Autism Awareness
    Autism And Vaccines: Why People Still Believe The Hype
    By Andrea Kuszewski | March 18th 2010 12:41 AM | 61 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Andrea

    Andrea is a Behavior Therapist and Consultant for children on the autism spectrum, residing in the state of FL; her background is in cognitive

    ...

    View Andrea's Profile
    Early last month, the now-famous paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield that supposedly linked vaccines to the onset of Autism, was formally retracted by the Lancet, the journal that published it back in 1998. This was a monumental decision, considering it was the conclusions drawn from this paper that launched the firestorm of debate around the safety of vaccines, and likely the cause of the current vaccine crisis.

    It goes without saying, but in case some of you have not made the connection yet, this retraction means that there never was a valid link between vaccines and Autism; not even one study can show this. Wakefield's study was never able to be replicated (because of his poor and dishonest methods), and every scientific study conducted following his that attempted to find a similar link was unsuccessful. Scientists have been saying for years that there must have been something fishy with his study to have gotten that result, but the public (at least a large portion of it) would not listen. Now even Wakefield himself has said that his study is invalid, and yet the supporters remain.

    I find it very interesting that there was so little media coverage of the retraction as compared to the attention the paper got when it first came out. One would think that news of false evidence
    provided to support a false theory of Autism would at least be as big of a story, if not bigger. However, that was not the case. Incidentally, I predicted this would happen the very moment I read the press release.



    There are a few reasons for this reaction.

    First, I must clarify that the "Anti-Vaccine" crowd is a diverse group, each sub-type with their own agenda and reason for believing in the theory so vehemently.

    The first group of believers are the Anti-Pharma crowd. These people have been looking for an opportunity to nail the pharmaceutical industry for years, and this was their golden opportunity. So because of their hatred of all things big-drug-company related, no way are they going to back off from their offensive. In their mind, this one study doesn't matter; the pharmaceutical companies and the government are all out to screw the public any way they can. Some of these types of believers are successful in getting general conspiracy theorist-types on-board, because it just sounds like such a great story.

    Another type is the General Anti-Vaccine crowd. These people have been against vaccines specifically for probably their whole lives. They think that injecting live bacteria into our bodies does us more harm then good, and so they are anti-vaccine, anti-flu shot, the whole ball of wax. I feel that while this group may be well-intended, they are grossly misinformed about the science behind what vaccines are and how they work. I have some friends who fall into this category, and I have lost my voice arguing over this topic over and over. Some people just refuse to listen to science long enough to understand it, and once they make up their mind, the conversation is closed.

    A third type of believer is the Autism Parent. Now, this is the group I really want to discuss, because I think I understand where they are coming from and why. Because of their unique circumstance (having a child with Autism), they are easily susceptible to arguments made by the other two groups, the Anti-Vacs and the Anti-Pharmas, and they are practically preyed upon to join the cause. The Autism Parent is the group I can sympathize with, because I think I've had some insight recently as to their perspective on this whole debate and why they refuse to give up on the Vaccine Theory.

    The Timing

    First of all, the timing of the onset of symptoms coincides with the timing of when children get their first round of vaccines, so it seems natural to point to the vaccine as the cause. Many parents have reported that their child was fine until the day they got their vaccines, then the decline began right afterward. Maybe that was the case; I cannot say for sure, because I wasn't there, and we can only go on what we hear from parents. However, it is a common phenomenon to have a confirmation bias when recalling events like this, ones that have a high emotional connection. You are more likely to remember the events as falling into that exact time frame because of the unconscious desire to attribute a specific cause, and every other piece of evidence that you can recall will seem to fit into that schema to support it. I am not saying the
    parents are lying or making things up in the least; this is a naturally occurring cognitive bias that seems 100% true in the mind of the person recalling the events, and happens frequently.

    In fact, the timing of the onset of symptoms is a factor in the next point I am going to make as well.


    "Something" to Believe In

    They need answers- a reason why, how, when, and where their child developed the disorder, and they need the answers now. I have worked in the field of psychology with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for over 7 years now, and have spoken with many, many parents about the potential causes of Autism. The overriding feeling I get from parents is the frustration of not knowing how it happened to their child.

    Most of the children I have seen come from families with highly intelligent parents- doctors, professors, highly specialized technicians, and other fields that take significant intellectual ability to achieve in. Siblings of children with ASD are often typically developing, although may have some quirky traits of their own. All in all though, it would seem that the Autism came out of nowhere.

    When this happens, the first thing you want to know is why. What did we do wrong? Was it something during the pregnancy? Was it some mystery recessive gene that was passed on? Was it something that my child was exposed to as an infant?

    One reason why Autism can be especially distressing for parents is because usually, the child will start out as a normally developing infant, reaching the typical milestones- responding to their name with eye contact, playing with toys, and beginning to develop language. Then around 18 months of age, they start regressing. They suddenly stop making eye contact. They lose what language they had. They stop exploring the environment with the variety and vigor that other toddlers do. And this regression is what usually frightens parents into getting their child evaluated.

    I knew all of this from an academic standpoint as a result of my education, but it wasn't until I saw a family's video compilation of their son from birth to the emergence of autistic symptoms, that I really felt the pain of what it must have been like to witness it in real time. Am I saying I know exactly what it feels like to be a parent of a child with ASD? No. Not even close. But when I saw that video of my client as a baby- babbling, responding to his name, playing with toys, and then watched what followed- gradually losing the few words he had, no longer smiling and cooing, no interest in toys, the distant look in his eyes that didn't recognize the sound of his name, the parents begging him to look at them with the sound of sorrowful desperation clearly in their voices, I started crying myself.

    To have a child born with a disability is heart-wrenching enough. But when your child is born and seems healthy, parents breathe a sigh of relief. They relax a little, feeling fortunate that they escaped the risk of the genetic roulette wheel and came out a winner with a healthy baby. It is once you start feeling confident that everything is fine that the symptoms begin to emerge. That feeling of the rug being jerked out from beneath you when the regression starts out of nowhere is what many parents describe as the shot to the heart.

    Just as a parent of a child who has some type of debilitating illness or physical defect needs to know what it is and how they contracted it, parents of children with ASD need an answer as well. Other illnesses and disorders can be traced back to genetics, or a specific toxin exposure, or a defect in an organ, or at least something semi-concrete. Parents of children with ASD need to have an answer as to why it happened, so they can ease their mind. This gives them some kind of closure, in a time when they are feeling so helpless. The dissonance of not having an answer is one of the most painful aspects of this disorder; being so out of control of the entire situation. Most importantly, the parents need to know that it wasn't something they did to their child. To have an outside agent, or cause, for the disorder gives them peace of mind.

    If you can understand just how desperate these parents are for an answer, and how they endured almost 20 years of inconclusive research to provide it, when the Vaccine Theory of Autism came along, it was like manna sent from heaven. They thought, finally, we know where it came from, and it was nothing we could have anticipated at the time. It was a specific thing, a shot of bacteria or mercury entered the bloodstream, and it reacted with their child's DNA, and this all resulted in Autism. A sigh of relief was expelled in many a homes when this news came out. However, there is still that lingering guilt that says, "Could I have done anything to prevent this?" And that is where the anti-vaccine campaign comes in. By being an activist in the campaign against vaccines and bring the "facts" to the public, they feel they are saving someone's child from developing an ASD, saving another parent from debilitating heartache.

    They Need a Champion

    So far, the reasons I mentioned explain why they passionately supported the Vaccine Theory in the first place, before they knew the real facts behind it. But even now, after the retraction, why do they still cling to this belief?

    Enter Jenny McCarthy.

    There was a Time Magazine article back in February that was titled, "The Autism Debate: Who's Afraid of Jenny McCarthy?", in which they interviewed the celebrity Autism Mom about her son's progress and her feelings on the retraction of the Wakefield paper, among other things. Without getting too much into the content (you can follow that link to read the excellent four-page article), I will just point out a few things that are relevant here:





    1. Jenny McCarthy (JmC, as I like to refer to her) still believes the vaccines gave her son Autism, even though Thimerosal (the mercury-containing organic compound) has not been used in vaccines since around 2000, and her son Evan, diagnosed with Autism, is 7 years old. You do the math. Initially, it was the Thimerosal that was to blame, but now she just blames the vaccines in general, despite lack of confirmatory evidence. 





