May 27, 2009

Contradictory Rulings in the Vaccine Court

[An alternate version of this piece was written in response to an article in Utah Stories.]

Many have cited three cases in which The Health and Human Service's vaccine court ruled out vaccines as a cause of a child's autism, but don't mention the 10 cases (discovered by CBS News) that were won in that court by children with autism.

Three of those 10 families have gone public, The Polings, The Banks and The Hiatts.

The Poling case is the only one that received mainstream media coverage.

Only ten days after we heard that the court said MMR doesn't cause autism, we heard that the same court said that MMR caused Baily Banks autism.

"In his conclusion, Special Master Abell wrote:

The Court found that Bailey's ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey's ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.

And he added this:

Petitioner's theory of PDD caused by vaccine-related ADEM causally connects the vaccination and the ultimate injury, and does so by explaining a logical sequence of cause and effect showing that the vaccination was the ultimate reason for the injury.

Shouldn't we be shouting a collective, "WHAT?!" to The Department of Health and Human Services for their contradictory positions?

Here is the thing, when the Department of Health and Human Services puts the Department of Health and Human Services on trial, and the Department of Health and Human Services wins, that is not news. When they put themselves on trial and loose, as in the Poling, Banks and Hiatt cases THAT IS NEWS!

THOSE are the cases we should be demanding answers from the government on.

The Poling family has requested that their daughters case files can be made public so everyone can know the reasoning behind HHS's decision, but HHS isn't sharing any of their insight into WHY Hanna deserves a million 20 million bucks for her vaccine injury.

So let's not boil this debate down to scientist v. tv stars. There are MANY in the scientific and public health community who believe that vaccines are involved in the autism epidemic.

And apparently HHS itself does too because it keeps paying claims for autistic kids.

Please take a moment and check out the VICP's vaccine injury table for yourself. You will note that "encephalopathy" is listed as a compensated injury for DTaP and MMR.

Then scroll down to the middle of the page and look at the symptoms of encephalopathy for 18 month olds:

1. Loss of eye contact
2. Unresponsive to stimuli except for loud shouts
3. Seems disconnected from the world around him

THAT is a description of a child with "autism".

THAT was a description of MY son after his DTaP shot for which he was diagnosed with "autism".

The government has ruled that vaccines do and do not cause autism. Are You ok with that solid, definitive, case closed argument?

I REALLY hope not.

It is time for HHS to make the Poling documents public, and to answer to the public for their untenable, illogical position.

May 26, 2009

Low Dose Naltrexone and ALA Being Used For Cancer and MS

Mercola is highlighting interviews with Dr. Burton M. Berkson who has been successfully using LDN and ALA on terminal cancer patients, around half of which are surviving.

"However, more recently, researchers have discovered that at very low dosages (3 to 4.5 mg), naltrexone has immunomodulating properties that may be able to successfully treat cancer malignancies, and a wide range of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease, just to name a few.

Added benefits include its low-cost, and few, if any, of the detrimental side effects you normally experience with pharmaceutical drugs.

[also being used for:]

* Hepatitis C
* Diabetic neuropathies
* Lupus
* Dermatomyositis (an inflammatory muscle disease)
* Ulcerative colitis
* Other autoimmune diseases"

May 25, 2009

Memorial Day: C. Chandler Perine

Marine Corps 1st Lt. C. Chandler Perine was my uncle and he loved me.

He died in the service of his country on November 15, 1970 at the age of 26 when the plane he was piloting suffered mechanical failure during take off from McGuire AFB, New Jersey

Chan, my father's younger brother, served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, a football player in college and "class flirt" in high school.

He is dearly missed.

My youngest son, Chandler Perine Taylor, is named in honor of him.

May 19, 2009

CDC Admits Autism is Environmental

I missed writing about many stories this year, but wanted to call this to your attention to this story from February, as it represents a paradigm shift in CDC's autism causation stance.

From Age of Autism:

Las Vegas Sun Reports: CDC Admits Autism is Environmental

Las Vegas sun Managing Editor's Note: Thank you to Marshall Allen of the Las Vegas Sun for this article in which Dr. Catherine Rice, Director of the CDC's National Center for Birth Defects states that vaccines and other environmental insults are possible causes of autism. I think the genetics only crowd and vaccine deniers' luck is running out, don't you? Please click HERE to read the full article at the Las Vegas Sun. You can thank Mr. Allen for running this article HERE. Please do. Kim

So are there more autistic children, or is the broadening definition causing more children to be classified as autistic?

