Mark Blaxill Feed

DTP-Vaccinated African Infants Had a Higher Death Rate than Unvaccinated Infants, According to New “vax/unvax” Study

Urgent call to actionBy Mark Blaxill

A study published earlier this month (see HERE ) examining the effect of vaccination on mortality in 3-5 month old infants in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau showed a fivefold higher death rates in infants who received diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio (OPV) vaccines compared to unvaccinated infants. The study, published in the journal EBioMedicine by Danish researchers from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), was based on infants born between 1980 and 1983 and used data collected by the SSI’s Bandim Health Project (BHP). The study of vaccinated and unvaccinated African infants represents a rare, albeit limited, example of the kind of “vaxxed/unvaxxed’ study that many critics of American vaccination policy have long called for.

In their prospective study of over 1,000 infants, the SSI authors examined the effects on infant mortality of a new vaccination program that included both OPV and DTP vaccines. They reserved their harshest assessment for the newly introduced DTP vaccine, observing pointedly that “DTP was associated with 5-fold higher mortality than being unvaccinated. No prospective study has shown beneficial survival effects of DTP.”

In a broader criticism of global vaccine policy, the authors continued, “Unfortunately, DTP is the most widely used vaccine, and the proportion who receives DTP3 [three doses of the DTP vaccine] is used globally as an indicator of the performance of national vaccination programs.” In a further criticism of DTP vaccines, the analysis suggests that the OPV, which was typically administered together with DTP vaccine, had a moderating effect on the death risk of DTP. When (due to logistical problems with OPV availability) infants were vaccinated with DTP only, the death rates were even worse: as much as ten times higher than unvaccinated infants.

Unlike the recently leaked “vax/unvaxxed” study on homeschool children (see HERE) and the more commonly understood usage today of the “vaxxed/unvaxxed” concept, this analysis was narrower. The study examined infants during a brief window of time—the period between 3 and 6 months of age--and measured a single outcome—death. Described by the authors as a “natural experiment,” the study was designed in order to address on ongoing debate over the efficacy in low-income countries of the Expanded Immunization Program (EPI) since its introduction in the 1970s. At the time, the EPI targeted countries like Guinea-Bissau that had high infant mortality rates--under-five mortality rates were close to 50% there in 1978-9—and included four vaccines for seven diseases. Since individual vaccines included in the EPI might have different effects, the authors decried the absence of “individually randomized studies,” noting that “surprisingly few studies examined the introduction of vaccines and their impact on child survival.”

Due to its specific focus, the study design has little to say about the vaccine schedule debate in high-income countries and has several key limitations. Most notably, the “unvaccinated” children in the BHP study group only remained unvaccinated for a period of less than 14 weeks between 3 and 6 months of age until they attended the “quarterly weighing sessions” when OPV and DTP vaccines were administered. Even this briefly unvaccinated group wasn’t fully unvaccinated. The authors noted that “of the 651 unvaccinated children, 219 received DTP and/or OPV before their first weighing examination. These children counted as ‘unvaccinated’ until their first weighing examination.” Even though the death rate in the unvaccinated group was lower than in the vaccinated group, death rates were high on both sides. Five of the eighteen deaths covered in the study period occurred in the unvaccinated group and the authors don’t disclose whether any of these deaths had received a vaccination before the official examination “landmarks” used to define vaccination events in the database.

Continue reading "DTP-Vaccinated African Infants Had a Higher Death Rate than Unvaccinated Infants, According to New “vax/unvax” Study" »

Stunner in First-ever “vax/unvax” Study: Vaxxed Kids Have 4.7 Fold Higher Risk of Autism

AnnouncementNote from the Editor-at-Large. The editors at Age of Autism want to clarify the record on the leak of the vaxxed/unvaxxed paper. We were in possession of an embargoed draft of the paper when it was set to be published on line in late November by the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics. Dan Olmsted and I had written a news story on the study, a revised version of which we have now published below. We respected the embargo at every stage and have never published anything about the study or its findings until today. Via different channels, a draft copy of the paper was published on a different web-site and has now become widely available. That makes the study and its leaked contents news that is highly relevant to our readers, so we are obligated to cover the story. We do so with sadness, since we share the concerns of many that this leak jeopardizes subsequent publication of the study, thereby impairing its scientific impact.

By Mark Blaxill

In a development that autism parents have long anticipated, the first-ever, peer-reviewed study comparing total health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated children was released on line yesterday. According to sources close to the project, the study had been reviewed and accepted by two different journals, both of which pulled back on their approval once the political implications of the findings became clear. That’s largely because, as parents have long expected, the rate of autism is significantly higher in the vaccinated group, a finding that could shake vaccine safety claims just as the first president who has ever stated a belief in a link between vaccines and autism has taken office.

Working in partnership with the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), Dr. Anthony Mawson led a research team that investigated the relationship between vaccination exposures and a range of over 40 acute and chronic illnesses in home schooled children, a population chosen for its high proportion of unvaccinated children. Surveying families in four states--Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oregon—the study (officially titled Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports), reported a number of startling findings.

Vaccinated children were significantly more likely than the unvaccinated to have been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder: most notably, the risk of being affected by an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was 4.7 fold higher in vaccinated children; as well, ADHD risk was 4.7 fold higher and learning disability risk was 3.7 fold higher. Overall, the vaccinated children in the study were 3.7 times more likely to have been diagnosed with some kind of neurodevelopmental disorder.

Vaccinated children were also significantly more likely to be diagnosed with an immune-related disorder. The risk of allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) was over 30 times higher in vaccinated children, while the risk of other allergies was increased 3.9 fold and the eczema risk was increased 2.4 fold.

With respect to acute illness and infectious disease the outcomes were in some respects surprising.  As might be expected, unvaccinated children were significantly (4-10 times) more likely to have come down with chicken pox, rubella or pertussis. Perhaps unexpectedly, the unvaccinated children were less likely to suffer from otitis media and pneumonia: vaccinated children had 3.8 times greater odds of a middle ear infection and 5.9 times greater odds of a bout with pneumonia.

The study was based on a survey with participants recruited in a process led by NHERI and coordinated through 84 state and local homeschool groups. The survey itself was, according to the authors, “nonbiased and neutrally worded.”

These findings in a study population of 666 children, 261 of whom (39%) were unvaccinated, are sure to stir controversy, in part because it is the first of its kind. The scientific literature on the long-term effects of the vaccination program is virtually silent. Most studies on the safety of vaccines only consider immediate or short-term effects. There was no obvious explanation for the differences in health outcomes observed between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups of children other than vaccination itself.

Continue reading "Stunner in First-ever “vax/unvax” Study: Vaxxed Kids Have 4.7 Fold Higher Risk of Autism" »

The Final Wrap

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Mark Blaxill

Dan Olmsted’s “Weekly Wrap,” his regular Saturday column, was one of my favorite weekend pleasures. Dan’s death last weekend makes his January 21st version his last. So in his honor, I spent much of this week connecting with a few folks who knew him well in order to write a tribute to him in this space. A final wrap.

Dan was born and raised in Danville Illinois, started his career there and maintained close ties to friends and family in the region. His sister Sallie died last year but his other sister Rosie still lives in Wilmette. She has long been a fierce supporter of Dan’s work. Rosie knew from an early age that Dan was a uniquely brilliant and talented journalist. She was a great advocate for the books we wrote together and especially pleased—Dan told me-- that in The Age of Autism, I insisted that we put Dan’s name first on the marquee! (Dan and I actually competed to be the second author and eventually decided to take turns).

Dan was a journalist from very early in life. While in high school he wrote a column, High Times (the “high” stands for high school, nothing illegal!), for Danville’s local newspaper The Commercial News. His talent was apparent early.

“Dan and I were classmates at Danville High School,” wrote Bina Connelly on the comments section underneath his obituary. “Even then, we knew he would leave a mark, make a difference. He was kind, thoughtful, intelligent, passionate. I am humbled to have known him.” Dan’s friend of 40 years, Melissa Merli, tells me he is still in touch with his high school English teacher, who plans to attend his memorial service.

A career in journalism was on Dan’s radar from the very beginning. An English degree at Yale (class of 1974) separated his stints at The Commercial News, a Gannett paper. From there he went to The Democrat and Chronicle, Gannett’s flagship paper in Rochester, New York. On the Gannett fast track, Dan went on to be a founding editor of USA Today in 1982 and its 1984 spinoff, USA Weekend, where he worked for 15 years. Following a brief and abortive stint at an internet start-up in 1999, Dan moved over to United Press International in 2000. Laid off in 2007 after a series of cutbacks at UPI, he moved on to launch the Age of Autism, “the daily web newspaper of the autism epidemic.”

In speaking with Dan’s colleagues during that 40-plus year journey, I’ve heard an amazing and consistent portrait of a man who was, as his longtime partner and husband Mark Millett puts it, “always passionate about journalism and his work.” Melissa Merli was a colleague in the 1970s at The Commercial News and remembers that Dan was widely liked and respected. “Everyone adored him at The Commercial News.” That adoration extended to a number of the female reporters there, including Melissa. “I had a crush on him,” confided Melissa, “and at one point, Dan took me aside and told me he was gay, but that we could still be good friends!” They’ve been close and constant friends ever since.

Melissa described Dan as a gifted investigative reporter from the outset. One investigation stood out: an exposé of corruption in the local police force, where a gang of police officers were running a drug store burglary operation. A grand jury was convened; Dan was sued for libel and won. Melissa later heard from a local official that “there’s one reporter there that everyone’s afraid of and that’s Dan Olmsted.”

Melissa describes a man that many came to know and love. “Dan had a finely tuned sense of justice and compassion for others. He’s one of the most honest people I know. I can honestly say that I have no negative memories of Dan. He was one of a kind.”

We can all thank the crash for reawakening Dan’s passion for investigative journalism. While at USA Today and USA Weekend, he focused on lighter fare. But after landing at the once proud UPI wire service --then owned by the Unification Church (aka “the Moonies”), a step down in prestige led to a step up in freedom and investigative autonomy. Dan teamed up there with a young reporter named Mark Benjamin and together they embarked on a project that hit the big time: an investigation of the negative side effects of an anti-malaria drug called mefloquine. Or, as it was marketed by Roche Pharmaceuticals, Lariam.

“The Lariam project was investigative reporting at its most pure,” Mark told me. “It was a case of Dan deciding that we were going to take really damaging, but solid information on a bad drug and go up against one of the most powerful and deep-pocketed companies in the world, Roche. And it was one that had the Army and the CDC, quite literally, in its pocket.”

Lariam was widely used at the time in the Army and the Peace Corp and although effective at preventing malaria, in a subset of recipients it was associated with cases of hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, psychoses and even homicide. According to an August 11, 2016 article in Military Times. “Mefloquine was implicated in a series of murder-suicides at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002, and media reports also tied it to an uptick in military suicides in 2003.”

Dan and Mark were faced with sharp initial resistance, but their work eventually had a huge impact. According to Military Times, “Once the U.S. military's malaria prophylactic of choice, favored for its once-a-week dosage regimen, mefloquine was designated the drug of last resort in 2013 by the Defense Department after the Food and Drug Administration slapped a boxed warning on its label, noting it can cause permanent psychiatric and neurological side effects.” Prescriptions plummeted from 50,000 in 2003 to only 216 in 2015. That’s not low enough for some. Dr. Remington Nevin, another friend of Dan, argued that any distribution of Lariam is too much. “This new finding should motivate the U.S. military to consider further revising its mefloquine policy to ban use of the drug altogether.”

Their work had many positive and unexpected ripple effects. Mark and Dan were turned into a composite character, Sherm Hempell, on a Law and Order: SVU episode, which told a story of violence and murder in two Afghanistan war veterans that had taken an anti-malarial drug, Quinium. Happily, the good guys won and the Army cover-up was exposed. More notably, in a real life case that wasn’t “ripped from the headlines” Dan and Mark quite literally saved the life of the first soldier since the Vietnam War charged with cowardice, an offense that carries the death penalty. The Army soldier, Andrew Pogany, was put on trial but ultimately the Army dropped the case when it became clear that his “cowardice” was simply an adverse reaction to Lariam. Mark joked that Dan wrote one of the best headlines ever for their article, “Army Surrenders to Coward Soldier.”

“I’ve never seen anyone else like Dan Olmsted in our business, before or since,” Mark claimed. “You can hold him up against any of the all-time great investigative journalists and he deserves a place right alongside them. What made him so good? There were so many things. He was just smarter than anyone else. He worked harder and once he knew he was right, he just never gave up. He would just never stop.”

It was their glimpse into the inner workings of the CDC and its preferred programs that brought the UPI investigative pair to the vaccine issue, and in Dan’s case, into the Age of Autism. In the summer of 2003, Mark pursued (and Dan edited) a story about conflicts of interest in the CDC’s recommended vaccine program, with a special focus on a little known vaccine inventor, Dr. Paul Offit, and the conflict between his role on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and his commercial relationship with Merck, which made his rotavirus vaccine. It’s a story AoA readers know well!

Mark Benjamin is the man that brought Dan Olmsted and me together. The two Marks (who when added to Dan’s partner Mark Millett explain Dan’s dedication in The Age of Autism, “to Mark, Mark and Mark, in that order”) had been discussing the issues swirling around autism and vaccines. Mark Benjamin wanted Dan to meet me and he arranged a dinner between the three of us in Washington DC on October 7, 2003. That began a collaboration that would last for over 13 years.

