Is there a "grouchy fallacy"? Because I feel that you attacks on me are grouchy based.

I would expand on my silly notion, but I gotta go fill my son's tummy with vitamin pills.

Ginger... who should not be posting at 2am

 

At 8/17/2005 9:24 AM, Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Kristjan,

Thank you for the honest and thoughtful response to my question. Although I think your point about the study being published in a peer-review journal makes a good argument, I note that there are many who still attack the methodology of peer-reviewed studies that find a link between thimerosal and ASD. The problem with the methodology has been a major point of criticism for quite some time. Yet I have not seen anyone deny there was a change in the methodology, nor have I heard anyone explain why the change is irrelevant. All I have heard from those who deny the causative link is that the “well-respected” Danish studies prove there is no link. If I am wrong, I would like to know.

 

At 8/17/2005 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev, You say that Wakefield has been debunked. Please point me to the study of autistic children that shows they do NOT have measles virus from vaccines in their gut.

Kristjan, Regarding the inpatient vs outpatient methodology flaw you said

"I find the claims implausible, since the data would come from the ministry of health, and as such would be national."

On page 43 of the IOM report where they ruled against a link they discuss the Danish study. Here is a direct quote:

"From 1991 to 1994, only inpatients were included in the Danish Psychiatric Central Register. Since 1995, both inpatients and outpatients have been included."

It seems quite clear to me that the Danish study is extremely flawed due to this factor and others as referenced by Ginger. It's also interesting to note that the IOM did not identify the inpatient/outpatient issue as a flaw of the study even though they included a section in the report to cover potential shortcomings.

Why would the Danish authors would make such obvious errors in this study and how was it possibly peer reviewed without these flaws identified? It's a very good question. But when you consider the same exact flaw was present in the Swedish study it's hard to explain this as an innocent coincidence.

 

At 8/17/2005 12:34 PM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

What I wonder is why the Danish studies are discussed mostly to the exclusion of the UK studies (Andrews et al, 2004; Heron et al, 2004).

The UK has experienced the same supposed "epidemic" of autism at the same time with the same resulting prevalence as the US. Mark Blaxill went through a lot of trouble to "prove" this.

It is hard to argue that the UK studies are irrelevant, unless you equally agree that amount and concentration of injected mercury are irrelevant to rates of autism.

In other words, in the UK, either you accept the results of the studies, which show no relationship between injected mercury and autism. Or you argue that the UK studies are irrelevant because the kids in the UK received much lower amounts and concentrations of injected mercury (this is Mr Kennedy's way of dismissing Andrews et al, 2004).

This argument is in essence that autism "epidemics" can happen either with or without the high amounts/concentrations of thimerosal injected uniquely into US children. This is called shooting (so to speak) yourself in the foot.

 

At 8/17/2005 12:50 PM, Blogger Ginger said...

Michelle,

I will take your question, as I am the one that started all this.

Speaking for my self as to why I have not addressed the UK studies, I spent a lot of time on the first two, Verstraeten and Denmark, which were the two that I had heard quoted in my experience in the real world from pediatricians when the subject of vaccination safety had come up.

I found that those two were such a mess, that after that when I would look at an another one of these studies, I would not spend much time or thought on them.

I just figured if they were any better, then people would be quoting them instead of Denmark and Verstraeten.

At one point I was skimming one of the UK studies and came across the phrase, "adjusted for housing tenure" and just gave up on it.

They could be a lot more useful than the two I have discussed on my site. I have not bothered to look very hard.

Why if they are better do you suppose that people don't quote them instead of the two I mentioned?

 

At 8/17/2005 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michele,

The problem with all of those studies is that even if they are perfect they may not be sufficient to determine if a small percentage of the population had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. The president of the IOM went on national tv and said he wasn't sure if the rates of autism were increasing. That tells me that there may be an issue in diagnosing it and counting up the numbers. So why are we wasting time with epidemiological studies?

There are thousands of autistic children that could be studied. There are tons of clinical data that can be used. There are biological and molecular studies that support a link. None of this information was considered by the IOM. I hate that my son has the classic symptoms of autistic enterocolitis and I'm not even allowed to do a test to find out if he has the measles virus in his gut. Can you believe that? To make matters worse, I have to listen to Kevin preach about how Wakefield was debunked yet where is the study showing autistic children do NOT have the measles virus in their gut.

I don't understand how this argument got to be about thimerosal causes autism or MMR causes autism when someone ought to be viewing all of these things as a whole. Our kids didn't just get thimerosal or didn't just get the MMR. They received them in combination with many other vaccines at a very young age.

Am I the only one that looks at these 5 epidemiological studies and says how could you possibly reach a conclusion simply based on that?

 

At 8/17/2005 1:10 PM, Blogger Ginger said...

also... a thought in response to this:

This argument is in essence that autism "epidemics" can happen either with or without the high amounts/concentrations of thimerosal injected uniquely into US children. This is called shooting (so to speak) yourself in the foot.

Maybe not.

If the genetic vulnerability + mercury = some cases of autism theory is true, then all sources of mercury come into play.

In a country that does not show an adjustment in the rate of autism when thimerosal is introduced or removed, I think one would at least have to check for changes in the amount of mercury found in the environment to see if there could be any interaction before the mercury/autism hypothesis could be dismissed.

There was a study out of Texas a few months ago that found that there was a correlation between autism diagnosis rates and the amount of environmental mercury in Houston.

To me, it seems that there are just so many potential confounders to these epidemological studies, that they should be considered interesting, and helpful to some degree, but that the mercury/autism hypothesis cannot rise and fall on them.

 

At 8/17/2005 1:46 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

"Kristjan states that my attack on the Danish Study is an ad hominem one, and therefore a logical fallacy. It is not."

No. I attacked that particular part of your attack as an ad hominem attack.
Either the methodology stands on or it doesn't. Regardless of any connection to Statens Serums Institut.

I hope that my post has made clear why such a connetion is not suspect, and even is logical.

 

At 8/17/2005 1:50 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

"It seems quite clear to me that the Danish study is extremely flawed due to this factor and others as referenced by Ginger. It's also interesting to note that the IOM did not identify the inpatient/outpatient issue as a flaw of the study even though they included a section in the report to cover potential shortcomings."

Anon, that would only be a flaw if the authors of the studies/articles didn't make clear how the change affects the numbers. If they make that clear, then there is no problem in changing numbers.
As I said, that would be standard pactice. When better numbers become available, you use those, but you make sure to make clear how the new means of collecting the numbers affects the results.
You do the same in economics and other statistics based studies.

So far I haven't properly looked at the articles, so I can't say if there are flaws or not.

 

At 8/17/2005 1:54 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

BTW, while doing a bit of research on the article I have spoken to medical students and doctors I know, some of which who works with autism, and they all said that while they could not completely rule out a connection between mercury and autism, such a connection would go against all the understandings of how autism works/develops.

Food for thought in my opinion. Especially since it was also said by medical people who work to treat and take care of autistic people.

 

At 8/17/2005 1:58 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon writes:

Kev, You say that Wakefield has been debunked. Please point me to the study of autistic children that shows they do NOT have measles virus from vaccines in their gut.

Sure: http://www.kevinleitch.co.uk/wp/?p=217

 

At 8/17/2005 2:11 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

Ginger, you seem to have lots to say. You really ought to try engaging the Healthfraud listserv members.

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

 

At 8/17/2005 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anon, that would only be a flaw if the authors of the studies/articles didn't make clear how the change affects the numbers. If they make that clear, then there is no problem in changing numbers."

Kristjan, I obviously can't speak for Denmark but in the US most children are not diagnosed with autism in a hospital. Hospitals are mostly reserved for emergencies and planned procedures requiring an overnight stay. If Denmark is anything like the US in this regard I have to assume that it would have a dramatic change in the numbers. Or perhaps you believe that thimerosal, a known neurotoxin, actually prevents autism.

 

At 8/17/2005 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev,

To test for measles virus in the gut one needs to perform a biopsy, not a blood test. That study you reference is not even close to proof that autistic children do not have measles virus in their gut.

 

At 8/17/2005 2:48 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

"Kristjan, I obviously can't speak for Denmark but in the US most children are not diagnosed with autism in a hospital. Hospitals are mostly reserved for emergencies and planned procedures requiring an overnight stay."

Hopsitals are used more broadly in Denmark. Normal doctors are used for general tests and curing common problems, but more advanced stuff is usually left ove to speciality clinics or hospitals. As far as I know, tests for autism is done in hospitals, though I might be mistaken. This is something I need to check up upon.

"If Denmark is anything like the US in this regard I have to assume that it would have a dramatic change in the numbers."

As I just said, Denmark is not anything like the US in this regard, so your experiences/knowledge based upon the US system can't be used as a premise.

"Or perhaps you believe that thimerosal, a known neurotoxin, actually prevents autism."

Maybe there is no connection between thimerosal and autism? Maybe thimerosal damages your immune system, and thus makes it easier for autism to happen? I don't know. What I do know, however is that every peer-reviewed study shows that there is no clear link between autism and thimerosal, and that it clearly can't be the cause of autism.

Danish scientists seems to think it's likely that there might be a connection between polution and autism, and that the effect happens at the fetus stage. This is a link they are trying to explore right now, and which could explain much of the raise of autism in recent decades.

 

At 8/17/2005 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kristjan,

We can argue the Danish studies all day but if you read Ginger's blog she gives a great summary of why epidemiology (flawed or unflawed) is not the ideal study to draw conclusions from. Even the IOM in their 2004 report states something to this effect (which completely contradicts their findings).

I'm glad to see your country is at least looking at environmental causes of autism.

 

At 8/17/2005 4:32 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Well Anon - I could go with what you say, or I could go with what the scientists say. Overall, I think I'll go with the scientists. Sorry.

As I said in my own blog entry about it - hardcore anti-vaxxers will never let it go. Here's a study that shows researchers looking for measles and not finding it in 99% of cases - and its apparently still not enough. Some people will simply never be convinced.

 

At 8/17/2005 4:59 PM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

The mercury/autism and/or vaccine/autism gangs totally discount the importance of epidemiology, which they call irrelevant. At the same time, they promote the existence of an autism "epidemic" (see the cover of Mr Kirby's book) in order to "prove" that thimerosal and/or the MMR cause autism.

This seems a bit selective to me. If you reject the validity of epidemiology, you can hardly declare an epidemic.

 

At 8/17/2005 5:24 PM, Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Michelle,

Most of us don't dimiss epidemiology in its entirety. We simply believe it is too severely limited and flawed to provide a definitive answer when biological evidence preponderates in favor of a different conclusion.

 

At 8/17/2005 7:32 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Wade - biological evidence in favour of what conclusion? That thimerosal in vaccines caused the 'autism epidemic'?

You, of course, have this evidence to hand to share with us all.

 

At 8/17/2005 8:29 PM, Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Oh Kev,

You've been around long enough to know very well the studies to which I refer. I realize very few people around here believes in the methodology used in those studies, but I'll still refer to them in making the point that I believe epidemiology has a place in the inquiry, just not the last word. by the way, I would agree that the jury is still out on the biological studies as far as replication, etc. goes. I just haven't seen anything else to refute the findings by james, Burbacher, etc.

 

At 8/17/2005 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wade,
To save us the trouble of having to wade through those studies, which findings would those be? The non-finding that thimerosal depletes glutathione in children with autism or the non-finding of activated microglia in monkeys injected with thimerosal?

 

At 8/17/2005 11:35 PM, Blogger Orac said...

Hi, all. Maybe I should have known better than to post an article that would cause controversy while on vacation. I hope you'll all forgive me if I don't have much time to respond right now, given my present dialup Internet access, which is extremely painful to work with, not to mention that I did a lot of driving today and am beat.

When I get home late next week, perhaps I'll pull up the most recent summaries of the studies that failed to find a link between thimerosal and autism and perhaps do a little analysis. In the meantime, my thanks to Kev and Michelle for wading into the discussion and especially Kristjan for writing such a thought-provoking piece for me to post in my absence.

 

At 8/18/2005 1:15 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Kristjan,

Let me restate my position more clearly.

Here is an alternate definition of Ad Hominem from Wikipedia:

“An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally "argument to the man"), is a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by addressing the person presenting the argument or assertion RATHER THAN the argument itself.”

This exists when the person is attacked INSTEAD OF the argument.

What I did in my piece was to attack the argument, then question the conflict of interest of the people making the argument, then go back and attack the argument again.

The personal attack was IN LIGHT OF AND IN ADDITION TO the valid criticism of the study itself.

Let me break it down. Of the paragraphs I posted above, which was the entire criticism of the Denmark Study, there were four.

Paragraph 1 attacked the methodology and conclusions of the study – a valid attack on the argument. (That one in this conversation has punched any holes in as of yet)

Paragraph 2 noted the conflict of interest of the researchers – an attack on the motives of the people involved in the study, and, arguably, those who cite the study.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 attacked the application of this study in a population that is beyond the scope of the sample – further valid attack on the argument.

Again… I want to emphasize, ad hominem applies when ONLY THE SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION IS CRITICISED, and the actual information is not criticized.

Once an argument has been deconstructed, as I had deconstructed the methods of the Denmark Study, it is perfectly fine to then speculate as to why the poor argument was made in the first place or note conflict of interest that may have led to the poor argument.

If this were not the case, no one could ever question the motives or biases of anyone with out committing a logical fallacy.

You simply pulling that paragraph away from the other three does not make it into an ad hominem, because I offered it as a follow up to valid criticism. A person has to COMMIT ad hominem, it cannot be thrust upon them.

I will offer an analogy.

Saying, “He is a jerk”, is an ad hominem attack
Saying, “He punched his mother in the face. He is a jerk”, is a valid argument.

Quoting this person and leaving out the first sentence of his assertion does not make his attack into a logical fallacy. As a matter of fact, I think it can be argued that it would be an example of quote mining.

In light of this, will you now retract your accusation that I made an ad hominem attack on the researchers of the study, and those who apply it to the U.S. population?

 

At 8/18/2005 1:21 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

I hope that my post has made clear why such a connetion is not suspect, and even is logical.

And I just wanted to make sure you were clear that I do think that you made the case that legal liability would not be a source of bias in this case.

There are several other potential sources of bias that could be discussed, but unless any one has any facts or illucidating internal memos, we would all be speculating.

 

At 8/18/2005 1:41 AM, Blogger Ginger said...