It’s impossible to say for sure, Rice said. Awareness of autism is increasing, which leads to more effective identification, but it’s also possible that it’s increasing. Even with the more inclusive definition, the number of autistic children seems to be on the rise, Rice said.

It’s not known what causes autism.

Researchers say environmental factors could contribute to the onset of the disorders. Studies have linked autism to air pollutants, pesticides, pet medications and even drugs used in the birthing process, such as Pitosin, Rice said.

“It could be anything from the exposures in our physical surroundings — chemicals around us in homes, clothes, products, medications we take and food we eat,” Rice said.

Rice said the recognition that environmental factors play a role in causing autism shows that there is common ground in the debate about whether vaccines play a role in the disorders.

May 18, 2009

Ashley's Day

One year ago today we lost Ashley.

Her mother Michele has asked that we honor her memory today by doing the things that Ashley loved best.

In Loving Memory - Ashley Brock
Thursday, May 14, 2009

As most of you are aware, I have been struggling for the past year with the death of my sweet daughter, Ashley. With the first anniversary of her death rapidly approaching on May 18th, I have been frantically searching for the most meaningful way to commemorate the occasion. Initially, the plan was to go to Maine because this is where I feel closest to her and where Ashley developed her skills and captivating personality. Unfortunately, circumstances did not cooperate. So, I was faced with the challenge of developing an alternative plan. Did I just give up and try to disappear and pretend the day didn’t exist? No, that would be disgracing her honor and everything she stood for. What could possibly be extraordinary enough to capture her essence? Initially, every suggestion seemed so trivial. So, I embarked on a journey that led me down memory lane to develop a plan to “celebrate” Ashley. Then, I realized the answer really was very simple.

Ashley taught me to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. She was passionate about so many things and truly lived each and every moment to the fullest, without any regard for others’ opinions. Therefore, the best way for me to survive May 18th was to embrace everything that Ashley was enthusiastic about and perform them with her zest for life. It would mean a lot to us, if you would do the same. For one day, put the house work, the TV and the daily distractions aside and spend time with your kids, nieces, nephews, students, neighbors and other family/community members doing the things that Ashley enjoyed. Get back to what is truly important and what’s right in our world – the children, our future.

You will have quite an extensive list of activities to choose from, as Ashley’s passions were many. She was a very active child who loved the outdoors, particularly the beach or the park. Ashley loved bike riding, basketball, bubbles, swinging, painting, reading and singing. Her favorite color was red and you often saw her wearing a fire helmet and carrying cards. She loved Baby Einstein, Mozart, tickles, dictionaries, umbrellas, dogs, balls, trains, red wagons, and balloons! Her favorite outings were to the zoo, water park, circus, aquarium and fire station. Take advantage of this day to do something that Ashley would have enjoyed and to remember all that is still good in the world.

According to Alexis, we are going to have a full agenda of going to the indoor water park and zoo, blowing bubbles, bike riding, singing “You Are My Sunshine” and releasing red balloons with our personal messages of how Ashley has improved our life. I am not sure that I am truly up for all the festivities, but I am determined to provide Alexis with stability and positive memories of her loving sister of whom she misses immensely. Please feel free to share anything special you do in Ashley’s honor. It does my heart good to know that she is remembered and valued for the truly unique individual that she was.

I would like to thank those of you who have stood by my family in this most difficult time in spite of our erratic behavior. Words cannot adequately convey the range of emotions that we have experienced – anger, despair, disbelief, depression and so forth. I know that it is often difficult to know what to say or do to support us and unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. Frankly, when it comes to grief it is often easier to indicate what NOT to do or say. Well intentioned people often feel like they need to say SOMETHING, when perhaps a hug is the best approach. Over the past year, I developed a list of “What Not To Do”. It was meant to be therapeutic, so don’t over analyze. Hopefully, it will put everyone at ease and let them know the best way to approach grieving parents.

