Thursday, September 30, 2010

NANCY SNYDERMAN IS CONCERNED ABOUT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN RESEARCH STUDIES

Dr. Nancy Snyderman is concerned about conflict of interest and possible bias in study outcomes. She has finally admitted that "Science is a moving target." She came out this morning on the Today Show and announced, "Critics are saying that this is in fact a flawed study." Yes! Nancy Snyderman is questioning the validity of published, peer-reviewed medical research! Finally!

She talks about the difference in groups of subjects who are diagnosed with the same illness but have variations of the disease, saying, "We can't throw them all in the same waste basket." Yes, Nancy! Children who are ill from birth are DIFFERENT from children who regressed after vaccination!

Dr. Snyderman goes on... "The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Radiology have both come out in support of this study. I caution people there is a conflict of interest for both of those organizations. There's big money behind mammography."

What? The American Cancer Society? The American Academy of Radiology? Shit. I thought she was talking about autism. I thought she was talking about the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, and the big money in vaccinations. Silly me. What was I thinking?

Here is the link to this morning's segment.

Dr. Snyderman continues, "That means 21,800,000 women have to be screened every year to find the (2,000) tumors. Mammography is not without its consequences. It means the chest is getting radiated every year and the cumulative effects we don't know for years. I would ask everyone to stand back and pause and remember medicine is individualized. And for those women who don't have risk factors perhaps you don't need to start at 40...I wouldn't undo what our task force said last year based on this study... [the task force] said, "Remember to individualize and talk to your doctor because so much of this screening comes down to individual risk factors, your own concern, and frankly, the need not to overdiagnose, and not to overtreat in society today."

Amazing.
Let me edit the above paragraph and see how it sounds...

"That means 21,000,000 children (U.S. census data, 2008: 21 million children under age five) have to be vaccinated every year against seasonal flu in order to prevent somewhere between five and 200 deaths in this population. (source: CDC data) (Note: I was not immediately able to find the exact number of children under the age of five who died from the flu last year. If someone has that information handy, I will be glad to amend this post with that number. The CDC link provided is an average of flu deaths per year and the numbers given are for children and adolescents under age 19. The number of children under five who die from the flu would be expected to be much lower than 200.) This means children, beginning at six months of age, are receiving 25 micrograms of thimerosal (mercury) every year, and the cumulative effects we don't know for years. I would ask everyone to stand back and pause, and remember medicine is individualized."

Or, how about this...
"That means 4,317,119 infants (U.S. Census data, 2007) have to be vaccinated on the first day of life against the sexually transmitted disease, Hepatitis B, in order to prevent the approximately 300 cases of Hepatitis B (infection, not deaths in children under 14 years of age, CDC MMWR, October 31, 1997). Vaccination against Hepatitis B is not without risk. Click here to view a package insert from the vaccine manufacturer. I would ask everyone to stand back and pause and remember medicine is individualized. And for those infants who don't have risk factors perhaps you don't need to be vaccinated within 24 hours of birth. For example, if you are not sneaking out of your bassinet to have sex with the kid next to you in the nursery, and you are not using IV drugs, and your mother is not infected with Hepatitis B (or you are not going to be cared for by someone who is infected) then you can probably safely skip this vaccination. Remember to individualize and talk to your doctor because so much of this screening comes down to individual risk factors, your own concern, and frankly, the need not to overdiagnose, and not to overtreat in society today."

Or, one more...
"That means 21,000,000 children under the age of five have to receive a second dose of the MMR vaccine in order to catch to 5-10% of children who do not establish immunity after the first dose. MMR vaccination is not without its consequences. Click this link to view the package insert from the MMR vaccine manufacturer. Click this link to read about the severe consequences for one family. I would ask everyone to stand back and pause and remember medicine is individualized. Remember to individualize and talk to your doctor because so much of this screening comes down to individual risk factors, your own concern, and frankly, the need not to overdiagnose, and not to overtreat in society today."