Kristjan,

One more thing:

Anon, that would only be a flaw if the authors of the studies/articles didn't make clear how the change affects the numbers. If they make that clear, then there is no problem in changing numbers.

True, but I can't find where they made "clear how the change affects the numbers".

They mention that it probably does effect the numbers, they mention that they saw the same upward trend when only looking only at inpatient cases through out the entire span of the database, but the never show HOW this change effects the final numbers, don't offer data on the inpatient trend and just skip straight to the conclusion where they totally ignore the confounder that they had admitted to in the previous sentence.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, if you can dig up a more complete version of the study than the one that Pediatrics published, that would go a long way in countering all the charges that I have made against the study.

IMHO this study is only good if you throw out the conclusions and draw your own conclusions from the methods and data that they did offer.

And it is no where near what it sould be to be relied on the way it is by IOM et. al.

 

At 8/18/2005 3:26 AM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Like Orac, I am on vacation. I'm visiting friends in Ireland that I haven't seen since they moved from Denmark five and 12 months ago.
Not surprisingly, I prefer to spend as much time with them as possible, so my internet time is severly limited.
I will be back in Denmark in one week, and then I'll participate more fully.

 

At 8/18/2005 3:29 AM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

And I just wanted to make sure you were clear that I do think that you made the case that legal liability would not be a source of bias in this case.

There are several other potential sources of bias that could be discussed, but unless any one has any facts or illucidating internal memos, we would all be speculating.


There are actually good reasons why legal liability for the individual researcher would ensure that they don't go with their biases. I will write a post about this at some later stage.

 

At 8/18/2005 12:08 PM, Blogger Prometheus said...

TO: Wade:

Your statement:

"I just haven't seen anything else to refute the findings by [sic] james, Burbacher, etc."

is absolutely true. Why would anyone bother to refute them, since they clearly do not support the conclusion that mercury causes autism. The bigger question is why the autism-mercury movement is hanging their hopes on such slender reeds.

The James et al paper merely shows that - in the study population - autism was associated with lower levels of antioxidant compounds. It shows nothing about whether this is a cause or an effect of autism.

Likewise, the Burbacher et al study simply shows that the pharmacokinetics of thimerosal and methyl mercury are not similar. If you read the abstract (or, better yet, the study), you will see that is all they conclude.

There are lots of studies that show a connection between mercury and one or several biochemical abnormalities. However, none have shown a connection between mercury and autism. There is a difference.

Finally, it has been interesting to see the progression in autism-mercury rhetoric regarding epidemiological studies. A few years ago, the alleged rise in autism prevalence (an epidemiological study of sorts) was touted as "proof positive" that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. When Madsen et al showed the same rise in autism in Denmark, but without the thimerosal, the researchers were baselessly accused of bias or corruption and the study debased as "methodologically flawed".

Now, we're up to what Mr. Kennedy calls "four flimsy studies" - which is precisely four more studies than there are supporting the autism-mercury hypothesis. One wonders if there is any data that the autism-mercury movement will accept, unless it supports their cause.

Like the supporters of "Intelligent Design", the autism-mercury movement spends most of its time and energy these days attacking the data (and the researchers) that refute their position. Little effort is going in to developing data that might support their own hypothesis. The "snipe and carp" method may work well in the public forum - and that may be the entire point - but it will never convince the scientific community.


Prometheus.

 

At 8/18/2005 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev, You seem to be the expert with Wakefield's measles study. What method did they use to locate the measles virus in the gut? Was it a blood test or a biopsy? If it wasn't a blood test, how can you debunk his study when it clearly has not been replicated?

 

At 8/18/2005 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prometheus,

No one is saying that those biological studies are absolute evidence that vaccines cause autism. But taken as a whole they certainly show that it is plausible and that more research is needed. I don't see how you can reference these studies as evidence against a link. The Burbacher study shows more than you state. It found more ethyl mercury gets trapped in the brain twice as much when compared to methyl mercury.

I don't understand how you can defend those epidemiological studies. We've already beaten the Danish studies to death here. The CDC won't even let us try to replicate their findings. Doesn't that concern you a bit?

 

At 8/18/2005 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Burbacher study shows more than you state. It found more ethyl mercury gets trapped in the brain twice as much when compared to methyl mercury."

Is that true? I must have read a different report.

The initial and terminal half-life of Hg in blood following thimerosal exposure was 2.1
and 8.6 days, which are significantly shorter than the elimination half-life of Hg
following MeHg exposure at 21.5 days. Brain concentrations of total Hg were
significantly lower by ~3-fold for the thimerosal-exposed infants when compared to the
MeHg infants, while the average brain-to-blood concentration ratio was slightly higher
for the thimerosal-exposed infants (3.5±1.0 vs. 2.5±0.6).

 

At 8/19/2005 1:35 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

The Wakefield study was just a case study of 12 (count 'em) kids. That is NOT a real study... especially since they were specially chosen. So it is a pointless paper to report, especially after the majority of the authors have decided to step away from it like it was a rotten rat in the basement.

Just the very teeny tiny size of the cases would warrent this as making a mountain out of a molehile... or more appropriately a mountain RANGE out of an ant hill!

More information here:
http://www.future-drugs.com/doi/pdf/10.1586/14760584.3.1.19;jsessionid=n02N9D972UJ9

and
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/107/5/e84

ALSO... a perusal of the scans at a journalist's site:
http://briandeer.com/wakefield/nick-chadwick.htm (this is a really fun one)

http://briandeer.com/wakefield/taqman-pcr.htm

 

At 8/19/2005 3:35 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Kev, You seem to be the expert with Wakefield's measles study. What method did they use to locate the measles virus in the gut? Was it a blood test or a biopsy? If it wasn't a blood test, how can you debunk his study when it clearly has not been replicated?

Sorry, you've lsot me - are you asking me if Wakefields study has been replicated or the one I mentioned?

Wade said:

You've been around long enough to know very well the studies to which I refer.

I'm sure I don't. So far as I know no studies have shown a causative link between thimerosal and autism. I was merely interested to see if you knew of a study I didn't.

There's one, maybe two people on 'your side' of the debate that I feel capable of having their minds changed by the science. By comparison, I think everyone on 'my side' of the debate has said at least once that they'd be more than willing to follow the evidence whether it went with our current beliefs or not.

 

At 8/19/2005 10:54 AM, Blogger JP said...

Prometheus: Finally, it has been interesting to see the progression in autism-mercury rhetoric regarding epidemiological studies. A few years ago, the alleged rise in autism prevalence (an epidemiological study of sorts) was touted as "proof positive" that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. When Madsen et al showed the same rise in autism in Denmark, but without the thimerosal, the researchers were baselessly accused of bias or corruption and the study debased as "methodologically flawed".

Now, we're up to what Mr. Kennedy calls "four flimsy studies" - which is precisely four more studies than there are supporting the autism-mercury hypothesis.


Which has been my point for a while now - if one is going to make the claim that thimerosal in vaccines had a role in the rise in autism spectrum disorders, the ONLY way to do that is through epidemiological study. And if the other side had one quality study that refuted the Verstraeten, Madsen, Hviid studies, then I'd take a second look.

Anon: No one is saying that those biological studies are absolute evidence that vaccines cause autism. But taken as a whole they certainly show that it is plausible and that more research is needed. I don't see how you can reference these studies as evidence against a link. The Burbacher study shows more than you state. It found more ethyl mercury gets trapped in the brain twice as much when compared to methyl mercury.

The question is not whether these studies are evidence against a link, but rather whether they're evidence for a link.

As per Burbacher, there is substantial debate about whether the amount of inorganic mercury found in those brains of the primates is meangingful, or, moreover, whether that conversion to inorganic mercury is part of the detoxification process. Remember, ethylmercury (just like in the Pichichero study) was cleared from the system much faster than methylmercury.

And as pointed out - total Hg in the brain was much higher in the methylmercury group. Unless one somehow thinks that organic mercury is now the "friendly, harmless" type.

The bottom line is that all the study concluded is that you can't necessarily use methylmercury as a reference for ethylmercury. Everything else, IMO, is mere speculation.

 

At 8/19/2005 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HCN,

How were the Wakefield kids specially chosen? Just because their parents suspected the MMR vaccine because of a noticeable reaction to it doesn't mean those kids aren't entitled to treatment.

The number of cases is small only because parents have no way to have their child tested for this. I vaguely recall hearing how Merck stepped in and was somehow able to prevent autistic children from being tested for measles in the gut. There is some research going on now in this space but parents are not allowed to find out the results.

 

At 8/19/2005 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev,

What I was trying to say is that Wakefield's study used biopsies to find the measles virus, not a blood test. So I don't see how the study you are referring to debunks Wakefield.

 

At 8/19/2005 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev,

Personally, I could be convinced of another cause for autism. But I can't be convinced that the rates of autism haven't increased or that autism is strictly generic. So to convince me there would need to be biological proof showing how something else in the environment is to blame.

 

At 8/19/2005 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP, What about the epidemiology showing the spikes in autism in the late 80's and then again in the early 90's which correspond exactly with the vaccine changes.

Verstaeten's own data refutes the CDC results. Have you seen the unpublished 1st version of his study?
http://www.safeminds.org/Generation%20Zero%20Syn.pdf
http://www.safeminds.org/Generation%20Zero%20Pres.pdf

Verstaeten himself says his study is neutral yet somehow it's referenced as evidence of no link. The CDC refuses to let anyone attempt to replicate their results. Why do you not question that? Kev says that your side would be willing to change your mind if the evidence was there. If that's true, why don't you at least question the CDC when they are clearly not being open & transparent with us?

JP, I agree with your conclusions regarding the Burbacher study. But one of the arguments "your side" has been using for years now is that ethyl mercury is harmless compared to methyl mercury when it's obvious that there is not enough information on ethyl mercury to make that statement.

 

At 8/19/2005 3:08 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

"How were the Wakefield kids specially chosen? Just because their parents suspected the MMR vaccine because of a noticeable reaction to it doesn't mean those kids aren't entitled to treatment."

By the lawyer paying for the study.

Even if he dissected the 12 kids' stomachs... claimed to have found measles virus in them, it would still be statistically insignificant.

It does not matter. The sample size was too small, the methods were suspect and the results were paid for. Wakefield was and IS a paid pawn of lawyers and quacks... and in June 2006 he will be the subject of a 6 week displinary inquiry:
http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-summary.htm

 

At 8/19/2005 3:38 PM, Blogger JP said...

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but a "neutral" study simply means that no association was found. (i.e., no association between thimerosal and autism) I'm sure a "neutral" result would be found if you did a study trying to associate, say, eating bread with getting into car accidents.

And the absurdity of the SafeMinds "Generation Zero" position has been well-documented. How they can believe initial analyses done on a topic of this magnitude, much less when the data itself needed to be refined because of programming errors and duplicate entries, is beyond me.

 

At 8/19/2005 3:50 PM, Blogger hollywoodjaded said...

To HCN: Also in re: Wakefield's study, I am recalling that some of the 12 children were sibs were they not? So, this actually reduces the sample size down even smaller (when only child is counted per family, so as to not add a genetic confounder -- would this not be correct?) Disclaimer: I could be mistaken about the sibs; need to go re-check the study at some point.

 

At 8/19/2005 6:06 PM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

Anonymous wrote, "what about the epidemiology"?

Yes, you should certainly be asking why the US, the UK and Canada have the same circa 1 in 166 prevalence of autism, while these countries differ dramatically from each other in amount of thimerosal that was injected into children over the years.

Someone should pay attention to Mark Blaxill's meticulous data and diagrams, "proving" that the UK and the US underwent the same autism "epidemic" at the same time with about the same resulting prevalence.

Except the amount of thimerosal in the UK stayed at the same low level as it had been for a few decades, while the amount in the US rose to more than three times the highest amount ever present in the UK schedule.

So what about the epidemiology? It shows no relationship at all between amount of injected thimerosal and prevalence of autism.

 

At 8/19/2005 6:11 PM, Anonymous Sotek said...

Anon, why are you convinced there's an epidemic?

Are you aware that the diagnostic criteria have been significantly loosened twice?

Are you aware that the most commonly-cited source for an "epidemic" is the educational data, which claims a rate LOWER than that of the prevalence studies that have been performed and have never shown a change when corrected for the changes in the DSM classification?


What's your problem with the Danish study? Yes, the method used for getting the data changed; that's not done by the study, and the study included what the rates would have been without a change in the data collection methods ... and still showed that increase.
Which correlates with diagnostic changes, *again*.

 

At 8/19/2005 6:39 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon. I'm not scientist enough to tell you one way or the other about why/if biopsy trumps blood test. Maybe one of the science bods in this thread can explain why it matters, if it does. Lets also not forget that this is a non-scientist reporting. Maybe they're wrong on that part?

This isn't the only study to refute the Wakefeild findings though.

"Even as Andrew Wakefield launched his attack on MMR in 1998, at a press conference and in a video, coinciding with a Lancet paper, he knew that his own laboratory had tested his theory: that the ultimate culprit for the children's autism was measles virus in the vaccine. Royal Free researcher Nick Chadwick, carrying out sophisticated molecular analysis of samples from the children, using methods agreed by Wakefield, found no trace of measles virus. Wakefield has since claimed that these were "false negatives""

Source.

Note he fails to say why they should be false negatives.

 

At 8/19/2005 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HCN,

I am presently working with a pediatric gastro for my son. He is going to be scoped and they are going to test for the measles virus. But they will not be allowed to tell me the results of that study. That's the only way the government would allow this research to be conducted because they are worried about lawsuits (and clearly not so worried about the kids).

 

At 8/19/2005 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP, You're right about the definition of a neutral study. I only brought it up because you (like everyone else) refered to that study as proof of no link.

The Generation Zero report is very important. I understand that a study will undergo change over time. But to remove the children who received the most thimerosal and then water down the data with children who were too young to be diagnosed is not valid. When the CDC did a simple comparison they found a tremendous correlation. If they have nothing to hide they should let independent researchers view the data. I'm still waiting for one of you to agree with me on this point.

 

At 8/19/2005 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michele, The UK did change their vaccine schedule to give children thimerosal at a younger age.

After seeing the way the CDC handled the US data and the way the Danish handled their data I just don't trust those epidemiological reports. Don't you think we should be allowed to see the CDC data?

Don't you think that clinical data should be considered?

 

At 8/20/2005 12:37 AM, Blogger JP said...