    2. JmC claims her son was "cured" of his Autism after years of widely varying types of treatments, most of them not recognized as valid treatments for Autism. Some now question whether or not Evan even had an ASD; his symptoms mimicked another disorder, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome.





    3. JmC is quite charismatic and believable, and makes parents want to trust her. She is warm, compassionate, and sympathetic to their plight. She cries with them, gives them her personal phone number, and basically becomes the BFF for every parent of a child with Autism.















    Point number 3 is the key here. JmC is the savior every parent has been waiting for.

    Parents of children with ASD can get emotionally weary, mentally taxed, and feel hopeless about their child's future. It is difficult to keep high spirits every day, when the progress can be so painstakingly slow, that it gets nearly impossible to keep the positive energy going, cheering on every new little gain. Parents need to keep their hopes up. They need to keep believing that everything they are doing, the hours and hours of therapy, and the costly schools and treatments, are going to help their child to lead a more normal life someday.

    JmC provides that hope. She is relentless in her optimism about "curing Autism", relentless in her fight against "the system", relentless in making sure everyone knows about the supposed dangers of vaccines, and relentless in making sure that every child with Autism is given a chance at a better life. That dedication to every child with Autism, however misplaced her reasons, methods, and beliefs about the cause, is what gives her star-power in the eyes of parents.

    Her unending enthusiasm in "fighting the Big Fight" is what gives parents the energy to keep going. Even though I feel she is dead wrong in her opinions regarding almost everything (and is the leading cause for the growing population of un-vaccinated kids), she is one dedicated woman. And honestly, I think that is why even if some parents don't really believe in her reasons behind her activism, they still support her because they need her activism. When parents feel like everything in the world is going against them, it probably feels good to have someone in their corner, fighting for their kid, even if it is a crazy woman.

    So I guess the final point I am making here is that everyone needs a hero, and as it turns out, JmC is the hero for the Autism community, at least until another one emerges. For the sake of the science community, un-vaccinated children, and the future children of the world, let's hope that happens sooner rather than later.

    Comments

    Excellent article, Andrea. And you're right about JmC. I know she means well, but when I think of all of the poor kids who will not get the vaccines they need because of this nonsense, I get angry.

    My ex-wife's cousin, who would probably fit into the "Anti-Pharma crowd" won't get her kids vaccinated even for the flu because she believes that the government is creating these viri and administering them to the public via the vaccines.

    Now, my ex-wife's cousin isn't what you would characterized as an hysterical crack-pot. She, in general, is a pretty well-grounded person and a very good mother. But when it comes to vaccines she really believes this garbage. I was shocked when she first told me this. I couldn't believe this was coming from her mouth. But she really does believe it. And nothing I could say could dissuade her. But other than that, she is a very sensible woman.

    So, I do understand what you're talking about, and it is a very real sociological phenomenon.
    Andrea great article but I feel you are missing a few key points... If the community really wanted to know why Advocates for Humanity, Autism, And Vaccine Safety plod on vs such overwhelming odds & Well funded opposition ( Pharmaceutical companies spend $721,583 a Day to make their voice heard to congress)... Why don't you just ask? Yes we need something to blame. Right before our eyes our children regressed. Some in the time frame you mentioned others outside it. Medically documented. Out of 12 know neurological conditions... Autism is the only one not covered by insurance. Parents are not fighting against vaccines they are fighting against a system that ignores an injured child. If the government, society, Pharmaceutical Companies cared about the children over profits programs of support, service, treatment & answers would have been developed. If advocacy leads to the destruction of the vaccination program then the only ones to blame are the leaders of the medical community for ignoring the needs of injured children. There are so many services needed.
    I must say that would be enough justification by itself but the studies really have not been done. We have asked for over 20 years for a vaccinated vs un-vaccinated study. Why has this not been done and released? Also where are the studies showing the impact of thimerosal on Infants? I Fight to gain awareness to a growing problem. Rates when Tanners was diagnosed that I was aware of were 1 in 10,000 now we are looking at 1 in 57 boys. Jenny McCarthy is a hero. The rest of society should be ashamed at white washing everything else. If you really care about the children, you would advocate for them.

    jtwitten
    Tim,

    You are missing a few key steps in logic. How does the insurance coverage for autism relate to vaccination? Do you really believe that lack of funds for autism programs is due to costs of vaccination programs? Do you have any idea how much money it would require to treat the rate of preventable disease ending vaccination would cause?

    Perhaps you should suggest that anti-vaccination advocates redirect their donations from unscientific research programs and implausible, unproven, yet dangerous "treatments" into efficacious support programs.

    Frankly, I do not know whether I should be disgusted by your willingness to let thousands of children die of preventive diseases with zero benefit or fell pity for the autistic child whose condition is one that your logic implies is worse than debilitating disease and death.
    Tim,
    "Rates when Tanners was diagnosed that I was aware of were 1 in 10,000 now we are looking at 1 in 57 boys"

    You are comparing apples and oranges. The rate for Kanner's autism starting with Lotter's 1966 study was 4.5:10,000. The 1:57 rate you heard from Jenny McCarthy is for the full spectrum of ASDs. If Jenny's angry mob made a sincere effort to get its fact straight, it wouldn't be so angry.

    Autism News Beat ... What part of seeing your son regress before your eyes do you think is not scary? What gives you the right to minimize the Autism Health Crisis? What scientific facts do you to back up that claim? We have multiple source that show changes in Diagnostic criteria alone or genetics can not explain away the increase. Most experts now agree there is an environmental component.

    Once again scary is seeing your son play, dream, talk, feed himself, drink, chew, use the restroom, smile , hug, & Love,,, then after vaccines he looses it all... Last sentence "My name is Tanner My name is Tanner" .... My name is now Autism ( Vaccine Injury ). TannersDad Tim Welsh Advocate for Humanity, Autism Answers, and Environmental Safety

    Rather than play the emotional parent card, why not just address my point - comparing the prevalence of Kanner's autism in 1980 to the entire spectrum now is apples and oranges. Yeah oh nay?

    Rich Shull
    I know this is not mente to be a political blog ,but please bear with me as science and politics often intermix.
     
    When I was diagnosed offically at the age of 35 autistic I was "quickly" hailed as the next Temple Grandin.  Temple is a very popular figure in autism and she Authored the book Thinking in Pictures . This is the most 'advanced' version of autism the contemporary autism machine will admit to.  Many of us including yours truly BUILD on her work and take it to the threshold of normal thought. Sadly what we have done and the thoughts and connections we made to link MR/DD to Einstein have never been in a book before , so peer review has no clue we just discovered new news and charted new ground. Contemporary Autism coined the term Crypto-senstitive autism to describe us a few years back as they thought one of us might be "popular" with an invention or two. It was also a way to hide the old autism time forgot. 


     I was soon dropped like a hot potato as people like the late Dr .Rimland (father of Rin Man the movie) and other big power players could not tolerate my story. When I refused to water it down ,remove chapers on Picture thinking that built on Temple's Work, stories of my obession and splinter skills (taboo in contemporary autism) flowing  over into life at large and even talk of autistic driving and social skills that came full circle I was black balled and my living anthropology of more like me are as well. Old working 30 something functioning autistic people  ,missing Rain Man's curse, were NOT the news contemporary was wanting to hear. Partuculary fowel  to the modern autism folks were our stories of our pain tolerance and real world injuries and illness we never felt. We discovered threw out life we only feel 8-9-10 on the pain scale.  

    When It was discovered our Autism experience was 'blueprinted' in the biography of Alan Turing (1912-1954)  in the book The Enigma (Andrew Hodges 1983)  it was very thing contemporary autism was horrified to hear about. It seems everything they forgot and never knew as Autism went designer was highlighted in this book .

    The really sad part is we seem to be the living missing link. Some of us in our antropology seen a particular photo in a National Geographic Magazine from the 1960's of a "bufflao hunt" and it was captioned as 'dinner order' and we knew it to be a picture in picture thought a type of internal thought we had to learn to keep or optic vision on. (not in a Text Book yet).  All of my countrparts were ignorant of each other and yet  when we did meet online many years after that all said, that was Picture-in picture thought.  This would be a cave person type of ideal. Add our other intenral picture thoughts , and pain tolerance and wild senses to the mix and we might well be the living missing link. 