As Mark Benjamin turned to issues with the military and the health of veterans, Dan turned his attention to autism. He and I began to have frequent conversations and email exchanges. In 2004, Dan had decided he wanted to launch an extended, deep dive. And he wanted to find a way into the issue that was unique. By year end, Dan and I were just beginning to share thoughts on the issues we would turn into a book 6 years later. Dan, as he so often did, was trying to find the critical question, one that could spark an investigation. On December 7, he prefaced an email list of questions this way: “I made a list of some odd ways in (some of which I have seen referred to elsewhere but not conclusively) if you have any thoughts…” The very first question was right on the mark: “Is there anywhere they don’t use vaccines and don’t have autism? Or any group, like Christian scientists?”


I wrote (as is my tendency) a lengthy answer. “We have long discussed the idea of using low and zero exposure groups, religious groups (Amish or others), anthroposophic schools, etc. to test the theory. Since autism surveillance stats are not routinely collected, this would require a specific study, one that has never been done (and epi studies are expensive).”

And so it began. Dan didn’t bother to wait for a bureaucratic funding process. He decided to cut to the chase and do the “study” himself. He drove from his home in Falls Church Virginia to Lancaster County Pennsylvania, and started asking real people about autism in the Amish. A bare four months later he launched his UPI Age of Autism series with his first article, The Amish Anomaly. As many of us know by now, Dan found very few autistic children there and all of these were in the relatively small subset of vaccinated Amish.

Starting with the Amish Anomaly, on April 19, 2005, Dan added dozens of articles to the series. He stopped writing only when he was laid off at UPI, ending on July 18, 2007 with “The Last Word.” Along the way, he found the first of Leo Kanner’s case series, Donald T., the first of eight eventual discoveries and the heart of our book, The Age of Autism. Following his departure from UPI, Dan and I reached out to JB Handley and Kim Stagliano who had started their own blog, Rescue Post. Our joint venture went on line just a few months later.

From the very beginning, Dan stayed close to the families and individuals affected by autism. Dan started out talking to doctors on the front line of the epidemic, free thinkers like the late Meyer Eisenstein and Elizabeth Mumper. In fact, the third column in the UPI series “Sick Children” took Dan’s readers to Liz Mumper’s pediatric practice in nearby Lynchburg Virginia. Dan wrote “Dr. Elizabeth Mumper is an unlikely contrarian. Mumper is a pediatrician in the southern Virginia city of Lynchburg. About a decade ago, Mumper said, she began noticing a change for the worse in the overall health of the children she was seeing, including a startling rise in cases of autism. Ultimately, Mumper came to suspect the increasing number of childhood vaccinations in the 1990s -- and particularly the mercury-based preservative called thimerosal in many of those vaccines -- was a big reason.”

Liz was a great source for Dan and me in our second book, Vaccines 2.0. When I reached out to her yesterday to get her reflections on Dan, she described those initial meetings. “Dan came to my office in 2005.  I was in the midst of running a practice in which many of the children had chronic illness and neurodevelopmental disorders. .Dan had such an inquisitive mind and asked such great questions.  I was surprised that a reporter who had not gone to medical school would understand and be able to synthesize complex medical information the way he could.”

Like many of us, Liz remarked on Dan’s tenacity and gift for words. “What a gift to passionately seek answers to the unprecedented tsunami of childhood chronic illness!  He wove the stories of children, families, medical institutions, government organizations and pharmaceutical industries into compelling prose.”

Dan’s subsequent career-- 10 years here at the “daily web newspaper of the autism epidemic” (he truly loved real printed newspapers!), two published books and a third on the way—is all available here at Age of Autism. Under Kim Stagliano’s leadership and with the help of our amazing group of contributing editors we are continuing the noble project Dan started. But we do so with a heavy heart. I heard the news about Dan from his sister Rosie, driving from Boston to Manhattan this Monday afternoon. When I got to the city I sat down for dinner and wept. I didn’t know quite what to do, so I typed out this FaceBook post, as tears smudged my iPhone .

To everyone who is sharing love for my great friend Dan Olmsted, please keep it up. Dan deserved so much and I hope will ultimately get the recognition he deserves. Dan was the consummate journalist. He had so much to teach us all about the ethics and discipline of how good reporters should respond to and treat evidence. But he was more than that. He was a deeply original and creative investigator. That combination was unique and compelling. Dan was brilliant and compassionate and persistent and uncompromising and balanced and impatient. All at once. And man! could he put words together in such a graceful and powerful way.

I was so fortunate to be his fellow traveler on the Age of Autism (his phrase and it was so powerful) journey. I will really miss him. I wish I had the words to say it as artfully as he could. I love you man. We'll all miss you. But you kicked some ass.

Later this week, I took my two daughters to dinner in Cambridge. Dan got to know both of them quite well in our years working together. My oldest, Sydney, traveled to Vienna with us as we researched the medical history of mercuric chloride treatments for syphilis and hysteria. My youngest, Michaela (now 21 years old and diagnosed with autistic disorder), spent a lot of time with Dan in recent months; he came to Cambridge a lot as we wrote our third book, Denial. Sydney knew the news already, but when I picked them up we told Michaela about Dan’s death. She often has difficulty processing emotions, especially sadness, in an appropriate way. But when I told her, “I have sad news, honey. Dan is dead,” I was pleased to see she was genuinely affected in the way Sydney and I were feeling. “Dan is dead,” she repeated to herself in a subdued tone. Trying, in her way, to process the news. She had grown up with Dan and knew how close our friendship was.

Later in the evening, as we were walking into dinner at Legal Seafoods, she asked me an amusingly autistic but poignant question. “Dad,” she asked, “are you going to get a replacement for Dan?”

“No, honey. There will never be a replacement for Dan.”

Mark Blaxill is Editor at Large for Age of Autism.

Mark Blaxill on Massachusetts Special Education

By Anne Dachel

I recently wrote about the Aug 17, 2016 coverage from NPR Boston which focused on special needs students in Massachusetts.

Mass SPED chart

It was really hard to ignore the data, yet officials and educators in that state don't seem worried.

Additional reporting from NPR Boston included this interview of a special education expert from Lesley University about the soaring increase in autism.

WBUR's Morning Edition host Bob Oakes recently spoke with Elizabeth Keefe, an assistant professor at Lesley University who focuses on special education and autism spectrum disorders. We asked her if the number of special education students in the state is growing.


"The number of students that require special education services in the commonwealth has remained largely static over the last 10 years. There's no question that there have been specific groups, such as students with autism, who have experienced a significant number of students with particular disabilities in our schools. So I would say, the need for programming for students with very complex disabilities is certainly an issue in the commonwealth."

Continue reading "Mark Blaxill on Massachusetts Special Education" »

Gardasil: A License to Kill. What Has Changed Since This Report in 2010?

Blaxill 1 photoWe are running the "License to Kill" series by Mark Blaxill as a reminder of the warning bells that have been pealing for many years while the media, pharma, government continue to push this vaccine on a wide group of "consumers" with each passing day.  We published this series in the Spring of 2010. You might recall that Gardasil was launched for teen girls to prevent a certain type of genital wart virus that can lead to cervical cancer. Now teen boys are being dosed with Gardasil.

By Mark Blaxill
Part 1:  How A Public-Private Partnership Made the Government Merck’s Gardasil Partner

“Perhaps no other recent product on the market demonstrates successful health care technology transfer better than the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, produced by Merck & Co. and approved by the FDA in June 2006,” proclaimed a recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) newsletter. In a February 23, 2007 article entitled “From Lab to Market: The HPV Vaccine”, the NIH Record celebrated the pivotal role of government researchers in developing Merck’s Gardasil product. “Based largely on technology developed at NIH,” the newsletter reported, “the vaccine works to prevent four types of the sexually transmitted HPV that together cause 70 percent of all cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts (HERE).
The occasion motivating this celebratory article was the “Philip S. Chen, Jr. Distinguished Lecture on Innovation and Technology Transfer” given by Douglas T. Lowy, one of the NIH scientists involved in developing the HPV vaccine. In the ceremony pictured above, Lowy is receiving an honorary poster from the head of NIH at the time, Elias Zerhouni, who took advantage of the occasion to shower praise on his team’s work, one he viewed as a model for future efforts. “It’s a ‘heroic’ story about the effort to fight cervical cancer, the second most deadly cancer for women worldwide, said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni,” in the NIH Record’s account. “He noted that he has talked about the vaccine’s creation to Congress and with the President on his recent visit to NIH. How researchers took the technology ‘from the lab to the marketplace is a journey we can learn from,’ Zerhouni said.”
While Zerhouni was bragging to anyone in Washington D.C. who would listen about the NIH team’s role in this historic accomplishment, the vaccine's developers were actively spreading the news of their achievement in scientific circles. It’s hard to blame them, because at the time Lowy and his colleague John T. Schiller, leaders of the team that had invented the technology for the “virus-like particles” (or VLPs) that made Gardasil possible, were in some pretty heady company. In 2008, Harald zur Hausen, the scientist who discovered the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical cancer during the 1980s, received one half of the Nobel Prize in Medicine; the two researchers at the Pasteur Institute who had discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) had to share the other half.
Perhaps campaigning for their own place in the pantheon of medical heroes, Lowy and Schiller described their VLP technology in several review articles on the history and development of the Merck vaccine. These treatments were studiously scientific in tone and at points openly critical of their commercial partner, as the authors commented with disapproval on the high price Merck was charging for Gardasil. But in one May 2006 review in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the pair also made the following disclosure about their own commercial interests:
“Conflict of interest: The authors, as employees of the National Cancer Institute, NIH, are inventors of the HPV VLP vaccine technology described in this Review. The technology has been licensed by the NIH to the 2 companies, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, that are developing the commercial HPV vaccines described herein.”
Attached to an otherwise heroic narrative of the triumph of technology over cancer, this disclosure struck a discordant note. Conflict of interest? Inventors? Vaccine technology? Licenses? Pharmaceutical companies? Commercial vaccines? This isn’t scientific language, but rather the language of money and commerce. What was this unusual concession doing there in the fine print?

Continue reading "Gardasil: A License to Kill. What Has Changed Since This Report in 2010?" »

Utah Autism Whistleblower Lawsuit Will Go to Trial After Federal Judge Denies a Majority of Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss

Utah Court banner
By Mark Blaxill

In a development sure to put the integrity of the CDC’s autism surveillance estimates in the spotlight, a Federal District Court Judge for the District of Utah issued a ruling Friday that effectively guarantees a Utah autism whistleblower her day in court.  Judge Jill N. Parrish denied a majority of motions by Dr. William McMahon of the University of Utah to dismiss allegations by Dr. Judith Pinborough Zimmerman that McMahon and his colleagues acted improperly in retaliating against her for raising concerns over their research misconduct, violated university policies by terminating her contract without proper review, and impugned her reputation in the process.

Dr. Zimmerman filed her lawsuit against Dr. McMahon nearly two years ago, in a complaint that describes a heated dispute between the two scientists over the proper handling of confidential health and education records as well as the accuracy of the data records used in measuring Utah’s autism prevalence as part of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) autism surveillance project, the Autism and Development Disabilities (ADDM) Network. Since 2002, Zimmerman had been the Director of Utah’s ADDM Network site, the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (URADD). She joined the University of Utah in 2005, bringing the URADD grant with her. She was removed from her URADD and university positions in 2013.

Zimmerman’s lawsuit alleges that McMahon and colleagues violated federal records privacy restrictions in efforts to carry out lucrative additional research projects; these were privacy restrictions that she had carefully negotiated with the Utah Departments of Health and Education in order to bring URADD into compliance with federal law and protect autism families from unwanted use of their personal and family information. When Zimmerman expressed her concerns over privacy and data quality issues to University authorities, McMahon summarily fired her, locked her out of her office and placed himself in charge of URADD. Since Zimmerman’s dismissal, McMahon has become the PI of the URADD and watches over Utah’s contributions to the CDC’s ADDM reports.

In addition to raising issues of research integrity and privacy, Zimmerman’s allegations have broad implications for the integrity of CDC’s autism surveillance estimates. Court documents reveal that Zimmerman was concerned that errors in Utah’s autism data were finding their way into CDC estimates beginning with the 2010 ADDM report, which provided estimates of autism rates among children born in 2002. If uncorrected, these errors might have continued in the 2012 report released earlier this year, measuring autism rates in children born in 2004.

Utah’s autism rates carry unusual importance in part because Utah’s reported autism rate in the 2008 ADDM report was the highest of all participating sites. In that report, Utah’s rate of 1 in 47 children born with autism in 2000 was the highest rate ever recorded in the United States; it was also an increase of 155% over Utah’s 1994 birth group, which at the time was the third highest rate in the country. Since reaching a peak in the 2000 birth group, Utah’s autism rates have plummeted while most other states have shown continued increases in the last two ADDM reports.

MB UTah chart

Continue reading "Utah Autism Whistleblower Lawsuit Will Go to Trial After Federal Judge Denies a Majority of Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss" »

The Disneyland Measles Outbreak is Officially Over

Mickey the endBy Mark Blaxill

Four weeks ago, on March 20th, we reported (HERE) that the Disneyland measles outbreak was (unofficially) over based on the last new measles infection reported by The California Department of Public Health (CDPH). We predicted that the onset of that last measles rash was March 2nd, based on a viral spread that probably occurred around February 20th. CDPH subsequently confirmed that estimate. A week later, we reported on the last case from that outbreak (a case with an earlier onset but delayed detection) had entered the CDPH tallies.  