1) Don’t avoid talking about Ashley. Sure I may get sad sometimes, but it makes me feel good that people remember her and how special she really was. I NEED to feel like she had a purpose and that my family is not the only people that miss her.
2) Don’t assume my life is easier now. This was perhaps the most shocking and infuriating thing that occurred after her death. I actually received letters inferring that I would now get some much needed rest and peace. While my life with Ashley was challenging because of her disability, I can tell you that life without her is far more empty and less meaningful. She brought laughter, purpose and unconditional love to my life.
3) Please do not indicate that she is now in a better place. While people’s intentions may be good, by doing this, they diminish everything we sacrificed to make her life the best it could possibly be. I will always be so proud of how hard she worked to learn even the simplest of tasks that both you and I take for granted. While I can only hope that heaven is as magnificent as described, I know that our home was a much better place because she was in it.
4) Don’t tell us that time heals all wounds or that things will get better in time. How can life be BETTER when I no longer have my daughter? It defies the natural order to life. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. This is a situation that cannot be fixed. We are forever altered as individuals and as a family. However, we are frantically searching for “our new normal” because life as we knew it will never be the same. I realize that this makes many individuals uncomfortable, but that is not the intent. It is simply a fact. While the “old Michele” may have disappeared, the goal is for a “new Michele” to eventually emerge with a resilience that will help Alexis realize her full potential.
5) Don’t avoid us or not invite us to activities because you assume we won’t be up for it. If you are uncomfortable or don’t know what to say or do, it is certainly understandable. You also may be correct that we either can’t or are not interested in going out; however, inviting us let’s us know that you are thinking of us and will be there for us when we emerge from our fog. Sometimes the very best support for someone who is grief stricken is simply letting them know you are thinking about them and that you care or an act of kindness. Keep it simple. More is less, so to speak.

I yearn to be able to turn back time. I have replayed the tragic day in my head more times than I can count. The what ifs are endless. I prayed to God to let it be me and not my sweet, innocent child. Obviously, that was not the plan. As I struggle to find new meaning in life, I know I do not say or show it often enough, but your support is valued and crucial to my survival. On this day, I swear to you that I WILL find a way to make Ashley’s death not be in vain and to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. If we can spare even one family from having to endure the pain we have suffered, then we may find some solace.

I beg of you to learn from all that Ashley had to teach us:
• Be tolerant and compassionate to those that are different by attempting to see the world through their eyes, for they are wise beyond their years.
• Live life with no regrets by seizing every opportunity to enjoy even the simplest of things and by following your passions.
• Focus on the present and the activity at hand instead of being consumed by the future and outside distractions.
• Love unconditionally and don’t be afraid to let others know how you feel.
• Finally and perhaps most importantly, as you are faced with challenges, remember, if there is a will, there is a way.

Rest in peace, my sweet Ashley. You have made me a better person and for that I am eternally grateful. I love you - Mommy

May 17, 2009

Hyperbaric Treatment for Children With Autism

Conclusion: "Children with autism who received hyperbaric treatment at 1.3 atm and 24% oxygen for 40 hourly sessions had significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact, and sensory/cognitive awareness compared to children who received slightly pressurized room air."

Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial

Daniel A Rossignol1 email, Lanier W Rossignol1 email, Scott Smith1 email, Cindy Schneider2 email, Sally Logerquist2 email, Anju Usman3 email, Jim Neubrander4 email, Eric M Madren5 email, Gregg Hintz6 email, Barry Grushkin7 email and Elizabeth A Mumper8 email

1International Child Development Resource Center, Melbourne, FL, USA
2Center for Autism Research and Education, Phoenix, AZ, USA
3True Health Medical Center, Naperville, IL, USA
4Edison, NJ, USA
5Princess Anne Medical Associates, Virginia Beach, VA, USA
6Therapeutic Pathways, East Troy, WI, USA
7Biognosys, Nanuet, NY, USA
8Rimland Center, Lynchburg, VA, USA

BMC Pediatrics 2009, 9:21doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-21
Published: 13 March 2009

Several uncontrolled studies of hyperbaric treatment in children with autism have reported clinical improvements; however, this treatment has not been evaluated to date with a controlled study. We performed a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial to assess the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment in children with autism.

62 children with autism recruited from 6 centers, ages 2–7 years (mean 4.92 ± 1.21), were randomly assigned to 40 hourly treatments of either hyperbaric treatment at 1.3 atmosphere (atm) and 24% oxygen ("treatment group", n = 33) or slightly pressurized room air at 1.03 atm and 21% oxygen ("control group", n = 29). Outcome measures included Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale, Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), and Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC).

