The New York Times Exposes “Science”Blogs
Senate: 8/3 Hearing on Research Into Environmental Causes of Autism

Autism and Heavy Metals: An Interview With Mary Catherine DeSoto, Ph.D.

Beatings By J.B. Handley
 
“I am sure that only an open debate, searching for new mechanisms and many more experiments may solve the problem of what caused the rise of the incidence of autism that is becoming more and more real the more we investigate the problem.”
 
- Kris Turlejski, Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, Editor-in-Chief
 
Despite no mainstream reporting about the recent edition ( Vol. 70, No 2 ) of the medical journal Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, it represents a watershed moment for the autism community: multiple scientists coming together and challenging many of the autism epidemic’s most pernicious myths.
 
AoA, appropriately, has focused on one study from the journal by Hewitson and colleagues comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated primates, which ANE’s editor notes “support[s] the possibility that there is a link between early immunization and the etiology of autism.”
 
Another excellent paper in ANE’s current edition was written by Mary Catherine DeSoto, Ph.D. and Robert Hitlan, Ph.D., titled "Sorting Out the Spinning of Autism: Heavy Metals and the Question of Incidence.”    Dr. DeSoto is a welcome voice in a debate about autism that has grown ugly, partisan, and close-minded, particularly amongst the mainstream scientific community. An Associate Professor from the University of Northern Iowa and a published scientist with nearly two dozen works to her name, Dr. DeSoto makes a powerful case regarding two of the more heated arguments in the autism debate: is the rise in autism cases real and do heavy metals play a role in autism?
 
There’s no fact or data set more important than reaching a consensus amongst every stakeholder in the autism debate that the incidence of autism is truly on the rise. If it is, than our money should be focused on finding the environmental trigger for all these new cases. If it isn’t, perhaps the money should be best spent on improving education and services. How do we find a cause for something if we can’t even agree that it’s indeed growing or that there might be a trigger for it? She writes:
 
“But we believe that recent studies and recently available data sets are providing convergent evidence for a secular increase [in cases of autism] across numerous countries.”


 
Also in her paper, Dr. DeSoto pulls no punches in challenging her scientific colleagues for “spinning” the message about autism and its relationship to toxins and argues that:
 
“It cannot be said there is no evidence for a link between heavy metal toxins and autism: although the question may still be open-in sum, the evidence favors a link.”
 
Dr. DeSoto also shows tremendous courage in wading into the topic of the bias and “spin” that many in the mainstream scientific community appear to provide when speaking about the science of autism incidence and autism and heavy metals. She writes:
 
“If a person has publicly staked his/her career on a certain position being right, it may become harder to keep a truly open mind, even when new data become available and even when the original intent was to be objective. A way this bias might manifest itself is an over-statement or slight misstatement of results.”
 
Our community would be pleased to know that Dr. DeSoto uses none other than the Dark Lord himself, Paul Offit, as an example of a pundit propagating this spin:
 
“For example, Paul Offit concludes that Thompson and others (2007) study ‘found no evidence of neurological problems in children exposed to mercury-containing vaccines’ (Offit 2007, p. 1979). But is this really true? According to the article’s authors, they detected only a ‘few significant associations with exposure to mercury’ (Thompson et al. 2007, p. 1281). Of some interest to the question of early exposure and autism, ‘Increasing mercury exposure (in the first month of life) was associated with poorer performance of a measure of speech articulation.’ (Thompson et al. 2007, p. 1281), although this finding is in need of replication, it is of interest since poor articulation occurs in those with autism…"
 
This is the sort of bias, whether conscious or unconscious, that occurs. Because some of the authors of the Thompson study have publicly aligned with opposing a mercury-autism link (by taking consulting fees), they may be unconsciously more prone to review studies that support their view, less likely to review opposing viewpoints, and may eventually become unaware of relevant research (e.g., Newland et al. 2008). By using 42 measures and finding only a small handful of effects, it is easy to say the obtained relations are chance occurrences. Then, another scholar summarizes the study and slightly changes the results based on a worldview that there is no effect of thimerosal, ‘found no evidence of neurological problems in children exposed to mercury-containing vaccines’ (Offit 2007, p. 1279). Then this assessment gets quoted by those who do not bother to look carefully at the original study, and scientific advancement becomes stifled.”
 