    Finally the idea of modern autisitc "just not doing a thing" -blamed on a vacinne is very obvious but the real reason contemporary autism students don't do much is our SPLINTER Skills and obessions are never tapped these days. Again they are Taboo.  In our Day our teachers ,tutors and parents, All geared our learning unknowingy to our obession and the results spoke for them selves.  Example I tried time and again to do division on the blackboard,,, Divend quotient,divisor were all greek to me (as well as numbers in general), Then my Dad on a hunch had me figure Miles per gallon on a car that was instant and easy!  Suddenly division was to. 

    All of this and the picture thought Temple Writes about and we build upon  that when figured out yields the connection in man's mind; is all new news in psychology. We discovered it by happenstance and real experience and we find we are a day late and a dollor short as no matter what we have done we can't crack peer review with totally new news or over come the power and might of the Autism lobby.   rich shull
    RIch you ask "How does insurance coverage for autism relate to vaccination?" You are correct it is a means to an end. If society covered people dealing with #Autism the way it needs to ... Insurance companies would be driven to the brink of bankruptcy. Insurance companies are only a means to an end. When insurance companies are compelled by law to cover insurance they will help in the quest to find answers. They will help direct the research towards the environmental cause (Which Many of us think is partly due to vaccines ). Right now we have new laws on the books that mandate coverage in 15 states. Soon there will be more with the ground swell of support and activism.
    I am not sure where you get I want to end vaccination programs? I want those that are pushing more and more vaccinations onto the market ( 147 more in pipeline being developed ) to assume their cost of business. There will be a breaking point in this crisis. Parents will drive it to the point of restructuring the vaccination program if we have to. That is exactly my point... when will the powers that be stop fighting us and start supporting us?

    I really would be happy with a reaction of disgust for my advocacy because at least you are feeling. So many are just numb to the issues. A reaction of Disgust might compel you to do more than snipe a parent advocating for a vaccine injured child. TannersDad Tim

    Rich Shull
     I was soon dropped like a hot potato as people like the late Dr .Rimland (father of Rin Man the movie) and other big power players could not tolerate my story. When I refused to water it down ,remove chapers on Picture thinking that built on Temple's Work, stories of my obession and splinter skills (taboo in contemporary autism) flowing  over into life at large and even talk of autistic driving and social skills that came full circle I was black balled and my

    Dear Tim, readers'
    perhaps we have the wrong end of the stick here,I think the comment above is what you were thinking about and it could be read 'insurance' but I mente it to read.... I was dropped from Autism circles.  People like me, missing the rain man era do amazingly well, vaccine or no vaccine and we simply were the last ones left to be able to over come autism a different kind of human thought process that happens during the lack of eye contact.

    When this autism puzzle is finally settled it will be discovered we did so well so absently since we were never teathered to the diagnosis of autism. At one time pre Rain Man only SEVERE autism was diagnosable. Those of us that were just odd strange kids would be diagnosed today and probably in a group home but in the 1960's and before we were just odd strange kids that could make a's and f's on the same report card.  My point is the vacine and the sudden lack of "happenstance" that made us successfull from our obessions to our splinter skills were made tabo about the same time autism went designer and the true autism we learned was taken from us. 

    If only psychology knew of all the internal picutre thoughts I refer to here, and seen their connection to the mr/dd to einstein and even normal thoughts autism would not be a big deal  and the hype we konw as autism would be seen as that hype. Autism  in general is good intentions gone too far. Not enough people knew enough to claim their expert status.  Best Rich Shull 
    "there never was a valid link between vaccines and Autism"

    Keep your lies to yourself please. There's none that you want to believe.

    First, you don't even know what the **** autism is, so don't go spouting off. Which brings us to the first big problem, how can you solve something when people still can't even agree to the problem? You must have researched into this right? So do you know the prevailing theory behind it? Mercury poisoning. That it's just a particular case of mercury poisoning.

    Given the prevailing theory, even you should then consider exactly why there ARE studies giving links to vaccines and autism. Or maybe I should replace the word vaccines with thimerosal... something in many vaccines. Yes, thankfully it was removed by a great deal of vaccines, thanks to the people whom you seem to detest, however it is still there in some including flu vaccines.

    Organic mercury is a known neurotoxin. Known. It passes the brain barrier in the blood easily. There is no argument. Yet somehow, people like you, are easily and stupidly persuaded that it does no damage when directly injected into your blood stream... specifically in newborn fragile babies. Does that even sound reasonable for a moment? It shouldn't.

    Well, I'm out of time. So I'll say this: vaccines are good. Yes. The poisons companies add to save money? Bad.

    Andrea Kuszewski
    Dear "GMNightmare"... use some common sense, if you have any (I am not sure you do, based on your comments). Here is another court ruling that just came out a few days ago:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idusn1218720720100312

    The only person lying is you, to yourself, if you think there is any validity to the theory of vaccines causing Autism.
    Please, show me these studies you're talking about. I can't seem to find them. At least none besides the one that was rescinded, as this article indicates.

    Andrea, the anti-vax crowd is looking for something to rationalize their feelings. They are not using “reasoning” the way that you or I use reasoning. They don't have the ability to reason from facts using logic to arrive at provisional beliefs.

    They start with feelings, then find beliefs to justify those feelings, the beliefs usually are from someone higher in a social hierarchy, an “expert”, but “expertise” comes from “feeling” the individual can be trusted, not from any kind of knowledge base. They accept ideas because they “feel” correct, usually the feeling is pure confirmation bias. It is essentially what Steve Cobert calls “truthy”. I have an extensive blog post about it.

    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/2010/03/physiology-behind-xenophobia.html

    They don't “reason”, or even understand what “reasoning” is, the use of facts and data to make inferences using logic. Their beliefs are based on feelings, not on facts and logic.

    There is no data that supports a “vaccines cause autism” idea. The recent Autism Omnibus ruling was very clear on that. Now they have raised the level of evidence they require to an impossible level, a prospective vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated double blind study. A study that will never be done because it is unethical to expose children to the risks of being not vaccinated for no benefit.

    Isn't the only known positive correlation older mothers and autism? The older the woman the more likely it is that the children will come down with autism? Isn't JmC an older mom?

    What about her breast implants? It seems to me someone so concerned about health issues wouldn't be risking infection and all the other risks of surgery to put foreign objects into their bodies.

    We can't even be certain that Evan has autism until his mother releases the medical records. Given McCarthy's history of fabricating events, it's foolish to accept anything that she says with verification.

    Rich Shull
    Forgive me again for going 'political'

    I was attending an Autism Town hall Meeting (2003?) held by the CDC.  The CDC was holding a series of open to the public autism meetings all across America. I attended the meeting in Indianapolis Indiana.  Every one was allowed to speak and I had 2 speakers slips. 99% of the comments reflected new age autism, kind of i have fallen and can't get up types of things.

    All the Big players in Autism were there from the late Dr Rimland 
    (Rain Man) to Tony Attwood. My comments and talk were NOT welcome news there. I talked of  working autism, and how we did a different kind of thought process never in a book before.  The old working autism I represented was not welcome news. My comments were transcribed, video taped and my notes were entered into the public record.

    I'm told After the event Rimland and others were out in the hall fuming mad over my comments.

    When I tried to get my comments fom the CDC via the freedon of information act all I got was an unsigned note in the mail saying" you have been banished from the record" go figure?  

    Rich  Shull
    What really needs to be done, is to have some independent vaccine quality screening.
    I've read and heard from multiple doctors of multiple vaccines which have been contaminated with heavy metals. (for example Mercury)
    They tell stories how lots of symptoms related to autism, adhd and add just disappear after detoxification procedures for the heavy metal intoxications.
    These doctors might of course be part of your anti-vaccines crowd, but they all claim positive results after detoxification treatment. Just wanted to share this.

    FYI: Origins of the Mercury / Vaccine Controversy

    The mercury / vaccine controversy began in 1997, when Frank Pallone, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, attached an amendment to an FDA reauthorization bill, requiring the FDA to "compile a list of drugs and foods that contain intentionally introduced mercury compounds and [to] provide a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the mercury compounds in the list." The bill later evolved into the landmark FDA Modernization Act of 1997 (FDAMA) and was signed into law on November 21, 1997.

    The act also authorized the FDA to review and assess the risk of all mercury-containing food and drugs. In line with this review, U.S. vaccine manufacturers responded to a two requests in 1988 and 1989 FDA request to provide more detailed information about the thimerosal content of their preparations that included this compound as a preservative. Thimerosal has been used as an additive to biologics and vaccines since the 1930s because it is very effective in killing bacteria used in several vaccines and in preventing bacterial contamination, particularly in opened multidose containers. Some but not all of the vaccines recommended routinely for children in the United States contain thimerosal.

