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Dan Olmsted: Age of Autism Index

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David Kirby on
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Friday, September 30, 2005

Autism’s Razor: Epidemic’s Cause Found

By James Ottar Grundvig
Special to The Epoch Times

I am not sure what caused the most heartache when I saw the first signs of autism return in my son. Was it the constant looking at objects out of the corners of his eyes? Was it the hand flapping while running back and forth like a wounded bird trying to fly? Or was it the flopping on the floor, drained of energy? This second wave of autistic behavior and fine-motor tics has been painful to watch, especially after special education therapy had eliminated them. So what has brought them back with a vengeance?

My son, Fridrik, was born in 2000. In the first two years he grew rapidly. He received his vaccines on schedule. He was a model of excellent health, rarely sick, always energetic. He ate everything put in front of him—he loved food. He also began to speak words, respond to his name, and pointed to objects on a normal trajectory.

By his second birthday the nightmare began.

In one week Fridrik stopped talking and eating. He flopped around for hours, as if his energy had been sucked out of him. He would only eat crispy-crunchy things and Cheerios. For the next three years, the items in his diet could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Despite the collapse of his diet, he continued to grow. Today, Fridrik is a five-year-old boy in the body of a seven-year-old.

At the same time that he stopped eating a variety of foods, he lost the ability to speak. Why? We learned that many autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) kids develop hypersensitivity to touch on their skin, and to the texture of food on their tongues.

In 2004, we suspected, but had no clue, that an environmental trigger had impacted Fridrik. That was one year after he was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). This seemed the only diagnosis that could explain his baffling symptoms.

Layover Brings New Diagnosis

Our view changed one fateful day on a connecting flight in Charlotte, North Carolina. The flight was delayed due to engine trouble. Fridrik leapt out of his seat, exhibiting the motor tics that have plagued him. A couple sitting next to me asked if he had PDD. How did they recognize the signs? They had an eight-year-old son who was diagnosed with PDD, but who had been treated for mercury poisoning.

Where does mercury come from in babies? Vaccines are one source; the air they breathe from industrial plants another. In researching data, articles and medical journals, I have come to one conclusion: Thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative used in many baby vaccines, is the culprit in Fridrik’s mercury poisoning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute for Health (NIH), along with the pharmaceutical giants, have denied evidence to the contrary. They argue over daily limits of thimerosal and say that the mercury comes from the air.

If that were true, then how can one explain the Amish, who live in Pennsylvania, a coal mining state, and spend more time outdoors—as farmers and riding in a horse-and-buggy— than any other subpopulation of people in America? The Amish have only three children with autism. Based on our current ratio of 1-in-150 born developing ASD, the Amish should have 130 autistic children.

Enter Autism’s Razor. Derived from Occam¹s Razor, the 13th century principle of simplicity that the fewest assumptions lead to the truth, Autism’s Razor states that the primary cause of autism in children is mercury from baby vaccines. This also explains why most autism cases are seen after babies have received the bulk of their childhood vaccines.

In studying Fridrik’s vaccine chart, I was astonished to see that by eighteen months old he had received twenty-two vaccines for eleven different diseases. But the chart was incomplete. Missing from it was the birth dose of hepatitis B—a vaccine given in the hospital in the first hours after he was born without our knowledge or consent.

In normal children, mercury from vaccines is excreted through the hair. But in ASD kids, mercury blocks the release or production of glutathione, the brain’s natural chelator. So the next time an ASD-susceptible child receives vaccines, mercury builds up. Not only are the children poisoned by a neurotoxin, but, without sufficient glutathione in their bodies, heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and, yes, mercury from the air, build up in their system further poisoning them.

Help for Fridrik

We stopped listening to the government and to many doctors as well, and found a physician who excelled in environmental medicine and who would listen.

After giving Fridrik vitamin supplements and amino acids that his body lacked due to his collapsed diet, the doctor prescribed an IV push of glutathione. By the third injection, for the first time in three years, the mute boy trilled the gibberish sounds he had made as a baby. It was extraordinary. In six weeks, glutathione did more for his ability to say words again than three years of speech therapy. After ten weeks on glutathione, the secondary heavy metals of arsenic and cadmium no longer showed up in his lab work.

The next phase of Fridrik’s detoxification, chelation therapy, has been bittersweet. Bitter because of his gut-wrenching spiral downward into illness as mercury poisons him for a second time. Sweet because it confirms the root cause of his PDD and that cause is now being treated. The period of regression will last three months as he dumps mercury, after which he will rise out of the autistic fog that has enveloped his mind.

Parents Can’t Wait

If we had not taken this path a few things were likely to have happened. By eight years old, if Fridrik did not speak, the software in his brain that gives emotion to the voice would have vanished. He would have talked in a robotic or lethargic way for the rest of his life. If the heavy-metal toxicity goes untreated, then mercury and lead can stay in the body for up to thirty years.
I suspect that if the government agencies ever decided to tackle autism, then they would ban thimerosal from all baby vaccines. Asking Big Pharmaceutical companies on their own to do so has only resulted in the levels of thimerosal being reduced. The chemical is still being used in the production of vaccines to keep batches bacteria free. The government should also test every child for heavy metals contamination who has been diagnosed with ASD and pore over the medical records of those spectrum kids who have been treated to build an historic database and to better understand the new epidemic of the twenty-first century.

If more is not done, the financial strain that these children will place on society will be as devastating as the disorder. In the meantime, parents can’t wait for the health agencies to intervene and re-introduce moderation into the baby vaccination program. They must act now or be burdened for years to come.

James Ottar Grundvig is the father of an autistic child. He lives and works in New York City.

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FDA probing neurologic disorder after teen meningitis shots

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — The government is investigating five reports of teenagers who came down with a serious neurological disorder after receiving a new vaccine against meningitis.

Doctors don't yet know whether the cases of Guillain Barre syndrome are related to the shot, called Menactra, or are coincidence, the Food and Drug Administration emphasized Friday.

The government recommends the vaccine for adolescents and college freshmen living in dormitories, and FDA said there was no reason to change that advice — but it alerted the public as a precaution.

Menactra protects against rare but devastating cases of bacterial meningitis. The shot is particularly targeted to college students, because close contact is the biggest risk factor for its spread. While there are fewer than 3,000 cases of invasive meningococcal meningitis each year, and 300 deaths, people ages 15 to 24 have the highest mortality rates, and survivors can suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss and paralysis.

Menactra is a new vaccine approved last January; an older meningitis vaccine is available, too, but doesn't provide as much protection.

Guillain Barre syndrome, or GBS, causes increasing weakness in the legs and arms, sometimes severe enough to cause paralysis. It can strike suddenly, either spontaneously or after certain infections.

The five cases reported two to four weeks after Menactra vaccination occurred in 17- or 18-year-olds in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, FDA said. All are reported to be recovering.

Studies of more than 7,000 Menactra recipients by manufacturer Sanofi-Pasteur showed no GBS cases, and more than 2.5 million doses have been administered since it hit the market, FDA said. The rate of GBS is similar to what is expected without vaccination, but the timing of the cases is of concern and warrants further investigations, FDA said.

© 2005 Associated Press

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FDA News

September 30, 2005

Media Inquiries:
Julie Zawisza , 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries:

FDA and CDC Issue Alert on Menactra Meningococcal Vaccine and Guillain Barre Syndrome

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are alerting consumers and health care providers to five reports of Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) following administration of Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine A, C, Y, and W135 (trade name Menactra), manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur. It is not known yet whether these cases were caused by the vaccine or are coincidental. FDA and CDC are sharing this information with the public now and actively investigating the situation because of its potentially serious nature.

Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a serious neurological disorder that can occur, often in healthy individuals, either spontaneously or after certain infections. GBS typically causes increasing weakness in the legs and arms that can be severe and require hospitalization.

Meningococcal infection, which Menactra prevents, is a major cause of bacterial meningitis, affecting approximately 1 in 100,000 people annually. The infection can be life threatening:
10-14 percent of cases are fatal and 11-19 percent of survivors may have permanent disability.

According to Jesse Goodman, MD, Director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, at the present time there are no changes in recommendations for vaccination; individuals should continue to follow their doctors' recommendations. FDA and CDC are not able to determine if any or all of the cases were due to vaccination. The current information is very preliminary and the two agencies are continuing to evaluate the situation.

Because of the potentially serious nature of this matter, FDA and CDC are asking any persons with knowledge of any possible cases of GBS occurring after Menactra to report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to help the agencies further evaluate the matter. Individuals can report to VAERS on the web at www.vaers.hhs.gov or by phone at 1-800-822-7967.