*   *   *
 
I was so impressed with Dr. DeSoto and her writing that I sought her out for an interview. Below, please find the email interview she was kind enough to do for AoA. Her words speak for themselves, and I express my gratitude to Dr. DeSoto for taking the time to engage our community:
 
Q: Is criticizing published science of others a wise career move?
 
Dr. DeSoto: Honest debate is how issues in science get resolved. Scientists are supposed to be critical thinkers. Usually, there are different views on a topic, debate occurs, and slowly consensus emerges. Criticizing published science is part of the scientific process. Criticism should be factual and logical. Publishing means one is putting their work out in the public arena for others to evaluate.
 
Q: What would you say to the CDC and AAP, two groups that today do not acknowledge a real rise in the number of children with autism?
 
Dr. DeSoto: It should also be noted they never say there is not an increase. They seem reluctant state the conclusion their data leads them to. I suspect that soon a true increase will become “official.”
 
Q: If autism is truly on the rise, does that require some sort(s) of environmental trigger?
 
Dr. DeSoto: Yes, it does. Genetic changes and natural selection do not result in noticeable shifts in phenotypes within one generation. Exceptions to this would be expected to occur under catastrophic situations (like half the population dies and all of the survivors who pass on genes have a certain gene type). Barring an extremely strong and abrupt selection pressure where many (many many) suddenly do not reproduce, observable changes due to natural selection take multiple generations.
 
However, the same gene pool can have marked differences in observed outcomes if the environment changes. This is because environment effects the functioning of genes. (e.g. Identical twins with the same genes are not always the same even on things that are largely genetic – like height.) There is an important process called DNA methylation. Methylation changes how the DNA is transcribed—it alters gene expression. Once methylation occurs within a gene, the change can be passed on when and if the cell divides.
 
In effect, the gene will be functioning like it was a slightly different genetic code. The many ways this happens are getting to be well understood. Methylation is a normal process, but toxins and environmental exposures can cause methylation to happen at times and locations that it would not normally be occurring, or can prevent normal methylation that should be occurring. Autism on the rise does not require a shift in the gene pool, just a shift in how genes are functioning. A shift in the gene pool would occur over many generations under natural selection, but a change in environmental triggers can change the functioning of the gene pool. Then it gets complicated because presumably natural selection would become responsive to this trigger, but that is getting beyond your question. The answer is, yes.
 
Q: What is your reaction to the fact that over 95% of the dollars spent to date on autism research have been on genetics (and not genetic-environmental interaction at that)?
 
Dr. DeSoto: It is a little surprising, if this is the case. I think it has generally become well understood that considering genetics or environment in isolation reflects a lack of appreciation for how genes work. Genes and environment work together, they influence each other (yes, both ways).
 
Epigenetics and interaction studies should be at the forefront, with support for genetic centered studies as well as exposure-centered studies. Obviously, I think that research on autism should not be limited to just one aspect of etiology, but that multiple approaches should be supported.
 
Q: There is a study published in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis alongside yours that deals with vaccinated and unvaccinated primates. Do you have a reaction to the study or its conclusions?
 
Dr. DeSoto: All the primates were vaccinated, the difference was whether there was a heavy metal additive. This is a potentially important study. There are a few weaknesses that prevent strong conclusions. The size of the control group is small (apparently n=2). Given that rhesus neural development within the brain region of interest is not all that well documented, a larger control group would have been desirable. This weakness is acknowledged by the authors.
 
Isolating the infant monkeys shortly after birth is a significant change from normal environment. The severing of the maternal bond and being raised essentially alone (only visual contact was maintained with the peer infants) affects every aspect of development – including neural development. There is evidence that brain volume is specifically affected by isolation. The rearing situation in the study, in my mind, is not very comparable to normal development, especially if the outcome of interest includes brain volume.
 
