Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., Winner of the Noble Prize

With yesterday's announcement of this year's winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, I think it is appropriate to honor the man who, sadly, will never see the full effects of his lifetime commitment to individuals and families impacted by autism. This man worked tirelessly and passionately in his quest for the true causes and effective treatments of autism to be accepted and widely applied so that more children could live free from constant pain and become independent, contributing members of society.

Today's post is dedicated to Bernard Rimland, Ph.D (1928 – 2006). The bulk of this post is a reprint of Dr. Rimland's testimony in 2000, before the House Committee on Government Reform. Given the current state of our economy and the recent 700 billion dollar buyout, I believe the timing of this post is especially relevant.

Here's to you, Bernie. Thank-you. You did not live long enough to receive the Nobel Prize, but if they gave one for being a Noble Man, you would have no competition whatsoever.

Testimony of Bernard Rimland, Ph.D. Before House Committee on Government Reform

April 6, 2000

The Autism Increase: Research Needed on the Vaccine Connection

My name is Bernard Rimland. I am a research psychologist (Ph.D.). and am Director Of the Autism Research Institute, which I founded in 1967. I am also the founder of the Autism Society of America (1965), and the editor of the Autism Research Review International. My book, Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implication for a Neural Theory of Behavior (1964) is widely credited with changing the field of psychiatry from its claim that autism is an emotional illness, caused by destructive mothers, to its current recognition that autism is a biological disorder. I have lectured on autism and related problems throughout the world, and am author of numerous publications. I served as primary technical advisor on autism for the film Rain Man.

My son Mark was born in 1956. It was obvious from birth that this perfectly normal-looking infant had something drastically wrong with him. I had earned my Ph.D in experimental psychology 3 years earlier and had never encountered the word autism. Our pediatrician, with 35 years of experience, had never heard of autism either. Autism was extremely rare then - it is extremely common now.

Some supposed experts will tell you that the increase reflects only greater awareness. That is nonsense. Any pediatrician, teacher or school official with 20 or more years experience will confirm what the studies tell us: there is a real increase in autism and the numbers are huge and growing. The epidemic is serious and world-wide.

Soon after my textbook on autism was published in 1964, I began to hear from other parents. Many parents told me that their children were normal until getting a triple vaccine - the DPT shot. In 1965 I began systematically collecting data on the symptoms and possible causes of autism: In 1967—33 years ago—I began querying the parents, specifically about the child's response to the DPT shot. Many had reported marked deterioration.

During the past few years the Autism Research Institute has been flooded with an upsurge in pleas for help from parents throughout the world - from wherever the World Health Organization vaccine guidelines are followed. The majority of these parents say their children were normal until getting the MMR - another triple vaccine.

Let me dispel several myths promoted by those who deny the autism-vaccine connection:

  1. They claim the vaccines are safe, but physicians are indoctrinated to disbelieve claims of harm and are not trained to recognize nor required to report any adverse reactions. From 90% to 99% of the adverse reactions reported to doctors are never reported by those doctors to the government's extremely lax Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, known as the VAERS.

  2. They say that the suspected linkage between the MMR vaccination and autism has been disproved by a study conducted by Brent Taylor and his colleagues in London, and published last year in The Lancet. The Taylor study is seriously flawed in many ways, as had been noted in a number of letters to the editor of The Lancet and in a number of additional letters on the subject which have been posted on the internet. It was subject to strong attack at a recent meeting of the British Statistical Society. I have been a full-time researcher my entire professional life, for almost 50 years, and I respectfully asked Dr. Taylor for a copy of the data so that I could reanalyze them. He refused this ordinary professional courtesy, and I have subsequently written to the editor of The Lancet requesting that an impartial committee be asked to reexamine Dr. Taylor's statistical methods. If he refuses again, I urged The Lancet to retract his paper.

  3. They say that autism has a large genetic component, and therefore vaccines must play a minimal, if any, role in the causation of autism. My book Infantile Autism, published in 1964, was the first systematic attempt to marshal the evidence for genetics as a contributing cause of autism, so I am certainly not hostile to that idea. However, genes do not begin to account for the huge increase in the incidence of autism, ranging from 250% to 500% in various places. I might add that we have just reviewed all of the recent genetic studies for the next issue of the Autism Research Review International, which I edit. The results are spectacularly inconsistent. The best guess is that there are at least 20 different genes involved in the causation of autism. Gene therapy is decades off, and may be infeasible.

  4. They claim that autism naturally occurs at about 18 months, when the MMR is routinely given, so the association is merely coincidental and not causal. But the onset of autism at 18 months is a recent development. Autism starting at 18 months rose very sharply in the mid-1980s, when the MMR vaccine came into wide use. A coincidence? Hardly! See the graph below.

Autism is not the only severe chronic illness which has reached epidemic proportions as the number of (profitable) vaccines has rapidly increased. Children now receive 33 vaccines before they enter school - a huge increase. The vaccines contain not only live viruses but also very significant amounts of highly toxic substances such as mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde. Could this be the reason for the upsurge in autism, ADHD, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, lupus and other chronic disorders?

As a parent and as a full-time professional researcher, I am bitterly disappointed with the medical establishment's dismal record with regard to autism over the past 60 years. The medical schools, as well as the governmental agencies, have consistently supported outmoded, unproven and even disproven theories from the very beginning, and have actively opposed the most promising approaches for the treatment of autism. They supported the psychoanalytically-based theories which held the mother responsible for causing autism through her supposedly hostile attitude toward the child. They opposed the use of behavior modification, the most uniformly beneficial treatment for autism, by claiming that it neglected the deep-seated emotional blocks that were supposedly at the root of autism. They have ignored, and continue to ignore, the long series of studies conducted both in the U. S. and Europe showing that the elimination of foods containing gluten and casein from the diet brings about marked improvement in many autistic children. They have consistently ignored the series of 18 consecutive studies, conducted by researchers in 6 countries, which showed that almost half of all autistic children and adults respond favorably to high doses of vitamin B6 and magnesium., with no adverse effects. Eleven of these studies were double-blind placebo-crossover experiments. There is no drug that comes close to B6/magnesium in terms of safety, efficacy and positive research findings.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on non-productive lines of research, while virtually no money at all has been given to research on the methods of alternative medicine, which are far more promising in terms of both safety and efficacy.