    In 1999 the Public Health Service, US Dept of Health and Human Services and the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a "joint statement", Thimerosal in Vaccines: A Joint Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service, stating: "PHS and AAP continue to recommend that all children should be immunized against the diseases indicated in the recommended immunization schedule. Given that the risks of not vaccinating children far outweigh the unknown and much smaller risk, if any, of exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life, clinicians and parents are encouraged to immunize all infants even if the choice of individual vaccine products is limited for any reason." However, in their research on mercury toxicity to the developing brain, Trasande, Landrigan and Schechter assert that "There is no evidence to date validating the existence of a threshold blood mercury concentration below which adverse effects on cognition are not seen".

    Thimerosal is a compound that is 49.6% mercury by weight. When pregnant women eat foods or take medicines that contain mercury, the mercury can be transferred to the developing fetus through the placenta. Infants can be exposed to mercury through foods, including breast milk, or medicines. Developing fetuses and young children are more susceptible to mercury exposure than adults because mercury can interfere with the developing nervous system.

    The following are some "Reasonable Rules for Life" for during and after treatment for mercury toxicity:

    -> No fish and no seafood (supposedly, salmon is okay).
    -> No amalgam (metal) fillings in teeth. Use white composite material instead.
    -> No more thimerosal-containing vaccines. Since 2002, all US vaccines should be thimerosal-free. If in doubt, ask for thimerosal-free vaccines. For almost every possible vaccine given, there is at least one brand that does not contain thimerosal.

    jtwitten
    However, in their research on mercury toxicity to the developing brain, Trasande, Landrigan and Schechter assert that "There is no evidence to date validating the existence of a threshold blood mercury concentration below which adverse effects on cognition are not seen".
    Unfortunately, this unreferenced quote does not provide any support for your position that thimerosal based brain injury is plausible. It is stating that a threshold has not been experimentally determined, not that one does not exist. In fact, we know one must exist. Eventually, one can dilute mercury to a vanishingly small, but calculable amount that could not plausible have any effects.

    Typically, you also fail to distinguish between the ethylmercury in thimerosal, which is rapidly eliminated from the body, and methylmercury, which accumulates in the body and is the kind one worries about in fish etc. False extrapolations from methylmercury led to inaccurate risk assesments in the time period you discuss.

    Finally, elimination of thimerosal from childhood vaccines has not reduced autism rates. Even if the hypothesis had been plausible, it has been falsified by the data.



    A German man attempted suicide about 15 years ago by drinking 5 grams of thimerosal. He became every will, but after 30 days of chelation he made a full recovery. He did not become autistic.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8699562

    I thought autism was always developed during childhood. Are you implying that this is not so?

    (copy/pasted from dictionary..
    autism |ˈôˌtizəm|
    noun Psychiatry
    a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
    • a mental condition in which fantasy dominates over reality, as a symptom of schizophrenia and other disorders.
    DERIVATIVES
    autistic |ôˈtistik| |ɔˈtɪstɪk| |ˈɔːˈtɪstɪk| adjective & noun
    ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from Greek autos ‘self’ + -ism .)

    In the first half of the 20th century, mercury was used in a lot of medicines. It was used in teething powders. Many teething powders by different manufacturers had a grain of calomel in them. Calomel is mercurous chloride, HgCl. A grain is 65,000 micrograms. HgCl is 85% mercury by weight. That is 55,237 micrograms of mercury, per dose. Many millions of doses were given per year, one manufacturer sold 30,000,000 doses in a single year.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10645305

    Many children were given more than one dose. This exposure to mercury caused what was called “pink disease”. Pink disease was a leading cause of death in children, over a thousand children died from pink disease.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14821416

    The total dose of mercury from thimerosal at its highest was only ~187 micrograms spread out over years.

    Many millions of children received thousands of times more mercury from teething powders than any child received from vaccines. Over a thousand children were killed by the mercury in teething powders. Many tens of thousands of children got real mercury poisoning, pink disease, from the mercury in teething powders.

    If mercury causes autism, where are the cases from the first half of the 20th century when many millions of children were given many thousands of times more mercury?

    Where are the cases of pink disease from the trace levels of mercury in vaccines? There aren't any.

    Tuna fish has about half a ppm mercury. An ounce of tuna fish has about as much mercury as the largest dose from a vaccine ever had. Methyl mercury is better absorbed from the gut (i.e. produces a higher blood level and a higher brain level) than does injected thimerosal.

    The only reason mercury is being pursued as a “cause” of autism is because quacks make money off desperate parents by “treating” their children with bogus “challenge” tests. The amount of mercury excreted during those tests is tiny, a few micrograms, less than what one would get from a single bite of a tuna fish sandwich. The chelation of children is a pure scam. It wastes money and actually harms the children. But it enriches quacks, so they love it.

    I am in full sympathy with the families with autism. The common sense approach for parents to follow is found in the principle "You shall know them by their fruits". Where can you go to find autistic children who are becoming genuinely well? If genetics is the only controlling factor, then none will get well. But if genetics is just a background factor engaged by environmental influences, then it follows that cures will be found. (And are probably already being found!!!)

    If genetics is the only controlling factor, then none will get well.

    How do you define "well"? Autism is a developmental disorder, so these kids continue to grow, learn, and adapt. Many are able to hold jobs and live independently with reasonable accommodations.

    My sympathies are with the families with autistic children. They need hope. And if they are thinking people, they naturally find hope when their observations such as their child's apparent reaction to vaccination is most plausibly explained. The expression, "You shall know them by their fruits" applies here. Where can one go to find autistic children who genuinely recover? If indeed, genetics are the sole controlling explanation, then none will ever recover. But on the other hand, if genetics is background factor which is engaged by various kinds of environmental factors, then it logically follows that curative interventions are plausible.

    Vaccines are not the issue. The issue is autism. The issue is what protocols or assumptions are leading to major improvements? Are pioneers who are being successful being identified and financially supported? Or are they crushed and ignored by the competitive market place?

    Rich Shull
    When all is said and done and the t's are crossed and the i's dotted this entire autism charade will be seen as pointless hype. It will not happen in my life time, but total explanation of our autism thought process ,different  type of body and keen senses will not only blow away the psychological and medical community but it expose the how and the why the minds works. Trust me the human mind is not a pretty, flowing ,marvil of perfection.  Rather it is a happhazzed mess of sortcuts no one has knowingly experienced thus the reason why man has never figured out his mind. For sure those of us that did it and came up from the bottom of the gene pool don't have a chance; were damaged goods and the very retards being reseached.   

    Autism was so very close to being 'solved' before the Rain Man Era took hold . If the strict diagnosis standards of autism during that era were re established modern Autism would be crippled.  If we could turn back time and our absently geared for us learning quirks like obession and splinter skills were exploited again most autisitc people would thrive like we have done.  Take our 30 year learning curve we had and learn from it and truly teach autism skills that have never been in a text book before and  autism could be a grade 1-6 pre school.  By the way we all had our share of mercury ,incuding Alan Turing, 1912-1954 he was autistic and father of the computer.  

    Rich Shull, Author of the banished book Autism Pre Rain Man autism ,built on Temple's Thinking in Picutres and inventor of the Turing Motor a green triple hybrid car motor featuring once central spinning cylinder.  Idling on compressed air (clean drive threw and traffic jams) mid range electric like a Puris and thundering accleration and towing power from the gas.  It is the motor Ford and Mercedes would have built had they understood their own.  It is good green MPG.
    It takes very little to create a negative impression and it's very hard to unmake it.

    Partly because newspapers run headlines on page one and retractions on page 20.

    But also, once people have something they want to be true confirmed, add in confirmation bias - they simply aren't going to read anything that says their view is wrong.

    People tend to be lazy thinkers too - they don't critically analyze the claims and we seem to be in an age where the amateur is the expert, rather than trained experts who are clearly in a conspiracy.

    Why else would nonsense like The Secret gain any traction?

    does insurance cover such maladies?

    regards
    olga lednichenko
    nesher-israel

    The fact that you would assume to speak, albeit, sympathetically, on the behalf of the group you call 'autism parents' and ascribe fatuous motivations and unenlightened thinking to us (read, me) is offensive in the highest.

    I do not need an escape clause. I do not need a hero. I need someone in the scientific community to try and work out what happened to my child. As opposed to trying to prove what didn't. That's all.