That said, this is the only study that has compared the net effect of multiple vaccination additives on brain development. Above all, I have to editorialize and say this seems difficult to understand (that is – why is this the only study?). If some scientists and some parents question the safety of the vaccine schedule, such studies as this one are the way to investigate the concerns.
 
Now, the one study that exists (even if there are caveats that go with pilot research) suggests there are differences. Whether one is of the opinion that individually testing vaccines is as good as testing the combined effect or not – at this point it is imperative that additional studies be conducted on the additive effect of the full vaccine schedules.
 
To be clear and to repeat, if one thinks that the vaccines with additives given in close succession have no effect on neural development– this ought to be established empirically. One thing that I noticed in the study is the main effect for difference in brain volume (no time effect). It should be noted that this suggests the early administration of additive-containing vaccine (first four rounds) was a culprit of interest.
 
Q: The word "aluminum" was not mentioned in your article in the context of vaccines. Was this omission intentional?
 
Dr. DeSoto: No. Although technically aluminum may not be considered a heavy metal, I was including it in my mind under the umbrella of heavy metals. I would include it any list of toxins to consider in relation to a disease of neurodevelopment.
 
Q: You mentioned receiving highly emotional responses and threats when you re-interpreted the Ip data. What was the nature of the responses and threats? (what were people concerned about?)
 
Dr. DeSoto: I did get some calls at home, but they were within realm of reason. A couple of emails said negative things (things like “if you believe that XXX then you are a fool” or “you are really not much a scientist and wrong…” The threats were along the lines of coming to my school and causing problems and/ or telling others how bad I am. The really ugly things were posted anonymously on the internet. People found my personal website and such and posted pictures of me with a wine glass, stuff like that. Far more bothersome than any of that were the blatant falsehoods circulated about the data and the paper. Hate that, it is the antithesis of science and knowledge.
 
FYI there is a website all about this…. If you are interested:
 
http://www.uni.edu/desoto/desoto_hitlan_autism.html
 
Q: Is studying the link between autism and vaccines career suicide for any well-intended scientist (you take great pains in your paper to make the discussion more global re: heavy metals and autism)?
 
Dr. DeSoto: It might be suicidal, but scientists should actually be free to investigate any topic their education and mind leads them to. No topic of investigation should be stricken from the list of acceptable topics.
 
For me, and my read of the literature as a whole, and not discounting parental anecdotal reports, I do not think that vaccines can be the sole – and probably not the principal cause of an autism epidemic. I will add that it is beyond dispute that some children are harmed by the vaccine schedule. It seems almost beyond dispute that for at least a few children, vaccination served as a trigger for a cascade of events that ended up as something people recognize as autism. I feel very comfortable defending that. What is needed is a better understanding of how genetics and triggers fit together; how things work together (aluminum, organophoshates, pollution, emissions, lead, vitamin D, infections, mercury, food additives ) and which kids these things might matter for.
 
I think that some will be disappointed to read that I doubt that vaccines are the sole (or principal) cause of the rise in ASD. This is because of well done longitudinal research such as Eskenazi that suggest that early exposure to other non-vaccine related toxins also predict ASD. I could be wrong -- and the question is an empirical one -- but for now I tend to suspect that many things can be a trigger within a susceptible child. I am open minded, and the research to fully test this has not been done. More research like Hewitson did is what is needed (with a larger control group raised in a more normal manner). Anyway, this is my thinking for the time being.
 
Q: Your paper states that you feel the weight of the evidence favors a connection between heavy metals and autism, although it's not well understood. With the limited knowledge we now have, what advice would you give a mother preparing to have her first child?
 
Dr. DeSoto: Make an effort to avoid toxins in all forms. Get a little sunshine most every day. Eat mostly non-processed and natural food. Learn about which common products have toxins and unsafe additives. Don’t assume that just because something is available, it is safe. There is no substitute for taking the responsibility to be informed.
 
