Category: Blog

What is Mitochondrial Autism?

Ready for latest autism controversy?

Wait, are we done with any of the previous ones?

Vaccines? Biomed treatments?

Nope. But get ready for a new one.

Well an old that has come back yet again…

What is it?

It is autism secondary to mitochondrial disease or AMD.

What are Mitochondrial Diseases?

Since the mitochondria are considered the power houses of our cells, when you have a problem with them, your cells may not have enough energy to do their jobs.

“The parts of the body, such as the heart, brain, muscles and lungs, requiring the greatest amounts of energy are the most affected. Mitochondrial disease is difficult to diagnose, because it affects each individual differently. Symptoms can include seizures, strokes, severe developmental delays, inability to walk, talk, see, and digest food combined with a host of other complications. If three or more organ systems are involved, mitochondrial disease should be suspected.”

What is Mitochondrial Disease?

It is important to understand that there are actually many different kinds of mitochondrial diseases or mito and they cause many different symptoms. Some even cause different symptoms in the same person over time.

There also isn’t one quick and easy test that you can do to diagnose someone with mito.

And for most people, mitochondrial disorders are thought to be genetic.

A genetic condition that causes a range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe – a spectrum if you will, which usually begin to appear in toddles and preschoolers, at least when they affect children.

Starting to understand that mito disorders might be caught up with an autism controversy?

What is Autism Secondary to Mitochondrial Disease?

Especially since the Poling decision, some folks have gotten the impression that it has been confirmed that vaccines are associated autism, at least for kids with mito.

“As of now, there are no scientific studies that say vaccines cause or worsen mitochondrial diseases. We do know that certain illnesses that can be prevented by vaccines, such as the flu, can trigger the regression that is related to a mitochondrial disease. More research is needed to determine if there are rare cases where underlying mitochondrial disorders are triggered by anything related to vaccines. However, we know that for most children, vaccines are a safe and important way to prevent them from getting life-threatening diseases.”

Mitochondrial Disease – Frequently Asked Questions

It hasn’t.

Dr. Zimmerman clarified that infections can lead to regressive autism too - not just vaccines.
Dr. Zimmerman who believes that vaccines can cause autism in some specific cases clarified that infections can lead to regressive autism too.

Even those who are actively studying mitochondrial disease and regressive autism admit that any inflammation can lead to regression and that it is better to get vaccinated and protected, so that these kids don’t worsen after they get a vaccine-preventable disease.

“As noted above, an important consideration for treatment of AMD is that “normal” inflammation can impair mitochondrial function. Although most infections cannot be avoided, certain measures can limit the risk of injury during infection or other causes of inflammation… We believe it is much better to immunize with DTaP than risk infection with highly inflammatory and potentially damaging community-acquired pertussis.”

Dr. Richard Kelley on Evaluation and Treatment of Patients with Autism and Mitochondrial Disease

In fact, in one of the few studies on vaccines and autism secondary to mitochondrial disease, Fever Plus Mitochondrial Disease Could Be Risk Factors for Autistic Regression, the authors found that the great majority of children either   regressed after fever WITHOUT vaccination or regressed without fever.

Very few regressed with fever and vaccination.

“In our patients with mitochondrial disease and autistic spectrum disorders, the vaccines did not appear related to the neurologic regression.”

John Shoffner et al on Fever Plus Mitochondrial Disease Could Be Risk Factors for Autistic Regression

And despite some folks saying that all kids should be tested for mito and treated with supplements, it is very important to keep in mind that most autistic kids and adults do not have a mitochondrial disorder.

“Most patients who have autism have a genetic non-mitochondrial etiology for their symptoms.”

Understanding Mitochondrial Disorders

What about the UC Davis study that so many folks use to say that 80% of children with autism enrolled in their study had blood tests that showed mitochondrial disease? There were only 10 kids in the study…

So why do we continue to see so many people pushing the idea of autism secondary to mitochondrial disease is so common and that it could be triggered by vaccines?

For one thing, it gives them a chance to scare folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Plus, they get to sell more supplements, mito cocktails, and lab tests…

Mito was in the news
Mito was in the news “again” ten years ago. The above post was on August 13, 2008. Why is it back now?

And many people have forgotten that this was all old news ten years ago…

More on Autism Secondary to Mitochondrial Disease

 

Do My Kids Need the RSV Vaccine?

While I’m sure that many parents would love to get their kids vaccinated and protected against RSV, unfortunately, we don’t yet have an actual RSV vaccine.

We do have Synagis (palivaizumab) though, a monthly injection that can be given to high risk children during RSV season to help prevent them from getting RSV.

Do My Kids Need Synagis?