Come on, Nancy. That's not so hard, is it?
Why the double-standard? Why exercise so much caution when it comes to women and not with children? Is it because you have breasts? Or is the reason because of your own conflicts of interest and biases? Where do your loyalties lie? With your "colleague," Paul Offit?
Your fawning praise of Dr. Offit in this Today Show segment would certainly suggest this may be the case.

Why argue for caution and advise people to question results of studies where there are conflicts of interest when it comes to mammograms, but not when it comes to vaccinations and your "colleagues?"
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, let me enlighten you, or rather, let Sheryl Atkisson enlighten you with her article, "How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?"

Dr. Snyderman, you have lost all credibility. I suggest you shut the #$@% up and do not open your mouth further regarding the safety of vaccines, unless it is to offer a retraction and an apology to those parents whose children have been harmed because they followed your "advice."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Suicide and Heavy Metals in Vanderburgh County, Who's Responsible for the Death of DeTwain Barnett?

Last night I attended a talk at USI given by Vanderburgh County Coroner, Annie Groves. Coroner Groves has had the unenviable job over the last five years of trying to figure out why Vanderburgh County has one of the highest rates of suicide in the United States.

I have emailed Annie Groves a few times in the last couple of years, asking her to please consider testing for heavy metals in the bodies of victims of suicide. I have not heard anything in response, but I do not know for sure if she has ever received my emails. Last night I had an opportunity to speak with her face-to-face, and to express to her my concerns about the heavy metals in the environment here, and the possible connection with our high rate of suicide.

The suicides in Vanderburgh County really hit home for me a few years ago when DeTwain Barnett (age 10) hung himself. At that time, DeTwain was the youngest victim of suicide Vanderburgh County had seen. At last night's presentation, Coroner Groves informed us that 10 year-old DeTwain no longer holds that record. The youngest child to have committed suicide in Vanderburgh County is now seven - 7 Years Old.

I was outraged when DeTwain died. I am outraged now.

I am repeating my original post, written after DeTwain's death. I am doing this because it is so important, and because I hope that if enough people join me in my outrage, something will be done.

ORIGINAL POST FROM MAY 2007:

The following is in regards to the suicide of 10 year-old De-Twain Barnett, who hung himself in his mother’s apartment in Evansville, Indiana on May 12, 2007. If you are unfamiliar with the story of De-Twain, please read the article by accessing the link provided.

Note: It appears the original article published in the Courier and Press Newspaper is no longer accessible. There are a couple of follow-up pieces you may wish to read by clicking here and here

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a therapist in Evansville, working with children and adults. I have never worked at Cross Pointe, Mulberry Center, or South Western Indiana Mental Health Center. I share many of the concerns others have voiced in the online forum in response to the death of De-Twain. From the descriptions provided by those who knew him best, he sounds like an intelligent, spontaneous, creative boy who wanted to do well but had trouble complying with expectations of teachers in the classroom. The article in the Courier & Press indicated that De-Twain was frequently in trouble at school. His mother recalled he was beginning to feel that nobody liked him. After reading some of the comments written by his young friends as well as adults who knew him outside the classroom, it appears to me (as a strictly outside observer) that De-Twain’s "behavioral problems" may have been due to a number of separate issues, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning disabilities, auditory or visual processing disorders, fine-motor problems, food allergies, or the result of his body’s response to environmental toxins. In short, there are many things we, the general public, do not know about this child. Regarding the question of whom to blame, I believe we all need to take a few deep breaths, examine our own priorities and ask ourselves if we could have done anything to prevent this from happening.