The weight of evidence certainly favors a link. Here is the table that shows our count of the empirical literature from the Spinning of Autism article (DeSoto and Hitlan, 2010, p. 168). This is not a self-selected survey of the literature. This is ALL of the articles than hit when one searches for Autism and mercury OR autism and heavy metals http://www.uni.edu/desoto/pubmed_search_autism.htm
 
Q: Do you think blood is a reliable indicator of overall toxicity within a human body?
 
Dr. DeSoto: You mean whether blood levels are a valid indicator of toxins within the key organs. Blood levels are not perfectly valid, no. I think that the degree to which blood measures match tissue levels and exposures is not uniform across individuals, or across ages within the same individual (this should not be taken to mean blood levels are useless—ask if this is not clear).
 
Q: Many parents in our community report almost no excretion form Urine Toxic Metals tests until they have actively chelated their child with DMSA/DMPS for 4-6 weeks or more. The theory is that somehow the children with autism either hold on to the metals more strongly or that their excretion systems are shut down. Are you aware of this anecdotal information and does that impact what you think of the tests that have been done?
 
Dr. DeSoto: I am not aware of any anecdotal information.
 
Q:
Parents of children with autism feel like they are running against the clock to try to help their children. Should your paper influence the approach parents take to treating their autistic child?
 
Dr. DeSoto:  I don’t think I feel qualified to answer that one.
 
Q: Are their simple studies that could be done right now that would give us more complete and actionable information about what has happened to our kids? If so, could you please describe it to me?
 
Dr. DeSoto:
 
1. Studies like Hewitson et al’s.
2. Pockets of high incidence should be documented and studied (e.g. Somali immigrant populations).
 
Q: Do you think 100% unvaccinated children should be studied to compare their neurodevelopmental outcomes versus vaccinated peers?
 
Dr. DeSoto: Yes. MRI’s are not invasive, but there is so much variation one would need a fairly high sample size. If this were done, it would be ideal to also test DNA for genes associated with handling toxins. If such a study were done (a test between vaccinated and non-vaccinated on say amygdale or brain stem) the question would be “does it look like there is a difference?” Markers of oxidative stress might also be a good outcome to consider. Again, gene differences would be important to consider as well. It could be that genes and exposure are needed. If one did not then measure (and essentially control for) genes, any effect might be missed.

J.B. Handley is Co-Founder of Generation Rescue.

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Comments

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Twyla

Three cheers for Dr. DeSoto. Maybe there is hope for humankind after all. And three cheers for J.B., too.

Stan

In this article, and in the Comments thread, I am disappointed that a couple of points in particular have not been addressed:

(1) The study of Prof. Boyd Haley et al that showed that at least some ASD-diagnosed children had a genetic polymorphism that rendered them with lower levels of glutathione. Thus they are going to be especially incapable of eliminating their heavy metals/toxins. There is your genetic-environmental link right there.

(2) The fact that the MMR, and all live-virus vaccines, have glutamic acid/glutamate in them (as a stabilizer). One of the facets of this substance (besides being an excitotoxin in its own right; go figure) is that it lowers glutathione levels. Thus, when a live-virus vaccine is given at the same time as a vaccine that has mercury or aluminum in it...you get the picture. (Plus the glutathione-lowering effect of giving Tylenol for the fever that vaccines can induce...)

(3) The genes associated with autism that they have found that code for glutamate. Thus whenever that child encounters glutamate, he's going to be in trouble. From live-virus vaccines. From his/her diet. (And thus the value of a GF/CF diet: gluten is high in glutamate.)

The links go on, and on: the genetic-environmental links. We've only scratched the surface, here. Big-picture thinking is required: joining up ALL the dots.

We need more DeSoto's, and fewer Dodge-rs, like Offit...

Matthew Groff

I believe the major study that dismissed the mercury in vaccination as a cause of autism was designed to produce skewed results. They chose Japan for the study because the blood levels of the Japanese of mercury is 5 times higher than the world generally. I believe this was a malicious attempt to mask the correlation. Yet, this study is widely sited as being conclusive. How easy it is to buy the minds of medical professionals if you have enough money. How sad so few doctors adhere to the values and ethics of real science.