In their March 20th report, CDPH made the following statement

“The outbreak will be considered over when 42 days have elapsed from the end of the infectious period of the last known B3 measles cases that was a not a new importation. As of today, that date will be April 17, 2015.”

 Today, April 17th, no new measles cases have been found in California (the new measles case outside of California was reported on March 3rd). CDPH has now made our unofficial prediction official.

The Disneyland measles outbreak is over.

Slide measles over

In California, 40 individuals came down with measles based on a visit to the Disneyland theme park between December 17th and 20th. An additional 41 individuals were closely connected to those park visitors, either through household exposure or close personal exposure in a community setting. Not directly linked, but presumed linked were another 50. Everyone recovered. No one died. Some went to a hospital but as far as we know these individuals had no lasting effects.

Continue reading "The Disneyland Measles Outbreak is Officially Over" »

Tonight! Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted Present Vaccines 2.0 at TACA Pennsylvania Meeting

TACA action

Date/Time:     April 3, 7:00 – 7:15 PM Parent Support and Networking

7:15 PM  Introduction and Meeting Presentation.|
Location:     Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church

3625 Chapel Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073

Coordinators:     Contact Honey Rinicella and Pattie Moor

Vaccines – Ask the Experts

Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted will be spending the evening educating parents and professionals on Vaccines 2.0 all aspects of this controversial topic. The CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule has doubled since 1988, after the federal government gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. Autism and other childhood disorders like asthma, ADHD, juvenile diabetes and digestive ailments have skyrocketed. And parents are understandably nervous, desperate for objective guidance that takes those concerns seriously.

Vaccines 2.0 looks at the lengthy roster of today’s recommended injections, the documented risks that accompany them, and helps parents choose a schedule based on unbiased, uncensored, unconflicted science. Whether you’re wondering how to space out vaccines, which ones are really necessary, considering not vaccinating at all, or just looking for information, this event will give you the tools you need to make wise choices.

Dan Olmsted is co-author of “Age of Autism” and Editor of the blog of the same name. He was an original staff member of USA Today and Senior Editor for USA Weekend magazine and United Press International. He is a member of the National Press Club.

Continue reading "Tonight! Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted Present Vaccines 2.0 at TACA Pennsylvania Meeting" »

The Disneyland Measles Outbreak is (Still) Over

The EndBy Mark Blaxill

On Friday March 27th, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued its latest
California Measles Surveillance Update  on “an outbreak of measles [that] started in Disneyland in Orange County, California, and spread to the community” and provided support for our proposal that the outbreak is now over. Last week (see HERE), based on the previous weeks’ surveillance update (March 20th) Age of Autism made the first public prediction that the Disneyland measles outbreak was over. The reason for our prediction was because CDPH had for the first time given a future date when they would declare the outbreak officially over based on the length of time that had elapsed since the last confirmed infectious case. They also reported no new cases for the first time since they began publishing updates in early February.

In the March 27 update, CDPH confirmed that our prediction is holding. The predicted official end of the epidemic is still April 17th. There was one additional “confirmed” case report that was “presumed to be linked to the outbreak,” but this new report was not a recent case.

CDPH also confirmed an analysis first offered by Age of Autism. Following last week’s update, we spoke to a CDPH spokesman and followed up with some questions in writing, including the following.  “For this last reported case, then, would it also be fair to estimate that the date of rash onset was approximately March 2nd, and the date of infection sometime in late February?” Despite receiving no response, in our report, Age of Autism speculated that March 2nd was the date of onset of the rash. We still have not yet received a direct response to our query, but last Friday’s update confirmed that that our estimate was correct, with CDPH writing that “The latest confirmed measles case had rash onset on March 2nd, 2015.”

We’ll continue to track the rapid expiration of the Disneyland measles outbreak.

Mark Blaxill is Editor-At-Large for Age of Autism.

The Disneyland Measles Outbreak is (Unofficially) Over

Breaking newsBy Mark Blaxill The End typewriter

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released their latest update Friday on the measles outbreak that began in Disneyland around December 17th. For the first time since the CDPH began posting updates on-line on February 9th, no new measles cases were added to their statewide counts.

“Since December, 2014, there have been 133 confirmed measles cases reported in California residents” read the opening line of the March 20th version of the California Measles Surveillance Update. “No new confirmed cases have been reported to CDPH since the publication of the last report on March 13, 2015.”

So can we officially declare the so-called Disneyland measles outbreak over? Not so fast, says the CDPH.

“The outbreak will be considered over when 42 days have elapsed from the end of the infectious period of the last known B3 measles cases that was a not a new importation. As of today, that date will be April 17, 2015.”

So let’s do that math. If the CDPH will be ready to officially declare the outbreak finished a full 42 days after the infectious period of the last reported case ends, then that milestone has been passed already, fully two weeks ago on March 6th.

But the end of the infectious period is perhaps less important to specifying the final ebb of the measles outbreak than the date the last reported case became infected. The CDPH also states (see HERE) that “Infected people are usually contagious from about 4 days before their rash starts to 4 days afterwards”, so this last reported case probably saw their rash appear on March 2nd and were first infectious themselves around February 26th. As for the date of their first exposure, one analysis of the outbreak (see HERE) suggests that exposures to the measles virus occur roughly 10 days before the rash appears. That would put the date of infection of the last case around February 20th.

Continue reading "The Disneyland Measles Outbreak is (Unofficially) Over" »

Meet The Authors: Vaccines 2.0 The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

Vaccines 2.0Come hear Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted discuss their new book, and the tough vaccine choices parents face today.
Buy Tickets Now to hear Mark and Dan at the Vaccine Author Symposium in Minneapolis in January 24th at The University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium.10 Authors on Vaccines, Science, Politics & Media.  $25 includes the full day event and one signed book. Plus savings on book packages.

Science for Sale / Dr. David Lewis

Vaccine Injuries / Louis Conte

Plague / Kent Heckenlively & Dr. Judy Mikoitz

Vaccines 2.0 / Mark Blaxill & Dan Olmsted

The Vaccine Court / Wayne Rohde

The Autism War / Louis Conte

Vaccine Injuries/ Louis Conte

The Big Autism Cover-Up / Anne Dachel

Vaccine Epidemic / Mary Holland & Kim Mack Rosenberg

Author Presentations, Meet & Greets, Signings, Panel Discussions and more!

VACCINES 2.0 The Careful Parent’s Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

Vaccines 2.0Join us in congratulating Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill on their latest collaboration. Visit your local bookstore, the Skyhorse site or Amazon to purchase your copy today.

Skyhorse Publishing paperback, also available as an ebook
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62914-731-4
Price: $19.95

An essential guide for safely vaccinating your children.

The CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule has doubled since 1988, after the federal government gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. Autism and other childhood disorders like asthma, ADHD, juvenile diabetes, and digestive ailments have skyrocketed. And parents are understandably nervous, desperate for objective guidance that takes those concerns seriously.

Vaccines 2.0 looks at the lengthy roster of today’s recommended injections and the documented risks that accompany them and helps you choose a schedule based on unbiased, uncensored, unconflicted science. From whether to get a flu shot during pregnancy—and how to avoid dangerous mercury if you do—to the Hep B shot within hours of birth, to the controversial Gardasil vaccine for preteens, Vaccines 2.0 gives you the tools to decide for yourself. The three sections cover: Why should you care? What should you know? What can you do? The exclusive Risk-Reward Assessment assigns a numerical score to each of the fourteen recommended vaccines. This book also helps you learn to spot, report, and treat side effects; talk to your doctor and find a sympathetic one if you can’t; and compare alternative schedules if you decide to delay or skip shots. When it comes to your child, it’s your choice. Vaccines 2.0 will give you the information you need to choose wisely.

About the Authors

Mark Blaxill is the father of a daughter diagnosed with autism, cofounder of the Canary Party and Health Choice, and editor at large for Age of Autism. He has authored several scientific publications on autism. He received his AB from Princeton and an MBA from Harvard. He coauthored the book The Age of Autism.

Dan Olmsted is coauthor of Age of Autism and editor of the blog of the same name. He was an original staff member of USA Today and senior editor for USA Weekend magazine and United Press International. He is a member of the National Press Club and lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

12 Days of Skyhorse Publishing: Day 11 Vaccines 2.0 The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

12 days of Skyhorse
We owe a debt of gratitude to Tony Lyons, Publisher at Skyhorse Publishing in New York. His committment to books about autism is..... well - why don't we let him tell you himself.  (Thank you to The Thinking Moms' Revolution for the video.)

We will feature one Skyhorse book each day for the next 12 days. Consider it a literary Advent Calendar or a Menorah with twelve lights... or more.

Vaccines 2.0Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

The CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule has doubled since 1988, after the federal government gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. Autism and other childhood disorders like asthma, ADHD, juvenile diabetes and digestive ailments have skyrocketed. And parents are understandably nervous, desperate for objective guidance that takes those concerns seriously.

Vaccines 2.0 looks at the lengthy roster of today’s recommended injections, the documented risks that accompany them, and helps parents choose a schedule based on unbiased, uncensored, unconflicted science. From whether to get a flu shot during pregnancy--and how to avoid dangerous mercury if you do--to the Hep B shot within hours of birth, to the controversial Gardasil vaccine for preteens, Vaccines 2.0/i> provides the tools to decide for yourself.

The three sections cover: Why should you care? What should you know? What can you do? The exclusive Risk-Reward Assessment assigns a numerical score to each of the 14 recommended vaccines. Also included is information on learning to spot, report and treat side effects; talking to your doctor and finding a sympathetic one if you can't, and comparing alternative schedules if you decide to delay or skip shots. When it comes to your child, it's your choice. Vaccines 2.0 will give you the information you need to choose wisely.

Age of Autism Series Tics and Toxins: LeRoy Officials Gave Little Attention to Schoolyard Before Ruling Out Environment


Note: Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill collaborated throughout much of 2012 on a series called, "Tics and Toxins," fueled by a mysterious illness that affected high school age girls in upstate New York. 

By Dan Olmsted

Health experts say they’ve eliminated every possible environmental and infectious cause for the “tics” afflicting 12 girls at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School in New York state. They’ve scoured the building for mold and carbon monoxide (nothing, they say), considered illnesses that might cause the symptom (none), even checked on vaccinations (not all girls had the same shot).

However thorough that workup may have been, it seems to have stopped at the schoolhouse Exit sign. Except for checking a log of pesticide spraying, there is no evidence they considered toxins in the schoolyard or on playing fields. Yet the symptoms occurred during mild weather when students would have been outside, and the school grounds are surrounded by intensively farmed land from which chemicals could conceivably have seeped or drifted.

The school is required to keep annual pesticide logs that were reviewed by a consulting firm looking into environmental factors, and therefore pesticides were ruled out. As best I can determine, that’s as far as it went.

That may not be far enough, given that parents and some of the students involved don’t accept the psychogenic diagnosis they have been given, and that a number of Web commentators familiar with the school have raised concerns about the grounds and how the relatively new building is sited.

Public health officials remain adamant that the case is closed.

"The LeRoy school is safe,” Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, replied Friday after I raised the issue in a telephone call. “The environment or an infection is not the cause of the students’ tics. There are many causes of tics-like symptoms. Stress can often worsen tic-like symptoms.

“All of the affected students have been evaluated and some have shown signs of improvement. Vaccines (Gardasil) have been ruled out."

While the department has been careful for privacy reasons to avoid naming the illness, a doctor treating the girls has now gone public, with their permission, by calling it “conversion disorder.” Known less gingerly as mass hysteria, the diagnosis is rooted in 19th century Freudian psychology: Stress or trauma is subconsciously transformed into physical symptoms that can occur in several people at the same time. 

In part because the LeRoy diagnosis took months to emerge, and in part because many people – including parents and affected children – find conversion disorder a suspect explanation, multiple theories continue to arise. Those include concerns about the school building and grounds, expressed in online comments:

-- An environmental study “would be the first logical step, knowing that the school was built in a swamp and that a number of classrooms were underwater the first year as well as the gym you would think it would be the first thing the school would address- even if only to disprove it.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Series Tics and Toxins: LeRoy Officials Gave Little Attention to Schoolyard Before Ruling Out Environment" »

Age of Autism Age of Authors

Vaccines 2.0Managing Editors Note:  I've heard of some very popular boy band called "One Direction." I couldn't  hum a single bar of their music. No idea what they look like. But I like their name because it reminds me of the Age of Autism team. We move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. While many around us dwell in negatives, in the past, in what's "wrong" with our community and pontificate on and write some seriously nasty gaaaaah-bage as my Mom would say in Boston, our team has been "busy, busy, busy" writing books.  Actual books that can never be rescinded, removed or retracted. Old school. BOOKS. The volume of volumes is dare I say? Voluminous!  (Humor me, it's the end of a long weekend.....) 

Special congrats to our Editor Dan Olmsted and Editor at Large Mark Blaxill on the February debut of Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parents' Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family. 

We hope that you will buy one or two, perhaps more, of these books. Yes, money is tight. But I can promise you that each and every book will help you as you work with your  loved ones with autism, as you discuss the needs of our community with medical providers and politicians and will give you hope that we will all move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. Like a train.

Vaccines 2.0: by Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

Plague by Kent Heckenlively and Dr. Judy Mikovits - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases

The Big Autism Cover Up by Anne Dachel -  How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public

Vaccine Injuries by Louis Conte and Tony Lyons - Reveals the truth behind the controversial issue of vaccine-related injuries.