Anon,

A neutral study can certain be evidence towards thimerosal and autism not being linked. If thimerosal was protective towards autism, the Verstraeten study would've had a negative association in that regard. If thimerosal was a causal factor in autism, it would've had a positive association. The neutral nature of the results says that that particular study found no correlation between autism and thimerosal, period.

Independent researchers can apply to research the Vaccine Safety Datalink - it's open for business. Grants can be applied for. HMO's with their epidemiological and statistical entities can be contacted.

If the anti-thimerosal side wants to know the answer, they can. If a link really exists, it will exist no matter what dataset is being used.

But other than the Geiers, I'm not aware of anyone else who has attempted to apply.

As per the CDC study - yes, young children were added at the end of the study but the results were age adjusted so it's really a moot point. And the qualms, as I understood it, were that they took the no thimerosal and low thimerosal groups and combined them. I can't say exactly why that's the case (I'm actually doing some research into specific questions that have been raised about the CDC study) but I'd suggest a possiblity is that the no thimerosal group was so small it would've been a meaningless group to study.

 

At 8/20/2005 12:52 AM, Anonymous I2bpacific said...

What I would like to know is, why didn't Wakefield et all look for measles as long as they were doing biopsies of kids' intestines, normal and autistic kids...
here

He has his own little clinic now where they "scope" autistic kids on a daily basis, surely he must be looking for measles still?
I think that Wakefield has quietly moved on to a new theory, the one he raises in the above paper and supports with references to other papers of his own. He doesn't mention measles once in that new paper. Not once. He uses a paper that is about MMR as a reference without using the "m" word, which is interesting.

Mostly it's a boring paper. He says he find nodules of the kind found in AIDS patients in the autistic kids... oh, that's nice. He seems to speculate that its a bacterial infection that is causing the nodules because he says that some autistic kids get less autistic if you give them antibiotics.

All we should need to bury the thimerosal hypothesis is already available. It's just that people who love the hypothesis won't bury its rotting corpse.
http://autismdiva.blogspot.com/2005/08/truth-or-temper-tantrums.html

There has been no huge increase in the number of autistic children, just a big increase in diagnosis and a widening of the definition of "autistic". There might be a small actual increase, but the mercury parents all scream "epidemic!" The epidemic is only in their fevered imaginations and in the machinations of the lawyers involved and is used as a PR tool to terrorize people into sympathizing with the poor victims of the imaginary government caused "epidemic".

The fact that no other country is pointing the finger at thimersal ought to mean something, Michelle Dawson has stated absolutely plainly the accepted epidemiology of the UK and Canada sinks the thimerosal hypothesis, It's down, sunk, dead,.. it is no more, ... it's shuffled of this mortal coil, it's rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!

They can always argue that in the case of a handful of children thimerosal did something that led to autism, but the "something" isn't even obvious or likely, and they are not arguing a handful they are arguing thousands, a generation of destroyed children!!!

And here we go again. No one has shown that autism rose and DROPPED again in Denmark with the removal of thimerosal. Do the mercury parents seriously think there was a huge drop in autism after the thimerosal was taken out? I doubt they could find even a flat line if the study was done the way they want to see it. No they are all huffy and sweaty over the increase, forget the stinking increase caused by a change in parameters!!! Did autism rates fall? NO! If they fell dramatically why wouldn't the Danes be pleased and bragging about it?

Personally, I think that the thimerosal bunch are on their last legs as far as general credibility, even if the few hundred die hards want to hang on to the dead corpse. I predict "their scientists" like Hornig and probably James and Deth, are going to turn on their heels soon and run away from this if only to save what's left of their shreds of credibility and try to forget the whole "mercury mom" nightmare. Hayley will still be there muttering about mercury and Alzheimer's. Kirby might just change his name and try to go back to writing for the Advocate.

 

At 8/20/2005 7:15 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon(s) re: why won't the CDC allow study?

The answer is that as far as I'm aware they will. The only people who've been black-balled are the Geier's. They've been black-balled due to the appalling science they pedalled, well documented on this blog and many others (a search of 'Geier' at the top of this page should get you results).

As for everyone else, all they have to do is apply.

 

At 8/20/2005 7:59 AM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

In response to Anonymous and the UK vaccination schedule, see http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/06/
thimerosal_upda.html#comment-6546828 for some of the logical fall-out of pinning the entire mercury/autism thing on a very dramatic threshold effect (the entire autism "epidemic" caused not by increasing thimerosal in the vaccination schedule, but by slightly changing the timing).

I can now add to what I posted chez Skeptico that it has been proposed that all autism epidemiology is lousy and can't be trusted, because it invariably and persistently shows no relationship between injected mercury and autism. See my previous comment re people who deny any validity for epidemiology while simultaneously crying "epidemic!".

 

At 8/20/2005 1:23 PM, Blogger Ginger said...

JP,

I posted a lengthy explanation of the problems with both the Danish Study and the Verstraeten Study, and why their results cannot be relied upon on your web site last week.

Presuming the points I made are true, does my explanation of the flawed methodology shake your confidence in them at all?

 

At 8/20/2005 3:38 PM, Anonymous Sotek said...

The Geiers aren't blackballed from the CDC databases because of their apalling mis-use of science. They're blackballed because they were *trying to get enough information to identify individuals*.

Think about this. You complain the CDC is blocking science by not releasing information ...

... but would you be fine with it making your entire family's complete medical history public to anyone who wanted to know - and in such a way that they could find out precisely who had that medical history?

I doubt it. I know *I* wouldn't be pleased.

 

At 8/20/2005 4:29 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

"I am presently working with a pediatric gastro for my son. He is going to be scoped and they are going to test for the measles virus. But they will not be allowed to tell me the results of that study. That's the only way the government would allow this research to be conducted because they are worried about lawsuits (and clearly not so worried about the kids)."

Just because YOU have been hoodwinked, does not mean the rest of the world has been. I personally am not one to have my kids undergo medical procedures without some solid science behind them (I also live near a university with a research hospital and large childhood development research program... and all kids have participated in child development studies, none of them invasive. There are very strict guidelines that they all abide by).

Still... measles and thimerosal are TWO completely different issues. None of Wakefields "case studies" have been replicated (nor could they if they went by the standards for human subject ethics)... and neither have the "anti-thimerosal" ones. WHAT has been verified over checking the records of hundreds of thousands of kids in several countries... is that vaccination does not lead to autism.

 

At 8/20/2005 4:46 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Sotek said:

The Geiers aren't blackballed from the CDC databases because of their apalling mis-use of science. They're blackballed because they were *trying to get enough information to identify individuals*.

Sounds like a fairly apalling mis-use to me ;o)

 

At 8/20/2005 5:23 PM, Anonymous altunarail said...

Sounds like the Geiers with their almost 2 million dollar home (as advertised by someone trying to defend the reputations of the Geiers) were guilty of an appalling misuse of advantage. They tried to use the fact that they had access to these records for their own benefit, obvioiusly.

The article/essay whatever that showed the Geiers $1.8 million home which sits on some land with all kinds of nice amenities, was meant prove that the NYT reporter who visited the Geiers' home and took a photo in their basement laboratory with the carpeted floor and cheesy wood panelling was being rude and deceptive when he described their home as a "two story home", rather than as a a suburban palace or something.

The author, Christi Diemond(?) who spreads the lie that Mark Geier is a board certified geneticist, seemed to make an issue of the idea that the Geiers don't really get paid much for being professional witnesses in vaccine injury cases... but didn't explain how they came to afford the mansion/palace/estate/"luxury brick home". ???
read it here

Maybe we can get Robin Leach to do a profile of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Untrustworthy"

 

At 8/21/2005 10:15 AM, Blogger Orac said...

Popping in from vacation again briefly.

Sotek is right. The Geiers tried to combine two parts of the database in such a way that would have allowed them to access patient-identifiable information. (HIPAA wasn't around then, I think, but if it were, this would have been a horrendous HIPAA violation. In any case, they were censured by the CDC, and their IRB approval was revoked by the HMO under whose auspices they were doing the study. See:

http://www.casewatch.org/fdawarning/rsch/geier.shtml

http://www.casewatch.org/fdawarning/rsch/geierk.shtml

 

At 8/21/2005 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP said...
Anon,

"A neutral study can certain be evidence towards thimerosal and autism not being linked. If thimerosal was protective towards autism, the Verstraeten study would've had a negative association in that regard. If thimerosal was a causal factor in autism, it would've had a positive association. The neutral nature of the results says that that particular study found no correlation between autism and thimerosal, period."

JP, A neutral study is not evidence of no link. If you don't believe me perhaps you'll listen to the author of the study. Here is a direct quote from Verstraeten's letter to the editor:

"The perception is
that an epidemiological study can have only 1 of 2 outcomes:
either an association is found (or confirmed), or an association is
refuted. Very often, however, there is a third interpretation: an
association can neither be found nor refuted. Let’s call the first 2
outcomes “positive” and “negative” and the third outcome “neutral.”
The CDC screening study of thimerosal-containing vaccines
was perceived at first as a positive study that found an association
between thimerosal and some neurodevelopmental outcomes.
This was the perception both independent scientists and antivaccine
lobbyists had at the conclusion of the first phase of the study."

 

At 8/21/2005 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sotek said...
"Anon, why are you convinced there's an epidemic?"

"Are you aware that the diagnostic criteria have been significantly loosened twice?"

Sotek,
Yes, I'm aware that the diagnostic criteria has changed and I do believe part of the increase is due to that. But I still believe the true rates of autism has greatly increased over the past 20 years. Didn't the MIND Institute compare modern autistic children with the more stringent diagnostic criteria and conclude that those children would have been diagnosed autistic back in the 80's?

But the main reason for my belief is what I have seen with my own eyes. I never saw or even heard of autism 20 years ago and the same goes for my friends & family. I know teachers who have been working in schools for 30 years and they see a difference in the kids. If there were this many autistic kids 20 years ago we would have noticed them and nothing you can say about misdiagnosing them or not noticing them will change my mind. You are in the minority in this view.

 

At 8/21/2005 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I2bpacific said...
"What I would like to know is, why didn't Wakefield et all look for measles as long as they were doing biopsies of kids' intestines, normal and autistic kids... "

You must have missed my earlier point on this topic. I believe he was and is looking for the measles virus but he is not legally able to report on the results of that testing. I am trying to get to the bottom of this but apparently the only way the gov't would allow the measles research to continue was if the results were not publicized.

 

At 8/21/2005 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev,

Just because you can apply to access the VSD does not mean they are accepting applicants. I'm trying to find out more on this subject.

 

At 8/21/2005 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HCN,

What do you mean by "hoodwinked?"

You know nothing of my personal situation and I think adjectives like that have no place in this blog. My son has severe GI issues and he is getting needed medical attention.

 

At 8/21/2005 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michele,

You continue to post about the epidemiology but you never addressed my last question. Here it is again:

The problem with all of those studies is that even if they are perfect they may not be sufficient to determine if a small percentage of the population had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. The president of the IOM went on national tv and said he wasn't sure if the rates of autism were increasing. That tells me that there may be an issue in diagnosing it and counting up the numbers. So why are we wasting time with epidemiological studies?

You also never addressed my question about the clinical data. How can we possibly ignore the real diagnostic information we have on real autistic children in favor of epidemiology?

 

At 8/21/2005 11:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone posted regarding the Verstaeten study defending how they included children who were younger than 1 year of age. You say they adjusted for those children later on. If that's the case, what was the point in adding those children into the study to begin with?

Can someone please explain why you don't have an issue with these flaws? Why is ok for the CDC to lose their datasets and make it impossible to replicate their study? Michele, Sotek, HCN, anyone? Please let me know.

 

At 8/22/2005 1:09 AM, Anonymous Sotek said...

I'm sorry, but if you think the fact that you hadn't heard about autism until after the diagnostic criteria were expanded, and you hear about it more now, is some sort of evidence that the "epidemic" wasn't caused by the criteria ...

If that is the case, then you are an idiot.

And I'm sorry for being rude, but when one is willfully stupid, they are willfully stupid, and need to be called on it.


And you can say I'm in the minority ... and I might even be, among the general public. But I'm quite sure that the medical professionals with your stance are the minority.

And I have heard that the MIND institute's study was sort of actively backwards, in that it showed that those diagnosed by the OLD criteria would still be diagnosed by the new criteria. But I haven't encountered the study proper, so I can't say very much about it; perhaps you can supply a link for me?

 

At 8/22/2005 2:47 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

To steal a quote from someone else:

"This is just like 'Whack a Mole'"!

(by the way, I also know a teacher who retired a few years ago. She told me that kids like my son who could not do something as simple as talk would have been labeled mentally retarded and institutionalized 30 years ago... there HAS been a change with the various forms of IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, over the years).

 

At 8/22/2005 3:37 AM, Blogger Autism Diva said...

Re: the MIND's study. Autism Diva believes that the MIND will eventually recant their position. They are the only ones who have taken the position that the criteria change didn't affect the diagnoses. As was pointed out in the New Scientist article, that "study" was never published in a peer reviewed journal.

As someone who was watched the MIND closely from its inception, and as someone who has had interactions with some of the "founding fathers" as well as the researchers there, Autism Diva is fairly confident in saying that the Byrd study was heavily influenced by the few founding fathers and their personal beliefs in the autism epidemic. Without the "epidemic" the MIND would not likely have been built. Get the picture???? Without the "epidemic" much of the funding would not have been there. Do we get a sense of people having good fiduciary reasons to fudge "a bit" on the side of saying that there has been an epidemic, when in fact there has been nothing of the sort.

Seems pretty obvious to Autism Diva.

At this point in time the MIND institute is starting to twist in the wind as having sponsored this bogus idea that there has been an epidemic. That very word was in some of their promotional literature that specifically asked for donations so they could study this "epidemic".

about Wakefield, as I2bpacific wrote, Wakefields study pointed to bacterial infection as a likely cause of the nodules. Measles are not bacteria, they are viruses. Why in the world would "the government" be able to stop him from publishing that he found measles? Even so, why couldn't Wakefield write, we also looked at measles but are not allowed to comment on our findings at this time.

I agree with I2bpacific. It looks like the man has moved on, he is leaving the measles stupidity out there in the wilderness with that wacky Dr. Hugh Fudenberg. Do you know that Fudenberg had his medical license revoked? It looks more like some of Wakefield's adoring fans have tried to cover up his leaving measles behind with a new conspiracy theory since the can't believe their sweet Wakefield (http://thoughtfulhouse.org/images/index2_off.gif) could have been wrong. But maybe someone has stopped him from talking about measles... who is it? and exactly how have they stopped him legally?