CHS

Paul Jaep

Japanese autism figures show strong challenge/de-challenge/re-challenge association with vaccination:

http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/japvaxautism/

Paul Jaep

My posts On Jul 24, 2010 to comments Dr Mercola article “Combination MMRV Vaccine Increases Risk of Febrile Seizures”
Mercury and other xenobiotics are believed to be a cause of autism ,,that’s not the case we accumulate xenobiotics because we fail to metabolise them due to antibiotic altered gut flora, the true cause of autism .The problem is not confined to autism ,many chronic fatigue syndrome also test positive for xenobiotics ..its not surprising because the conditions are linked ..read my site for more information.
This study says it all. Antibiotic use is known to almost completely inhibit excretion of mercury in rats due to alteration of gut flora”
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.../17497416
www.yeast-candida-infections-uk.co.uk/yeast-genes-enzyme-production
Good information thanks for the article. But it’s clear that vaccinations are not the primary cause of autism ,if that were the case all vaccinated children would descend into the autistic condition . Vaccine damaged children must have a susceptibility and that susceptibility is explained as per the information in my site .
A study in Yokohoma, Japan, where MMR vaccinations were banned in 1993 in favour of single vaccinations, it was found that rates of autism continued to rise despite the ban. The result is widely held as evidence that the triple MMR and vaccines in general are not implicated in autism … Wrong conclusion .. they should have realised as per Dr Wakefield “ALL” vaccines are suspect. MMR vaccines taken as single shots are still capable of triggering Autism
Please read my site be sure to click the red text “The insult of a vaccine “ for more on this. As per the intro of my site our civilisation is in rapid decline, as it stands we have no future. I believe I have an answer. But getting professionals to act professionally is proving to be an uphill struggle
www.yeast-candida-infections-uk.co.uk/autism-is-an-infectious-disease
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/24/combination-mmrv-vaccine-increases-risk-of-febrile-seizures.aspx

Sue

Finally, a scientist who actually thinks and talks like a scientist. Thank you Dr. DeSoto for your honest investigation and critique of the literature and some of the questions at hand.

Many answers aren't in because they simply haven't yet been asked via careful research. If more scientists took Dr. DeSoto's analytical and open-minded approach to the questions raised, I think science could find answers, and maybe even solutions.

Failure to do so is unscientific, unprofessional, and bordering on criminal. Those who involve themselves in this controversy via recitation of their college lessons, via taunts and ridicule, or who simply avoid involvement by ostrich behaviors, dirty themselves and undermine science, scientists, and the search for truth. Shame on all of them--they know who they are.

Let us hope that many other real scientists will follow Dr. DeSoto's lead and start reading more carefully, asking more questions, and actually looking for real answers.

Hilary Butler.

Two things.

1) There are many families who have vaccinated children with regressive autism, who refused to vaccinate their subsequent children.

What better a "control" group could you have to study?

I'll leave it for some of those families, if they read here to say what they think.

2) Genetics is absolutely not everything.

I know of a family who were all genetically tested for the marker genes which predict failure to excrete heavy metals. The mother and the child with autism, were normal. The father, and the unvaccinated normal child, had the relevant genes.

So, what does that tell you?

If that finding was replicated epidemioligically across the families where there are vaccinated and unvaccinated in the same families, what excuses would be found to explain that away?

Teresa Conrick

Thank you, Mary Catherine DeSoto for seeing and speaking the truth so honestly and eloquently. These nuggets of the truth outshine all of the garbage that we so often read about heavy metals, especially mercury. Your research is very appreciated.

patrons99

Caroline - call me delusional or whatever, but I can't buy into the genetic susceptibility argument. This tends to lay a guilt trip on us, e.g. sins of the father are somehow visited upon our offspring and we are somehow responsible for our kid's "bad genes". Pharma loves this concept too. It's the perfect complement to their genetic engineering agenda.

