Trying Autism in the Vaccine Court

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Yesterday, 4,800 parents of autistic children got their day in court. The special federal vaccine court is hearing their claims that the mercury-containing vaccine perservative thimerosal is responsible for their children's autism.

As the New York Times notes,

Every major study and scientific organization examining this issue has found no link between vaccination and autism, but the parents and their advocates have persisted…

Thimerosal was almost entirely removed from pediatric vaccines in 2001 after some government scientists expressed concern about the amount of mercury that children who got routine vaccinations would be exposed to. Since then, autism rates in the United States have shown no signs of dropping.

It is true that autism diagnoses have exploded over the past two decades. Why? On Sunday, the New York Times published an op/ed by a professor of social work and an epidemiologist that offered a thoughtful analysis of why diagnoses of autism have been rising so steeply. Of particular interest is this observation:

Urban planners know that "if you build a new road, people will drive on it." Likewise, in special education, if you create a new counting category, people will use it. At the same time, older counting categories may then be used less frequently as our ability to differentiate diagnoses improves. And true enough, our study found that the growth in children classified with autism was accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the number of special education students with other designations.

This is an example of "diagnostic substitution" — as information on new autism classifications has gradually spread, the label "autistic" has been used more commonly for children who previously would have been labeled something else. Our analyses demonstrated that from 1994 to 2003, in 44 of 50 states, the increase in autism was completely offset by a decrease in the prevalence of children considered "cognitively disabled" or "learning disabled."

Some of my earlier reporting on the lack of a connection between vaccines and autism here and here.

NEXT: Sprawling Towards Gomorrah (or Not)

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  1. Cute kids who are suffering?
    Big Pharma?

    Giant cash settlements all around!

  2. I’m not a scientist, but Autism just doesn’t seem like it would be the result of brain damage, especially in it’s milder forms like Asperger’s, which my oldest boy has. Many with autism have higher functions in certain areas of cognition – how could brain damage cause that?

  3. Clearly Bailey is in the pocket of Big Retard.

    Sorry.

  4. Perhaps the old saw about “spare the rod, diagnose the child with autism” has some relevance?

  5. I was guessing something like “diagnostic substitution” was going on.

    I wonder if our new friend at the NYT would care to take the next step, and look at the degree to which various diagnoses of childhood disorders are linked to the financial rewards available to those who are responsible for educating/caring for those kids.

  6. Todd Fletcher,

    The issue is very complicated, but the simple answer is that brain damage can be diffuse or site specific. Diffuse damage will impact certain cognitive process (and each case of diffuse damage will be somewhat unique) while site specific damage will impact different cognitive processes that will depend on the location of damage.

    Austim seems (with current evidence) closer to the diffuse damage end of this spectrum than site specific. Possibly due to differences in linkage between sites and the dynamic developmental consequences that result from those differences (maybe better to think of as a diffuse pattern of site specific damage).

    If, by “brain damage” you mean “resulting from measles,” then you are talking about diffuse damage that might lead to symptoms that fit under the very broad category of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

  7. There’s more than just incentives here (although those are big). IIRC, diagnostic criteria have also been changed in the past 10 years. If those criteria are broader than in the past, that could further explain this.

  8. Full disclosure:

    I have done a fair amount of study on this issue.

    There is no reliable link between vaccinations and autism, despite a plausible link between mercury, genetic disposition, and the symptoms.

    Proving the case for a specific child would be beyond our current scientific abilities. Convincing the jury that vaccines were “more likely than not” the cause for this class of children in general would require a misrepresentation of the facts. The epidemiology is pretty clear that the risk of autism from vaccination is nearly zero.

  9. Neu Mejican-

    I appreciate the fact that you have expertise in this field, but we simply cannot allow such a thing in blog comment threads.

    Now, it would be tempting to make an exception this one time, seeing as how your expert opinion lines up pretty well with what the rest of us have been saying. But, really, if we allow that sort of precedent to stand, there’s no telling what sort of chaos might eventually be unleashed.

    I’m sorry, but blog comment threads are no place for people with “facts” to come along and disrupt our fun. That goes against years of internet tradition, ever since Al Gore installed the first set of tubes in the 1980’s.

    Now go, or I will taunt you a second time!