Wakefield is tangentially connected to the MIND institute now through Dr. Ashwood. Autism Diva doesn't think Ashwood will touch the measles idea with a 40 foot pole. Another reason for Wakefield to abandon it entirely. Wakefield might try to get into the thimerosal bag, he seems to be heading that way, he showed up at the little rally the parents had there in Washington DC in July.

Call Autism Diva narrow minded, but she thinks its really weird that "thoughtfulhouse" Wakefield's new enterprise has an ex pro hockey player as it's 'Honorary vice president of research"
The other "researchers" are Wakefield and Carol try me, sh*t-head Stott. see here for the "try me, sh*t-head" quote and the story behind it. Loooovely people these.

Someone still needs to explain how the UK, US, Canada and Australia -to name just 4- all have the same rate of autism and all have different levels of thimerosal exposure. If epidemiology follows thimerosal exposure "lock-step" then they all should be different with the US having the highest rate of autism.

What is the rate in Mexico? Does anyone care? The thimerosal gang doesn't ask questions that might weaken their cause.

As far as Autism Diva can tell so far there has been no fearful raise in autism *anywhere* that is blamed on thimerosal, except the US and the only reason it happened here is because of the machinations of a handful of people, including some personal injury lawyers.

It's all going to come out in the wash.

Michelle Dawson's question stands unanswered: If you want to say, for example, that 1 in 20,000 kids was made autistic by thimersoal then thimerosal didn't cause the rate of autism to "skyrocket" to 1 in 166, now did it?

If you want to howl "epidemic" then you must use epidemiology. But good epidemiology shoots down the "epidemic" first of all, and second of all, shoots down vaccines as a significant cause of autism or tends to indicate no association at all.

If there's no epidemic then why is "epidemic" on everyones lips and on David Kirby's book cover? This is the shell game,
1) scream "epidemic caused by thimerosal!!!", then
2) say, "no I mean it's just a few children who actually get harmed by thimerosal"
3) if your audience starts to yawn and say, "well, if it's just a few then that's no big deal we have time to figure this out",
4) scream, "epidemic!!! a generation of children destroyed by thimerosal!!!!".
Lather, rinse, repeat and escalate.

Anyone who buys the thimerosal hypothesis garbage has been suckered. Anyone who buys into chelation for autism has been suckered. It might be hard to hear, but it's true. You can save your money and still watch your child develop if you maintain a positive attitude toward your child's development.

Autistic kids are developing as we speak *without chelation* *without special diets*
*without vitamin B12 shots*,
*without eye of newt or hair of bat*,
even without 40 hours a week of intensive ABA therapy.
just as they always have.
read this
and this, please.

 

At 8/22/2005 7:13 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon said:

Just because you can apply to access the VSD does not mean they are accepting applicants. I'm trying to find out more on this subject.

OK, surely this would be easy to prove. Have SafeMinds, Generaton Rescue, Thoughtful House, David Kirby, Rashid Buttar, RFK Jr made an application? If they have then was it refused point blank?

If they haven't....then why haven't they? They're the ones constantly making the allegations of cover up. Why can't they put up or shut up?

 

At 8/22/2005 7:45 AM, Blogger Orac said...

Anonymous:

The studies probably aren't large enough to rule out a small percentage of the population being "sensitive" to mercury in a way that causes autism. However, that's not what the autism activists are claiming. The are claiming that mercury is THE cause or a major cause. The studies certainly are large enough to rule out mercury as the main cause or a major cause of autism. They are certainly large enough it rule it out as the cause of the vast majority of autism cases.

 

At 8/22/2005 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sotek,

I did not hear about autism 20 years ago because it was so rare, not because of the criteria change. You, my friend, are the idiot - not to mention rude.

HCN,

So you think the autistic children were misdiagnosed as mentally retarded 30 years ago? So wouldn't the increase in autism have a corresponding DECREASE in mental retardation? If autism increased from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 166 today, then the rates of mental retardation must have decreased at the same rate.

Think about that HCN. Misdiagnosing autism as mental retardation couldn't possibly explain the autism numbers. The only explanation left is that no one noticed the autistic children 30 years ago. As a parent of an autistic child you must know that it's impossible to not realize that your child has autism.

The only logical explanation is that the rates of autism increased due to some environmental factor.

 

At 8/22/2005 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Autism Diva,

I see your point regarding the MIND study. But see my point to Sotek & HCN. Do you think the majority of autistics were not noticed 30 years ago?

You raise a good point regarding the MIND institute and their "conflict" but do you see no other conflicts? It is hard for you to imagine that the agencies responsible for driving the vaccine program might have a wee bit of a conflict and may not be the best people to look for a link?

From what I recall about the latest study from Thoughtful House it was describing bowel disease caused by a virus. They even compared it to HIV.

Regarding epidemiology, you should read Ginger's blog because she explains the issues in great detail. The bottom line is that epidemiology should not be the ONLY type of study used to answer these questions. The IOM said epidemiology may not be sufficient to find a link. The US study was ruled neutral yet is cited as evidence against a link. That's 20% of the evidence (1 out of 5). Despite the posts by Kristjan no one has made any convincing arguments describing how the Danish (and Swedish) methodologies are valid.

The clinical & biological data were ignored by the IOM and they are ignored by you and your friends here.

 

At 8/22/2005 11:21 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon said:

I did not hear about autism 20 years ago because it was so rare, not because of the criteria change.

Thats solely your opinion. On the other hand I can think of numerous studies that say exactly the opposite - that the increase in autism is down to a widening of criteria and better recognition of autism generally. Its something accepted amongst just about every autism expert in the world. If you want sources I'm happy to post them.

Anon then said:

So you think the autistic children were misdiagnosed as mentally retarded 30 years ago? So wouldn't the increase in autism have a corresponding DECREASE in mental retardation?

There are fewer diagnosis of mental retardation.

As diagnosis of autism have increased, diagnosis of mental retardation have decreased.

Thats a hard stat - just like the fact that decreasing use of thiomersal has seen no decrease in autism.

 

At 8/22/2005 11:26 AM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

For a peer-reviewed article (the pdf is available for free) which looks critically at the "epidemic" and at the methodology of the non-refereed MIND Institute-sponsored study, see http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/
cd/autism_epidemic.pdf

I'm delighted that Anonymous seems to be announcing that this whole "epidemic" thing is being abandoned by the mercury/autism crew. Or I think that's what Anonymous is saying.

Re clinical studies, there is no evidence that a small (and now proposed to be too tiny to show up in the epidemiology) proportion of diagnosed autistics are, instead of being autistic, actually mercury poisoned from vaccines. There is no evidence in the science for a mechanism by which vaccines containing thimerosal could change non-autistic brains into autistic brains.

But if the argument is now that thimerosal is implicated in only a very few cases of autism (too few to be found via any epidemiological study), why should this particular wild guess, for which there is no evidence in the existing research, be a public priority?

And if it is a priority for some people, why don't these people apply for grants to study this, as Prometheus has pointed out?

According to the usual mercury/autism ideas, chelation (which is supposed to change autistic brains into non-autistic brains) would necessarily get rid of both non-savant autistic strengths (present in all autistics; there's a short list in here somewhere http://www.sentex.net/~nexus23/naa_sen.html, with references at the end) and savant special abilities (which are present in 1 in 10 autistics). Because these specific autistic strengths and abilities are well-described in published research, this would be an easy enough study to design. It would produce objective, precisely quantified measures showing an autistic brain, by losing its strengths, has become a non-autistic brain.

So long as that's what you want to do. I would immediately spot the ethical problems, but I'm afraid you could easily find a funding source which would not be constrained by ethical issues.

 

At 8/22/2005 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev,

We saw two major spikes in autism in the late 80's and then in the early 90's which coincided exactly with the change in the vaccine schedule.

The mental retardation numbers you site are very recent. Lets see the downward spikes in mental retardation in the late 80's & early 90's which matched the autism increase.

Even the numbers used by Autism Diva produce about 10% more autism increase than a mental retardation decrease.

 

At 8/22/2005 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michele,

If you're going to criticize the methodology of the MIND study at least humor me and make a comment on the CDC & Danish study.

I have no idea what "announcement" you are referring to. My point is that epidemiology - particularly flawed epidemiology - should not be the only type of study given weight.

There is a lot of clinical data that shows today's autistic children are very sick. There is no diagnostic test one can take to test for mercury poisoning. The toxic levels of mercury that come out of children due to chelation is the best evidence that the kids can't remove it on their own but you and your pals don't want to hear that. Stating that chelation is designed to change a brain is completely inaccurate. Chelation removes heavy metals that are trapped in the body, including the brain. If some parents of autistic children describe it inaccurately you should forgive them as they have more important things to think about. Poking fun at it like you do in these blogs is just insulting - something I've come to expect from "your side."

You make it sound so easy to get grants and do these studies. My contention is that hundreds of DAN doctors have treated thousands of autistic patients. Surely this experience should have counted for something by the IOM.

 

At 8/22/2005 1:29 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon said:

We saw two major spikes in autism in the late 80's and then in the early 90's which coincided exactly with the change in the vaccine schedule.

'We' referring to whom? The US? All through this thread people have been trying to explain to you (assuming you're all the same Anon?) that autism is a worldwide thing. You're in danger of turning this whole 'mental retardation' thing into a sideshow.

A decrease in mental retardation diagnosis is one thing thats indicative of a false autism epidemic - you know full well its far from the only factor.

As I say, I can think of numerous peer reviewed studies that support the idea of better diagnosis and increased awareness as the primary factors. What peer reviewed evidence can you provide to refute this?

I'd say 'none'. All that you have is your belief that you weren't aware of as many autistics 20 years ago - read the science as thats kind of the point: an increase in awareness is part of the reason for an increase in amount.

Belief != evidence.

 

At 8/22/2005 1:33 PM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

For Anonymous, autistic brains are different in structure, development, and function from non-autistic brains. This is why autistic people are autistic. Autistic differences show up in multiple cognitive paradigms.

The DAN doctors claim that successfully chelated autistic children are no longer autistic at all. This is a claim that chelation can change autistic cognition into non-autistic cognition (leaving aside neuroanatomy for now). This dramatic change would be easy to study in the way I described.

Re "insulting", if you are not interested in research, then please don't ask a researcher about research, because you may get a research-based response.

I don't have a "side" here, except that I prefer accuracy. And, from experience, I know that spreading false and sensationalist information about autism and autistic people (for example, that we are sick and poisoned, or that people like me--autistic adults--don't actually exist, or that we are a frightening epidemic which must be stopped) has serious consequences for autistic people of all ages.

 

At 8/22/2005 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev, I was referring to the US numbers (apologize for assuming everyone lives in the US). The California numbers had huge increases in autism starting in the late 80's. If that increase was the result of misdiagnosed mental retardation then we should see a huge drop in mental retardation at the same time.

Other than the widening of the criteria (which you seem to be saying resulted in a shift of mental retardation over to autism) I'm not aware of the other factors responsible for the increase in autism numbers.

Belief != evidence is something that your side needs to consider as well. Or perhaps there is evidence that I haven't seen to illustrate why MB12, chelation, special diets, etc... do not help autistic children.

I'm still irked by the fact that "your side" refuses to acknowledge any of the points made by "my side" (for example, why is there a conflict of interest at the MIND Institute yet no conflict of interest at the CDC?). If it were the Geier's who changed the study parameters to falsely show an increase in autism due to thimerosal you guys would be all over that. Yet, when your point is being proven you fail to see the methodology flaws. It's impossible for me to take any of you seriously when you act this way.

 

At 8/22/2005 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michele, Let me ask you a hypothetical question that I hope you will answer honestly. If you knew that autistic children could be completely cured of their autism through chelation would you be in favor of allowing that to happen? Would you allow yourself to be "cured" of your autism?

 

At 8/22/2005 4:08 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

"Kev, I was referring to the US numbers (apologize for assuming everyone lives in the US). The California numbers had huge increases in autism starting in the late 80's. If that increase was the result of misdiagnosed mental retardation then we should see a huge drop in mental retardation at the same time. "

See the chart of page 15 of http://www.dds.cahwnet.gov/Autism/pdf/AutismReport2003.pdf ... even though that is a document that should NOT be used as proof for autism increase (it says so too).

Also... 30 years ago was 1975. How does that relate to IDEA and PL-94-142? Why is it significant?

See:
http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/leg/idea/history.pdf

 

At 8/22/2005 4:30 PM, Anonymous Sotek said...

If you, Anon, think that it wasn't rarer because of stricter diagnostic criteria, I reiterate my stance: You are, in that case, an idiot.

I'm sorry, but look.
I'm "autistic" by the 1-in-166 statistic. I've got Asperger's. I CERTAINLY wouldn't've been diagnosed prior to the first expansion. I probably wouldn't've been diagnosed prior to the second expansion, either.

So yes-it's more frequent because of increased criteria.

And denying this fact requires either idiocy or simple lies.

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they have some morality; I'll retract my calling you an idiot if you would prefer I call you a liar (which I, for one, consider far worse; you have a CHOICE to lie, after all).

That said, I only called you an idiot with a condition attached. And I maintain that stance.

If you don't think that more people being diagnosed makes the public more aware, and you don't think the criteria being looser makes more people diagnosed, or you DO think those but don't think that looser criteria make more people aware of autism ... then you are, in fact, an idiot.

And if you do think that and are simply denying it to win a debate on the internet ... then, well, then you're lying.


Are the criteria the *sole* cause? Maybe, maybe not. But they're certainly a cause, and your current stance seems to be that they aren't at *all*. I find this ... implausible, to say the least.


Oh, and yes. I'm rude. Guess what? I might be more polite to a "real person". If you don't want to have the common courtesy to identify yourself, why should anyone be anything less that rude back?

 

At 8/22/2005 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HCN,

I looked at the first chart but I'm not sure what point you're trying to make by referencing it. I only used the 30 year reference because you had used it during one of your replies to me. Twenty years works just as well.

 

At 8/22/2005 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sotek,

Before you called me an idiot, I already agreed that part of the increase is likely due to the widening of the criteria. This is exactly what I said earlier in response to you:

"Sotek,
Yes, I'm aware that the diagnostic criteria has changed and I do believe part of the increase is due to that. But I still believe the true rates of autism has greatly increased over the past 20 years."