Synagis is not a vaccine and doesn’t stimulate your body to make antibodies,  but is instead an injection of RSV antibodies made by recombinant DNA technology. That’s why you need to get an injection each month. The antibodies don’t last much longer.

So why doesn’t everyone get Synagis if RSV can be such a deadly disease?

For one thing, there is the high cost of Synagis injections, but there is also the fact that Synagis is only approved to be given to kids who are at high risk for severe RSV infections.

“Palivizumab prophylaxis has limited effect on RSV hospitalizations on a population basis, no measurable effect on mortality, and a minimal effect on subsequent wheezing.”

AAP on Updated Guidance for Palivizumab Prophylaxis Among Infants and Young Children at Increased Risk of Hospitalization for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection

And Synagis doesn’t have as a great an effect on preventing RSV infections as we would like. That’s why we need a real RSV vaccine instead.

When to start Synagis is carefully determined by the start of RSV season.
When to start Synagis is carefully determined by the start of RSV season.

So because it likely doesn’t provide that much help to kids who aren’t at very high risk for severe disease, the latest guidelines recommend that Synagis be given to:

  • pre-term infants born before 29 weeks, 0 days’ gestation and who will be younger than 12 months at the start of the RSV season
  • preterm infants with CLD of prematurity, defined as birth at <32 weeks, 0 days’ gestation and a requirement for >21% oxygen for at least 28 days after birth.
  • certain infants with hemodynamically significant heart disease during their first year of life and might include infants with cyanotic heart defects, infants with acyanotic heart disease who are receiving medication to control congestive heart failure and will require cardiac surgical procedures and infants with moderate to severe pulmonary hypertension, infants with heart lesions that were corrected by surgery, but who continue to require medications for congestive heart failure, and children under age two years who have had a cardiac transplant.
  • certain children in their second year of life if they required at least 28 days of supplemental oxygen after birth and who continue to require medical intervention (supplemental oxygen, chronic corticosteroid, or diuretic therapy)
  • certain infants in their first year of life with pulmonary abnormality or neuromuscular disease that impairs the ability to clear secretions from the upper airways
  • certain children in their second year of life if they will be profoundly immunocompromised during RSV season

Those who qualify get up to five monthly doses, beginning in November, to help make sure they are covered through the peak of RSV season – December to May.

Whether or not your high risk child gets Synagis, you can help to reduce their risk of getting RSV by making sure they are not exposed to tobacco smoke, keep them away from crowds of people, wash hands often, and if possible, keep them out of day care.

And get them all of their other vaccines, including a flu shot once they are six months old.

What do you do if your high risk child was denied Synagis by your insurance plan? If your infant has a qualifying condition, your pediatrician should be able to help you write an appeal to your insurance company stating that getting Synagis is a medical necessity.

More on Synagis and RSV Vaccines

Why Don’t People with HIV or HepB Have to Wear Badges?

There is a very good reason why people with HIV and hepatitis B don’t have to wear distinctive badges.

Have you ever thought that people with HIV should wear badges???
Have you ever thought that people with HIV should wear badges???

And whether or not they work in a hospital, it has nothing to do with the fact that they don’t pose a risk to others, and it has nothing to do with health care workers who refuse to get a flu shot and have to wear a mask.

Confidentiality Rules and Civil Rights

Hopefully we have gotten over a lot of the misinformation and stigma that once kept kids with HIV and hepatitis B out of schools and teens and adults out of work.

“Ryan White confidentiality guidelines have helped allay the fears that many people living with HIV have around unwanted disclosure and HIV discrimination.”

Building Trust: Confidentiality and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

And of course, that’s why people with HIV and hepatitis B don’t have to “wear any distinctive badges or clothing.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the most powerful law safeguarding the rights of children in public and private schools and daycare centers. The law also prevents any organization or business from discriminating against a person because of a real or perceived disability, such as an infectious disease.

A second law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, bars schools, colleges and other organizations receiving federal funding from discriminating against children with disabilities. Section 504 identifies chronic liver disease as a “hidden disability.”

Legal Protections for Children with Viral Hepatitis

In fact, laws protect people with HIV/AIDS and other conditions, so that no one would try and make them “wear any distinctive badges or clothing.”

“Almost 30 years after the onset of the epidemic, HIV stigma and discrimination—fed largely by ignorance and animus—persist and continue to have a forceful impact on people living with HIV.”

HIV Stigma and Discrimination Persist, Even in Health Care

Or at least you would hope no one would try and make them wear a badge…

More on Rights of People with HIV and Hepatitis B

Crisis or Crossroads at the Cochrane Collaboration?

Not surprisingly, Peter Gøtzsche has had some defenders.

