By Katie Wright
July’s IACC’s meeting actually had some wonderful high points. No kidding. Yes there were insensitive, clueless and unintentionally funny comments- it is the same cast of characters after all. However, IACC had perhaps its best ever scientific presentation in the work of Dr. Isaac Pessah. Thank you very much to whomever made his appearance possible.
The day began with a lengthy lecture by Michael Ganz, PhD about the high cost of autism.
Guess what autism is hugely expensive! Don’t we already know this? There was a heated Q & A between Ganz and Ari Ne’man regarding whether this information would be used to identify ASD fetuses prenatally for abortion purposes. In fairness to Ganz, I don’t think this subject was on his radar screen, but the issue is important for various reasons. Autism is not like Down syndrome. Autism is a wildly heterogeneous disorder. 95% of ASD kids have no chromosomal abnormalities. This crazy idea that we will be able to prescreen fetuses for ASD is asinine. Would doctors be screening for babies for dairy allergies, or for sub optimal immune systems or babies especially sensitive to environmental pollutants? Pursuing such research would be a colossal waste of money and time.
I think I speak for at least a million Moms when I say that I did not give birth to an autistic baby. Christian did not need to be aborted he needed to be protected from reckless medical policies.
Dr. Pessah presented devastating findings regarding how and why miniscule amounts of mercury cause brain damage in mice as well as how non dioxin compounds commonly found in our environment cause neurological injury. Here is Pessah’s summary:
1) Minute amounts of mercury negatively affect cell structure, amino acids and the metabolism.
2) Mercury is highly toxic to the dendritic cells in the brain and produces “autistic like” (sounds like vaccine court! I love that, not autism but “autism like”) behaviors in mice.
3) Mercury alters T cells and not for the better. This is probably why so many ASD kids are chronically ill.
Naturally we have known all this for some time. It makes no sense now and it never made sense to use Hg as a preservative. Hg damages the brain, and we need to stop using it in all vaccines. Period. End of story.
Don’t forget Hg is the adjuvant we know the most about! How scary is that? How does AL, ammonia sulfate, phenol (from coal tar), AL hydroxide, human diploid cells, benzethonium….affect brain cells? Who knows? We are literally rolling the dice and finding out as we go along. We just keep combining more and more vaccines with more and more toxic, untested, preservatives. How is that working out for your kids? Not so good for mine.
Pessah also related the recent silly study measuring Hg blood levels of ASD and non-ASD kids. Naturally no differences were found. The likelihood that any of these kids received a flu shot the day their blood was taken is zero. Hg doesn’t stay in the blood it attaches itself to brain tissue! Measuring random blood levels is a fruitless exercise, like testing ASD kids for grass allergies in the wintertime. Pointless.
But not pointless to Dr. Birbaum! In her testimony to the Senate, Birbaum crowed that recent discoveries have shown there is no difference in mercury levels between ASD kids and non ASD children. No caveat that it would be virtually impossible to find a difference based on random blood samples. So much bias and such an irresponsible use of power.
Pessah continued by presenting dozens of studies illustrating how commonly found non-dioxin compounds are able to cause brain damage to babies and toddlers. PBAs alter synapse transmission. Pesticides increase excitatory neurons. Flame-retardants can cause decreased dendritic activity. ALL non-dioxin compounds have dramatically negative efforts on fetuses. Non-dioxin compounds have been found to disturb the metabolism, growth structure, the hippocampus and the immune system. Naturally, Pessah found that ASD kids had a weaker immune response compared to children who did not develop ASD. Parents of regressive kids have been saying for decades that a family history of autoimmune diseases is a significant risk factor, an obvious biomarker, for adverse vaccine responses.
As Pessah spoke I felt nauseous and horrified yet again because a) insanely toxic substances are in vaccines, b) these substances were injected into my child, c) it is beyond clear that American children are not adequately protected from everyday toxins (remember the last year’s lead toys?) and d) not many people seem bothered by this. So these thoughts are running through my mind as Linda Birbaum raises her hand to speak and says to Pessah, “ Wow! It is always so fun hearing about your work!” I mean, she was so happy, smiling as if all this research was terrific news! As if Pessah just announced, “OK, I’m taking everyone to Six Flags!” Birbaum is the sole IACC environmental scientist and she finds concrete evidence that toxins and vaccine adjuvants cause brain damage and “autism like symptoms” in our kids- “fun.” Is Dr. Birbaum a Grinch? Is her heart 3 sizes too small? I don’t expect federal reps to be emotionally involved but try act like a human being. Imagine if Pessah was talking about your child’s brain damage.
