January 28, 2008

The AAP v. Eli Stone

For those of you who have not heard, the pilot for Eli Stone, which will air on ABC this Thursday night, has a plot line in which Mr. Stone represents a family who sues a pharmaceutical company on the grounds that their mercury containing vaccine caused their sons autism.

And they win.

As you might imagine, the Powers That Be are none to happy, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has sent a letter to ABC asking them to pull the pilot.

I am sure that ABC is gonna get right on that.

As I mentioned in my piece on why you should support the writers strike, lots of writers have autistic children, and are on the spectrum themselves. So these parents will be inspired to write about what they know. And they know that their kids were healthy before vaccination, and very sick afterward. And the people around them know that these parents are reasonable people making a reasonable claim.

That toxins injected into the blood streams of babies are toxic to babies.

I have no idea if Greg Berlanti or Marc Guggenheim who wrote the Eli Stone pilot have autistic children in their lives, but I am curious to know from whence their inspiration came. (UPDATE: I called Mr. Berlanti's office, and his very nice assistant said that their inspiration came from the reading the headlines. To Messers Berlanti and Guggenheim, thank you for listening.)

Why are AAP, CDC, NIH, et. al. surprised when people in prominent positions who are not satisfied with their flimsy responses to the public's legitimate concerns use what bully pulpit they may have to bring the subject to the forefront of society?

If AAP wants people to keep vaccinating their children with out question and with out any kind of screening to see what children are at risk for neurological and autoimmune damage, then the burden of proof is on them to prove that vaccines are safe for every child.

If they could have proven that, they would have done that by now. They can't. That is why the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund exists in the first place.

The FACT is that vaccines cause damage, and even death, in some children.

Dear AAP,

People are not going to stop talking about vaccine damaged children. The longer your turn your head and ignore the problem, the louder the questioning and the protesting will get.

If you want confidence in the vaccine program, deal honestly and earnestly with the very real problem of our damaged children and look at the children that are recovering from autism and start treating your autistic patients for their medical problems.

Figure out how to screen for vulnerability to vaccine damage BEFORE you give a child a shot, not two years after it is given, and stop vaccinating children who can't tolerate vaccines.

My son is not an acceptable loss in your war against TREATABLE viruses.

Stop telling people to shut up about it. They 'aint gonna.

Ginger Taylor

So while I have encouraged people to support the strike, go ahead and fire up your Tivo for Eli Stone. It apparently combines three of my passions, Faith, service to Autism Families and TV.

David Kirby has a great HuffPo piece on what the AAP should be more worried about.

Pediatricians, ABC and Censorship: Facts Are Scarier Than Fiction

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics will release the contents of a foreboding letter sent last week to ABC/Disney executives, demanding they cancel the January 31 premiere of a new legal drama series, Eli Stone, because it features a family attorney who successfully argues in court that mercury-containing flu vaccine caused autism in one child.

The letter, signed by AAP President Renee Jenkins, borders on near-hysteria over a fictional television entertainment. It ominously warns that ABC "will bear responsibility for the needless suffering and potential deaths of children from parents' decisions not to immunize based on the content of the episode."

Dr. Jenkins calls on ABC to cancel the episode but, anticipating a refusal, urges executives to run a disclaimer that "no scientific link exists between vaccines and autism," if the offending network "persists" in airing the show.

I share the AAP's concern that parents should not be driven away from protecting their children from dangerous, even deadly diseases. But parents are far too smart to base such an important decision as immunization on the "content of the episode" of a single drama on broadcast television.

In fact, if I were Dr. Jenkins, I would be far more concerned about real news happening in the real world -- events that not only suggest the possibility of some sort of link between mercury, vaccines and autism, but might alarm parents more than any fictional account written for ratings-grabbing mass entertainment.

If I were Dr. Jenkins, instead of fretting over a fake family engaged in a mock trial held in a make-believe court on some LA soundstage, I would be up at night wondering why the Federal Government recently conceded a real vaccine-autism lawsuit in a real court and will soon pay a real (taxpayer-funded) settlement to a real American family and a very real child with autism.