What DO we know about De-Twain? We know that he had a great smile. We know his mother believed he was smart, even though his report cards did not reflect his intelligence. We have been told that he was funny, could be silly, and loved to draw. His mother talked about how he would check out DVDs from the library and study the cartoons, honing his own artistic skills. In my experience, when a child is intelligent but unable to demonstrate success in reading, math, or writing, he or she is often quite talented musically or artistically - the intelligence finds a way to come out. Unfortunately, we have focused so heavily on test scores and "academic achievement," with budget cuts in our public schools reflecting our collective disdain for the importance of the arts in education. As a result, our creative children (who are often highly intelligent and our most sensitive & intuitive) frequently are left without an outlet for their gifts or an avenue of expression for their pain. When a child is bright and wants to succeed, but struggles due to unaddressed health problems or learning disabilities, he or she may be especially vulnerable to depression, social isolation, and suicidal ideation. These are the children who need art and music the most! If we are so focused on competition that we devalue the child who is not a “Straight A” student, then we are at least partly responsible for the ones we lose.

In the article about DeTwain’s death, his mother revealed that her son really struggled in school, to the point where she was hearing from his teachers on an almost daily basis. When a child exhibits such a high level of difficulty, something serious is going on. Children who exhibit behavior problems are not “bad children.” They are children who need help. I encourage anyone who cares about our children to learn about the many issues that can affect behavior, attention, and the ability to learn in the classroom environment. A child with allergies or asthma is likely to have increased behavior issues in spring and fall when environmental allergens and air-borne toxins increase. If a child is allergic or sensitive to casein and gluten (dairy products and grains), he or she will OFTEN exhibit behaviors that are indistinguishable from ADHD and can even look psychotic. Anyone who doubts the ability of milk to make you crazy is encouraged to rent the DVD of The Aviator - the story of Howard Hughes. The more milk he drank, the crazier he became. In addition to milk, parents should pay attention to the amount of ice cream and milkshakes their behaviorally volatile children are eating and drinking.

Stomach problems (diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux) affect school performance. Children who have had multiple ear infections, upper respiratory infections, or strep throat are especially likely to have trouble in school as a result of problems with their digestive systems. Many of our kids have had so many antibiotics that their intestinal tracts are shot from yeast overgrowth. They are constipated, gassy, have foul-smelling breath, and skin problems. They crave sugar and carbohydrates. When you have a constipated child and a gut full of yeast and sugar, that's not a child, it's a STILL! Sugar, yeast, and fermentation equals alcohol. No wonder our kids can't pay attention in class and act like they're drunk - they are! Parents of children who struggle MUST do their own research and educate themselves. Sadly, if you ask your physician about food allergies or yeast problems, you may well be told there is nothing to those rumors. This is a point where parents have a responsibility to pursue the issue further, and professionals have a responsibility to admit they may not have all the answers.

As parents, we all need to examine what our children are eating – at home and at school. Improving a child’s diet can go a long way toward improving his or her behavior and functioning. Simple steps like cutting out artificial dyes and preservatives can make a big difference in some children. Give filtered water, fresh fruits and vegetables. Do a little research on the connection between intake of fried foods in early life and breast cancer later on. If we as parents abdicate our responsibility for feeding and fueling our children because it's easier to "drive through," then we must accept part of the responsibility for their health problems, now and in the future.

Finally, we have to face the facts that in this area, we are all being poisoned by the toxins in the air. Alcoa and Sigeco are both among the top 10 polluters in the entire nation when it comes to the toxins they put into the air, including sulfur-dioxide, nitrogen-dioxide, lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, and arsenic. These poisons don't just cause cancer - they destroy our children's central nervous systems and contribute to increases in learning disabilities, Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and bipolar disorder. Alcoa and Sigeco are not the only culprits. If you want to learn more about what's in our air, you can do the research yourself on the EPA website. The question is, how many people are willing to risk the monetary losses associated with doing what's right for our children and our environment? If we are not willing to give up a little in the wallet, then we must share in the blame for what is happening to our children (and to ourselves).
(Please read the accompanying article, “What’s Going On in Indiana” for more information about toxins that may be associated with the rise in suicides.)