The Autism War - a Novel by Louis Conte - Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father of a child with autism, finds himself drawn into the controversy over the apparent but rarely acknowledged connection between childhood vaccines and autism. His quest to uncover the truth forces him to risk all he holds dear while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past.

The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde - The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson - A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope

Saving Ben: by Dan Burns A Father's Story of Autism

The Thinking Moms'  Revolution - Autism beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children

 Compiled by Helen Conroy, Helen Conroy, Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
Compiled by Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano

Callous Disregard  by Dr. Andrew Wakefield - Autism and Vaccines--The Truth Behind a Tragedy

Minneapolis Book Symposium on Public Health Policies to Feature Robert Kennedy, Jr

Flyer symposiumRobert F. Kennedy Jr. to Discuss Vaccine Mercury
Controversy at Minnesota Book Symposium Nov. 1

Eight authors to speak on corruption & censorship in health science

BLOOMINGTON, MN – Scientists, attorneys and journalists will gather in Minnesota to discuss medical injuries which may have been caused by over zealous public health policies and procedures  at the Health Choice/Skyhorse Publishing Book Symposium Saturday, November 1. The event runs from 10 am to 6 pm at the Radisson Blu Mall of America, 2100 Killebrew Drive in Bloomington.  

Register before 10/20 and you receive all 8 books for just $99.00.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the attorney, radio host, Riverkeeper and author, will read from his book Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak – The Evidence Supporting the Immediate Removal of Mercury – a Known Neurotoxin – from Vaccines. Kennedy has appeared on various TV and radio programs explaining how government is suppressing evidence showing how the ethylmercury-based vaccine preservative damages and kills cells at extremely low doses.

Other book presentations on the intersection of science and politics include:

•    Science for Sale: How the U.S. Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits by Dr. David Lewis, a former EPA microbiologist now with the National Whistleblowers Center;

•    Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases by Kent Heckenlively, J.D. & Dr. Judy Mikovits;

•    Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family by Mark Blaxill & Dan Olmsted, a former UPI investigative reporter;

Continue reading "Minneapolis Book Symposium on Public Health Policies to Feature Robert Kennedy, Jr" »

Best of AofA: There’s a Funny Thing About Evidence: More Support for Autism-Mercury Link

Science_jpg_w300h345 Robert F. Kennedy's book is shipping - debut date is August 4. Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak. Have you ordered a copy?  Be sure to leave a review after you read the book. It's quite helpful to an author - and the audience he wishes to reach.  Thank you. The post below ran in 2010.

"...thimerosal at the same concentrations received in human infants had clearly measurable effects on opioid receptor development in the infant rats. They also found that these effects were stronger at higher doses. The effect was found to be persistent, lasting well beyond the initial period of administration. According to the authors, “very likely, it is permanent.”"

By Mark Blaxill

Despite the relentless drumbeat of propaganda from the CDC, public health authorities and the thuggish on-line goons of the medical industry, there’s a funny thing going on. The evidence of a connection between mercury exposure and autism keeps growing.

Last month, two scientists at the University of Northern Iowa, Catherine DeSoto and Robert Hitlan, published a fascinating review paper (see HERE for an interview with DeSoto; also see HERE and HERE for earlier reviews of DeSoto’s successful debunking of an error-filled paper on autism and mercury). They asked a simple question: what does the published evidence linking autism and mercury really say? To answer that question, they did a simple Pub Med search. They searched for the terms “(Autism AND Mercury) OR (Autism AND Heavy Metals)”. They found 163 articles (a number that has since risen to 174) and reviewed them. According to the authors, “Of these 163 articles, 58 were research articles with empirical data relevant to the question of a link between autism and one or more toxic heavy metals. Fifteen were offered as evidence against a link between exposure to these metals and autism. In contrast, a sum of 43 papers were supporting a link between autism and exposure to those metals.” In short, 74% of the published studies supported the theory.

Evidence is a funny thing.

Continue reading "Best of AofA: There’s a Funny Thing About Evidence: More Support for Autism-Mercury Link" »

Pesticides and The Age of Polio

Polio triumph Update 4/7/14 The vaccine injury denial community is working overtime this week in an effort to hijack AutismAction Month and protect indudstry at the expense of people with autism. Polio is most often used as the tool of fear.  Here is the Polio series from Dan and Mark to offer clarity to those who seek it.

Doctors May Have Missed Pesticide Clue in California’s “Polio-like” Cluster

Child in “Polio-like Cluster” Linked to California’s Winemaking Industry

“Polio-like” Cluster in California Has Eerie Echoes

Below is Dan and Mark's 7 part series on polio which ran in 2011.

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

1. The Wrong Narrative.

Polio is the iconic epidemic, its conquest one of medicine’s heroic dramas. The narrative is by now familiar: Random, inexplicable outbreaks paralyzed and killed thousands of infants and children and struck raw terror into 20th century parents, triggering a worldwide race to identify the virus and develop a vaccine. Success ushered in the triumphant era of mass vaccination. Now polio’s last hideouts amid the poorest of the poor in Asia and Africa are under relentless siege by, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Eradication is just a matter of time, and many more illnesses will soon meet the same fate.

Continue reading "Pesticides and The Age of Polio " »

President Obama: Fire The Deniers! CDC Reports 1 in 68 Autism Rate

Contact the White House to ask President Obama to fire the autism epidemic deniers from CDC and NIH. The leadership in charge of public health has failed a generation of children.  Read an open letter to President Obama demanding accountability for this tragic increase in autism that is radically altering the American family -  unabated.  A nation can not sit idly by and watch 2.4% of its young males moved from regular education into special education without serious future impact. Thank you to Mark Blaxill for the following graphics.

Slide1 Slide2

Continue reading "President Obama: Fire The Deniers! CDC Reports 1 in 68 Autism Rate" »

Mark Blaxill 2009: Lies, Damned Lies and CDC Autism Statistics

Light bulb fire

Managing Editor's Note: So... this was my note in 2010  as we awaited the new CDC prevalence numbers.  Usually I have to update a "Best Of" to reflect the current date.  Not this one.  NOTHING has changed....     Here is the old intro new intro save it for the next go round intro:

We anticipate new autism prevalence numbers from CDC any moment. As April Fool's day and the cerulean silly season of awareness and celebration approaches, we thought we'd run this post Mark Blaxill: Lies, Damned Lies and CDC Autism Statistics again. This is the third airing of this post as the numbers continue to climb with no sense of the urgency and action this epidemic demands.

Dark_alley By Mark Blaxill first published in 2009.

It’s official now, real autism rates have exploded to 1 in 100 American children. We’re facing a national public health emergency of historic proportions. Bigger than swine flu. Bigger than polio. Bigger than almost anything one can imagine except AIDS. No matter how hard some may try, it’s impossible to escape the inexorable upward march of the numbers.  Even Tom Insel, head of autism research at NIH and not exactly the autism world’s greatest forward thinker, has conceded the obvious: “There is no question that there has got to be an environmental component here.”

Following last week’s release of the latest CDC autism surveillance report, no amount of methodological obfuscation (“autism prevalence has clearly gone up but there are no real incidence studies”), epidemiological nihilism (“we simply can’t know without large scale, well-controlled, prospective studies”) or social deconstructionist nonsense (“autism is an intolerant invention of modern society”) should escape scorn . Anyone with brain, a conscience and an ounce of integrity must acknowledge that we face a crisis. Meanwhile, those who would accuse the autism parent community of “denialism”, unscientific reasoning and irresponsible irrationality need to explain how their own theories, so dependent on the evidence-free suggestion that rates are rising because of “better diagnosing”, deserve to be considered respectable scientific speech. There is no more unscientific position in public health today than the fiction that rising autism rates come from better diagnosing. Let’s be clear, the only evidence for better diagnosing is wishful thinking. Our public health institutions deserve no credit for a job done better; quite the contrary, they deserve an investigation into their negligence.

Nowhere is the institutional pattern of negligence, deception and propaganda surrounding autism more apparent than in the work of the Autism Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network. The design of the ADDM, a project of the CDC and its parent agency the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), reveals in sharp relief how determined CDC is to evade its autism responsibilities. And while there is no evidence of fraud in the preparation of the ADDM data, that’s about the only good thing you can say about the work. To be blunt, every ADDM publication so far has betrayed a fundamental dishonesty, reporting analysis that has been twisted for bureaucratic purposes to mask and suppress the magnitude of the autism problem. It’s a disturbing display of the triumph of public relations over professionalism, propaganda masquerading as science.

In their latest exercise in spin management, the CDC released a new ADDM publication last week: at noon on the Friday before Christmas. The timing of this release-- a transparent attempt to bury the surveillance news as deeply as possible-- was an indication of the seriousness with which the CDC treats the autism problem. In case anyone missed it, the leadership of the DHHS in the Obama administration has clearly selected influenza as their priority health policy concern; but their autism policy position has been less clear and this release of the ADDM findings marked the first major autism position statement of the new administration.

Continue reading "Mark Blaxill 2009: Lies, Damned Lies and CDC Autism Statistics " »

Awaiting Autism Prevalence Numbers: What Did the CDC Know and When Did They Know It?

CdcpoliticsManaging Editor's Note:  New CDC autism prevalence numbers due out later today. Mark Blaxill wrote this in 2009. How many children have been diagnosed in 5 years?

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.

Continue reading "Awaiting Autism Prevalence Numbers: What Did the CDC Know and When Did They Know It?" »

Doctors May Have Missed Pesticide Clue in California’s “Polio-like” Cluster

Raspberries-a_1_1Read Dan and Mark's posts earlier this week: 

Child in “Polio-like Cluster” Linked to California’s Winemaking Industry and

“Polio-like” Cluster in California Has Eerie Echoes

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

One of the California children with “polio-like” symptoms ate raspberries right before she got sick, her mother said Wednesday -- but that didn't seem to set off any alarm bells about pesticide residue from the medical experts investigating the baffling outbreak.

“She was wheezing, then she had lunch with raspberries and then we went to [the] pediatrician's office where they said she sounded like asthma,” Jessica Tomei said in an email, describing the symptoms her daughter, Sofia Jarvis, experienced in November 2012.

“On the way home she threw up. The next day we were in the hospital.  5 days later her arm was paralyzed.  I kept mentioning the raspberries but botulism was ruled out.” 

Doctors and public health officials have focused on microbes in their hunt for the cause of the cluster, which so far comprises five children in the San Francisco Bay area and a reported 20 more throughout the state. The five cases occurred between August 2012 and July 2013. Officials said a rare enterovirus – a stomach bug – was detected in two of the cases.

But given Jessica Tomei’s account, pesticide residue seems to us like a prime suspect. “Fruit is notoriously difficult to grow organically and without pesticides,” Jeff Moyer, farm director at the Rodale Institute, an organic research institution, is quoted as saying on the institute’s Web site. According to the institute, “Because most fruits have soft skins, the pesticides that are used to kill those bugs (and the molds and fungi that also love fruit) get into the flesh and into your mouth, and no amount of peeling or washing can remove them.”

We reported Wednesday morning that Sofia’s parents, Jessica Tomei and Jeff Jarvis, are professional winemakers, but her mother was dubious of a chemical connection via that route. On Wednesday, she mentioned the raspberries as a likelier source of pesticide.

“She had raspberries the morning of her illness -- they ruled out botulism.  If what you are saying is true, perhaps the raspberries played a part.  I believe more chemicals are used in that type of agriculture vs. vineyard.  Interesting thoughts.”

In our 2011 series, The Age of Polio – How an Old Virus and New Toxins Triggered a Man-made Epidemic, we proposed that beginning in the late 1800s, the poliovirus – for millennia a harmless enterovirus – was rendered dangerous by its interaction with the new agricultural pesticide lead arsenate. Our theory: the pesticide caused damage that allowed the virus to penetrate the nervous system and reach the spinal cord, where it caused the paralysis called poliomyelitis.

Continue reading "Doctors May Have Missed Pesticide Clue in California’s “Polio-like” Cluster" »

Coy Barefoot Interviews Mark Blaxill on Industry Capture, Autism's Rise

Coy logo
Mark Blaxill, co-founder of the Age of Autism news site and co-author with Dan Olmsted of the book by the same name.

TOPIC:  Mark discusses the latest we know about the autism epidemic and reviews the year 2013 in autism.

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE:  Wednesday, January 8, 2014.

Click here to listen.

Ben Swann On America's Government Run Vaccine Court and Autism

Canary final logo

Note:  Ben Swann interviewed our own Mark Blaxill.  Please comment at the YouTube video as well as here.  Thanks.

The claims that autism is caused by vaccines have been completely disproven, right? We have all heard that claim, maybe most famously by actress and model Jenny McCarthy.

But is the claim untrue? What if I told you that while HHS says there is no link between autism and vaccinations, the federal government has quietly awarded families of autistic children damages as a result of vaccine injuries?

The first step toward truth is to be informed.

The story we are talking about today is something that just doesn’t get attention from the mainstream media, and on the rare occasion when it does, the story is predictable. Scandal surrounding a doctor who claims autism and vaccines are linked. The bizarre parents who believe that their child has autism because of a vaccine, a claim clearly not based in science.

But is there more to this story than what the media has told you?

The real story behind vaccines begins in 1986...