The five cases of GBS reported following administration of Menactra occurred in individuals living in NY, OH, PA, and NJ. All five patients were 17 or 18 years of age and developed weakness or abnormal sensations in the arms or legs, two-four weeks after vaccination. All individuals are reported to be recovering or to have recovered. More than 2.5 million doses of Menactra vaccine have been distributed to date. The rate of GBS based on the number of cases reported following administration of Menactra is similar to what might have been expected to occur by coincidence, that is, even without vaccination. However, the timing of the events is of concern. Also, vaccine adverse events are not always reported to FDA so there may be additional cases of which we are unaware at this time.

Prelicensure studies conducted by Sanofi Pasteur of more than 7000 recipients of Menactra showed no GBS cases. CDC conducted a rapid study using available health care organization databases and found that no cases of GBS have been reported to date among 110,000 Menactra recipients.


Listen to this article Listen to this article | Posted by Becca

Teens fall sick after getting meningitis shot

Doctors don't know yet if cases are related to new vaccine, FDA reports

The Associated Press
Updated: 7:06 p.m. ET Sept. 30, 2005

WASHINGTON - The government is investigating five reports of teenagers who came down with a serious neurological disorder after receiving a new vaccine against meningitis.

Doctors don’t yet know whether the cases of Guillain Barre syndrome are related to the shot, called Menactra, or are coincidence, the Food and Drug Administration emphasized Friday.

The government recommends the vaccine for adolescents and college freshmen living in dormitories, and FDA said there was no reason to change that advice — but it alerted the public as a precaution.

Menactra protects against rare but devastating cases of bacterial meningitis. The shot is particularly targeted to college students, because close contact is the biggest risk factor for its spread. While there are fewer than 3,000 cases of invasive meningococcal meningitis each year, and 300 deaths, people ages 15 to 24 have the highest mortality rates, and survivors can suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss and paralysis.

Menactra is a new vaccine approved last January; an older meningitis vaccine is available, too, but doesn’t provide as much protection.

Guillain Barre syndrome, or GBS, causes increasing weakness in the legs and arms, sometimes severe enough to cause paralysis. It can strike suddenly, either spontaneously or after certain infections.

The five cases reported two to four weeks after Menactra vaccination occurred in 17- or 18-year-olds in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, FDA said. All are reported to be recovering.

Studies of more than 7,000 Menactra recipients by manufacturer Sanofi-Pasteur showed no GBS cases, and more than 2.5 million doses have been administered since it hit the market, FDA said. The rate of GBS is similar to what is expected without vaccination, but the timing of the cases is of concern and warrants further investigations, FDA said.

© 2005 MSNBC.com

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Group goal to raise autism awareness

Times-Beacon Staff Writer

LITTLE EGG HARBOR -- Raymond Gallup, founder of The Autism Autoimmunity Project, or TAAP, remembered when his son showed symptoms of autism.

Gallup and his wife realized he needed medical help until age 3 and it took a year to get a diagnosis.

All went along until he grew up and became violent, forcing his parents and sister to lock themselves in their bedroom. Now he is in an institution in Delaware and his father cries when he thinks that the immunizations may have created the autism, which is one current theory about what causes of autism.

Autism and its causes are still a puzzle. The symptoms often appear in early childhood. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta report that 1 child in 166 (six in 1,000) shows some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

"When do they call it a national epidemic?" Gallup said. "Five years ago, autism was 1 in 500, then 1 in 1,000. When will they decide? When it's one in five or one in 10?"

Parents recently conducted an awareness raising festival called "A Concert for ELLEN and Children with Autism" at the Little Egg Harbor Community Center. many of the parents know each other from the autism support group is at the Southern Ocean County Hospital Family Resource Center at the Ocean Club on Route 9, Stafford.

Autism is a developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years if life. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning symptoms can range from mild to severe. The developmental delay is unique to each individual.

There are no medical tests specific to autism. The diagnosis is based up on the presence or absence of certain behaviors, such as impairment in social interaction, communication skills, social skills or difficulty in interests and activities.

The CDC is conducting studies to see if there is a link between immunizations and autism, as well as other studies about other potential links to autism.

Ellen Sweeney, president of the New Jersey chapter of TAAP, said there is a fine line between being anti-vaccine and pro choice.

"My child did react to the measles-mumps, rubella vaccine, to the thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative," she said.

She said parents should be concerned if a child does not babble or coo by 12 months; does not gesture, point, wave or grasp by 12 months or does not say a single word by 16 months or any loss of language or social skills.

"There is no single cause of autism but it is generally accepted by the medical community that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function," she said.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, guarantees the right to a free and appropriate education, said Sean Kevin Smith, a Freehold attorney, who represents parents in disputes with a school district and also sets up a special needs trust.

"First, the family meets with the school district for an IEP, an Individual Education Program. It is documented that the school will take these steps," he said.

"A typical dispute is after the IEP is set up, the district fails to meet its requirements; the school board and the parents disagree or the school board fails to implement all the parts of the IEP," he said.

Then he would meet with the school board to work out a solution. Failing that, it would go to mediation for administrative remedies and failing that, would go to court.

Brian Lang, a representative of Mutual of Omaha, said parents of special needs children need to know they should set up a special needs trust for their child. A life insurance policy can be used to fund the special needs trust. The trust supplements Medicare or Medicaid.

The trust holds the proceeds of insurance, funds or assets in trust for the benefit of the individual.

"Many parents leave money to the child, who then has too many assets to qualify for needed programs. The trust holds the assets for the special needs individual so the individual can obtain all the benefits he or she is entitled to and the trust pays for additional benefits," he said.

Jane Tallman of Barnegat has a 28-year-old son with autism.

"When he was little. it was one in 1,000 children who were diagnosed with autism. There were only certain programs available back then and very few programs for autism. When my son was younger, there wasn't any internet. I did the research myself at the library," she said.

"I'm involved with many groups in the hope that I can help someone," she said, adding she is involved with www.unlockingautism.org.

Michael Presti, who organized the festival with his wife, Chris, cried when he said many people assume parents cannot control their child or are abusing the child when the see a a child with autism having an episode in a store.

"Ask the parent if he or she needs help. Is it that hard to say, 'Can I help you?'" he said.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Autism Parents Take On AAP In DC - October 7-8

By Evelyn Pringle

During the same time frame that the number of the mercury-based thimerosal-containing vaccines nearly tripled on the childhood immunization schedule, a corresponding epidemic of autism erupted. The increasingly common disorder is now forcing public schools to build more special education classrooms and scramble to train specialists to accommodate the needs of autistic children who are enrolling in the nation's already overwhelmed public school system in record numbers.

Because some vaccines must be given more than once, a child can get as many as 23 shots by age 2, according to the March 7, 2004 LA Times. In fact, a child might receive as many as six shots during a single doctor's visit, the Times reports.

So what does this mean?

It means that a person born in the 1950s or 60s got a total of 3 vaccines in childhood over a period of years, and only received 25 micrograms of mercury in each shot spread out over time and if no autism developed, the person's body was apparently able to rid itself of the mercury.

In contrast, an infant in 1990s got a dose of 150 micrograms of mercury in one shot during one doctor's visit. If the infant's body was not able to rid itself of that mercury, with each additional vaccination, more and more mercury accumulated in the body and the child developed autism, or some less extreme disorder or developmental disability.

A person really does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand this process.

Although it took years to gain access to the government records needed to confirm this theory, famed researchers Dr Mark Geier and David Geier, were finally able to obtain access to the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink, to conduct an independent study on the link between thimerosal and autism.

Their study revealed that the risk of autism in children increased significantly with each additional 25 micrograms of mercury the child received. "When they finally calculated the relative risk for autism at each exposure level, the Geiers were shocked to find that children who received three mercury-containing DTaP shots had an increased risk of autism nearly 27 times that of children who got three preservative-free vaccines," according to David Kirby, in the book, "Evidence of Harm."

Think about that for a minute. The children who received thimerosal, were 27 times more likely to develop autism than children who received no thimerosal. Coincidence? 27 times? I think not.

There are now hundreds of studies that have identified thimerosal as the culprit responsible for the autism epidemic. Do a google search by typing in "thimerosal" "autism" "studies" and see what you come up with.

The mercury-based preservative is still used during the manufacturing process of vaccines and trace amounts have been found in those products. A full dose of thimerosal is still added to flu vaccines recommended for use in pregnant women and 6-month-old babies.

