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395 posts categorized "Dan Olmsted "

Weekly Wrap: Why the Climate Change Debate Is Not Like the Vaccine Debate

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The things you have to think about when you get involved in the vaccine safety issue! Lately I’ve been wondering about the state of the global warming debate, prompted by vaccine injury deniers who say ideas like ours are so goofy they are similar to denying that global warming is real.

This week, I was forwarded a release from Voices For Vaccines titled Avoiding False Balance: Vaccines in the Media. It makes the usual Offit-style points about settled science and study after study showing no link between vaccines and autism, etcetera after etcetera, and included this particularly unpleasant complaint:

“Giving scientifically invalid ideas equal weight to established and verifiable scientific facts by including them in the piece without addressing the fact they are false (e.g., allowing an interviewee to say her child’s autism was caused by vaccines without including a correction—by the reporter—that scientific consensus shows this parent's statement is unwarranted based on the evidence).”

So if someone like, say, respected neurologist Jon Poling said that vaccines caused his daughter Hannah to regress into autism in front of his own eyes, as affirmed by the U.S. government, and compensated by $20 million in our taxpayer dollars, it would be the reporter’s duty to say something like, “Correction: Poling’s statement is false, based on the evidence. Hannah did not regress into autism before his own lying eyes and the government was wrong to compensate them for vaccine injury that led to autism.”

What really caught my eye was the claim that the vaccine safety “debate” is just like the climate safety “debate” – i.e., that it doesn’t exist outside of air quotes. To wit:

“For several years, journalists covering the climate change issue saw it as a controversy requiring equal air time for both the climate change scientists and the handful of scientists—most of them funded by oil companies—who felt the climate was not warming. This approach prolonged—and continues to prolong—a period of doubt about climate change. The result of the media’s approach to this issue is that while more than 98% of climate scientists are in agreement that our planet is warming, people in the United States are split on the issue. The result is that we’ve been hindered in addressing pressing issues related to combating climate change and are seeing the very real effects the lag in action caused by this manufactured uncertainty is having.

“Vaccines are a remarkably similar case, in that the scientific consensus on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is perhaps even more overwhelming.”

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Why the Climate Change Debate Is Not Like the Vaccine Debate" »

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" »

Weekly Wrap: Wasting the Wait for Enterovirus 68

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Spring has sprung, at least theoretically, in daffodil-deprived Washington. Warmer weather will soon favor a resurgence of enterovirus 68, the virus that first appeared in severe and paralytic forms in 2013 as a small cluster in California, popped up unpredictably around the country last year in larger numbers and now – well, now what?

Just this week, the CDC put out a plain English Q&A about the virus.  The CDC notes that last year, 1,153 people in 49 states were confirmed to have the virus, and 14 of them died. Most were children. Weirdly, the CDC doesn't mention the frightening and seemingly permanent cases of paralysis almost certainly associated with EV-D68, and regarding the deaths, it mumbles: "State and local officials have the authority to determine and release information about the cause of these deaths."

It would be nice to see the CDC a little more animated on this one, because given the obvious parallels with poliovirus, I think we could be on the brink of big trouble. Both polio and EV-D68 are enteroviruses, meaning they get into the body through the GI tract, although they can manifest as respiratory illness; both appear in warmer weather; both can cause paralysis and death. A big part of the problem is mainstream medical types may once again be blind to what they are really dealing with.

Polio epidemics, as Mark Blaxill and I have proposed, were triggered not just by the virus but also by a necessary co-factor -- exposure to certain pesticides in people, most often non-immune children, who happened to have an active poliovirus infection at the time. The pesticides – lead arsenate starting in the early 1890s, DDT after World War II – opened a pathway to the nervous system that let the otherwise benign virus attack cells that control motion.

The idea that pesticides are implicated in polio has been around for a long time – since the first outbreaks over a century ago, in fact – but roundly sneered at by mainstream scientists, if they noticed at all while hunkered over microscopes in their virology labs. The pesticides-alone theory was easy to dismiss because it was incomplete. The virus, we argued, was a necessary cofactor with the toxin, and when the vaccine came along and took down the virus, the epidemics ended. But the truth -- the ability of toxins to potentiate microbes -- did not.

As the CDC points out, EV-D68 is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses from which the vaccine provides no protection. And since lead arsenate and DDT are no longer used in the United States, we can only guess what toxin, still presumably a pesticide and who knows what else, is potentiating EV-D68. We suspect the collapse of bee colonies and the rise of neurological illnesses point to successor chemicals that are even more toxic in ever-smaller doses.

It would be useful to find out, and quickly. Unfortunately, the idea of a toxic cofactor in the spread of EV-D68 is not on the radar of any current research, as far as I can tell. That’s despite clues in the early EV-D68 cases – the parents of one child run vineyards and a winery in northern California, and the mother told us her daughter had fresh raspberries the morning she got sick (the doctors seemed uninterested); another child is from Moorpark, a Los Angeles exurb built on former (often toxic) farmland that has an apricot named after it.

By now, 1000-plus ED-68 cases on, the clues to the origin have been buried in the breadth of the outbreak, just as they were with polio (and autism); early polio clusters occurred in the San Joaquin and Napa valleys in California (fruit, vegetables, grapes), and in locations where lead arsenate was pioneered – most astonishingly, in 1893 in Boston, which is when and where lead arsenate was invented to battle the coddling moth that was attacking apple orchards. Its use soon spread, and so did epidemics.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Wasting the Wait for Enterovirus 68" »

Control All Delete, Part 3: How a Critical Review of a Book on How Great Vaccination Is Got Pulled By a Publication That Brags How "Independent" It Is

Eula BissControl All Delete, Part 2: How Crying ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Suppresses the Vaccine Safety Debate

Control All Delete, Part 1: The Un-American Suppression of the Vaccine Safety Debate

By Dan Olmsted

Few books published last year won the raves that welcomed On Immunity – An Inoculation by Eula Biss. Its spare 163 pages of text offered a “beautiful shot of insight,” The Los Angeles Times wrote -- a shot that includes our collective duty to vaccinate. “We owe each other our bodies,” Biss concludes.

To which I say, I don’t think so. But it’s a free country and people can agree or disagree, right?

Most agreed with Biss, lauding her “elegant, intelligent and very beautiful book, which occupies a space between research and reflection, investigating our attitudes toward immunity and inoculation through a personal and cultural lens,” according to the Times. Along the way Biss, “a vigorous advocate for inoculation … reveals the rhetoric of the anti-vaccination movement for the sophistry it is.” Parody Cover

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A and put it at Number 2 on its best nonfiction books of the year; it was in the New York Times Top 10; and Mark Zuckerberg recently picked it for his Facebook book club, thereby fighting “fears of vaccination” and showing his “talent for surfing the zeitgeist by selecting On Immunity,” according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

I’ve read it, and lovely as it may be, it is, in my view, to which, as I’ve already said, I’m entitled, dead wrong. It takes its place in the pantheon of work by people who haven’t gone deeply enough into the subject to master it – Biss thinks adolescents get a chickenpox booster, which they don’t, and that seizures after vaccination only happen to kids who would have had them anyway -- but presumes to lecture the rest of us on the roots of our scientific illiteracy and susceptibility to primal but unfounded fears of vaccination and autism. Heck, we don't even understand metaphors right. Here is my favorite bit:

“When I learned of the resulting conference on immuno-semiotics, I was excited by the possibility that it was devoted to the discussion of metaphor, a semiotic device,” Biss writes. I must say I have never heard the parent of an autistic child excited about an upcoming conference on immuno-semiotics (immune deficiencies, yes). I think it’s the kind of book that people think they like because it makes them feel smart, sort of A Brief History of Time for the vaccine debate.

One of the few equivocal responses to the book was a review by Jennifer Margulis that ran last October in the Washington Independent Review of Books (remember the word “independent,” which will soon go belly up). Headlined “This heartfelt ode to inoculations dismisses concerns about vaccines,” it begins:

“On Immunity is an extended nonfiction essay — an impressionistic, metaphor-laden, first-person account of author Eula Biss' fears for her infant son's safety and the questions and concerns she has as she educates herself about vaccines. This slim book combines real-life vignettes with literary criticism, information about the history of vaccines in the United States, informal interviews with scientists, and chats Biss has had with friends and relatives.” 

Margulis, a widely published author who wrote The Business of Baby, also notes, correctly: “Biss is not interested in stories of vaccine injury, which she dismisses as exaggerated. Nor is she interested in the devastating fact that one in every 42 boys in America today has autism, or that we are seeing a rise in many other diseases among American children, including Type-1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. …

“Yet, ironically, Biss' own son may have been vaccine injured. She explains that he suffers from debilitating allergies that sometimes leave him unable to breathe.

“’My son has unusually severe allergies, which he developed at an unusually young age,’ Biss writes. ‘His pediatrician calls him her 'outlier' because he is a statistical anomaly. By the time he turned three, his allergies had led to swelling in his nasal cavity, and this swelling had led to painful sinus infections, which we had cured with antibiotics several times, but which inevitably returned.’”

Continue reading "Control All Delete, Part 3: How a Critical Review of a Book on How Great Vaccination Is Got Pulled By a Publication That Brags How "Independent" It Is" »

Control All Delete, Part 2: How Crying ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Suppresses the Vaccine Safety Debate

Midweek mashupRead Part 1 HERE.

By Dan Olmsted

A few weeks ago in the midst of measles mania – say, whatever happened to that? -- I was on a Canadian TV show with a crusty but kind of likeable host who wanted to hear how people like me defend the “debunked” claim that vaccines cause autism.

He began: “I’m sure you’re taking a lot of criticism these days but you boldly stay the course?”

Me: “Vaccines are very strongly implicated in the rise of autism since the 1980s, yes.”

Now that is a pretty carefully calibrated statement, based on my own reporting and ten years of research and two books with my colleague Mark Blaxill, and I’m more than happy to stand by it, amplify it, show evidence for it and, in the language of science, provide citations.

The host immediately started talking about how “there is correlation but there is not causation.”

Fine, that’s a good debate to have! There is plenty of evidence that does in fact point to causation. But when I said that, he interrupted by saying that “no scientific study that demonstrates vaccines cause autism” – except the “debunked” Wakefield early report from 1998. So I mentioned William Thompson at the CDC and said Thompson acknowledged a study he was part of hid a link between vaccines and autism.

So, to my mind there’s another concrete piece of evidence. We are having a real debate!

Well, not exactly.

My host: “Well I think people can probably look up more detail on that than you and I can get into and may find that he’s being misquoted in that regard.

“And that’s the problem that I have. It’s conspiracy theory stuff and it’s easy to throw out names and things in a six-minute interview but we’re panicking people into not doing the very thing that has eradicated diseases."

How is directly and accurately citing a sitting CDC  senior scientist “conspiracy theory stuff”? Boy, was I ever glad I had in my hand a few loose papers that included the actual statement from William Thompson!

Me: “William Thompson being a case in point, he says, ‘I regret that my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information. The omitted data suggested African-American males who received the MMR vaccine before the age of 36 months were at increased risk for autism.’  He said it, I don’t know if you [speaking to my host] want to believe it, but I’m quoting from his statement through his lawyer.”

My host: “Well I’m encouraging people to read further into it.”

“I am too,” I said.

I explained how the root of the problem was not some evil worldwide plot but the fact that Congress gave liability protection to drug makers and doctors in 1986. The result: Big business and big government got in bed and cut the consumer out of the equation and we’ve been paying the price.

“It’s really a public policy debate as much as a public health debate,” I said. Again: It’s a debate that reasonable people can have based on a careful review of the evidence.

But my host came back around – again -- to the conspiracy idea – that if we have a problem with the vaccine schedule as I claimed, it could only be because doctors and public health officials and drug manufacturers concocted a massive conspiracy that defies belief.  “What would be the value to any of those people to try and sell the idea that vaccines are safe when they are not?” he asked.

I responded: “I can’t speak for them.”

My host: “No, but I mean if you’re accusing people of this vast conspiracy you have to believe there’s some agenda behind it.”

Me: “I’m not using the word conspiracy, I’m just saying what the outcome is. I think it was unintended. But at this point I think there may be an unwillingness on the part of people who have sort of bet the farm, bet the business, bet their professional reputations on there being no link, they may not be the best people to get an objective answer here, that’s my feeling.” William Thompson sort of points to that, I’d say.

Perhaps having exhausted that avenue, my host changed the subject. “Do you have children?” he asked.

“No.” Pause. “I have a dog.” The crusty guy chuckled, which may be why I kind of liked him.

All this is preamble to what I now wish to briefly note. A regular and astute commenter on AOA, Twyla, forwarded me a note she got last week from The Daily Kos, the progressive site with quite a large readership. I guess her intended comment triggered some algorithm or alert intern. She got this in red type:

 A message has been issued from site admin at Tue Feb 03 2015 10:25:09 GMT-0800 (PST):

The vaccine-autism link has been debunked by many careful studies, and here at Daily Kos we consider it conspiracy theory. 

CT postings are not permitted here. Postings that advocate this theory can get you banned at Daily Kos.

[box to check] I acknowledge receipt of this message: (Posting is not allowed until the message is acknowledged.)

Daily Kos

--

Continue reading "Control All Delete, Part 2: How Crying ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Suppresses the Vaccine Safety Debate" »

Control All Delete, Part 1: The Un-American Suppression of the Vaccine Safety Debate

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Last month, the Toronto Star ran a perfectly reasonable article titled “A Wonder Drug’s Dark Side,” about adverse events following the HPV vaccine Gardasil. It wasn’t long before the paper and its editor, Michael Cooke, were set on by the raving pack of hyenas that attacks anyone who dares suggest that vaccines are not pure as the driven snow.

One critic, Julia Belluz, writes for an online publication called Vox, which I first encountered this year when they did a Q&A with me headlined, not very nicely, “Understanding the fear of vaccines: an activist explains why he buys a debunked idea.” They are reflexive, relentless and nasty vaccine zealots – that’s what zealotry is.

The Star’s Cooke didn’t much like Vox’s predictable and unjustified criticism. He sent Ms. Belluz this: "Stop gargling our bathwater and take the energy to run yourself your own, fresh tub." He told another critic via Twitter: “Try not to be an idiot.”

To which I say – you tell her, bro! Editors need a certain Ben Bradlee-style “bite me” attitude toward unjustified critics, rather than cowering in the corner once attacks start. Unfortunately, Cooke’s moxie was short-lived. Under a barrage of criticism, on February 20 the publisher – his boss -- announced that “the Gardasil story package of Feb. 5 will be removed from our website.”