Read more:
Follow us: @BenSwann_ on Twitter

Weekly Wrap: Mark Blaxill on the Canary Party and Congress, Michael Specter on "Silly" Footnotes

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

My friend, AOA colleague and co-author Mark Blaxill was on the Linderman Unleashed radio show on the Natural News Network this week. He and Curt Linderman Sr. talked about the Canary Party, of which Mark is chairman, the congressional hearing last year and another coming next month, as well as recent controversies within our own autism advocacy community.

Mark says fighting amongst ourselves is misguided, and makes the useful distinction between standing up for oneself against untrue allegations (which he does) and infighting (which he doesn't, we don't, and nobody should). Catch the interview here -- it's the second half hour. Peace, friends.

Michael Specter doesn't think much of people like us -- people who believe that evidence and  experience point clearly to excessive vaccination, and vaccine-type mercury, as the cause of the autism epidemic (which, we also believe, is all too real). Specter wrote his book Denialism in 2009 to make that case, lumping us in with all other manner of supposed unscientific quackery.

Specter was at it again in a talk this month in Canada, preceded by a Q and A in the local paper. "Rejecting science a perilous path, writer argues". The piece begins:

"From an unfounded correlation between vaccines and autism to a spreading fear about genetically modified “Frankenfood,” Michael Specter is a staff writer for The New Yorker who has been documenting what he believes is a dangerous denial of scientific evidence in the world today." (I may be a dangerous know-nothing scientifically speaking, but there's no denying that sentence is not so good English speaking.)

A short flavor of the thing:

Q: What is the danger of having people deny the evidence of science?

A: People who don’t get vaccinated are getting sick. We have measles, whooping cough. These things had disappeared. For a particular parent not to vaccinate their kid is bad, but it also affects my kid, because if you go to school with my kid and you’re not vaccinated you could be infectious.

Q: How much damage is done by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Oz who preach their own take on science?

A: A lot of people who are seemingly intelligent or, in the case of Jenny McCarthy, popular for a reason I couldn’t explain, are looked up to. I don’t think we should live in a society where what a Kardashian says is how we decide to deliver medicine.

You get the idea. Evidence is everything. Kim Kardashian causes measles. Which reminded me, when I wrote about his book back in 2009, pointing out some evidentiary issues -- i.e., mangled facts, copying Paul Offit's words as his own -- I noted it lacked footnotes but that his website, michael, promised the goods: "Footnotes coming soon".


His website still says that nigh unto four years later, which, let's face it, is not too cool for someone who keeps pounding us for alleged failure to respect the importance of evidence. So I sent him an email this week:

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Mark Blaxill on the Canary Party and Congress, Michael Specter on "Silly" Footnotes" »

Best of: Autism From a Flu Shot... in 1937?

Mercury-vaccine We first ran this post in November of 2010.  Fall is time for the flu shot push from coast to coast.

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Seventy-three years ago, Elizabeth Peabody Trevett, a pediatrician and pioneer in promoting mass vaccination for infants, gave birth to a boy named John who became the seventh child ever diagnosed with autism. She presumably vaccinated her baby, and perhaps herself while pregnant, with the same shots she administered to her own patients. One of those shots, the newly developed diphtheria toxoid, was the first to contain the ethyl mercury preservative, thimerosal.
Today, pediatricians and public health officials scoff at concerns that thimerosal, still used today in most flu shots recommended for all pregnant women and infants older than 6 months, could cause autism. But after researching our new book, "The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic," we are much less sanguine about such an outcome.
Our conclusion: The facts of Case 7 fit with a common familial background exposure in the first cases to newly commercialized ethyl mercury compounds in agriculture and vaccines. They suggest children, then as now, are at risk from the dangerous and indefensible practice of injecting them with mercury for the stated purpose of protecting their health.
Elizabeth Peabody Trevett graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and won a fellowship to Harvard where she was one of seven pediatricians who pioneered the well-baby visit – at which vaccines are routinely administered. Her son John was born in November 1937. She subsequently divorced her husband, psychiatrist Laurence Trevett, and resumed using her maiden name, Peabody.
A few years later, back in Maryland, she was quoted about the importance of vaccination in an Annapolis newspaper article: “Too many parents, said Dr. Peabody, have the proper shots given and then relax, forgetting that booster shots are needed and that immunization does wear off. Speaking specifically of some of the most prevalent ailments, she stated that a child cannot be vaccinated against smallpox too often and it should be done for the first time when a baby is between three months and one year of age. In the case of diphtheria, booster shots are extremely important.”
Diphtheria was the first mass vaccine to contain thimerosal, starting in the 1930s just as the first autism cases were identified. It would have been widely available at a teaching hospital like Harvard at the time John was born.

Following her passion for public health, Elizabeth Peabody later set up a well-baby clinic in Iraq, again emphasizing the importance of vaccinating thousands of babies, and then joined the Public Health Service in Atlanta as a regional administrator for children’s health programs.
 As flu season kicks into high gear this year in the United States, infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers are among the millions of Americans whom public health officials are urging with unprecedented fervor to get a flu shot. Because most flu shots contain mercury, and because the CDC has declined to express a preference for giving these groups a mercury-free version, this means millions of the most vulnerable among us are getting a significant dose of the dangerous neurotoxin – some at grocery stores and airports and retailers, some without even having to get out of their car. Tracking short-term, localized and mild adverse reactions would seem difficult, and following up on any associations with the onset of chronic or delayed outcomes like autism all but impossible.

Continue reading "Best of: Autism From a Flu Shot... in 1937?" »

His Name Was Ritchey: Autism's Case 3 Offers Clues to the Rise and Future of Autism

SolvedBy Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Our search ends here, not far from where it began.

No, says Brook Blanton, listed as the "informant" on the death certificate, she can't give us any information. Politely professional, she can't even say what seems obvious -- that as an employee of Wake County Family Services, she served as guardian ad litem for the deceased, representing the interests of a disabled adult.

So we are left with not much more than "decedent's name: William Ritchey Miller." 

We do know his parents called him Ritchey. And that Leo Kanner called him "Richard M."

And we know that by whatever name, he was Case 3 in Kanner's landmark 1943 report, "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact."

But beyond Kanner's writing we know only what William Ritchey Miller didn't do. Under marital status on the death certificate: Never Married. Under usual occupation: Never worked. Under decedent's education: 0.

The death certificate, which we'd picked up the day before at Wake County Vital Records, gives his date of birth -- November 17, 1937. The certificate says he died on July 8, 2011, cites "multiple myeloma" as the cause, and reports he had been sick for a year. He was 73 years old.

Ritchey Death Cert

Given the bureaucracy into which disabled children with no one to advocate for them can fall, it is frustrating but fitting that this is where the trail goes cold -- in a public agency where no one is allowed to even acknowledge his existence, surrounded by a virtual megalopolis of hospitals (Wake Med), rehab centers, nursing homes and assisted living, perhaps the nation's true growth industry. Raleigh has the fastest-growing proportion of 65 and older adults in the United States.

And autism, as the fastest growing developmental disorder in children, will eventually comprise a significant portion of such adults, many with no one to depend on at the end but a state-appointed guardian, and the kindness of strangers.

Pieced together from multiple sources culled over the past decade, here are the contours, if not the depth, of a life that deserves to be recognized, both for its own intrinsic value and for what it may tell us about the origins of the Age of Autism, and the future of the thousands now "aging out" into a life for which no one has prepared.


"Since 1938," wrote Leo Kanner in that first report of autism, "there have come to our attention a number of children whose behavior differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits -- and, I hope, will eventually receive -- a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities."

Kanner referred to those 11 children only by a first name and last initial, some accurate, some pseudonyms, some, like Richard M., amalgams. "Richard" arrived at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where Kanner practiced on February 5, 1941, age 3 years 3 months. His lack of ordinary responsiveness led his parents to believe he was deaf. He wasn't.

An intern made these notes: "The child seems quite intelligent, playing with the toys in his bed and being adequately curious about toys used in the examination. He seems quite self-sufficient in his play. ... He does not pay attention to conversation going on around him, and although he does make noises, he pays no attention to conversations going on around him."

Ritchey thus fit the emerging pattern Kanner was seeing for the first time -- children of at least ordinary intelligence and no visible physical abnormality who nevertheless were oblivious to the outside world, pursuing strange fixations, rigid routines and nonsense speech patterns, if they spoke at all. Most especially, they failed to form the ordinary bonds of infancy -- the "affective contact" -- that was universal to human development.

Baffled, Kanner wrote up his findings on the 11 children in 1943. By then, he had seen Richard M. twice more, with no improvement evident. "He did not communicate his wishes but went into a rage until his mother guessed and procured what he wanted. He had no contact with people, whom he definitely regarded as an interference when they talked to him or otherwise tried to gain his attention.

"The mother felt she was no longer capable of handling him, and he was placed in a foster home near Annapolis with a woman who had shown a remarkable talent for dealing with difficult children. Recently, this woman clearly heard him say his first intelligible words. They were, ‘Good night.’”

Continue reading "His Name Was Ritchey: Autism's Case 3 Offers Clues to the Rise and Future of Autism" »

Protocol 007: FDA Document Supports Claim of Mumps Vaccine Fraud


Note: Previous posts in the Protocol 007 series include:

Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread

Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit

“Protocol 007”: Merck Scientists Accuse Company of Mumps Vaccine Fraud that Endangers Public Health

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Scrawled on a single sheet of paper, an FDA inspection form appears to back whistleblower allegations that pharmaceutical giant Merck committed fraud to convince the government its mumps vaccine still works.
The bigger question appears to be: Why didn’t the FDA do anything about it?
The document below, obtained by Age of Autism under a Freedom of Information Act request, is dated August 6, 2001. The FDA inspector who showed up that day at Merck’s vaccine laboratory in West Point, Pennsylvania, noted “raw data is being changed with no justifications.”

FOIA Mumps

“Spreadsheets used to determine questionable results and retesting clinical samples for [redacted] has not been validated,” the inspector adds.
Faking data to hide the real lab results is at the heart of the claim by two former Merck scientists, who filed suit under the federal whistleblower statute. Virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski say they witnessed the fraud firsthand when they worked at the Merck vaccine laboratory in West Point between 1999 and 2002, and were pressured to participate.
Ironically, the fact the FDA investigated after Krahling triggered the inspection is being cited by the drugmaker in its effort to dismiss the suit.
“They [the whistleblowers] are asking the court to muscle the FDA out of the way and decide on the science,” Merck attorney Eric Sitarchuk told a federal judge last week, according to a report by Law360. “It's precisely that problem that's why [a whistleblower] case can't be based on the alleged falsity of a label” describing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
The suit was unsealed in federal district court in Philadelphia last summer, soon after the Justice Department, which had been studying the allegations for more than a year, declined to intervene on the whistleblowers’ side.  As we reported then, the alleged fraud was a multi-year effort to hide the fact that the mumps vaccine is no longer anywhere near as effective as Merck claims and may have led to scattered mumps outbreaks around the country.
The fraud was dubbed Protocol 007 and widely known and approved within the company’s vaccine division, according to Krahling and Wlochowski.
In federal court last week, a lawyer for the whistleblowers argued that Merck’s deception meant the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars on a vaccine that didn’t work as promised. The mumps vaccine is a component of Merck’s MMR-II – mumps, measles and rubella – shot. It is the only mumps vaccine currently available in the United States.

Continue reading "Protocol 007: FDA Document Supports Claim of Mumps Vaccine Fraud " »

Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit


By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
In a blow to Merck’s hopes for a quick legal victory, the U.S. Justice Department is urging a federal judge not to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit over the company’s mumps vaccine just because the department has not – yet – sided with the whistleblowers.
“The United States remains a real party in interest in this suit under the False Claims Act, with a strong interest in the outcome, even though it has not intervened in the case,” according to the statement, filed May 20 in federal court in Philadelphia and co-signed by an acting assistant attorney general. It pointedly noted the government is “allowed to intervene later.”
The whistleblower suit was unsealed in federal district court in Philadelphia a year ago, soon after the Justice Department, which had been studying the allegations for more than a year, declined to intervene.  As we reported then, the alleged fraud was a multi-year effort to hide the fact that the mumps vaccine is no longer anywhere near as effective as Merck claims.
At stake: Hundreds of millions of dollars in government payments to Merck, and potentially billions in penalties from the company if the whistleblowers prevail in court. Merck could even lose its license to manufacture the vaccine.
The fraud was dubbed Protocol 007 and widely known and approved within the company’s vaccine division, according to the two former Merck scientists who filed the suit under the federal whistleblower statute. Virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski claim they witnessed the fraud firsthand when they worked at the Merck vaccine laboratory in West Point, Pennsylvania, between 1999 and 2002, and were pressured to participate.
They describe a supervisor frantically changing test results that showed the mumps vaccine wasn’t working; destroying garbage-bags full of evidence to keep the fraud from being exposed; and lying to FDA regulators who came to the lab after being alerted by the whistleblowers. 
A top Merck vaccine official told Krahling the matter was a “business decision,” the suit says, and he was twice told the company would make sure he went to jail if he told federal regulators the truth.
Merck says the suit is without merit, and filed a motion to dismiss the case, in part because the Justice Department has not intervened. It even used that fact in its public statements about the case.
“Merck--which stressed that none of these allegations relate to the safety of its product--said the lawsuit is ‘completely without merit’, and that it plans to ‘vigorously defend itself,’” the Wall Street Journal reported last June. “The Whitehouse Station, N.J., drug maker also noted that the U.S. Department of Justice has thus far declined to participate in the case after its own two-year probe.”