On October 7 and 8, parents of autistic children from over the country will be in Washington DC to rally support with lawmakers for a complete ban on mercury in vaccines and to make their voices heard at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Convention.

Back in July 2001, the American Academy of Pediatric’s policy statement on mercury exposure was: "Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible to pregnant women and children as well as the general population." PEDIATRICS Vol. 108 No 1 July 2001, pp 197-205.

However, the organization has apparently had a change of heart because in 2005, in attempt to thwart the passage of legislation in New York and other states, that would ban thimerosal from all vaccines given to pregnant women and children, the AAP sent out letters to state law makers with comments similar to the following: "Passing such legislation sends the wrong message to New York parents and pregnant women, and in fact all New Yorkers, The legislation makes the legislature appear to be complicit in 'Junk Science.'"

The next question is logically why would they do this? Why would they deny the undeniable? By now there are a number of reasons. First off, many members of this group are financially indebted to the pharmaceutical industry. Some own stock in a company or share patents in a vaccine. Some were paid to develop the vaccines and some were paid to conduct clinical trials on vaccines. And some were even financially rewarded over the years if the number of vaccines administered in their office increased.

Others don't want the public to get it because they know they will face not only outrage, but huge law suits for their involvement in developing or approving the mercury-laced vaccines to begin with.

APP members wear all kinds of hats. For instance, some are also members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the CDC on whether a vaccine is safe enough to be added to the immunization schedule.

The results of an investigation of this committee conducted by United Press International, published on July 21, 203, revealed that at the June 2002 committee meeting, the last meeting for which minutes are available, four of the 11 members acknowledged conflicts with Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Bayer and Aventis Pasteur. Two of the four did research or vaccine trials for manufacturers. One of the four was a co-holder of a vaccine patent as well as a consultant to Merck.

Junk Science huh? You decide.

Below are the latest state by state statistics on the autism epidemic. I encourage anyone who is still doubting the vaccine-thimerosal-autism connection, to scroll down and check out the numbers for your state.

After that, I challenge readers to try to come up with an alternative theory to justify this epidemic, other than the official government mantra that these autistic kids have been out there all the long but they simply were not diagnosed correctly.

Before you even think about buying that line take a little trip down to the nearest public school and drop in on the special education classrooms and have a look at the behaviors of an autistic child and see whether you believe hundreds of thousands of these kids could have been out here and we just never noticed.

People don't see these children because aside from going to school, parents seldom take them out in public because of the problem of trying to control them outside of the routine environment of their home.

After checking out the statistic below, get your check book out and accept the fact that your local taxes are going to skyrocket to cover the expense of the special ed schooling for these kids, and don't lose sight of the fact that there's plenty more where these came from.

Mark my word, this is going to be the biggest man-made medical catastrophe in the history of this country, and probably the world. If we don't find a cure, we're talking $$ trillions for life-time care.

And if the Bush administration, and its puppets in Congress, succeed in granting immunity against lawsuits to their largest campaign contributors, also known as the pharmaceutical industry, get ready to pick up the tab for the whole damn mess.

The numbers below are taken from official statistics produced by the Department of Education, on the number of children aged 6-21 with autism currently being schooled in special education classes under the Individuals With Disabilities Discrimination Act.

The statistics compare the increase in cases of autism over the 12-year period between 1992-93 and 2003-04:

Arizona992,131 971
Arkansas30 1,040 3,367
California1,605 19,034 1,086
Colorado14 879 6,179
Connecticut164 2,041 1,145
Delaware15 387 2,480
Florida582 5,915 916
Georgia262 3,956 1,410
Hawaii52 618 1,088
Idaho39 571 1,364
Illinois5 6,005 120,000
Indiana273 4,755 1,642
Iowa67 1,224 1,727
Kansas74 993 1,242
Kentucky38 1,358 3,474
Louisiana409 1,640 301
Maine37 815 2,103
Maryland28 3,536 12,529
Massachusetts493 4,007 719
Michigan288 6,341 2,102
Minnesota296 5,076 1,615
Mississippi0 622 -
Missouri336 2,664 693
Montana20 247 1,135
Nebraska4 557 13,825
Nevada5 891 17,720
New Hampshire0 585 -
New Jersey446 4,933 1,006
New Mexico16 359 2,144
New York1,648 9,486 476
North Carolina786 4,074 418
North Dakota9 220 2,344
Ohio22 5,146 23,291
Oklahoma31 959 2,994
Oregon37 3,759 10,059
Pennsylvania346 5,805 1,578
Puerto Rico266 666 2,404
Rhode Island19 568 2,889
South Carolina141 1,303 824
South Dakota36 328 811
Tennessee304 1,659 446
Texas1,444 10,354 617
Utah105 1,030 881
Vermont6 280 4,567
Virginia539 3,533 555
Washington476 2,824 493
West Virginia101 507 402
Wisconsin18 3,259 18,006
Wyoming15 162 980
Total12,222140,920+ 1,055% overall

Note: Where increases are from a very low base figure, these have been expressed as "almost infinite".

Evelyn Pringle

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on corruption in government

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The Age of Autism: Regression


Regression, regression, regression.

That's the theme of much of the e-mail this column has received, sparked by two recent installments. The first reported confirmation by a University of Washington study that parents are right when they say they have watched their children lose language and social skills and become autistic. The study reviewed first-birthday videos, which documented that regression had come afterward.

The other article reviewed 83 reports filed during the 1990s in which doctors or parents suspected a link between vaccinations and the onset of autism.

Monday's column featured a parent who filed such a report -- to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System -- in 1996. That was well before a possible link became a matter of public debate later in the decade.

In 1998 a British doctor published a study that suggested a possible link between the MMR -- measles, mumps, rubella -- vaccine and autism. The next year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics urged that a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal be phased out of childhood vaccines as soon as possible.

Health authorities -- including the CDC and AAP -- dismiss any link between vaccines and autism. Some as-yet-unidentified environmental factor might play a role, they say, but vaccines are not that factor.

Here are some e-mail comments by parents to Age of Autism. Two of the correspondents agreed to be identified by name.

The cases sound so familiar to my granddaughter's. On Jan. 20, 1997, my granddaughter received a DPT-Hib shot (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus and haemophilus influenzae type B); her leg swelled and got very red for about five hours and she cried a high pitch scream. Would not sleep.

My grandchild's skills started to disappear and then she started having seizures. She was diagnosed with autism. Now at the age of 9 she does not talk; has seizures; every day she wears diapers, cannot feed herself. I know it was the shot because everything changed about her as soon as the shot was given.

She was put on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System not long after she was damaged.

After I read that column (about first-birthday videos documenting subsequent regression), I got the courage to view one of my family's home videos, taken on Easter in 2002 when my sons were 1 and 4.

While I knew that my son Matthew had regressed (he had lost about 50 words so that was hard to miss), I wasn't certain about other developmental milestones -- after all, I wasn't looking for autism. I have listened to and read the work of many experts who state that autism is present from birth and that parents probably miss the earlier signs.

So, I just wasn't sure. Had Matthew once had normal eye contact? Normal engagement? Had he answered to his name? Had he pointed to show us things, brought us things? Had he done all those normal things or had the absence been subtle and I hadn't noticed?

What I saw on the video, Easter 2002, when Matthew is 16 months old, simply stunned me. In the 20-minute tape he does all the developmental milestones listed above, as well as more.

What I saw was a completely normal toddler, joyfully opening his Easter basket with his older brother, fully engaged with what was going on around him. He answers questions, brings my husband things from his basket, points to show us something, responds to his name -- and is alive, aware and happy in a different way than he is now.

Honestly, I cried hysterically while viewing the video, and when I called my husband he thought someone must have gotten in a car accident.

I think my husband was equally surprised at all of the normal development Matthew displayed on the video. Time really plays with your memory and the last couple of years have been a blur to us. Although my husband was not nearly as emotional as myself(!), he did and does feel anger.

My older son Jay, who just turned 8, also viewed the video. His viewing was punctuated with such comments as "Wow, did you see Matthew do that?" and "Wow, you only had to say Matthew's name ONCE and he turned" (unlike now where we must say it several times to gain attention).

As you can imagine, Jay is wise beyond his years and turned to me after and said, "Have you figured out what happened to Matthew or are you still working on it?"

Knowing Matthew was so normal up to that point leaves me feeling a huge "what if." I am more determined than ever to do everything in my power to restore my son back to the child he was meant to be.