    (Just kidding, of course.)

  10. Am I the only one to question the phenomenology of autism as it stands?

  11. Vaccines are already guilty in the court of uneducated housewife opinion. Don’t people ever just get sick anymore? Everything is a conspiracy involving whey protein, Chinese sweatshops, hollowed-out bibles and all the names in the Brooklyn telephone directory.

  12. I must admit, I had my first son around the time they pulled thimerosal, and I would not let him get vaccines that were “still on the shelf” that still contained it.

    Kinda ironic that the pharmaceuticals pulling thimerosal was seen as an act of admission rather than an act of caution. It certainly was to me, and I consider myself fairly rational. Then again, my kids didn’t turn out autistic…I’m sure my rationality would be different had they.

  13. Convincing the jury that vaccines were “more likely than not” the cause for this class of children in general would require a misrepresentation of the facts.

    Done!

  14. WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS LINKING TO THE SECOND PAGE OF ARTICLES

  15. Out of curiosity, has anyone here been diagnosed with AS or something like it?

  16. Convincing the jury that vaccines were “more likely than not” the cause for this class of children in general would require a misrepresentation of the facts.

    Sounds like a job for – the plaintiff’s bar!

    Paging John Edwards . . .

    Kinda ironic that the pharmaceuticals pulling thimerosal was seen as an act of admission rather than an act of caution.

    No good deed, etc.

  17. It’s good to see a discussion of “diagnostic substitution” that doesn’t include the hoary old conspiracy theories about Big Medicine stealing our money and/or poisoning our precious bodily fluids.

  18. Oh, well, all good things…

  19. Sounds like this one is basically settled in a way that helps Big Pharma. Good. Sounds like the courts did a better job than the legislature on getting down to brass tacks.

    Now on to the next issue, which is figuring out whether infant antibiotics cause asthma. Has ashtma also become overdiagnosed due to financial bias, or is it a different kind of thing than the autism “epidemic”? Maybe someone with kids can help me out on this.

  20. I think food allergies is the next big issue. There is a non-insignificant upward trend of children born with food allergies and these food allergies are testable with blood tests, so there is less chance of a diagnosis bias.

    But I can’t say why I think there is the upward trend in allergies, for I would be wing-nutted out of here and be branded a tin-foil hat wearer forever.

  21. Oh, go ahead and spill it, Cab. As long as you know that hunches are just that, I think it’s cool to spill your hunches.

    Now, if you say that you’re 100% convinced, and that anybody who wants more proof is a Pawn of the Illuminati, yeah, then we’ll go after you.

    🙂

  22. Those 4,800 kids: what percentage of vaccinated kids do they represent? If a huge majority of vaccinated kids wound up autistic, that would be worth looking into, but when you’r talking about what I suspect is less than one percent, I’m shocked this case is allowed in the courts at all.

  23. I have no scientific expertise in that area, but question whether the increased incidence of diagnosis of autism is scientifically sound. . If some children are impaired in different ways, with various degrees of severity, is lumping them all together under “Autism” appropriate?It is much scarier for parents too. I would like to see a study of how families, or even the children themselves respond to a more general diagnosis of cognitive impairment. It’s somewhat like a diagnosis of a tumor vs cancer. Not all tumors are malignant.

    On an emotional level, a diagnosis of autism seems to carry with it more of a sense of finality for the parents. It also makes it easier to file these huge class action suits.

    I have read a number of anecdotal reports where parents said that the onset of symptoms correlated with the vaccinations, but may be due to the fact that overt evidence of cognitive impairment appears around the same age that the children are normally vaccinated, so its the old “after that therefore because of that” logic.

  24. Well, thoreau…the way I see it, in order for the food allergies to increase so rapidly, either humans have changed relatively quicky, or the food has…..and there is only one of the two (that I know of) that has been altered with bioengineering recently.

    This shiny hat looks kinda cool on me.

  25. Cab-

    I don’t think you’re paranoid, but I think you simply left out a few other possibilities. If other types of allergies are also increasing (e.g. pollen), then it could be that the difference is not our food but rather our immune systems (since the immune system is at the root of allergies).