Continue reading "Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit" »

New Video: How Mercury Triggered The Age of Autism

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. Motion design by Natalie Palumbo. With Special Thanks to Teresa Conrick. View YouTube Link How Mercury Triggered The Age of Autism here.  We will be discussing this video and more this morning at 8:30 at Autism One in the Louvre Room.

Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread


By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

Scattered mumps outbreaks – possibly underreported by the CDC – are reinforcing longstanding concern that Merck’s mumps vaccine is failing far more often than it should.
The outbreaks come as Merck defends itself in federal court against a whistleblower lawsuit filed last year claiming it faked data to mask the low efficacy of the mumps component of its MMRII vaccine. Within the company, according to the suit, the effort was known as Protocol 007.
In a filing earlier this year, Merck denied wrongdoing and said it stands by its claim that the vaccine is 96 percent effective. It asked the judge to dismiss the claim and pointedly noted that U.S. Justice Department officials have so far not joined on the whistleblower's behalf -- a move that often spells the difference in court.
But the government seems anxious despite Merck’s reassurances – just as the whistleblower suit was unsealed, Age of Autism has learned, health officials awarded almost $2 million to a research team at the University of Georgia. The goal: Find a much better mumps vaccine, in a hurry. “The fact that outbreaks had occurred in populations with over 95% coverage of two-dose [mumps] vaccine strongly suggests that the current vaccine is not effective,” according to project information filed by Biao He, a researcher at the University of Georgia who received the $1.8 million grant.

According to a recent filing by the whistleblowers: "The government has not joined in Merck's current motion [to dismiss the case] and has made no decision on the current Complaint. Instead, it has taken a 'wait and see' approach requesting that it be served with all pleadings, motions and court orders in this case, and that its consent be obtained before the case is settled, dismissed or discontinued.

"While the Department of Justice has chosen to sit on the sidelines of this case for now, both the FDA and its sister agency, the National Institute of Health, have since the complaint was filed begun to take steps to address the failure of Merck's mumps vaccine. The FDA has initiated its own study to determine the vaccine's efficacy, acknowledging that the recent mumps outbreak 'indicat[es] lower vaccine efficacy than previously estimated.' The NIH has gone even further. It is funding the University of Georgia to develop a new mumps vaccine because the recent outbreaks 'strongly suggest that the current vaccine is not effective.'"

Merck continues to state that its mumps vaccine is highly effective, as shown in this ad filed with the court by the whistleblowers; it claims 96 percent efficacy for the mumps portion of the MMRII -- in other words, 96 out of 100 people who get the shot are protected from the mumps virus: 

Mumps ad

Continue reading "Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread" »

AOA EXCLUSIVE -- Her Name Was Vivian: Clues From the Age of Autism’s First-Born Child

Vivian ancestry

By Teresa Conrick, Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
We found her.
Eight years after setting out to identify the 11 children in the first medical report of autism, we have found “Virginia S.”, the eldest child in that landmark paper -- and thus the first-born child of the Age of Autism.

Her real name: Vivian Ann Murdock. Born in 1931, Vivian was placed in a Maryland institution at age 6 and died in a state-run home in 1987, age 56. She was the daughter of a prominent Baltimore psychiatrist, Harry M. Murdock, and his wife, Margaret.

The Rosewood State Training School, Owings Mills, MD Stuart Dahne Photography

The key to finding her real name was the recent online publication of the 1940 U.S. Census – allowing one of us (Teresa) to test her hunch about the institution to which"Virginia" had been committed as a child: The Rosewood School in Owings Mills. The hunch was correct; the Census listed an "Inmate" there named Vivian Murdock, age 8 in 1940, who we conclusively identified as "Virginia S."

In Dan and Mark's The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, published in 2010, we described the seven children we'd identified to that point, and wrote of “Virginia”: “We continue to search for this eldest child of the Age of Autism and whatever clues her identity may hold.”
Now, having spoken with family members, and pored over countless records and archives, we believe her identity does offer important clues, ones remarkably consistent with the other cases in that first report -- exposure to new mercury compounds in their families. 
Vivian was directly in the path of at least three mercury vectors:

-- the first use of mercury-preserved vaccines in Baltimore -- a drive to vaccinate every infant with those shots began the month she was born;

-- her parents' avocation of orchid growing and breeding, which required intensive application of chemicals including mercury;

-- and her father’s psychiatric career, which brought him – and probably his family through second-hand exposure – in contact with mercury treatments for a common form of insanity.

Mercury is no longer used in agriculture or mental health treatment. But each year, 100 million children worldwide get vaccines containing thimerosal, the ethylmercury preservative first used in those shots in Baltimore. In the United States, flu shots, most of which contain mercury, are recommended for pregnant women and for infants beginning at 6 months of age.

Our research on Vivian and the other first cases of autism suggests that is a very bad idea. 

Vivian’s identity also offers insight into how the damaging idea of “refrigerator parents” – supposedly cold and neglectful mothers and fathers responsible for causing their children's disorder -- got its start. We will explain these clues and conclusions in detail, but first the basics about the discovery of Vivian Murdock.


Seventy years ago this month, in April 1943, a psychiatry journal called The Nervous Child published an article titled “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.” Written by Leo Kanner, a Johns Hopkins child psychiatrist who is widely considered the founder of the field, it begins:
“SINCE 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits -- and, I hope, will eventually receive -- a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.” Elsewhere, he called it "a behavior pattern not known to me or anyone else theretofore."
The three of us have always found those words remarkable, coming as they did from an acknowledged authority who eight years earlier had catalogued every known childhood mental disability in his landmark 500-page book  “Child Psychiatry.” Those pages contained not a whisper of autism, or anything that in retrospect looks similar.
Our own research convinced us the autism rate before 1930 was effectively zero (it is now 1 in 50). A handful of cases over several centuries might conceivably qualify, but there was nothing approaching the cluster of children whose worried parents brought them to see Leo Kanner in the years between 1938 and 1943.
Curious whether the family backgrounds of those first 11 cases might point to common environmental exposures, we began trying to identify them in 2005. The eight boys and three girls were described in the paper only by a first name and last initial. But because Kanner gave birth years for each child, we knew that “Virginia S.” was the oldest; her birthday was listed as September 13, 1931. Even as the number of autistic children seen by Kanner rose in later years, none appears to have been born earlier. (In a 1955 update, Kanner revisited his first 42 cases. The oldest autistic person at that point was 24 -- born in 1931 and presumably Virginia S.)

 We began our hunt with Kanner’s original 1943 "Autistic Disturbances" report and a follow-up paper he wrote in 1971. (In the latter paper, he slipped once and referred to “Virginia S.” by what we now know is her real first name, Vivian.) In “Autistic Disturbances,” he quoted a psychologist noting that Virginia “could respond to sounds, the calling of her name, and the command, ‘Look!’

 “She pays no attention to what is said to her,” the psychologist said, “but quickly comprehends whatever is expected. Her performance reflects discrimination, care, and precision. … She is quiet, solemn, composed. Not once have I seen her smile. She retires within herself, segregating herself from others. She seems to be in a world of her own …”

Continue reading "AOA EXCLUSIVE -- Her Name Was Vivian: Clues From the Age of Autism’s First-Born Child" »

Latest Vaccine/Autism “Safety” Study Based on Flawed Data

Canary squareLatest Vaccine/Autism “Safety” Study Based on Flawed Data

The Canary Party calls on reporters to take a second look at the CDC’s biased science.

(Cambridge, MA) “The CDC continued its propaganda campaign on behalf of its bloated vaccine schedule last week,” said Mark Blaxill, Chairman of the Canary Party.  “Despite significant scientific evidence showing connections between vaccines and autism, and deep problems with CDC’s vaccine safety science, few reporters dug deeper into the quality of this new study (DeStefano et al. 2013).”  As recently noted in a peer-reviewed publication, Drs Catherine DeSoto and Robert Hitlan[1] documented major methodological flaws in the 2010 CDC study (Price et al.) said to disprove any link between a mercury preservative in vaccines and autism.   This second paper regarding antigens, by CDC staffer Frank DeStefano and colleagues, uses the exact same flawed data set, again to deny the link between vaccines and autism.

“How deeply flawed was DeStefano’s analysis?” continues Blaxill, “Simply put, the study design could not have been more biased. The number, type and timing of vaccines that US children receive are a function of birth year: recommendations for DTP, Rotavirus and Varicella all changed during the years of the study, depending on the year the child was born.  But the CDC data set used a data sample that matched cases and controls by birth year and then only analyzed the differences within their patched groupings (called “strata” in statistics). Matching on birth year meant nearly all variation associated with how many vaccines were recommended was removed from the study as a starting point.  If they had said ‘we are controlling for the vaccine schedule the child followed’ in an analysis of how safe the vaccine schedule was, this would have seemed absurd. But that is exactly what they did.”

 “The model they were trying to test in their first study was whether exposure to Thimerosal via vaccination was associated with any increased risk of autism.  To do this, they needed to compare persons with different levels of exposure.  They could not do so because they matched on birth-year, which itself defines exposure level.  This ensures that cases were only compared to controls with the same exposure,” said lead author Dr. Catherine DeSoto.  “Children who received high and low exposure were not compared with their methods. It is like testing if smoking causes lung cancer but only comparing persons with and without cancer who smoked exactly the same amount -- and then statistically testing if they smoked different amounts.  The design flaw is called overmatching, and it makes the results of both studies invalid.”

Continue reading "Latest Vaccine/Autism “Safety” Study Based on Flawed Data" »

The Vaccine Myth: An Issue of Trust Featuring Mark Blaxill

Radio micThis interview aired on The Vaccine Myth on March 31st, 2013 with host Shawn Seigel.

The guest is Mark Blaxill, editor-at-large of the Age of Autism.

The issue of trust will be the recently-announced studies finding no correlation between the full schedule of vaccines and the continuing foreboding rise in the incidence of autism - brought to us by the good folks at the CDC and the IOM, the same sweet people who created the myth of the success of the polio vaccine and insulted us by covering up the CDC's own study in 1999, that found a direct correlation between the mercury in vaccines and the already-rising rate of speech and learning disorders and autism.

Mark Blaxill Discusses Skyrocketing Autism Rates on Imus

Mark blaxill photoMark described his personal involvement with autism and his work with SafeMinds on Thursday morning before the hearing. Mark was brilliant.  He spoke from his heart and he came across as a dedicated, selfless father trying to expose the truth about what’s happening to our children.  It begs the question: What did they know, when did they know it, and what did they do to cover it up? Why is Autism So Prevalent Among Today’s Children?


Mark: “Everywhere you turn there’s an affected child or an affected family.  And you wonder, when are the numbers going to get high enough that people will open their eyes and say there’s a crisis here.  We haven’t seen that happen yet.” 

“Unfortunately, NIH, CDC—the agencies of the Health and Human Services Department---have really dropped the ball.  They’ve failed in their duty to get to the root of what’s going on and they’ve been wasting money, they’ve been wasting time. In the eyes of many, they’ve actually been getting in the way.  They’ve been covering up the issue, they’ve been manipulating data and that’s one of the issues I want to talk about today.” 

In answer to Don’s question about what NIH/CDC believes, Mark said, “I think they would like us all to believe that nothing is wrong.  Autism has always been with us.  It’s a natural state of the human condition.  It’s not an issue of injury to children.  It’s just a case of the medical system doing a better job diagnosing.  It’s a status quo argument that wants to turn its back on the epidemic.  That’s what they’re arguing but the reality is, Rome is burning.  We have a crisis.  One in 29 boys in New Jersey are autistic.  That’s crazy.  That’s nuts.  That hasn’t been the way the world has been and we need to do something about it.”

Don asked where all the autistic adults are, if it’s just better diagnosing. 

Mark: “People have looked for them.  We just can’t find them.  They don’t exist.  I’ve call that the ‘Theory of the Hidden Horde.’  If autism is genetic, if it’s always been with us, there must be hundreds of thousands of autistic people in the United States are just walking around undiagnosed, undiscovered, and you just can’t find them.” 

Mark went on to describe how his daughter was born healthy and was developing normally until she was a year old.  Between her first and second birthdays, “she slowly drifted away from us.”

Continue reading "Mark Blaxill Discusses Skyrocketing Autism Rates on Imus" »

SafeMinds' Mark Blaxill Testimony at Autism Hearing

Testimony of Mark Blaxill Board Member, SafeMinds Before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform US House of Representatives

November 29, 2012

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.  I am honored to be here today on behalf of the non-profit organization, SafeMinds, grateful to Chairman Issa for today’s invitation and humbled by the opportunity to represent the community of autism families.


In addition to my comments, I have provided a more extensive report from SafeMinds and documents for the record.


In 1935, a John Hopkins professor named Leo Kanner wrote the world’s first textbook on Child Psychiatry. In 527 pages and 43 chapters, Kanner described every psychiatric condition in children know to medicine at the time.  There was no condition remotely resembling autism.

In 1938, Oliver and Mary Triplett left Mississippi with their five year old son Donald to visit Kanner, by then considered the world’s leading authority on children’s development. When Kanner met Donald he was fascinated. He had never seen a child like him. 

In 1943, Kanner wrote a paper inspired by Donald. “Since 1938,” he wrote, “there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits-and, I hope, will eventually receive-a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.”

The oldest child of the eleven described was born in 1931. Kanner subsequently diagnosed hundreds of children with autism, but never found a case born before 1930. The historical record is clear: before 1930, the rate of autism was effectively zero.