“A scandal has erupted within the Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s most prestigious scientific organisation devoted to independent reviews of health care interventions. One of its highest profile board members has been sacked, resulting in four other board members staging a mass exodus.”

Maryanne Demasi, PhD on Cochrane – A sinking ship?

Who is Maryanne Demasi?

“DISCLOSURE: Maryanne Demasi is a science reporter and a researcher working with Prof Peter C. Gøtzsche, the Nordic Cochrane Centre, and was present in Edinburgh at the time of the meeting, but not present in the discussion room.”

Oh…

Someone who works with Peter Gøtzsche is defending him. That doesn’t sound too surprising.

It is also not surprising the way that some folks are describing Peter Gøtzsche’s expulsion, saying that it was only about his behavior and not his work.

Did Peter Gøtzsche get expelled because of his work or behavior?
Did Peter Gøtzsche get expelled because of his work or behavior?

But the problem wasn’t that he wrote a critique of a Cochrane HPV meta-analsysis, but that his critique was so poorly done!

“I think it’s a hatchet job by people with several axes to grind, that needed better editorial peer review. I would be surprised if Cochrane’s investigation and update resulted in changed conclusions.”

Hilda Bastian on The HPV Vaccine: A Critique of a Critique of a Meta-Analysis

A hatchet job by people with several axes to grind…

Not the kind of work you would expect from a member of the Governing Board of the Cochrane Collaboration, especially after most of the same charges were refuted when they were made against the European Medicines Agency.

Did Peter Gøtzsche allow a bias against screening for cancer harm the Cochrane Collaboration?
Did Peter Gøtzsche allow a bias against screening for cancer harm the Cochrane Collaboration?

And it wasn’t even the first time that he was accused of harming the Cochrane Collaboration .

“Cochrane wishes to state unequivocally that the views Professor Gøtzsche has expressed on the benefits and harms of psychiatric drugs are not those of the organization. As primarily a research organization Cochrane does not make clinical recommendations and we have not done so on this issue.”

Statement from Cochrane

How many times has the Cochrane Collaboration had to distance itself from the views of its Board Members?

How many times has the Cochrane Collaboration had to distance itself from the views and work of Peter Gøtzsche and the Nordic Cochrane Collaboration?

More on Peter Gøtzsche

 

Did an Islamic Council in Indonesia Issue a Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine?

A fatwa against a vaccine?

That’s one of those things that can’t be true right?

Did you know that there are Fatwas that support immunizations?
Did you know that there are fatwas that support immunizations?

After all, it was just a few years ago that the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication met and stated that it “reiterates its trust in the safety and effectiveness of polio and other routine childhood vaccinations as a life-saving tool which protects children; and acknowledge that it fully conforms to Islamic rulings.”

A Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine

Unfortunately, it’s true.

The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), in a Fatwa Commission Meeting on August 20, established that it is illegal (haram) to use vaccines that utilize pigs and their derivatives, including the MR (measles-rubella) vaccine.

Importantly though, they also stated that the use of the MR vaccine is permissible (mubah), because there is no alternative vaccine and measles and rubella are dangerous diseases. So it is still not a good reason to seek a religious exemption to getting vaccinated.

What’s the concern?

Some vaccines use gelatin as a stabilizer. And the gelatin in those vaccines typically comes from pigs.

This isn’t a new issue though.

In 1995, Islamic legal scholars met at a seminar convened by the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences on the topic The Judicially Prohibited and Impure Substances in Foodstuff and Drugs.

“Transformation which means the conversion of a substance into another substance, different in characteristics, changes substances that are judicially impure or are found in an impure environment, into pure substances, and changes substances that are prohibited into lawful and permissible substances.”

The seminar concluded that “The gelatin formed as a result of the transformation of the bones, skin and tendons of a judicially impure animal is pure…”

So even though Muslims can’t eat pork, they can take medicines packaged in gelatin capsules and they can get vaccines that contain gelatin.

Fortunately, although although some immunization programs ordered a temporary delay when the fatwa was first issued, MR vaccination has resumed in Indonesia. That’s good news, as measles outbreaks are still common in the region.

But why has this become an issue again?

More on the Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine

 

Fake News About Measles Outbreaks?

Many news organizations ran with a story about a multi-state measles outbreak recently.

The CDC tweeted a correction about the multi-state measles outbreak story.
The CDC tweeted a correction about the multi-state measles outbreak story.

They got something wrong though.

There is no ongoing, single, multi-state outbreak of measles this year.

Fake News About Measles Outbreaks?

Is it understandable that some media outlets would have been confused by recent CDC reports?

Not really.

The CDC Measles Cases and Outbreaks page hadn’t been updated since late-July and is still reporting case numbers that are “current as of July 14, 2018,” so there really was no recent CDC report to generate all of this extra attention.

