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Best of A of A: What Did the CDC Know and When Did They Know It?

CdcpoliticsManaging Editor's Note: In light of the resignation of CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding, we decided to re-run this post from Mark Blaxill. Part 2 runs tomorrow.

(Part 1 of 2)

By MARK BLAXILL

With the recent announcement of the "largest ever" study to investigate the causes of autism, run through Kaiser Permanente (the HMO that lost vaccine safety data implicating thimerosal in harming children) and led by Lisa Croen (the epidemiologist who first attempted to deny the autism epidemic with faulty data), sometimes you just want to shake your head and wonder, what on earth is going on down in Atlanta?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was once a proud and prestigious agency, staffed by the most elite corps of disease fighters on the planet, manning the front lines of the most threatening health problems facing mankind. Today, riven by dissension and ridiculed by many, the CDC has made a mockery of itself in failing to get to the roots of the most critical public health challenges of the day, including, but not limited to, autism. The consequences of its failures are profound. Morale has deteriorated and Congress has been investigating the agency for months.

Reflecting their loss of trust in the CDC's objectivity, autism advocacy groups have actively lobbied to reduce (and even zero out) CDC funding in the Combating Autism Act. The CDC has dual responsibility for monitoring vaccine safety and promoting the vaccine schedule; at the same time it's also responsible for surveillance on diseases like autism. In light of widespread concern over the link between autism and vaccines in the autism parent community, when the CDC announces that it's launching a new effort to find the cause of autism, it's hard not to think of OJ Simpson offering a reward for finding his wife's killer.

It was not always so. Indeed, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, it was the CDC that took the lead—often against the intransigence and conservatism of NIH researchers—in tracking down the causes of the AIDS epidemic and taking steps to reduce its toll on society. For many years, CDC was held up to the world as a model government agency. Yet in autism, we have truly seen the downward spiral of the agency reaching its nadir: defensive, secretive and non-responsive to a health crisis in full flower. There are undoubtedly larger forces affecting the agency and its leadership. But if (as I believe to be the case) there are turning points in the lives of large institutions, critical crossroads at which difficult choices are made, then the CDC's handling of the autism epidemic is certainly one such turning point. Poor choices at crucial moments can lead, not only to negative consequence on a specific issue, like autism, it can cause the institution to lose its way. In a way, autism has been both a strategic and a moral problem for the CDC. For it's in the autism epidemic, I would suggest, that the CDC has truly sold its soul.

All of which leads me to ask the question, when did the CDC make this choice? What was the point in the history of autism when CDC leaders had the chance to honor its long history and raise the alarm over the autism crisis? Some would point to the infamous Simpsonwood meeting in the summer of 2000, where evidence of thimerosal's neurotoxicity, already tampered with in ways unknown to the meeting participants, was swept aside. I have certainly been in the forefront of the critics of the CDC work on vaccine safety issues, but I believe the CDC was already well past the turning point by Simpsonwood. I would suggest we need to look a bit earlier to find the CDC's crossroads in autism. For that, we need to look couple of years before the summer of 2000 and a bit further north.

The CDC lost its way on autism in Brick Township, NJ.

Three years ago, I attended a presentation outside of Boston given by Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, the CDC's lead autism epidemiologist. In the course of a lengthy party-line talk about autism ("we simply don't know if autism rates are going up or if it’s just better diagnosis"), she said something that surprised me. "About ten years ago, we began to hear concerns from around the country that people were seeing more cases of autism", she said. I raised my hand from the audience and suggested that maybe ten years was enough time to move beyond the stage of ignorance on something this important. She snapped at me, a revealing moment in itself, and plowed through the rest of her 200 page presentation without pausing for a breath (or another question). But her comment got me thinking. Certainly, the CDC, the agency on the front line of all emerging public health problems from HIV to SARS to e. coli in a bad crop of California spinach, would have had at least some idea that there was an autism problem far before any of the rest of us did. And that leads me to my question for the day.

What did the CDC know about the autism epidemic and when did they know it?

It's a crucial question. For it is in the specific decisions that the CDC made-- when they proceeded from uncertainty, to confusion, to (perhaps if we're charitable) error and then to a policy commitment--that we might find that fateful moment of moral choice: the moment when CDC chose to put its own bureaucratic agenda ahead of our children. And from Yeargin-Alsopp's intriguing comment, I now knew that CDC was at least beginning to hear reports of rising autism rates around the year my own daughter was born, in 1995.