    The immune system could be developing differently without any changes in the human genome. There is the “hygiene hypothesis” (or whatever it’s called), which states that because we’re in cleaner environments our immune system gets fewer stimuli and hence fails to learn to distinguish harmful substances from harmless ones.

    I don’t know if the hypothesis is true, but there are more options on the table than just the two you laid out. And I’d bet that there’s even more than 3 options.

    I don’t know if that’s reassuring or not.

  26. To be clear, I’m not saying that the existence of a third possibility means your hypothesis is guaranteed to be false. It just means that if your reasoning was based on a process of elimination, then the existence of another very plausible possibility means that we need more data.

    I don’t know what the state of knowledge is in this area of researcher, however.

  27. Before people start laughing:

    1) Are they making GM peanuts? If not, your theory has serious holes.

    2) Something else has increased dramatically at the same time: Use of antiseptics/antibiotics. It seems as likely to me that it’s the externalizing of the human immune system that’s causing these allergies, rather than the food itself. Nonfood allergies are increasing in incidence as well, which supports this view.

  28. If some children are impaired in different ways, with various degrees of severity, is lumping them all together under “Autism” appropriate?

    Autism is a “spectrum disorder.” The symptoms are really severe in some kids but less severe in others. However severe the symptoms, they all respond to certain treatments that are usually not available in a regular classroom.

    I would like to see a study of how families, or even the children themselves respond to a more general diagnosis of cognitive impairment.
    Unlike some other diagnoses (Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder) I never met a kid diagnosed with autism that didn’t have a verifiable cognitive disorder which responded to treatment. I’ve seen some parents in denial demand mainstreaming for their autistic kids. After a month or two, it became clear to the most recalcitrant parent that their child just couldn’t function in a mainstream classroom (or the kid would require treatment and support for a while before being able to do so).

    I have read a number of anecdotal reports where parents said that the onset of symptoms correlated with the vaccinations, but may be due to the fact that overt evidence of cognitive impairment appears around the same age that the children are normally vaccinated, so its the old “after that therefore because of that” logic.
    You guessed it with the last bit. Autism symptoms usualy present at exactly the same age that MMR vaccines are given. It’s a coincidence, but to too many people coincidence = causation.

  29. thoreau, I think the hygiene hypothesis has merit for some of the more mundane, common allergies. I also assume that whatever is causing the increase in food allergies is a number of factors happening at the same time.

    But the hygiene theory alone doesn’t do enough (in my mind) to explain why some people will die (not just sneeze) when they eat a peanut. Peanut allergy sufferers are only allergic to the protein portion of the peanut, so in theory they can drink peanut oil with no ill effects. I’m just curious to know if the protein in peanuts has been altered to allow for shorter growing cycles, or to be larger, or to stay fresh longer on the shelves, or whatever. I’m not saying they have been, or that if they have been that is the cause, I’m just curious.

    Wing-nutting complete.

  30. Cab,

    Peanuts haven’t really changed in the past century, but peanut allergies sure have.

    I suspect some third factor that messes with people’s immune system. And as a matter of fact, some people attribute asthma to an immune response as well.

    The predominance of asthma among poor, urban kids would seem to undercut the “hygiene hypothesis,” as old, poorly-maintained housing results in lots of exposures.

  31. Have peanut allergies in fact changed in character, or just become more common?

    One thing I’ve heard is that we Americans eat a lot more peanuts than we realize, that a lot of snacks have small amounts of peanut butter in the flavoring. My French friends tell me this, I guess their palates are better adapted to detecting peanut butter, while we’re used to it.

    This becomes relevant because I also understand that peanut allergies are more likely to develop if you’re exposed to peanuts while young. If it’s just peanut exposure in our diet that’s causing the problem, that could explain a lot.

    All of this, of course, is based on stuff that I’ve heard but never carefully investigated, so take it with a grain of salted peanuts. But the fact remains that reasoning based on a process of elimination needs to be done carefully, because you might not have a complete list of things to eliminate.

  32. I’m the parent of a diagnosed Asperger’s kid. Given the number of symptoms that were described to us that I reacted to with “Really? That’s unusual?”, I’d guess there’s a good chance I could be diagnosed as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) too, if there was any point to it at 50.

    Which leads me to a couple of theories about the increase in ASD diagnosis.