No, I actually believe it's something as simple as cummulative synergistic toxicity of the vaccine schedules, mercury amalgam dentistry, and fluoridated drinking water/toothpaste, resulting in a progressively more poisoned internal biologic milleu, our internal water world, if you will.

I'm reminded of the scene from the film Waterworld, when Kevin Costner is dumped into some toxic bilge up to his neck. Well, this is what pharma's vaccine schedules and mainstream medicine are doing to us. You can also analogize it to pumping millions of gallons of crude oil, heavy mud, and detergents into the Gulf of Mexico and hoping it will all work out for the best for the environment.

Linus Pauling saw truth more clearly than anyone. He won his first Nobel Prize for his work on protein structure. How can anyone believe that a system as complex and balanced as that designed by God, can not be seriously disturbed by one new blockbuster drug and one new addition after another to the vaccine schedules? These are xenobiotics, not the orthomolecules of the type (vitamin D3, B3, C, B12, etc) that our bodies are accustomed to and dependent on for health and well-being.

Pauling's work on protein structure was prescient. He foresaw epigenetic control of gene expression and the importance of the Terrain. Something as simple as a pH change, a hydrogen bond, an electrostatic interaction, a hydrophobic interaction, could horribly disrupt our internal God-designed equipoise. The current epidemic of vaccine-associated diseases was completely predictable.

Caroline Seyedi

As a mother of a daughter with ASD, who has improved immensely over the years, using nearly all the therapies and interventions in some form or another (pre-internet years and when ARI news was sent snailmail from USA!)and excluding some; AND as a mature student doing an Autism MA researching and self-learning about some of the biochemistry & neuroscience and finding connections with the Nutritional Supplementation treatments, I am so pleased to read that Dr Desoto's opinions and research appear to emphasise what I have always believed and am now finding some of the evidence and more to explain how my daughter may have been genetically susceptible to environmental toxins and how the nutritional supplements along with other therapies such as sensory integration therapy, music therapy and many many more have possibly contributed to her amazing progress.
When 'others' criticize and say that there has been no increase due to vaccines and what about the autism cases prior to vaccines? this could be a valid statement but years ago there were other environmental toxins which could have caused the polymorphisms in the genetics down the ancestorial lines, until a child was born as genetically susceptible to those toxins. I have found that all my ancestors on my father's side were builders or in the building trade or painters and decorators (lead paint etc.) AND on my mothers side there are also grandfathers in the painting and decorating profession as well as Artists and Hatmakers (Mercury! Mad Hatter Disease!) I would be interested to know who else has done their family tree and discovered the same kind of ancestorial professions which may contribute to genetic susceptibility!

My view on autism research at present, is that it is VERY AUTISTIC! With everyone focussing on their own interest area and no-one sharing their research ideas and linking them together to see the Big Picture! How Ironic! It's like it's a big competition for one person to discover, instead of everyone working together to discover the answers!And anyone who is prepared to consider the 'CONTROVERSIAL' ideas as having some contribution or validity, end up putting their careers on the line! What a sad world it is!

cmo

The University of Northern Iowa is surrounded by some of the best topsoil and cropland in the world.

This produces scientists with very clear thinking & research procedures.

Anhydrous ammonia is used for fertilizer, rather than the excessive use of bullshit which is more common near eastern research facilities.

Birgit Calhoun

Great interview! Hats off to DeSoto and JB! As to the question "Is studying the link between autism and vaccines career suicide for any well-intended scientist", I remember the day when I attended David Kirby's reading of his book "Evidence of Harm" in Berkeley a number of years ago. In the audience was a graduate student who was there with his professor. I talked to him after the reading. He said he was interested in writing his thesis on mercury in vaccines. The student's professor advised him against using mercury in vaccines as a subject because he thought he would not get many future research grants. He assumed that the line of study his student was choosing might be career suicide. I hope the student followed his heart and not his professor's advice.