In explaining the article’s removal, the publisher wrote: “The weight of the photographs, video, headlines and anecdotes led many readers to conclude the Star believed its investigation had uncovered a direct connection between a large variety of ailments and the vaccine.”

Well yeah, it kind of did lead readers to conclude that – and the conclusion was more than justified, as readers of our own coverage of the vaccine will know. But “we have concluded that in this case our story treatment led to confusion between anecdotes and evidence,” the publisher said, and so it was pulled. (The Wall Street Journal got it right in a blog post headlined: “A Win for Merck? Paper Removes Investigation of Gardasil Side Effects.”)

This is just the latest example of a disturbing and, frankly, un-American (in the case of the Toronto Star, un-North American) trend: self-censorship and craven caving to criticism. Salon pulling Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s piece on the CDC’s cover-up of thimerosal's damage in vaccines was among the first and foremost.  

It’s not just pulling published journalism that is suppressing urgently needed debate. Google is reported to be talking about ranking its search results not just by relevance and popularity but by deciding which sites are most “accurate.” So if you humans don't cause global warming or do cause autism, you can expect to show up lower and later because, as we all know already and need not discuss any further, you are not accurate!

Continue reading "Control All Delete, Part 1: The Un-American Suppression of the Vaccine Safety Debate" »

“Who Can Say?” -- Journalist Who Alleged Wakefield Committed Fraud Backs Off Key Claim

Deer crossedBy Dan Olmsted

Brian Deer, the British journalist who claimed researcher Andrew Wakefield committed fraud by linking the MMR vaccine to autism, now admits one of his key allegations against Wakefield may be flat-out wrong. Yet he insists it's no big deal -- that it does nothing to undercut his claim that Wakefield is "an elaborate fraud."

“Not one of the children were reported on truthfully. Wakefield lied again and again,” journalist Brian Deer said in his post on Saturday, referring to Wakefield 12-child case series published in the Lancet in 1998.  But in the same post, Deer acknowledged that, contrary to his previous reporting, he is now unsure whether Wakefield falsely changed the timing of the MMR shot to put it before the autism symptoms began in a key case.

“Who can say?” Deer wrote Saturday.

The allegation that Wakefield reversed the timing of the shot -- clear evidence of fraud, if true -- was  featured in detail as the shocking opening to Deer’s 2012 series in the British Medical Journal titled “How the Case Against the MMR Was Fixed.”

Child 11’s autism symptoms developed "two months earlier than reported in the Lancet, and a month before the boy had MMR," Deer reported, “too soon” to be the cause. That “must have been a disappointment” to Wakefield, who proceeded to switch the sequence to suit his bias, Deer wrote. The father angrily “spotted the anomaly” after Deer identified and interviewed him, but  “needn’t have worried” that Wakefield would get away with it: “My investigation of the MMR issue exposed the frauds behind Wakefield’s research.”

But on Saturday, after I showed that Deer is the one who got the sequence wrong – that the shot indisputably did come first, followed by the development of regressive autism -- Deer wrote: “Who can say, years later?” In fact, I can say: The father, whom I also identified and interviewed, wrote Wakefield as early as 1997, and contemporaneous medical records establish, that the child got the MMR at 15 months, became sick for several months, developed autism symptoms by 18 months, and was given a formal autism diagnosis at age 3. The father has always said he believes the shot caused all those consequences -- none of which Deer managed to reflect in his own investigation despite interviewing and e-mailing with Father 11 over an extended period of time.

The fact that a core element of his claim of research fraud is now a matter of uncertainty to Deer, the only man who made it, is a remarkable development under any circumstance, but considering the impact the claim has had on the autism debate in subsequent years, it is extraordinary. The claim has been used by officials around the world to say concerns about autism and vaccines have been "debunked" because they originated from a fraudulent research report. A typical example: Senator Dianne Feinstein of California wrote a constituent last week: “I understand that many parents are also concerned that vaccines may cause autism. This claim was published in 1998, in an article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. The researcher who authored the article was later found to have deliberately falsified data to produce a fraudulent link ..."

Equally striking is how little its accuracy seems to matter to Deer, convinced as he is that Wakefield's status as a charlatan is beyond dispute, even if such a central "fact" no longer supports it.

Deer, a veteran newspaper correspondent who, as he frequently points out, has won numerous prestigious journalism awards including the British equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for his Wakefield investigation, on Saturday offered no convincing reason for how he could have gotten something so central to his fraud claim against Wakefield so wrong. Instead he portrayed the father’s account as a “competing” explanation to the one Deer had independently settled on, based on a couple of unrelated court documents that led him to falsely infer that the autism symptoms preceded the shot in Child 11. Standard journalistic practice would be to check that assumption against the other, far more dispositive evidence that refuted it, and with the child’s father, who subsequently told me: "Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration."

Instead, on Saturday Deer sneered at the messenger – me – as he staged a full-scale retreat from the facts, using Father 11's acknowledged but irrelevant antipathy toward Wakefield as cover. He called me “an undistinguished former journalist” who now runs a website “largely funded by anti-vaccine profiteers,” claiming that I had been “dumped some years ago from his post as a copy editor for a news agency owned by the Rev Sun Myung Moon - himself convicted of fraud … Olmsted has since sought a livelihood from his website, misleading vulnerable parents of children with autism. …  He sought to profit with his website by lying to parents whom he disgustingly purports to champion” and followed “British research cheat” Wakefield “into the toilet.”

Whatever. On Saturday Deer also tried to elevate a secondary issue – how long after the shot the autism symptoms occurred in Child 11 – into a replacement for his now-discredited claim that the entire sequence was reversed, an incomparably more serious and black-and-white issue. 

Ultimately, Deer suggested, the truth is unknowable.

“The father says one thing, the medical records another,” as Deer put it on Saturday. In fact, the father says one thing, and the medical records back him. (That does not mean the vaccine caused the autism, of course, but it does mean the father believed it did, and that Wakefield got the sequence right.) Only Deer’s idiosyncratic and journalistically unjustified misuse of a couple of stray medical records, unchecked by the reality described by everyone else, says another.

Continue reading "“Who Can Say?” -- Journalist Who Alleged Wakefield Committed Fraud Backs Off Key Claim" »

Weekly Wrap: No, Senator Feinstein, Wakefield is Not a Fraud

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Diane Feinstein

The idea that Andy Wakefield is a fraud is the quick-and-dirty way to dismiss anyone with vaccine safety concerns. I was reminded of that on a couple of fronts this week. An Age of Autism reader who wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to support vaccine choice just received this reply:

“I understand that many parents are also concerned that vaccines may cause autism. This claim was published in 1998, in an article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. The researcher who authored the article was later found to have deliberately falsified data to produce a fraudulent link ..."

The source of the "fraud" claim, the British Medical Journal, decided to remind everyone of that 2012 report this week. In a "Dear Colleagues" letter, BMJ Clinical Director for North America Carolyn Wong Simpkins wrote that in the current measles outbreak, "we are seeing the sad consequences of parents opting out of these [vaccine] benefits. But do you remember the origins of the rumors attempting to connect the MMR vaccine with autism? It began with a research paper—later retracted—from investigators at a London medical school, but soon spread fear, guilt, and now the resurgence of a nearly eradicated infectious disease across the globe.

"In 2011, The BMJ published an in-depth, three-part investigation that described the problems with data corruption and bias in the original paper. As we move forward, and encourage parents to vaccinate their children, I think it’s important to revisit this history and remember the detrimental effects that fraudulent data can have on the health of the global population, and the importance of championing transparency, integrity, and scientific literacy."

May I be permitted to interject a minor quibble here? There was no fraud! I first made that case in a 10-part series in 2012, and am recapitulating it here in the hope that someone of Feinstein's stature  might decide to look more closely before they repeat the "fraud" canard yet again.

The BMJ began its 2011 attack on Wakefield's "elaborate fraud" by claiming he altered every single one of 12 children's anonymous case histories to create a phony link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In five cases, it said, signs of autism actually began before the shot was even given.

If true, yep, that's "deliberately falsified data ... a fraudulent link" -- in a word, good old-fashioned fraud. But let's meet the claim at its strongest point and see if it holds together. That is the story of Child 11 in the case series. In the BMJ, author Brian Deer claimed Child 11's symptoms couldn't possibly have been caused by the MMR shot because they appeared “too soon” -- a full two months before the shot. Deer said the father himself spotted the "anomaly" and was deeply upset about Wakefield's deception. Wow. Gotcha! An "elaborate fraud" indeed.

 But none of that is true. 

--

Like Deer, I was able to identify the 12 Lancet families, and I set about contacting them in the months after the BMJ series was published; I eventually spoke to more of them than Deer did both in the U.S. and England, where I spent a week taking trains from Wales to Bath. I met Father 11 -- the only American case -- closest to home, at a Peet’s Coffee shop in an affluent, picture-perfect Southern California enclave.

We sat outside in the mid-60s sunshine he jokingly called “a little frosty.” A wealthy businessman who lives in a gated community nearby, he wore a light jacket emblazoned with “Cal,” for the University of California at Berkeley where he got an engineering degree. He carried a thin file folder and a spiral notebook.

 In this laid-back setting, it was hard to grasp the role he and his family have played in one of the major medical controversies of our time, one that unfolded in a foggy city 6,000 miles to the east.

 This father is Deer’s best witness among the parents of the 12 children described in the Lancet paper – in fact, his only one, the lone parent who is hostile to Wakefield, not just a little frosty, but coldly angry. His anonymous comments to Deer in the BMJ seemed to fully support its January 5, 2011, cover story: “Secrets of the MMR Scare: How the Case Against the MMR Was Fixed.”

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: No, Senator Feinstein, Wakefield is Not a Fraud" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Broken Trust

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Back in May 2005, a friend of mine in Washington came home late from work and was met excitedly by his wife, who told him she had just seen the most amazing episode of Law and Order: SVU.  It was about a malaria drug called “Quinium” that made soldiers suicidal and homicidal; the government and drug company were covering up the truth and getting away with it. People were being irreversibly harmed, even dying.

The Quinium drama, she said, was just like the link between vaccines and autism that they had witnessed first-hand – an immediate reaction and regression, and a coverup of the obvious truth that was continuing even now.

My friend smiled and explained to his wife that the episode was a thinly veiled account of a malaria drug named Lariam, and that the episode was based on my reporting. (His wife knew me, but not as well as he did.) The "reporter" in the SVU episode was a somewhat squirrely character named Sherm Hemphill, clearly an amalgam of me and Mark Benjamin – we had written dozens stories about Lariam’s deadly consequences when we were at UPI. Mark went on to Salon.com where he wrote his own impressions of the SVU episode in an article titled, “Ripped from my headlines! ‘Law and Order: SVU’ pulls details from my reporting for its gripping finale. So why is the ‘reporter’ such an ink-stained wretch?”  (Mark was not as amused as I was that the reporter was portrayed as a tabloid journalist pawing through trash for a scoop. I’ve done worse!)

I recount this story not just to relive my one – and only – moment in the Hollywood sun, but because I was reminded of it this week in quite a remarkable way. A Facebook friend named Hil Down messaged me an article with the note, “vaccines and Lariam, all in one article.”

The piece, which Anne Dachel also picked up in her Media Update, was from the Associated Press and titled, “Anti-vaccine mothers discuss their thinking amid backlash.” The headline was unfortunate, the story better. It portrayed three mothers who  “are among the vaccine skeptics who have been widely ridiculed since more than 100 people fell ill in a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland. Critics question their intelligence, their parenting, even their sanity. Some have been called criminals for foregoing shots for their children that are overwhelmingly shown to be safe and effective.

"'Contrary to the common sentiment, we are not anti-science,' said Michelle Moore, a businesswoman who lives in the affluent Portland suburb of Lake Oswego with her 2½-year-old twin girls. 'I'm not opposed to medicine, and I think vaccines have a place. We think it's a medical choice, and it should be researched carefully.'"

Then came the beauty part: “Moore, an MBA graduate who runs an agriculture-related business, traces her feelings back to the time she took Lariam, a supposedly safe anti-malaria medication. Instead, she said, the drug saddled her with multiple health complications. She questions whether the government knew about the risks at the time. Health officials now acknowledge Lariam can cause severe side effects, some of which can be permanent.

“That experience broke Moore's trust in the medical establishment and launched her on years of research into how vaccines can affect people's health.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Broken Trust" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Vaccines Uber Alles!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

There’s a story – make of it what you will – that Joe Kennedy the elder knew it was time to get out JoeKennedyQuoteof the market when the shoeshine boy started giving him stock tips. By that standard, it might be time for the vaccine injury deniers to get out of the marketplace of ideas, because everybody, and I mean everybody, is convinced they have the expertise and standing to tell the rest of us why vaccines don’t cause autism, shouldn’t be debated, and on and on.

The latest to opine on this topic is Mark Zuckerberg, joining Bill Gates as a gazillionaire bootblack who may know how to make a buck but nothing about the autism epidemic, the science of vaccine injury, the role of liability protection, or other topics that you and I talk about every day. As a putative new media czar whose “news feed” includes plenty of pages that disagree with him (like ours), he ought to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he’s recommending “Immunity: An Inoculation” for his book club. When I first heard that, I decided to let it be, because people should read whatever they want, but then I saw that he is weighing in with his own personal vaccine creed:

“The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community. This book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe.”

I’ve tried to ignore the book in question, but I will have more to say about it later since it seems to be insinuating itself into pop culture. Meanwhile, I’ll just say that Zuckerberg – whose father, a dentist, had his practice in their home – is way too powerful, and uninformed, to be offering this kind of cheap and easy commentary.

--

From creed to screed: One unfortunate aspect of the Internet – which as regular readers will agree, has been largely positive for spreading the truth about autism – is that legacy print publications, which shrink ever deeper into oblivion on the newsstand, have opened their online portals and attached their prestige to all manner of guest writers, advertorial “sponsored content,” click-throughs, partnerships and so on. (The wack-a-doodle Time online piece about printing the names and addresses of vaccine-exempting families is a case in point. Henry Luce would have had a heart attack on the spot if he weren’t already deceased.)