- Jeannie Meijer, Acton, Mass.

Our daughter was born in August 1995. I may have my dates off ... but she was given the MMR in or around Oct 1996. She was progressing nicely in language skills at that time. A few weeks after the shot, we traveled from New Jersey to Florida on vacation. While there, she got sick, a cold, and was given an antibiotic.

Not being attuned to autism, we didn't immediately focus on the reversal of her language skills, and the sudden temperamental behavior from what had been an easygoing girl. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a language deficit and was diagnosed as autistic. With some wonderful work at the JFK You and Me Program in Edison, N.J., she is now an almost completely normal fifth grader, in a mainstream school, without an aide.

When we got the diagnosis of autism for our daughter, we were in the seventh month of pregnancy for our third child. We immediately read everything we could find. By 1999, the vaccination/MMR story was out there, and we presented it to our pediatrician. He agreed to postpone the immunizations as long as possible, and then give them one at a time.

One theory was that after the mumps, measles and rubella shots were lumped into one (MMR), the observed rate of autistic children rose dramatically. Too much vaccination, often given to a too small child. Our son might have been approaching 50 pounds when he got the first shot ... as we faced the medical requirements of entering preschool ... it didn't work. He was diagnosed at 4, although he had better communication skills than our daughter did at that age.

Even today, it is apparent that the nature of his issues are different than those that affected my daughter.

I, too, am a parent who is convinced my child was adversely affected by the MMR vaccine. Over the years he slowly regressed into a high-functioning form of autism.

We took him to a DAN (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor some months ago and he was found to have no significant levels of any toxic metals, but his immune system was totally out of kilter.

He showed no immunity at all to measles (despite two MMR injections) combined with an ultra-high immunity to rubella. In addition he had score of 24 on the myelin basic protein autoantibodies test when the norm is under 5. This indicates his autoimmune system is attacking the myelin shield in the brain. We are now considering ways to treat this.

I have taken a little time to research vaccinations on the Internet and found some fascinating information. Israel is a medically advanced country where the life expectancy is in fact higher than in the U.S., while cases of autism occurring there are considerably lower.

What I learned is that in Israel, which has an extensive vaccination program, they do not give them MMR. Rather they vaccinate young children for measles only and vaccinate them for mumps and rubella only when they are older. Their reasoning seems to be that since mumps and rubella are not known to occur in very young children, why vaccinate them for something they cannot catch?

This makes a great deal of sense to me in that if you are vaccinating children for a disease to which by nature they are not susceptible, this could indeed harm the autoimmune system.

- Harry Eisenberg, Glen Rock, N.J.

My son, now 14, was harmed by thimerosal. I would be happy to provide all of his medical records, my own medical records from labor and delivery onward ... anything to help this cause.

I also can show documentation by video of the days after the vaccination that sent his world into darkness. It is eerie to know how and when it happened. Heartbreaking.

At 14 my son understands that he has autism and why. He is livid with the "people who did this to him." Every day he says he wants to go to the hospital to get the shot to get rid of autism. Every day.

This ongoing series on the roots and rise of autism welcomes reader comment. E-mail: dolmsted@upi.com

Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Autism Community needs YOUR help!

Showing up is half the battle.

A RALLY IS BEING HELD in Washington, D.C. October 7th and 8th.

WHY COME? Because we need to show force! We need to show unity! We need to show passion for our children’s health!

If you think Congress does anything out of the kindness of their hearts without any advocacy, think again. If you don’t come and show support who will? If you expect others to fight your kid’s battles, maybe other parents are thinking the same thing. And guess what? All of our children lose.

Come to the rally on the morning of Oct. 7th. That afternoon, go visit your Senator and Member of Congress’s offices. Tell them we need more biomedical research and treatments for our children. Endless dollars to the CDC and a few pennies to NIH is NOT the way we want our research funding spent! On Oct. 8th, come to the convention center and picket the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Meeting. Let’s tell them our children’s bodies are sick. This is NOT a mental problem! We need real help if our children are going to get better!

We are continuing to add to our speaking line-up and will add more names as we receive confirmations. The following are tentatively scheduled to speak during Friday’s press conference, although activities in Congress sometimes prevent legislators from being available at a specific time.

David Kirby
U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney
U.S. Representative Dave Weldon, M.D.
U.S. Representative Dan Burton
U.S. Representative Barak Obama (statement to be read by constituent)

To purchase from a wide variety of rally t-shirts, go to www.cafepress.com/ACHAMP

More conference details, times, locations, hotels, etc. available at www.nationalforce.org

Think Autism. Think Cure.

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The Age of Autism: Case Number 88924


WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Mary Jo Silva was reading last week's column about reports from the 1990s linking autism and immunizations when she came to this paragraph about a vaccine reaction in August 1994:

"Low fever, much discomfort. Patient laid in bed and cried and moaned; three-four days post-vaccination, rash traveled over patient's body and lasted at least one week. Within six weeks of vaccination patient was observed as losing previously gained language and social skills; diagnosed autistic."

The patient so clinically summarized in that report, Silva realized with a start, was her 1-year-old daughter Carmen, who fell ill the same day she got the MMR -- measles-mumps-rubella -- and Hepatitis B vaccinations at age 1.

Convinced the shots triggered Carmen's illness and subsequent slide into autism, Silva filed a report with the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System on Aug. 5, 1996, and soon after Carmen was formally diagnosed with autism. Her case was given VAERS ID Number 88924.

Silva's report linking vaccinations and autism is one of 83 filed between June 1991 and June 1999 that have been reviewed by Age of Autism. In July 1999 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta urged manufacturers to phase out a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal used in many childhood vaccines as soon as possible.

A year-and-a-half earlier, concerns about a possible link between autism and the MMR vaccine -- which does not contain thimerosal -- had been raised in a scientific paper written by a British doctor, Andrew Wakefield.

Neither of those issues was on the radar when Silva's report and most of the others were filed, making them a unique window into a time when a growing number of parents and medical professionals first became concerned -- based on their own observations -- about a possible link.

That doesn't mean they were right, but the timing adds a certain independence to their observations: It cannot be said they were swayed by activist parents or maverick doctors or lawyers looking to cash in.

Today, the CDC and other medical experts dismiss concerns linking autism to thimerosal or to individual vaccines such as MMR. They -- and the prestigious Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences -- have concluded that well-controlled studies have ruled out vaccinations as the culprit in a huge rise in autism diagnoses in the 1990s.

Silva said her eyewitness experience convinces her otherwise.

"It was quite emotional for me to read Carmen's report in this article," Silva wrote in an e-mail message. "Over the years many people have told me that I am wrong, and on some occasions I have even doubted myself. But, when I see that it has been 9 years since I filed a complaint and the debate is still in the early stages, I become enraged over all the innocent little kids who have had their bodies assaulted by this government-regulated child abuse."

Silva now lives in the Cayman Islands with her husband, Roberto, and their daughters Anna, who is 9, and Carmen, now 12. She is convinced Carmen's autism resulted from an autoimmune reaction to which she -- and also Anna, whom the Silvas chose not to vaccinate -- are predisposed.

Here are more comments from her e-mail messages:

Carmen's files are full of immunological tests that show an autoimmune profile. This is what is significant to Carmen's regression several weeks after her vaccinations. I think there (is) a large group of kids that react immediately to the mercury. I know many parents who swear chelation (giving children drugs to pull mercury from their body) has been the answer, and removing the mercury has given them great result. But, I do believe that Carmen regressed as a result of an autoimmune reaction to her vaccines -- not as a result of mercury toxicity to her system. It is possible the assault of mercury to her body at the same time as the MMR could have set this up. Therefore, an autoimmune reaction would not be immediate, but instead would develop over a period of weeks.

It is true that Carmen is a healthy child. Especially since we moved here. She does not have many of the health issues seen in autism. She did have some allergies, but nothing severe. What we see in Carmen is a strange blood disorder that has no explanation. She has macrocytosis, and was diagnosed as such when her WBC (white blood count) kept falling. Again, it goes back to her immune panel.

So, she does have some of those issues, but she has remained healthy. We hold our breath though. She has also been on depakote (a medication used to treat bipolar disorder) since she was 5 for an abnormal EEG with spikes in her temporal lobe in her third stage of sleep. She is not one of these kids that is always suffering from intestinal problems or experiencing chronic pain. But, she also can't tell us what hurts.

She also has hypothyroidism that was diagnosed when she was 10. She had all the classic signs of that, like poor circulation and loss of hair. But, her health improved tremendously once that was treated.