I would want to know why the Department of Justice agreed that mercury-containing vaccines "severely aggravated" the autism symptoms in at least one child, and I would wonder if research into what triggered that severe aggravation might provide at least some clues into the perpetual mysteries of the disorder and its causes.

And, if I were Dr. Jenkins, rather than wringing my hands and trying to censor a TV-show verdict, I would truly worry about what will happen when parents realize that the Federal Government's concession has been sealed -- preventing the public (and future plaintiffs) from viewing what could only be described as "evidence of harm." I would be nervous that this secretive action in an actual court (itself reminiscent of science fiction) might drive parents away from vaccination far more effectively than any scripted drama.

Furthermore, if I were the top pediatrician in America, I would not be asking television networks to make sweeping statements such as, "No scientific link exists" between autism and mercury or vaccines, when highly respected publications continue to publish new (and very real) data that roundly debunk what has now become, frankly, a tired piece of misinformation.

If I were the AAP, or ABC for that matter, I would feel downright silly stating that "no scientific link exists," so soon after the Journal of Child Neurology published a study titled, "Blood Levels of Mercury Are Related to Diagnosis of Autism: A Reanalysis of an Important Data Set." I would also worry about parental reaction to learning that researchers had done due diligence and reanalyzed data from a prior, hugely influential study that (erroneously) found zero connection between mercury levels and autism.

Instead of trying to silence the fictional words of "Eli Stone" co-creators Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, I would pay closer attention to the real words of Journal authors M. Catherine DeSoto and Robert Hitlan, who found a major flaw in the original study that found no link. In fact, they concluded, "a significant relation does exist between the blood levels of mercury and diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder," and that "hair sample analysis results offer some support for the idea that persons with autism may be less efficient... at eliminating mercury from the blood," something that proponents of the mercury-autism hypothesis have long contended.

And, I would heed this rather wise warning from the authors: "If there is any link between autism and mercury, it is absolutely crucial that the first reports of the question are not falsely stating that no link occurs."

Another study, freshly out of Harvard, likewise shows a potential link between mercury and the autopsied brains of young people with autism. The American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology reports that a marker for oxidative stress was 68.9% higher in autistic brain issue than controls (a statistically significant result), while mercury levels were 68.2% higher.

And though the mercury results did not quite reach statistical significance (probably due to the small number of autistic brains studied: 9), the authors cautioned that, "However, there was a positive correlation between (oxidative stress and mercury levels)," meaning the two might be associated.

Finally, if part of my AAP job description was to ensure that every American child is vaccinated as early and often as possible, I would be hugely apprehensive, not about a new courtroom drama, but rather about a dramatic new study soon to appear in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In the article, "Delay in DPT vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma," Anita Kozyrskyj, an asthma researcher at the University of Manitoba, and other scientists combed the medical records of 14,000 children born in Manitoba in 1995 (when many Canadian shots still contained mercury, by the way).

They found that children who received the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine at two months of age were 2.63 times more likely to develop asthma (at a rate of 13.9%) than children who were not given the shot until after four months of age (5.9%). "We're thinking that maybe if you delay this allergic response until a bit later, the child's immune system is more developed and maybe you're not seeing this effect," Kozyrskyj told the Winnipeg Free Press, which just broke the story.

No one wants infant children to go unprotected from whooping cough (or pertussis, the "P" in DPT). But what if delaying that vaccine could have prevented more than half of the asthma cases in the United States? With millions of children currently suffering from the disease, at the cost of billions of dollars a year, would waiting another two months improve the risk-benefit ratio for society (save for the companies that market those asthma medications)?

Even more importantly, if too-early vaccination causes asthma in some kids, could the practice cause other disorders? There is absolutely nothing to link this vaccine study to autism, of course. But consider the following:

1) Many asthma cases have been linked to autoimmunity. The same with autism.