Anyway, Rolling Stone published a screed online by someone named Jeb Lund, who seems never to have heard of thimerosal or RS Contributing Editor RFK Jr. – or Rolling Stone’s own archive -- when he writes:

“Anti-vaxxer science is science in the same way that saying the word "FUCK" came from "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" or "Fornication Under Consent of King" is etymology. It's science the way "Catherine the Great died having sex with a horse" is history. It's shit that sounds plausible only if you're someone never in danger of double-checking it or stumbling across something like topical expertise. Christ, you could figure out most of this stuff is bullshit just by reading the questions and answers on NTN Bar Trivia at your local Buffalo Wild Wings for more than a few hours.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Vaccines Uber Alles!" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: How Measles Makes the Case for the Amish Anomaly

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

It was a decade ago – “a budding spring day” in April 2005 – that I visited Amish country in Pennsylvania just a couple of hours away from Washington for my first Age of Autism column, titled The Amish Anomaly. I posed the question, “Where are the autistic Amish? Here in Lancaster County, heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, there should be well over 100 with some form of the disorder. I have come here to find them, but so far my mission has failed, and the very few I have identified raise some very interesting questions about some widely held views on autism.”

I was a bit naive. My reporting, which found very few autistic Amish and a much lower vaccination rate than the country as a whole, raised the specter of a link between vaccinations and autism, a link that was starting to get some traction as the autism rate inexplicably exploded in America's children. The effort to nullify what I reported was quick and continuing: Opponents like Seth Mnookin portrayed the Amish Anomaly (which has its own Wikipedia page!) as junk on a par with Andy Wakefield's Lancet study:

“The various vaccine manufactroversies that have spread in the wake of Andrew Wakefield’s bogus claims that the measles component of the MMR vaccine might be linked to autism are too numerous to unpack in one brief blog post. One of the most persistent has been the Amish fallacy: Most Amish don’t vaccinate; there’s almost no record of autism in Amish communities; ergo, vaccines cause autism. (This argument has also been used, time and time and time again, to illustrate the efficacy of a proposed vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated study.)

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: How Measles Makes the Case for the Amish Anomaly" »

Gary Null Show: Legal Scholar Mary Holland Responds to Dr. Paul Offit's Vaccine Stance

PRN RadioFrom The Gary Null Radio Program 2/6/15.

First Guest: Prof. Mary Holland

Prof. Mary Holland is a Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program at New York University School of Law, specializing in international human rights, public law and vaccine safety law and injury compensation. She also has a son who regressed into autism following the MMR vaccine. Yesterday she was a guest on Democracy Now along with Dr. Paul Offit, the guru celebrity of the pro-vaccine industry.  Since Offit was the last to be interviewed during yesterday’s program, we have invited her on to respond to Offit’s comments.  Mary has degrees  in Russian studies from Harvard, and graduate degrees in international relations and a JD from Columbia University, where she has also taught international law at its Law School. Mary is the co-author of “Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health and Our Children.”  The website is VaccineEpidemic.com

Second Guest: Dr. Sherri Tenpenny

Continue reading "Gary Null Show: Legal Scholar Mary Holland Responds to Dr. Paul Offit's Vaccine Stance" »

Presenting ‘Both Sides’ Of Vaccine Debate Gets Tricky During KCBS Interview With ‘Age Of Autism’ Author

Vaccines 2.0KCBS Morning Anchor Stan Bunger offers this commentary on an interview Thursday morning with a vaccine skeptic:

Click here for the link to the audio, no embed code available, sorry.

After weeks of listening to people revile the parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the people who question the childhood vaccination program why they think the way they do.

So we put one of them on the air for an interview. Dan Olmsted edits the website “Age of Autism” and believes vaccines are a significant part of what he calls the “autism epidemic.”

It may have come as a shock to those who assume these folks foam at the mouth, but Olmsted speaks in a calm voice and doesn’t rant or rave. He DOES, however, toss off lines that, well, aren’t quite true.

Continue reading "Presenting ‘Both Sides’ Of Vaccine Debate Gets Tricky During KCBS Interview With ‘Age Of Autism’ Author" »

Vox Interviews Olmsted on Vax

VoxEditor's note: On Monday I got a polite e-mail. "My name is German Lopez. I'm a reporter with Vox.com. I'm putting together a story on the vaccine choice and education movement. I was hoping to talk to you about the movement, some of the thinking behind it, and what it seeks to accomplish."

We did the interview and it was published Wednesday. What could possibly go wrong? (Heh-heh -- perhaps the headline below will give you a clue.) German (pronounced Herman), is a Vox "writing fellow" whose bio says he "writes about stuff -- usually criminal justice, the war on drugs, health, and LGBT issues." Goodness, that's a much broader range of stuff than I've mastered in 40 years as a journalist (I mistakenly say 30 in the interview; time flies when you're having fun!). This is all the more impressive as German's bio notes that he graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2012. I commend the article to you. It is a time capsule worth preserving. -- Dan Olmsted

Understanding the fear of vaccines: An activist explains why he buys a debunked idea

Dan Olmsted is the editor of the website Age of Autism and author of multiple books that purport a link between vaccines and autism — a link that researchers have debunked again and again. In 2006, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) cited Olmsted's research in introducing legislation to direct the federal government to further study concerns about vaccines.

Olmsted has written in particular detail about his concerns over thimerosal, a mercury compound that used to be — but is no longer included — in routinely recommended childhood vaccines, with the exception of the flu shot. He argues parents should be wary of vaccines because of a supposed risk of autism, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

I spoke to Olmsted on Monday about his work, why he thinks vaccines cause autism, and how he views the current Disneyland measles outbreak. Something to notice in our conversation is that the fear of vaccines isn't evidence-free: Olmsted cited a slew of specific studies to support his stance. The problem is the evidence doesn't hold up. After the interview, I tracked down some of Olmsted's citations and found the underlying studies and examples to be disputed at best and outright false at worst. Those footnotes are detailed below this transcript.

German Lopez: What would you say is the goal of your work?

Dan Olmsted: My work is an effort to bring a journalistic perspective to this issue. I've been doing this for almost 10 years now, focused on the question of what's causing the autism epidemic and if it's real.

I came to the conclusion pretty early on that vaccines are a significant part of it. I have been looking into that ever since. I've been bringing attention to that and trying to counter the mainstream wisdom that all of this is debunked, disproved, anecdotal, and there's nothing to it.

Read the full article at Vox.com


Weekly Wrap: Spreading Measles – and Autism

Measles Map


AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

If the CDC wants to stop the spread of measles, they need to stop spreading autism. It's nowhere near an acceptable tradeoff. 

Repeat after us: Vaccines recommended by the CDC are causing the epidemic of autism and related disorders in America’s children. That is far worse than any conceivable risk from measles or any other vaccine preventable disease any American child could conceivably catch in modern day America.

That is the argument Mark Blaxill and I lay out in our new book, Vaccines 2.0, about the bloated and runaway vaccine schedule, and that is what makes the media and mainstream medicine's obsession with the measles cases out of Disneyland downright goofy. Yes it's also true as we’ve reported here, that the vaccine isn't terribly effective, that vaccinated people are spreading it, that many of the cases may not even be measles, that measles as it exists in a first world country in the 21st century is not a fatal illness (see chart), that catching measles might be an immunologically useful event in a person’s life that it is dangerous to interrupt.

There are good or at least interesting arguments for all these things. But -- and here is the heart of the matter -- whether any of them are true, measles is not worth fighting when it is glued to a public health strategy that leads directly to the epidemic of chronic and developmental diseases now besetting us.

Of course, to use the shorthand by which journalists introduce controversy, others disagree. They say a link between vaccines and autism has been disproven when it has only grown. They say it has been discredited when it has only been confirmed. They say it has been debunked when it has only been suppressed.

But this is where we have to take our stand, on first principles. It's basic logic (I believe it's called modus ponens, and I learned it in junior high). If the current vaccine schedule is responsible for the rise of autism and related disorders, then the conquest of such diseases as measles would need to be evaluated in that disturbing context, and not just on its own merits as standalone public health developments.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Spreading Measles – and Autism" »

Age of Autism Midweek Mashup: Minneapolis, Minnesota, Measles, Minnie, and More

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

The book fair this past weekend in Minneapolis was something new and different -- several Skyhorse authors, most with Age of Autism connections, putting on a joint daylong presentation and discussion. (See photo.) It was great for all of us authors, and I think for the audience as well, who had a chance to interact with so many of us in one place. It could be a template for future events that bring together what we like to call hard-line professionals -- research-oriented, fact-based advocates who are not going to mince words about what's really happening to the health of a generation (and more) of children who constitute this country's future.

In my brief talk, I noted that this event -- dedicated to answering questions and providing MN book tourinformation to families concerned about the vaccine schedule -- very much reflects the current level of concern in the country. As I was packing to head to Minneapolis on Friday, I had CNBC on in the background when Kaiser-Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson was interviewed. Since K-P is my own HMO, I turned it up and listened. The vaccine question soon came up in the context of the measles cases emanating from Disneyland.

"Well you know," Tyson said, "we've seen in the country a decline in parents bringing their children in for immunization. We make that a big push at Kaiser -- studies show it helps and it's the right preventive step and we have outreach programs to parents.

"I think the measles and what is happening there is another sign of what can happen very quickly when something reaches epidemic proportions."

To me that's the standard pabulum you expect from an outfit like KP. But the next question and answer were interesting.

Question: "The parents who are worried about their children potentially getting autism from that? What do you tell them?"

Answer: "Well, those are legitimate concerns," he said, emphasizing the last two words. I nearly dropped my toothbrush. "I don't want to excuse away responsible parents asking very responsible questions. In some cases we don't have the answers in the health care community. I think we have the latest evidence to show that the connection is very slim it at all, but I think the questions are very important and we need to figure out how to engage in the right conversations so people are making informed decisions."

Continue reading "Age of Autism Midweek Mashup: Minneapolis, Minnesota, Measles, Minnie, and More" »

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.

Weekly Wrap: Starting Over All Over Again

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

On Thursday my odometer decided to remind me that we really do start fresh with the New Year -- my trip calculator came up all 1's. More amazingly, Comment Number 111,111 popped up on January 1 from Jenny Allen. It's a good one, and I'm giving her the last word this holiday weekend. I hope everyone is rested and ready for the new year, new challenges and new onslaughts on the Death Star (aka the medical-industrial complex that triggered and is perpetuating the age of autism). 

"A Happy New Year and grateful thanks to all AoA editors, contributors and Odometer 1111commenters. A great deal was achieved in 2014, along with some very significant revelations, and future generations will 'judge' our political/medical/ corporate establishments, who may choose to completely ignore or deny the vaccine related autism holocaust, along with all the related co-morbidities, or they can collectively 'bite the bullet' and work together to protect future generations, and provide proper medical care and therapies to those suffering children and (now) adults, who live their lives in constant pain and discomfort, often from painful bowel disorders.

"What's urgently required is a complete 'root and branch' audit of vaccines, in particular those administered as part of child vaccination schedules. Are all these vaccines really necessary? In the UK, mumps was included in the MMR vaccine as a 'buy 2 -get one free' offer from the manufacturers in 1988. From the initial Urabe mumps vaccine damage scandal, still not fully admitted within the UK Government, to a now adult fully vaccinated population contracting the disease when they attend colleges and universities, mumps vaccine has caused far more damage than the disease ever did.

"Mumps is benign in children, but is far more serious in adults and can cause sterility. Measles and whooping cough are nastiest in children under 1 year old. In the 'bad old days' mothers like myself who contracted all those childhood diseases as children, passed on our immunities via the placenta and breast feeding, ensuring a healthy baby. Vaccine immunity is at best transient and less efficiently passed on to babies born and unborn.

"Now, whooping cough vaccine is no longer effective and measles epidemics are happening, apparently in mostly vaccinated populations (although this is strenuously denied). Blaming Wakefield for the alleged 'unvaccinated' is beginning to sound like a stuck vinyl record, 16 years after THAT paper. If AW was to blame those epidemics would have happened years ago. People are NOT stupid, and politicians and medico apologists, who are now pinning the blame on 'thinking moms' are forgetting, it's not just 'moms' who are capable of 'thinking' for themselves.

"Politicians who ignore the concerns of the people, do so at their peril in a voting democracy. An annual review is an excellent 'morale raiser'. As a 'small campaigner' for several health and social related issues, I make a point of standing back and reviewing progress every few months. This tells me what, if anything, has been achieved as a result of my efforts. Politicians and health spokespersons are very good at reassuring words and promises, but REAL actions and committing to changes and improvements are quite another matter. Our REAL enemies are political complacency and the 'status quo'."

Thanks, Jenny! On to the new year.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Goodbye to a Great Friend

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Dr. Eisenstein

I suppose there is some symmetry in the death of Mayer Eisenstein this week in the midst of both the Jewish and Christian holidays. Mayer to me was a bit of a Jewish Kris Kringle, larger than life, shaking with laughter, doing mitzvahs (good works) and bearing gifts in the form of wise insights into the ways we care f9r (and inadvertently harm) our children.

That's about as cheerful as I can get about Mayer's passing so soon after the shock of hearing it, for in truth I was expecting many more years of his wisdom and support. Especially the latter -- Mayer was one of Age of Autism's best friends and most resolutely positive allies.

I first met him in 2005. After I had written about the Amish anomaly for UPI -- lower vaccination rates, lower autism rates -- a reader in Tennessee told me about a Chicago doctor with thousand of unvaccinated children, and virtually no autism or asthma (the latter medically documented by the absence of ER visits and hospitalizations for asthma among his patients).

I got in touch with him and was soon in Chicago being regaled by this garrulous bear of a man who loved Disney (me too) and conservative politics (me not so much), could barely pause to catch his breath, and in addition to his M.D. had gone on to get an MPH and a JD, mostly, as far as I could tell, to give himself something intellectually interesting to do. He had a big happy sprawling Jewish family and, I believe, a new legion of supporters after he got involved in the autism world and Autism One.

He also came in for his share of nullification nonsense, and to the extent that giving him wider attention was a factor, I feel bad about it. (He couldn't have cared less, which was typical of him.) Rather than look at the maximally healthy children his practice turned out with minimally invasive medicine, the mainstream went after anything they could find to avoid dealing with the significance of his work.

Now that work is his legacy, and I for one am determined to remind people of it and push it forward. But for now I confess to feeling pretty crappy. As they often do with people who are gone, my memories of Mayer come down to a single image -- in this case a sunlit one, sitting outside on a perfect late spring day at a cafe across from a sky blue Lake Michigan, eating pasta and happy that such a great guy was on my side.

I'm going to hang onto that as long as I can.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

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.

Midweek Mashup: Our Mission

MashupBy Dan Olmsted

A monumental catastrophe is unfolding in doctor's offices and public health clinics across this country every day, and it is called the Childhood Immunization Schedule. It is responsible for the autism epidemic, and much else that is unhealthy for our children, our country, and our world. A greatly reduced and more selective and safety-focused vaccine schedule could put the brakes on that epidemic -- today, family by family and child by child, while we also work for reform and recognition of vaccine injury on political, legal, and journalism fronts.