I know little about the CDC's activities in the years up to 1997, and there are few signs of a broader recognition of an autism problem that one can find before then. But in the fall of 1997, at a parent support group in eastern New Jersey, a few people started commenting about how many new autism cases seemed to be cropping up in Brick Township, and how there seemed to be an unusual number of 3-4 year old children with a new autism diagnosis. One of the attendees at the support group, a mother named Bobbi Gallagher who had two young children with autism, was struck by this coincidence. Living in New Jersey (although Brick is on the Jersey Shore, not the polluted stretch of highway along the New Jersey Turnpike that makes a mockery of New Jersey’s nickname, “The Garden State”), the thought of environmental contamination came naturally to mind and she wondered if there might not be a cluster of autism cases in Brick. Perhaps, she thought, there was something in the water. So she resolved to do something about it. She decided to send around a survey to see if she could count the autism cases in all of Brick, a town of some 70,000 people.

So as the new 1997 school year was starting, Bobbi Gallagher distributed her survey form everywhere she could think of in town. And in a few short weeks, she got a surprising result. Based on the responses to her impromptu survey, she counted over 40 autistic children in Brick Township alone and over 30 who were just three or four years old. Armed with these results, Gallagher formed a group called the Brick POSSE (Parents of Special Services and Education) and organized a meeting at the local library a couple of months later. They contacted Eric London at the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) who in turn invited a number of academic epidemiologists. To a full house at the library meeting, Bobbi Gallagher shared her findings. One of the epidemiologists present, Craig Newschaffer, decided the numbers were disturbing enough to contact the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, who in turn contacted the CDC. In the meantime, the Brick POSSE arranged a meeting with their congressman, Rep. Chris Smith, who invited them to a meeting in his office in Washington.

Within weeks, a more organized response took shape. Bobbie Gallagher received an invitation to another meeting in Washington, this time in New Jersey Senator Robert Toricelli's office. Gallagher remembers the date for this meeting vividly, April Fool's Day, 1998. And when she walked into the room she was astonished at how quickly plans had emerged. She had expected again to play the role of supplicant, pleading with the government officials to take action. Instead, she found a prompt and aggressive action plan being put on the table. In the room that day were representatives from multiple departments within the CDC who had come to the Senator's office equipped with a multi-part plan, the first part of which was a prevalence study for Brick Township, an in-depth survey of the town's autistic population that would pick up where Gallagher's survey left off. CDC had identified a core team of staffers to lead the effort, including Jacquelyn Bertrand and Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp from the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) and Frank Bove from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR). Their proposal: to diagnose every child with autism in Brick Township between the ages of three and ten years old. They would start canvassing for cases and conducting interviews beginning with the start of the 1998 school year in September. And they planned to move quickly (at lightning speed really), to have their initial results ready by the end of the year.

They were true to their word. Two diagnosticians, Dr. Bertrand and Dr. Audrey Mars from the nearby Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, spent several days a week diagnosing children in the fall of 1998. And by January 12, 1999, the CDC had confirmed the findings of Gallagher's initial survey. Out of an initial estimated Brick population of 6,000 children from 3-10 years old, they had found over 40 cases of autism, giving a preliminary rate that was 12 times the estimated prevalence in the rest of the country. "I think there is a cluster here. I don't know why," lead investigator Bertrand said in an article by the Associated Press the next week. "If [we find] it's something that can be taken out of the community, that will be done," she said. According to AP she also added another intriguing tidbit: that "the researchers are eager to solve the puzzle here because of escalating calls the last few years about possible, but less credible, clusters elsewhere in the nation."

It all seemed to Gallagher like a dream: the cavalry had arrived and somehow they were going to get to the bottom of the issue. But then, something strange happened. Suddenly, the lines of communication with the CDC team went dark. After several months of intensive planning, intensive collaboration and rapid response, the CDC team told Gallagher that they were not at liberty to discuss the results with the parents any longer. According to Gallagher, one of the CDC staffers informed her that the mere mention of the word "cluster" had provoked a reaction from the higher ups within the CDC. Apparently, there was now even a debate as to whether they could use the word "elevated" when describing the prevalence rates. So from January 1999, until the release of the final study in April of 2000, there was no more interaction with the CDC. Not a single word.