    You offend me. You offend my child. We are the only ones I can speak of with any authority, but I have a fair idea there are many more like me.

    I am very glad you are not working n psychology for me and my child, in particular.

    Hank
    It's understandable you want to know what happened but why would it be offensive to exclude the things that did not cause autism?   Mercury was a huge concern because no one was sure so science tackled the problem and determined that was not it.   The quest goes on.    But it seems rather harsh to blast people because no one has the correct answer right this minute.   At least we know enough to eliminate some incorrect ones.
    I'm not offended by the mercury connection (or lack of proof), I'm offended by the patronising and inaccurate portrayal of the way autism parents make decisions about what they believe.

    I totally agree with seeking proof, but when will someone scientifically take on the 'why' rather than the 'why not'. It's been going on for quite a while now.

    The frustration from a parents POV, is not borne out of some scattergun need to blame something, it's from actual observation of our children. And moreso, from dealing with doctors, therapists and scientists who spend so much time telling us that what we observe is incorrect.

    If the scientists and the people living with the condition actually spoke respectfully to one another, perhaps we each might learn something.

    Hank
    Fair enough, I think everyone here sympathizes.  We have devoted a whole month of a science site to letting guest columnists talk about the issue, but the issue in this article is vaccines.
    The frustration from a parents POV, is not borne out of some scattergun need to blame something, it's from actual observation of our children. And moreso, from dealing with doctors, therapists and scientists who spend so much time telling us that what we observe is incorrect.
    No one observes a vaccine causing autism.   Granted, no one is sure why the exact same circumstances cause different reactions in different kids - that is the miracle and mystery of the human brain - but AK was attempting to lay out reasons why some autism parents are prone to believe junk science about vaccines.    The answer is simple and it's that people want to take action.  You're taking action right now, even if it's to scold a therapist who takes the time to write on an important topic, and that's what this is all about.  I just thought it was a little harsh.
    I'll apologise if it seems harsh.

    The context I should fill in is that my child is autistic, and he is vaccine damaged. The vaccine damage caused Transverse Myelitis, an auto-immune attack on his spine at waist level. The doctors co-signed a form to accept that a vaccine caused the TM. The autism was there first.

    We know vaccine damage occurs. What we don't know is what the biological basis of autism is... we know many studies have failed to find a causal link between one vaccine and autism. We don't know if there could be a link between immunisation and autism.

    I live with this. I don't judge it.

    This is an interesting article, but I still remain hesitant about dismissing a link between mental disabilities and the vaccine shots. I have a brother who is mentally handicapped, and while he was not officially diagnosed as autistic, he does have the mental capacity of a toddler despite being in his twenties now. When my mother first heard that there was a connection between vaccinations and autism, she looked at my brother's medical records and was surprised to find that he'd actually had his first seizure within 48 hours of getting his very first vaccinations. While I was only around 9 or 10 at the time, I remember that night very well - the first time we rushed my brother to the hospital. Everything in his growth changed that night since he went from acting normal and speaking normal to forgetting words and behaviors he'd already learned. Every time he had a seizure, he lost a little bit more of himself. I think this is the kind of information that should be researched before vaccines are widely accepted or dismissed. But then again, science seems to be constantly changing, so who knows what they'll find in the next 10 years.

    Rich Shull
    Oh My ***,, It just came to me indeed people can really be hurt more than helped. Even though a shot or a porcedure might be work 98% of the time it will cause trouble the other 2 % of time. Perhaps your dear brother got a dose that was left out in the doctors office overnight- or one that was not mixed right or even the last of a batch it had too much of a bad thing in it?  Obviously, the trouble started instantly.  I agree your at the mercy of the pharma Industry who even IF they knew threre was trouble would ignore it.  A few little people hurt forever are not high on their prority list. 

    I for one 'protest' the blanket term of autism as it is used today. Contemporary autism/ psychology has coined the term to mean anything and everything these days and in reality watering down autism to looking 'crosseyed' has ignorantly ignored the fact Old Working autism existed and our Genius sides were absently tapped. Indeed ,we build on the work of Temple Grandin (wrote Thinking In Picutres) and discovered what to do while we displayed the lack of eye contact. (yes, our eyes are off) We were supposed to be thinking in picutres during that time (your day dreams) and we learned abesntly to do that and inadverently discovered the building blocks of the mind.  If only Psychology knew of this and knew what we know it would not only re introduce old Autism to its former state it would also know for the first time  ever how the mind really works and be able to custom taylor and indeed cure lots of issues.  The mind is that primative.

    Rich Shull, Inventor of The Turing Motor a green 70% efficient triple hybrid Car motor named for Alan Turing 1912-1954 he was WWII hero and Father of the Computer.  
    You are misinterpreting the data when you say there is no link. The data proves that there is no CAUSAL link. The fact that vaccines do not CAUSE autism does not mean they are unrelated. Using the criteria of the 2001 VSD study, we could easily prove that sulfur allergy is not CAUSED by sulfur. It does not mean the two are unrelated.

    Andrea Kuszewski
    [Low Budget] Dave:

    You are misinterpreting the terms "link" and "cause". Shoe size is also linked to levels of math ability; the larger your shoe size, the more math skills you have, on average, over a person's lifetime (mainly from birth to young adulthood), but it does not mean that a larger shoe size causes people to be better in math. The two variables just happen to both increase in a parallel plane.

    You need to be able to separate correlation from cause and not confuse the two. I have explained the vaccine correlation so many times in previous blog posts, I can't even do it again right now without getting a stomachache. Just use a little common sense, please. Over-zealous ignorance does not solve any problems. However, science can- if we let it.
    Low Budget Dave
    I don't think we are confusing the terms at all. The quote in the article above is "there never was a valid link between vaccines and Autism". That statement was in bold, and is false. First of all, the VSD studies only tested with regard to exposure to mercury. So technically, the sentence should read: “there never was a valid link between MERCURY and autism.”



    Even that is wrong, though. The study demonstrated without question that increased levels of mercury CAUSED increased tics, for example, and that these symptoms were exaggerated in the autistic population. Even if there were no other findings, this finding is, by definition, a “causal link”, not a parallel.



    There is clearly a valid link in other areas as well, because vaccines are proven to aggravate the symptoms. If this were simply a correlation, like hemlines and the economy, the Institute of Medicine would not have insisted that the VSD study be redesigned to account for neurologic symptoms other than autism.



    While the CDC and IOM are concentrating on the presence of mercury in the vaccines, the larger scientific community is not. This web site, in particular, has spent more time spreading the word the Jenny McCarthy is wrong than in figuring out what is right.



    This web site is not to blame for the misdirection, but clearly, this website has been misdirected. Instead of paying attention to the statistical errors made by the CDC, the focus of the blog is the methodological errors by a supermodel. My standard for accuracy in Jenny McCarthy books is pretty low; the standard for the CDC should be higher.



    But let’s play the game with the rules as they are set. Let’s say your child is developing normally, and then one day he comes down with some common disease, let’s call it “sneezles”. Starting immediately, he begins losing social, cognitive, and language skills, and never catches back up to where he was. He begins waking up four to five times a night screaming hysterically. The list of symptoms goes on and on, each more frightening than the last.



    As you mentioned, this is not a causal link. In this example, the sneezles cannot be said to have caused the problem. (99% of the people who catch sneezles have none of these symptoms.) But you can hardly blame the parents for living in fear of the sneezles. These parents did no scientific study, they simply observed something with their own eyes that appeared to be cause and effect.



    Then one day, the CDC comes along and tells them it was all a coincidence. Their child had an underlying genetic condition, and the sneezles simply started on the same day the symptoms started to express themselves. The CDC backs up this statement with a massive statistical analysis involving more than a half million children.



    As a parent, my fears were assuaged. I went ahead and acted on the word of the CDC. Now I wish I had not.



    Looking back at the CDC study, there are a few statistical errors. The one that worries me the most is that the initial results demonstrated a clear statistical link. Starting in 2002, the CDC massaged the data until the statistical link was gone. In particular, they added 34,000 children back to the study who had originally been excluded due to age and other factors. They then subtracted almost as many because of known sensitivities that might (or might not) be related. The resulting data was so weak that it was easily dismissed and discredited by many experts and non-experts, including the NIEHS and the United States Congress.



    Yet almost immediately, people began referring to the CDC study and calling me a bad parent. They accuse me of putting other children at risk, spreading ignorance, doubting science, and a host of other insults. On “ScientificBlogging” alone, there were no fewer than eight articles where the headline used the word “idiot” to refer to me and people like me who have valid questions about the VSD study.