The most interesting questions are not being asked: Why does the majority of the population survive such epidemics as autism, the bubonic plague, Legionnaires' disease, polio and AIDS, while relatively few succumb?

The answer is that the survivors have a healthy, effective immune system. Would enhancing the immune system decrease the likelihood of adverse reactions to vaccines (including the anthrax vaccine - DOD please note!)? Very probably. It is well known that the immune system must be adequately supplied with many nutrients if it is to function properly, including especially vitamins A, C, E, B6 and a number of minerals, including zinc, magnesium, and selenium. Nutritional levels of these substances are not only harmless, they are essential to good health. Since people do not change their diets readily, I believe that foods should be fortified with these nutrients - especially foods that will be consumed by infants and children. Research along these lines - as well as on the safety of the vaccines - is desperately needed.

As a parent and a researcher, I believe there should be a marked redirection of effort and funding, along the lines suggested above.

Committee on Government Reform

2157 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-5074

Reprinted from:http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/rimland.htm

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Flu Vaccine - Is It Worth It? A Cost-Benefit Analysis

A few weeks ago I posted an article on this blog entitled, "Is There Thimerosal in the Flu Vaccine." At that time, it had just been announced in the media that the CDC was stepping up efforts this year "like never before" to ensure that every man, woman, and child (including babies and the as-yet unborn) receive the flu vaccine. As I wrote then, this is extremely concerning, especially when it comes to vaccinating pregnant women in the second trimester, and vaccinating babies and children with something that contains mercury. I cannot understand why, after the CDC finally agreed to remove thimerosal from the childhood vaccine schedule, they would now recommend vaccinations for babies and children that still contain this extremely toxic heavy metal.

I know this is a topic I already covered, but it is one that is so important it's worth expanding on.

Today was one of those rare days when, having attended the Health Fair at USI, I found myself at home with my feet up when the news came on. One of the stories covered by Ann Komas, anchor for WFIE News, reported on a "Drive-In Flu Clinic" that took place today in Indianapolis. People are lining up in their cars, simultaneously rolling down their windows and rolling up their sleeves to get the flu vaccines they have been so fervently advised to receive.

I wonder how many of them know about the thimerosal.

As my 8 year-old watched the news report she screwed up her face and said, "EEEWWWW! Gross!!!" I was very relieved to be able to tell her that she didn't have to worry about that because she is not getting a flu shot.

The government has GREATLY over-stated both the severity of the threat to healthy individuals from the flu, and the efficacy of the flu vaccine in preventing flu-related deaths. If you would like to read a fascinating article, written by research-physicians that will help you to make an informed decision about whether or not to submit to the government's push, click here.
If you don't care to read the entire article, here are some things to consider:

This information is taken directly from the article, "A Shot of Fear," written by By Steven Woloshin, Lisa M. Schwartz and H. Gilbert Welch, published in 2005 in The Washington Post.
  • According to the CDC, 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur among people age 65 years and older. Based on this information and the age distribution of the population, the chance of a flu-related death for people in that age group is about one in 1,000. Another way of saying this is that the chance of not dying from flu for those 65 and older is about 999 out of 1,000. (For context, the chance of a flu-related death is slightly lower than the chance of dying from a fall or other accident.)
  • For people younger than 65 (including children), the chance of a flu-related death is much smaller -- about one in 100,000.

The authors of the above-reference article point out that the wording of papers published in some highly-regarded, peer-reviewed, medical journals is misleading and overstates the effectiveness of the flu vaccination.

  • For example, a 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine observed that the flu vaccine was associated with a 50 percent reduction in the overall death rate (that is, death from heart disease, stroke, cancer and all other causes combined). To attribute an effect of this magnitude solely to the flu vaccine is ludicrous: Flu-related deaths make up less than 2 percent of all deaths. If the claim were accurate, the vaccine's power would dwarf that of any other medical intervention.

The authors go on to point out that for some, it is not necessarily the concern of death from the flu that drives them (now, literally) to get the vaccination. Many Americans roll up their sleeves and hold their screaming children down to receive the flu shot because they don't want to be sick and don't want to miss work or school.

  • The authors write, "Many may get flu shots simply to avoid getting sick. The Cochrane Collaboration identified more than 20 randomized trials addressing this question. The overall chance of developing "clinical" flu was 19 percent in those chosen, again by chance, to receive the recommended flu vaccine vs. 23 percent in the control groups."

If I'm interpreting this correctly, having received the flu vaccine conferred a 4% advantage when it came to actually getting sick, when compared to those who did not receive the flu vaccine.

Read on:

  • Studies have also measured another outcome: how vaccination affects days lost from work. On average, there are about 0.16 fewer days lost from work per person vaccinated. Another way of saying this is that about 5 percent of those vaccinated avoid missing about three days of work because of the flu. (That is, 0.16 days divided by the 5 percent who benefited from vaccination equals 3.2 days.) The other 95 percent vaccinated got no benefit.

For anyone who is concerned about injecting mercury into yourself or your child, PLEASE ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" before obediently and blindly rolling up your sleeves. For pregnant women and parents of small children, PLEASE, JUST SAY "NO."

Marcella Piper-Terry, M.S.