Continue reading "SafeMinds' Mark Blaxill Testimony at Autism Hearing" »

Landmark Autism Hearing: "The Troops Have Landed on Normandy Beach"

Blaxill Burton HEaringBy  Dan Olmsted

Thursday's hearing before the House oversight committee (view the autism hearing here) will surely be remembered as a landmark. By the end of the day, the government spokesmen from the NIH and the CDC seemed to be the ones people were looking at funny, while those who raised concerns about autism and vaccines seemed positively mainstream.

It didn't help that the CDC's Coleen Boyle testified under oath that fraudster Poul Thorsen  had only been involved in a couple of studies with the CDC. Shortly thereafter, a congressman introduced into evidence a list of more than 20 he had worked on. I feel like calling the CDC and asking: "Has Ms. Boyle retained counsel in anticipation of a possible perjury charge?"

The questions were tough and bipartisan -- from Republicans like longtime thimerosal foe Dan Burton (above, with Mark Blaxill) to Chairman Darrell Issa, who said no topic would be out of bounds as the committee continues to probe. Democrat Carolyn Maloney, who has tried to get a vax-unvax study through the House for years, gave 'em the what-for once again. And while I have seen Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings on TV, I wasn't prepared for the common-sense and deeply troubled approach he brought to the proceedings. The look on his expressive face was priceless. His comment, "There's something wrong with this picture," may go down in history with gems like Jim Carey's "The problem is the problem."

Cummings pointed out the animated, frustrated faces of the audience, many of whom I know quite well. Their collective eye-rolling served as a great backdrop for the in-credible defense of the federal response to autism and vaccine safety worries. And while CDC-types consider individuals as little more than walking anecdoctal evidence, to elected officials they are the voters who put them there and can kick 'em out.

As a general proposition, it is fair to say that the people responsible for running the country do not like hearing that we have double any other nation's vaccine schedule, with a miserable infant mortality rate and an autism epidemic to show for it.

The interagency autism coordination committee (IACC) began to look like the villain it is in this disaster. One congressman even asked for questions that the panel could use if it decided to bring in the IACC for questioning.

It was just one day, but it had the feel of a new one. Our own Mark Blaxill did a fabulous job of presenting the key elements in the argument that autism is environmental, and that mercury and vaccines are so far the most plausible suspects. Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey asked him to submit evidence of scientists who have been blackballed or shoved aside for tackling uncomfortable subjects.

It's been said that the only way to win this battle was to storm the halls of Congress. We saw a version of that Thursday: "The troops have landed on Normandy Beach," Brooke Potthast e-mailed me afterward, and it seems like the perfect metaphor. "It may take more time, but today was significant and historic."


Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

SafeMinds' Mark Blaxill Autism Hearing Testimony Before Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Mark blaxillTestimony of Mark Blaxill
Board Member, SafeMinds
Before theCommittee on Oversight and Government Reform  US House of Representatives

November 29, 2012

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.  I am honored to be here today on behalf of the non-profit organization, SafeMinds, grateful to Chairman Issa for today’s invitation and humbled by the opportunity to represent the community of autism families.

(Slide 1)  In addition to my comments, I have provided a more extensive report from SafeMinds and documents for the record.

(Slide 2) In 1935, a John Hopkins professor named Leo Kanner wrote the world’s first textbook on Child Psychiatry. In 527 pages and 43 chapters, Kanner described every psychiatric condition in children know to medicine at the time.  There was no condition remotely resembling autism.

In 1938, Oliver and Mary Triplett left Mississippi with their five year old son Donald to visit Kanner, by then considered the world’s leading authority on children’s development. When Kanner met Donald he was fascinated. He had never seen a child like him. 

In 1943, Kanner wrote a paper inspired by Donald. “Since 1938,” he wrote, “there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits-and, I hope, will eventually receive-a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.”

The oldest child of the eleven described was born in 1931. Kanner subsequently diagnosed hundreds of children with autism, but never found a case born before 1930. The historical record is clear: before 1930, the rate of autism was effectively zero.

(Slide 3) Today, nearly 70 years after Dr. Kanner’s paper, reported autism rates are 1 in 88 American children born in the year 2000. In some states, the rate is higher than 1 in 50.

Continue reading "SafeMinds' Mark Blaxill Autism Hearing Testimony Before Committee on Oversight and Government Reform" »

Tics and Toxins: Mystery Illness Strikes Third Pitcher at Same New York State High School

Three strikes
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

A third softball pitcher at Corinth High School in Upstate New York was stricken last week with the same strange illness -- including seizures and tics --  that felled two other pitchers at the school.

Like the first two,  Corinth 9th grader Abby Matuszak collapsed unconscious. And like Corinth them, she's being told by medical experts that it's all in her head. That's the same diagnosis officials gave earlier this year to about 20 girls, many of them athletes, at LeRoy Junior-Senior High School in the western part of the state.

But the new case in Corinth strengthens the possibility that something environmental or infectious -- or a combination of both -- may be at work. While two softball pitchers (out of four) at the same school might be dismissed as a coincidence, albeit an unlikely one, three is an alarm bell. And several local sources told us the total number of students affected over the past two school years in Corinth is now six, including a sixth-grader active in cheerleading.

Abby's mother, Shannon Matuszak, says that after  her daughter was taken by ambulance to a hospital last week, doctors dismissed her symptoms as psychological. She is now at home, missing classes she enjoys, games with her varsity field hockey team, Spirit Week activities and Homecoming -- all much-anticipated events for a ninth grader. She is currently suffering "only"  three to four seizures a day, according to her mother, a psychiatric nurse.

“I told them, don’t you think it’s odd that six girls in the same school in a tiny small town are all going through the same thing and they walk through these doors and you tell them the exact same thing?" Shannon said. "Do you think that maybe they correlate with each other -- that three were  pitchers? Maybe it’s nothing, but to me it’s a Big Maybe.”

The family found a doctor in Westchester County who has started Abby on antibiotics with a presumptive diagnosis of Lyme disease. They're hopeful her symptoms will continue clearing up and she'll be back in school soon.

Corinth Central School District Superintendent Daniel R. Starr did not respond to a request for comment. 

Abby’s saga began last Wednesday, just two days after we reported on the cases of Alycia Nicholson and  Lori Brownell, who began suffering similar symptoms  last year when they were the junior varsity and varsity pitchers. Abby is the pitcher for the ninth-grade team playing on the same fields, and her mother said no one in her family was aware of our article.

Like Lori and Alycia, Abby experienced some symptoms in the weeks before the severe attack. Her legs cramped and her joints hurt. Her mother told her to eat bananas to replenish potassium depleted by exertion. Last Tuesday, Abby got a nasal flu vaccine.

On Wednesday, “What happened was she was in lunch, and she started having her peripheral vision going,” her mother said. “And she had a headache, and her hearing was off.” Her friends wanted her to go to the nurse, but, typically, she insisted on attending her next class, in math.

“Her friends in the class said she was staring off and very spacey, and then all of a sudden her desk was shaking from where she was writing, and then she just toppled over, she fell right out of her seat.” 

During a 45-minute wait for an ambulance, she had eight more seizures, and continued to have them at the hospital in Glens Falls and after being transferred to Albany Medical Center. They ranged from 10 seconds to three minutes in length. “It took them a long time to rouse her when she got to the hospital. It took half an hour to wake her up.  It wasn’t until probably an hour later that she was able to even speak.”

Continue reading "Tics and Toxins: Mystery Illness Strikes Third Pitcher at Same New York State High School" »

Tics and Toxins: The Beast, the Wrestler, and the Trouble With Conversion Disorder

CorinthBy Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

CORINTH, New York -- Lori Brownell’s teammates nicknamed her the Beast. She threw herself into every play last year on the girls’ softball team at Corinth High School, north of Albany. A star pitcher and all-around player, she dove for the ball and slid into base with bruising abandon – and has the jammed fingers, scrapes, and concussions to prove it.

Alycia Nicholson is no shrinking violet, either. She is an undefeated wrestler on the boys’ junior varsity wrestling team, and, like Lori, an ace softball pitcher. This past spring, after she moved up to the varsity, she hurled a two-hitter with eight strikeouts for one victory, and slammed a solo home run in another.

It is odd, then, that these two hardy teens were the only two students felled at the high school last year by a mystery illness that included fainting spells, tics, severe fatigue, joint pain, breathing problems, seizures, rashes, and other serious signs and symptoms.

And it’s even odder that both were subjected to claims in recent months that it was all, in effect, in their heads – that they suffered not from any physical illness but from a Freudian diagnosis of “conversion disorder,” in which some past trauma or emotional upheaval got converted unconsciously into physical symptoms. When this happens to more than one person in the same setting, it is called mass hysteria, or, to use the modern and less judgmental-sounding term, a mass psychogenic event.

Historically, hysteria has been associated with anxious, attention-seeking people, usually women. Across the state, a similar cluster of symptoms among a group of high-schoolers was dubbed, “cheerleader hysteria.”  As a New York Times column by Caitlin Flanagan put it: “Most parents of adolescent girls will never have to contend with episodes of hysteria of the kind experienced by the cheerleaders. But anyone with a teenage daughter can attest that this is a time of emotional extremes and high drama, of girls who are one moment affectionate youngsters and the next screaming banshees.” (See our article, The Crazy History of Conversion Disorder)

The girls, and their families, don’t buy it. As Alycia, an attractive, self-contained young woman, said simply when we visited her home outside Corinth earlier this year: “Why would anyone do that to herself?”

It’s a great question, and one with no good answer. The likeliest explanation in both cases remains real illness, triggered by something in the environment, or by an infection, or by some unusual combination. But unwarranted medical and media skepticism, based on 19th-century psychiatric speculation, continues to stand in the way of understanding what really happened. While Alycia, now a junior, has returned to school and sports and has only minor residual problems, Lori – an outgoing, appealing and mature senior, eager to do volunteer work for the disabled -- cannot attend class or tolerate noisy or crowded situations, and continues to have disabling verbal and physical tics. A recent video captured her on a rare trip out, to Walmart, with a friend pushing her wheelchair.


Both girls were afflicted in 2011, Alycia near the end of the school year that May, when she collapsed, passed out, and went into convulsions on the pitcher’s mound at a junior varsity home game. Lori, the star varsity pitcher that year, passed out that August at a school dance, then again in October, with recurrent dizziness at school in between, followed by multiple symptoms that worsened dramatically.

Lori, used to being knocked down but not out, tried to carry on as usual, but a friend described the difficulties: “When she started to come back to school, she passed out almost every day. It killed me to see everyone just staring at her as the nurse came running down the hallway.”

The cases gained national attention early this year after a similar but larger cluster of about 18 girls developed tic disorders at LeRoy Junior-Senior High School near Rochester, 250 miles west of Corinth. In LeRoy, the state health department endorsed the diagnosis of conversion disorder, and school officials said there was no environmental or infectious cause for the illness. For that reason, health experts have declined even to investigate the Corinth cases, saying that by definition they could have nothing in common with LeRoy.

Although we have drawn no conclusions, there are several plausible physical suspects in Corinth – from infections to pesticides on playing fields – that should have been investigated more intensively and ruled out more persuasively before exotic mental diagnoses were even considered. Since the start of the school year two new tic cases have been reported in LeRoy, along with a third case that suddenly worsened. This, and rumblings of more cases in both locations and clusters in other states, suggest such factors could be a continuing threat. For that reason if no other, a close look at the Corinth cases makes sense.


When we visited, we found two strong, unified families facing their daughters’ mysterious illness with caring and determination. But when a reporter for The New York Times, Susan Dominus, visited the Nicholsons -- Randy Nicholson is an independent construction contractor and his wife, Heidi, is a stay-at-home mom to four kids -- it did not take her long to decide on a diagnosis. As she wrote on her Times blog:

“I drove to Corinth first and interviewed one of the two young women [Alycia] who were showing symptoms there. I’m not a neurologist or a psychiatrist, but it seemed likely to me after talking to her that anxiety was an issue, and that her symptoms seemed to get worse in situations when there was a lot of attention and concern focused on her and the other girl. I did not think that she was faking it, but that there was something psychological at play. It was not what I had expected, to be honest.”

The idea that a newspaper reporter would offer such a diagnosis after a brief visit, and make it public, upset Alycia and outraged her parents. So did the family’s subsequent visit to California to appear on The Doctors, a TV show. Randy Nicholson said the family participated on the understanding that the doctors would evaluate Alycia for PANDAS, a neurological condition that has been suggested as a cause of many of the LeRoy cases, but “when we arrived, the testing was changed to the most basic and general tests which would undoubtedly turn up nothing.”

The doctors then told her, on national TV,  “You’ll be fine in no time.” Translation: Tut, tut little girl. Just calm down and you’ll get better. It’s all in your head.  Says Randy: “That’s not it. There’s a lot more going on.”

“It’s like being in a horror movie,” Heidi Nicholson said of the repeated failure to find anything amiss with their daughter. “At Albany Medical Center, they told us they didn’t see anything wrong, so there was no further need to investigate it. It made us so angry because we couldn’t get anywhere, and she was sick all the time.”

Continue reading "Tics and Toxins: The Beast, the Wrestler, and the Trouble With Conversion Disorder" »

Tics and Toxins: New Evidence Raises Pesticide Concerns in New York State Outbreak

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill


One Thursday last September, a crop-dusting plane swooped down over a cornfield in Western New York and dipped below the tree line, spraying an insecticide engineered to paralyze the nervous system of agricultural pests called earworms. After several passes, the plane climbed, banked sharply, and flew away.

