May 30, 2006

US scientists back autism link to MMR

US scientists back autism link to MMR

(Filed: 29/05/2006)

The measles virus has been found in the guts of children with a form of autism, renewing fears over the safety of the MMR jab.

American researchers have revealed that 85 per cent of samples taken from autistic children with bowel disorders contain the virus. The strain is the same as the one used in the measles, mumps and rubella triple vaccine.

The findings will spark fresh concern about MMR, because they back theories of a causal link between the jab, autism and painful gut disorders suffered by a number of autistic children.

The study replicates findings made by the gastroenterologist Dr Andrew Wakefield in 1998 and Prof John O'Leary, a pathologist, in 2002.

Parents say their children were developing normally until they had the MMR jab, given when a child is between 12- and 18-months-old. The children now suffer from regressive autism.

One theory is that the virus passes through the gut, causing damage, and into the bloodstream, from where it is able to attack the brain.

More than 2,000 families claim that their children have suffered damage but the Department of Health reiterated last night that MMR is safe, a stance supported by the British Medical Association and all the Royal Colleges. Last year Government scientists failed to reproduce research results by Dr Wakefield.

Research to be presented this week in Montreal, Canada, provides fresh evidence that the measles virus is present in the guts of autistic children. Dr Stephen Walker, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, North Carolina, studied children with regressive autism and bowel disease. "Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain," he said.

Heavy Metals May Be Implicated In Autism

Heavy Metals May Be Implicated In Autism
National Autism Association

URINE samples from hundreds of French children have yielded evidence for a link between autism and exposure to heavy metals. If validated, the findings might mean some cases of autism could be treated with drugs that purge the body of heavy metals.

Samples from children with autism contained abnormally high levels of a family of proteins called porphyrins, which are precursors in the production of haem, the oxygen-carrying component in haemoglobin. Heavy metals block haem production, causing porphyrins to accumulate in urine. Concentrations of one molecule, coproporphyrin, were 2.6 times as high in urine from children with autism as in controls.

Autism is thought to have a number of unknown genetic and environmental causes. Richard Lathe of Pieta Research in Edinburgh, UK, says he has found one of these factors. "It's highly likely that heavy metals are responsible for childhood autistic disorder in a majority of cases," he claims. The study will appear in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Lathe says these porphyrin metabolites bind to receptors in the brain and have been linked with epilepsy and autism.

The researchers restored porphyrin concentrations to normal in 12 children by treating them with "chelation" drugs that mop up heavy metals and are then excreted. It is not yet known whether the children's symptoms have eased, but Lathe cites anecdotal reports suggesting the drugs might do some good.


The study is available online at:

May 27, 2006

School System Loses Autism Case

School System Loses Autism Case
Judge faults Henrico for not taking child; ruling may cost hundreds of thousands


May 27, 2006

A federal judge yesterday found the Henrico County school system knowingly and repeatedly failed to provide a system of instruction suitable to a severely autistic child.
Click here.

In a 79-page opinion laced with criticism of the school system's compliance with education disabilities law, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne sets hearings to determine what Henrico schools should pay for failing to meet federal standards of care.

Those costs could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars in school tuition and legal fees, lawyers in the case said yesterday.

The school system declined direct comment on the case and referred all questions to its lawyer, Thomas Tokarz II. "I haven't read all [of the opinion] so I'm not in a position to comment," he said yesterday.

Tokarz did say the school system provides a broad range of opportunities to more than 7,000 special-education students and provides tuition for students who need instruction not available in the county.

Henrico spends $42 million a year on exceptional education, according to the school system. A figure for out-of-system tuition costs could not be determined yesterday.

Four years in the making and in federal court for two years, the case decided yesterday represents a rare instance in which a family of a disabled child has been able to counter school system opposition to costly programs tailored to particular disabilities.

"The doggedness with which Henrico County has fought this family is illustrated by the long life of this case," said Siran Faulders, who represented the family with William Hurd, both of Troutman Saunders LLP in Richmond.

Hurd said in a written statement that the decision in the case will serve as a message of hope for other families facing similar difficulties with their local school systems.

The case was brought by Courtney and Rick Tutwiler on behalf of their autistic son, Reid, now 8. The family was not identified in court documents but agreed yesterday to have their names made public.

"The opinion validates our belief that not only was it right that we pulled Reid out of the county school system but that what the county could offer Reid at the time was not appropriate," Courtney Tutwiler said yesterday.

Payne found that Henrico improperly offered Reid an educational program in which he would not make any more than minimal educational progress.

Payne ruled that evidence in the case showed Reid required a rigorous, intensive education program of between 20 and 30 hours of instruction per week. "The fifteen hours provided by the [county's plan] was insufficient," she said.

The Tutwiler's son began attending The Faison School in Richmond in December 2002 and immediately began showing huge strides in his ability to focus attention and speak. His vocabulary, almost nonexistent during his stay in Henrico schools, grew to 100 words.

Payne wrote that the system used by Henrico was not designed to, did not, and could not provide Reid with the intensive instruction he needed and eventually received at Faison.

"And, in the fall of 2002, the School Board understood that fact," Payne wrote.