After 40 sessions, mean physician CGI scores significantly improved in the treatment group compared to controls in overall functioning (p = 0.0008), receptive language (p < 0.0001), social interaction (p = 0.0473), and eye contact (p = 0.0102); 9/30 children (30%) in the treatment group were rated as "very much improved" or "much improved" compared to 2/26 (8%) of controls (p = 0.0471); 24/30 (80%) in the treatment group improved compared to 10/26 (38%) of controls (p = 0.0024). Mean parental CGI scores significantly improved in the treatment group compared to controls in overall functioning (p = 0.0336), receptive language (p = 0.0168), and eye contact (p = 0.0322). On the ABC, significant improvements were observed in the treatment group in total score, irritability, stereotypy, hyperactivity, and speech (p < 0.03 for each), but not in the control group. In the treatment group compared to the control group, mean changes on the ABC total score and subscales were similar except a greater number of children improved in irritability (p = 0.0311). On the ATEC, sensory/cognitive awareness significantly improved (p = 0.0367) in the treatment group compared to the control group. Post-hoc analysis indicated that children over age 5 and children with lower initial autism severity had the most robust improvements. Hyperbaric treatment was safe and well-tolerated. Conclusion Children with autism who received hyperbaric treatment at 1.3 atm and 24% oxygen for 40 hourly sessions had significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact, and sensory/cognitive awareness compared to children who received slightly pressurized room air. Trial Registration NCT00335790

"Peace" by Richard Recchia

May 14, 2009

The Sun Rises First in Maine Or Maine, The Way Life Should Be

On Tuesday, May 12th in Augusta Maine, the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Department of Health & Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics - Maine Chapter, the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, the Maine Emergency Medical Services, the Autism Society of Maine, the Downeast Association of Physician Assistants, national figures in autism research, causation and treatment, state developmental pediatricians, state DAN physicians, biomed parents, non biomed parents, and autism treatment and therapy providers of all kinds met to do something that has never been done before in this country.

Listen to one another.

Maine has always been one of the most progressive and no nonsense states in the US, and they proved it again this week by casting aside the fear of what might happen if we talk openly about even the most difficult of all the autism issues to forge new ground and dare to initiate new partnerships in serving people with autism.

THIS is the conference I have been waiting for.

THIS is what should have been happening all along.

Here is the description of the conference from the Maine CDC web site:
Autism: Bridging the Gap Between Knowledge and Practice for Clinicians


Autism, including its possible causes and treatments, is a highly-charged, polarizing subject within the medical, public health, and even the autism community. Maine CDC/DHHS is hosting a medical conference to provide an update on the latest science on possible causes, diagnostic tools, and treatment of autism. The conference will feature several national researchers, Maine treating physicians and an interactive format, allowing the Maine clinical community an opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues with presenters. Some areas that will be covered include some of the murky areas in causes and treatment of autism, particularly those treatments that parents embark on with or without the knowledge, guidance or approval of the child’s physician. Examples include DAN, special diets, and avoiding vaccines. By addressing these more controversial areas, we hope to address one of the overall goals of helping to break down the barriers between physicians and parents in order to ultimately provide more comprehensive and collaborative care for children with autism

Primary Audience

Pediatricians and other primary care clinicians who care for children Objectives
By the end of the conference, participants will be able to:
  • Describe the trends of autism (Autism Spectrum Disorders = ASD).
  • Identify the first signs and symptoms of Autism.
  • Explain when and how to refer for specialized diagnostics.
  • Apply universal autism screening with recommended tools.
  • Describe the use of the AAP Autism Toolkit.
  • Describe what is available for diagnostic and therapeutic services in Maine.
  • Define co-morbidities to autism and ways to effectively identify and treat them.
  • Identify effective strategies to address some of the challenges parents and children with autism face in clinical settings.
  • Discuss the newest research on the causes of autism, including genetic and environmental theories.
  • Discuss the newest research on the treatments of autism, including those that are commonly used by families, but not necessarily widely accepted by the medical community.

Conference Agenda

8:00 Registration, Networking, Coffee
8:30 Introduction and Overview of Autism in Maine
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH
9:00 Autism 101
Carol Hubbard, MD
Victoria Dalzell, MD
Mary Ellen Gellerstedt, MD
Don Burgess, MD
First signs and symptoms, Maine’s new screening tool, how and when to refer for specialized diagnostics, how a diagnosis is made, AAP Autism Toolkit, diagnostic and therapeutic services in Maine.
11:00 Keynote by Tim Buie, MD
Gastrointestinal and Nutritional
Co-Morbidities in Autism, followed by Q&A
12:30 Lunch – Voices of Autism
1:30 Keynote by Martha Herbert, MD, PhD
Genes and Environment, Developmental and Chronic: An Inclusive Approach to Autism Science, followed by Q&A
3:00 Keynote by Jon Poling, MD, PhD
Looking Forward Beyond Vaccines: How Do We Know What Autism IS NOT if We Do Not Know What Autism IS? Followed by Q&A with other conference speakers.


