Tag: regressive autism

Alleged Fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceedings

Have you heard about the alleged fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings?

Alleged by who?

Guess?

Alleged Fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceedings

Yup. The usual suspects.

The usual suspects are alleging fraud during the in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings.

Most folks remember that the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceedings were a series of cases that were used to test theories that vaccines could contribute to or cause autism.

The conclusion?

Vaccines are not associated with autism.

So what’s the problem?

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chairman of Children’s Health Defense (CHD), and Rolf Hazlehurst, parent of a vaccine-injured child, petitioned the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Senate and House Judiciary Committees today to investigate actions taken by federal personnel during the “Vaccine Court” Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP).”

Kennedy and Hazlehurst claim to have evidence of “obstruction of justice and appallingly consequential fraud by two DOJ lawyers who represented the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2007.”

What evidence?

Kennedy and Hazlehurst claim that “that the leading HHS expert, whose written report was used to deny compensation to over 5,000 petitioners in the OAP, provided clarification to the DOJ lawyers that vaccines could, in fact, cause autism in children with underlying and otherwise benign mitochondrial disorders.”

Who is this expert?

It is Andrew Zimmerman, MD, a pediatric neurologist.

There is also a claim that Dr. Zimmerman, along with Dr. Richard Kelley, who was also an expert witness in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceedings, served as expert witnesses in a medical malpractice case against a pediatrician who vaccinated a child, supposedly causing him to become autistic.

Which child?

Yates Hazlehurst, who was the second test case in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings.

Confused?

Dr. Zimmerman settles any fraud issue when he answers this clear question in his deposition in a malpractice against Yates Hazlehurt's pediatrician.
Dr. Zimmerman settles any fraud issue when he answers this clear question in his deposition in a malpractice against Yates Hazlehurt’s pediatrician.

Dr. Zimmerman admits that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, but also believes that there are some exceptions, and that vaccines can cause regressive autism in some kids with mitochondrial disorders.

Dr. Zimmerman also clarified that it is not just immunizations, but infections, fever, and other inflammatory responses that can lead to regressive autism.

Dr. Zimmerman clarified that infections can lead to regressive autism too - not just vaccines.
Dr. Zimmerman clarified that infections can lead to regressive autism too – not just vaccines.

And Dr. Zimmerman would have testified to it in the Cedillo case (the first test case in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings), if he had been allowed to.

Except that upon review of the Cedillo case, Dr. Zimmerman had concluded that “there is no evidence of an association between autism and the alleged reaction to MMR and Hg, and it is more likely than not, that there is a genetic basis for autism in this child.”

Apparently, he had changed his mind later, even though he continues to say that all evidence points to the fact that vaccines don’t cause autism.

“Dr. Zimmerman subsequently submitted a second expert opinion on behalf of Hannah Poling, which in effect states that she suffers autism as a result of a vaccine injury. The same government officials, who submitted and relied upon Dr. Zimmerman’s first expert opinion as evidence in the O.A.P., secretly conceded the case of Hannah Poling and placed it under seal so that the evidence in the case could not be used in the O.A.P. or known by the public.”

Memorandum Regarding Misconduct By The United States Department Of Justice And The United States Department Of Health And Human Services During The Omnibus Autism Proceeding As To The Expert Opinions Of Dr. Andrew Zimmerman

But what about the “second expert opinion” from Dr. Zimmerman?

Zimmerman deposition on Hannah Poling.

According to Poling’s mother, “Dr. Zimmerman was not an expert nor was he asked to be an expert on Poling’s case. The government conceded her case before ANY opinion was rendered or given.”

What about Dr. Richard Kelley?

“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

While he seems to believe that vaccines can trigger regressive autism in some kids with mitochondrial disease, he admits that other kinds of inflammation can do it too, including vaccine-preventable diseases.

“We believe it is much better to immunize with DTaP than risk infection with highly inflammatory and potentially damaging community-acquired pertussis.”

Andrew Zimmerman

And again, so does Dr. Zimmerman, to the point that in many cases, he thinks that even kids with mitochondrial disorders should be vaccinated.

“…the MMR vaccine has been temporally associated, if rarely, with regressions — with regression in AMD and other mitochondrial disease when given in the second year. Doubtless some of these regressions are coincidental, since the usual age for giving the MMR falls within the typical window of vulnerability for AMD regression.”

Andrew Zimmerman

If rarely associated…

Coincidental…

That doesn’t sound very convincing.