    First is that the condition is more widely known and understood, which leads to some diagnosis substitution as well as diagnoses for kids who would have just beeen known as some combination of odd, disorganized, and physically and socially clumsy in the ’60’s.

    Second is that the job market rewards different things today. People on the high functioning end of ASD are particularly well suited for the obsessive demands of the IT industry, so the guy who would have been a slightly odd lifelong bachelor living on the edge of town with his unbelievable stamp collection in generations past is now an ace software coder with stock options and a much better prospect for marriage and children, who will be disproportionately likely to be ASD themselves.

    Third – yes, I’m sure some of the diagnoses are scams to get testing accomodations and other help.

    Why does this make a difference? Because intervention, especially early intervention, changes outcomes. Higher functioning ASD kids can do better at organizational and social tasks when they are taught things neurotypical people find intuitive in an intentional way. For example, looking at people while you talk to them is as much of a learned skill for an ASD kid as riding a bicycle is for the other 99% of humanity. Getting them to look them in the eye is more like a unicycle.

    Life as an ASD person is a little like the square peg in a round hole thing – sort of like being a libertarian in the US. I developed a set of coping mechanisms on my own over the years, but it was hit or miss and (as my wife would sometimes tell you) some of them may not be that effective. If earlier diagnosis and help can spare my kid that, I’m all for it.

  33. The predominance of asthma among poor, urban kids would seem to undercut the “hygiene hypothesis,” as old, poorly-maintained housing results in lots of exposures.

    But kids in urban environments are exposed to things like chemical pollutants, rather different from natural dirt and germs. It’s quite possible that a lack of exposure to (forgive the oxymoron) “clean” dirt can adversely affect the immune system just as much as early exposure to toxic pollutants can.

  34. BTW, if peanuts are indeed more common in our diets than we realize, and childhood exposure is indeed causing more allergies, then I blame Jimmy Carter.

    Jimmy, repent or we’ll send the rabbit after you again!

    🙂

  35. I don’t know if the hypothesis is true, but there are more options on the table than just the two you laid out. And I’d bet that there’s even more than 3 options.

    It is also possible that the hygeine hypothesis explains increasing pollen allergies, while changes to the food supply explain changes in the food allergy rate. There is not necessarily one explanation for all allergies.

    Of course, what is needed is an economic motivation to test these hypotheses, regardless of whether or not there is a buck to be made by doing these kind of tests. Or to put it another way, we need to make it economically attractive to do this hypothesis testing.

    One way to do this is through tort law liability, which amounts to a big jackpot payment for those who discover a new causitive relationship. This approach has its pro’s and con’s.

    Another way is for government grant money to be preferentially channeled into this kind of unlucrative project. However, this would require that the deciders who decide who gets government grant money get their heads screwed on correctly, which is pretty doubtful given current conditions in the grant community of scientists. There is kind of a “let the good times roll” attitude in that community right now, from what I can see by following the blogs.

  36. Have peanut allergies in fact changed in character, or just become more common?

    Peanut allergies have doubled in industrialized countries in the past decade.

    But the fact remains that reasoning based on a process of elimination needs to be done carefully, because you might not have a complete list of things to eliminate.

    True dat.

    Peanuts haven’t really changed in the past century, but peanut allergies sure have.

    I suspect some third factor that messes with people’s immune system. And as a matter of fact, some people attribute asthma to an immune response as well.

    Yeah, like I said, I assume there is some “Perfect Storm” of factors, I would just like to include the actual peanut itself as a possible factor. It seems all research I can find disregards this (although I have read studies on how the preparation of the peanut itself may be a problem, such as roasting versus boiling).

  37. I vaguely recall something about engineering hypoallergenic peanuts. I’ll have to look that up.

  38. Jennifer,

    Kids living in crummy apartment houses or crumbling “projects” in the city are exposed to plenty of dirt, as well as stuff like dust mites and insect droppings.

  39. Kids living in crummy apartment houses or crumbling “projects” in the city are exposed to plenty of dirt, as well as stuff like dust mites and insect droppings.

    And engine exhaust, asbestos, diesel fumes, lead-paint chips and all sorts of things that generally don’t bother their country cousins.