Our mission at Age of Autism is to end the Age of Autism -- meaning, the autism epidemic -- not to end vaccination as a medical practice. I've never said otherwise, and if people find this a disqualifying point of view, I'm truly sorry to lose their confidence but I have to be straightforward and consistent. Other groups and some of our valued writers and readers do have that mission, and we respect and interact with them all the time, publish their posts, and put their perspectives in our book (Vaccines 2.0, out next month, co-written with Mark Blaxill). There is room for different but allied approaches and tactics to attacking this catastrophe, and it is much better to collaborate and affirm each other than to splinter our small activist coalition over issues where we have far -- far! -- more in common that anything mainstream public health is asserting.

Let's remember first principles, as put forward by the late great Bernie Rimland, who I feel privileged to call a personal hero: "The autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause. ... There are many consistent lines of evidence implicating vaccines, and no even marginally plausible alternative hypotheses."

Note that phrase: Excessive vaccinations. 

To argue that the excessive, bloated vaccine schedule caused the post-1988 autism epidemic, as I do, you are basically stipulating that the much less aggressive vaccine schedule pre-1988 was not causing it, as problematic as it may still have been in the particulars. Hence, promoting a lesser, later, lighter vaccine schedule -- and the right to choose it, without resistance -- is one reasonable way to try to end the epidemic, among many other necessary steps. One reason the Amish have little to no autism is not because they never ever vaccinate -- although many do not -- but because they are light years from the metronomic well-baby shot schedule that is causing mayhem for the rest of us (most don't have health insurance, for one thing). How many home-birthed, midwife-attended Amish babies do you really think get the hep B shot within hours of coming into the world? Precious few, I'd say.

Mercury in vaccines has caused autism since the 1930s, as I think we have shown conclusively (thank you, Teresa Conrick!), and bad vaccines like the DPT have done damage as well, but the epidemic rate of autism today, now, this minute, is directly due to the post-1986 vaccine act feeding frenzy by the pharmaceutical companies and complicit captured regulators and pediatric practices. It needs to be stopped.

At least, that is my opinion, based on my own research, experience, and professional training. This may seem like stating the obvious to all of us -- that the current schedule is causing the current epidemic, but it is still a minority and beleaguered point of view that we fight every day to demonstrate.

I respectfully disagree with what is often part and parcel of the no-vaccines-ever argument -- that the polio and smallpox vaccines didn't really end those epidemics. I base this again on research of my own and with my colleague Mark Blaxill on these topics -- particularly polio (although the epidemic was man-made -- another story). So because I think these statements are simply incorrect, and that it is a historical fact that these vaccines did end serious diseases, I don't see these as winning arguments to make to concerned parents. To my mind it is therefore hard to convince new parents that there simply is no case for any vaccination, ever, and never will be, end of story, thanks for listening, go and sin no more. Those who want to make the case that smallpox and polio vaccines were worthless need to hold themselves to a higher standard of rigor than just the received wisdom that polio was "reclassified" out of existence or that the determined and well-documented vaccine onslaught on smallpox really had nothing to do with wiping it out. This does not make me pro- (or anti-) vaccine, just someone trying to assess facts objectively.

So on the polio vaccine, as I mentioned in my last column, I would say, yes, it worked. But also that you as a new parent should think about whether your child really needs it in this day and age, and if you are looking to cut back, consider putting your red pencil through that one, at least for now. This is why we have to stick to our journalistic guns -- if we are convinced that the polio vaccine did work, we can't simply say otherwise or keep quiet . But we can still help parents reassess the need for mass polio vaccination in the United States in 2014.

This is where I have put my efforts for more than a decade -- discovering and demonstrating that the bloated and largely untested vaccine program we have today, including ingredients like thimerosal and blunders like combined live virus vaccines at age 1, is the driving force behind the autism epidemic and its many, many attendant health problems. So, it logically follows, at least to me, that anything that dials back on the cumulative hit and the worst and most demonstrably dangerous and useless offenders in the current schedule, and empowers parental concern and choice, including the choice not to vaccinate at all -- as our book does -- furthers our mission.

A widespread revolt against current vaccination policy, including an unchallenged right not to vaccinate at all, and the development of a safer and saner vaccine schedule, is simply a more attainable and sustainable goal (it's already happening!) than a revolt against vaccination as a public health tool under any circumstances, ever, buttressed by claims that vaccines have never, ever worked. Again, there is room for people pushing on all these fronts, and we welcome and work with them as allies.

A final point: Neither in our upcoming book nor anywhere else are we "recommending" vaccines. Parents don't need us to "recommend." They need a context for looking at safer vaccine choices -- including no vaccines -- that only they can make. 

I look forward to continuing the conversation and can't wait for our book to be part of it!

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Best of AofA: Tics and Toxins Just Before Mystery Illnesses Hit Leroy NY, School Built New Playing Fields

Leroy welcomeNote: Throughout the month we are reprising some of our series. Below is the 3rd part of Dan Olmsted's Tics and Toxins series from 2012, which followed an outbreak of illness among high school aged females in LeRoy, NY.

By Dan Olmsted

LEROY, N.Y., January 30 -- New playing fields, including one for girls' softball, were completed the year before the outbreak of tics and other ailments began afflicting girls at Leroy Junior/Senior High School.

Aerial photographs compiled by the Genesee County assessments office clearly show the construction in progress in 2009, here:

Leroy 2009 AgeofAutism

The 2010 photo shows the completed fields, here:

  Leroy 2010

The smaller field to the immediate left of the school is the girls' softball field, according to a former student at the school. All but one of the students affected so far are girls. There are unconfirmed reports that one boy was also stricken.

School officials said earlier this month that two reports they commissioned of indoor air quality and mold had ruled out any environmental cause. New York Health Department officials concurred and a spokesman told me last week, "The school is safe." Most of the girls were diagnosed at a Buffalo neurological clinic with "conversion disorder," in which psychological stress or trauma is supposedly converted into physical symptoms that clusters of people can display at the same time.

But parents and the girls themselves have rejected that diagnosis, and other theories have been advanced; school officials now say they are ordering another round of tests. I reported last week that the first testing did not include any outside areas of the school grounds, except for reviewing school pesticide logs. Because those logs were in order, environmental factors outside the school building were ruled out. State health officials also say no infectious agent was involved.

But in any investigation of a new illness, the question of what's new in the environment -- from medicines a person is taking, to places they have been, to changes in where and how they live -- needs to be ruled out first.

Building ballfields within the past two years certainly qualifies as new. That could hypothetically create new risks, either from stirring up toxins such as pesticides on the site, or importing materials such as fill or sod that was previously contaminated. New attention has been given to a railroad derailment several miles away in 1970 that spilled both cyanide and TCE, a highly toxic manufacturing agent. Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has suggested that the school site was contaminated by runoff from that incident, or that dirt from that area was used to construct the school in the early 2000s.

Continue reading "Best of AofA: Tics and Toxins Just Before Mystery Illnesses Hit Leroy NY, School Built New Playing Fields" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Bullies Within

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Among the too-small group actively working to end the damage caused by the current vaccine schedule, some spend their time trying to make that group smaller still. If you believe, say, that the main task is to get mercury out of the flu shot; or that promoting a more selective schedule could significantly reduce morbidity and mortality; or that preserving choice is the heart of the matter – well, you risk being run out of Autism Town if that doesn't happen to be their agenda du jour.

It’s their way or the highway, preferably underneath a Mack truck -- a Mack truck that backs over you (and your little dog, too) several times.  

I know people who have been slapped down hard by our own side because they said they might consider even one vaccine for their child out of the 16 now recommended by the CDC. One? Heresy! Or because they said that thimerosal in the flu shot is an outrage, but they are not taking a position on vaccines in general – or, God forbid, that they even support them. Smite them with thy staves, ye righteous ones! 

Different approaches and priorities can lead to disagreements within activist communities, and that’s fine. There’s room for that within the broad coalition that believes autism is a man-made, vaccine-driven epidemic, and may the best tactics and strategies prevail. But these people descend like Hitchcock’s screeching birds at the least sign of ideological impurity. This week AOA got an e-mail from someone who likes to call themselves “Censored” because we don’t publish every nasty thing they say – I call that Editing. In fact, I got so tired of them (see why below) that now I won’t print anything they write, which is my prerogative because I'm the Editor and that’s what I do – I Edit. Let them create their own blog and ban me!

Last week when I announced our successful matching fundraising campaign and thanked the community, Censored snickered: “If your community support is as strong as you claim, you'd have no need to censor dissenting views within the community. You'd have the confidence to post them. But it's doubtful AoA can withstand or even survive criticism. So you eliminate it.” And then comes the threat: “That won’t be possible on Amazon.”

Censored Comment

Say what? Well, Mark Blaxill and I have a book coming out next month called Vaccines 2.0 (it went to press Friday – yay!) that is subtitled, “A Careful Parent’s Guide To Making Safe Vaccine Choices For Your Family.” We labored on this for over a year, and we developed our own Reward-Risk Rating for each vaccine; parents can refer to it as they make their own choices – note well, their own choices. And their choice might be not vaccinating at all, an option to which we give considerable and respectful attention. The book opens and closes, in fact, with a father who decided not to vaccinate his daughter.

No matter. Censored is already foaming at the mouth to start trashing our book on Amazon without our hateful censorship – sight unseen, of course. “I hope your safety claims and recommendations are well supported,” they wrote. “It's hard to imagine how any infant vaccine can be justified based on a risk vs. benefit analysis.” So we are on notice that a book that by any reasonable standard is exceptionally hard on vaccines will be under attack from our own side for its ideological impurity. Oh, great.

And, oh, the injustice – we chose not to publish this comment on AOA! I mean, does cluttering up a comment thread with obscure threats regarding a book not yet published that is deeply embedded in the autism activism community further any useful mission? Uh, no. Intent is everything, and over time people reveal what they are really all about. A few months back they sent an e-mail saying we at AOA “promote an agenda that will not end the [autism] epidemic ASAP - but will prolong it. … Hope you can wash off the blood on your hands.”

Perhaps you see why I'd had enough. Blood on our hands? Yikes, that’s what the other side says. Those who choose to harass and insult others within our small, striving community just because they  disagree can go elsewhere and post to their merry little hearts’ content – and they can expect me to call them out for what they are: Bullies.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

AofA Series Tics and Toxins: Leroy School Site has History of Health, Water, Building Woes

Sick-buildingNote: We are running some of our series throughout the month. Here is the second post (Jan 2012) in the Tics and Toxins series by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill.

By Dan Olmsted

The school where 12 girls developed tics attributed to "conversion disorder" has a history of water and structural problems, and an outbreak of rashes and sores occurred among students playing sports on land where the school is now sitting, according to a student who went there.

 "When we first started we couldn't go to gym class because the floor kept sinking and cracking," said the student, who attended the new LeRoy Junior/Senior High School in 2005, its first year of operation. She was one of several people who described the site as a "swamp." 

One year, students had to start a week late because of flooding inside the building, she said.

Before the current school -- which goes from eighth to twelfth grades -- was built, the site was used for student playing fields; the school itself was at another location. The new building sits directly atop those playing fields.

In the 1970s, students using those fields suffered from open sores that would not heal and rashes, said the former student, whose mother also went there and recalled the incident. The soil was tested, the cause was found, the students were treated and recovered. She did not know what the tests had shown.

This student expressed surprise that two consultant reports commissioned by the district, which found no problems with indoor air quality or toxins in the school building, stated: "No history of building water damage or site contamination was found."

Continue reading "AofA Series Tics and Toxins: Leroy School Site has History of Health, Water, Building Woes" »

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

Girl-looking-out-window

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 Weekly Wrap: Over the Top

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Thank you type

I'm so happy to report on this Thanksgiving Weekend that we have met and exceeded the $5,000 matching amount pledged by our Anonymous Donor.

Since last week, dozens of readers contributed a total $6,750 to our fund drive, bringing the total to $11,750, which we will put to good use going into the New Year.

Believe me, we all recognized that autism families have plenty of demands on their money, and we are grateful, and frankly amazed, that so many were willing to put so much toward our efforts. It makes us feel like the community has our backs.

We promise not to hit you up again for quite a while -- except for this parting word: We are now tax deductible, so anything given by the end of the year will partly repay you by April.

Again, so many thanks to all our readers for keeping us going strong into our eighth year. 

--

 Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Fund Drive Update, and Autism Vs. Alopecia

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

We can’t offer you a very special concert with Yanni, or every episode of Upstairs Downstairs on DVD. All we can promise is that, with your help, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.

Boring, I know. But that’s what our current fund drive is all about. Last year we were approached by an Anonymous Donor, as this person wished to be known – who put up $3,000 as a matching donation. A.D. said they would give us up to that amount, but only if our readers matched it – which you did, and more. This year the same A.D. approached us again – which we were hoping they would, but were taught by our mother to be too mannerly to ask – and this time A.D. is offering an amazingly generous $5,000 match through Sunday, Thanksgiving Weekend.

That’s wonderful, but it also boosts the amount we need to raise or risk leaving money on the table Donate button that, combined with your donations, will go a long way for our humble blog.

Halfway through, we’re halfway to our goal – $2,880 as of last night. This is terrific, thanks to so many of you, and we really think we can get all the way there if people realize the power of doubled donations of whatever amount. And this year for the first time, we’re tax deductible, something we’re doing in large part to make gifts like yours (and A.D.’s) as easy as possible to make. (You should see the form the IRS wants! And I just got one from the Commonwealth of Virginia Friday “to determine liability for state unemployment tax.” Yikes.)

So, in short, if you were to send us $25 via the Donate button by next Sunday, it would be the same as sending $50, and it’s deductible. What is not to like? (If you want to send a check, feel free – e-mail me for the address at Olmsted.dan@gmail.com)

All of us who converge here have different likes, dislikes, and lots in life, but we are joined by a powerful sense of outrage over what is happening to kids and a strong belief that it needs to be addressed, now. Activism, politics, legal action, journalism – we’re all in it together with our own particular gifts and passions.

So: Help us keep going so we can all help end the age of autism. And know how grateful we are for all your contributions.

--

When Mike Nichols died Thursday, I noticed that he was born in 1931, the same year that autism began (in the person of Vivian Murdock, oldest child in Leo Kanner’s case series from 1943, whom Teresa Conrick, Mark Blaxill and I first identified on AOA – an example, come to think of it, of what financial support helps accomplish).