We did the gluten-free/casein-free diet for a couple of years. When we took her off gluten her self-injurious behaviors completely disappeared, and she had been biting herself over 30 times a day. We have kept her milk free for about 10 years, but she still enjoys an occasional piece of cheese or some sour cream. Milk definitely makes her crazy.

So, those are a few things that are consistent with the autism diagnosis. Her immune panels match those of what the autism docs see in autism. We traveled all over the United States seeing docs that offered so many different things. It seems she got healthier, but it never did anything to alleviate the autism.

When you look at a graph of the explosion of autism since the 1970s, you will see an increase around 1978. This was when First Lady Roslyn Carter started the "Every Child By Two" vaccination campaign. I believe that removing the mercury will result in significant decline in the cases of autism as we are seeing them today, but I also believe there are other assaults on the immune system from vaccination -- non-mercury related -- that can cause autoimmune reactions leading to autism. The statisticians will have a real debate on their hands. But, as a mom I know what I know.

I filed the VAERS report myself. To give you just a bit of history, when my second daughter was born in 1996 I took Carmen to an allergist. I told him I was not going to vaccinate my newborn because I had reason to believe that Carmen had been affected by her vaccinations.

He supported my position and told me that I should file a report with the CDC. He felt that someday there may be a connection made between vaccinations and brain injury and if I had a report on file before the initial allegation was made it would make my case even stronger -- that no one would be able to accuse me of jumping on the most recent bandwagon.

An interesting story here: I have a friend who about four years ago had a little girl suffer a drop seizure and then have a few additional seizures after that. It was very mysterious, and no one knew why they were happening.

I asked her if she had any vaccinations, and my friend said she had a few at the doctor's office about 10 days before the first seizure. I told her to mention this to the doctor and see if he thought there was a connection. She did, and he didn't. But, while she was in the waiting room she read the insert from the MMR vaccine that clearly stated that seizures can occur around 10 days post-vaccine. He wouldn't file the report with VAERS. I think most docs don't want to see a connection. They don't want to admit that this is not as safe as they have been assuring people.

I heard from VAERS for the first two years. They sent follow-up cards to see if the injury was still there. The first reply said that Carmen was mentally retarded. I had them change that to autistic. After that I never heard anything.

I filed with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, too. I never expected it to go anywhere, but I wanted it documented. I was past the statute of limitations for the MMR, but since she had the Hep B on the same day I filed under the Hep B. It was dismissed because all the documents I submitted pointed to the MMR.

Again, it comes down to ... kids are normal ... kids get sick after shots ... kids regress into autism. That shouldn't be happening.

My husband asked me to tell you that Carmen is a very lovely young girl. Cayman has been fabulous for her. She loves the Caribbean Sea and snorkels in it almost every day. The sea has been just as good for her as any sensory integration, occupational or physical therapy she has ever had. She attends a wonderful government school here where she has lovely and dedicated teachers. She loves to draw pictures, and she is a wonderful cook.

I just want to put a little person into that VAERS report you read.


This ongoing series on the roots and rise of autism welcomes reader comment. E-mail: dolmsted@upi.com

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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Monday, September 26, 2005

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Sen. Frist; Complaint Alleges Insider Trading and Subsequent Cover-up

9/26/2005 3:32:00 PM

To: National and State Desks

Contact: Naomi Seligman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 202-588-5565

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Senate Majority Leader William Frist (R-Tenn.). The complaint alleges that the Senator violated Senate ethics rules by engaging in apparent insider trading and then attempting to cover it up.

This past June, Sen. Frist sold all of his, his wife's and his children's stock in Hospital Corporation of America, (HCA) Inc. shortly before the value of the stock fell sharply. Notably, Sen. Frist's brother sits on HCA's board of directors and other members of the board also sold HCA stock before its value fell. Although Sen. Frist has owned HCA stock since first elected to the Senate in 2000, he now claims that he sold the stock because of a conflict of interest.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, stated: "Why did Sen. Frist suddenly decide to sell the stock in June after holding the stock for so long? Also, did the Senator order the sale based on insider knowledge that the value of the stock was about to decline precipitously?"

The complaint asks the Ethics Committee to review Sen. Frist's conduct under the Senate rule allowing the Committee to investigate whenever a senator has engaged in "improper conduct reflecting on the Senate." The Committee is free to investigate such conduct even if it does not amount to a violation of federal laws or regulations.

Sloan stated, "not only has Sen. Frist likely engaged in illegal activity, he has also been attempting to cover up his actions by suddenly finding a conflict of interest that he never before recognized. Sen. Frist would be wise to consider Martha Stewart's case as he continues down this path."

For more information and a copy of the complaint, please visit http://www.citizensforethics.org.


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit, progressive legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.


© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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10 Vaccine Myths — Busted
(Oh, really????)

Both Parenting.com and Babytalk.com had the article below on their sites. It is no longer there. You cannot find this article anywhere. I wonder why? Perhaps it was Paul Offit's comment about the safety of 100,000 vaccines being injected into a child at one time - now there's a myth if I ever heard one. Or maybe it was because the entire thing was misleading........

Notice how it is never mentioned that Merck has funded Offit's research for 13 years. Paul Offit is a paid consultant for the pharmaceutical companies which produce the vaccines. Offit is also a vaccine patent holder and has used his position on our national vaccine advisory board to vote in favor of adopting vaccines for national use in which he has a direct financial interest. Offit was a patent holder of the infamous RotaShield vaccine, which had to be recalled in 1999 (after less than a year on the market) for causing intersussception in children.

Offit's quote below:
"I am a co-holder of a patent for a (rotavirus) vaccine. If this vaccine were to become a routinely recommended vaccine, I would make money off of that," Offit said. "When I review safety data, am I biased? That answer is really easy: absolutely not." "Is there an unholy alliance between the people who make recommendations about vaccines and the vaccine manufacturers? The answer is no."

Yeah, sure Dr. Offit. We really believe you.

Thanks to a senior member of mothering.com for her quickness in saving this article to her personal files. Without her we wouldn't have been able to post it.


Why are immunizations under fire? Here's a hard look at the facts
behind the hype
by Beth Howard

Sitting through your baby's immunization-induced meltdown can be as painful for you as it is for her. That is, if the nagging worry that these routine shots could do more harm than good doesn't get to you first. No wonder a recent study from the University of Michigan found that 93 percent of pediatricians had at least one parent who refused a vaccination for their child during the past year.

Why are vaccines under fire? Some experts say it's due to their success. "It's the natural evolution of a vaccine program," says Paul Offit, M.D., chief of infectious diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "As you eliminate the diseases, people are not as compelled to get vaccines." Adds Kathryn Edwards, M.D., spokesperson for the National Network for Immunization Information, "Many diseases are out of sight and then out of mind. So people don't see the value of vaccines."

Yet high immunization rates are necessary to keep diseases like measles and even polio from making a dangerous comeback. Here are ten myths about vaccines — and the truth behind them.

Babytalk contributing editor Beth Howard is a freelance writer and mother from North Carolina.


Myth 1: Getting so many vaccines will overwhelm my child's immune system.

No doubt about it, the immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) can seem daunting. Your child can receive up to 23 shots by the time she's 2 years old and as many as six shots at a single doctor visit. So it's not surprising that many parents have concerns about how vaccines might affect a child's developing immunity and often cite these as a reason to refuse a vaccine.

But it should be the least of your worries. "Children have an enormous capacity to respond safely to challenges to the immune system from vaccines," says Dr. Offit. "A baby's body is bombarded with immunologic challenges — from bacteria in food to the dust they breathe. Compared to what they typically encounter and manage during the day, vaccines are literally a drop in the ocean." In fact, Dr. Offit's studies show that in theory, healthy infants could safely get up to 100,000 vaccines at once.

The bottom line: It's safe to give your child simultaneous vaccines or vaccine combinations, such as the five-in-one vaccine called Pediarix, which protects against hepatitis B, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Equally important, vaccines are as effective given in combination as they are given individually.

Myth 2: As long as other children are getting vaccinated, mine don't need to be.

Skipping vaccinations puts your baby at greater risk for potentially life-threatening diseases. "The ability of immunizations to prevent the spread of infection depends on having a certain number of children immunized," says Thomas Saari, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison. "Scientists refer to this as 'herd immunity.' Unfortunately, the level of immunization required to prevent diseases such as measles from spreading from child to child is high — 95 percent." In 2003, the national vaccination rate in children ages 19 to 35 months was only about 80 percent — though that number increases to the mid-90s when children reach school age.