Timothy Buie, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterologist
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Don Burgess, MD, Pediatrician
Past President of the Maine AAP
Southern Maine Medical Center

Victoria Dalzell, MD
Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
Maine Medical Center

Mary Ellen Gellerstedt, MD
Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
Eastern Maine Medical Center

Martha Herbert, MD, PhD
Pediatric Neurologist
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Carol Hubbard, MD
Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
Maine Medical Center

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH
Director, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
State Health Officer

Jon Poling, MD, PhD
Neurologist, Clinical Assistant Professor
Medical College of Georgia
Father of child with autism

You did see that last name on the list, yes? Poling.

This conference came to be because of a friendship between two women who had children around the same time. Dr. Dora Mills, the head of Maine CDC, and Becky Grant-Widen, board member of the National Autism Association. Dr. Mills and Becky worked together many years ago, when Becky was working for the American Lung Association, testifying before the state legislature together on an anti smoking bill. Their relationship was put to the test a few years later after Becky’s son was diagnosed with autism and the two women found themselves testifying against one another on thimerosal legislation.

But at the conference Dr. Mills told her autism story. That in Medical School she was told that autism was rare, around 4 in 10,000, but that of her and her three friends that were pregnant at the same time (her niece, and her best friend from medical school, and Becky) her child was the only one NOT diagnosed with autism. Dr. Mills explained that for her, the autism rate was not four in 10,000, it was three out of four.

So last year she and Becky began talking in earnest about what was going on in autism, and Becky’s concerns for the disconnect between parents who treat their children biomedically and their primary care and developmental pediatricians. So Dr. Mills decided it was time for their conversation to expand to include everyone in the state who is concerned with autism.

She put together a steering committee which included professionals from Maine CDC and AAP, Maine ASA, the state developmental pediatricians, biomed parents, and even one of the CDC and AAP’s sharpest critics on vaccine issues, Me. Quite a fearless move on Dr. Mills part as Maine’s chief vaccine advocate.

There was common agreement on who two of the three keynote speakers should be, as all involved had deep respect for the work that Dr. Tim Buie and Dr. Martha Herbert have done for our kids. But then the parents asked that Dr. Jon Poling, the Johns Hopkins Neurologist whose daughter regressed into autism following her 18 month vaccinations and who is being paid for a vaccine injury in the VICP, be invited to present on vaccine causation. That fear began to creep back in.

But the fear was not of the things that Dr. Poling actually espoused, but what had been written about what he espoused. Dr. Mills spent a little time researching and told the committee that as far as she could determine, Dr. Poling and Julie Gerberding were actually saying many of the same things, and thought we should hear from him directly instead of making assumptions about what he might say.

And as reasonable a position as that was to take, that is actually a revolution in the vaccine wars. To show no fear, listen to people’s ACTUAL positions, and work together to find out what the truth is in all this, rather than allowing media filters to pigeon hole people and distort their messages.

So what began as a somewhat wobbly partnership of people who have been at odds with one another, ended up bearing truly amazing fruit.

What happened on Tuesday in Maine was what Bernadine Healy was asking for when she said that:
“…we haven’t connected. So I think part of what’s missing here, we’ve got to stop all this battling and we’ve got to honor each other’s perspective…”

To say that the conference went well would be a huge understatement.

Autism was not framed as one psychological/behavioral disorder, but as “Autisms” of varying biological origins. Autism was treated like a medical disorder and our kids as ‘sick children’ who need individual investigation and customized medical treatment.

It was heavy on the research and individual experiences of clinicians and light on the speculation.

Mainstream Pediatricians got to share what they do like about DAN treatments and what they are concerned about. DAN docs got to share a few of their methods and what they are seeing. There was debate, but it was respectful and earnest. People were real. And one mainstream ped asked for greater communication between the two groups so that continuity of care could be stronger. It was music to my ears.

Dr. Tim Buie is quite beloved in Maine as many docs send their kids to him down in Boston, and to hear him talk to a hundred Maine medical professionals about which diets might help which kids and show video of extreme behavioral problems that were alleviated with GI treatment was a huge relief. Finally! They can hear someone they trust talking about the gut brain connection and see things that would seem to have NO relation to intestinal issues actually can.

It was a bit of an out of body experience to watch a state chief public health official hug Jon Poling on stage after his speech. And then see him hang out for more than an hour after the conference was over talking to and connecting with (and laughing with) Maine CDC and AAP docs (even some who were afraid to let him on the bill in the first place) felt like watching chunks fall out of the Berlin Wall.

And the conference even had that “come to Jesus moment” that Dr. Healy was looking for on Larry King. After Martha Herbert’s very powerful presentation on gene/environment interaction, Dr. Mills, coming to tears, joined her at the podium and told the crowd that she had just experienced a monumental paradigm shift, as the audience responded with a standing ovation.