Although a lot of Dr. Zimmerman’s deposition makes it into J.B. Handley’s new autism book. What’s missing is that there were many other experts that testified against the idea that vaccines could be associated with autism during the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings and that their testimony and their reports were relied upon more than Zimmerman’s.

“The undersigned has reviewed and considered the filed reports from these experts and finds that the opinions of the experts lend support to the conclusions reached in this decision. In reaching the conclusions set forth in this decision, however, the undersigned relies more heavily on the testimony and reports of the experts who were observed and heard during the hearings.”

Hazlehurst v. Secretary of HHS

So where is the fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings?

Is it that the Poling case files have been kept under seal and hidden from public view?

“Finally, and perhaps for purposes of Rolf’s request that Poling’s records be released to the public, Jon and I have not allowed the release of Hxxxx’s records nor will we ever willingly allow third parties to tear apart her medical history which includes other close family members as well as things that should have never been in the record to begin with.”

Terry Poling

While we should all care about fraud in our court system, we should all also care about folks who push misinformation about vaccines and try to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, especially when they use autistic kids to do it.

Don’t believe them.

It is telling that Dr. Zimmerman, the hero in this story, discredits the other heroes of the anti-vaccine movement, from the Geiers to Andrew Wakefield.

“I do think that — that there was much information — misinformation brought about by Dr. Wakefield and it’s — this has set the field back. I think that — that we — we have worked very hard to try to reassure the public  and I agree with doing that because I am very supportive of vaccinations, immunizations in general.”

Andrew Zimmerman

While Dr. Zimmerman truly believes that future research might find a way to identify a very small subset of kids with mitochondrial disorders that worsen after they get their vaccines (or infections or other types of inflammation), this doesn’t apply to the great majority of autistic kids or even the great majority of kids with regressive autism.

Different answers to a very similar question? They are from different lawyers in the Zimmerman deposition...
Different answers to a very similar question? They are from different lawyers in the Zimmerman deposition…

Even Dr. Zimmerman only seems to speak of an “uncommon relationship” that “is not evident in studies that have been done to date.”

And none of the researchers he mentions, including Richard Frye, Shannon Rose, Joe (Jill?) James, or Dmitriy Niyazov seem to have actually studied vaccines, only possible relationships between autism and mitochondrial conditions.

“The claims by RFK Jr. and Handley draw on something that was not, in fact, a fraud, that is misrepresented as having a dramatic impact on the Omnibus Autism Proceedings when it had little to no effect.”

Plus ça change – anti-vaccine activists revive the Hannah Poling case

So there is nothing really new here.

And while it might be news to folks like Bob Sears, vaccines are safe and necessary and still don’t cause autism.

More on the Alleged Fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Proceedings

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

 

How to End the Epidemic of Bad Books About Autism

Looking for a book about autism?

There are a lot of good ones, including NeuroTribes and the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.

Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of bad ones too.

How to End the Epidemic of Bad Books About Autism

Why are there so many bad books about autism?

That’s easy.

JB Handley is the latest to write a book about vaccines and autism, moving the focus to aluminum, now that it has become obvious that removing thimerosal from vaccines didn't affect autism rates.
JB Handley is the latest to write a book about vaccines and autism, moving the focus to aluminum, now that it has become obvious that removing thimerosal from vaccines didn’t affect autism rates.

Just about every anti-vaccine expert out there also thinks that they are an expert on autism. In fact, they think that they have all of the answers and can even help you cure and prevent autism.

That’s why there are books like:

  • The Autism Book: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Early Detection, Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention by Dr. Bob Sears
  • Preventing Autism: What You Can Do to Protect Your Children Before and After Birth by Dr. Jay Gordon
  • Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism by Jenny McCarthy
  • Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy by Andrew Wakefield
  • Vaccines, Autism & Chronic Inflammation: The New Epidemic by Barbara Loe Fisher
  • The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

What do all of these books miss?

“Autism, as I see it, steals the soul from a child…”

Dr. Jerry Kartzinel writing in the introduction to Jenny McCarthy’s first autism book Louder Than Words

Besides the fact that there is no autism epidemic and that vaccines are not associated with autism, they miss that they are actually hurting autistic families.

“Doctors who first worked with children with regressive autism back in the early 1990s found that one of the biggest “wows” came from treating intestinal yeast overgrowth, and this benefit holds true today. Children whose diarrhea doesn’t go away with the GFCF diet usually show resolution with yeast medication.”