When I learn about other people born then, it reminds me how recent autism is – within the span of one lifetime, this catastrophe has descended upon us. The reason, we believe, is the first use of ethylmercury in commercial compounds starting then, including in vaccines as thimerosal.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Fund Drive Update, and Autism Vs. Alopecia" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Happy Anniversary to Us!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Happy anniversary

Our humble blog reached the seven-year milestone this week. During that time, we’ve had well over 15 million hits on close to 7,000 posts; our readers have left 110,000 comments.

When we started – merging with Generation Rescue’s Rescue Post – we hoped but weren’t sure that this was the future of daily newspapers in general and investigative reporting about autism in particular. Events have borne that out – even though I came up through “print” and love holding real newspapers and books in my hands, I now get most of my news online. On Thursday the Post and Times came to the door as usual, but besides bringing them inside and saving the plastic wrappers for the next dog walk, all I did was check to see if the interview with Kim on Seinfeld was in the printed edition as well as online (it wasn’t, but it didn’t matter since it had already spread around the world).

I can’t remember using or even knowing about Facebook seven years ago, or Tweeting, and such. We now have a Facebook page and plenty of tweeters, or twitterers, or however you say it. And while more blogs have arrived and joined the fray, we seem to have staked out our patch of turf and, I hope, used it to tell the truth as we see it.

That truth, as you know, is that autism is the defining disorder of our age, man-made and thus treatable and preventable. It is “made,” largely, by a reckless and bloated vaccine schedule that has long since passed the risk-reward point, wherever  that might be, and is wreaking all kinds of havoc. So the epidemic is real, the causes are clear, the remedy we embrace is investigating and telling the truth and bringing like-minded people to a common platform.

Of course, we’ve had our stumbles and tumbles. We make no apologies for declining to run material that doesn’t meet our standards or divides our community, or for moderating comments, making this a safe and civil space for people – often parents living with the eyewitness truth – who are ridiculed elsewhere.

I never would have guessed seven years ago that as a result of this I’d have co-written two books (Vaccines 2.0 will be out early next year, again with Mark Blaxill) or had the pleasure of seeing our own Anne Dachel (The Big Autism Cover-up) and Kent Heckenlively (Plague) and Kim Stagliano (All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Teresa) and Cat Jameson and Lisa Goes (Thinking Moms Revolution) publish books, along with close allies like Lou Conte and Wayne Rohde. I’d never have imagined Sharyl Attkission leaving CBS and launching some of the same broadsides in her book (Stonewalled) that we’ve been hurling – the old mainstream media is dying, it’s a mediocre shell of its former self, it is enabling catastrophes like the autism epidemic and the Iraq war by failing in its first duty, to hold government and other powers-that-be to account.

Nor did I envision the Canary Party or HealthChoice arising in tandem with our efforts. We are, first of all, journalists, and our advocacy results from what we have discovered ourselves, not because anyone told us what to say or think.  

As journalists like Glenn Greenwald and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have helped demonstrate, our government has operated with a sense of secrecy and superiority for far too long, unchecked by good traditional journalism.  If the NSA and CIA can spy on its own citizens, the FDA and CDC should not be considered above reproach, either. The mess the CDC first made of Ebola was a wake-up call for some who consider it sacrosanct, and the appearance of whistleblowers at the CDC and Merck show where things are headed.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Happy Anniversary to Us!" »

Holiday Book List from A "ho ho ho ho" of A

Never-enough-booksKent Heckenlively, Anne Dachel , Louis Conte and Wayne Rohde have been as busy as Santa's elves in 2014 writing and editing their books. It's no easy feat to publish a book. A special thank you to Tony Lyons of Skyhorse Publishing who took a risk on a kooky woman (Kim here) with three daughters with autism and published her pink book. And who from there built the very best, most informative and innfluential catalog of titles about autism.   Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted have another book coming out as well. Stay tuned.

Whether you've been naughty or nice, hang a stocking, spin a dreidel or celebrate Festivus (since we have Seinfeld on our minds), we can all welcome the New Year with a stack of books. 

Plague by Kent Heckenlively - 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

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

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

Weekly Wrap: Sharyl Attkisson Gets it Right

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I know our readers appreciate Sharyl Attkisson and her willingness to take on vaccines and autism in a fair-minded way, but her new book Stonewalled really puts her at the center of a broad revival of fearless investigative reporting. It is the opposite of the “access journalism” that has plagued Washington for far too long. The New York Times-sponsored war in Iraq (aided by Judith Miller’s cozy lunches with Cheney aide Scooter Libby) and the media-wide cheerleading for the idea that vaccines don’t cause autism (because their pals at the CDC tell them so) are cases in point. Sadly, it is no exaggeration to say that lazy, credulous, cozy-up journalism has helped lead this country into the two worst international and domestic disasters of our time. 

StonewalledOtherwise, the media is doing just fine in their role as “watchdogs of democracy” (the ironic title of a book by another great Washington reporter, Helen Thomas).

I thought about this as I took Uber – a disruptive innovation that I’d never heard of just a few months ago and now means I will never call a taxi again -- from my home in Falls Church, Virginia, into what we locals call "the district" on Thursday night. As we crossed the Roosevelt Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial was lit up on the right and the Kennedy Center and Watergate on the left, with Arlington Cemetery and the Potomac River receding in the rear window. For once I wasn’t driving and trying to figure out the next turn, so I settled back. It is an awe-inspiring vista if you let it be – the greatness and majesty of the American Experiment spread out before you, with Watergate thrown in to remind us that the press keeps the government honest -- and tonight I was letting it be, the way I had 32 years ago when I came here as a wide-eyed member of the startup crew for USA Today. (These days, I’m one of those jaded residents who like to tell visitors that the rococo multi-tiered Watergate looks like a wedding cake, and the bland, rectangular Kennedy Center like the box it came in.)

The book party was in Georgetown, the center of the permanent establishment in Washington. This Sharyl Dan is where so many of the government and media bigwigs live – Bob Woodward, and Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee before their deaths, and John Kennedy up to the morning he became president. Its charm is undercut these days for the people who actually live there by the Georgetown students who roam the streets after the rowdy bars let out, and by the lack of a metro stop which makes traffic and parking impossible (hence my Uber ride). But its iconic role is intact -- the last scene in All the President’s Men is Woodward and Bernstein standing with Ben Bradlee in his pajamas and robe on his front lawn in the middle of the night, conveying the full scope of the Watergate scandal and warning him that his own house might be bugged.

The car deposited me at a magnificent mansion on a quiet side street, one I suspect would have made Ben's eyes pop and Kay Graham wonder where she went wrong. This place, I knew from a little research after I got the invitation, was most definitely not Sharyl’s; the owners had paid in the upper seven figures (as Realtors here like to say) for it a decade ago, and, at unfathomable further expense, transformed its interior into an “oasis of Zen tranquility” in white, according to a design magazine spread, complete with priceless Asian artwork and statuary. (I also had borrowed a friend’s house for our book party four years ago, though on a somewhat smaller scale.)

There was a young woman just inside the door holding up a copy of Sharyl’s book, although whether that was an invitation to buy it or just a sign that we had wandered into the right mansion was unclear to me. Beyond her, a couple of hundred loudly energetic people were milling about the gorgeous rooms and, I feared, tracking mud from the recent rain onto the (white) carpets. Sharyl was surrounded, so I got a drink and a plateful of A-list food (“journalists love free food” is a truism that has fueled many a successful media event), and moved to a corner of the dining room next to a nearly full-size Buddhist statue to eat in tranquility. 

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Sharyl Attkisson Gets it Right" »

Midweek Mashup: Autism Research Suppression

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

The field of autism research looks just about the way you would expect it to look if the nature of the condition –inflammation and immune stimulation in utero and in infancy – were inescapably clear, yet the biggest and most obvious contributor – vaccines in utero and in infancy that cause inflammation and autoimmunity – were suppressed by mainstream media, medicine and scientific research.

If that were the case, we'd hear about every other possible source of inflammation and autoimmunity in utero and infancy popping up in their tedious turn -- traffic pollution and air pollution and power plant emissions as culprits, and pesticides and sudden unexplained surges in head size, and kids with all the signs of encephalitis (brain swelling) after well-baby visits (note, well babies), and we'd get too much white matter (autoimmunity) making for generalized inability of parts of the brain to connect, even as some parts function at savant levels; and we'd get typical facial features and normal intellectual development because the triggers all came along not in the genes but after the genes had expressed themselves and assembled the architecture and wiring for the last and most innately human functions – language, affective contact, a zest for novelty, not repetition – to come on line. But they wouldn't, for some mysterious reason.

We'd hear things that point to exactly what is happening and where it is happening – in the doctor’s office, the health clinic, the grocery store “health” center – but because of what and where it is happening and whose job it is to figure it out – the bureaucrats who approve and recommend the shots – we'd be having the ridiculous conversation we are in fact having about traffic pollution, which has only gotten better, not worse, and methyl but not ethyl mercury (ditto) and lead (double ditto).

We'd hear about “exciting” gene discoveries that in some unfathomably complexificated way must grab onto the 80,000 other environmental factors through some Rube Goldberg contraptions that are no doubt the next “frontier” at Autism Speaks, even as the daughter of the founder is begging them to look her child in the eyes and publicly acknowledge the truth.

We'd witness an outpouring of parents and families and (increasingly) doctors and researchers who have seen the truth, and seen it again, and again, and again, armed with hashtags and transcripts and room numbers for Congresspersons, and the evidence of their eyes and their children’s lives, stepping beyond their individual catastrophes in a messy but massive advance.

We'd see the truth leaking out of vaccine court rulings and fishy legal language and we'd detect it in the shrill dismissals of “skeptics” whose business is to take down the reputations of anyone who even gets close to speaking the truth.

We'd see the dawning realization among the supposed cognoscenti that the disease fighters don’t have the sense to stay off the subway and away from commercial flights and bowling alleys and panini shops in Princeton for 21 days because they believe their work in other countries – other countries, not here, where we could use some common sense and common decency -- places them in a special category where the only harm they can imagine is harm done to their own schedules and convenience. That’s the modern medical mantra -- Do no harm – to me!

We'd see all that, and we'd say, the doubt and anger are just about everywhere now. If we wanted to be nasty we could call it a virus and say it's endemic, which is the epidemiological version of "too late." It got loose while the experts were trying to appear above it all and stamp out chicken pox and hep B in newborns, and it’s infecting the institutions dedicated to holding it back. How it all goes down from here is just guesswork, but one thing for sure is that there's no vaccine to stop it.

That’s how the field of autism research would look right now if the only suspect remaining in the lineup were the truth. And that, in fact, is how it looks to me.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Weekly Wrap: Renaming Autism Won’t Work Forever

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

As the walls close in on the bogus claim that vaccines don’t cause autism, the latest trick of the vaccine injury deniers seems to be calling it something else.

So we’ve got idiopathic autism (meaning cause unknown). Secondary autism (meaning triggered by some acceptable environmental factor, like valproic acid, in the womb). Regressive autism (like, we just didn’t notice it before). Autistic-like features due to some genetic vulnerability merely triggered by vaccination (like, mito disorder). And even vaccination that results in autism but doesn’t cause it.

And now comes “isolated” autism. This charming term popped up in the William Thompson whistleblower investigation. One of the stated purposes of the 2004 study he has renounced was to look for “isolated” autism as a risk of earlier MMR administration – “isolated” being a subset defined by the paper’s authors as “those with autism and without comorbid developmental disabilities.”

According to the powerful fraud complaint filed this week with the HHS Office of Research Integrity, the research did in fact turn up a link with “isolated” autism, just as it did with black males, but both findings were suppressed.

Reading the description of “isolated” autism brought to mind those hoary days of yore, lo a decade ago now, when I looked into the rate of autism among ye olde Amish. Much time and effort has gone into debunking my humble anecdotal observation – which was, and is, that in this group with a documented lower vaccination rate, there appeared to be less autism.

One of the debunkers, Autism News Beat, no friend of this site, did me an accidental favor. Mr. News Beat reported that Dr. Kevin Strauss, a pediatrician at the Clinic For Special Children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, told him “the idea that the Amish do not vaccinate their children is untrue,” something I never claimed anyway.

Then came the beauty part: “Strauss said the clinic treats ‘syndromic autism,’ where autism is part of a more complicated clinical spectrum that can include mental retardation, chromosomal abnormalities, unusual facial features, and short stature, as well as Fragile X syndrome. ‘We see quite a few Amish children with Fragile X,’ he said.

“Strauss said he doesn’t see ‘idiopathic autism’ at the clinic, which he defines as children with average or above average IQs who display autistic behavior. ‘My personal experience is we don’t see a lot of Amish children with idiopathic autism,’ Strauss said. ‘It doesn’t mean they don’t exist, only that we aren’t seeing them at the clinic.’”

In other words, all those Amish kids whose autism can’t be explained as part of a genetic spectrum present from birth – where the hell are they? They sure aren’t hard to find in the rest of the country.

Idiopathic autism. Isolated autism. Same difference. That’s because there’s a low rate of autism in otherwise typical children who are not inflicted with the CDC’s bloated infant vaccine schedule. There’s a high rate of autism in previously typical children who are.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Renaming Autism Won’t Work Forever" »

Weekly Wrap: Epidemics, Fast and Slow

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

We knew this was coming: “Imagine cities, countries, and entire continents ravaged by Ebola-like outbreaks, with millions dying in the streets from crippling, incurable, and fatal diseases,” someone named Eliyahu Federman writes over at Fox News. “That is what the world looked like before the middle of the last century - before the widespread use and development of vaccines that eradicated these diseases.”

And of course the return of this pestilence is all on Jenny McCarthy: “Celebrities like Jenny McCarthy are scaring parents out of vaccinating their children, spreading misinformation and promoting conspiracy theories, such as the long-disproved claim that vaccines cause autism.”

Conflating death in the streets with reasonable concern that vaccines cause autism is really pushing Ebola NY Postit, wouldn’t you say? The fact is that an effective response to a rapidly spreading epidemic – Ebola in Africa – is completely consistent with taking action to end a slower but no less damaging one in America – autism and other disorders caused by the bloated and out-of-control CDC childhood immunization schedule.

And isn’t it interesting how the CDC has ended up on the wrong side of both? Its stewardship of the response to the arrival of Ebola on our shores has been so messed up that President Obama just appointed a lawyer – a lawyer, not a doctor! – to run things from here on. As far as I can tell he has zero background in public health whatsoever. What a relief.