Tracy McDermott

"There is no substitute for taking the responsibility to be informed"

I love this remark, I wish Offit understood it! Great interview JB!

jen

holy crap that was heartening. Somebody who actually seems to be objective. And smart. Thanks for posting this fantastic interview-makes me proud that Mary Catherine is my daughters middle name. Also loved that she aknowledged the Somali cases. I will remember the University of Northern Iowa along with Pittsburgh now.

Anne McElroy Dachel

Thank you JB! Another great piece.
You ask the question, "Is studying the link between autism and vaccines career suicide for any well-intended scientist?"
That brings to mind something I've wondered about for a long time: Who will be the unlucky official who finally and emphatically states that there are more children out there with autism and there has to be an environmental cause?

JB WRITES:

Q: What would you say to the CDC and AAP, two groups that today do not
acknowledge a real rise in the number of children with autism?

Dr. DeSoto: It should also be noted they never say there is not an increase.
They seem reluctant state the conclusion their data leads them to. I
suspect that soon a true increase will become "official."

Q: If autism is truly on the rise, does that require some sort(s) of
environmental trigger?

Dr. DeSoto: Yes, it does. Genetic changes and natural selection do not result in
noticeable shifts in phenotypes within one generation. Exceptions to this would be
expected to occur under catastrophic situations (like half the population dies and
all of the survivors who pass on genes have a certain gene type). Barring an extremely
strong and abrupt selection pressure where many (many many) suddenly do not
reproduce, observable changes due to natural selection take multiple generations.
_________________________________________
That's going to lead to lots of questions and demands for answers. Why are scientists still focused exclusively on genetics? Why has it taken years for officials to come to these conclusions? When are the AAP and CDC going to treat autism like a national health crisis and do legitimate studies on vaccines?

When it comes to autism, the medical community has devoted itself to denying any possibility of a connection to their vaccine program. They've tried to pretend that the explosion in autism is merely the result of an expanded spectrum and better diagnosing. Doctors are still saying it everyday in the media. Officials like Thomas Insel (IACC) may quietly acknowledge that the rise is real, but they only do it at places like MIT and NIH. Insel doesn't call a press conference and show up on FOX News and CNN saying that we must address autism as a health care emergency.

It seems that no one wants to go down in history as the person who declared autism to be a true epidemic with an environmental cause.

Anne Dachel
Media

mary podlesak

From her responses, I discern that Dr. DeSoto believes vaccine additives and not the attenuated viruses may be associated with autism. I heartily disagree. Honest scientist that she appears to be, she admits that multiple randomized controlled experiments with the never vaccinated as controls are needed along with good epidemiological studies to separate out the primary and secondary factors of autism. I have four high functioning children who have/had autism. I know from the AoA forum of the many families with clusters of autism. When my family was accepted by Geraldine Dawson and the University of Washington for it's Family study of Autism, I had hope and expectations that honest research would demonstrate or refute the vaccine-autism relationship. I was naive. It may only be through AoA that family clusters of autism are honestly studied. Family clusters and twin studies are the perfect manner of controlling for gene differnces.

Beth

Dr. Mary DeSoto, you have a great brain and you're not afraid to use it. Thank God for scientists like you who believe getting to the truth is important - and who refuse to sell out their critical thinking minds to industry and other agenda-driven entities.

funny onesies

The NIH will have a very large pool of MRI data on at-risk siblings of children with autism. Vaccination records are released to them - and there is no doubt that there will be vaccinated and non-vaccinated (like my son) participants.

What they find and do with this information is the question...
Hopefully unbiased eyes will be given the opportunity to review the data at some point.

http://www.babysibsimaging.org

F.G.S.

thaks for you daily out-update,,,great job,,,this matter must be elemnated, & those who are responsible to be charged with criminal activities--how did this HAPPEN???- PEACE--F.G.S.

cmo

Thank you JB and Dr. DeSoto. Very refreshing information.

The "other side" has vaccine OJ Dr. Offit, and a Denmark epidemologist (not a real sciencetist) that is "missing with a lot of money."

http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/danish-scientist-absconds-with-2-million-poul-thorsen-proved-vaccines-dont-cause-autism-.html

How many times do we have to show damage with the same neurotoxic materials???