2) Childhood asthma has been dramatically increasing for two decades. The same with autism.

3) Most of the children with asthma in the vaccine study were boys. The same with autism.

Any way you look at it, this study is hardly reassuring news to parents who are about to vaccinate their kids (though think how comforting it would be to allow them to delay this shot by two months). Medicine and the media constantly tell us that all vaccines are safe for all children. When parents try to jive that information with studies that imply the opposite, their faith and trust in public health and the immunization program begin to take a nosedive, along with vaccination rates.

It's not just the broadcast of fiction out of ABC that might drive parents away from immunization. It is the negation of fact out of the AAP as well. And if unvaccinated children get sick, will the esteemed Academy also "bear responsibility," or just heap it all upon the network?

ABC executives could cave in and cancel the broadcast, but I don't think they will. And even if America's pediatricians manage to successfully censor fiction and crush artistic freedom, they will never be able to stifle the facts.


iamnotjared said...

Thank you for voicing the concerns of parents like myself. I know the facts and am worried about all the families out there that blindly listen to whatever their "doctor" tells them.

Alice said...

I think you should be careful placing all the blame on vaccines. there is no PROVEN time tested research PROVING that it causes autism. In fact my mother refused to have me or my brother vaccincated (for a lot of the reasons you state that these shots are dangerous) However my mom also ended up with two children with autism. Including myself. I know that it is easier to find a medical scape goat for why your son is the way he is... But perhaps instead of asking why just go with the part where HE IS... And let that be enough.

I work with four boys that are on the spectrum. They are all non verbal and very aggressive... I know that ASKING why won't help them... So I don't... Rather i focus on what i can do to make this a good day... and help them make every day a little better than the one before.

Ginger Taylor said...


First off, God bless you for working with autistic children. I am eternally grateful to the people who have poured their life into my son, and I want to make sure that you understand my appreciation for you and people who do what you do.

"I know that it is easier to find a medical scape goat for why your son is the way he is..."

This is not about finding scape goats, it is about finding causes and cures. My son has a physical illness with physical symptoms that vary with his cognitive 'autistic' symptoms. When the toxins are removed from his body, his autistic symptoms are abated. When his autoimmune reaction is quieted, he becomes less 'autistic'. When his digestive problems are healed, his expressive and receptive language improves.

Vaccines are not the only environmental trigger leading to autism, but they look to be the biggest contributor for many kids and they certainly were for my son. And when I treat the physical problems that appeared immediately following his vaccinations, he gets better.

"But perhaps instead of asking why just go with the part where HE IS... And let that be enough."

Being where 'he is' is important, but certainly not enough.

I don't think that it is an either or proposition. We need to do both. Love him where he is now, AND move him toward better health and higher functioning.

And the only way to improve his health is to start by playing detective and figure out what what sent it crashing to the floor in the first place.

For him, that started at two weeks with his first round of shots, and got worse with each subsequent round.

"I know that ASKING why won't help them."

I respectfully disagree.

Asking how the damage was done can tell us how to undo the damage.

It has made a world of difference for Chandler, who is now verbal and happy and plays with his brother and his cousins and his neighbors and is, Thank the Lord, potty training.

science girl said...

Vaccines do not cause autism. There is no proof that vaccines lead to autism, and there is plenty of proof that they don't. I could give you some stats on that, but instead I'll tell you all about these so-called treatable diseases.

Some of the diseases vaccines are for are certainly treatable, but they're not always curable. These are illnesses that cause death. There's a reason the effort was put into making the vaccines in the first place.

I haven't read your entire blog, of course, but in your last post you called vaccines toxins. A vaccine is the same "toxin" that your child would be receiving naturally if they were exposed to a bacteria or a virus (a pathogen). It's just that vaccines jump start your immune system so your body is ready to defend itself if an attack occurs. There's a preservative or two, but other than that, it's either an inactivated pathogen or a part of the pathogen that is produced in the lab.

