UPDATE:  Another study, released in March 2013, has determined that vaccines DO NOT cause autism. 

So please consult your pediatrician for your concerns, and as long as your child is not one of the very, very small minority who will be injured by vaccines, get your child vaccinated!!!!

____________

I’ve always wanted to know how other countries fare with their vaccines and autism stats.  I came across this special_report_autism2 today from Generation Rescue.

It seems pretty well documented, and I think offers some legitimate concerns as well as the obvious need for more research, research, research.  (It was published in April 2009, and the rates for autism have now increased to 1 in 100 in the United States.)

Hopefully one day we will have some definitive answers.  In the meantime, can’t we vaccinate 99% of our population to provide herd immunity to babies and the elderly, while also protecting the small percentage (1%, maybe) of children who are prone to vaccine injury because of susceptibility to auto-immune disorders, as well as neurological problems?  Why can’t we protect everybody?

Of course it raises many questions (why such a huge variance in the number of Autism rates country by country?)  I’d like to know what Norway and Denmark are doing right.  And why oh why does America’s rates spike so much higher than any other country?  We’re supposed to be the best country in the world!  I just don’t get it.

Country # of Vaccines (under 5 yrs old) Autism Rate Mortality Rates Per 1,000 children under 5 yrs old Mortality Rates Worldwide Ranking (#1 being the fewest deaths)
United States 36 1 in 150 7.8 34
Iceland 11 1 in 1,100 3.9 1
Sweden 11 1 in 862 4.0 2
Japan 11 1 in 475 4.2 4
Norway 13 1 in 2,000 4.4 5
Finland 12 1 in 719 4.7 6
France 17 1 in 613 5.2 11
Israel 11 1 in 1,000 5.7 17
Denmark 12 1 in 2,200 5.8 18

(Love that Seinfeld episode where they reference Tolstoy’s novel with that phrase. . .har.)

PBS recently aired a documentary about the Great Vaccine Debate called “The Vaccine War.”

Really?  Really, PBS?  We need to declare “war” about complex issues where all parents involved just want the best ways to keep their children healthy?  I’m so tired of our culture of “war.”  It’s everywhere – in politics (especially), religion, financial markets, health issues and on and on.  One side gets vilified, the other sides’ virtues get extolled.   It’s just so completely exhausting.

The fact of the matter remains:  a very small minority of children with autism experienced vaccine injury.  These parents’ stories are real.    Who am I to disregard what they experienced?  As you know, there have been several studies that concluded that there is no link between autism and vaccines for healthy, genetically strong, normally developing children.  The IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) unanimously voted in November 2009, however, that more research will be conducted to determine vaccine safety vis-a-vis a minority of children who are genetically susceptible to autism (and hopefully someday for those susceptible to ADHD, severe allergies & asthma).

Since the Dept of Health & Human Services and the National Survey of Children’s Health have determined that autism affects 1% of children (1 in 100 diagnosed with autism as of 2009), and until the effect of vaccines on those 1% are finally determined through those scientific studies, this sub-population *may be* the minority that would benefit from an individualized, less aggressive vaccine schedule.

In my opinion, that means that probably 99% of children should follow the current CDC vaccine schedule, and more than likely will have no adverse reactions to it.  This will ensure herd immunity in our society for the minority of children (this 1%, as well as other immune-compromised individuals, or those susceptible to ADHD, severe allergies & asthma) who may experience adverse reactions according to the regular schedule.

I fault the CDC, AMA, AAP, etc. for not addressing this issue better.  I understand that because there has been no study to date that gives us *the* answer for the cause of autism, that some parents are emotionally reacting to the experience of that 1% minority, and they are choosing not to vaccinate their healthy children, who may fall in the 99%.  It’s a tough call.   But at the end of the day, the right and responsibility will always remain with the parents, to individualize health care for their children, based on their child’s particular health needs.