These rates may not be high enough to provide herd immunity, especially as exemptions from school vaccines are on the rise. In studies from Colorado, where residents claim high numbers of vaccine exemptions for medical, personal, and religious reasons, kids who are not immunized are at greater risk for disease. Case in point: They're 22 times more likely to come down with measles.

Myth 3: Now that major illnesses have largely disappeared, we really don't need vaccines anymore.
Don't bet on it. Despite our relatively high vaccination rates in the U.S., many American communities still have outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis, a respiratory illness characterized by spasms of coughing that can last for weeks or even months. In 2003, 13 children died of the infection.

Unvaccinated children can also spread infection to vulnerable family members. "Those children are more likely to give a disease to those who can't fight it off, such as a six-month-old or a grandparent living at home," says Dr. Saari. The incidence of whooping cough has been increasing since 1980, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended a pertussis booster shot for 11-year- olds because the risk of passing the disease to a vulnerable relative is so high.

What's more, diseases are spread by people from foreign countries who travel here. "Air travel has extended the range of diseases from countries where people aren't immunized," says Dr. Saari. "We're no more than one airplane ride from being exposed to many diseases."

Myth 4: Vaccines cause autism and other disorders.

Concerns about a link between a combination vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella — called the MMR vaccine — and the developmental disorder autism got kicked up by a case report from England seven years ago. But it has been roundly discredited. The notion has persisted because autism tends to emerge around the time that the vaccine is given — when a child is a year old. Experts stress, however, that this does not mean the vaccine caused the problem. "Not only is there no evidence that it causes autism, there's evidence that it doesn't cause autism," Dr. Offit says. "In fact, there have been 14 studies that show your risk of getting autism isn't any different if you got the MMR vaccine or if you didn't."

The Institute of Medicine backed up that conclusion in a report issued last summer. Worries linger, Dr. Offit adds, because "it's hard to unring the bell. People reasonably assume that if there is nothing to it, why was there so much smoke?" Parents have expressed similar fears about vaccines and the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). "Numerous vaccines are given to little babies over that first year, just when a lot of developmental changes are occurring," says Dr. Edwards. "If something happens around the time a vaccine is given, it's easy to think the vaccine caused it."

Myth 5: My baby might get the disease it's supposed to prevent. "Most vaccines we give today, such as meningitis and DTaP, contain killed vaccines — not live agents that could replicate," says Dr. Edwards.

That's true of the scariest diseases doctors vaccinate against, such as polio, which was once made with live weakened polio virus. Until this type of vaccine was phased out, around 1994, a tiny fraction of people — one in 2.4 million — contracted polio from the vaccine itself. But since then, children in the U.S. have received polio vaccine made from killed virus, so there's no risk of contracting the disease from the shot. A few vaccines that are on the schedule do, however, contain live weakened virus to provoke an immune response. These include the MMR and chicken pox immunizations. "These vaccines have the potential to cause some mild illness — a little fever and rash," explains Dr. Edwards. "But the illness is much less severe than if a child naturally contracted measles or chicken pox."

Myth 6: Vaccines can contain preservatives that are dangerous.

Until recently, many vaccine concerns centered on the safety of thimerosal, a compound that prevents the vaccine from being contaminated by bacteria and contains a form of mercury called ethylmercury. Mercury in large quantities is known to be harmful to a child's developing brain. Worries about thimerosal's effect on children prompted its removal from nearly all childhood vaccines in 1999. (Thimerosal is still present in some flu vaccine — though you can ask your doctor for a thimerosal-free shot.)

Yet it's become clearer since then that ethylmercury does not pose the same health hazard as its cousin, methylmercury, a metal found in the environment that's known to accumulate in the body and cause harm to developing children. "The body is able to eliminate ethylmercury much more quickly than it can eliminate methylmercury," says Dr. Offit.

University of Rochester researchers confirmed that when they compared mercury concentrations in the urine, blood, and stools of children who got vaccines containing thimerosal with those of kids who received only thimerosal-free vaccines. All the children had mercury levels well below the EPA's most stringent public safety limits.

Even if your baby received a vaccine that contained thimerosal, the overwhelming majority of data support a lack of association between the substance and neurological problems, says Margaret Rennels, M.D., the chair of the committee on infectious diseases of the AAP, who points out that children are exposed to mercury from many environmental sources. "The reality that a lot of people seem to miss is that the largest source of organic mercury is the environment: the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fish we eat. That's due to the burning of coal," she says. You can lessen your child's mercury exposure by limiting the amount of fish she eats. The Food and Drug Administration says that it's safe for young children to eat albacore tuna once a week and fish that are lower in mercury (such as "chunk light" tuna, pollack, salmon, and catfish) twice a week. (Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, which have high mercury levels, are off the menu.)

Myth 7: You shouldn't give a vaccine to a child who has a cold. It's reasonable to think that a sick child would be more likely to have a bad reaction to a vaccine or that it might present an added burden to her immune system if she's fighting off a cold. Yet studies show that having a mild illness doesn't affect a child's ability to react appropriately to the vaccine.

"Certainly if a child comes in with a fever of 102 and a rip- snorting ear infection, it's not the best time for a vaccine," says Dr. Rennels. "But a low-grade fever, mild respiratory infection, or a little diarrhea shouldn't be reasons to delay one, especially if the illness is on the way out."

Of course, vaccines can themselves trigger side effects, including fever and rash, as well as soreness at the site of the injection, but these are rarely cause for alarm. The five-in-one Pediarix is more likely to cause a low fever than the individual shots are, but many moms say the fewer injections for their child, the better. Call your doctor right away if your child has hives (which can indicate an allergic reaction), a fever of 105 degrees or higher, or convulsions.

Myth 8: I had chicken pox when I was a kid and it isn't a big deal.

Like several common childhood diseases, chicken pox isn't a big deal for most kids. "But on rare occasions children can die from it," Dr. Rennels observes.

Before the vaccine was introduced, many children were hospitalized each year with serious complications, including pneumonia and dangerous skin infections. "Chicken pox lesions can become infected with staph, including necrotizing fasciitis — the 'flesh-eating' bacteria," says Dr. Rennels. Getting the vaccine is especially important now that less of the chicken pox virus is in circulation. "Children who don't get chicken pox or the vaccine are at risk of getting it as an adult, which is a much more serious illness."

Myth 9: Vaccines can provide 100 percent disease protection. Not quite. The best vaccines are those made with live weakened virus, such as MMR and chicken pox, which are about 95 percent effective. The effectiveness of vaccines made with killed, or inactivated, virus is between 75 and 80 percent. That means there's a chance you could be vaccinated against a disease and still get it. But, says Dr. Edwards, if all children are vaccinated against an organism, it's less likely to hang around. That's why vaccinating an entire population is so important. "Not getting vaccinated is like
failing to stop at a four-way stop," Dr. Edwards says. "If three people get vaccinated but one doesn't, the risk is not bad. But if two people don't get vaccinated, the burden of risk is greater on everyone."

Myth 10: It's best to wait until children are older before starting to give them vaccines.

Immunization schedules are designed to protect the most vulnerable patients from disease. If you wait to give the vaccine, you may miss the window when a child is most vulnerable. "When you get off the schedule, you really put your child at risk," Dr. Saari says.

Case in point: Last year in Wisconsin 300 children under age 1 came down with whooping cough, 177 of them less than 6 months old. Of these, half were hospitalized and three died. Yet, says Dr. Saari, "for a child to die from whooping cough in this day and age is criminal."

As our readers know, Babytalk supports parents' rights to make up their own mind about how to raise their kids. We try our hardest to avoid using the word "should" — except when it comes to safety. You should put your baby to sleep on her back, you shouldstrap her into her car seat, and, yes, you should make sure she gets every vaccine on the schedule.

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A bird flu vaccine, the pharmaceuticals' holy grail

This story is from TODAYonline

The discovery of a human vaccine against bird flu would not only mean a financial jackpot for the pharmaceutical company which won the race, but also a much needed boost for the industry's reputation.

As fears grow of a global pandemic, the world market for flu vaccines is in turmoil. The handful of companies which monopolise it are investing at full throttle, and in recent weeks have been stepping up their acquisitions to take advantage of the market.

Currently, vaccines make up only two percent of global pharmaceutical sales, but industry insiders are banking on a threefold increase in the market over the next six years, without putting a precise figure on the value of a human bird flu vaccine.