I sat with Harry and Gina Tembenis who lost their son Elias to his vaccine induced autism and seizure disorder. Every 15 minutes Harry would turn to me and say, “Did you hear what they just said? I can’t believe this is a CDC event!”

Beyond that I am not going to share what was discussed, because I want you all to watch the conference for yourselves. It has all been recorded and the video will be available on the Maine CDC’s web site in about two weeks, and on DVD. I will of course alert the masses when it becomes available, and encourage you to send it to all your docs, peds, autism professionals, public health officials, media contacts and your grandma.

But I will share with you an excerpt from a thank you note that I sent to the rest of the group that put this conference together:

“On a personal note, seeing a room packed full of autism and health professionals hang on every word of a long demanding speaking schedule that addressed toxic triggers has done more to melt my cynicism than anything has done in a long time. Looking out on the crowd I had hope for the first time in ages that we parents might not be alone in our fight forever, and that I may get to stop having to be a doctor and a lawyer and journalist and an activist and the town crier and just get to be a mom to my boys.

I have long recognized that my role in this community is to be the challenger. To guide (and sometimes push hard) people toward what is needed or being neglected. It was an incredible experience to spend the day with divisions of CDC and the AAP, whose parent orgs I have been sharply criticizing for years, and to NOT have anything critical to say! To see people getting it right. For there to be no BS to have to call out and enjoy watching doctors and parents learn from one another and connect with one another.”

I don’t know where things will go from here in Maine, but I don’t think they will be the same again. I am sure that we are not all in the same place yet, but I think big chunks of ground were closed in the gap between “us” and “them”.

Most importantly the fear gap was closed, so the conversations that need to happen can start to happen. What I can say with confidence is that the ice has been thoroughly broken.

I believe that the greatest change will come at the state level for two reasons. Because it is the states and their school systems that are going broke paying to support our kids, and because in the states, real face to face relationships that melt disputes and lead people to look for common ground can take place.

So let’s hope they are right when they say, “As Maine goes, so goes the Nation”.

(And for the record, Dr. Mills invited Dr. Paul Offit to come sit on a vaccine panel with Dr. Poling, however Ofitt declined the invitation citing a busy schedule.)

News stories on the conference here:



May 13, 2009

WHO Investigates Chance That Swine Flu is Human Error

Not conclusive, so let's not let this story get a head of itself, but a story we need to keep an eye on.

Swine Flu May Be Human Error; WHO Investigates Claim
By Jason Gale and Simeon Bennett

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization is investigating a claim by an Australian researcher that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error.

Adrian Gibbs, 75, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu drug, said in an interview that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.

“One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “But there are lots of others.”

The World Health Organization received the study last weekend and is reviewing it, Keiji Fukuda, the agency’s assistant director-general of health security and environment, said in an interview May 11. Gibbs, who has studied germ evolution for four decades, is one of the first scientists to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus that was identified three weeks ago in Mexico and threatens to touch off the first flu pandemic since 1968.

A virus that resulted from lab experimentation or vaccine production may indicate a greater need for security, Fukuda said. By pinpointing the source of the virus, scientists also may better understand the microbe’s potential for spreading and causing illness, Gibbs said.

Possible Mistake

“The sooner we get to grips with where it’s come from, the safer things might become,” Gibbs said by phone from Canberra yesterday. “It could be a mistake” that occurred at a vaccine production facility or the virus could have jumped from a pig to another mammal or a bird before reaching humans, he said.

Gibbs and two colleagues analyzed the publicly available sequences of hundreds of amino acids coded by each of the flu virus’s eight genes. He said he aims to submit his three-page paper today for publication in a medical journal.

“You really want a very sober assessment” of the science behind the claim, Fukuda said May 11 at the WHO’s Geneva headquarters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has received the report and has decided there is no evidence to support Gibbs’s conclusion, said Nancy Cox, director of the agency’s influenza division. She said since researchers don’t have samples of swine flu viruses from South America and Africa, where the new strain may have evolved, those regions can’t be ruled out as natural sources for the new flu.

No Evidence

“We are interested in the origins of this new influenza virus,” Cox said. “But contrary to what the author has found, when we do the comparisons that are most relevant, there is no evidence that this virus was derived by passage in eggs.”

The WHO’s collaborative influenza research centers, which includes the CDC, and sites in Memphis, Melbourne, London and Tokyo, were asked by the international health agency to review the study over the weekend, Fukuda said. The request was extended to scientists at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris, as well as the WHO’s influenza network, he said.