PBS decided to cut the entire interview for their documentary of Dr. Jay N. Gordon, MD, FAAP (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCLA Medical School).  He is very angry with PBS for not offering a more balanced approach to this issue:

28 April 2010, Huffington Post

Tonight PBS aired a show called “The Vaccine War.” I was interviewed at great length and in great depth about vaccines and my point of view and expressed my ambivalence about the polarization of this issue and the need for more calm reasoned discussion about the number one question that new parents have. I told Kate McMahon, the co-producer of the show, that there was a large group of doctors and others who cannot be dismissed with the facile label “anti-vaccine” because we still give vaccines and see a place for them in the practice of medicine but we do not agree with the current vaccine schedule nor the number of vaccines children receive all at one time.

A few days ago, Ms.McMahon emailed me to tell me that the decision had been made to omit my interview from the show. There would not be one word from me. She didn’t tell me that she had also omitted 100 percent of Dr. Robert Sears interview. And that any other comments from physicians supporting the parents on the show in their ambivalence about vaccines or their decision to refuse all vaccines would also be omitted.

She left this as a show with many doctors commenting very negatively, very frighteningly and often disdainfully and dismissively about vaccine “hesitation” as they called it.

Below is my email response to Kate McMahon.

****

Dear Kate,

The Frontline show was disgraceful. You didn’t even have the courtesy to put my interview or any part of the two hours we spent taping on your web site.

You created a pseudo-documentary with a preconceived set of conclusions: “Irresponsible moms against science” was an easy takeaway from the show.

Did you happen to notice that Vanessa, the child critically ill with pertussis, was not intubated nor on a respirator in the ER? She had nasal “prongs” delivering oxygen. I’m sorry for her parents anxiety and very happy that she was cured of pertussis. But to use anecdotal reports like this as science is irresponsible and merely served the needs of the doctor you wanted to feature.

No one pursued Dr. Offit’s response about becoming rich from the vaccine he invented. He was allowed to slide right by that question without any follow up. Dr. Paul Offit did not go into vaccine research to get rich. He is a scientist motivated by his desire to help children. But his profiting tens of millions of dollars from the creation of this vaccine and the pursuit of sales of this and other vaccines is definitely not what he says it is. His many millions “don’t matter” he says. And you let it go.

Jenny McCarthy resumed being a “former Playboy” person and was not acknowledged as a successful author, actress and mother exploring every possible avenue to treating her own son and the children of tens of thousands of other families.

I trusted you by giving you two or three hours of my time for an interview and multiple background discussions. I expressed my heartfelt reservations about both vaccines and the polarizing of this issue into “pro-vaccine” and “anti-vaccine” camps. I told you that there was at least a third “camp.” There are many doctors and even more parents who would like a more judicious approach to immunization. Give vaccines later, slower and with an individualized approach as we do in every other area of medicine.

What did you create instead?

“The Vaccine War.”

A war. Not a discussion or a disagreement over facts and opinions, but a war. This show was unintelligent, dangerous and completely lacking in the balance that you promised me — and your viewers — when you produced and advertised this piece of biased unscientific journalism. “Tabloid journalism” I believe is the epithet often used. Even a good tabloid journalist could see through the screed you’ve presented.

You interviewed me, you spent hours with Dr. Robert Sears of the deservedly-illustrious Sears family and you spoke to other doctors who support parents in their desire to find out what went wrong and why it’s going wrong and what we might do to prevent this true epidemic.

Not a measles epidemic, not whooping cough. Autism. An epidemic caused by environmental triggers acting on genetic predisposition. The science is there and the evidence of harm is there. Proof will come over the next decade. The National Children’s Study will, perhaps by accident, become a prospective look at many children with and without vaccines. But we don’t have time to wait for the results of this twenty-one year research study: We know that certain pesticides cause cancer and we know that flame retardants in children’s pajamas are dangerous. We are cleaning up our air and water slowly and parents know which paint to buy and which to leave on the shelves when they paint their babies’ bedrooms.

The information parents and doctors don’t have is contained in the huge question mark about the number of vaccines, the way we vaccinate and the dramatic increase in autism, ADD/ADHD, childhood depression and more. We pretend to have proof of harm or proof of no harm when what we really have is a large series of very important unanswered questions.