Already, Sanofi-Pasteur, a subsidiary of world number three Sanofi-Aventis, has pocketed 100 million dollars (82 million euros) from a United States government contract to produce "pre-pandemic" vaccines by the end of October.

These will target the current strain of the avian flu virus, H5N1, which has killed more than 60 people in Asia, before the firm begins work on a vaccine against a feared mutation of that virus which could strike down millions.

The French group will also invest 150 million dollars (123 million euros) to double the production capacity of its US factory in Pennsylvania for 2008-2009.

Meanwhile British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, which already produces the antiviral drug Relenza and flu vaccine Fluarix, bought Canadian firm ID Biomedical specialising in flu vaccines for more than one billion euros (1.2 billion dollars) at the start of September.

And Switzerland's Novartis wants to buy out California's Chiron, the world number two vaccine producer, in which it already holds a 42.2 percent stake, for 4.5 billion dollars (3.7 billion euros).

This excitement in the vaccine sector is a novelty for the pharmaceutical industry.

"Vaccines have always played a separate role in firms. They have always been a little overlooked and thought of as being something for Africa, a public health issue, areas which are not lucrative" compared to star drugs that boost sales figures, Claude Le Pen, professor of health economics at Paris-Dauphine University, told AFP.

But today's likelihood of a pandemic "validates those companies which have kept vaccines in their portfolio", such as Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, he says.

Such firms seem aware of the moral as well as economic benefits of a future vaccine, for an industry "always accused of making a profit from disease with star drugs", commented Etienne Barral, an industrial development expert with the United Nations.

"We are on the right track economically speaking, and we are also right in terms of values and the sense that we are contributing to our profession," Christian Lajoux, the French director of Sanofi-Aventis, told AFP.

"The financial rewards from a vaccine would obviously be considerable. But it would above all be a spectacular turnaround for the industry, which has a terrible public image," said Le Pen.

"The pharmaceutical sector could then clear its name in the eyes of the public and say: 'you criticise us, but when there is a pandemic, you are happy we are there.'"

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Autistic kids get special attention

When evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina were sent to shelters, Shelley Hendrix Reynolds knew it would mean trouble for families with autistic kids.

"I was frantic to find these families," says Reynolds, president of Unlocking Autism, a national support organization based in Baton Rouge for families with autistic kids. The group put out a call for shelter workers and others to look out for families of autistic children, who have an array of special needs and behaviors, such as running away, that would make staying in a shelter difficult at best.

So far they have raised $50,000 to give to often cash-strapped families. They have helped 56 families with everything from a $100 gift card to buy food to helping find a donated car, says Reynolds, whose son, 9, is autistic.

Two weeks ago, Unlocking Autism helped launch a separate organization, AutismCares, a coalition of autism groups intended to help with longer-term needs, such as finding therapists, housing and jobs, Reynolds says.

AutismCares has created a database that will allow families dealing with autism to register online, so if they're in a hurricane or other disaster zone, they'll be called by volunteers to make sure they're all right and see what kind of help they need.

"Earthquakes can happen in California," Reynolds says. "You have tornadoes in Kansas. It's not like things don't happen all over. ... This is the first time we've ever realized what families might be going through if they had an autistic child."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

2 Studies Question the Effectiveness of Flu Vaccines


Rome, Sept. 21 - Just as governments around the world are stockpiling millions of doses of flu vaccine and antiviral drugs in anticipation of a potential influenza pandemic, two new research papers published today have found that such treatments are far less effective than previously thought.

"The studies published today reinforce the shortcomings of our efforts to control influenza," wrote Dr. Guan Yi, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, in an editorial that accompanied the papers. The two studies were published early online by the British medical journal, the Lancet, because of their implications for the upcoming flu season.

In one paper, international researchers analyzed all the data from patient studies on the flu vaccine performed worldwide in the past 37 years and discovered that vaccines showed at best a "modest" ability to prevent influenza or its complications in elderly people.

"The runaway 100 percent effectiveness that's touted by proponents was nowhere to be seen," said Tom Jefferson, a Rome-based researcher with the Cochrane Vaccine Fields project, an international consortium of scientists who perform systematic reviews of research data.

"There is a wild overestimation of the impact of these vaccines in the community," Dr. Jefferson said. "In the case of a pandemic, we are unsure from the data whether these vaccines would work on the elderly."

In the second paper, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control found that influenza viruses, particularly those from the dreaded bird flu strain, had developed high rates of resistance to older and cheaper antiviral drugs - rates that have escalated rapidly since 2003, particularly in Asia.

"We were alarmed to find such a dramatic increase in drug resistance in circulating human influenza viruses in recent years," said Dr. Rick Bright of the Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta. "Our report has broad implications for agencies and governments planning to stockpile these drugs for epidemic and pandemic strains of influenza."

Before 2000, almost no virus was resistant to the drug Amantadine. By 2004, 15 percent of influenza A viruses collected in South Korea, 70 percent in Hong Kong and 74 percent in China were impervious. During the first six months of 2005, 15 percent of the influenza A viruses in the United States were resistant, up from 2 percent the year before. All human cases of the bird flu (H5N1) strain - which is still extremely rare in humans - have been resistant, the researchers said.

The immediate implications of these finding are most ominous for the developing world, because wealthier nations have been stockpiling newer and vastly more expensive antiviral medicines, like Tamiflu, which are effective against the disease but still on patent.

Even so, the research is alarming because it demonstrates how quickly and unexpectedly flu viruses can become impervious to medicines once they are put into common use, as they would be in the case of a pandemic. Also, at their best, antiviral medicines do not cure influenza. They cut down on transmission of the disease and reduce somewhat the symptoms and complications in those already infected, including the high rate of associated pneumonias.

Called for comment, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, Dick Thompson, said that the group could neither support nor deny the findings of the analysis of vaccine studies at this point, noting only that some experts criticized the researchers for "not including some important past studies" in their sample.

But the problem of resistance "is a finding that is being discussed widely within the flu world and will bear careful monitoring," Mr. Thompson said, noting that he was not aware of any country in the developing world that had been able to stockpile the newer drugs.

Anticipating a possible flu pandemic caused by a variant of the bird flu virus - which belongs to the influenza A group - countries have been aggressively buying up antiviral medicines and contracting to purchase a flu vaccine against that strain, even though it is still under development.

The United States has ordered $100 million worth of vaccine and Italy $43 million worth, for example.

The current bird flu virus does not spread easily - if at all - from human to human, and so has little potential to become a worldwide human scourge. But the World Health Organization has warned that it could acquire that potential through a couple of common biological processes, and that countries should prepare for a possible wave of serious influenza.

The fact that the current study showed that flu vaccines have had only a modest effect in the elderly is particularly worrisome, since this a group that tends to suffer high rates of complications and deaths from the disease and vaccination is currently standard practice. In people over 65, the vaccines "are apparently ineffective" in the prevention of influenza, pneumonia and hospital admissions, although they did reduce deaths from pneumonia by "up to 30 per cent."

"What you see is that marketing rules the response to influenza, and scientific evidence comes fourth or fifth," Dr. Jefferson said. "Vaccines may have a role, but they appear to have a modest effect. The best strategy to prevent the illness is to wash your hands."

The research showed, however, that vaccines offered better protection in nursing home patients, who suffered significantly lower rates of complications like pneumonia if inoculated.

In terms of antiviral drugs, 30 countries have placed huge orders for Tamiflu, the most popular, newer, more expensive antiviral medicine, a spokesman for Roche Martina Rupp, said. The company is offering it at a "substantial discount" for public health purchases. The Dutch Health Ministry has ordered 5 million doses, enough to treat one-third of the population. The British Department of Health has ordered supplies to treat 15 million.

Ms. Rupp would not give either the retail or the discounted price, although pharmacists said a full course of the drug costs more than $100.

Researchers speculate that one reason why resistance rates to the older, cheaper antiviral drugs in Asia jumped so much starting in 2000 - and skyrocketed after 2002 - is that doctors there started prescribing the drugs far more widely after the advent of bird flu in 1997 and of sudden acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2002.

Although actual human cases of these two diseases have always been rare, they are also quite deadly, so patients are sometimes started on antiviral drugs when they develop a respiratory illness, even though in most cases they will prove to have nothing more than a common cold.

This is because all antiviral medicines work only if they are started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms and, in that period, it is generally impossible to tell if patients have a deadly strain of flu or merely a mild virus.

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The Age of Autism: Adverse events


Years before the alarm sounded nationwide about a possible link between vaccines and autism, some doctors were making that connection themselves.