Now that so many people are refusing to vaccinate children, these pathogens will increase in number and cause much more disease. Vaccines work in part by herd immunity. People who aren't vaccinated either because they can't or won't are protected by those who do vaccinate. Once a critical number is not vaccinated, disease will greatly increase.

And what are some of those diseases?

Whooping cough (a major cause of childhood death before the vaccine; the disease is now returning due to lack of vaccination)

Diptheria (fatal in 10% of those afflicted; it's maintained in carriers who are infected but aren't sick, which is why it's still not completely eradicated from the US)

Polio (in 1952, in the US at the height of an epidemic, there were 60,000 cases and 3,000 deaths)

Measles (in 1998, in Britain, there was a scare over the safety of the measles vaccine because of a discredited research paper. People didn't vaccinate their kids, which lead to at least 3 deaths)

Granted, that's not a lot of deaths. But those aren't very good chances. I'm sorry your son has such a difficult disease. It's a hard situation for your entire family, but I ask you to consider how dangerous these diseases are that the vaccines were created for. If you have another child and do not vaccinate him, do you really want him to have such a high chance of contracting and potentially dying from such horrible diseases?

Ginger Taylor said...

Science Girl,

I would encourage you to read more of the blog before you comment. Pretty much all of your points are addressed here.


Catrina said...

I found this today on google news. It ties in with what you are talking about in this post.
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN30505454 I hope this works, I suck at linking.

Ginger Taylor said...


I only skimmed the article, but it is a good example of giving half of the picture and then using that half to clear vaccines (and mercury in this case) of any role in autism.

This is a study done on typical kids. Not on autistic kids. No one is arguing that healthy kids like yours can clear most of the mercury that is injected. We are arguing that our autistic children have a genetic preposition to becoming easily poisoned because they cannot clear metals from their bodies like your typical kids.

Such a predisposition is called an "efflux" disorder. The human body creates an amino acid called 'glutathione' that bonds to heavy metals so that the liver can process them out of the blood stream and pass them out in the urine.

A study of people with autism shows that around 70%/80% of them do not produce enough/any glutathione and cannot get rid of the crap that we take in on a daily basis, much less all the extra bolus doses of crap that are injected during vaccination.

These kids reach a toxic tipping point very easily, and those bolus doses are usually the truck full of straw that breaks the camels back, if you will.

The truly stupid thing is that glutathione is available at your corner store for 10 bucks a pop, and can be given to infants safely. It could be that a very cheap blood test at birth could tell you if your child has low glutathione levels, and they could be supplemented easily.

Wow!... you say... a ten dollar solution that just might prevent lifelong cognitive disability that costs society about 10 million dollars per person over the lifespan of one person with autism?! That is great! When is that program gonna get rolled out??

Apparently never. We have been recommending docs look at it for years now and I don't think that the AAP has ever even considered it.

Because remember, autism is a mystery and no one knows it's causes and it is genetic and vaccines play no role. If we actually take reasonable precautions to make sure that no kids are physically harmed by vaccines, then that will send a signal that vaccines can cause harm, which remember, they can't, because they are safe for every child, even though the government has a multi billion dollar fund called the "Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund" which gives out lots of money, and even though right on the package inserts, you can read about all the neurological and autoimmune disorders that specific shot is known to cause, but still, they are safe for every child... well we mean most kids... well we recommend your kids just get the shots with no prior screening because statistically they will be fine.

And if they are not fine after they take the shot, it probably was not caused by the shot even though it makes medical sense and you watched it happen right before your eyes, and when they are treated for the symptoms that occurred after the shot, they can talk again, because remember... there is no "conclusive", "rigorously scientifically tested", "unanimously accepted", "government funded" (quick... any other qualifiers we can throw in there so our safety claim is technically true?) evidence to show that Autism is caused by vaccines "that was published on a Friday", "by a guy named Bruce".

But who are you gonna believe? Your own eyes and your own capacity for reason? Or a multi billion dollar pharmaceutical, medical, governmental industry that will have to pay multi billions if autism is conclusively linked to vaccine reactions? (Which it was like two months ago when the Department of Justice settled that case where the autistic kid got way worse after being vaccinated again, but let's not talk about that. Shhhhh.)