In cased you were wondering, as I practice pediatrics every day of my career, I base nothing I do on Dr. Wakefield’s research or on Jenny McCarthy’s opinions. I respect what they both have done and respectfully disagree with them at times. I don’t think that Dr. Wakefield’s study proved anything except that we need to look harder at his hypothesis. I don’t think that Jenny McCarthy has all the answers to treating or preventing autism but there are tens of thousands of parents who have long needed her strong high-profile voice to draw attention to their families’ needs: Most families with autism get inadequate reimbursement for their huge annual expenses and very little respect from the insurance industry, the government or the medical community. Jenny has demanded that a brighter light be shone on their circumstances, their frustration and their needs.

I base everything I do on my reading of CDC and World Health Organization statistics about disease incidence in the United States and elsewhere. I base everything I do on having spent the past thirty years in pediatric practice watching tens of thousands of children get vaccines, not get vaccines and the differences I see.

Vaccines change children.

Most experts would argue that the changes are unequivocally good. My experience and three decades of observation and study tell me otherwise. Vaccines are neither all good–as this biased, miserable PBS treacle would have you believe–nor all bad as the strident anti-vaccine camp argues.

You say the decisions to edit 100% of my interview from your show (and omit my comments from your website) “were purely based on what’s best for the show, not personal or political, and the others who didn’t make it came from both sides of the vaccine debate.” You are not telling the truth. You had a point to prove and removed material from your show which made the narrative balanced. “Distraught, confused moms against important, well-spoken calm doctors” was your narrative with a deep sure voice to, literally, narrate the entire artifice.

You should be ashamed of yourself, Kate. You knew what you put on the air was slanted and you cheated the viewers out of an opportunity for education and information. You cheated me out of hours of time, betrayed my trust and then you wasted an hour of PBS airtime. Shame on you.

The way vaccines are manufactured and administered right now in 2010 makes vaccines and their ingredients part of the group of toxins which have led to a huge increase in childhood diseases including autism. Your show made parents’ decisions harder and did nothing except regurgitate old news.

Parents and children deserve far better from PBS.

Jay N. Gordon, MD, FAAP
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCLA Medical School
Former Senior Fellow in Pediatric Nutrition, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute

1 in 100. Yikes.

January 16, 2010

The CDC released its latest autism figures just a few weeks ago (December 18, 2009).  Their current findings indicate that Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS) now affect 1% of children in the US, or 1 child out of every 100.  This shows an increase of 60% from 2002 – 2006.

Yikes.

David Kirby of the Huffington Post, conducted a phone interview with Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH and Chair of the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) to interpret the CDC’s findings.

The highlights of his interview are:

1.  Better diagnoses do not explain this huge increase.
2.  The causes are both genetic and environmental.  “There is no question that there is an environmental component here.” – Dr. Insel.
3.  Finding environmental exposures that trigger autism are essential in order to decrease the epidemic.

Let’s hope those in positions of power and science and medicine can figure the solution out.  Soon.

. . . but I just have to emote. . .

Evidently there is some buzz about Oprah Winfrey plugging her bio-identical hormone therapy after menopause (June issues of Reader’s Digest & Newsweek).

On both accounts there were parallels drawn to Jenny McCarthy and  The Great Vaccine Debate.  The argument is that celebrity status can (and I believe certainly does) mislead the mainstream public into making choices vis-a-vis celebrity opinion, rather than sound medical advice.

Fine.  I don’t dispute that fact.  But I take issue when articles/writers don’t even get the facts straight.  Arrrggghhh!  Writing misleading articles certainly does as much damage to the mainstream public as blindly following our devotion and fascination to celebrities.

I don’t think writer Anne Underwood from the June Issue of Reader’s Digest has actually read Jenny McCarthy’s books or searched her Generation Rescue website, because Jenny McCarthy does NOT blame vaccines for causing her son’s autism.    She blames a variety of causes:  genetics, environmental toxins, and our nutrient-deficient food supply to name a few.  These, in addition to the overloaded vaccine schedule (too many too soon), which contain toxins like formaldehyde and aluminum, are all the things she believes contributed to her son’s autism.