  40. Yeah, like I said, I assume there is some “Perfect Storm” of factors, I would just like to include the actual peanut itself as a possible factor.

    or a change in milk, or a change in eggs, or a change in strained carrots or . . .

    there is nothing to say that a peanut allergy needs be caused by only by the peanut itself — it could be caused, at least in theory, by anything that a kid with the “wrong” genetic predispositions ingests at an early age.

    I mean, look at the reason for the emergence of bad e coli:

    – cows get fed corn instead of grass

    – corn makes for different pH in cows’ stomachs

    – corn fed cows shit on everything because it wasn’t realized that their shit was more toxic

    – society has to pay the price by being more careful about cooking meat and washing raw veggies

    I am not saying that the story of e coli is problemmatic to me because: (i) they figured out what the problem was (probably because people dropped dead so quick); and (ii) it can be solved by good hygeine (which we should be doing anyway). However, how many people would have guessed at this causation chain without being told? This kind of stuff is not commonsense. It demands scientific research even though most hypotheses will be proven wrong.

    Or look at Mad Cow. be honest: had you ever heard of a “prion” before this disease started killing people.

    As long as people die quickly, the market responds well and does the crazy research it needs to do to make the food (or drug) supply safe. The problem occurs when the health problems emerge only slowly over time and/or are non-lethal. Then the scientific community likes to make it has no burden to do any research until somebody can first prove exactly what the problem is. This is an impossibly circular standard of proof, and it is an example of modern science adopting lazy attitudes.

  41. should have been:

    – corn makes for different pH in cows’ stomachs, which facilitates emergence of bad strain of e coli

  42. thoreau,

    http://news.ufl.edu/2006/12/04/peanuts/

    Dave W. you stated, – it could be caused, at least in theory, by anything that a kid with the “wrong” genetic predispositions ingests at an early age.

    We can eliminate that theory given that my kid has my genes, damn good ones too.

    (jokes)

  43. I understand that, Jennifer. I was responding to your assertion that they were experiencing “a lack of exposure to (forgive the oxymoron) “clean” dirt.”

    Kids in shiny new apartment buildings might lack exposure to good old fashioned, immune-system-priming dirt, but not the poor kids in poor neighborhoods who are showing the spike in asthma.

    As a matter of fact, when the hygiene hypothesis was first formulated, it was poor kids in urban neighborhoods who were the “control” group, who had more such exposure than kids from wealthier families in richer neighborhoods and suburbs.

  44. Joe, I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think you and I are contradicting each other; I think we’re discussing two completely different things. The hygiene theory basically boils down to this: we evolved in environments filled with dirt and pollen and animal dander and whatnot, our immune systems evolved to deal with these on a constant basis, and thus babies not exposed to such things are more likely to get allergies.

    If this turns out to be 100 percent true, the statement “lack of early exposure to pollen, dirt and dander causes allergies” does not in any way negate “early exposure to chemical pollutants can also cause allergies.”

  45. I agree, Jennifer. It was just your assertion about “a lack of exposure” I objected to. There is no such lack of exposure among the populations with the spiking asthma rates.

  46. My French friends tell me this

    Ouch. You were doing so well, t, and then you have to bring in your “French friends” . . .

  47. i know someone who has just finished her phd on the subject of autism and working with autistic children, and specifically how testing standards have changed.

    to boil one of my conversations with her down, she feels that a) there’s a lot of over-diagnosis and b) there seems to be a greater urge for parents to label their children and specifically any of the odd or otherwise crazy shit children do. she doesn’t think the whole “it’s not a disease we’re just different” thing is very compelling, nor does she have an explanation as to why so many more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism and related syndromes.

  48. dhex,

    Similarly, more boys are diagnosed ADHD/ADD than girls. Despite years of attempted brainwashing by some, the genders are different. Generally and broadly speaking, boys are little heathen monsters that will do appallingly stupid crap just because the idea occurred to them. Girls? Not so much. From my ignorant and unlearned perspective, this is part of what drives the diagnoses up for boys. Little Johnny is doing something, whereas little Janey may not be so obvious.

  49. I appreciate the fact that you have expertise in this field

    Not to nitpick or anything, and I happen to agree with him to the limits of my layman’s expertise, but…what exact expertise does N&M claim to have?

  50. “Ouch. You were doing so well, t, and then you have to bring in your “French friends” . . .”