How many times in Vaccine Court does the same damn thing have to be proven ???

How many Toyota problems would there be if each owner had to travel to DC, and spend $20,000 to prove their accelerator problem??

Harry H.

"It seems almost beyond dispute that for at least a few children, vaccination served as a trigger for a cascade of events that ended up as something people recognize as autism. I feel very comfortable defending that."

So do I. Thank you Dr. DeSoto.

Jim Thompson

As previously mentioned here on Age of Autism “…there are no FDA numeric criteria, including the chronic toxicity effects of inorganic mercury exposures to the human brain, to establish what thimerosal levels in vaccines, if any, are safe.”

See http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/vaccines-and-absence-of-evidence-of-safety-.html

But obscured evidence of harm is the only defense the vaccine industry has--which is similar to the defense that the tobacco industry used. It is a financial game and children are the losers.
And CDC and FDA have failed as watchdogs for our children’s safety.

See “Tobacco Science and the Thimerosal Scandal” by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/docs/ThimerosalScandalFINAL.PDF .

patrons99

More manna from Heaven. Thank you, Mr Handley for presenting Dr DeSoto's thinking. This is the kind of analytical input we need to design further studies, such as the Hewitson, et al, study. Add Dr DeSoto's name to the list of heroes. In times such as these, we desperately need heroes.

There is enough data now for more meta analyses. There is enough data for more epidemiologic analyses.

“Genes and environment work together, they influence each other (yes, both ways).”

“Autism on the rise does not require a shift in the gene pool, just a shift in how genes are functioning. A shift in the gene pool would occur over many generations under natural selection, but a change in environmental triggers can change the functioning of the gene pool.”

“If some scientists and some parents question the safety of the vaccine schedule, such studies as this one are the way to investigate the concerns.”

“Whether one is of the opinion that individually testing vaccines is as good as testing the combined effect or not – at this point it is imperative that additional studies be conducted on the additive effect of the full vaccine schedules.”

“More research like Hewitson did is what is needed (with a larger control group raised in a more normal manner).”

Dr DeSoto makes a number of comments regarding the Terrain, e.g. epigenetic control, e.g. how the environment might effect epigenetic control and "gene functioning". She is careful not to exclude potential genetic causes when discussing potential environmental causes. She has an open, scientific mind. This is as it should be. This is how it MUST be.

Fabulous interview and investigative journalism, JB. Your post belongs in the mainstream media. IMO, this article ranks right at the top for AoA posts.

Jim Thompson

“All the primates were vaccinated, the difference was whether there was a heavy metal additive. This is a potentially important study... More research like Hewitson did is what is needed (with a larger control group raised in a more normal manner).”

These is a scientist with integrity. Thank you Dr. Desoto.

david burd

JB, I am 100% on your side but see little merit in DeSoto's assessment on the primates getting or not getting the heavy metal in their vaccine shots, particularly as all the other vaccines' toxic constituents WERE included. And, also, having only two(!) primates in one of the comparable cohorts is far short of meaningful.

As Dr. Gary Null has pointed emphatically time and again, having study cohorts leaving out only a single vaccine element, but leaving in all the other ingredients, barely scratches the surface when attempting to determine the toxicity of the overall vaccine.

Of course, in the real world of Home Schooled Children in the Chicago area (with Dan Olmsted breakng this story 4(?) years ago), we have a very large and valuable cohort of unvaccinated children to compare with the otherwise vaccinated.

Yet the abject dishonesty of leaders at CDC and NIH and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) block any such easy-to-do review of this real-life opportunity.

Tony Bateson

Wonderful to hear of brave professional scientists ready to speak as they find. In the UK today's national papers are full of reports that massive sums of money have been paid to doctors to gag them over their experiences in NHS hospitals. No big surprise then that doctors have blissfully failed to observe that ASD only affects their immunised patients.

Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

Tanners Dad

Great & Informative interview & Article. Thanks JB

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