I thought only medical professionals were qualified to make decisions about such things as disease control and prevention. But maybe not – maybe they let infectious people on planes, don’t provide effective protection to the help (aka nurses), don’t “scramble the jets” when they really do need scrambling (Ebola), and do scramble them when they don’t (chickenpox, influenza, rotavirus, etc).

Rather than demonstrating the bankruptcy of concern over vaccination policies, Ebola points to the bungling of the people who are in charge of those policies.

Now, whether a vaccine for Ebola would be a good thing or not, the fact is there is't one. What we’re seeing at the moment is the importance (and, unfortunately, the failure) of common sense public health measures – quarantining the infected, getting basic sanitation and safe water and health infrastructures into the developing world, and finding not just preventives, but treatment. Using the blood of people who’ve survived Ebola to treat people fighting infection is an old idea – the diphtheria toxin-antitoxin was derived from the blood of infected horses. But it works!

Taking advantage of Ebola to claim once again that vaccines don't cause autism – when the fact is, vaccines do cause autism – is really quite unpleasant, not to mention irrelevant. We have to retain the ability to prevent and respond to urgent outbreaks like Ebola along with the slower-moving kind. It’s taken 25 years of a bloated and corrupt vaccine policy, but half the kids in this country now suffer from some kind of neurodevelopmental or chronic condition.

That’s what's killing us, not Ebola.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Autism Speaks Says To Get the MMR and Prevent Autism!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Autism speaks backward

For sheer spectacle, it’s hard to top – and maybe a little hard to watch – Autism Speaks flip, flop and flounder in the perilous sea of autism causation.

But now they’ve really cast their lot with the vaccine injury deniers. I don’t see much more wiggle room. On Thursday, Ronan Farrow on MSNBC did an interview that managed to mangle just about every fact surround the William Thompson whistleblower controversy. He began by announcing that some are calling this Vaccine Injury Awareness Month.

Farrow attributed this to the “anti-vaccine” movement and said one of the most common alleged vaccine injuries on this group’s list was autism. “The problem,” he said, “is there’s zero evidence of such a link. The Centers for Disease Control, reviewing existing literature, concluding there’s not a causal relationship between certain vaccine types and autism.” No mention of the inherent conflict that the CDC promotes vaccination.

“Where does the autism conspiracy theory come from?” Farrow asks. “Well, a study published in 2004 found a potential link between vaccines and autism in African-American boys. But this past August, two of the authors did a re-analysis of the data and concluded that their earlier analysis was faulty, apologizing for omitting key information.”

Say what now? This is pretty close to gibberish.

“The report has since been removed from the public domain. So what is fact and what is fiction?”

Enter AS. “So joining me now is Paul Wang,” senior vice president and director of medical research for Autism Speaks. “Clarity is the most important thing here,” Farrow says, having already muddled things irretrievably. “So first of all walk me through what happens with this mysterious study. It seems to have proven back in 2004 that there was a link, but there are problems.”

What now, again?

Wang says: “It’s a very interesting study. If you look back at the original study from 2004, it did say -- there was no cover-up – it did say there seemed to be a higher risk for autism among children who got the MMR vaccine before three years of age. The part that nobody’s talking about if you looked in that study, children who got the MMR on time, which is before 18 months, there is no increased risk. So it actually looked like the increased risk was in people who were getting it late. There’s no cover-up there, that’s in the original study.

“Even this new analysis, which has since been retracted, doesn’t challenge that. People who got it on time have no increased risk for autism.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Autism Speaks Says To Get the MMR and Prevent Autism!" »

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" »

Midweek Mashup: Ebola Versus E-68

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

Right now the media is fixated on the first case of Ebola to reach U.S. shores (without the assistance of the CDC, that is). Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, says the disease will be stopped in its tracks, and for once I believe him. This is what the CDC does well -- track an outbreak in real time, find contacts, quarantine if necessary, and put an end to it. 

Enterovirus 68, I'm afraid, may be another story. We first started hearing about the bug earlier this year, when a couple of dozen cases of paralysis in children started popping up in California. At that point we weren't hearing about how dangerous the respiratory symptoms were, just that some children ended up with various kinds of paralysis in association with it. Now the primary respiratory illness seems more virulent (a Rhode Island girl died just yesterday), and it's causing wider cases of paralysis (Colorado, Michigan, Boston ... and counting).

Which story is bigger? I vote for the enterovirus.

On the one hand, we've got one case of exotic and terrifying Ebola, a disease that makes your eyes ooze blood and is the proverbial "plane ride away." We keep hearing about how every terrible vaccine-preventable disease that is no longer a threat in the United States -- polio being a classic example -- is just a plane ride away, and that all 300 million of us need multiple injections starting in infancy in case it lands here. (Makes you wonder why we're not still getting yellow fever shots, doesn't it!)

But when a disease does in fact land here, public health surveillance catches it in a heartbeat, even with a goof like the Dallas emergency room sending the Ebola victim home the first time.

What's much more disturbing, on the other hand, is a disease that appears to be endemic - Enterovirus 68 -- that spreads much more easily.

And -- this is key -- the endemic one appears to be acting strangely. Ebola is nasty, but we know its evil ways. We haven't seen an enterovirus causing any appreciable paralysis since -- well, since polio. That bug circulated in the same way, generally caused no major problems, but starting in the late 1800s, inexplicably got into the nervous system of a small percentage of those infected and became something else entirely.

No one ever really got a handle on why that happened -- they just created a vaccine that wiped it out in the United States. Now, having basically learned nothing from that epidemic, we've got another bug whose behavior is similar -- and about which we also know nothing.

“Parents ask, ‘Why? Why my child or why not my child?’” Colorado public health official Larry Wolk said of paralysis from E-68. “And it’s a question we can’t answer because we don’t really know why some of these kids go on to develop this type of serious complication.”

Well, we do have an idea, one that AOA has been investigating for several years, since Mark Blaxill and I observed in 2011 that polio epidemics seemed to arise along with new and highly toxic pesticides -- namely, lead arsenate -- in the late 1800s. Because polio is an enterovirus, which reproduces in the gut, we proposed an interaction between the virus and the pesticide residue from fruits or vegetables. We theorized this let the virus into the nervous system, where it caused the characteristic damage to the anterior horn cells at the top front of the spinal column.

Continue reading "Midweek Mashup: Ebola Versus E-68" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: No Evidence. None. Zero. Absolutely Nothing. Oh, wait …

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Any serious critique of the “vaccines cause autism” position – a position that I certainly hold – henceforth needs to take account of William Thompson.

Vaccine injury deniers who trot out the “study after study show no link” gambit, the “discredited doctor” shibboleth, the “Playboy bunny “ ploy and the “correlation is not causation” canard really can’t get by on just that any more. Those were simpler times.

But of course, they’ll try. They’ll try to ignore Thompson, the CDC Senior Scientist who blew the whistle on the study that found no link between the timing of the MMR shot and the risk of autism. Oh yes they did, Thompson said; they hid the finding that black males are at much higher risk if they get the MMR before 36 months.

So when, this week, on Huffington Post, Jeff Schweitzer, “scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst, PH.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology," writes this –

“There is no evidence none, zero, absolutely nothing to link vaccinations with autism. It is a myth, a fallacy, factually incorrect. Yet tens of thousands of parents risk their children's health by withholding critical vaccinations. Like [Rob] Schneider, many parents still to this day insist that vaccines cause autism, even in the complete absence of any evidence to support the claim with the withdrawal of the original paper. You might as well claim that vaccines cause baldness; no, no, I've got the perfect claim: Vaccines are ineffective but cause global warming! In that we combine belief in something for which there is no evidence and disbelief in another other for which there is indisputable proof. Perfect.”

-- When someone writes this, I can’t help thinking that an advanced degree in marine biology slash neurophysiology and a White House gig can't keep the true dilettante in someone from emerging.

But of course, ignoring or nullifying the Thompson disclosure is not just pathetic and evidence of a lack of moral seriousness; it perpetuates the tragic autism epidemic. When you’ve got 4 million babies born every year in the U.S., and a 1 in 68 autism rate, that’s an appreciable number of kids at risk every single day this goes on.

The CDC, in trying to brush Thompson aside and issue bland bromides about its concern for autism, continues its abysmal pattern. This, in turn, breeds complacency in the medical industry at the expense of the parents and few medical professionals trying to sound the alarm. Isabella Thomas, mother of two of the Lancet 12 children in Andy Wakefield’s landmark (not discredited!) MMR study, sent a letter to the equivalent of the FDA in England:

“CDC Whistleblower William Thompson has released a formal statement confirming the original study found a link between MMR and Autism, especially in African American and that the CDC hid the results.

“I would like to know if you have investigated this report and your comments please.”

The response:

We are aware that the CDC has issued a statement standing by the findings of its original study. . We are also aware that the analysis by Dr Hooker has since been retracted by the journal in which it appeared. . "

How condescending. Shouldn’t health authorities take some immediate action in response to Thompson’s disclosure, moving the MMR to age 3 for black males today – not tomorrow, today?

And shouldn’t pediatricians and pharmacies demand answers to Thompson’s statement that he’d never let his own pregnant wife get a mercury-containing flu shot – because they cause tics in children, and tics are four times more common in autism, and, therefore, it’s biologically plausible to say right now that vaccine can cause autism?

Of course this is hardly the first harsh truth to confront the powers that be – see Verstraeten, Unanswered Questions, Simpsonwood, et al. It's just one more piece of evidence that points to a pattern and practice of deceit, delay and denial.

I hear things are in an uproar down in Atlanta. As I said a few months ago, Freddy Krueger is coming for the CDC.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Why?

Why-1By Dan Olmsted

Watergate has been on my mind lately. For one thing, Nixon resigned 40 years ago in August.  When I started full time journalism a few week later, in October 1974, Woodward and Bernstein were my huge, daunting inspiration. (Another Watergate link – I turned 20 on the day of the break-in.)

There’s a moment in the movie of All the President’s Men, during a news meeting at the Washington Post, where one editor is skeptical of the paper’s Watergate reporting. Ben Bradlee asks him to stay behind and explain his concerns.

“It’s not just that we’re using unnamed sources that bothers me, or that everything we print the White House denies, or that almost no other papers are reprinting our stuff.

“Look, there are over 2,000 reporters in this town. Are there five on Watergate? Where did the Washington Post suddenly get the monopoly on wisdom? … Why would the Republicans do it? I don’t believe the story. Doesn’t make sense.” Why? Why? Why?

When it comes to vaccines and autism, people very much like that guy have been expressing disbelief about a vaccine-autism link for a very long time now. The skeptical mainstream media is sitting around letting the "Why?" stop them cold. Why in God’s name would anyone who cares about public health ever conceal a link between vaccines and autism.  They don’t believe it. Doesn’t make sense. Besides, if it were true, why wasn’t some important publication covering it, not just borderline characters like us? Why? Why? Why?

Another version of this skepticism goes like this: “So you’re telling me there’s a giant conspiracy by doctors to hurt children with vaccines and hide the truth.” Uh, no, that’s what you think it would take to cause the calamity at hand. 

Actually, it’s always been clear that a handful of well-placed people could (and did) skew the epidemiology and restrict the research to the point that a link might never emerge, or at least not until they were safely retired, rehired, deceased, or had eradicated measles and gotten a Nobel Prize or at least an HHS Secretary's Citation and a nice bonus. 

That narrative has been unfolding since SafeMinds discovered the early generations of Verstraeten’s thimerosal study and the Simpsonwood transcripts. It picked up momentum from the Unanswered Questions study linking vaccine injury awards and autism; from multiple other streams of effort and evidence; and first and last and always from parents who want the powers that be to hear this well: Vaccines cause autism.

Now that William Thompson – unnamed source no more -- has come forward, it is possible to see the actual fingerprints of the perpetrators on the evidence. A bunch of bureaucrats, many of them cozy with drug companies as employers or partners, tamped down the associations to the point that business as usual could continue.

It does feel like a business decision, doesn’t it – the business of vaccination, the medical industry, cannot be crossed. It must not be seen to shudder or quake.

But, again, why? Motivation can’t be known, and in a larger sense it doesn’t matter. Whether to fulfill professional goals, rise in the ranks, protect friends or previous mistakes – really, who cares. The doctors running the Tuskegee experiment actually thought they were doing God’s work. One of the leaders was a black nurse who made sure the men showed up when they were supposed to. She picked them up in her car. She loved them. She wouldn’t hurt a flea.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Why?" »

How Autism Happens: A Conversation With Sheila Ealey

How Autism Happens graphicBy Dan Olmsted

Editor’s Note: This is the second story (the first was How Autism Happens: A Conversation with Kathryn Wolcott) in which parents tell how they watched their child develop autism – and Sheila Ealey has quite a story to tell. She lives in New Orleans, but, married to a military man, has moved around the country. She set up a school for special needs kids in New Orleans, in part to help her autistic son, Temple, but the day it was to open, Hurricane Katrina swept in. She relocated to Houston with thousands of others but is now back in New Orleans; the school, the Creative Learning Center of Louisiana, is thriving. I met Sheila at an autism conference in 2006, introduced by our mutual friend Brooke Potthast. With the news about the higher risk of autism in black males, and the CDC effort to hide it I remembered our conversation and Brooke helped me get in touch. The conversation starts with her son, Temple, and his twin, Lucinda, at a military hospital in Maryland for their one-year shots along with their older sister. If you want to participate, e-mail me at olmsted.dan@gmail.com.

Sheila: It was August 2,  2000 – my birthday – and Temple and Lucinda were almost 13 months 

Twins at Birth old. Leielani is only 15 months older. Lucinda can manage to get herself out of the triple stroller, she did not want the injection, and she was fighting tooth and nail not to have it. I looked down for just a moment -- the nurse had all the vaccinations lined up. She had the HIB, the DTaP and the MMR for each child. When I looked up after taking her twin sister up, she had given Temple both of the MMRs along with the DTaP and the HIB. The next morning, he was not responsive anymore. It took me until he was 18 months to get a finished diagnosis of autism for him.

Dan:          When you say, “he was not responsive anymore,” how do you mean?

Sheila:       He didn’t have language yet by that point, but he was walking. He walked exactly on his birthday July 12 of that year, and he was walking well. After the shot he stopped walking, he started crawling, he started banging his head against the wall, the floor, anything he could. He stopped imitating with his father, he was making no eye contact, and he didn’t want you to touch him or hold him.

Dan:          That happened within a day?

Sheila:       He cried so -- he cried, cried, cried the entire night. I called the doctors back because I caught the mistake right away, and the doctor who was on duty at that time said, “I’m going to call Merck and find out what to do.” But in the meantime the fever went up extraordinarily high. He said, “Give him Tylenol.” Which is what I did. The next morning when I went to his crib he wasn’t standing, rocking on his crib, calling for me, “Ma, ma, ma” to come get him. Nothing. Nothing. He was lying there looking in the ceiling. He looked gone. My baby was gone.