Remember, EVERY Child By Two!

Get Vaxed!

/end rant

But seriously folks...

Not every child can be safely vaccinated any more than every child can safely take antibiotics or eat peanut butter.

Yet when a child has a reaction after antibiotics or peanut butter, they stop giving it to the child and treat the child, medically, for the medical problem caused by the reaction.

Vaccines not the case. They have been raised to the status of religion in this country.

See a potential vaccine reaction in your infant? Call your doc and hear, "Fever and crying? Give him some tylenol.", "Fevers and crying for three months? Just colic. And some kids just have trouble regulating their body temp.", "Consipated for a year? Some kids are just like that." "Grand Mal seizures that began three hours after the shots? We don't know what caused them, but it was probably not the vaccine, even though that is one of the potential side effects listed on the safety data sheet for that vaccine.", "What's that ma'am, your baby stopped breathing and died during that night? Definitely not the vaccine. Probably SIDS. or... maybe child abuse. Did you hurt your child ma'am? Ever heard of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

Anything but admit that the medication containing known biological contaminants injected into the blood stream of the child, might have contaminated their body and caused harm.

Vaccines are pharmaceuticals, and should be treated as such, with the same care as any other injected medication. Because they can have such EXTREMELY bad result for a sub set of the population, (brain damage, seizures, paralysis, death - read the package inserts) personal and family medical histories should be taken, simple screening tests should be standard.

But until vaccination stops being a sacred cow, and crap reporting of half the equation like the article you reference remain the standard of the day, the medical establishment (and big PHARMA) will just keep up the status quo.

And every newborn given a shot will be a russian roulette baby.

There are good pediatricians out there who are starting to listen. Parents are giving them copies of "Changing the Course of Autism" and they are taking note of the fact that kids treated via the DAN model that presupposes a vaccine/environmental toxin origin, are getting better.

It is really hard for these docs who are seeing kids cognitive abilities return to dismiss the whole theory.

Change on this will be from the bottom up. Stage one was parents spouting off. I think that stage two is going to be street level pediatricians telling the AAP that it is time to listen to parents and DAN (Defeat Autism Now) docs, and take a hard look at the cases of regressive autism that have followed vaccination and then began recovering via DAN.

But I am guessing that the leadership of the AAP's attention will not be garnered until vaccination rates drop further and parents start telling them, face to face in their offices that they don't believe the safety claims any more, and peds stop listening to the AAP, and just start investigating and treating and eventually screening on their own.

This is not going to change from the top down, it will be the result of a rebellion.

Catrina said...

oh man I hope you didn't think I was on the articles side. I was only bringing it to your attention because I saw in an earlier post where they appointed a women whose husband doesn't think that Austism is an epidemic and that vaccines are perfectly safe. I'm on your side with this whole thing. For most children vaccines are safe but for others there are unknown predispositions that getting vaccinated triggers an adverse reaction. Sorry for the misunderstanding, I was only wanting to add fuel to the fire on the national health orgs denial of this problem. I'm totally behind your rebellion to be silenced.

Catrina said...

I forgot to mention that I to have seen it with my own eyes on a little boy I babysat once in a while, because of that I waited until my kids were way older to start them on the riskier ones. I think 2 of mine were 2 before we even started the rounds. They were never in daycare so I was willing to wait.

Ginger Taylor said...

oh.. I know Catrina. I didn't take it that way at all.

The article just annoyed me.

The study was rushed out early by the AAP so they could have lots of "mercury safe for kids" headlines to counter the Eli Stone pilot.

I just wanted to put the 'study' in context for everyone.

Ginger Taylor said...

More on that AAP study.

science girl said...