Perhaps it was concern about the legal questions raised if there was indeed something in the water (class action attorneys had begun recruiting local families). Perhaps the Brick results weren't a cluster after all but part of a larger pattern that caused a more generalized concern within CDC (maybe it wasn't the water after all, since in February of 1998 the Lancet has published Andy Wakefield's controversial study implicating vaccines in autism). But there was no doubt about the silence coming from Atlanta. Something had changed the behavior of the CDC team. And it raises an interesting question. What did the CDC learn about autism rates in Brick Township and what did they do with their newfound data?

--
In Part 2: a discussion of the specific numbers in CDC's Brick Township report and what they should have told the world about the autism cases that they found in Brick.
--
Mark Blaxill is editor-at-large of Age of Autism and Vice President of SafeMinds. He has authored or co-authored a number of peer-reviewed studies on autism as well as numerous SafeMinds commentaries. He lives in Cambridge MA with his wife and two children, one of whom was diagnosed with autism and has since made great strides towards a full recovery. In addition to his autism activities, he has had a distinguished business career.

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Nothing can stop our pain with a son and grandson knowing what would have been and should have been. In 1989 maybe the knowledge of mercury wasn't there, but by the time my grandson was born to my daughter(who is a doctor) in 1999...he could have been saved. Ms Gerberding has to be compared to Hilter for allowing the poisoning of children. She had the power, surrounded by her SS, and the regular soldiers would be "fired" (career destroyed) if they spoke out. She should be put in prison for crimes against humanity. If not prison, then every day for the rest of her life facilitate a child with autism...one that is nonverbal, not toilet trained at 10 years, jumps up and down, and will disappear if not watched, etc. She should receive no help. Let's wait ten years and asked if it's real.


Back in 1999, I tried to get Andy Wakefield and Vijendra Singh in touch with the people in Brick, NJ but was unsuccessful, since no one was interested. Over the years I said it would be a waste to give funding to the CDC and NIH for autism research. I was criticized and ignored.
Below is my letter to the Lancet in July 2000 that was ignored as well. Not surprising because anything I say is not important, not relevant to the autism community (in the USA) nor to anybody outside the autism community. Also, below is an article by Autism Diva on Dr. Allsopp who was an advisor for NAAR and now, Autism Speaks.............

Ray Gallup

http://www.whale.to/v/gallop.html

Sir--As father of a boy with autism aged 15 years, and as President of the Autism Autoimmunity Project, USA, I was interested by your editorial.1 I was at the autism-vaccine hearings on April 6, 2000, in Washington, DC, USA, chaired by US Congressman Dan Burton. These hearings were vital for those of us who have autistic children and want more immunology research to be done, such as that of Wakefield,2 O'Leary (unpublished), and Singh,3 and their colleagues.

Existing research that denies an association between autism and the MMR vaccine is either biased--because it originates from public- health authorities--or uses flawed epidemiology, such as in the study by Taylor and colleagues.4 When asked at the hearings whether he could provide for independent scrutiny the data that backed up his study, Taylor said he would have to check with his superiors. Wakefield, Singh, and O'Leary agreed to provide their data and had no need to check with their superiors. Quite a difference in response.

In April, 1999, I attended an autism biomedical conference in Atlantic City (NJ, USA), and heard Jacqueline Bertrand of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) talk about the increase of occurrence of autism in Brick Township, New Jersey. I later asked her whether any of the children were not vaccinated. She said no--Brick Township was a highly vaccinated population. I asked her whether CDC had done any immune panel blood tests or planned to do so. Again, she said no. The CDC said they did not know what caused the increase in occurrence of autism in Brick, but that the MMR vaccine was not a factor. Where is the logic and where is the science to support this assertion?

My son, Eric, was tested with an immune panel blood test and had raised measles titres. Also, Eric had inflammation of the colon. Many parents report the same results with their autistic children. There are no independent, long-term, safety studies involving any of the vaccines given in such variety during childhood (MMR vaccine included) to assure us that nothing is wrong. Are our children now acting as unwitting participants for a safety study?

Evidence for an autism pandemic is clear, especially in highly-vaccinated countries. In California, USA, there was a 273% increase in the number of autistic children in 1987-98. For Brick, CDC had documented that one in 149 children are autistic. In east Surrey, UK, one in 69 children aged 3 years are autistic. Eric goes to a special school for autistic children, which, in 1992, had 20 pupils; now there are over 100. To say this increase in numbers of autistic children is a result of better diagnosis shows insensitivity towards parents who know their own children and the education authorities entrusted with their education and long-term care.