    I prefer to think of them as “Freedom Friends.”

  51. Regarding the peanut allergies, could it be conceivable that it was simply some sort of random mutation?

    Since we can treat an allergic reaction with antihistamines, or a trip to the emergency room, people who would have otherwise died from the allergy survived to breeding age, and then passed the allergy on to their children?

  52. Eric.5B,

    I didn’t claim any particular expertise…but I have worked in the field of developmental disabilities since the 80’s, and can put a Ph.C., CCC-SLP behind my name. I have been involved in the diagnosis/ruling out of diagnosis for Austism Spectrum disorders as part of a diagnostic team for over 100 children. I have provide direct intervention for a good dozen children on the Autism Spectrum.

    I would not call Autism Spectrum Disorders my area of expertise, however. I do research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

  53. Thanks, N&M. I hadn’t recalled your mentioning your experience, previously.

  54. joe,

    Kids in shiny new apartment buildings might lack exposure to good old fashioned, immune-system-priming dirt, but not the poor kids in poor neighborhoods who are showing the spike in asthma.

    The hygiene hypothesis is that the increases sensitivity is driven by the lack of exposure to pathogens, not allergens. For interpreting this spike, you need to look at relative exposure to pathogens the same demographic over time, so an increase in urban asthma would be consistent with an increase in sanitation over the same period, so you can’t rule out the hygiene hypothesis.

    Acute symptoms can also be triggered or exacerbated by respiratory irritants, so the dirt, mold, and air pollution of urban enviroments probably makes increased incidence look more dramatic.

    Cab/Thoreau – They’ve done the same with cats. This is part of why I’m skeptical that GM products have much to do with allergy rates. The receptors which bind an antigen are very specific to the antigen they bind to, and only a small number of molecules are antigens. Transgenes aren’t going to cause an allergy unless the specific gene in question codes for an antigen from the source organism, the probability of which is low, because most genes don’t code for stuff that could be picked up as antigens and before picking a transgene you’re going to have some idea what role it plays based on the reason you want to move it and the antigen itself is more complicated than just the raw proteins that are used in it, so a comparable antigen may not be produced when the protein is expressed in the target organism. Changing existing genes coding for potential antigens is unlikely to increase allegies either since the interaction with the antigen is likely to get weaker. The technique used to make hypoallergenic cats (and probably sooner or later peanuts) is to find variations of the gene that codes for the proteins in the antigen that are different enough that they don’t bind well with the receptors. The critical change is probably within the eater of the peanuts, not the peanuts themselves.

  55. Not to get all Fark.com on everyone, but I have been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, so I’m really getting a kick out of these replies (in the sense that I find your opinions and observations insightful and fascinating). To be honest, I really feel that special education did nothing to help me at all. I truly feel (this maybe an inaccurate feeling) that I would have learned more in a regular class, even with all my problems, then I did in a special education school. I’m not that upset though, since my presence would have just kept other students from learning.

  56. Audrey,

    It is quite likely that your subjective sense is correct. Most of the best research supports the efficacy of integration into the regular classroom to the greatest extent possible. Accommodation in a regular education environment is the preferred mode of service delivery for most children with learning difficulties…

    I can’t speak to your particular case, of course. But it is the nature of the accommodations that makes the difference (if accommodations are needed and not provided, being in the regular room can be counter-productive for everyone).

    Many school districts do not have the expertise to make the appropriate accommodations in the regular classroom, so they opt for creating a special classroom (easier to implement).

    Not ideal, but that is the real world.

  57. MattXIV,

    I get that. What I’m saying is, there really isn’t any reasons to suspect that the population undergoing an increase in asthma rates has seen a significant decrease in their exposure to pathogens.

  58. This is worth the amount you all paid for it, but my singular-of-data story is this:

    My older son got antibiotic resistant ear infections from daycare, where he was in the company of five other little vectors of infection known as “classmates.” Six boughts in three months, between the ages of five and eight months. He got ear tubes at seven months, and since then has had one cold, one stomach virus, and many broken bones, which I can’t quite prove are contagious. No allergies.

    Second son had a urinary tract infection at six months, consequently spending half of his first year of life on prophylactic antibiotics. No ear infections at all. He has, however, developed moderate allergies to cedar pollen and mold. (Like every other resident of Austin, Texas but his own brother.)