The Tutwilers mortgaged their home, sought grants and poured salary increases into meeting Faison's $50,000 tuition costs when the school system declined to pay for Faison, even after a hearing officer ruled that Faison offered appropriate, needed instruction.

Those costs are mandated by federal law, Hurd and Faulders argued; Payne agreed.

The Faison School is one of a handful of private schools that specialize in education for autistic students. Autism is a brain disorder with a range of symptoms that generally deal with attention deficits, social failings and cognitive weaknesses.

"Reid would stare for hours at the sunlight shining through drops on the leaves," said his mother.

In Henrico he was described by teachers, evaluators and in testimony as having no communication skills and as mentally retarded.

Payne wrote that the school board rejected Faison as appropriate with merely conclusory remarks, ignoring any substantive appraisal of the program.

He sided with a hearing officer's conclusions that school officials seemed to have little awareness of Reid's condition, could not remember key facts, and in one witness' case gave testimony that contradicted her own reports.

At one point in a due-process hearing, Courtney Tutwiler recalled a teacher telling her that a particular school program in Henrico has become a dumping ground for the children of parents who complain.

The teacher denied making the statement but Payne wrote that he could not find anything in the record to discredit Tutwiler's recollection.

Reid began attending Henrico schools again two months ago. The Tutwilers said the school now provides a one-on-one aide who has been trained in the methods used at Faison.

"They've come a long way, but there's still a long way to go," Courtney Tutwiler said.

The differences between her son today and six years ago are immense but simply stated.

"He can communicate. It was a very big step for him to realize that other people even exist."

Contact staff writer Bill McKelway at or (804) 649-6601.

May 23, 2006

Harvard Researchers Confirm GI/Autism Link

Harvard researchers confirm Gl/autism link

Vol. 20, No.1, 2006
Page 4
Biomedical Update:

Harvard physician Timothy Buie recently reported that biopsies performed by him revealed the presence of chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the presence oflymphoid nodular hyperplasia, in 15 of 89 autistic children. The findings parallel those of Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who first identified the presence of a unique type of gastrointestinal disorder in children with autism spectrum disorders. Buie told a conference in December, “These children are ill, in distress and pain, and not just mentally, neurologically dysfunctional.”

Buie, Rafail Kushak, and colleagues also have measured the activity of dissaccharidases (enzymes that break down carbohydrates in the intestine) in tissues obtained from duodenal biopsies from 308 autistic individuals, comparing them to samples from 206 non-autistic controls. All of the subjects underwent endoscopy for suspected gastrointestinal problems. The researchers report, “Autistic individuals with diarrhea [206 individuals] demonstrated significantly lower maltase activity than non-autistic individuals with diarrhea. Frequency of lactase deficiency in autistic individuals with failure to thrive [five individuals] was significantly higher (80% vs. 25%) than in non-autistic individuals with failure to thrive, and frequency of palatinase deficiency in autistic individuals with diarrhea was significantly higher than in nonautistic individuals with the same gastrointestinal problem.” Autistic and non-autistic individuals with other gastrointestinal problems exhibited similar frequencies of disaccharidase deficiencies.

These findings further support the link between autism and a novel form of gastrointestinal disease, and are consistent with clinical evidence that many autistic children improve physically and behaviorally when they are placed on gluten- and casein-free diets and receive supplements of disaccharidase enzymes.
— — —
“Gastrointestinal symptoms and intestinal disaccharidase activities in children with autism,” Rafail Kushak, Harland Winter, Nathan Farber, and Timothy Buie, Abstract of presentation to the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Annual Meeting, October 20-22, 2005, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Gastrointestinal symptoms and intestinal disaccharidase activities in children with autism,” Rafail Kushak, Harland Winter, Nathan Farber, and Timothy Buie, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Vol. 41, No.4, October 2005.

“Harvard Clinic scientist finds gut/autism link, like Wakefield findings,” FEAT Newsletter, December 2005. Address: Rafail I. Kushak, Pediatric GI/Nu- trition, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA02l14.

May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day to Exceptional Mothers

Once there was a little girl named Wendy.

She dreamed of all of the things that she could be.

First she wanted to be a nurse...
She would care for the sick with gentleness, patience, and love.

Then she wanted to be a teacher...
She would teach children and help them have the best chance for success.

In high school, she thought that being a religious minister would allow her to provide comfort, care, and spiritual sustenance.

A little older, and she wanted to be a lawyer...
She would defend the poor and defenseless.

Finally, she wanted to be a doctor...
She would unravel all the mysteries of what made people sick and how to cure them.

Wendy got married, and she became a mom.
Her little boy flourished and learned with ease, his future was bright, and Wendy was delighted. But his abilities seemed to change, and he seemed to be ill. Wendy’s little boy was diagnosed with autism.

Wendy was scared, so she asked the angels, “Who can help my little boy?”
And the angels said, “You can help him, you will be everything that you always wanted to be.”

“But, angels,” said Wendy, “I am scared that my child will not be all that I’d hoped he could be.”

“He isn’t right now,” replied the angels, “But he is all of the things that you can help him become.”