We need exhaustive research funded now. Do we want to wait until one in five children are diagnosed with autism? Can our communities afford the increase in human suffering and the dire economic consequences? To ignore the findings that Wakefield, Singh, and O'Leary presented at the hearings will only worsen our dilemma.

Raymond Gallup


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Autism Autoimmunity Project, Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034, USA


1 Editorial. Measles, MMR, and autism: the confusion continues. Lancet 2000; 355: 1379.

2 Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, et al. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 1998; 351: 637-41.

3 Singh VK, Lin SX, Yang VC. Serological association of measles virus and human herpesvirus-6 with brain autoantibodies. Clin Immunol Immunopathol 1998; 89: 105-08 [PubMed].

4 Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, Cetropoulos MP, Favour-Mayaud JL, Waight P. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet 1999; 353: 2026-29.

Autism Diva's words on Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp....................

Autism Speaks' chief scientific advisor, Dr. Gary Goldstein, president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins, will serve as chair of Autism Speaks' Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). The following individuals will serve on the Scientific Advisory Committee;


* Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D.; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


In February of 2006, Autism Speaks merged with the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). “Our commitment to funding evidence-based science will always be our top priority” said Eric London, founder of NAAR and board and executive committee member of Autism Speaks. “Working with CAN, we will continue to raise as much money as possible to fund the most promising research worldwide."


http://autismdiva.blogspot.com/2007/02/can-autism-stinks.html


"It’s time to ask the incoming CDC Director to accept accountability for the Bush Administration’s catastrophic failure (a failure for which Julie Gerberding should be held personally accountable) to acknowledge and address the autism crisis."

As soon as the new director is announced, this sounds like a great job for Kelli Ann.

Cathy

Dan, remember, "it is not desireable to treat autism." These folks want our children (young, teens, adults) to languish without care. Call it bitterness. Call it laziness. Call it stone cold callousness. And then "call it out." Great comment from you.

Kim

mdm1972,

There is quite a bit of information on this web site alone. I can't understand how you can say there is no discussion on evidence? Especially here at AoA...a wonderful site with a generous, warm and varied group of posters. A common thread of vaccine injury.

This site alone should provide all you could need to begin to understand both sides.
A good read for the Denmark study (powerpoint):

http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/5.15.pdf

And for the Quebec study:

http://mercury-freedrugs.org/docs/060827_PGKsCmmnts_CanadianEpidemioStudy_Pediatrics-Full-b.pdf

Although, I'll add that if you are truly seeking info, there is plenty to be had...on both sides.

Well done Mark. Thank you for giving such a great time line of events also. And JB, Damsel in distress is absolutely right...you ARE the cavalry. I'm behind your charge and battle cry.
In light of the Travolta tragedy...I was thinking back to the movie "Michael" and how he would charge ahead yelling "BATTLE". That's what I feel like we're doing. Thank you again Mark and JB.

The comment by mdm1972 is a classic of misdirection. Mark's deconstruction of the Brick study is a fundamental contribution to the epidemiology of autism, and yet this person yammers on about Denmark and god knows what else. If we wrote about Denmark, they would yammer on about Brick and god knows what else. No one -- including this transparently biased commenter -- has ever responded to Mark's analysis of Brick, and they have not done so for a reason that should be too obvious to mention, which is that his critique is unanswerable. So instead, they change the subject or simply ignore it. Please, mdm1972, tell us what's wrong with this analysis and we'll print it in full. Unless you do, I consider you part of the problem. Age of Autism is part of the solution, and that bugs the hell out of you. -- Dan.

I found the Fox News report yesterday on Mercury in mining very interesting.
It is an export product for us.
It would be interesting to know where Thimerosal was made in the US and if the EPA is regulating dump sites.
Was NJ one? Home to many large pharmaceuticals? Is Mercury or any other neurotoxin found in Brick township water or emissions. This is reminiscent of Love Canal in NY - the health dept shows up long enough to gather data for it's defense. Sad.
Interesting that the CDC used to be one floor, here in Atlanta, now it is a behemoth of a complex with a full environmental lab.
As a parent of an Autistic child I expect more from them. They have the funds, equipment and personnel to find productive interventions for Autism.