I am tired of the “counter-argument” that since Thimerosal was removed from most vaccines in 2001, then the rates of autism should have declined.  First of all, it wasn’t removed from the flu vaccine (which is currently marketed heavily to pregnant women and children).  Second of all, Thimerosal is only a small part of the problem –  aluminum and formaldehyde are still used as preservatives.   The problem is that too many toxins/chemicals in our childhood vaccines are given too soon, and that, in combination with all of the other factors that Jenny experienced, contribute to the unprecedented exponential growth of Autism Spectrum Disorders, among other childhood epidemics.

Until an absolute cause of autism has been proven, I don’t think it’s fair to rule out the potential causes, especially when there is so much evidence from parents and doctors, who are affected in their daily lives by autism.

Instead of subtlety blaming celebrities like Jenny McCarthy for causing a recurrence of measles (the CDC reported 131 US cases from Jan – July 2008), put your energy into pushing for more research into discovering why THOUSANDS of children each year are being diagnosed with autism.   As an exercise in comparison, ask yourself:  How many children do I know who have had or currently have measles? Now, ask yourself:  How many children do I know who have Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD, ADHD, other developmental delays, asthma and serious allergies (like peanut).  All of these childhood epidemics have been on the rise since the early 90’s, when the vaccine schedule was more than doubled for children under the age of 2.

Thankfully, all of those 131 children recovered from their outbreak of measles (with no indication that there were further complications like brain damage or hearing loss), and not one death was reported.  Now, this report did not address any outbreaks in babies less than one year old, who are too young to receive the MMR vaccination.  I think in order to protect these babies from measles (who rely on herd immunity until they are eligible for the vaccine), against a backlash of parents worried about increasing diagnoses of autism and other current childhood epidemics, it is imperative that the CDC and AAP start a new, safer vaccine schedule: one which separates the vaccine into 3 separate doses: the M, M, and R, and gives them in a healthier, less toxic manner to babies’ underdeveloped immune systems.

Isn’t it possible to protect our babies from measles AND autism?

It just makes me so frustrated that articles are still being written and this is still being debated as an extreme all-or nothing thing.  As far as I understand her position, Jenny McCarthy is also suggesting to the CDC, AAP, and parents, a very moderate solution:  let’s Green Our Vaccines – make them less toxic and with a more healthy administration schedule for our babies.  That means, spread them out more, or tailor them more to each individual child rather than have doctors push a “one-size fits all” for everyone.  We all want the same thing – to keep our kids safe, happy and healthy and give them the best possible opportunity for successful lives, without complications from terrible childhood diseases, epidemics or vaccine injury.

So please stop all the fighting, misquoting, misleading information and let’s try to compromise – let’s unite together and work towards maintaining our herd immunity AND lower the rising epidemic of autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies.

Seriously.

Just don’t do it.

If you’d like to raise the IQ of your unborn baby, then take Nordic Natural Omega 3’s. Nordic Naturals offer probably the most pure cod liver oil and Omega 3’s on the market.

Evidently, the FDA is awaiting approval to reverse its current position that pregnant women, nursing women, infants and children can be harmed by the current levels of mercury in fish and should limit their consumption. (Mercury can damage the neurological development of fetuses and infants.)

But. . . because Omega 3 essential fatty acids are essential for brain development, and can increase a child’s IQ by 3 points, they want to advocate the consumption of more than 12 oz of fish per week.

Don’t listen to them! Just take the Nordic Natural pills in pure form.

If the original position is indeed reversed, and the general population listens, why oh why is it acceptable to pose a risk to any unborn child for potential neurological problems, just so some may have a 3  points higher score on their IQ, (which they could achieve with a supplement)?

AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Oh, and don’t get a flu shot.  They still contain Thimerosal.

It’s just not worth it.

My beef about the blame

June 20, 2008

I just have to vent my beef about the article in Time Magazine on May 21: How Safe Are Vaccines?