Dan:          His sister didn’t have any of these problems?

Sheila:       I refused to give her the vaccination, so she didn’t get it. We left. She is fine. She is learning three languages. She is doing extraordinarily well. Now it seemed that she did have a few issues from the vaccinations before, at 5 months. She had reflux, but outside of that she is absolutely fine. She doesn’t have any issues. But this child, Temple, was hit so hard. Language has not come back in. Before the shot, he wasn’t speaking in sentences -- he was just a year old -- but he would say “Mama,” stuff like that.

Temple as a babyAfter this happened I started taking him to developmental specialists and they kept saying, “He is a boy. Sometimes boys are a little slower.” And I said, “Okay.” I came home, I decided to pack my bags and to move back to New Orleans because I had a pediatrician I had been dealing with for years for my older daughter. I asked her, “What is this? I have never seen this before,” because I didn’t know about autism. She said, “Sheila, I think your child has autism.” I said, “What? What is that?” The minute I took him to see a neurologist that she told me to take him to, he told me, “I’m sorry this child is so autistic, he has to have chronic autism.” When I asked him what that was he told me, “He had to be born with it.” I said, “I’m not sure -- this baby was just perfect and now … there was nothing wrong before.”

Let me tell you what else happened to me, Dan. After I went to Autism One, I was still living in Houston because we had lost everything to Katrina, but I had his records with me where the doctor had said that he had gotten a double dose of the MMR, and that they should call Merck, and Merck said he doesn’t need to be vaccinated for the MMR anymore.

We came home to New Orleans and we left those records locked up in the apartment. Someone went into our apartment and stole his records. They didn’t take anything but his record.

Dan:          Oh Lord.

Sheila: Temple's records were stolen from our apartment. My partner in the school is a lawyer who worked at the time for [a new Orleans law firm]. When she returned in October of '05, by spring of '06 they fired her because they were representing Merck against me. Thanks to Congress, my case was thrown out. I also filed with the vaccine injury program and they dismissed my case because they said I needed a doctor who could without a doubt state that Temple was damaged due to the double dose of the MMR. 

Dan: What do you think about this new report about the black males and the high risk and all that -- what does that make you think?

Continue reading "How Autism Happens: A Conversation With Sheila Ealey" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Dr. Bill’s Alternate Vaccine Schedule

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted 11 commandment

As we all know, the current CDC vaccination schedule is sanctified holy writ. Only one-name nitwits like Doctor Oz and Doctor Bob dare to challenge it, and they are promptly pounced on by Doctors of Orthodoxy like Offit and Orac.

But now we have a new voice on the scene – Dr. William Thompson, the CDC whistleblower who so far, and I emphasize so far, has opined on the MMR and the flu shot for fetus-bearing women, and hasn’t much liked what he’s seen.

MMR at one year? Well no, certainly not for black males, who Thompson says showed a high risk of developing autism if the vaccine was given before 36 months.

Flu shots for pregnant women? God no! “I can say confidently I do think thimerosal causes tics. So I don’t know why they still give it to pregnant women. Like, that’s the last person I would give mercury to. Thimerosal from vaccines causes tics. You start a campaign and make it your mantra.

“Do you think a pregnant mother would want to take a vaccine that they knew caused tics? Absolutely not. I would never give my wife a vaccine that I thought caused tics. I can say, tics are four times more prevalent in kids with autism. There is biological plausibility right now to say that thimerosal causes autism-like features.”

So we’ve got an alternate vaccine schedule going right here – no MMR before three – not for nobody – and no flu shots (since most contain mercury and you shouldn’t believe otherwise when it’s coming toward you or your child).

Now whether the flu shot for pregnant women is actually on the childhood vaccine schedule is a matter of some serious chicanery. The CDC and AAP said in 1999 that childhood  vaccines should be mercury-free as soon as possible. But they refused to express a preference for mercury-free flu shots for pregnant women and infants, even as they increased the recommended coverage to all pregnant women and to all human beings six months or older, forever. (The CDC also now recommends a Dtap shot for all pregnant women, as well.)

Given these statements by "Dr. Bill," isn’t there some kind of imperative for the CDC and medical organizations to immediately suspend flu shots in pregnancy, and postpone the MMR shot to 36 months (the risk for all kids was elevated; it was astronomical for black males).

Thompson issued a statement through his lawyer with the usual blather about the value of vaccines: "I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race."

Well, yeah, you did. You said no woman carrying a fetus should get a mercury containing flu shot. You said the public should know that black males who get the MMR shot under 36 months have a higher risk of autism.

If I were an activist, I could imagine standing outside of Walgreen’s – on the corner of flu shots and lifelong disability, yuk yuk – with pamphlets saying, “No flu shots for you! CDC whistleblower says they cause autism!” The pamphlet can parse the details. And “MMR before Age 3 = Autism for Life – CDC Whistleblower.” Again, details can come underneath.

Because that's what we're really talking about here -- vaccine injury happening daily when Dr. Bill's alternate immunization schedule could be a good, and immediate, start at avoiding it.

--

He who waffles is toast: Speaking of docs, Dr. Jay Gordon offered a comment on our site this week: “I'm not sure about the whistleblower issue but I always look back to this as one of the more interesting commentaries about vaccine combinations.  Like (Dr.) Bob, I give vaccines but have never given them according to the recommended schedule and support parents' right to choose when, how and if they vaccinate their children.”

Followed by: “I have spent 35 years educating myself, making my own decisions, encouraging parents to make theirs. And I have always distrusted the CDC. This incident reminds me of the line in ‘Casablanca’ – ‘Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!’ A scientist participated in a study and was complicit in its omission of valuable data. He was then secretly taped by someone whose views and agenda are very well known. (Mine are, too) How valuable a piece is this in our puzzle and our struggle to bring sanity to vaccination policies and attitudes? In my opinion, the value is limited. Best, Jay”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Dr. Bill’s Alternate Vaccine Schedule" »

Olmsted in 2006 on Autism, Vaccines and Dr. Wakefield

2006Editor's Note: I wrote this in 2006, which just shows that any idiot who was paying attention should have known a long time ago that the MMR is strongly linked to the autism epidemic. The filmmaker father I refer to whose daughter regressed immediately after the MMR is Erik Nanstiel, who recently described it powerfully in his own Hear This Well video. If you want to take an autism rate of 1 in 68 for around 4 million babies born every year in the United States, the damage done in the decade since the bogus 2004 CDC MMR study:  588,000 cases of autism. -- Dan Olmsted

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who first raised the prospect of a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism, is being pursued by British medical authorities.

According to the BBC: "The Independent newspaper reports that the General Medical Council will accuse Mr. Andrew Wakefield of carrying out 'inadequately founded' research. Vaccination rates fell sharply after Dr Wakefield questioned the safety of MMR, raising fears of a measles epidemic. His initial Lancet paper has since been disowned by the journal."

Let's put aside the issues surrounding the Lancet paper and concerns about a measles epidemic and go straight to the heart of the matter: Does the MMR cause autism? In other words, is Wakefield right?

After looking into the topic for more than a year, I'm very concerned that he may be -- that, especially in children whose immune systems have been rendered susceptible by any number of possible exposures, the combined live-virus vaccine has its fingerprints all over numerous cases of regressive autism.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2006/06/13/The-Age-of-Autism-But-is-Wakefield-right/UPI-62041150213395/#ixzz3ClkYgSwb

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Screen Shot Gambit

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

There’s a certain bleak satisfaction in watching the fortress of vaccine injury denial start to crumble, evidenced by wilder and wilder theories designed to patch together the remnants of “the science is settled … study after study” argument, now that the science is unsettled and study after study starts to look like lie after lie.

On C-SPAN, at the National Press Club, on PBS and the major networks and print outlets, they are still running off the old karma, but the new paradigm is about to catch up with them. I hope they enjoy these last late summer days in the bully pulpit ridiculing anyone who notices the reality about to crash down on them.

Over at Respectful Insolence, “Orac” is obsessing over whether CDC whistleblower William Thompson actually sent Andy Wakefield (and his wife, Carmel) apologetic texts. Never mind what Thompson said in his own statement, or was captured on audio by Brian Hooker. No, the screen grab must be a fake!

“But something about that text exchange, more specifically the image of that text exchange, bothered me. It even bothered some antivaccinationists, because I saw complaints about it. Why is it a photo of an iPhone? Doesn’t Andy even know how to take a screen shot on his iPhone?”

It goes on from there. “Notice how in Andy’s screenshot, the word “Back” appears by the arrow in the upper left hand corner. Notice how, in mine, the word “Messages” appears in the upper left hand corner. That’s what had been bugging me when I first looked at the screenshot and it didn’t look quite right to me! I had finally put my finger on it!”

In the comments section, Orac’s thesis doesn’t hold up very well – even Brian Deer doubts it! This causes Orac to add an editor’s note allowing the possibility of error and adding: “Unlike AoA and other antivaccine groups, if I am wrong about something, I will admit it and discuss what might have led me to an incorrect conclusion.”

Wow. Even an occasion for admitting error becomes an opportunity for pointing out our supposed failings! I did send Andy a text before we ran our article about Thompson’s comments, here:

Carmel Andy Text

Now, exactly why my last text about being a fraud not going through is unknown to me. Maybe Orac interfered with it or God Herself decided that since Andy really is a fraud, no transmission casting doubt on it will be allowed. Or maybe because I was driving around in Illinois and the especially high corn this year interfered.

Andy Wakefield may not know how to take a screen shot of his iPhone. The last time I saw him with one, it had been run over in the parking lot where he dropped it before we went in for dinner, and, while the screen was good and cracked, he kept using it. And my last text to Andy may simply have failed to transmit.

One way or another, though, the message is starting to get through: Andy is not the fraud here. He is not the one who is killing babies, in Bill Gates’ memorable formulation of the issue.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Take Me To Your Protocol

 

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I am not a chi square guy. I'm an English major. I am in no position to evaluate the techniques used to calibrate the autism rate in black males, or anybody else, before or after the MMR shot. 

But I can read. And when I read William Thompson's statement about the CDC's study on this topic, I was struck by the way it was constructed: “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding what findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

It takes a while to parse this paragraph, which sounds kind of bland and bureaucratic. The passive voice – decisions were made, reminiscent of the classic "mistakes were made" – doesn't help. And the data weren't merely collected before the decisions were made; the data were analyzed. One result really stood out, Thompson is telling us, and not in a way that suited their institutional purposes. They changed the protocol and the "statistically significant information" was no more. They wiped it out.

I bet there are reporters who read right over that. He's talking about scientific fraud on the most important health issue affecting America's children, at the agency charged with protecting them, not a gentleman's disagreement over decisions on how to apply chi square. The media coverage, such as it is, has wandered aimlessly along side issues, but the point here seems pretty basic: There was a protocol directing them how to do the study. William Thompson says he and his CDC colleagues didn’t follow it. And he thinks that's a big problem. Big.

So what was the protocol and how was it not followed? Brian Hooker, who re-analyzed the data, talked about it in a video interview with Gary Franchi:

"I have the CDC's original protocol. The CDC's final agreed-upon protocol came out for this particular study on September 5, 2001, and in that particular protocol they said they would consider race among the entire population. They called race a co-variant, and that’s just a term that’s used in statistics for a secondary variable, but they said that race would be used within the entire population.

"So what they’ve done is they’ve deviated from their own protocol, and, according to the whistleblower, the reason why they deviated from that agreed-upon protocol [by adding in a requirement for Georgia birth certificates]  was they saw this astronomical risk in African-Americans, and when they saw that astronomical risk, they looked for any way they could bury that risk, and they reduced the sample size down to what’s called the birth certificate cohort, and that caused the association to no longer be statistically significant."

None of this, you’ll notice, has anything to do with Brian Hooker or Andy Wakefield or "anti-vaxxers" and their relentless and cunning war against humanity. Time Magazine’s question – “Did the CDC cover up the data, as Hooker claims?” – is ridiculous and shows just the kind of misreading of the story, and Thompson's own admissions, that I'm talking about. It should be, did the CDC cover up the data, as CDC Senior Scientist William Thompson, who co-authored the study, claims in a stunning break with his colleagues? In his taped comments, Thompson was much more passionate and personal, something the few news outlets who have covered it, like CNN, should have noted. Believe me, in other circumstances they wouldn't care less whether a public official who said something like this knew he was being taped.

But for now let's just take Thompson at his carefully calibrated word -- his own statement. That's quite enough.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Take Me To Your Protocol " »

Our Story So Far: Both MMR & Mercury-Laced Vaccines Cause Autism

Breaking newsBy Dan Olmsted

Quite a week, I think you’d have to agree. William Thompson, the whistleblower first heard on a taped phone call with Brian Hooker last week, has now come forward, confirming his role in covering up evidence that black males may be particularly vulnerable to autism from the on-time MMR shot. Rather than follow up on that clue from a susceptibility group – a clue that could unravel the CDC’s whole argument that vaccines never, ever cause autism – the CDC researchers buried it.

What’s more, he’s also on tape saying another study he was lead researcher on sends an ominous signal that the mercury-containing flu shot for pregnant woman can cause autism. The study found a higher risk of tics, and children with autism have four times the rate of tics as other children.

Meanwhile, Thompson says on the tape and doesn’t take back in his statement, “I can say confidently I do think thimerosal causes tics. So I don’t know why they still give it to pregnant women. Like, that’s the last person I would give mercury to. Thimerosal from vaccines causes tics. You start a campaign and make it your mantra.

“Do you think a pregnant mother would want to take a vaccine that they knew caused tics? Absolutely not. I would never give my wife a vaccine that I thought caused tics. I can say, tics are four times more prevalent in kids with autism. There is biological plausibility right now to say that thimerosal causes autism-like features.”

Interesting what a strong echo this is from the Simpsonwood transcript, June 7, 2000: "Forgive this personal comment, but I got called out at eight o'clock for an emergency call and my daughter-in-law delivered a son by C-section. Our first male in the line of the next generation and I do not want that grandson to get a Thimerosal containing vaccine until we know better what is going on. It will probably take a long time. In the meantime, and I know there are probably implications for this internationally, but in the meanwhile I think I want that grandson to only be given Thimerosal-free vaccines." - Dr. Robert Johnson, Immunologist, University of Colorado, Simpsonwood, Ga.