So it would appear I'm neither a liar or an idiot - but you are still rude and apparently inattentive.

 

At 8/22/2005 9:04 PM, Blogger Prometheus said...

Anonymous (which one - who knows?) said something about two "spikes" in autism prevalence - one in the 80's and one in the 90's. Where? Even the California DDS data don't show anything that could be called a "spike". And the USDE data (which is equally suspect) show a very smooth curve. So where are these "spikes" showing up? In someone's vivid imagination, perhaps?

And for all the people who want to talk about the flaws in studies that refute the autism-mercury connection - even if you manage to destroy those studies, you still don't have any data to support your position. The way to support your position is to go out there and get some data.

Finally, I called the folks controlling access to the Vaccine Safety Database and they were very clear that I would be welcome to submit a request. I can either go there or I can tell them what I'm looking for and they'll have their people pull the data for me.

Of course, they could be just feeding me a line, but they didn't seem very "closed" to me. It could be my charming personality.

Maybe the autism-mercury people should give it a try. Maybe, just maybe, the rumors about the database being closed (or parts of it being "lost") are just "rumors.

What do you think? Instead of just repeating what you've been told by David Kirby and RFK, Jr., how about checking these things out for yourselves? You might surprise yourself.


Prometheus

 

At 8/22/2005 9:21 PM, Anonymous I2bpacific said...

I think anonymous should click the "other button" and give him or herself a name or number so we can keep track of him or her.

The whole world is not the United States. Forget the United States for a minute, If you asked professionals in the UK, Australia, and Canada, to tell you how many autistics they had and to show a graph of how many they had a few years ago according to the definition of a few years ago, you will see the same kind of slope from 1 in 5,000 or maybe a little more, to 1 in 166.

That increase is in no way attached to thimerosal usage.

Don't you understand the idea of NO CORRELATION?

There is NO CORRELATION between national thimerosal usage and autism.

If you want to hint that the CDC would gladly cover up a debacle like poisoning kids, that's fine.

It doesn't matter whether they WOULD or COULD because all the evidence at hand say they DIDN'T HAVE TO!

Michelle said it totally plainly, there's no mechanism for thimerosal to cause autism.

The study that has got everyone excited about methyl b12 injections was meant to discuss only notice ONLY are you paying attention? ONLY kids with regressive autism. They used 19 kids with "regressive" autism who "regressed" between 18 mos and 3 years. and one who had "infantilel autism"

20 kids. They tested their blood and found them as a group to be statistically lower in glutathione and some other stuff like SAM and SAH. Then they took 8 count 'em eight only eight...and they gave them betaine and folic acid and got a major change, and then they gave them injections of b12 and saw a small change in most parameters but a bigger change in one parameter they thought was more important.

They didn't look at the kids diets to see if there was a reason why they might have problems that can be caused by a poor diet. The kids had all been taking otc vitamins. We don't know if they were all being chelated or if they had a problem with absorbing B12 from their guts or if they were low in B12. Apparently they weren't low in B12 or they'd have anemia and possibly other severe problems.

Probably hundreds of parents are giving their kids methyl b12 injections based on one study on 8 kids.

The study says that a larger study should be done to see if b12 can help KIDS WHO HAVE REGRESSED, sinced that is the group they used. The study didn't do any measurements to see if the kids actually felt better, were healthier or acted less autistic or whatever.

There is a study now at the MIND institute probably not on just regressed kids since they are only 20 - 20% of all autistic kids. They are skipping the betaine and folic acid for some reason and doing the methyl b12 injections. They will watch for behavioral changes.

Making an autistic child feel better does not make him less autistic. All humans are for making the autistic kids feel better. Got that? The accusation that adult autistics don't want kids to get treatment for bowel disease or indigenstion or whatever is sick, and a lie.

If the child can talk after the gas pains leave, what a great deal, but he's still autistic, if he was before.

Re: whoever totally misrepresented what Wakefield said about AIDS. He was saying that the nodules he saw were the same as seen in AIDS because the AIDS people have poor immune systems, not because a virus, the AIDS virus gave them nodules in their guts.

He's looking at immune problems not a virus specificially. He said that an antibiotic could cure an autistic kid...normalizing cytokines or whatever he's into. That means he thinks that the kid has a bad immune systme up front and that a bacteria has settled in the intestines because of that.

But Wakefield is a twit, and has shown himself to be untrustworthy, so Autism Diva doesn't pay much attention to what he thinks.

No ideas about the mysterious government agency that is stopping poor Wakefield? Why doesn't someone else do it then? Because the MMR thing is bogus. That's why.

Forget the US and Denmark pretend all the autistics are in Canada and Australia and the UK and pick a continental country and a south american country and an Asian country and a former member of the USSR.

There's no reason to implicate thimerosal. NONE.

All the judges have to do is look at all the huge body of information away from the US and they can slam dunk deny the parents a chance at the vaccine insurance and big pharmas deep pockets.

The parents need to look at the autistic brains and see what PRENATAL influences MIGHT cause a FEW children to develop autistic brains IF they want to sue someone.

They need to forget the chelation garbage and test out the mail order labs that are ripping them off. If they want to sue someone, they should think about suing Buttar and the labs. It's time to move on to Dow Chemical or someone making fire retardants or something, that at least might have an influence ona kid becoming autistic. But will they? Noooooooooo.

They are so crazed with all the weird science non-science, given to them by Haley and Blaxill and Bernard and Deth and Hornig ... that they refuse to listen to the truth. And the lawyers don't want to start all over with doing "discoveries" in Dow chemical's files.
Davey Taylor was dxd as "mildly autistic" at 18 mos, now after lots of vitamins and chelation, etc, he's... drumroll.... mildly autistic.

Same for Lyn Redwood's son, he got a PDD,nos dx when he was 5 or something. Today, on video he looks EXACTLY like a kid with PDD,nos, and both Davey Taylor and Will Redwood look like fantastic happy kids.

 

At 8/22/2005 10:08 PM, Blogger Ginger said...

As long as everyone is arguing about the research, I thought I would throw this into the mix. Just found out about this study yesterday.

Trends in Diagnosis Rates for Autism and ADHD at Hospital Discharge in the Context of Other Psychiatric Diagnoses
David S. Mandell, Sc.D., William W. Thompson, Ph.D., Eric S. Weintraub, M.P.H., Frank DeStefano, M.D., M.P.H. and Michael B. Blank, Ph.D.
Psychiatr Serv 56:56-62, January 2005
© 2005 American Psychiatric Association

OBJECTIVE: Concerns have been raised over observed increases in the number of children who are given a diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder. The goal of this study was to examine trends by age and calendar year in the diagnosis of two of these disorders, autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in the context of other psychiatric disorders in a sample of hospitalized children.

METHODS: Data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) were used for descriptive analyses of secular trends of diagnosed psychiatric disorders between 1989 and 2000. Changes over time in rates of diagnosis of autism, ADHD, affective disorders, and substance-related disorders were examined and compared.

RESULTS: Substance-related disorders were the most common mental disorders recorded at hospital discharge and increased by 39 percent between 1989 and 2000. Affective disorder was the next most common diagnosis and increased by 138 percent. Although autism and ADHD were far less common, their diagnosis rates nearly quadrupled over the course of the study. Although rates of diagnosis of affective and substance-related disorders generally increased over the lifespan, diagnosis of autism and ADHD followed a very different pattern,
with peaks in rates at ages 7 and 12.

CONCLUSIONS: Increases in rates of diagnosis of etiologically unrelated mental disorders suggest that there have been changes in diagnostic practices over time, increases in community prevalence of these disorders, and increased likelihood of hospitalizations for different mental disorders.

If you take a look at the vaccination schedule, [ http://tinyurl.com/9hsvl ] you can see that these peaks in autism and adhd diagnosis occur just after booster shots are given at ages 4-6 and 11-12.

Observations by Lejune Clark (yes I know she may not be an acceptable source to you, but try to focus on what is being said):

Notice anything significant?

Do we think this is just a coincidence? Or are doctor's able to do a better diagnosis when the children are 7 and 12, but have difficulty diagnosing them at 8, 9, 10, and 11?

I wonder if these authors realize they have just added more support to the autism/immunization hypothesis.

Attached are some Power Point slides to accompany this study produced by Dr. Richard Deth, Northwestern University.

http://tinyurl.com/b64ab

This is a very powerful visual aid.


Discuss.

 

At 8/22/2005 10:28 PM, Anonymous 12bpacific said...

Lujene says her son regressed into Asperger's at age 8.

this is not possible. Absolutely not possible, so you are right when you say she has no credibility.

Here she is saying that the same thing is happening to the kids in tis study.

Does she have any reason to think that any of the kids were vaxed with thimerosal? what if they all got vaxed from individual vials with not TCV, maybe they never got their vaccines at all at 6 and 11. It says they were looking at a small number even after the number had quadrupled.

Lujene just decides that they all got vaxed and within a YEAR or more they presented at a hospital and got an ASD diagnosis. Without any trace of the problem having been there before. I thought that this thimerosal stuff was fast acting and turned kids autistic over night.

Thinking that that study implicates thimerosal is ridiculous, derisable, foolish. That's my contribution to the discussion.

If the child isn't quantifiably different before AGE 3, then no doctor will give an ASD diagnosis.

Once more for emphasis:
If the kids who were diagosed at age 7 and 12 didn't have a very significant history of autistic symptoms before age 3 they would NOT ever get an autism spectrum dx. Not by anyone who knows the DSM - which group doesn't include Lujene Clark, or you ginger fromt he look of it. But Lujene's son's doctor who gave him an Asperger's dx must have been aware of a long history of developmental differences and signs of autism spectrum OR he wouldn't have given the Clark boy an AS diagnosis.

That's plainly obvious. It's the Clarks who are in denial over their son's dx. OR the doctor who diagnosed him saw something entirely unrelated to autism.

Just because the person doesn't get the diagnosis until later doesn't mean that he suddenly became that way.

Anyway, nice try.

Take that back to Lujene and discuss if she isn't too busy or distracted. Send her our best wishes for her husband's rapid recovery.

 

At 8/22/2005 11:02 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

"I looked at the first chart but I'm not sure what point you're trying to make by referencing it. I only used the 30 year reference because you had used it during one of your replies to me. Twenty years works just as well."

"First Chart"? I specified the chart on page 15 of the 2003 CA report on autism... it is "Figure 9". Let me explain it to you:
In Dec. 1987 of the total of clients with autism the percentage of those with NO mental retardation was 20% ... THEN in the column for Dec. 2002 the percentage of total clients with autism with NO mental retardation rose to about 55%.

The big thing to take with you on that report and change is that even though the numbers of kids being given the label of autism has changed... there has been an increase in the cognitive ability. Make it easier, try reading the page 15 of http://www.dds.cahwnet.gov/Autism/pdf/AutismReport2003.pdf, it is the section titled "Cognitive Ability".

I did NOT randomly pick 30 years. I chose it for a specific reason. It has to do with PL 94-142. It is up to you to figure out why that year and that law is significant (hey, I made it easy, I even included the web page about the history).

Here, I'll make it even easier for you. Pick up the book _Train Go Sorry_ by Leah Hager Cohen. Read it and come back and tell us what happened to all the specialized schools like the one the book is about (there is an entire chapter devoted to the issues discussed in Kev's site:
http://www.kevinleitch.co.uk/wp/?p=263 ... different disability, similar issues).

 

At 8/23/2005 12:55 AM, Anonymous trainedspotter said...

In the book, "Al Capone does my shirts" a kids book, and a pretty good one... the autistic character is supposed to be sent to a school for kids with problems like autism, but it's 1935 and there is no such label yet, so the autistic girl doesn't have a label, her brother at one points refers to her as "crazy".

In "Rain Man" there was an "insitution" where Raymond Babbitt lived. There aren't any schools like Natalie (the girl in Al Capone ) or institutions like Rain Man was in. If there are I want to visit one, are there 1 or 2 in the whole US?

I know there are homes in neighborhoods that take care of autistic adults and there are mental hospitals where they house some autistic adults mostly under the label of schizophrenic. If parents can't take care of their own autistic children where do they go? Foster care homes. not institutions. The kids in foster care go to school, years ago the kids in institutions weren't mainstreamed, duh. Mainstreaming really only started in the early 1980's. I know I had a handicapped child who was born in the early 1980's, and mainstreaming was a new word and a new idea.

Ginger, I think you said on your blog that doctors tell parents to put their child in an institution at 5.

What insitution? I've never heard of one that is still existing. Please tell me or I will think you are just making it up.

I know in Idaho there was a school for disabled/retarded whatever kids that was a warehouse for those kids in the 1940's and 50's at least.

http://www.rootsweb.com/~asylums/wccdc_mi/index.html
http://www.rootsweb.com/~asylums/childrenho_mi/index.html
http://www.rootsweb.com/~asylums/idiot_ny/index.html
http://www.abandonedasylum.com/miscshpc.html

1957 - The Gem Haven School for Retarded Children was formed. The purpose of this school was to prepare these children for public school admission. This program continued until 1973 when all these children were admitted to the public schools.

Patty Clark was an autistic woman who died recently she was there let her tell you about where all the autistic kids were back then.

People say they never saw autistic kids in public schools in 1960 and 1970. No duh. Temple Grandin was in a special private school in middle school and high school both , if I remember right, because her parents were WEALTHY. If her parents hadn't been wealthy she'd have stayed home or gone to an institution of some kind. Something like the one "Raymond Babbitt" was in.

The autism/mercury parents have such tight blinders on that they refuse to see what has really happened. In the process they disrespect the adults who are autistic and misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. But they don't care about that.

 

At 8/23/2005 1:07 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

"The autism/mercury parents have such tight blinders on that they refuse to see what has really happened. In the process they disrespect the adults who are autistic and misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. But they don't care about that."

Even to the point of missing what happened in 1975!

 

At 8/23/2005 1:59 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Anon said:

Other than the widening of the criteria (which you seem to be saying resulted in a shift of mental retardation over to autism) I'm not aware of the other factors responsible for the increase in autism numbers.

Here's Simon Baron Cohen on the issue:

"I know it is not a very popular view, but it is possible that the dramatic increase of children with autism world-wide is due to better diagnosis, better awareness, changing diagnosis, and the growth of services. When I started in this field 20 years ago, there were only about 3 centres in the whole of the UK where one could go to get one’s child diagnosed with autism, from a specialist. Today, there are many clinics in every town that can provide this service."

