By Anne Dachel, Media Editor
Sometimes when people report in the news that there isn't an increase in autism, that all the children called autistic overwhelming our schools have always been here, I know it's because that's the official explanation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And when these reporters tell us that the cause of autism is still unknown, but studies show that there's no link to the vaccines children received, I realize that's also the information that's out there from federal health authorities. It's a complex subject and a reporter taking a brief look into autism goes to the CDC for answers because they get billions of dollars to run health care in the U.S.
Michael Fumento doesn't have this excuse. Looking through his writing over the last several years, it's obvious he's familiar with those who are sounding an alarm over the autism epidemic and who believe that vaccines are the cause. To Fumento, scientists like Dr. Mark Geier and his son David, along with Dr. Boyd Haley of the University of Kentucky are "anti-vaccinationists." Others who are writing on the subject like Robert Kennedy Jr., Jenny McCarthy, and David Kirby are also grouped together under the heading "vaccine conspirators."
Fumento has been writing like this for a long time. Autism is never the real issue to him -- denying that vaccines have harmful side effects is. He's one of the best defenders that the CDC and the vaccine makers have out there. I looked through some of his past pieces like There Is No Thimerosal- Autism Conspiracy, Ignore anti-vaccination conspiracy, and Immune to Reason. His message is always the same.
On November 20, The Union Leader, in Manchester, NH published The Anti-Vaccine Lobby Makes Us Sick, Literally, by Michael Fumento. He has a number of demeaning terms for those who challenge vaccine safety claims: "anti-vaccine lobby," "autism alarmists" and again "anti-vaccinationists." Jenny McCarthy is described merely as a "former Playboy Playmate" and Robert Kennedy Jr. is one of the "environmentalist crusaders." And they certainly don't qualify as experts.
Fumento writes about the "more than 150 anti-vaccine web sites that feel science shouldn't impede their message to parents who often can't distinguish between scientific studies and mere anecdotes." Consequently, "all of this scares parents away from vaccination programs."
Along with slamming the opposition, he brings up the official studies done under the direction of the agency that runs the vaccine program as the proof that all these people are wrong. We've heard about them for years and there's always another one coming up that will have exactly the same findings. They're intended to settle the issue, but they never do.
Fumento's piece made me angry. When Fumento writes on this, autism is never an issue. The focus is on defending vaccines and trashing any challengers.
I could only think of so many people I know personally with children whose autism is severe. Their lives are a continuous struggle. Their children are so dependent. The burden is emotional, financial, and physical. Many of them have to live with the image of the child they lost, the boy or girl who was healthy, laughing, talking, and playing, but who disappeared into the abyss called autism.
I wrote to the Union Leader and cc'd to Michael Fumento. I told them about what was missing from the report on the anti-vaccine lobby. I said that Fumento doesn't tell us that in 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement saying: "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."
Fumento said that it's methyl mercury that's dangerous, not ethy mercury, but I pointed out that Dr. Thomas Burbacher along with other scientists at the University of Washington had studied the effects of ethy mercury on primates and found that more of it accumulated in the brain after injections with thimerosal than from exposure to methyl mercury in food. It never got any mention in Fumento's article.
I pointed out that Fumento isn't in the least disturbed by the fact that the agency in charge of mandating the vaccine schedule is also allowed to be in charge of vaccine oversight.
I told the Union Leader that the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal was never tested by the FDA BEFORE it was allowed in our children's vaccines. The company that came up with it, Eli Lilly, conducted the only test. Eli Lilly said thimerosal was safe and everyone just accepted their claim. I added that many people had warned Eli Lilly about the serious side effects from thimerosal and they were ignored.
I noted that Fumento showed no concern over the epidemic increase in autism from one in 10,000 in the '70s to one in 150 today. I sent a link to the Dept of Education statistics showing the explosion in the number of students with autism everywhere in the U.S.
I did hear from Mr. Fumento. He referred to my information as "baloney" and told me I didn't characterize the Eli Lilly study correctly.
I had said: "Thimerosal goes back 75 years. It was invented and tested by Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company in 1930. The one study done on thimerosal was done by Eli Lilly on 22 adult patients dying from meningitis and they were all dead at the end of the study. Eli Lilly said thimerosal was safe and the medical community just accepted it."
Fumento wrote: "Lilly introduced thimerosal in the 1930s after testing it on a group of patients already suffering from meningococcal meningitis. Doctors injected 22 patients with high levels of thimerosal. Most died within days, from meningitis. Thus, no adverse thimerosal effects were observed."'
He added, "That's not exactly the implication of your letter, is it?" Personally, I had a hard time seeing the difference since I didn't say that they died from thimerosal exposure.
What this told me was that Michael Fumento had nothing with which to challenge my facts about things like the work of Dr. Burbacher, the lack of oversight, and the absence of any toxicological research that shows thimerosal is safe.
It's more proof about what I'm always saying: This isn't about the science showing thimerosal is harming kids, it's about proving the damage.