You know who can get to the bottom of all this? Agent Jack A. Winfield Bower (played by Jim Carrey in a serious role), that's who. I can imagine an alternative "24", where Jack infiltrates the upper echelons of a major Pharmaceutical long enough to bring major players of the vaccine industry/medical community into his highly secretive federal agency and puts them thru high pressure interrogations until he gets confessions and more names of those responsible for ruining our kids lives. I can even picture him making a Mr. Pophet talk, while holding a hypodermic needle containing 50,000 vaccines.

This kind of series would play well for our community, wouldn't it? Of course, this would be a fictional acct. And there is no intent by anyone of us (especially this poster) to make this a reality series. Seriously!

Still, considering all those in the gov't and big pharma and the medical field who seem to be in on this seeming conspiracy of money, prestige, and public denial of harm to our kids, it would provide enough material for a network program about a, extreme, get-the-job-done-at-any-cost secret agent with a heart toward our kids who is looking for the truth while leaving a (live, but unconscious) body count in his wake. Maybe I can still get Fox to create such a series. Wish me luck.

PS to moderator: you don't have to post this if it's pushing any envelope or commits some copyright infringement. I just thought it was a humorous way to relate vaccine induced brain damage, and the show 24. I figure the audience here would understand. BTW, you could probably surmise i watched tonight's 2 hr series beginning. It was good.

The CDC has only recently acknowledged another emerging problem: Morgellons "disease," which is a truly sci-fi horror condition that may be infectious. Learning about this condition is extremely stressful and depressing. To me, it appears to come from biotech and nanotech labs. After years of public questions, the CDC finally began a study last year, merely to survey a select group of people who might have the condition. Meanwhile, our blood supply may be contaminated with something possibly infectious. And the condition is penetrating more deeply into the population. Please advocate for morgellons sufferers. They need health insurance coverage for their condition, and they need research for effective treatments.

mdm1972
Go to JB's article at www.ageofautism.com/2008/06/goalposts.html for a discussion of this study. See the section with the subheading "A Foundation of Sand: The Danish Study and CDC Data" as well as the sections before & after that. Actually, take the time to read the whole article, as well as SafeMinds critique at www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/5.14.pdf.

Also, use the google search at the bottom of the far right column on the Age of Autism site to search this site for more info.

I think that everyone who writes for this site believes that vaccines cause autism as well as other disorders, so in that sense you could say that we are one sided. Yet there is a lot of debate, as well as considerable "discussion of real evidence".

I don't see much discussion of real evidence on these threads. Could anyone explain to me the results from epidemiological study done in Denmark Pediatrics 2003;112;604-606
Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence From Danish Population study or the Candian Study Pediatrics 2006;118;e139-e150
Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links With Immunizations.

I am looking to examine both sides of this issue but find this site like all other sites (both for and against any IZ and autism link) completely ignores any data contrary to the argument it is trying to support. I appreciate your assistance in this.

[Editor's note: this is a non sequitor in this thread. there is ample discussion of evidence of the time trend issues in autism in the thread that follows and neither directly addresses vaccines. there is active discussion of evidence on both sides, but that's not what the Brick isse is about]

Donna Interesting question about how cell phone towers and cell phones could be associated to the death of Honey Bees.

However, I would have to ask you to look up GMO Crops such as Corn and Wheat and their susceptability to fungal mycotoxins. In the past several years the Gov. has allowed GMO farming and in return these crops have been modified to eliminate the growth of certain fungi. The fungi in return have mutated to overcome the Genetically modified crops' ability to fight the fungi. Now, These NEW Mutated fugi mycotoxins are dangerous to humans, insects and animals. The fungi then spore and spread to other crops. The Bees do not have the ability to fight the new Mutated fungi mycotoxins and in return die. Sometimes the entire colony can banish in a matter of weeks.

Our Children then eat this wheat and corn. You can figure out the rest.

When we first ran this, our daily traffic was nowhere near where it is today, a little over a year later, so I've been looking for an opportunity to get this material out there again. In the wake of Gerberding's resignation, we now know that the Obama Administration has an historic opportunity to revisit the CDC’s spectacular failures in addressing the autism epidemic. This ongoing fiasco rivals other historic Bush Administration scandals, such as the political firings of state Attorneys General, the legitimization of torture and the disclosure of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. It's also been a good occasion to update the original essays it to incorporate some helpful corrections from Brick parent and activist Bobbi Gallagher.