Let me state that I believe that both sides of the vaccine debate are actually right.

(Isn’t that true about many things in life – that people’s experiences aren’t black and white, that your experience may be true even though it is completely different than my experience?) It would make sense to me that there are those cases of autism that are purely genetic, where that child would be autistic no matter when in history, or no matter what environmental factors are present. On the other side of the coin, though, I think there are also those cases of autism that are affected or made worse by environmental factors. How else could we have an “epidemic” of a ‘genetic’ disease? Such an “epidemic” is not possible, yet here we are.

Either which way, I don’t believe parents of children with autism are responsible for cases of measles outbreaks! Geesh!

The article states: “it’s possible that once rampant diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough will storm back, even in developed nations with robust public-health programs. That is forcing both policymakers and parents to wrestle with a dilemma that goes to the heart of democracy: whether the common welfare should trump the individual’s right to choose.”

First of all, humanity will never be able to eradicate the bacterium or virus that cause the world’s diseases. They will always exist. The best we can do is protect ourselves from them. So, just because a parent with a concern for their child’s ability to handle vaccines doesn’t vaccinate, (whether that be autism or something else), that doesn’t mean that they put in jeopardy the world’s plan for eradicating the disease, because that plan is impossible.

In my opinion, the only people who are in jeopardy from parents who don’t vaccinate are their own non-vaccinated children, because they INDIVIDUALLY are not protected. If you protect your children by vaccinating them, then your children are NOT AT RISK. If there is an outbreak, and you have the vaccine, then you’re fine! When parents sign the dotted line denying a vaccine, then they are assuming the risk that their child may catch the disease. That parent signs acknowledgment that they are putting their children at risk for that disease. They aren’t signing that they put other children at risk, only their own. It’s that simple. I’m not putting other vaccinated people at risk, just my own. I am however putting other non-vaccinated children at risk, but their parents already assumed responsibility for their risk. If an adult is worried that enough children are not getting their vaccines to create adequate herd immunity, well I think that adult should go get the vaccine/booster themselves. A full-grown adult shouldn’t expect a child’s herd immunity to protect him or her. If your child is immune-compromised, too young, or for some reason can’t get vaccinated, well, you would have to be careful about everything that they could catch, and you wouldn’t want to travel the world with them, among other things.

It is wonderful that we have vaccines to protect us from life-threatening diseases. But shouldn’t I have the option to decide whether or not I consent to put anything into my body or my children’s bodies?

The article also then states by the end of 2001 thimerosal was removed. That’s not true. It still exists in trace amounts as indicated on the current CDC website. The Health Advocacy in the Public Interest tested 4 vials of vaccines in 2005 and discovered that that the vaccine manufacturers use thimerosal in the production of the vaccines, and then remove it. But it is not possible to remove all of the thimerosal because mercury binds to the antigenic protein in the vaccine and cannot be filtered out completely.

It bothers me that our culture of fear and blame is perpetuated in articles like this.

And it bothers me that parents who are already dealing with so much struggle in their lives are blamed for outbreaks of measles. Geesh. Of course I don’t want any child to die by any disease, but death by measles is only 2 or 3 per 1,000. Why do we sacrifice between 6 -12 kids per 1,000 to autism to save 2 or 3 children from measles? Let’s save ALL of these children! A safer vaccine schedule is all it would take (except for the child who is predisposed for autism caused 100% by genetics, which throughout history is nothing we can do about).

I’m all for sexy!

May 11, 2008

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are heading up a Green our Vaccines March in Washington, DC on June 4, 2008.

Yes!

We need to eliminate the toxins that are still present in most vaccines to make them safe for not just the majority of children, but ALL children, especially those that are predisposed for autism and other childhood problems (ADD/ADHD/allergies/asthma).

My motto about Jenny is: if sexy raises money and awareness for autism, then I’m all for sexy! Wahoo!

This guy, not so much.

I’m a Texas girl.