Ah. I see. You aren't against vaccination per se. You're against thimerosal. Even though from recent studies I've seen, thimerosal has been gone from most if not all childhood vaccines, and the rates of autism are not abating. This fact, along with many other epidemiological studies, is just one of many reasons scientists can't say thimerosal leads to autism. You posted a long entry about why you disagree with the current epidemiological study results that say vaccines don't cause autism. Yet from what I've read (DeStefano, 2007), the only studies to show a link between thimerosal and autism are from the same pair of researchers. This is almost always a warning sign in science that something may not be right.

It just seems after reading your blog that you have this idea that there's this big conspiracy involving the government, big pharma, and scientists working together to hide results. As a scientist, I can tell you academics don't sit around collaborating with big pharma to keep research secret. Any scientist I know, if they were studying autism and found something against the status quo, would work night and day to get the word out (if nothing else than to make a name for themselves). After doing a literature search on PubMed, I see there's been some research done on thimerosal and autism, but nothing that verifies, for instance, your beliefs behind a lack of/reduction in glutathione leading to autism after thimerosal exposure. No one wants to put kids at risk of serious and fatal diseases unless it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a vaccine will lead to autism.

An example of the willingness of scientists to not hold back data (and the effectiveness of epidemiology) is the recent alert that rosiglitazone, a drug to treat diabetes, has been linked to heart attack and stroke in patients. As soon as the academic researchers had any idea that there might be a problem, the data was put out there. This is despite the fact that this was far from what the researchers were hypothesizing (they thought it would prevent heart disease). Would big pharma have done this? Probably not, at least not until they figured out how bad the risk was. But that's why we have independent researchers in academia. They may occasionally get stuck in a rut with their ideas as much as any human. But with new grad students coming in with fresh ideas, hypotheses, models, and eventually theories change over time.

Incidentally, you said something about proof that thimerosal causes autism because of the establishment of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. That's not the case at all. It was established in 1986, long before people were worried about vaccinations causing autism. And it has never compensated anyone for an autism/thimerosal claim (Edlich et al., 2007).

I know by saying all this, I'm not going to change your mind. But I wanted you to have a better understanding of what it's like in a research setting and what a scientist's thought processes are. Most of us are putting in long days and hours to improve the world's knowledge and hopefully help improve people's lives. Hiding data would be very counterproductive.

Ginger Taylor said...

Science Girl,

Apparently you still have not read my blog.

I will recommend a list of entries for you to read, but don't have time to do it today.

Ginger Taylor said...

... in the mean time, feel free to read the vaccine discussion I have been having here.

science girl said...


According to the article I posted before, and this website from the Department of Health and Human Services,


the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund has not given a single compensation to an autism case for both fiscal years 2007 and 2008 (or ever, for that matter). Can you please tell me where you got the information that someone has been compensated for an autism claim?

Ginger Taylor said...

Here and here.

We have had a death in the family so i will be gone for a while.

Ginger Taylor said...

Science Girl,

I saw your comment on Brett's site, and would be happy to answer your questions, but i have to get ready to leave town for the funeral and don't really have the time and energy to go back over there and continue the conversation with everyone and do it any justice.

my email is on the front of the site. Drop me a note with your email address and I will answer what ever questions you have.

In short, Chandler is autistic, after his 18 month vaccinations his vocab dropped from more than 6 words to 2 and he stopped adding any for another 6 months until he was diagnosed and started treatment, no I really didn't want to diagnose him with it, he was diagnosed at 2 by a psychologist with severe autism, after 4 years of therapy and biomedical intervention, he is now considered mild and non professionals comment that he must be 'high functioning' from what they can see.

Autism is a wide spectrum, and it ranges from completely non verbal, non responsive, to what you described, a bit awkward, introverted and independent.

He has been moving from the bottom of the spectrum upwards in functioning, and now uses five word sentences and is now very affectionate and interactive.

If you check the tag 'Chandler' you can see more of his story and what has helped him.

As far as your notes on how the scientific process works, we are on the same page. There is just probably a lot of evidence for a link between vaccines and autism that you have never seen. They don't exactly post it in the lobbies of doctors offices.

email me

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