It’s time to ask the incoming CDC Director to accept accountability for the Bush Administration’s catastrophic failure (a failure for which Julie Gerberding should be held personally accountable) to acknowledge and address the autism crisis.

Thanks for re-running Mark Blaxill's important investigative article. This week I sent that link to several people and websites. Makes one wonder what other "autism" clusters exist in addition to Brick Township and in the Minnesota Somali community.

Mark, thanks for writing about this important public health issue-can't wait for part II.

Just to mention that we had a somewhat comparable incident in the UK to Brick Township when a reservoir was contaminated with aluminium suphate at Camelford in 1988 (the year in the UK, incidentally, that MMR was introduced). This correspondence indicates how closely our Department of Health was involved in the cover-up of the appalling health consequences:

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/330/7486/275-a

It is particularly fascinating that they were not even covering up behalf of the pharma, but protecting a government asset which was about to be sold off. The other depressing fact about it was that although there was never any real doubt about what happened, they managed to successfully block all legal claims till the present day - and perhaps even worse the cynical "official truth" is allowed to stand.

Thank you Mark for reminding us of the role the CDC has played in the cover-up. This will be the question everyone will be asking in the near future when the numbers simply overwhelm the taxpayers: "What did they know, when did they know it, and what did they do to cover it up?"
Anne Dachel
Media editor

I worked with autistic children, and is anybody giving any thought to cell phones and towers? If Bee's are dying and losing there way home and cell towers are believed to be the cause , then maybe there is a link with autism as well! Cell towers have gone up in an alarming rate , since the autism rate has skyrocketed! How do you get anyone to investigate this? DC

"I'd sooner leave my baby with a rabid dog than to trust any information that comes from the CDC."

Or the pediatrician.

Bobbie Gallagher,

Thank you for all of your ongoing work.

Thanks to your additional comments this morning, I've come back to the archives here, and now I know a little more than I knew yesterday.

Someone else will find it, too--someone who's new here today, perhaps--and will learn what they need to know.

I have more information for anyone who comes to me asking, "Are vaccines safe?" or who tries to "reason" with me, based on information provided by the CDC!

I'd sooner leave my baby with a rabid dog than to trust any information that comes from the CDC.

Terri Lewis

Sorry, I did forget to mention one other thing. Our town has a Superfund site that was simply covered with sand, as opposed to the concrete cover that the EPA recommended in their report of the site. But our mayor wanted to save the taxpayers 10 million dollars at the time and fought until it was agreed that sand would be the option. Now think about it, if you put sand instead of concrete and it rains, where do all the toxins from the Superfund site go.
Bobbie Gallagher

Hi Mark, I came across this article through a search I was doing, and now remember our phone conversation. Simply because I always feel as though the facts should be straight, I have to state a correction or two. We do not live in Northern NJ, but on the Jersey Shore -- not at all near industrial Newark or other towns that North Jersey is known for. THM or trihalomethanes are in everyone's water that is disinfected with chlorine, it is a product of that process, so the toxins were not Local as mentioned in the article. Although CDC could not fine a distinct link between the THMs and the rise in autism, they also were using a very narrow approach. There was ABOSULTELY evidence of elevated levels of these and other chemicals in our water, during a time when our town moved from ground (acquifer) water to surface water (out of the Metedeconk River) the disinfection of this water took more chemicals into order to be drinkable. At one time the elevated numbers were actually SO high they were blamed on a possible decimal problem in the data. CDC and ATSDR were trying to specifically link these data collection dates with times that they felt mothers would be in their 20 - 24th day of gestation --using Rodier's study as their reasoning. They could not make that specific link and therefore said the elevated levels didn't have an effect. YET, they refused to test any parents, stating there was no research to determine if the chemicals remained in our bodies, they refused to test the children for the chemicals, because they stated they had no precdent to do so. Since this time research out of Woods Hole Massachusetts, has actually shown that the exact chemical combinations (and this is the key it was not JUST THM's but multiple chemicals and the "cocktail" that we drank) caused defects in non-vertebrae subjects and because of this success in the research they were moving up to using vertebrae animals.