Its not 'just' widening of the criteria, its increased awareness which has had a substantive 'knock on' process to the amount of cases of mental retardation going down and autism diagnosis going up - people are generally more aware of autism, including Doctors.

Anon then said:

Belief != evidence is something that your side needs to consider as well. Or perhaps there is evidence that I haven't seen to illustrate why MB12, chelation, special diets, etc... do not help autistic children.

I never really get this argument. There's no evidence stating that eating ice cream does not help autistic children or taking baths in the milk of rare goats or reading the novels of John Fowles. This is why its vital to seperate anecdotal evidence such as 'I know its increased because I've seen it' or 'I know its worked because I documented it on this video' from actual evidence such as a vast number of peer revieed studies.

Anon then said:

I'm still irked by the fact that "your side" refuses to acknowledge any of the points made by "my side" (for example, why is there a conflict of interest at the MIND Institute yet no conflict of interest at the CDC?). If it were the Geier's who changed the study parameters to falsely show an increase in autism due to thimerosal you guys would be all over that. Yet, when your point is being proven you fail to see the methodology flaws. It's impossible for me to take any of you seriously when you act this way.

Well, speaking personally I don't know much about these US institutions and I'm still trying to listen to lots of people (including Ginger) about why or why not the Denmark study might or might not be flawed so I'm not the best person to comment on this specific issue.

I'm glad we concur on the validity of the Geiers though. Those guys did 'your side' so much harm its untrue.

 

At 8/23/2005 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prometheus,

Let me make this simpler regarding mental retardation and the autism spike. If we're just seeing children who would have received a mental retardation label 20 years ago then I would expect to see the following. The total number of autistic + mentally retarded children in 1985 should be roughly equal to the number of autistic + mentally retarded children in 2005 adjusted, of course, for the population increase.

 

At 8/23/2005 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ask where is our data to prove our case. The initial CDC study, before they began modifying the data to reach their desired conclusion, is one good data point. But an even better one is our kids. Like I said earlier, hundreds of DAN doctors treat thousands of autistic children. Lab tests show that these children are very similar and have numerous health issues including, but not limited to, auto-immunity, food allergies, yeast overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, viral infection, inflammation, vitamin/mineral deficiencies/imbalances (i.e. zinc-copper ratio), heavy metal toxicity, inability to remove heavy metals and colitis/bowel disease.

There are also numerous parent accounts that have the same story. Child is progressing normally and rapidly regresses after vaccines. There are thousands of parents treating their children biomedically. I'm not going to say that these kids get cured overnight by following the DAN protocol. But they do get better (and some are completely recovering) and there are obvious positive reactions to the various treatments. Often times, there are corresponding lab tests which validate the treatment and explains the improvement in behavior. There is a chelation & MB12 study underway and I believe there are studies underway for the special diets. I think I said earlier that you could listen to some of the DAN docs discuss their experiences at the Fair Media website http://www.autismmedia.org. Go listen to doctors such as Elizabeth Mumper or James Neubrander.

 

At 8/23/2005 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the VSD access, or lack of access. Is it possible to gain access to all of the raw data used in the Verstraeten study and all of the datasets used in the Verstaeten study making it possible to fully replicate the work that resulted from that study?

This is the opinion of an autistic parent who is somewhat familiar with the issue of the VSD:

"The VSD is not really open at this time. Independent researchers can review the same data aggregates that the Verstraeten et al study team compiled for their published 2003 paper. No one can look at earlier versions of the VSD data, nor can anyone form their own data sets from the raw data. Some of the Verstraeten data is said to be "lost" - not sure what this means (this is what a VSD official said to Congress). VSD data after 2000 is not being made available at all. Researchers who want to look at what Verstraeten used for the 2003 version must go through onerous approval processes from CDC and the MCOs that provided the data to CDC. They can only look at the data on one computer at the National Center for Health Statistics. If you want all the details, go to the IOM website and find the presentations and report for the Vaccine Safety Research, Data Access, and Public Trust review, Feb 2005."

 

At 8/23/2005 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon 8/23/2005 11:25 AM:

Why would methylB12 injections do anything to counter mercury toxicity? Methylcobalamin is the reagent of choice for making methylmercury which, as you probably know by now, is one of the more toxic forms. How is response to B12 injection evidence of mercury toxicity, in your words now not yer DAN? doktor.

 

At 8/23/2005 12:18 PM, Anonymous The Artist Formerly Known as Anonymous said...

Is that better?

Pacific, You say that there is no mechanism for thimerosal (aka mercury) to cause autism. I'm not a scientist (although I sometimes feel like a chemist) so I can't really debate you on the mechanisms of autism. But let me try to explain the thought process of your average parent of an autistic child.

The government tells us to avoid tuna (mercury) during pregnancy as it can cause developmental disorders and learning disabilities in our children. While we're on this topic, does the government or IDEA keep stats on children labeled as "learning disabled" as a separate category unique from autism?

Then the government tells us that the mercury in vaccines is the "good" mercury and we don't have to worry about it. But if one were to ask how we know that the mercury in vaccines is good the truth is that we really don't know and that there are ZERO safety studies with thimerosal. The latest studies comparing methyl (fish mercury) to ethyl (vaccine mercury) only conclude that more study is needed.

So that leaves a parent to conclude that fish mercury causes developmental disorders & learning disabilities and there is no reason to believe that the vaccine mercury is any less toxic.

Given ALL the sources of mercury in our environment is it so far fetched to believe that our children are being mercury poisoned? Here's a recent article that states about 1 in 6 women have unsafe levels of mercury in their body based on hair excretions: http://www.richmond.com/health/output.aspx?Article_ID=3837262&Vertical_ID=127&tier=1&position=5

If we accept that some children must be born with dangerous levels of mercury in their body is it possible that getting bombarded with vaccines (more mercury, live viruses, aluminum, MSG, etc...) starting at birth could have adverse effects on these children?

And finally we have the symptoms of mercury poisoning which are similar to the symptoms of autism. Prometheus said autism can't be mercury poisoning b/c mercury poisoning has symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and autism does not.

I'm admittedly not an expert in the symptoms of autism. I have experience mostly with my son and some other children of parents I have since become friendly with. I searched for peripheral neuropathy and found a good description of it here: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm

There are several symptoms in there description that would fit with my autistic son. These are the traits I'm referring to:
muscle weakness, unable to digest food easily, changes in the skin (my son has a "rash" that somewhat resembles fifth disease although he tested negative for that), unable to coordinate complex movements like walking or fastening buttons, or to maintain their balance when their eyes are shut, diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence.

Additionally, although they are not common symptoms for my son I frequently hear other parents describe their children with these symptoms of peripheral neuropathy:
Damage to large sensory fibers lessens the ability to feel vibrations and touch, Neuropathic pain is often worse at night, seriously disrupting sleep, interfere with the ability to feel pain, inability to sweat normally & problems eating or swallowing

Here is a direct quote describing peripheral neuropathy that sounds to me like a great way to describe autism:
"Like static on a telephone line, peripheral neuropathy distorts and sometimes interrupts messages between the brain and the rest of the body."

You make an interesting point about the mercury teething powders. They stopped using it and the disease went away. Did the makers of that teething powder ever admit that they caused pink disease? I don't think they did. Denial seems to be an effective strategy in mercury poisoning.

 

At 8/23/2005 12:33 PM, Anonymous The Artist Formerly Known as Anonymous said...

Pacific, You say "only" kids with regressive autism as if the majority of cases is infantile autism. I don't think I know anyone who says their child was obviously born autistic. Isn't there a recent study that backed up parent claims that their kids had regressed by examining home videos?

People use methyl B12 because it helps their kids. James Neubrander has treated hundreds of kids with it in his practice alone. He has tons of documentation, parent testimonials & videos to back it up.

Since you like to use specific examples of children why don't you take a look at Charlie Hoover's recovered child? Charlie attributes it to chelation. But how silly of me to take the word of the parent treating his child. Surely Autism Diva is in a better position to pass judgement.

 

At 8/23/2005 12:43 PM, Anonymous The Artist Formerly Known as Anonymous said...

TrainedSpotter, Like I said in an earlier post, if autism was just misdiagnosed in the past then there should be roughly the same number of autistics + mentally retarded + any other disorder you think was confused for autism in the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and today.

I'm not trying to be rude to the adult autistics. On the contrary, I think they have been quite rude to me. I asked that question to Michele Dawson because it seems to me like older autistics would not want to see autistic children "cured" of their autism. If I'm incorrect in that belief than I apologize. I would never tell an adult autistic how to run their life. But that same courtesy does not always seem to be reciprocated.

 

At 8/23/2005 12:56 PM, Anonymous The Artist Formerly Known as Anonymous said...

Kev,

I've already said that part of the increase is due to better diagnosis and I should have included awareness. I'm actually a big fan of Simon Baron Cohen's brother.

Regarding the research behind special diets and the like. I understand why people like yourself don't rush into those treatments. But I found too many people with the same success stories. Trying a new diet is easy & safe so it was a no brainer for me. And the diet helped - A LOT. I have no reason to lie about that. Once I started to see the improvements I knew there was something to the parent testimonials. I feel like every minute counts so I couldn't justify waiting around for a peer reviewed study.

I'm glad you're willing to at least listen to people like Ginger and others.

 

At 8/23/2005 1:39 PM, Anonymous Steve Z said...

Good points all. Anyone interested in debating the subject freely and openly please feel free to join the new Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AutismDebate

All are welcome but bring your science and your hip waders.

 

At 8/23/2005 2:51 PM, Blogger JP said...

To some of these comments:

There is a chelation & MB12 study underway and I believe there are studies underway for the special diets.

So you admit these thousands of children are being treated with a protocol that hasn't been studied? Basically, you have no way of knowing (other than parental testimonials and "documentation" from DAN! doctors) that any of these treatments work. But as stated later on, this is all justified:

I feel like every minute counts so I couldn't justify waiting around for a peer reviewed study.

Imagine if someone put out a vaccine and made that statement.

 

At 8/23/2005 2:54 PM, Blogger JP said...

Regarding the VSD access, or lack of access. Is it possible to gain access to all of the raw data used in the Verstraeten study and all of the datasets used in the Verstaeten study making it possible to fully replicate the work that resulted from that study?

Red herring. If there truly was a link between neurodevelopmental disorders and autism, you should be able to use one of many different data sets to come to that conclusion.

Asking for the "raw data" is just a smokescreen, IMO.

As I've stated before, there are many ways to perform this study if one was so inclined. The fact nobody on the autism=mercury side is inclined to do one is telling.

 

At 8/23/2005 3:36 PM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

Weren't those the same DAN doctors who also promoted secretin http://www.autismwebsite.com/
ari/newsletter/findings.htm ?

"A national newspaper told of Florida pediatrician Jeff Bradstreet's own four-year-old son, Matthew, shocking his parents by holding his first normal conversation with them the day after his first secretin infusion."

 

At 8/23/2005 4:01 PM, Anonymous Sotek said...

I see a couple examples of fuzzy and/or deceptive thinking.


First off, DAN says "We did this, and these kids improved!" Great ... but you know what?

These kids improve anyway. Autism is almost never without ANY improvement.

DAN's claims are useless until they do a study with an actual control group! Until then, we can't tell if the improvement is because of anything they do, or because the kids ACTUALLY IMPROVED.

I mean, if I said that I had a process that would take five years, but would turn a child who was completely incapable of talking or walking into an ordinary child, able to converse and play sports ... what would you say?

Would you, perhaps, ask me if I was taking six-month-old children, and claiming normal development was being caused by my process?

Because that is what it seems DAN is doing. If they are afraid of a study with a control group... why is that? Is it perhaps because they know that their expensive treatments don't actually do anything?




And really, Lujene Clark seems to *me* to be outright lying here.

"Diagnosis of autism and ADHD followed a very different pattern, with peaks in rates at ages 7 and 12."

and then ...

"Do we think this is just a coincidence? Or are doctor's able to do a better diagnosis when the children are 7 and 12, but have difficulty diagnosing them at 8, 9, 10, and 11?"

See, I don't know about anyone else, but to ME, that first quote looks like "Autism is most frequently diagnosed at age 7" and "ADHD is most frequently diagnosed at age 12".

And why would that be? Well, maybe because autism isn't really "obvious" before then, but is pretty damn obvious then?

And similar for ADHD?

Unusual development SHOULD have an age that it's most often noticed at. Anything else would be odd.

Lujene's just trying to confuse autism and ADHD's diagnosis dates together to create a "dual peak" that *would* be odd, but that isn't really supported by a reading of that which isn't looking for a way to scare people, it seems to me.



This is just like the people saying "Look at when autism rates around the world suddenly started going up! They're the same times as thimerosal quantities in the US went up!" while ignoring that autism went up *worldwide*, and there were also the diagnostic changes *at the same time*.



And then there's saying autism seems like mercury poisoning. Um. No. Look up what mercury poisoning actually DOES.

"Neurologic symptoms include tremors, headaches, short-term memory loss, incoordination, weakness, loss of appetite, altered sense of taste and smell, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, insomnia, and excessive sweating." (From the California poison control website)

How many of these do autistics display?
Tremors? Nope; rocking and tremors are different.
Headaches? Not that *I'm* aware.
Short term memory loss? Um. No.
Incoordination? Not so much.
Weakness? Uh. No.
Loss of appetite? Well ... maybe some. And then there's others who are *always* hungry. I don't think this qualifies.
Altered sense of taste and smell? Well... how would anyone know either way?
Numbness and tingling in the extremities? Nope!
Insomnia? I don't think we have any more problems with this than the general public.
Excessive sweating? Certainly not! Just ask the chelators.

So. Out of ten symptoms of long-term mercury poisoning...
We've got one that applies to some autists and not others.
One that is literally impossible to test.
One that might possibly apply to some autists.
And seven that don't.

So autism doesn't show the symptoms of mercury poisoning, it would seem.

 

At 8/23/2005 4:06 PM, Anonymous 12bpacific2 said...

The artist said:
"The government tells us to avoid tuna (mercury) during pregnancy as it can cause developmental disorders and learning disabilities in our children. While we're on this topic, does the government or IDEA keep stats on children labeled as "learning disabled" as a separate category unique from autism?