“From January 1 to July 14, 2018, 107 people from 21 states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington) and the District of Colombia were reported to have measles.”

CDC on Measles Cases and Outbreaks

Although it has been changed to say “107 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 21 states,” there was nothing to indicate it was a single outbreak that the CDC was monitoring as many sites reported:

Few sites were immune to using a click-bait title to scare folks about the "outbreak."
Few sites were immune to using a click-bait title to scare folks about the “outbreak.”

Unfortunately, many of these reports are still online.

How did it happen?

It’s likely because you have reports from organizations and websites that seem to want to push out content, but don’t have much of a budget to pay health or medical writers to make sure it is accurate.

2018 Measles Cases and Outbreaks

It’s also unfortunate that some of these sites, in trying to correct the idea of a single, nation-wide outbreak, are now trying to minimize this year’s measles outbreaks.

No, there isn’t one large outbreak that is spreading across the United States, but there are a lot of smaller outbreaks, some of which are still ongoing.

And these outbreaks are not something that should still be expected, as we have had a safe and effective measles vaccine for over 50 years and measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000!

There is also something very much different about 2018, that not surprisingly, no one is reporting about.

With over 107 cases, things seem very similar to last year right, when we had about 118 cases?

The thing is, in 2017, there was one large outbreak, in Minnesota, with 79 people.

In 2015, at least 139 of 189 cases were from just three large outbreaks, in California (Disneyland), Illinois, and South Dakota.

See what’s different?

This year seems to have more individual cases in more states, each with the potential to grow into one of those big outbreaks.

Why?

You can blame the rise in measles outbreaks in Europe and other parts of the world. And some folks not getting vaccinated and protected and exposing the rest of us when they get sick.

Putting us at risk even though measles is a life-threatening infection, a safe and effective vaccine has been available for 50 years, and every anti-vaccine myth that scares folks has been refuted a thousand times.

That’s the story.

Who’s telling it?

More on Reporting on Measles Outbreaks

Measles Deaths in Italy

There have been a lot of measles deaths in Europe over the last few years?

How many?

Would you believe over 100?

Measles Deaths in Italy

Among those measles deaths in Europe, there have been at least ten measles deaths in Italy (four in 2017 and six in 2018, among just 7,649 cases), all unvaccinated, including:

Why so many deaths in a developed country with a well-nourished population?

Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn't deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe - another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.
Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn’t deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe – another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.

If you haven’t guessed yet, as in other countries in Europe, we are seeing more deaths from measles simply because folks aren’t vaccinated and more people are getting measles.

Measles is a life-threatening disease, even in an age of modern medicine, indoor plumbing, sewage systems, clean water, whole foods, vitamins and minerals, etc.

Italy, with about 1/5 the population of the United States, but about equal to the size of California, has had over 600 times as many cases of measles as we have had in the United States over the last few years. To put it in perspective, that would be like having 33,000 cases of measles in the United States.

Think it couldn’t happen? During the measles outbreaks from 1989 to 1991, when vaccination rates had dropped, there were 55,622 cases and 123 deaths in the United States.

Measles in Italy

Again, in Italy, as in other places, almost all of the measles cases, about 90%, have been in those who aren’t vaccinated.

In response to a post praising Italy's decision to dilute their new vaccine laws, some folks thought it was funny that people were dying of measles.
In response to a post from Dr. Bob Sears praising Italy’s decision to dilute their new vaccine laws, some folks thought it was funny that people were dying of measles.

That’s why they passed new vaccine laws – to get back to herd immunity levels of vaccination.

But shouldn’t folks have a choice about getting vaccinated?

Of course.

Even with the new vaccine laws, parents have a choice. As with vaccine laws in the United States, Italy’s new vaccine mandates had nothing to do with forced vaccination.

That’s unlike most of the people who died of measles in Italy. Most of them didn’t have a choice about being vaccinated and getting measles. Some were immunocompromised and couldn’t be vaccinated and at least one was too young to be vaccinated.

Parents had been set a July 10th deadline to provide schools with the relevant documentation, but it will now be possible for parents to simply submit their own confirmation that the child has been vaccinated, according to Giulia Grillo, Italy’s Health Minister, who was speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

Mandatory vaccinations: Italian parents will no longer need to provide doctor’s note

And that’s why it’s unfortunate that the a newly elected government severely watered down a vaccine law that had made getting vaccinated mandatory to go to school.

And it’s unfortunate that people continue to push misinformation about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About the Measles Deaths in Italy

A drop in vaccination rates has led to measles outbreaks and a number of measles deaths in Italy.

More on Measles Deaths in Italy