“My guess is that the picture should be a lot clearer over the next few days,” Fukuda said. “We have asked a lot of people to look at this.”

Virus Expert

Gibbs wrote or co-authored more than 250 scientific publications on viruses during his 39-year career at the Australian National University in Canberra, according to biographical information on the university’s Web site.

Swine flu has infected 5,251 people in 30 countries so far, killing 61, according to WHO data. Scientists are trying to determine whether the virus will mutate and become more deadly if it spreads to the Southern Hemisphere and back. Flu pandemics occur when a strain of the disease to which few people have immunity evolves and spreads.

Gibbs said his analysis supports research by scientists including Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, who found the new strain is the product of two distinct lineages of influenza that have circulated among swine in North America and Europe for more than a decade.

In addition, Gibbs said his research found the rate of genetic mutation in the new virus was about three times faster than that of the most closely related viruses found in pigs, suggesting it evolved outside of swine.

Gene Evolution

“Whatever speeded up the evolution of these genes happened at least seven or eight years ago, so one wonders, why hasn’t it been found?” Gibbs said today.

Some scientists have speculated that the 1977 Russian flu, the most recent global outbreak, began when a virus escaped from a laboratory.

Identifying the source of new flu viruses is difficult without finding the exact strain in an animal or bird “reservoir,” said Jennifer McKimm-Breschkin, a virologist at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization in Melbourne.

“If you can’t find an exact match, the best you can do is compare sequences,” she said. “Similarities may give an indication of a possible source, but this remains theoretical.”

The World Organization for Animal Health, which represents chief veterinary officers from 174 countries, received the Gibbs paper and is working with the WHO on an assessment, said Maria Zampaglione, a spokeswoman.

Genetic Patterns

The WHO wants to know whether any evidence that the virus may have been developed in a laboratory can be corroborated and whether there are other explanations for its particular genetic patterns, according to Fukuda.

“These things have to be dealt with straight on,” he said. “If someone makes a hypothesis, then you test it and you let scientific process take its course.”

Gibbs said he has no evidence that the swine-derived virus was a deliberate, man-made product.

“I don’t think it could be a malignant thing,” he said. “It’s much more likely that some random thing has put these two viruses together.”

Gibbs, who spent most of his academic career studying plant viruses, said his major contribution to the study of influenza occurred in 1975, while collaborating with scientists Graeme Laver and Robert Webster in research that led to the development of the anti-flu medicines Tamiflu and Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

Bird Poo

“We were out on one of the Barrier Reef islands, off Australia, catching birds for the flu in them, and I happened to be the guy who caught the best,” Gibbs said. The bird he got “yielded the poo from which was isolated the influenza isolate strain from which all the work on Tamiflu and Relenza started.”

Gibbs, who says he studies the evolution of flu viruses as a “retirement hobby,” expects his research to be challenged by other scientists.

“This is how science progresses,” he said. “Somebody comes up with a wild idea, and then they all pounce on it and kick you to death, and then you start off on another silly idea.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Gale in Geneva at; Simeon Bennett in Singapore
Last Updated: May 13, 2009 01:36 EDT

May 10, 2009

Blessed Are the Autism Moms Who Make Themselves Poor

To choose to set yourself aside and serve a child with autism is to anchor yourself to ‘the vulnerable’. Our kids are vulnerable, no two ways about it. When we become their defenders, we stand in front of them and take the hits that were meant for them.

When we physically protect them from injuring themselves, sometimes we end up in the emergency room.

When we bear their emotional burden of not having friends, we feel their pain, sometimes as intensely as they do.

When we spend our retirement money getting the best treatment and services we can afford, we decrease their chance of having to live in an institution by increasing our chance of having to one day live in an institution.

When we pour our limited resources into the bottomless pit called autism, we choose to make ourselves poor.

And when we do that, we become the people that God came for when He humbled Himself, put on flesh and came to earth.

When Jesus began his public ministry He said this:

Luke 4:16-20
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus came for the poor, because He knew that those were the people whose pride had been broken, who needed Him and who could hear His message.

Most of us are educated, middle class, Americans, and have lived better than the vast majority of people in the history of the world. Had autism not entered our lives, would we be ‘the poor’?

During a particularly hard time I had the history channel on while I was working on something and there was an archaeologist reading ancient Hebrew carved into the wall of an underground cave written by a jewish slave who probably spent most of his time there digging out stone for his Egyptian slaveholders. It read “God, please don’t forget me down here”.