Then the government tells us that the mercury in vaccines is the "good" mercury and we don't have to worry about it. But if one were to ask how we know that the mercury in vaccines is good the truth is that we really don't know and that there are ZERO safety studies with thimerosal. .... "

I'll try to catch all of your points here,

Yes, the IDEA tracks learning disabilities.
and mental retardation
the number of SLD (specific learning disability) kids and the number of retarded kids took a nose dive a few years ago. The increase in the total number of disabled kids in the system was slowing down. The drop in the number of SLD pluse the number of retarded kids (MR) more than compensated for the increase in the number of autistic kids.

If thimerosal was so toxic, then it should cause, epilepsy and mental retardation and cerebral palsy and all the other forms of brain damage with and without autism.

There ought to have been parallel epidemics of MR, CP, epilepsy, whatever. But guess what? OH!

(crowd hushes and then lets out a communal gasp)

gasp!

There was no epidemic of MR and CP and epilepsy or SLD. If there was why isn't there a "cure MR NOW!" organization screaming bloody murder about how their thousands of chidren were born normal but regressed into pure MR, or pure epilepsy or pure CP after their vaccines?

Why? Because only autism allows for that sort of normal development and regression. Kids don't regress into MR, though they should frequently, after vaccinations if it's that toxic.

You pulled a bait as switch with your tuna story.

I personally could "give" the mercury parents a point on not giving pregnant women thimerosal... except that pregnant women no doubt used lots of thimerosal containing over the counter medicines (contact lens solution, mercurochrome...) for decades... but prenatal exposure to mercury is not the money argument is it?

No, the big money argument is in the vaccines given to 18 month olds. Totally different set up. The amount of mercury it might take to damage an embryo is different than the amount it would take to damage an 18 mos old.

Also, if the mercury is so very toxic to embryos why wasn't there an autism epidemic back in the 1970's or whenever they first figured out that mercury was in tuna. That was a long time ago.

I don't think mercury is good for embryos and if I was pregnant I would avoid the mercury containing fish. But that doesn't mean that vaccines can cause a child to regress into autism if he's given a vaccine at birth or whatever.

The parents have had their heads filled with so much mercury terrorism that they can't see straight.

It's not the mercury. It's genes that are acting on the way the brain is constructed before birth and that allow for a time delayed onset of autism, just like there can be a time delay set for parkinson's.

Of course, if you worship at the altar of Bernie Rimland the true god of alt med in autism, or at the feet of the great Buttar, none of that will sink in.

If you are so upset at the fact that you might have produced a defective child, the truth is not going to sink in, you will point the finger at an agency outside of yourself.

I for one have produced a defective child and have spent time with parents of disabled children, I know about how they/we think.

The parents who go to Neubrander and get their kids injected with b12 want to see improvement, so they see improvement. Rimland takes parental reports from the internet and calls that research. "did your child improve when you gave him magnesium?"
Moms says, "ummmm, why, yes, I think he did!"
OK, well now I'm convinced!

I've seen a video, I think it might have been Neubranders. It showed a 2 year old tantrumming. and then later at 4 years old sitting and talking nicely and having a t-party with some lady.

Oh. well. I'm convinced. Because, normal 2 year olds NEVER EVER throw tantrums and normal 4 year olds NEVER EVER have more vocabulary and self control than they did at age 2.

That was the proof that Dr. Hendren of the MIND institute showed to an audience of professionals and a few parents. MY WORD! How pathetic is that?

But, Hendren's institute is doing a study on injections of methyl B12 and it's affect on autistic children. with a double blind cross over and everything. Though, I think b12 smells very distinctly and I don't know if you can find a sham that parents won't know is a sham.

If the MIND's study shows something clear, it will need to be replicated a few times then Neubrander could legitimately start injecting kids... oh, that's right he's doing it already. Without any controlled studies to tell him if he's doing the wrong thing.

And we're back to the nature of some of the parents of autistic kids who do alt med, they don't give a fig if they expose their kids to unproven remedies. And they don't realize that the kid can have sudden leaps forward of development without pills or lotions or incantations said by the high priest of fraud, Rashid Buttar, for $800 dollars an hour.

Why don't you people dump that man? Out him as a fraud. You'd help your cause if you did. He's hanging on you like a hunk of rotting meat. On second thought, hang on to him.

The same successes you report with chelation and vit b12 have been reported with holding therapy, with secretin, with ABA, with "son rise" remember Raun Kauffman?? Never chelated. Normal now, they say...(heh).

Bettleheim must have had some success otherwise he wouldn't have had people worshipping him. The man was a LUMBER SALESMAN from VIENNA!!! Excuse the screaming, please. Now you have Buttar and Bradstreet. Great. Nothing's changed.

 

At 8/23/2005 5:54 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

I feel like every minute counts so I couldn't justify waiting around for a peer reviewed study.

Imagine if someone put out a vaccine and made that statement.


JP, are you kidding me? I suppose you're not aware of the irony in your statement. Let me see if I can help.


THERE ARE NO STUDIES SHOWING THIMEROSAL TO BE SAFE


You're comparing a diet free of dairy & gluten to an injection that include mercury? Just because vaccine makers don't include that statement on their packaging doesn't make the problem disappear. Hello!

This is exactly what I mean by the double standards that your side displays. Clearly you should be outraged by the unproven use of thimerosal but you're not - or at least you won't admit it. Easier to lash out at a special diet.

 

At 8/23/2005 5:58 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Red herring. If there truly was a link between neurodevelopmental disorders and autism, you should be able to use one of many different data sets to come to that conclusion.


Really, what datasets should we be using? Why can't we use the original ones the CDC used? Isn't it suspicious to not allow that to happen?

Where is all the data you're referring to? Who do you think we are that we have all of these resources? We're busy parents - that's it.

 

At 8/23/2005 6:01 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Michele,

If mainstream doctors had something to offer autistic children we wouldn't have to see DAN doctors, would we?

You're criticizing DAN doctors for trying secretin? It helped some kids and proved to be dangerous for others so now it's generally not used.

As opposed to the flawless records of the medicine's used by mainstream doctors? Ever hear of Vioxx? How did that work out? I suppose your doctor was smart enough to never prescribe that drug.

 

At 8/23/2005 6:08 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Sotek,

Who says DAN is afraid of studies? As far as I know they are welcoming them. The ones I know would greatly prefer to have their treatments become more mainstream.

My son is uncoordinated and weak. I know many other children who have lots of trouble sleeping & altered smell & taste. Some of the others are too difficult to tell because the kids aren't speaking. The symptoms wouldn't necessarily apply to you Sotek because you're not mercury poisoned, right? There are so many different references for symptoms. Prometheus said it was peripheral neuropathy.

 

At 8/23/2005 6:15 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Pacific, See my earlier message. Show me that the number of autistic + mental retardation have stayed constant over the past 50 years.

The rest of your post tells me that you don't like Buttar and you will never believe a story about an autistic child recovering.

 

At 8/23/2005 7:40 PM, Anonymous I2bpacific2 said...

Artist:

Guess what percentage of autistic kids regress?

If you hang out with the mercury folks you'd think it was the majority. Sorry, 20 -25% of autistic kids regress. I think that was the number back in 1930. I can't remember where I read it. Maybe it was 20% of Kanner's original group. At any rate 25% max.

Not all kids who regress have been vaccinated so we know it's not required. The kids who are regressing as we speak all over the world and who regress in the past 40 years have parents who are not implicating thimerosal. hmmm.

Why do I dislike Buttar? Because he's a fraud. Is that the same reason so many parents like him. Yes. He tells them what they want to hear. Sometimes for $800 dollars an hour. :-)

How is it that kids in Australia are regressing and the "recovering" without chelation? huh?

How about Lovaas and his claimed 40% that become indistinguishable form normal kids WITHOUT CHELATION as we speak parents are buying ABA for that very reason.

Parents who do chelation are a small minority of parents of newly dxd autistic kids. What is it? 13% are into chelation and other "potentially dangerous" alt med treatments (per Hendren of the MIND insitute). And I think it was Erik Nanstiel who claimed (with no supporting evidence) that 30% of all the kids who go into chelation are totally cured. Eventually. uhuh. Looks like Loovas has alt med beat by 10%.

Looks to me like 40% of kids who are "fully autistic" will grow up to be able to pass for normal.

Frank Klein didn't talk until he was 3 and then spoke in echolalia. He seems really normal in some ways, but he refuses to stop himself from rocking when he's nervous or keyed up, so he doesn't always pass for normal. He sounds normal.
frank can be heard about 3/4 of the way into the show You have to listen to Dr. Pessah, he's from the MIND institute and apparently doesn't buy the mercury hype.

Oh, he's a professor of molecular biosciences. and
Director, UC Davis Children's Center for Environmental Health and Disease Prevention

hmm.

You go get me the name of 2 experts outside of the US, recognized names with a history of good science and show me that they implicate thimerosal in autism. Lets see. Simon Baron-Cohen? no. Lorna Wing? No.

Carol "try me sh*t-head" Stott... maybe. But I think she's trashed her reputation, "During the investigation, Carol Stott, a now-terminated junior researcher in Cambridge University's psychiatry department, became demented over the collapse of the MMR attack, and launched the barrage of sick emails below...." If you can find some research she's done on thimerosal, I'd love to read it.

Anyone in China looking into thimerosal... hmmm... nope. Russia should have no autistics since they have no thimerosal in vaccines. Of course, they did have that nasty diptheria epidemic a few years back, probably with they had our thimerosal laden DPT to save those lives.

How about Germany? Anybody got friends in Germany they could ask about the autism rate?

Finland? They worried about mercury and autism? Uhmmm. Nope. Ask David Andrews, he has a half Finnish autistic daughter and he lives there, and works with autistic children as an education psychologist.

The Netherlands claims 58 per 10,000. hmm. very close to our epidemic of 60 per 10,000 here in the US. No sign of panic there among the Dutch. Maybe they are just not as smart as we are. heh.

This is from a website from Australia
"The current diagnosis rates in all regions of the country suggest that around 1% of Australians will be diagnosed with an ASD."
What a bunch of braggers they are claiming 1 in 100 are ASD there.
Blaming thimerosal. hmmm. nope. No DAN conventions there.

Norway is claiming 30-50 per 10,000. 50 per 10,000 is 1 in 200. Pretty close to an epidemic!
Panic over thimersoal or tuna? Not as far as I can tell.

 

At 8/23/2005 11:03 PM, Anonymous Sotek said...

So ... I've got Asperger's without mercury poisoning.

My sister, who has dual-diagnosis autism/mental retardation (She's living in an assisted-living community and her IQ doesn't really test, period), and yet displays *none* of those mercury poisoning symptoms (indeed, she's obese, if anything), is autistic without mercury poisoning.

And maybe your kids DO have autism and mercury poisoning, but that doesn't mean the two things are related, because the actual *diagnostic* criteria for the two are wildy different, and if they were correlated frequently, why did it take so long for anyone to notice?



And if DAN's not afraid of studies, where are the DAN-sponsored studies? Are there *any*? Surely they'd at least have done a study on thimerosal, right? I mean, it's hardly impossible to achieve.

Take families who already have at least one autistic kid.

Approach them to be in a study. What you do is this: Put their new children in two groups.
One group, you give non-thimerosal vaccines to. (And you can get them, and I'm /sure/ DAN knows where.)
The other group, you give the standard thimerosal vaccines everyone else gets.

And then you have some people who don't know which group anyone is in, screen everyone in the study, when the child reaches age seven or whatever, for autism.

Then you look at the rates.

If you use families that already have an autistic kid, you increase the probability of incidence significantly; this makes it much easier to get a meaningful result out of the study.

And then ... if one group has a statistically significant difference in autism rates? Then you can announce something.
And if they don't? Then you can STILL announce something, can't you?

So ... why hasn't DAN done this study? Why haven't they *started* it?



What studies *HAVE* they done, if they're not afraid of doing studies?

 

At 8/24/2005 3:55 AM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

I have looked a little on the issue of mercury in thiomersal, and I find it worth noticing that thiomersal contains ethyl-mercury, while fish etc. contains methyl-mercury.
There are different properties for those two types of mercury. Especially noteworthy is the fact that it is possible to excrede ethyl-mercury, while it isn't possible to do so with methyl-mercury.

I think that any kind of mercury is a bad idea, but it's important to be aware that different types of mercury has different properties, and because of that, it's not proper to refer to warnings against mercury containing fish while discussing mercury in thiomersal.

As I have said in earlier debates about thiomersal; I find it a good idea to get rid of it from vaccinations. However, I see no evidence of it being the cause of autism, and see all evidence of there being no link between autism and thiomersal (or childhood vaccinations in general).

 

At 8/24/2005 4:19 AM, Anonymous I2bpacific said...

Sotek, they don't have to set up experiments and inject children in the US with thimerosal, very few parents would allow their child to be injected with thimerosal now that it has attained a reputation as the 2nd most toxic substance on earth (mercury) even though that's just a lie...

Right now, and ever since 1999 and probably for a long time from now, children were, are, and will be injected with thimerosal, outside of the US. Kennedy and Kirby and others stand there quivering with rage or fear or maybe it's mercury poisoning, and point a finger at the international health agencies that allow the US to export thimerosal containing vaccines (TCVs) all over the world... Kennedy and Kirby then collapse sideways, leaning against a lecturn or column, still quivering and moan,
"Doooon't you reeealiiiize that those countries are going to attack us or send terrorists to our shores if they realize that we are condemning their own precious babies to a fate worse than death...autism...." and they start to cry manly tears.

Not an exact quote but they have said that very thing, essentially, more than once. Kennedy said it once on that comedy news program. But it wasn't and isn't funny.

So, how about if all the mercury parents take a vacation to Mexico or Panama or Brazil or Zimbabwe and take sample kits and send urine samples and hair samples and whatever of kids who have been recently vaccined. And when a child who has been vaxed with thimerosal dies, like within a year or so, bound to happen in poor countries with malaria (they are working on a maleria vaccine, though) and dengue fever and whatever else horrible diseases they may have in a third world country, plus they are subject to accidents and starvation and being shot in wars, crushed in earthquakes... you know.

Anyway, ask the parents if they will donate a child's brain to science, or a few. And then you can tell how much mercury actually stays in the children's brains if you can compare unvaxed to vaxed kids brains... shouldn't be tooo difficult.

Short of that, they could give thimerosal to monkeys and not only test their brains for residual thimerosal, but see if their behavior changes. And see if chelation helps.