Dr. Landrigan’s presentation was unfortunately superfluous to the work Pessah discussed. Everything about Landrigan’s scientific data was many years old - from his 1 in 150 ASD number, his data citing 70% of ASD kids have MR to his theory that autism is not a single disease and does not have a single cause. Of course it isn’t. Tell us something we don’t know. In discussing why ASD most definitely has environmental triggers Landrigan cited the ancient thalimohyde and valporic acid studies. Not those 2 again! Does anyone know even one Mom who used those drugs while pregnant? Can’t we just deal in the now?
However, Dr. Landrigan did do an excellent job advocating for research into the myriad of untested commonly found household and environmental toxins. Unfortunately, his focus was mainly prenatal exposures. Again, the old way of thinking about autism- as a prenatally determined, largely heritable disorder. Landrigan never addressed why almost 40% of ASD kids develop typically for at least a year or two and then lose all their skills, become chronically ill and then develop autism. This trajectory is not determined prenatally.
The most frustrating part of the Landrigan lecture was his bizarre and unsolicited proclamations that he “knows” vaccines couldn’t trigger autism. Again with the old way of viewing autism. Landrigan cited a number of “well designed” studies as proof of his theory. These dreadful studies can be more thoroughly examined at 14studies.com. The Cochrane Report also expresses a negative view about much of this research. In particular Landrigan argued that because the Japanese removed the MMR from the schedule for 2 yrs ago (about 10 yrs earlier) and there was no drop in autism that proves the MMR couldn’t trigger autism. But haven’t we been over this 1,000 times before? Autism isn’t one disease. Autism doesn’t have one cause. Just one vaccine is not triggering autism. The problem is our insanely aggressive vaccination schedule, the 38 required immunizations and the dozens of toxic adjuvants- not just the MMR. For my son the DTap produced the worst adverse reaction, for others the flu shot, the list is varied and endless.
At first Dr. Eric Courchese followed in the footsteps Dr. Landrigan, giving a lengthy lecture on what we already know. Guess what, autistic kids heads have big heads. Newsflash, the frontal lobe and social abilities are affected. There was description after description after description of brain cell overgrowth…No discussion of postnatal factors obviously triggering this spontaneous brain enlargement (Courchese says enlargement- I say brain inflammation).
Why not discuss brain and body inflammation and its affect on the immune system rather than this endless tape measure talk about big heads? Instead of saying “I don’t know” what causes excessive head growth 100 times why not read the recent Hewitson publication. She has studied macaque monkeys who have been administered our baby and toddler vaccinations schedule? Guess what? The control monkeys did not experience rapid head growth but the vaccinated monkeys did. Courchese went on and on about autism being determined prenatally. I appreciate what Courchese said about listening to Moms because they know their child best but most Moms do not believe autism is triggered prenatally- not anymore.
Courchese provided an honest evaluation of the limited usefulness of all those expensive multiplex genetic repositories that have been the focus of so much autism research. I am sure the multiplex obsession naturally evolved out of the belief that autism was 90% genetic and by studying these families we would uncover the gene or genes causing the disorder. Guess what? It is 20 years later and all we have learned is that autism is incredibly heterogeneous and genes cannot account for the vast majority of ASD cases. No kidding? Courchese also discussed why we have hit a wall with all the baby sibs research- the built in genetic bias. This line of study has also eaten up so much money- enough already. Multiplex kids are different from singleton kids. Multiplex family research is not transferable knowledge to the vast majority of ASD kids who are singletons. I don’t even know how the multiplex research is helping the multiplex kids? Courchese also put in a plug to stop the exclusive study of classic autism and the immediate need to research all the various autism subtypes. Thank you!
The committee asked few intelligent questions. Dr. Janvier expressed surprise that there is a big range of brain size and defects differing from child to child. It is a heterogeneous disorder- why is that surprising? Dr. Birbaum, again totally detached from reality, exclaimed “beautiful data!” Where were the questions about postnatal issues? Why did no one ask Courchese to apply his theory towards the 40% of kids who regress into autism? Why was it only Lyn Redwood who was interested in the inflammatory process? Is the lack of interest in these issues on the part of the board a reflection of the fact that only 1 committee member is a parent of a regressive child/chronically ill child? I think so. Yet again another example about how the lack of parental diversity hurts IACC.
The IACC round table, however, was surprisingly good. Insel again urged the committee members to read all public comments. From the range of the committee’s reaction I would guess that maybe 5 did. At some length Insel addressed the public’s common complaint about the lack of environmental expertise on the board and the need for an immunologist and toxicologist. Who knows if it has a chance of happening but that was the first time the issue was discussed by someone other than Lyn Redwood. Your public comments do matter. If IACC members talk about your comments, great. If the committee ignores the public comments, send twice as many comments the next time. You might also mention that IACC should try meeting more than a few times a year, maybe once a month. Autism is a public health crisis, time to start acting with a sense of urgency.
Katie Wright is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.