Bob Sears, MD on The Autism Book

From restrictive diets and antifungal drugs for yeast infections to bleach enemas and detox therapies, these books often push expensive, often unproven, sometimes disproven, and dangerous  non-evidence based biomedical treatments and cures on hopeful parents of autistic kids.

Don’t help them by buying or promoting their books.

Instead, look for better books by folks who are really helping autistic kids and don’t think they are damaged, or books by someone who is actually autistic.

What to Know About the Epidemic of Bad Autism Books

There are a lot of good books out there with helpful information if you think that your child is autistic, has been  recently diagnosed, or if you simply want to learn more about autism. It’s time to stop the epidemic of bad autism books.

More on the Epidemic of Bad Autism Books

Explaining the Correlation of Autism After Vaccines

Vaccines have nothing to do with autism.

It’s not the MMR vaccine. It’s not thimerosal. It’s not anything else about vaccines.

It has been proven time and again.

“The parental focus on vaccines as a possible cause of autism has been encouraged by the recent growth in popularity of ‘unorthodox biomedical’ theories and therapies in autism…”

Fitzpatrick on MMR: risk, choice, chance

Not surprisingly, that hasn’t stopped some parents from continuing to blame vaccines, mostly because they didn’t notice any symptoms of autism until after their child got their routine vaccines as a toddler.

Recognizing the Early Signs of Autism

In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines for universal screening of all children for autism at 18 and 24 months. Since then, many kids are getting diagnosed at an earlier age.

That’s good news, as an earlier diagnosis should mean that more kids will be able to benefit from earlier supports and accommodations.

“…the average age of diagnosis for those born before 2005 was just under four years old; for those born during during or after 2005, it was roughly two-and-a-half years old.”

AAP on Children are Diagnosed with Autism at Younger Ages Since Push for Universal Screening

Looking at the early signs and symptoms of autism, it is easy to see why autism isn’t always recognized that early, even with a screening tool, like the M-CHAT-R:

  • What if you don’t recognize that your child isn’t really speaking single words because he or she is simply parroting or echoing what you are saying without knowing what the words mean?
  • What if you don’t recognize that your child isn’t responding to his name being called because he responds to other noises, so sometimes coincidentally turns when you call his name?
  • What if you don’t recognize that your child isn’t bringing objects to share with you (as an interest), because he or she sometimes will bring them to you to have you help open or use them?

And if your child is eventually diagnosed with autism, will you recognize that those were early signs that were just difficult to detect, or just think that your child didn’t have any developmental differences and then lost those skills?

Explaining the Correlation of Autism After Vaccines

Many people understand the idea that “correlation doesn’t imply causation.”

So just because your child was vaccinated and you soon noticed signs and symptoms of autism, that doesn’t mean that it is really linked to vaccines.

Temporal binding is a phenomenon that reinforces that assumption of cause and effect once we have linked two events causally in our minds. The effect biases our memory so that we remember the apparent cause and effect occurring closer together in time. In experiments we tend to remember the cause as happening later and the effect happening earlier.”

Steven Novella

Of course, a phrase about correlation and causation isn’t going to be enough of an explanation for most parents, especially if they have already heard a bunch of vaccine scare stories.

Fortunately, there is plenty of evidence to back up that idea, including that:

  • many studies have shown that there is no link between vaccines and autism
  • unvaccinated kids develop signs and symptoms of autism at the same time as children who were vaccinated
  • some studies have shown that even when parents think that their child’s first signs and symptoms of autism didn’t occur until right after a specific vaccine, like the 12 month MMR shot, when experts looked at the child’s home movies, they could detect subtle signs at a much earlier age, well before the child got those vaccines
  • while regressive autism is real and some kids with autism regress significantly in their development, losing many of the early skills they had picked up, even then, these children often had some subtle, early developmental delays. They don’t usually have a sudden regressive type of autism.

What about package inserts? Don’t they say vaccines cause autism? No, they do not.

And all of the studies that anti-vax folks say support a link between vaccines and autism? They aren’t what you think they are.

Mostly remember that the scientific evidence overwhelming supports the fact that vaccines have absolutely nothing to do with autism!

What to Know About the Correlation of Autism After Vaccines

Vaccines having nothing to do with autism, even though it might sometimes seem to you that your child’s signs and symptoms of autism are correlated with recently getting vaccinated.

More About Explaining the Correlation of Autism After Vaccines