By Laurette Janak
On May 18th an article appeared in the Irish Echo Online titled: “The troubling rise in Autism” by Larry Kirwan (HERE). Larry relays his story of having a sister with Down syndrome stating that at least they knew the reason for her having this disorder; genetics. The article then goes on to question the rise in autism. Knowing that children with Down syndrome have a vastly increased occurrence of autism, I thought I might be able to contribute some insight into “The troubling rise in Autism”. Thus, I took the time to compose a comment and one day later on May 19th at 8:56 AM EST, I submitted my comment. Today is May 23rd and my comment is still awaiting moderation. I certainly see the need to moderate comments to eliminate blatantly incorrect information, rudeness or superfluous information that adds nothing to the topic of discussion, however; my facts are derived directly from published medical literature and I definitely was not being rude.
I looked up the author, Larry Kirwan, to see what association he might have that brings him to the topic of autism in the first place. All I could find was that he appeared to have been an entertainer for an Autism Speaks fundraiser. So what reason could Larry have for not posting my comment? I hate to feel like I wasted my time composing comments that I actually thought might be helpful when investigating one of the possible contributors to “The troubling rise in Autism”. Maybe the audience he writes for is not interested in such clues?
So for those of you who are genuinely interested in “The troubling rise in Autism” here is what I posted to Larry. You have my permission to share this far and wide with anyone interested in shedding light on autism from a different perspective.
Laurette Janak Your comment is awaiting moderation.
May 19, 2011 at 8:56 am
Thank you for your article on the troubling rise in autism. You state that, “it’s time we faced up to the fact that we may share responsibility for this upsurge in autism”. I couldn’t agree more and would like to add a few pieces to your mention of Down syndrome (DS) that supports your “shared responsibility” notion. A current study by DiGuiseppi et a. 2010 has put the comorbidity of DS and ASD at an alarming 18.2%. Brain MRIs of children with DS were performed by Carter et al. 2008 and it was determined that the MRIs could distinguish between those children with just DS and those that had a comorbid autism diagnosis. Thus, it is not just a case of the symptoms of
autism being part of what is normally seen in DS. What could be accounting for this increased susceptibility in this segment of the population, which as you know, is a very loving and social group of children? In November 2007, the U. S. government conceded a vaccine-autism case in the Court of Federal Claims saying that vaccinations aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder resulting in features of autism. Are you aware that the literature documents mitochondrial dysfunction in children with DS, which begins even before they are born? You said that the role of inoculations has been “ruled out” yet I can find no study on how such vaccinations may impact children with DS all of whom have mitochondrial dysfunction. The literature is very clear in showing that children with DS have immune abnormalities yet we know relatively little about how this might impact their response to vaccination other than the documented fact that they fail to respond with protective titers to a number of vaccines. It is well established that children with DS suffer from increased oxidative stress as a result of their extra copies of genes associated with having a diagnosis of DS. One of the consequences of this excessive oxidative stress is a low level of a molecule called glutathione. It is precisely this molecule, which has long been known to offer protection from the toxicity of mercury. As you are probably aware, mercury (thimerosal) has been a component in many vaccines and continues to be in the flu vaccine. The work of Ueha-Ishibashit et al. 2004 showed that thimerosal decreases glutathione and that the toxicity of thimerosal was, “greatly augmented when the cells suffered oxidative stress”. With respect to oxidative stress, the paper by Ueha-Ishibashit mirrors what is occurring in DS children. Furthermore, in an animal model of DS (Stabel-Burow et al. 1997) it has been shown that lowering glutathione below a certain threshold, “contributes to cell loss and neurodegneration in Down syndrome.” In non-scientific terms these studies indicate that DS cells would be more prone to the toxicity of thimerosal. As such, one cannot rule out the possibility that this genetically different set of children may have autism triggered upon exposure to thirmerosal. If you are inclined to say that thimerosal has been removed from most childhood vaccines, then please know that the aluminum used as an adjuvant in many currently used vaccines also depletes glutathione therefore, is not exempt from the possibility of neurodegenration in this population of children. There are other conditions that warrant investigation in susceptible subgroups of children but time and space do not permit me to go into these here. By ignoring and failing to investigate entire subgroups of the population, I completely agree with you that, “it is time we faced up to the fact that we share responsibility for this upsurge in autism.”
Laurette Janak (May 19, 2011)
Laurette Janak is mother of a child with Down Syndrom and ASD and a tireless advocate for children's health.