    If they believe that insults and scorn are the key to changing my mind, they are incorrect. You, as much as anyone, should understand why that won’t work.



    In fact, my son is still keeping his vaccination schedules. My wife and I have made the decision that the vaccines aggravate his symptoms, but are not to blame for the genetics. But still, why was my doctor dangerously uninformed?



    We now know that Tylenol should not be given with certain vaccines, because it depletes glutathione, and yet my doctor recommended it anyway. We now know that the Hep B vaccine should not be given at birth in cases where autism is a question, yet my son received the Hep B without even our authorization.



    The MMR vaccine no longer contains mercury, but the HepB vaccine does. Why is a 9-lb baby being given a shot with more mercury than is allowed in a 250-lb tuna?



    I believe these are valid questions. I do not believe scientists have done enough to answer these questions. The original question in the topic was “Why people still believe the hype.”



    In my opinion, people still believe the hype because the scientific and medical community has insulted us, lied to us, denied us valid medical treatments, and then blamed us for their own mistakes.



    I don’t know if this is why everyone else is angry, this is just something I have observed with my own eyes.
    My son was autistic from the minute he was born. We didn't vaccinate because we believed the whole anti-vaccine theory. A year before my son was born, my step-cousin was diagnosed with autism. My step-aunt warned us it was vaccines. My son turned out to be autistic anyways. It became obvious when he was just about 18 months old. He was still not vaccinated at that point. We ended up getting his vaccinations just before he turned two.
    I'm glad I did.
    I just heard about how polio is spreading, according to the WHO. I now know that my son is safe from it. It just kills me when these parents refuse to vaccinate because they are afraid of autism, but vaccines don't cause autism. What they should be fearing are those diseases (such as polio) that could have been prevented!!
    Just last month, there was a TV special about vaccines and autism. There were 3 anti-vaccine mom's sitting together who said that they don't think polio is a risk because there hasn't been a case of it in the United States since the 1970's. Those women must live in a bubble where air travel doesn't exist. These days, you can go halfway around the globe in hours, and all it takes is for a person to hop a plane and not know they're carrying polio. Then they come into contact with all these children who's mothers were so stupid not to vaccinate because they believed the hype. Then those children have to suffer because of their parents.
    People do NOT "suffer" from autism. I know a lot of autistic adults who are non-verbal. They don't want to be cured! They want to be accepted!!

    Hank
    The hammer has come down.   Andrew Wakefield has been banned from practicing in his own country.  There's always Texas.
    CJE
    From Hank's article:

    The council, which licenses and oversees doctors, found him guilty of serious professional misconduct and stripped him of his right to practice medicine in the U.K...Wakefield said in January that the medical council's investigation was an effort to "discredit and silence" him to "shield the government from exposure on the (measles) vaccine scandal."
    Why is it that when people make things up and get caught they're somehow the victim? 
    Low Budget Dave

    If they banned him because of the paper, then that indicates a set of closed minds.  Plenty of doctors have published papers that were poorly reviewed, poorly documented, and ultimately wrong.   I think the thing that finally got him banned was that he took some blood tests from children without getting proper permission from the parents.  That is not just unscientific, it is insane. 

    I happen to agree with his original paper.  In the original, he did not link vaccines and autism, he merely pointed out that autistic children were more likely to suffer gastrointestinal problems as a result of vaccines.  To any parent of an autistic child, this is obvious.

    The mistake was when he took that research and used it to imply that the vaccines caused the autism.  This is like saying that my bad haircut caused my flat tire.  The two might be related on some metaphysical level, but the research does not support it.

    Last year, the CDC stated with confidence that the lead in the water supply in parts of Washington DC was totally safe.  The research they used to support this hopeless quackery.  I don't remember any news stories about any CDC researchers being banished to Texas, so I have to assume that it only happens when you offend the drug manufacturers.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Couldn't oxidative stress be the real culprit behing autism onset in children? I found this paper when I was researching why my mother was dying of motor neurone disease (MND). There are similar problems with oxidative stress correlating both with autism and with MND onset. The teething powder that caused mercury poisoning in 1 in 500 infants was tolerated by 499 of the 500 babies given the teething powder and I believe that this was possibly because only the 1 in 500 who had haemochromatosis developed mercury poisoning. I wonder if it may be the same with autism. Haemochromatosis is a genetic illness that predisposes people to have difficulty eliminating heavy metals, including mercury, from their bodies. I suffer from haemochromatosis as did my mother. Is it possible that there is a similar problem in eliminating heavy metals associated with autism? Most people with haemochromatosis don't even know that they have it until they either suffer iron overload symptoms or drop dead unexpectedly. The only way of nbeing sure that you have haemochromatosis is to have a genetic test. Quote "Mercury in its many forms increases oxidative stress see 'A Prospective Study of Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Autistic Disorders' by David A Geier (davidallengeier@comcast.net) Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland, USA CoMeD, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland, USA Janet K Kern (JKern@dfwair.net) Genetic Consultants of Dallas, Allen, Texas, USA University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA Mark A Geier (mgeier@comcast.net) ASD Centers, LLC, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA See http://ojs.lib.swin.edu.au/index.php/ejap/article/view/141/172 Abstract Quote "The aim of this study was to evaluate oxidative stress (OS) biomarkers in a prospective, blinded cohort study of participants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). OS biomarkers, including: blood glutathione (GSH), urine lipid peroxide, blood superoxidase dismutase (SOD), and blood GSH peroxidase (GPx) among participants diagnosed with ASDs (n=28) were evaluated in comparison to laboratory provided reference ranges. Testing was conducted using Genova. Diagnostics (CLIA-approved). Participants diagnosed with ASDs had significantly (p<.005) decreased blood GSH and GPx relative to laboratory reference ranges. By contrast, participants diagnosed with ASDs had significantly (p<.000) increased urine lipid peroxide levels relative to laboratory reference ranges. A bimodal distribution of significant differences from the laboratory reference for blood SOD levels were observed (high=10.7%, low=14.3%). Finally, a significant (p=.05) inverse correlation was observed between blood GSH levels and ASD severity using Childhood Autism Rating Scale scores. The present observations are compatible with increased OS and a decreased detoxification capacity, particularly of mercury, in patients diagnosed with ASDs. Patients diagnosed with ASDs should be routinely tested to evaluate OS biomarkers and potential treatment protocols should be evaluated to potentially correct the OS abnormalities observed. Keywords: Heavy metal; Metabolic; Endophenotype; Sulfation; Sulfur" Quote "Introduction Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders that affect an estimated 1 in 150 children in the US (Austin, 2008). ASDs are characterized by severe impairments in socialization, communication and behavior. Children diagnosed with an ASD may display a range of problem behaviors suchas hyperactivity, poor attention, impulsivity, aggression, self-injury and tantrums. In addition, these children often display unusual responds to sensory stimuli such as hypersensitivities to light or certain sounds, colours, smells or touch and have a high threshold for pain (Austin, 2008). Finally, common co-morbidity conditions often associated with ASDs include gastrointestinal disease and dysbiosis (White, 2003), autoimmune disease (Sweeten, Bowyer, Posey, Halberstadt, & McDougle, 2003), and mental retardation (Bolte & Poustak, 2002). In attempting to understand the underlying pathogenesis of ASDs a considerable body of research has been conducted to evaluate potential candidate causal genes. Genetic studies, to date, have not uncovered genes of strong effect. It was postulated that increasing rates of ASDs and less than 100% monozygotic concordance of ASDs support a more inclusive reframing of ASDs as a multi-system disorder with genetic influence and environmental contributors (Herbert et al., 2006)." Quote "Investigators suggested that ASDs may result from an interaction between genetic, environmental, and immunological factors, with oxidative stress as a mechanism linking these risk factors (James et al., 2006). Given the well-established fact that mercury (Hg) is known to significantly increase oxidative stress and that fetuses and infants are routinely exposed to Hg from environmental sources (i.e. fish, dental amalgams, vaccines, etc.), investigators have described that many ASDs may result from a combination of genetic/biochemical susceptibility, specifically a reduced ability to excrete Hg, and exposure to Hg at critical developmental periods (Geier, King, Sykes, & Geier, 2008). Further, it was reported that Hg can cause immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioural dysfunctions similar to traits defining/associated with ASDs, and that these similarities extend to neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters, and biochemistry. Also, it was reported when reviewing the molecular mechanisms of Hg intoxication that it can induce death, disorganization and/or damage to selected neurons in the brain similar to that seen in recent ASD brain pathology studies, and this alteration may likely produce the symptoms by which ASDs are diagnosed (Geier et al., 2008)."
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    This is also interesting for MND and autism, because chewing gum and eating acidic fruit releases mercury from amalgam fillings.Taken from http://members.tadaust.org.au/shakel/mycoplasma.htm MYCOPLASMA INFECTIONS by Dowd Quote "Some metals, such as mercury, may result in high levels of oxidative stress or reactive oxygen species (ROS) [37], which have been implicated in neurological diseases [38]. Mercury can also form conjugates with thiol compounds, such as glutathione and cysteine and cause depletion of glutathione, a necessary metabolite to counter or mitigate reactive damage." Quote "Eggleston [39] found that mercury amalgam fillings or nickel dental materials caused suppression of T-lymphocytes and impaired T4/T8 ratios. In one very preliminary study 12/13 ALS patients tested showed positive lymphocytes to heavy metals in vitro [40]. " Quote "There are case reports of patients with severe signs and symptoms similar or the same as ALS improving after treatment for mercury poisoning [41]. Although these reports are not compelling or conclusive, they do point to one possible complication in MND such as ALS. At a minimum such possible complications need to be explored in each ALS patient."
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Finally - 1 broken bulb pushes contamination to 300 times EPA limits Poisonous vapor so bad, researchers recommend families no longer use CFLs Posted: August 11, 2008 9:55 pm Eastern © 2009 WorldNetDaily Quote "Compact fluorescent light bulbs have long been known to contain poisonous liquid mercury, but a study released earlier this year shows the level of mercury vapor released from broken bulbs skyrockets past accepted safety levels." Quote "Following a story reported by WND last year about a Maine woman quoted $2,000 for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb, or CFL, in her home, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection studied the dangers of broken CFLs and the adequacy of recommended cleanup procedures. Quote "The results were stunning: Breaking a single compact fluorescent bulb on the floor can spike mercury vapor levels in a room – particularly at a child's height – to over 300 times the EPA's standard accepted safety level. Furthermore, for days after a CFL has been broken, vacuuming or simply crawling across a carpeted floor where the bulb was broken can cause mercury vapor levels to shoot back upwards of 100 times the accepted level of safety. Following the study, the Maine DEP made eight new recommendations for usage and cleanup of CFLs, including the recommendation to not even use the bulbs in carpeted rooms where children, infants or pregnant women live. The likelihood of breakage, near impossibility of cleanup and risk of prolonged exposure, the study concluded, are just too great." Quote "The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website acknowledges that Brown University published a similar study last month confirming the Maine results: Breaking a fluorescent bulb sends mercury vapor levels to unsafe levels for the elderly, pregnant and young – and those levels remain elevated for days. The NIEHS website states, "Today’s CFLs underscore mercury's volatile vapor form, which is still a significant health concern – ventilation reduces but does not eliminate this toxicant. Mercury vapor inhalation can cause significant neural damage in developing fetuses and children."
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    This was a fantastic article. Well written, my friend. Even when people think they understand the science behind things, it's painfully obvious that we have a very long way to go before the public "gets it". A recent article in Scientific American pointed out that, even though there is substantial evidence for Evolution, for example, there is a large segment of the population that still cannot reconcile the science with their personal belief. The Autism debate is another perfect example of the layperson just not "getting it". There never was a link between vaccines and autism - if there was, there would be a great deal many more children with it. But just as with anything else in this world, if A causes B, and B causes C, then everyone believes A causes C, even though it isn't true on the logical level.