I am! I was born in Ft. Worth in 1970, when my dad was working as an engineer before he started his PhD program in History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University nine months later.

I actually haven’t been back since.

But I married a Texas boy.

Foo was born in Kileen when his dad was serving at the base there. He lived there for only a year also.

He actually hasn’t been back since, either.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Texas (we just haven’t traveled much – hrmpf) . . .except for the study that discovered an increase in autism rates for mercury released from industrial sites. . . oops. . .

Mercury pollution linked to autism risk
Thu, Apr 24, 2008 (HealthDay) — The first study to show a statistical relationship between autism and proximity to industrial sites that release mercury has been published by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Their analysis of data from 1,040 Texas school districts and data from 39 coal-fired power plants and 56 industrial facilities in the state showed that autism rates decreased by one percent to two percent for each 10 miles of distance from a mercury pollution source.

Among the other findings:

• For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by all industrial sources in Texas in 1998, there was a corresponding 2.6 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.

• For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by Texas power plants in 1998, there was a corresponding 3.7 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.

“This study was not designed to understand which individuals in the population are at risk due to mercury exposure. However, it does suggest generally that there is greater autism risk closer to the polluting source,” lead author Raymond Palmer, associate professor of family and community medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The research appears in the journal Health & Place.

Suppository Fun

April 13, 2008

Ugh. Not so much.

Hamhock’s Heavy Metal Toxic Urine test showed he has high levels of lead and tin in his body, so we are starting the chelation process. It’s a compounded medication that binds the metals to itself and then helps Isaac poop and pee those darn metals out. Bad bad heavy metal! I guess Leadman would be the right song instead of Ironman (those trailers are crazy! Can’t wait till May 3.)

So. . . we had 3 options to administer the medication: oral, creme, or suppository. The oral medication, which would be the easiest (because Isaac freaking SWALLOWS pills now – at 4 1/2! I’m still completely amazed) also causes the most GI side effects. The creme is the most expensive. So, I opted to try the suppository to start with. You should have seen the pharmacy tech give me the info on that. I’m more worried about inserting it high enough, but not too high, he thought I was worried about the poo aspect. Um, not so much. I’ve been changing poopy diapers straight for 4 1/2 years now (hoping Superboy will potty train this summer). Poop I can handle. Hurting my kid’s bottom not so much.

So the first night, Friday, went off without a hitch. I inserted the pill no problem, Hamhock was fine with it. I told him not to push it out, as the pharmacist said that there might be that urge. Well, I guess I forgot to tell Hamhock the next morning that it’s OK to go poop, that the medicine is all gone now because I have no idea if he went poop all day! He ALWAYS goes poop before bedtime, so last night we were brushing teeth, and I told him to go poop so we could put his medicine in, but he couldn’t go. First time the kid’s been constipated since he was a baby.

Great.

He said something about the medicine coming out, so now I’m worried he didn’t go poop all day. His tutors were with him all day, and then Mark took care of the boys when I left for work at 2, so I have no idea. Ugh.

So . . . I tried to insert the pill, only to discover that it won’t stay in, and it felt like there is some poop sitting there in his large intestine. Fabulous. He won’t go poop and asked to do the medicine tomorrow. I even tried a few hours later after he was asleep, thinking he’d be more relaxed. Nope. Same thing.

This is my life. We’re supposed to do one pill per day for 3 days. Then 11 days with nothing, then start the process again. I only have Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights off, so if I skipped Saturday do we do it Sunday and Monday? I’m sure Foo would rather watch Grease Lightning over and over than put a suppository in. We’ll find out what Dr. Humpherys says on Monday.

Needless to say, I’ll be switching to the creme for the next round.

Walk for Autism

April 13, 2008

Well, cool. The first ever Walk for Autism in Utah is being held on Saturday, May 3. Go Autism Speaks! I also love Toys R Us, that they are the 2008 National Walk Sponsor.

Of course, I don’t have enough energy to assemble a team, but Superboy & I will go to Cottonwood High School to support the walk while Hamhock is in his ABA that morning and Foo practices rocking it out with his band.