They can do it on mice or guinea pigs, too. Hornig overdosed her mice chronically on thimerosal and still wasn't able to produce changes in the mice brains that represented anything similar to autism and the mice didn't act "autistic" according to the behavior measurements Hornig was using to see if they would act autistic. For some reason she never looked to see if any mercury stayed behind in their little mousie brains.

Cure Autism Now has three thimerosal studies going presently. The UCD MIND and Rochester NY both have GFCF studies going.

Thimerosal is supposed to be really bad for dogs, they could do a study on dogs. That's bound to make thimerosal look bad, right? One more point for their side.

There was a paper by Magos (2001) that conlcuded: "It seems reasonable to suggest that ethylmercury may present a risk when blood mercury concentration approaches or exceeds 1.0 mc

 

At 8/24/2005 10:40 AM, Anonymous Artist said...

Pacific,

Like I said earlier, some DAN docs are doing tests. The Autism Research Institute also does testing. SafeMinds also funds research. But the amount of money that these organizations can raise for research and testing pales in comparison to what the government can and should be raising.

Kristjan,

Where are you getting your information regarding ethyl vs methyl? Have you seen this report?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=14698570&query_hl=2

I still don't understand how you can defend the Danish study. Here is a response by SafeMinds regarding the flawed epidemiological studies & the IOM decision in 2004.

Regarding the IOM’s decision to abandon thimerosal research, based on the five foreign epidemiological studies presented to the Immunization Safety Review Committee in February, 2004, Dr. Fineberg stated “It was the absence of that association which was the main reason for reaching the conclusion that the evidence points to no association between vaccines and autism.”

The biological and clinical studies that were also presented in February, 2004 were disregarded by the Committee. These studies did support a link between thimerosal exposure and neurological disorders, but the Committee chose to ignore them in favor of the five flawed epidemiological studies. For commentary on some of these flaws, please see: http://www.safeminds.org/research/commentary.html For complete content of the February 9, 2004 meeting including the biological and clinical data that was presented to the IOM, please see: http://www.iom.edu/subpage.asp?id=18065

 

At 8/24/2005 1:25 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

"Where are you getting your information regarding ethyl vs methyl? Have you seen this report?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=14698570&query_hl=2
"

I got it from several Danish websites dealing with the subject.
The report you refer to seems to indicate that there are differences between ethyl-mercury and methyl-mercury, but that in other aspects there are similarities, at least in potency.

This doesn't invalidate the fact that ethyl-mercury and methyl-mercury are two different things with different properties, and thus you can't refer to warnings about methyl-mercury while debating thimerosal.

"I still don't understand how you can defend the Danish study."

I don't particularly defend the Danish studies, but instead I look at the arguments made by the proponents of a thimerosal-autism link, and evaluate them.
So far, they seem to be lacking, and therefore don't lead me to think that the Danish studies are wrong.

It could be that I come across an argument that isn't problematic, or based on flawed premises, and because of that will reject the findings of the Danish studies, but I am not going to trust the word of people like Kennedy, and other anti-vaccination people, on the subject without checking first.
Also, even if the Danish studies are found to be lacking, this doesn't mean that I will start believing in a thimerosal-autism link. I simply haven't seen any indication of a such.

I am not set in stone in my opinions on the matter, and I have great respect for many people who wants more investigation of a possible link - people like Dwight Meredith for example.
However, I have little patience with people who seriously believe that there is a conspiracy to cover up on a link - Kennedy Jr. would fall into this cathegory.

 

At 8/24/2005 1:36 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Regarding safeminds, which you refer to, I can see that they site interest conflicts as an argument against the Danish studies in some of their papers.
In other words, they haven't done the basic research to find out what I've told in my post, even though these things are easily found out if one do a minimum of research.
They also refers to a Danish clinic which diagnoses most cases of autism, but seems to fail to provide the name of it.

In other words, they do sloppy research, and seems to expect that the readers should just believe them without providing the necessary information for people to check their claims.

Sorry, but I won't really take anything they say as trustworthy unless I have either verified it myself, or a trustworthy source has.

Incidentially, does anyone know the name of the Danish clinic dealing with diagnosing autism? I would really like to know the name.

 

At 8/24/2005 2:29 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Kristjan,

I understand that ethyl & methyl are two different forms of mercury. But until more studies are done on ethyl we really have no choice but to use the methyl studies as a reference. It seems very risky to me to assume that ethyl mercury is safe just because there aren't that many studies on it.

In Denmark, when you have a doctor's appointment at a clinic is that considered an inpatient or outpatient visit?

 

At 8/24/2005 3:48 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

"In Denmark, when you have a doctor's appointment at a clinic is that considered an inpatient or outpatient visit?"

I wouldn't know, which is why I need more information before evaluating the criticism of the studies. In general, all visits to a clinic would have to be refered to through your family doctor, and can often be part of a hospital, so it's hard to say without more information.

The Danish health care system is very unlike the US system, so it's not easy to make the same destinctions. For example, one major difference is that people have a family doctor which they have to use if they want free health care. They can't just choose whomever they want.

 

At 8/25/2005 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Autism doesn't kill stupidity kills.

This little boy would still be alive except for the idiocy pushed by people like "the artist" who don't know science and suck up whatever a quack tells them.

People are supposed to do a risk/benefit analysis in treating anyone. Even many of the mercury idiots believe that slow chelation is better, so they use the fake "chelator" tddmps, which does nothing as they watch their children develop as they would anyway, and credit the dmps. IV EDTA killed this little boy, it's only approve for acute lead poisoning. Maybe they will arrest this doctor, that would be appropriate.

The parents probably have a copy of "Evidence of harm" I wonder if they'll take it back to the UK with them. Probably not.

 

At 8/25/2005 1:09 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Anonymous,

This is a terrible tragedy. No one will deny that. But your arguments are out of line and incorrect. EDTA is an FDA approved drug for heavy metal poisoning. There are countless lab tests documenting the heavy metal toxicity in autistic children. Chelation is an appropriate treament. Whether or not chelation with IV is appropriate is a different question. Personally, I've only recently heard about it and clearly a lot more research needs to done regarding the dangers of it.

It's very easy for you to blame the parents and the doctors treating autistic children. Once again, you see the issue from a narrow perspective. You seem to forget about the CDC, IOM and every other agency that refuses to look at the clinical & biological data. Their refusal to look at our kids has caused parents and some brave doctors to take matters into their own hands. If you want to cast blame somewhere blame the IOM for failing to consider clinical evidence when that is exactly what they should have done when they were asked to investigate the link between vaccines & autism. If they had, perhaps we would have a better, safer chelation protocol in place by now.

Do you really want to get into a discussion about the risk benefits? Explain to me why mercury is in vaccines? What is the benefit of that? Zero benefit with a terrible risk.

And are you so naive to believe that autism doesn't kill? Maybe not in the way you're thinking of but yes, it certainly can.

 

At 8/25/2005 6:43 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Some more thoughts on benefits and risks. Stats compiled by JB Handley

1. Between 1990-2000, 186 reported deaths from Ritalin:

http://www.ritalindeath.com/

2. Children's deaths from vaccines, as recorded by the CDC:

Chickenpox vaccine 1995-1998:
Between March 17, 1995 and July 25, 1998, 6580 adverse events -
including 14 deaths - were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events
Reporting System in association with varicella vaccination---
Pediatric News 33(3):12, 1999.

For DPT vaccine 12,504 reports VAERS reports with 144 deaths per year
(1990-1993)
"In a year-long investigation of the Vaccine Adverse Reaction
Reporting System (VAERS) operated by the Food and Drug
Administration, NVIC/DPT analyzed VAERS computer discs used by the
FDA to store data on reports of deaths and injuries following DPT
vaccination. A total of 54,072 reports of adverse events following
vaccination were listed in a 39-month period from July 1990 to
November 1993 with 12,504 reports being associated with DPT vaccine,
including 471 deaths."Campaign Against Fraudulent Medical Research
(CAFMR)

MMR vaccine VAERS reports 7 deaths per year (1990-1994):
"From July 1990 thro' April 1994, 5799 ADRs following MMR vaccination
were reported to US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS);
including 3063 cases requiring emergency medical treatment, 616
hospitalisations, 309 who did not recover, 54 children left disabled
and 30 deaths."--- John P Heptonstall

For OPV vaccine there were VAERS reports of 108 deaths per year over
a 5 year period.
"We commissioned an OPV Vaccine Report and started making all kinds
of other inquires. The OPV Vaccine report that we received was a
shocking report. It covered a recent period a little less than 5
years and the following is the summary for that period: The number of
Vaccine Associated events that occurred: 13,641 ..The number of
events resulting in death 540"--The Polio Connection of America &
Polio vaccine victims: http://village.ios.com/~w1066/poliov6.html

For Hep b vaccine there were VAERS reports of 54 deaths per year
(1990-98)
"The total 24,775 VAERS hepatitis B reports from July 1990 to October
31, 1998 show 439 deaths and 9673 serious reactions involving
emergency room visits, hospitalization, disablement or death."--
Michael Belkin http://www.whale.to/vaccines/belkin1.html

"Since July 1990, 17,497 cases of hospitalizations, injuries and
deaths in America following hepatitis B vaccination have been
reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) of the
U.S. government. This figure includes 146 deaths in individuals after
receiving only hepatitis B vaccine without any other vaccines,
including 73 deaths in children under 14 years old. In 1996 alone
there were 872 serious adverse events in children under 14 years old
reported to VAERS. 658 of those injuries were following hepatitis B
vaccination in combination with other vaccinations and 214 of these
injuries were after hepatitis B vaccination alone. In these children
under 14 years old, there were 35 deaths after hepatitis B
vaccination in combination and 13 deaths after hepatitis B
vaccination alone, for a total of 48 deaths. Compare these statistics
with the total number of hepatitis B cases nationwide reported that
same year (1996) in children under 14, just 279, and the conclusion
is obvious that the risks of hepatitis B vaccination far outweigh its
benefits."---Incao's Hepatitis B Vaccination Testimony

 

At 8/25/2005 7:54 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

Hey! That is the same useless stuff posted by Erik Nanstiel on Kev's blog!

Okay, here it goes again: VAERS is not the best source of data for vaccines, especially when pushed through the whale.to site (John Scudamore is not only biased, but dishonest, and a well-known netloon:
http://members.tripod.com/vaccinesupport-ivil/antivaxsites/whale.html ). You are better off using the http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/ .

 

At 8/25/2005 8:06 PM, Blogger Orac said...

EDTA is an approved drug for heavy metal poisoning. Unfortunately, autism is not heavy metal poisoning.

Even if autism were heavy metal poisoning, chelation would be unlikely to be effective, given that the alleged damage from vaccines given in childhood would already have been done months or years ago.

I'm trying to remain "on vacation" and post mainly fun stuff and the occasional quick rant, but I doubt I'll be able to stay silent about this until Monday, try as I might!

 

At 8/25/2005 8:53 PM, Anonymous Artist said...

Orac,

What will it take to prove that the autistic children have heavy metal toxicity? Lab tests apparently aren't good enough for you or the IOM.

Hopefully this terrible tragedy will get our health agencies to take our claims seriously and start looking at our children instead of hiding behind flawed epidemiology.

 

At 8/25/2005 9:30 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

Perhaps because the "lab tests" being used may be flawed, misinterpreted or even untrue.

There have been cases of mercury poisoning that were tested for and treated:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=14530526&query_hl=7

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15139389&query_hl=7

and http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/168/2/201

None of those found through www.pubmed.gov seemed to have a problem getting and presenting lab data. Why can I not find similar studies for autism in that index?

 

At 8/26/2005 2:00 AM, Blogger Michael "Sotek" Ralston said...

Okay, Artist ... you claim there's a whole lot of lab tests showing high levels of mercury (and god knows what else; why aren't the other supposed things responsible, eh?) in autistic kids.

Okay.

Are these based on urinalysis, a blood test, a hair sample, bottled exhalation, a skin scraping, or something else altogether?

Only some of those have credibility; which ones are the lab tests you're aware of using?

 

At 8/26/2005 10:26 AM, Anonymous Artist said...

HCN,

Those are very good observations and questions. I also wonder why the government & mainstream medicine fail to test for and study mercury poisoning on a broader population basis. Those 3 studies you found are involving a cream, miners, & the teething product.

Why there aren't more studies on this important topic is beyond me. Even if we leave vaccines out of the picture, there are many other sources of mercury in the environment. We are warned that exposures to mercury cause learning disabilities & developmental delays in our children. So why aren't there studies looking at those kids? If 1 in every 6 women of child bearing age has excessive levels of mercury in her body surely some kids must be mercury poisoned, right? So where are they? What are they diagnosed with? Why aren't they studied in PubMed?

I think the obvious answer is that those kids are misdiagnosed. How many pediatricians would recognize the symptoms of mercury poisoning? Do they even learn about it in med school?

 

At 8/26/2005 10:28 AM, Anonymous Artist said...

Sotek,

The lab tests autistic children use for mercury poisoning include urine, stool, hair & blood - although blood is only useful in detecting mercury in a recent exposure.

 

At 8/26/2005 1:11 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

Artist said: "Why aren't they studied in PubMed?"

Sigh... Pubmed is an index of medical journals. It is a place to look up papers, studies, letters and other things published in a very long list of medical related journals.

The reason I cannot find what you say should exist is that what few things that have tried to pin autism on mercury were poorly done, in-conclusive and not worth looking into after several large scale population studies in almost half a dozen countries showed there was no connection between vaccines (MMR and those containing thimerosal).

If you have any study that is worthwhile and indexed in Pubmed please present it. But before you do, please check out these commentaries at
http://photoninthedarkness.blogspot.com/ :
http://photoninthedarkness.blogspot.com/2005/07/pefect-example-of-how-not-to-do-study.html

and Part II of that.

 

At 8/26/2005 8:04 PM, Blogger Michael "Sotek" Ralston said...

So ... lemme see.

Hair, which is known to be essentially meaningless for this due to the ease in which it can be influenced by shampoos (among other things)...

Stool, which only reflects what was eaten in the past day or so...

Urine, which is only meaningful if measured BEFORE the chelation... (I somehow doubt it was)

... and blood, the most credible of all ... is deemed worst, because apparently the mercury stops EXISTING in the blood, contrary to the chemistry of it, and the way chelating agents work?


That says rather a lot.

 

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