    My children have been vaccinated, as have billions of other children, and I am thrilled that they will grow up not having to deal with Polio, Smallpox, Diptheria, Measles, Chicken Pox, and yes, Autism. My only belief is that I did the right thing by vaccinating them.

    Andrea:

    I have never read an article that tells the whole story so well as this one does. You touch on all of the key points we parents with autism that don't believe in the vaccine theory believe. I too had a child who "regressed" around the time of the vaccines. I never made the link and I do not think there is one. I think Jenny McC is doing more harm than good and I don't believe her son every had autism. You cannot cure autism. You can help the child grow, you can extinguish behaviors, you can help the child learn to do things, you can do lots of things -- but YOU CANNOT CURE AUTISM. I wish I were wrong.

    I wish all of these anti vaccine people would put their efforts towards finding the real culprit(s). For example, during pregnancy does some external factor affect the fetal brain. Could ultrasounds be harmful enough to "cause" autism. There certainly is enough research to show how they harm fetal brains.

    I don't know what causes it but I do know what helps it. Being open-minded, being a champion and an advocate for your child, getting the right services, e.g. speech, ABA, OT, etc., having the child live as normal a life as possible, having lots of typical peers in his or her life to her to model, and most of all, not grabbing on to whatever sounds like something to blame. The energy spent on that takes away from the energy needed to find the real reason and help our children.

    Low Budget Dave
    I am convinced that vaccines do not cause autism. At least they do not cause autism in a single generation. (The jury is still out on whether my son’s autism was caused by vaccines that I received. My personal opinion is that they do, but research is scarce.) I am convinced that vaccines aggravate the symptoms of autism. The research on this is in 100% agreement. There are no examples at all of autism symptoms improving after vaccines, and millions of examples (you read that right) where the symptoms worsened. The CDC research verified this, and dismissed it by saying that the tics, seizures, and gastrointestinal problems were “minor”. My son, for example, now tests positive for measles because the strain from the vaccine persists in his stomach. I believe that the CDC is pushing vaccines because they made the risk-vs-benefit calculation based on neurotypical children, and not based on autistics. I think this shows a reckless disregard for autistic members of society.
    I liked the idea of putting down good things that happened after vaccines to counter the hundred thousands of adverse effects in VAERS.

    Perhaps this is not likely but how about a system for harm when no vaccines are involved?

    A lot of people here are claiming that there child regressed to autism before their vaccines.

    With the recommended schedule showing vaccines at one day when the mother is at times out of it and may not realise makes this assertion difficult to believe.

    I know lots of people who only find out about the one day vaccine when they check their records.

    This article is clearly making no attempt at arriving at the truth, But rather it posesses all the trademarks of a condescending and patronizing verbal assault and this obvious by the way she simply catorgizes people into pegortive groups while making no attempt to explain why they may feel the way they do which of course implies that they have no rational basis whatsoever and that they are just uneducated idiots desperate for an answer and grabbing at straws is what shes telling us and thats simply unfair to them but shes doing this intentionall so she can then dismiss and marginalize them, but she sheds a teart for the poor child who well educatd parents she just marginalized. People who posess critical thinking skills and are well educated do not make these kinds of statements, without backing them up with substantial evidence and she makes no attempt at this. Only those who are poorly educated or else have some ulterior agenda are willling tobe so eager in attitude and so loose in logic for them to make these kinds of statements... This is in my estimation nothing but a hit a piece, and either shes well meaning but not so educated loose gun who has bought into all all of the propaganda specifically targeting people like her or eles she knows exactly what shes doing and has her own agenda but whatever that agenda is it certainly is not to uncover the truth about about a disease thats growing at epedemic rates and therefore who's cause are most being introduced through environmental and not genetiic factors...

    You have forgotten a fourth and pretty important group of people. These people are pro-vax, parents who believe in vaccination, and have vaxed their kids, but want them spaced out, and not 36 vaxes in a such a short span of time. I am a parent who had separate MMR shots as a child, and all I have wanted is to see is a return to single antigen shots for MMR. Even adults now, who may or may not be exposed to measles, have to get three shots in one (for mumps, and rubella including measles), vs. one booster shot for measles if there is exposure in the community. It's not right to judge parents whose child either experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine or know someone else's kid who has. There may be a population of children who are genetically predisposed to having an adverse reaction to MMR, and why can't we test for this? It's unconscionable. This debate will go on forever until the stonewalling recedes.