    My conclusion from this is that Andy, the older kid, had enough “insults” to his immune system to sort of calibrate it to recognize proper responses. Aaron, because of both the severity of the UTI, followed by the six months of Augmentin, never got the same settings and therefore his immune system overreacts to things like cedar pollen. Again, worth what you paid for it.

  59. If I may borrow CAB’s tin hat:

    My own pet theory is that, until the past two or three generations, the child likely to develop allergies was the “sickly” child who died young. Might the decline over time of infant mortality be at least a contributing factor to the rise in the number of people with allergies?

    Looks in mirror. “Hey, I can see a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of myself.”

  60. So why aren’t we talking about a question like:

    Why does the government think they can vaccinate me, or my children?

  61. Why debate and posture when reality is at your fingertips?

    To view the public documentary record of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding on the federal website:
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/OSM/OSMAutism.htm
    ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/transcripts/day01.PDF
    (See pg. 40, line 18: nonverbal girl pounds chest due to pain, scope reveals lesion, treatment cures lesion.)

    To register for daily audio feeds of the Cedillo proceedings go to http://tinyurl.com/2owrwd or
    http://registration.teleconferencingcenter.com/menu.php?short_name=autismphoneaudio .

    Mary Holland, Esq., who teaches law at New York University Law School, will be posting daily commentary on the proceedings at http://achampblog.org , for the parent advocacy group A-CHAMP.

    The science and politics surrounding Thimerosal are examined in the 2005 book Evidence Of Harm by former New York Times contributor David Kirby. In 2006 Kirby won an award from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). The book is being made into a movie by Participant Productions (Syriana, North Country, An Inconvenient Truth). Kirby’s blogs on Vaccine Court are here:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/see-you-in-vaccine-cour_b_51224.html

  62. Neu Mejican, I didn’t go to special classes in regular school, I was shipped to a special (inferior) school.

  63. Trial Day 1 Transcript, Page 40, Line 18:

    “What they found was a Grade III ulcer between the stomach and the esophagus. Her GI doctor at that point said that’s why she’s hitting herself. That’s why she’s hitting herself in the chest because that ulcer is causing her so much pain. That’s why she can’t eat because her ulcer is causing her so much pain.

    “So they treated her, and they did another endoscopy. In that other endoscopy they found that it had healed.”

    ftp://autism.uscfc.uscourts.gov/autism/transcripts/day01.PDF

    So how long did psychologists observe the abberrant behaviors before someone figured out the girl was trying to communicate her physical agony?

    And how many other children are suffering without proper testing and treatment for undiagnosed physical ailments?

  64. The full transcript of this secret, closed-door meeting held by the
    CDC at the United Methodist Retreat Center, Simpsonwood, can be read
    at NoMercury.org or PutChildrenFirst. org.

    The mercury-based preservative thimerosal has never been fully
    removed from childhood vaccines.
    A simple check on the FDA’s website would have confirmed this:
    http://www.fda. gov/cber/ vaccine/thimeros al.htm#t1.
    Mercury is still
    in most flu, tetanus, and diphtheria/tetanus vaccines–and an array
    of vaccines still contain “trace” amounts. (The term “trace” must be
    used loosely as this aspect of vaccine production is not being
    regulated and there is some variation on what constitutes a trace
    amount. As children often receive multiple “trace” amounts of
    mercury in one sitting, cumulative amounts and potential adverse
    effects are as yet unknown.)

    While no reputable medical practitioner in this country would allow
    even “trace” amounts of lead to be injected through vaccines given
    its known neurotoxicity, physicians continue to allow mercury, which
    exceeds the toxicity of lead by more than 100-fold, to be routinely
    injected into humans.

  65. Audrey,

    Oh, I misunderstood. What I said still applies, however. Kids learn more from their peers than from adults in most learning situations…looking to their more successful peers for role models in any particular task. When you restrict the range of role models in a segregated environment to only those with learning problems (as in a special school) you knock the feet out from under this very important pillar of learning. To overcome this you need very talented teachers implementing a very effective program. It can be done, but on average is less effective.

    Was your special school a private school, or a public school?

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