Additionally, the CDC did mention that the rates were higher than seen in Atlanta and published anywhere else when they came to our home the morning of the final presentation. Nj is the highest in the nation, and in a study done by Dr. Zharodny you will see that Brick and a few other towns (not in North Jersey) continue to be the cause for that number averaging so high. However, that study will probably also never see much print time.

Bobbie Gallagher - brickposse@comcast.net

[Editor's note: Thanks for your comments Bobbie. This reposted version has corrected the original essay to reflect your comments.]

What were in the shots when I got them in the 30's and when my son got them in the 50's

When, on earth, are these experts who we are told privately know there are problems with vaccines going to come forward publicly? How much more death and injury are they going to allow? Where are their morals? Where are their hearts?

I am the mother of four high functioning autistic children, all born in Monmouth County NJ. I was told by a full professor biostatistician in the public health department at an Ivy League University that vaccines are known to be the cause of autism, and are likely the cause of many other suppossedly hereditary conditions. He researched vaccines himself as well as disease clusters in families.

Mark - ditto again. Thanks for the continued efforts of shining a bright light on something that needs an extreme make over. These folks are completely ineffective and whats worse - ignoring and covering up a huge problem. Keep up the great work on behalf of hundreds of thousands of kids.

If it's any help at all ..... In the late autumn of 1991 I read a news item in an American magazine, maybe Time or Newsweek, reporting that parents were stating their children had changed after the MMR. I don't remember reading anything else about it in other newspapers so I don't think it "crossed the pond" to the UK media. Just a thought - doesn't your Freedom of Information Act cover your Government bodies like the CDC? Me, I'm the other side of the Atlantic where we've got the Government, Department of Health and the orthodox medical profession drawn up in serried ranks against a few thousand parents who dare to draw attention to what has happened to their children.

Thanks, Mark. Great job. Keep up the pressure on the evil doers.

Fantastic work Mark, as always. Thanks for all you do .

Q: Besides vaccines, I have always been curious as to the total amount of exposure of thimerosal from other products- ie. Merthiolate, mercurachrome, nasal spray, contact lens solution, etc, etc.. that were being used at the same time as vaccines. I mean, just exactly how much ethyl Hg were children and adults getting exposed to in the 1970's and 80's? And...Why has the CDC refused to acknowlege the fact that thimerosal is a mutagen? I still want to see the vaccine records of the children and grandchildren from the Brick and Simpsonwood hearings/investigations. Betcha THEIR family members skipped out?

Well done, Mark. It is chilling to consider the lengths the CDC has gone to in their efforts to bury the truth, while so many children with autism suffer, and so many families struggle to find healing for their children. Thank you for your honest, courageous writing.

Thank you Mark for your incredibly insightful, courageous and methodical work. It is almost impossible to believe that we have gone so far down this road, millions of children suffering, so many families being destroyed by autism and yet the strategies employed by the CDC remain unchanged: deny, castigate parents who question them and dig in deeper. Julie Gerbeding, Paul Offit and Marshalyn (there is no epidemic) Allsop are the George Bushes and Donald Rumsfelds of the autism epidemic. If they had any shame they would resign right now. Never has a government agency failed to do its job in such a spectacular way, with such devastating consequences for American children.

I think the time has come for the lot of us to park ourselves outside the White House. "Mr. President, I know you have been busy with Iraq for a few years now but it seems like the health of the children of this country is in serious jeopardy and if you could spare a few moments to take a look at this impending crisis....."

Psst, JB? You ARE the cavalry. Thank you.

Mark:

It's hard to read all of this without having my blood boil. I keep asking myself the same question: when is the cavalry going to come?

I now know how naive it is, but I just pray what you have written here is actually read by someone who could make a difference.

JB

In light of widespread concern over the link between autism and vaccines in the autism parent community, when the CDC announces that it's launching a new effort to find the cause of autism, it's hard not to think of OJ Simpson offering a reward for finding his wife's killer.

Another Touché moment! I love it.

Mark, as always a brilliant analysis and equally brilliant $20 million dollar question.

Do you think anyone at the CDC might be willing to answer it?

Dear Mark:

I think we are all fortunate to have your calm, methodical efforts on our behalf. I had heard about Brick Township, but did not know the full story. Thank you for informing me.

All the best,
Kent Heckenlively

Mark,
Can you fax or email your article to the governor of NJ? He and the health department are about to mandate 4 more vaccines in NJ, mercury and all.

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