So while the rest of us suckers shoot our kids and ourselves up with autism-causing vaccinations, the smart set – namely, epidemiologists and immunologists whom we pay to figure these things out – look at the data and say, no way you’re giving that to my wife and grandson!

Of course, tell that to your pediatrician and he’ll tell you there’s no evidence for that. There’s no evidence because the evidence has been suppressed, and now it’s being unsuppressed.

As of today, August 28, 2014,  it’s quite clear that flu shots with mercury should be yanked off the market, and not just for pregnant women and infants (Thompson seemed not to know that they, too, get mercury-laced flu shots). Mercury-containing shots, including those promoted in third-world countries by hapless do-good-look-at-me-I’m-a-hero groups like the Gates Foundation, should be gathered up and disposed of by people in hazmat suits.

And the MMR should be moved to 36 months for any and all. Given that we now see it is capable of causing autism but don’t know exactly why (it’s probably viral interference at too young an age, but is the interference driven by the neurotoxic measles vaccine or the mutated and ineffective mumps portion, the subject of another whistleblower complaint?), it should be broken back into three parts and given with wide separation.

And the flawed and offensive Pediatrics article giving the MMR a clean bill of health at 12 months should be retracted.

Continue reading "Our Story So Far: Both MMR & Mercury-Laced Vaccines Cause Autism" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: A Torrent of Leaks Reaches Flood Stage

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

As the MMR whistleblower issue blows up, here's one thing that’s worth remembering: The specific manipulation of data being alleged is that the CDC covered up a risk for autism in black males who got the MMR shot earlier than 36 months. That is appalling, and raises terrible echoes of the nation’s public health officials and their odious Tuskegee study of untreated black males with syphilis.

But more broadly, according to the medical, scientific, and journalistic consensus of our day, there should be no good evidence of any kind, whatsoever, linking any vaccine to autism in any child, ever. Ever! (“One Thing We Know About Autism: Vaccines Aren’t to Blame” – National Geographic. “Once again, the research is definitive: vaccines don't cause autism, and the potential costs of vaccines' mild side-effects are clearly smaller than those of the lethal diseases that can spread if we don't vaccinate all children.” – Vox.com)

Since “we know” that vaccines don’t cause autism, they certainly don’t cause it in black males. They certainly don’t cause it when the MMR is given to black males. They certainly don’t cause it when the MMR is given to black males in Atlanta.  They certainly don’t cause it when the MMR is given to black males in Atlanta before a certain age – or, for that matter, given on the day of birth to blue-eyed females in Dubuque born on the first or third Thursdays of months ending in "y."

They don't cause autism! Got it? If they did, even in such a circumscribed cohort as black males in Atlanta vaccinated with MMR before 36 months --  that would start a cascade of challenges to orthodoxy that simply can’t – and, if the authority figures have their way, simply won’t – be tolerated. This is what the The Times and The Networks and the Agencies are going to be working overtime to shore up.

The CDC’s William Thompson, whistleblower to Brian Hooker on the MMR study and lead author on another on mercury in vaccines, has probably ruined more than a few of his colleagues’ August vacations at Hilton Head. One can’t help think of goofy cartoon characters running around a leaking dike and plugging every hole that starts spurting. They are down now to using their toes. (Check out this staggeringly off-message comment from Dorit Reiss on CNN: "Even if his [Brian Hooker's] claims about the study were correct, which is doubtful, it would show that for most of the population, MMR does not cause autism." I imagine a Merck guy yelling in her ear, "Dammit, Dorit, don't ever say it's OK if the MMR just makes a few thousand black boys autistic! Do you really want this job? ")

More broadly, these “leaks” in the bulwark of conventional wisdom have been coming for a long time, and not just from people on the inside with information to share.

I’m talking about leaks like all the parents of children on the other side of the elevated-risk stats – MMR shots at 12 months, illness, regression, autism.

Leaks like parents who saw it with other vaccines, at other times  -- parents who were willing to share what happened to try to keep it from happening again.

Leaks like the original Verstraeten study at the CDC that found a high risk of autism for infants who got the most ethyl mercury by the first month of life, as opposed to the least.

Leaks like the CDC coverup of the soaring autism rate in Brick Township, N.J.

Leaks like all the evidence from low-and-no-vaccine populations with low-to-no autism. Leaks like the unwillingness of the public health authorities to even study the issue.

Leaks like the Hannah Poling case, which the government conceded was triggered by autism, but buried by obfuscation. Leaks like the Unanswered Questions study showing autism all over the place in unacknowledged vaccine “court” rulings.

Leaks like the SafeMinds parents identifying autism as a “novel form of mercury poisoning” more than a decade ago. 

Leaks like the Merck scientists who came forward to say the company faked data to make its mumps vaccine look effective.

Leaks like the connection between the first cases of autism reported in the medical literature, in 1943, and the families’ exposure to the new ethyl mercury vaccines and fungicides. 

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: A Torrent of Leaks Reaches Flood Stage" »

How Autism Happens: A Conversation With Kathryn Wolcott

How Autism Happens graphicBy Dan Olmsted

This is the first in a series of articles in which parents describe how their children developed autism. Today, a talk with Kathryn Wolcott. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail me at Olmsted.dan@gmail.com

Dan: I have not done this series before, this conversation,  so I appreciate your being the first one and talking to me. I wondered if you might just go over a little bit about your situation, where you live, what you do, what your family's like and maybe we can talk about what happened with your daughter, Norah.

Kathryn: I would love to actually because this is the first time I've really gotten to flesh out the whole Wolcott familysituation.

My husband and I live in Jackson, Michigan, which is just south of the capital of Lansing. We both went to Michigan State University. We grew up together and got married after college. I actually went to school for communication, and then my master's degree is in health communication and I studied epidemiology and public health. After my daughter was born I did my master’s thesis on the CDC's vaccine schedule and how Jenny McCarthy was ruining public health as we know it and how vaccines absolutely do not cause autism.

Dan: You can't be serious.

Kathryn: I'm very serious, which is why this is such an interestingly ironic situation. Of course I got all my information from the CDC itself. I was gung-ho about making sure everyone in my family got their flu shot and my daughter was vaccinated on schedule every single month and there was no delaying or anything.

We found out we were expecting after we'd been married for about two and a half years, and I heard someone talking about the vaccine-autism connection and of course I just totally blew it off, "Of course it doesn't cause autism, it's just better diagnosing and that will never happen, because I'm having a girl and girls don't get autism as much as boys do." I got the flu shot while pregnant, everything.

She was born 39 weeks. I was a planned induction, which was another big regret. She was developing fine really. I nursed her ... We had a little bit of struggles with breastfeeding at the beginning. She got  Vitamin K at birth, and then two weeks in, the hep B, and she got sick, and I mean like fever.

Then we started noticing some GI issues and she was having horrible constipation and screaming and gas, which is unusual on a breastfed baby. I cut dairy and that seemed to help a little bit until we got to the two month shot and she got sick again with the high-pitched screams, the fever, all of it. Of course I pushed Tylenol like you wouldn't believe.

She got her four-month shots, same thing -- fever, screaming, but she seemed to be fine. Then between the four-month and the six-month shots, her head circumference went from the 25th percentile, which is where she was because she is little, to the 90th. That should have been a red flag for me, but retrospectively I know now.

Dan: Was that noticeable to you or is that something that the doctor noticed when he measured or what?

Continue reading "How Autism Happens: A Conversation With Kathryn Wolcott" »

Midweek Mashup: Drinking the Mercury

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

One of the unexpected plusses of Bobby Kennedy Jr.'s book on the dangers of thimerosal, the ethyl mercury vaccine preservative: It is being greeted by another round of excruciatingly erroneous authoritative-sounding pronouncements claiming that the tiny, tiny -- truly, truly, teeny and tiny -- amounts of mercury are OK if not actually good for you.

No. As I believe Will Redwood put it, injecting mercury in babies on purpose is stupid. Out of the mouths of babes and infants comes the truth. Out of the mouths of the Mercury Drinkers comes a  defense of injecting mercury in babies that is just plain astonishing:

"It doesn't matter what Bobby Kennedy, Jr. does -- the only thing is what the data show," Paul Offit said. "The question is, are the levels [of mercury] contained in vaccines shown to be harmful? And the answer is no. Thimerosal is ethyl mercury, not environmental mercury, and it's excreted from the body far more quickly ... Breast milk contains far higher [mercury] levels than you would ever get from vaccines."

The CDC is happy to chime with its usual insipid statement:  "Thimerosal has been used safely in vaccines for a long time (since the 1930s) and has a proven track record of being safe." It's safe because it's safe because we say so.

Actually, it is not safe and it has a proven record of causing autism, starting with its use in the 1930s in pesticides and vaccines, before which autism didn't exist, after which it started popping up with increasing frequency -- first in families with backgrounds in pesticides and vaccination. Tell me why, if it's got nothing to do with autism, the father of the second child ever diagnosed with autism was experimenting with the ethyl mercury dust Ceresan at the same time his child was born? (While the pediatrician mother of Case 7 was promoting infant vaccinations with ethyl mercury?) It was poison in 1937, it's poison now. It was poison in pesticides (and long ago removed), it's poison in vaccines -- but still injected into tens of milliions of babies a year. ("Ethyl Mercury" is visible below Wheat in black type.)

Ceresan can

This doesn't dissuade those who think we're all lotus-eating idiots. Journalists are drinking the mercury right along with the best and brightest vaccine zealots. "Most fundamentally, Kennedy does not get chemistry," wrote Jeffrey Kluger in Time. Prepare to eye-roll: "Thimerosal is an ethylmercury product. Mercury in general may be a neurotoxin, but it’s in its methylmercury form that it does its damage—and only in particular concentrations. The quantity of ethylmercury that was once in vaccines was so small that it was actually within acceptable limits for the more toxic, methyl form—but it wasn’t even in that methyl form to begin with." Yes, this makes absolutely no sense. What wasn't in what?

"Sticking up for thimerosal -- Read the studies -- it's safe," was the headline on a Slate piece by Arthur Allen in 2005 when Kennedy spoke out the first time. 

Continue reading "Midweek Mashup: Drinking the Mercury" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Vaccine Theory of Nobel Prizes

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted
 
The July 20 New York Times, which never tires of promoting the germ theory of disease and the need to vax, vax, and vax some more, is my source for the following: “Over the last century, Denmark won significantly more Nobel Prizes per capita than Italy. It also had a lower prevalence of disease-causing germs.”
 
The correlation, according to Damian Murray at UCLA, holds true in 161 countries based on 5 different metrics of innovation. “Murray speculates that vaccination programs ‘may serve to foster a cultural zeitgeist that is more encouraging and rewarding of innovation.’”
 
About the only truth in that statement is the first two words: “Murray speculates.” That’s certainly fine – I do it all the time – but I’m not even sure I understand the point. I filed it in my “AOA – Read” folder to await further developments.
 
They came swiftly. Yesterday, I saw a friend with two preschool sons who knows first-hand the damage FDA-approved, CDC-recommended medicine -- not vaccines in his case -- can do. (He has a lot to do with why I'm writing about autism.) I asked him what vaccination schedule he follows with the kids and he replied, “We’re doing the Norwegian one.”
 
I’d never heard of someone adopting another country’s schedule, but my friend is pretty cosmopolitan – thoroughly American but with recent roots in Hungary, Germany, and England.
 
So I looked up the Norwegian vaccination schedule for preschoolers:
 
•  DTP combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough)
•  Hib vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b infection
•  Vaccination against pneumococcal disease
•  Vaccination against poliomyelitis
•  MMR combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella
Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV, for girls from 2009)
 
Children are usually first vaccinated at 3 months old. MMR vaccination is first given at 15 months of age and HPV is now offered to girls at about 12 years old.
 
Hepatitis B vaccine is also offered through the immunisation programme to children with increased risk of infection, such as those with parents from countries with high prevalence of hepatitis B infections.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Vaccine Theory of Nobel Prizes " »

Weekly Wrap: Mother Jones’ Murderous Jihad, the Orthodox Anomaly, Dorit on the Attack

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I’ve had it with the anti-American bile spewing from that leftist rag Mother Jones magazine – inciting murderous jihadis. These cretins need to shut up and stop killing people.

Oh wait, that’s not what I really wanted to say. I wanted to say, the language being used against vaccine safety advocates is really getting out of control, and a recent example is Mother Jones, which referred this week to the “McCarthyite cretins in the murderous vaccinations-cause-autism movement.” (Jenny, meet Joe.)

Sounds a bit harsh when their own rhetoric is flung back at ‘em, doesn’t it!

Not since the White House warned Americans to “watch what they say, watch what they do” in the wake of 9/11 – before starting the stupidest, longest, most ruinous wars in U.S. history, having cowed most of the press and Congress into submission – has there been a moment like this.

Egged on by the “vaccines uber alles” forces, know-nothing folks like Mother Jones’ blogger Kevin Drum are stepping up the intemperate language to “baby killer” levels not seen since Bill Gates laid that one on Andy Wakefield. (These levels are likely to rise again with RFK Jr.’s new book, out next week, driving them into frenzy.)

Let’s remember that the law provides some fairly easy ways to skip vaccination, from personal and religious exemptions to no mandates at all if children are educated at home. Don’t like it? Change the law. Don’t compare those who follow or advocate perfectly legal behavior to mass murderers.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about parallels between 1914 and now, 100 years later. Here’s another one – as war fever built, free speech was suppressed under the Espionage Act. President Wilson even tried to criminalize criticism of the president. I’m sure he thought that opposing entry into the war would cost lives. Instead it probably cost us a century more of constant war.

Calling us anti-vaccine because we want a safer, saner vaccine schedule and are highly critical of current government policy is like calling Mother Jones anti-American because it wants a safer, saner country and is highly critical of current government policy.

Free speech and relatively free choice is here to stay (let us pray!). The murderous anti-American cretins – wait, the lazy uninformed ideologues -- over at Mother Jones might as well calm down and get used to it.

--

The evidence for lower autism rates in less vaccinated populations keeps rolling in – and rolling off the backs of the media and medical establishment.

Thanks to AOA’s Adriana Gamondes for spotting this March article in the Times of Israel: “In Israel, a lower percentage of ultra-Orthodox and Arabic children are diagnosed with autism compared with the general population — and no one is quite sure why.

“That pattern, which is mirrored in Aboriginal populations in Canada, was the subject of discussion by autism researchers from the two countries at a Hebrew University symposium this week. One thing is certain, they said — when it comes to autism in both Israel and Canada, not enough is known.”

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Mother Jones’ Murderous Jihad, the Orthodox Anomaly, Dorit on the Attack" »