    Low Budget Dave
    I think it is also important to note that the scientific evidence recently seems to be supporting the "hype" rather than the "pro-vaccine-at-all-cost" crowd. Recent studies have demonstrated that children who receive the Hep-B vaccine at birth are more than twice as likely to be later diagnosed with autism. A recent study on mice indicated that vaccines that contain small DNA fragments are more than twice as likely to induce developmental delays as vaccines that contain complete DNA. This provides the first real evidence to support the (pro-life) belief that fetal tissue DNA in vaccines is to blame for autism. I don't necessarily believe that vaccines cause autism, but the evidence is starting to mount that the two are related. If you are going to pretend that this blog is about science, then you need to recognize the fact that the science is starting to turn against you.
    Gerhard Adam
    If you are going to pretend that this blog is about science, then you need to recognize the fact that the science is starting to turn against you.
    Actually if you're going to pretend that your comment is "scientific", then you need to provide a link to such "studies".  Specifically I suspect, your link will be to the Mercola "study".

    In particular, such reporting simply promotes speculation and isn't remotely associated with science.
    "Does that mean that Hepatitis B vaccine causes autism? Of course not (though any relative risk above 2.0 is generally considered to prove causation in a US court of law)."
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/new-study-hepatitis-b-vac_b_289288.html
    I'm not clear on when a U.S. court of law suddenly became the criteria for peer-reviewed scientific evidence.
    Correlation, obviously, does not equal causation. But the uptake rate of that particular immunization is at least one environmental factor that did demonstrably change during the period in question.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/new-study-hepatitis-b-vac_b_289288.html
    So, since the article (despite all of its innuendo) doesn't actually support your claim, then perhaps a peer-reviewed article is in order. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Low Budget Dave
    Yes, I am talking about the September 2009 study, and yes, it was purely epidemiological. I could post a link, but I have had the experience here and elsewhere of people attacking the link instead of the conclusions. But if you are reading off http://stemcellforautism.blogspot.com/ for example, you will read the sentence: "Hepatitis B vaccine has been shown in many peer-reviewed research papers to be associated with numerous infant deaths in the U.S. and Europe, multiple sclerosis and numerous chronic autoimmune disorders." Obviously that sentence does not include the word "autism". But that sentence should still make you wonder: "Why are we doing this to children if there is even the SLIGHTEST chance that it is doing more harm than good." I think you also need to be careful to attack epidemiological studies as "unscintific" whenever they support my point, and then trumpet them as "science" when they agree with you. The CDC study that was used to justify the "no valid link" statement in the article above was purely epidemiological. These are the same type of studies that cigarette makers used to prove that cigarettes did not cause cancer. The studies later came back to bite RJR when it turned out that cigarettes , in fact, DID cause cancer, they just were not the ONLY thing that caused cancer. I think the vaccine manufacturers are about to experience something similar. The big difference, of course, is that vaccine manufacturers asked for, and received, complete legal immunity for any health damage that they have ever caused, or ever will cause. Imagine if cigarette manufacturers had been smart enough to do the same.
    Gerhard Adam
    "Why are we doing this to children if there is even the SLIGHTEST chance that it is doing more harm than good."
    That's the question isn't it?  Sorry, but your use of the word "slightest" doesn't make any sense, since you could equally argue that the "slightest" risk of Hepatitis B warrants taking the risk.  These are specifically the kinds of risk assessment that one needs to make with your doctor and not try and apply an arbitrary general standard. 

    I didn't attack the article as "unscientific", but rather noted that it was strong on innuendo and weak on actual data. 

    If you want to see an interesting reaction, just try suggesting that in addition to the rise in autism, there has also been a rise in hormonal birth-control and obesity (which also creates biochemical changes in the body).   Bear in mind that I'm not arguing that this causes autism, but it is striking that there are virtually no studies examining the biochemical changes we make to our bodies and the possible downstream effects on the developing fetus.  However, my point is simply to watch any reactions to even the suggestion of such a correlation. 

    So, back to your original point about even the "slightest chance" .... well, consider how many things we do where we don't care about such "slight" chances when it involves our own personal choices.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Low Budget Dave
    Sorry for the run-on sentences. I keep switching back to the HTML editor and losing my paragraph breaks.
    Low Budget Dave
    I think the phrase "slightest chance" might have been the wrong thing to say, but clearly I am not talking about "one-in-a-million" as if that is even part of the discussion. One in a hundred children are being diagnosed with autism. This is a significant enough portion of society that we should adjust our medical practices to allow for the fact that 1% of the people receiving a certain treatment might be harmed by it instead of helped.

    Vaccines are based on calculated risk: The odds are that vaccines do more good than harm, but what, exactly, are those odds? Are we talking 99-to-1, or is it more like 60-40? Are we saying that we don't know, or are we only saying that we don't know in those cases where the child might be autistic?

    The MMR vaccine has been studied carefully in relation to autism, for example, but the Hep-B vaccine has not. If one out of every hundred children was going blind, we would be turning over every stone. If one out of every hundred children suddenly died, we would stop taking so many under-researched games of chance.

    What are the odds that the Hep-B vaccine did my son more harm than good? You don't know and I don't know. No one knows. For all we know, it could be the rough equivalent of having his appendix removed at birth to prevent appendicitis.

    The risks are real, and the theory appears to be valid. But whenever I ask for more documentation, people treat me like I am the crackpot, and the witch doctors injecting poisons into our children are somehow morally and intellectually superior to me in every way.

    Now that evidence is starting to turn up that they are not so smart, and that some of the things I have been saying were right all along, they fall back on the old tactics: they insult my motives, they accuse me of spreading fear, and they reduce every argument to the point of absurdity.

    The phrase “witch doctors” is clearly unfair, but when have they been fair to me? Wakefield was prosecuted for fudging results, but when has the CDC come clean and admitted that they fudged the MMR study?

    Everyone here treats vaccine research as if it is a closed issue, but it seems to me that the preponderance of evidence is still inconclusive. Autism is complex, and it almost goes without saying that the genetic and environmental causes are inter-related.

    So when is the medical community going to step up and start looking at the elephant in the room?
    The AMA states that between 80-85% of ALL diseases are directly caused by stress. This includes autism, heart disease, allergies, cancer, high blood pressure, etc... While approximately 30% of all people carry the autism gene, this doesn't mean that all 30% of those carriers will get autism, it simply means that they carry the genetic information. Now stress may come in the form of either physical, emotional, or chemical stress. We will focus on the chemical aspect of it. So, when you take a small infant and inject a vaccine containing the thimerosal or mercury which are used as a preservative, these poisons may cause stress on a small infants immune system that is not fully developed yet. This stress causes the autism gene to suddenly "turn on". The problem is, unless you do genetic testing on every infant before the vaccine, you really don't know who is susceptible. And, not every child with the gene will get autism following the vaccine. But it is a chance you take. It can be very frightening for a parent to want to take that chance. When the pharm companies took out the thimerosol in the late 1990's or early 2000's, the autism rate dropped significantly, but when they reintroduced it following 9/11/2001 as a way to preserve the anthrax vaccine, you started to see a rise in the autism rate again.

    Hank
    The AMA states that between 80-85% of ALL diseases are directly caused by stress.
    The beginning of your comment is total nonsense and then it gets worse from there.  If you are a Doctor, I am a Chinese jet pilot.
    For the Chinese Jet Pilot

    I do not believe you are a Chinese Jet Pilot.

    And your knowledge of medical doctors, science and autism even LESS

    For your education try:

    http://www.pluzz.fr/aluminium-notre-poison-quotidien-2012-01-22-20h35.html

    You will find many friends there on your side.

    The vaccine makers who turned a safe heavy metal free vaccine in 1984 into a dangerous but highly profitable enterprise when they got permission for GENOCIDE.

    And the regulators who would act if was ARSENIC but what the four XXXX is wrong with a good old NEUROTOXIN adjuvant.

    Dr Coquet used her ELECTRON MICROSCOPE to good effect in 1993

    And gave the proof that vaccines can be made DANGEROUS.

    The LAST safe French vaccine left the market in 2008 as the director of the vaccine company didnt even known they ever made SAFE vaccines (using harmless CALCIUM in place of the current NEUROTOXINS)

    But the problem with the safe ones is they cost and the profits are less.

    So in the RISK / BENEFIT

    The company takes the BENEFIT of a really cheap dangerous vaccine

    And we take the risk of the neurotoxin ( 1 in 600 compared to 1 in 500 000 when I got my jabs)

    One good tip if people do get these LETHAL injections

    DEMAND a vaccine UNDER THE SKIN

    And in NO CIRCUMSTANCES into the ARTERIES, VEINS or MUSCLES

    Yes doctors do make mistakes.

    Like giving a ladies vaccine to a man or a mercury vaccine ILLEGALLY.