When he read it began to cry and pray the same thing. There is not a chance that 10 years ago I would have identified in any way with a slave trapped underground.

Because those of us who are broken are the people he came to reach out to, we have chances to understand things that few people do, and become what we may have never become otherwise.

So let us not be afraid to empty ourselves out for our children.

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

May 5, 2009

The Next Chapter in the Wakefield Kufuffle

Chapter 2, Return of the Parents:

Media Advisory - News Conference


1) On Wednesday 6th May 2009 a formal complaint will be filed with the General Medical Council of the UK against four senior doctors, all highly regarded members of the UK medical establishment. It is alleged, and supported by documentary evidence, that Dr. Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, Dr. David Salisbury of the Dept. of Health, Professor Arie Zuckerman, former Dean of the Medical School, Royal Free Hospital, and Dr. Michael Pegg, Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Royal Free gave false testimony on oath in the GMC hearings involving Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Professor John Walker-Smith, and Professor Simon Murch.

2) At the same time parents of 4 children involved in the original Lancet study, on which the major allegations have been based, will make public statements regarding the GMC hearings.

When: Wednesday May 6, 2009
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Where: The Kingsway Hall Hotel, 66 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5BX,
Who: U.S. attorney James Moody, director of U.S. charities Safe Minds and the National Autistic Association, acting on behalf of 13 American and British autism organisations, states:

“Dr. Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, Dr. David Salisbury of the Dept. of Health, Professor Arie Zuckerman, former Dean of the Medical School at the Royal Free Hospital, and Dr. Michael Pegg, Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Royal Free, should be investigated for supplying false testimony. Furthermore, the current GMC hearing against Drs. Wakefield. Murch and Walker-Smith should be terminated. This unwarranted attack on scientists and doctors who came to the aid of desperately ill children has deterred others from helping similarly affected children, and distracted attention from the public health crisis caused by the substantial rise in autism diagnoses.”

Three families representing four of the 12 children included in the original Lancet publication will speak out publicly for the first time about the GMC hearings to clarify the details of their childrens’ involvement in the case series, and express their families’ support of the doctors they consider to be wrongly under investigation by the GMC. A letter from the families to the GMC expressing support of the doctors being investigated will be read by those who are able to be present.

Contact: James Moody -; tel: 001 202-298-4766.

May 3, 2009

Induction of Metallothionein in Mouse Cerebellum and Cerebrum with Low-dose Thimerosal Injection

Induction of metallothionein in mouse cerebellum and cerebrum with low-dose thimerosal injection.

Cell Biol Toxicol. 2009 Apr 9.

Minami T, Miyata E, Sakamoto Y, Yamazaki H, Ichida S.

Department of Life Sciences, School of Science & Engineering, Kinki University, 3-4-1 Kowakae, Higashi-osaka, Osaka, 577-8502, Japan,

Thimerosal, an ethyl mercury compound, is used worldwide as a vaccine preservative. We previously observed that the mercury concentration in mouse brains did not increase with the clinical dose of thimerosal injection, but the concentration increased in the brain after the injection of thimerosal with lipopolysaccharide, even if a low dose of thimerosal was administered. Thimerosal may penetrate the brain, but is undetectable when a clinical dose of thimerosal is injected; therefore, the induction of metallothionein (MT) messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein was observed in the cerebellum and cerebrum of mice after thimerosal injection, as MT is an inducible protein. MT-1 mRNA was expressed at 6 and 9 h in both the cerebrum and cerebellum, but MT-1 mRNA expression in the cerebellum was three times higher than that in the cerebrum after the injection of 12 microg/kg thimerosal. MT-2 mRNA was not expressed until 24 h in both organs. MT-3 mRNA was expressed in the cerebellum from 6 to 15 h after the injection, but not in the cerebrum until 24 h. MT-1 and MT-3 mRNAs were expressed in the cerebellum in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, MT-1 protein was detected from 6 to 72 h in the cerebellum after 12 microg/kg of thimerosal was injected and peaked at 10 h. MT-2 was detected in the cerebellum only at 10 h. In the cerebrum, little MT-1 protein was detected at 10 and 24 h, and there were no peaks of MT-2 protein in the cerebrum. In conclusion, MT-1 and MT-3 mRNAs but not MT-2 mRNA are easily expressed in the cerebellum rather than in the cerebrum by the injection of low-dose thimerosal. It is thought that the cerebellum is a sensitive organ against thimerosal. As a result of the present findings, in combination with the brain pathology observed in patients diagnosed with autism, the present study helps to support the possible biological plausibility for how low-dose exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines may be associated with autism.