The event, captured on this video by a local resident, is noteworthy for when and where it happened: on a school day, on a field adjoining LeRoy Junior-Senior High School in Western New York, where an outbreak of tic disorders among 18 students, mostly girls, would soon gain national attention. By then two girls had developed symptoms, according to the state Health Department – one in May 2011, the other earlier in September – but the bulk of the cases would follow, including two more the next week.

“This cornfield is adjacent to the school property and uphill from the school,” the neighbor who took the video wrote in an e-mail. “The fields in our area are dusted at least twice a year.”

The “dust” that settled that day is called Tundra. Its active ingredient, bifenthrin, has been linked at high doses in animal studies to some of the same symptoms experienced by the LeRoy students. U.S. regulators regard it as much safer than earlier generations of pesticides such as DDT, but it was banned in Europe until just last week due to environmental concerns.

Most of the LeRoy girls were diagnosed by a local neurology clinic with a psychiatric illness called conversion disorder, a finding the state Health Department endorsed despite the protests of parents who said their daughters were not emotionally disturbed. Several investigations, including one made public last month, found no evidence of environmental contamination.

In May 2011, a ban on all pesticide use on school grounds went into effect in New York State. But the investigators did not appear to consider the possibility of pesticide drift or runoff from neighboring property in the intensively farmed region, or test for currently used pesticides like bifenthrin – only ones banned decades ago. There is no evidence that the crop-dusting on September 22, or any other date, was part of any investigation. (Our inquiries to the school district and the environmental consulting firm have not yet been answered.)

The video, shot by Leroy Township resident Don Dessert from his nearby home, was sent in March to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. We obtained it last week through a Freedom of Information Law request, along with supporting documents. In an e-mail accompanying the video, Dessert wrote that it showed “a crop duster spraying the cornfield on the other side of the tree stand from my house.”

Dessert attached a fact sheet on agricultural practices for corn to illustrate “what part of the chemistry set is put on corn crops. Makes me want to find some organic corn …” He included a photo diagram showing his location in relation to the field and the school (click to enlarge photo):

Leroy 106A

Just below the cornfield in this photo looking south is a retention basin and the girls’ softball field. In some aerial photographs, including the one on the school’s Web site, the basin is full of water.  The period between April and September of last year was the rainiest ever in Rochester and Buffalo, the two big cities to the east and west of Leroy.

As we wrote in February, “School officials who say environmental factors can’t be responsible for the outbreak of tics at the Junior/Senior High School might want to check last year’s record rainfalls – and the flood-prone ground right under their feet.

“Parts of the school grounds -- including athletic fields -- are right on top of a federally designated FEMA Flood Hazard Area. … The zone cuts right across the girls’ softball diamond.” (In this photo, north is toward the top of the frame, and the field that was sprayed September 22 is visible at the bottom.)

Leroy feb red

Officials told us then that the school’s pesticide log was examined as part of the initial investigation but, because no pesticides were applied on school grounds during the preceding year, pesticides were ruled out as a factor. (Pesticide use was banned on all public school grounds in the state as of May 18, 2011.)

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s internal notes obtained through the FOIA request show it ruled out the crop-dusting as a cause of the outbreak.

Continue reading "Tics and Toxins: New Evidence Raises Pesticide Concerns in New York State Outbreak" »

When Science and Health Policy Trumps Inconvenient Evidence

NowBelow are Mark Blaxill's public comments to the IACC.

My name is Mark Blaxill. I am the co-author of the book, The Age of Autism and recently helped to launch a movement called The Canary Party, which was created to stand up for the victims of medical injury, environmental toxins and industrial foods. Unfortunately, we need to stand up for these victims, the proverbial “canaries in the coal mine,” because so many of them cannot speak for themselves. I am also the father of a 16 year old daughter diagnosed with autism. Thanks to biomedical interventions and therapy, Michaela is more verbal, social and flexible than most affected children, but sadly, she will not live independently. She most certainly does not have a capacity for self-advocacy, so (like most affected individuals) her parents must speak for her.

Unfortunately, the climate for parent advocates, never favorable in autism, has grown progressively more hostile. We have gone from being bad parents whose contempt for their infant children caused them to withdraw into autism, to raving lunatics who are a danger to the public health and whose opinions must be suppressed.

Why? Because the autism parent community refuses to stand down in offering inconvenient evidence to the makers of science and health policy. This evidence is simple. Before 1930, the rate of autism was effectively zero. Before 1990, autism in the United States was exceedingly rare, as low as 1 in 10,000. Three months ago, we learned that 1 in 88 children born in the year 2000 were autistic, 1 in 54 boys. The conclusion is inescapable: autism is manmade.

The health policy implications of this evidence are obvious. The only rational policy for autism would

  • Declare a public health emergency as our country did with poliomyelitis (a much smaller epidemic) and AIDS.
  • Urgently gather good numbers on the nature and extent of the epidemic
  • Objectively and without financial conflict, consider the short list of candidates for such an unusual and massive scourge
  • Collaborate closely with affected families to develop answers: prevention, treatments and resources throughout the lifespan.

Sadly, the policy response of the health agencies of our government has been precisely the opposite.

  • The NIH has funded research to concoct arguments that the crisis is an artifact of better diagnosing. Instead of mobilizing for the epidemic, science policy has promoted denial.
  • The CDC has organized surveillance to measure autism rates that are at least a decade old and trend evidence that starts just a few short years after the epidemic started. Instead of urgently gaining insight, health policy has promoted ignorance and delay.
  • The agencies of HHS act in unison to promote vaccination, a candidate exposure of great concern to parents, while agency leaders rotate out of their government positions to take lucrative jobs at pharmaceutical companies. Instead of objectivity, the investigation of cause has become fraught with conflicts
  • The IACC, newly reconstituted after the explosive 1 in 88 report, appears to have been recruited to rubber stamp this policy of epidemic denial. Instead of collaboration with parent leaders, public servants have turned their backs on us.

Continue reading "When Science and Health Policy Trumps Inconvenient Evidence" »

“Protocol 007”: Merck Scientists Accuse Company of Mumps Vaccine Fraud that Endangers Public Health

Merck-buildingBy Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

At its core, the 55-page whistleblower lawsuit unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia makes one stunning allegation – that pharmaceutical giant Merck traded children’s health to protect monopoly profits, and engaged in a systematic, elaborate, and ongoing fraud to do so.

If the charges – which Merck denies – are true, a 12-month-old child getting a recommended shot containing the mumps vaccine at their pediatrician’s office this morning would not be adequately protected from the disease, and could face serious health complications down the road as a result.

The alleged fraud: a multi-year effort to hide the fact that the mumps vaccine is no longer anywhere near as effective as Merck claims. The project was widely known and approved within the company’s vaccine division and even had a name, Protocol 007, according to the two former Merck scientists who filed the suit more than two years ago under the federal whistleblower statute. Virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski claim they witnessed the fraud firsthand when they worked at the Merck vaccine laboratory in West Point, Pennsylvania, between 1999 and 2002, and were pressured to participate.

They describe a supervisor manually changing test results that showed the vaccine wasn’t working; hurriedly destroying garbage-bags full of evidence to keep the fraud from being exposed; and lying to FDA regulators who came to the lab after being alerted by the whistleblowers. A top Merck vaccine official told Krahling the matter was a “business decision,” the suit says, and he was twice told the company would make sure he went to jail if he told federal regulators the truth.

The alleged fraud occurred because, in order to maintain its license for the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine, known as the MMRII, Merck needed to show that the mumps vaccine was still as potent as when originally approved in 1967 as a single vaccine, able to induce immunity in 95 percent of those vaccinated. That number, according to vaccine authorities, is crucial because it leads to “herd immunity,” protective against outbreaks even among unvaccinated people. The problem with the mumps vaccine lay in the fact that by the late 1990s, after decades of producing it with the original strain of mumps virus, the vaccine’s effectiveness had steadily declined, the suit says.

Merck is the only company licensed in the United States to produce the individual mumps vaccine, as well as the MMRII and a newer shot called the MMRV or ProQuad, which also contains the chickenpox vaccine. That gives Merck an effective monopoly on the product line, which by our estimate has brought the company as much as $10 billion in business since 2000. The complaint conservatively estimates MMRII purchases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at $750 million.

If tests showed the mumps vaccine is ineffective -- or far less so than promised -- the door would be opened to any number of adverse events for Merck, from federal regulators pulling the licenses for all of its mumps-vaccine-containing products, to intensified competition from other manufacturers if they became aware of the problem.

What’s more, weak efficacy could be triggering real-time, real-world health problems here and abroad, where a version of the MMRII is also used. Mumps outbreaks unexpectedly occurred in the United States in 2006 and in 2009-10, reflecting the three-year cycle in which younger children become exposed. A total of 6,500 cases were reported in a highly vaccinated population in the Midwest in 2006, according to the suit, and another 5,000 cases in 2009; in the years leading up to the first outbreak, the annual average had been 265 cases.

If that pattern holds true, another outbreak might be due as early as this summer.

Additionally, poor vaccine efficacy has the effect of pushing some cases of mumps to a later age, when mumps is a more dangerous disease that can induce sterility in males. One intriguing implication is that no vaccine at all might have been better than the one Merck currently produces.

The suit claims that as a result of the fraud, the U.S. government has been cheated out of millions of dollars paid by the CDC to buy the vaccine for its immunization program. It says the agency, and other government bodies, were wrongly deprived of the knowledge they needed to make proper use of taxpayer money and sound medical decisions. (The CDC predicted several years ago that mumps would be eradicated in the United States by 2010, an outcome predicated on the idea that the vaccine worked.)

The suit describes Merck’s allegedly no-holds-barred effort to protect its market position. “Merck set out to conduct testing of its mumps vaccine that would support its original efficacy finding. In performing this testing, Merck’s objective was to report efficacy of 95 percent or higher regardless of the vaccine’s true efficacy. The only way Merck could accomplish this was through manipulating its testing procedures and falsifying the test results. … Krahling and Wlochowski participated on the Merck team that conducted this testing and witnessed firsthand the fraud in which Merck engaged to reach its desired results. Merck internally referred to the testing as Protocol 007.”

Continue reading "“Protocol 007”: Merck Scientists Accuse Company of Mumps Vaccine Fraud that Endangers Public Health" »

Tics and Toxins: The Crazy History of Conversion Disorder

Freud signBy Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

If you want to know what’s wrong with the diagnoses of “conversion disorder” and “mass psychogenic illness” recently given to high school girls with tic disorders in New York State, the place to start is not the rural villages of LeRoy and Corinth but the cosmopolitan metropolis of Vienna, Austria.

More than a century ago, Sigmund Freud treated a 17-year-old he called “Dora.” She had a cough, migraines, trouble talking, a weak left leg, depression, and other symptoms. After she passed out, her worried parents took her to Dr. Freud, a neurologist with a home office who was working on some interesting new ideas about unexplained illnesses. He was already treating Dora’s father.

Freud diagnosed Dora with “hysteria” – it was all in her head. She had unknowingly converted psychological stress into mental and physical symptoms, he believed. Based on his write-up of the case -- "Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria ('Dora')" -- she became one of the best known of a dozen early cases that shaped the history of psychiatry.

Seventeen-year-old Thera Sanchez, and a dozen other girls who developed tics last year at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School, are in a sense Dora’s twenty-first century peers – teenagers suffering from a baffling disorder. In addition to the Tourette’s-like symptoms, Thera and the other girls repeatedly passed out, had trouble walking, and suffered from migraines, joint pain, rashes, breathing problems, and hair and weight loss.

The Buffalo neurology clinic that examined most of the girls and the state health department say they have “conversion disorder,” an updated but essentially identical diagnosis to Dora’s hysteria. Like Freud, the doctors didn’t find anything physically wrong with the girls in LeRoy, so they declared it must be psychological.

“We have conclusively ruled out any form of infection or communicable disease, and there’s no evidence of any environmental factor,” said Dr. Gregory Young of the New York Department of Health following a three-month investigation.

But in both Austria and New York, we believe, the doctors have misdiagnosed what is much more likely to be real physical illness that has nothing to do with stress or trauma. In Freud’s cases, the trigger was actually mercury poisoning from medicines that were in widespread use back then, a new idea we propose in detail in our book “The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic.” In New York, infections like strep or Lyme Disease, and/or environmental factors like toxic fungi or spills from gas wells on the school grounds, are the likeliest triggers for the illnesses.

What’s really sickening, though, is the use of this antiquated and unproven diagnosis in place of rigorous investigation and appropriate treatment.

Even though much of Freudian theory is now regarded as quaint, wrong-headed or downright destructive – blaming parents for serious biological illnesses like schizophrenia, for instance –  hysteria and its successors have gotten the medical version of a hundred-year hall pass, reflecting the power of the psychiatric establishment to create its own version of reality.

To explain why – why Freud was wrong about hysteria and why today’s medical industry is making the same mistake and doing the same disservice to patients -- we need to take a trip back to a time and place not entirely unlike our own.


Vienna at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th was in the grip of cultural and political turbulence that created its own catchphrase, “fin de siecle,” or end of the century, usually followed by malaise or some other term denoting angst, uncertainty, upheaval. Amid the glitter of the ancien regime, the gears of the far-flung, polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire were gnashing loudly. A young man named Adolph Hitler had come to the capital from the hustings, nurturing deep resentments toward the wealthy and artistic, many of them (like Freud) Jewish.

Continue reading "Tics and Toxins: The Crazy History of Conversion Disorder" »