The evidence: 83 reports filed with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System associating the onset of autism with childhood immunizations. The reports, compiled and catalogued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, were analyzed by Age ofAutism.

A report from 1992 listed Feb. 21 as both "vaccination date" and "adverse event date" for a 1-year-old boy: "Patient received MMR vaccination (measles-mumps-rubella) and experienced fever, autistic behaviors, encephalitic condition, began to tune out; sound sensitivity,hand-flapping, wheel-spinning, nighttime sweats, appetite increase."

The child's diagnoses included autism, encephalopathy (brain swelling), mental retardation, personality disorder and speech disorder.

Another report: Two days after being vaccinated in August 1994 a 1-year-old girl experienced "low fever, much discomfort. Patient laid in bed and cried and moaned; three-four days post-vaccination, rash traveled over patient's body and lasted at least one week. Within six weeks of vaccination patient was observed as losing previously gained language and social skills; diagnosed autistic."

The reports do not prove that any of the autism cases resulted from vaccination. Rather, their potential significance is that a number of qualified observers -- primarily doctors and other health professionals -- suspected a connection and made the effort to report it well before the issue was on the national radar.

In July 1999 the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that manufacturers begin phasing out a mercury-based preservative that was in several childhood vaccines. The concern: As the number of required vaccinations expanded around 1990, children inadvertently gottoo much mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Since then federal health officials, along with a panel of the Institute of Medicine, have dismissed the concern as unfounded. But some scientists and parent groups continue to assert that childhoodimmunizations are behind a major rise in autism diagnoses.

The adverse-event reports examined by Age of Autism were sent to VAERS between June 1991 and June 1999 -- the month before the CDCrecommendation to phase out thimerosal.

Based on a 1994 report by a California physician, 10 of the 83 cases are unknown children "who received vaccination and (were) diagnosed with autism and encephalopathy." That doctor reported "there are currently 10 cases of autism in children who received DPT/OPV/MMR at 15-18 months." (The reference is to the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, polio and MMRvaccines.)

That report also cites a statement from an unidentified vaccine manufacturer: "Dr. ... is not treating physician and does not possess any original records; unclear whether reporter is suggesting possiblecausal association."

The following excerpts start with the date the report was received by VAERS and the age of the child when vaccinated. The type of vaccine is not always clear and is indicated here only when specified in the eventnarrative. Medical abbreviations are spelled out for clarity.

Since 1999, the federal government's vaccine databases have come under scrutiny from critics who charge they have been manipulated to show no connection between vaccines and autism. They also say the CDC has a built-in conflict of interest because it sets the universal childhood immunization schedule that is then adopted by the states.

The agency vigorously defends its research and denies that its role in vaccination policy compromises its objectivity.

Last week Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he plans to seek funding for an independent review of another CDC vaccine database.

"Part of what I'm going to require in this amendment we're going to put up is that the independent studies not only look at the data, but actually talk to some of the -- examine some of the kids and families to go over family histories," Lieberman said.

This ongoing series on the roots and rise of autism welcomes reader comment. E-mail: dolmsted@upi.com

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Senate eyes FDA conflict of interest probe

Associated Press

Senators asked Congress' investigative arm Wednesday to look into the Food and Drug Administration's practice of letting scientists serve on its advisory panels even if they have conflicts of interest.

"We are concerned about the process that supports FDA's decisions to waive conflicts of interest rules for scientists with financial ties to the manufacturers of the products under consideration, or their competitors," senators said in a letter sent Wednesday to the Government Accountability Office.

It was signed by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and panel members Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

Members of FDA advisory committees are required by law to be free of conflicts of interest concerning products they discuss and recommend for approval. The FDA, however, can grant a waiver if an adviser's scientific expertise outweighs the risk of a conflict, or if the financial interest is small.

"These practices appear to have undermined the public's faith in the objectivity and fairness of FDA's advisory committees," the senators said in the letter.

Senators noted allegations of conflicts among the FDA panels that studied Cox-2 inhibitors, painkillers that have potential heart risks, and silicone gel-filled breast implants.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Autism therapies subject of Arizona clinical trials

Clinical trials being carried out in Arizona will look at the effectiveness of two autism therapies, including one that has been met with skepticism by some doctors.

A clinical trial already under way is testing the effects of potent vitamin and mineral supplements on autism symptoms. Children with autism suffer from social withdrawal and the inability to interact and communicate with others.

A second trial beginning in about two weeks will test what's known as chelation therapy, in which a drug is used to extract heavy metals from the bodies of autistic children. Mercury has emerged as a prime suspect in the increasing numbers of autistic children in the United States.

Dr. Sanford Newmark, a Tucson pediatrician, is the lead physician on both the chelation and vitamin trials. He is conducting physical and nutritional examinations of all the children involved, totaling more than 150 from Tucson and Phoenix, and will monitor their physical health during the trials.

About half the autistic children will receive the active chelation drug or vitamins and a control group will receive a placebo.

Neither the families nor the researchers will know who is receiving which until the trials are concluded by early next year.

Seventy-eight autistic children, ages 3 to 9, are being recruited to test a vitamin-mineral supplement given in powder form three times daily during the four-month trial.

Jim Adams, professor of chemistry at Arizona State University, who is supervising both trials, said previous small studies have shown autistic children have lower blood levels of crucial nutrients than non-autistic children.

Some 80 children will be enrolled in the chelation trial. All will be given initial doses of the chelating agent known as DMSA, dimercaptosuccinic acid, which causes excretion of heavy metals in the urine.

Chelation therapy has been used on many autistic children in the country, but without any scientific proof that it works, and despite the skepticism and disapproval of many physicians.

"I have been very reluctant to recommend chelation," said Newmark, who specializes in integrative medicine, combining mainstream with alternative treatments.

"Right now, there is absolutely no scientific evidence it affects autism, so I don't have confidence in it. But that's why we want to do these trials, to see if we can offer parents some real answers.

The vitamin study is funded by the Phoenix chapter of the Autism Society of America, ASU and the Autism Research Institute.

The chelation study is funded by the Scottsdale-based Wallace Foundation.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

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European Medicines Agency recommends suspension of Hexavac

European Medicines Agency
Press office
London, 20 September 2005
Doc. Ref. EMEA/297369/2005

The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) is recommending as a precautionary measure the suspension of the marketing authorisation for Hexavac due to concerns about the long-term protection against hepatitis B. Hexavac is a vaccine for infants and children against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B virus, polio virus and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

The recommendation was made by the Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) at its meeting of 12-15 September 2005 following identification of a decreased immunogenicity (the ability of a vaccine to stimulate an immune response) of the hepatitis B component. This is supposed to be due to variability in the production process for the vaccine’s hepatitis B component that could lead to a decreased long-term protection against hepatitis B.

This concern does not affect the protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

There is no immediate concern for children already vaccinated with Hexavac. However the Committee requested Sanofi Pasteur MSD, the marketing authorisation holder, to design a specific surveillance programme to investigate whether infants and children would need to be revaccinated at a later stage, for instance at adolescence, to ensure long-term protection against hepatitis B.

The Committee stresses the importance of vaccination and the benefits to the individual child and to the population in general. Alternative vaccines are available (hexavalent or equivalent combinations of vaccines) in the European Union to protect infants and children against these serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccination should be continued according to national recommendations and vaccination schedules.

Parents are advised to discuss any concerns with their child’s healthcare professional. A question and answer document for parents and healthcare professionals is available on the EMEA website (www.emea.eu.int).



1. The marketing authorisation holder for Hexavac is Sanofi Pasteur MSD. It was first authorised in the European Union in October 2000. Detailed information about the vaccine can be found in the European public assessment report (EPAR) on the EMEA website here.
2. The question and answer document is available here.
3. The Committee has previously issued a number of statements concerning hexavalent vaccines, including Hexavac, the most recent of which can be found here. The Committee confirmed its position on Hexavac in April 2005.
4. The suspension of a marketing authorisation is a precautionary measure, during which time a medicinal product is not available. The lifting of the suspension is conditional on the marketing authorisation holder resolving the issues identified by the Agency.
5. This press release, together with other information about the work of the EMEA, may be found on the EMEA web site at http://www.emea.eu.int

7 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4HB, UK
Tel. (44-20) 74 18 84 00 Fax (44-20) 74 18 84 09
E-mail: mail@emea.eu.int http://www.emea.eu.int

Media enquiries only to:
Martin Harvey Allchurch
Tel. (44-20) 74 18 84 27
E-mail: press@emea.eu.int

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