When we lose a child like this, it is a sad thing for all of us because we as a society will never benefit from DeTwain's gifts. When I counsel clients who have lost loved ones, one thing we work toward is trying to find some meaning out of the loss. My hope is that DeTwain's death will not be completely in vain, but will serve as a wake-up call to those of us who remain. We are all responsible for OUR children. Please, let's start working together to heal their world and make it one from which they are not so desperate to escape.

Marci

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rampant Virus or Lead Poisoning?

This evening I was washing dishes when I noticed outside my kitchen window a huge cloud of dust.

video

When I looked further, I could see that the cloud was coming from the tractor across the street. The farmer was plowing his field. The corn that grew there this summer was harvested a couple of weeks ago, as was the corn that grew in the field directly behind my house. There is nothing left to harvest. I'm not sure what he was trying to do, but the result for my family was a whopping dose of dust and heavy metals. This happens every year. Coincidentally (NOT!) my daughter gets very sick every year at this same time.

Here is a post I wrote two years ago on this same subject:

Guess what? Today is an Ozone and Particulate Alert Day in Evansville and surrounding areas! If you live anywhere in the tri-state this should not come as a surprise. As one person commented in the online forum, "It's like Groundhog Day!" - we live the same thing over and over again.

Here is my take on what's really going on:

My daughter is home from school today with a "stomach virus." I called the school and was told that the vomiting and diarrhea stuff is rampant right now. Because I know that gastrointestinal problems (vomiting and diarrhea) are among the first signs of lead poisoning, I'm wondering how much of this has to do with the fact that it's harvest time? The harvesting equipment has been kicking up all kinds of dust for the last few weeks. With all the problems in the air, and everything being washed back into the ground when it rains, I question whether we are experiencing a virus or lead poisoning? According to the information at one interactive periodic table, lead isotopes are extremely stable with a half-life of up to 53,000 years! Another site lists the half-life of one lead isotope at 3x10 to the 7th power - that computes to 300,000,000 years.

Click here to view the information on lead.

In a nutshell, everything that has been spewed into the air here since the beginning of the 20th century and the Industrial Age is still here. This is why it is SO important to stop it now. It's not just about what's in the air today. What's in the air today goes back into the ground with the next rain. Then it eventually goes back into the air through evaporation or, as it is right now, by being stirred up with the harvesting.

And guess what else? What's in the ground goes in the food. It's not a coincidence that so many people have developed so many food allergies and gluten sensitivities. Toxins stay in wheat and other crops and when something is that stable, it is not degraded by cooking.



People here get so upset about the "liberal tree huggers" because they are worried about losing their jobs if we force the polluters to be responsible. Well, guess what. It's not just the manufacturing jobs that are at risk. When the food grown in this region is too toxic to eat, our economy is really going to shut down.

Wake up.

And by the way. I'm not a liberal tree hugger. I am a liberal child hugger. This stuff is killing our children.
Marci Terry

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mitch Daniels, the Coal Industry, and Indiana's Autism Epidemic

Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmstead's newly released book Age of Autism is ground-breaking. Their research into the histories of the earliest known cases of autism reveals what I have suspected since moving to Indiana nearly 8 years ago.

The difference in the children here is striking; these are the sickest kids I have ever seen. My suspicion that the coal industry has a lot to do with this fact was only strengthened by my involvement with Defeat Autism Now, and in my work with families of children who carry an autism spectrum disorders (ASD) diagnosis.

A highly disproportionate number of the children here who are so ill are children and grandchildren of coal miners. Those who do not have family histories of exposure to heavy metals through occupational exposure have been exposed through intergenerational accumulations of lead, mercury, and other heavy metals by virtue of the fact that they live in the lower Ohio Valley, which is "The Coal Burning Power-Plant Capital of the World."

I hope you will take the time to go through the information contained in this post. I hope you will share it widely with others who care about children with autism. I hope you will come to believe, as I do, that this situation is important and we must do something to change it.

Mitch Daniels is the former Vice President of Marketing Strategy for Eli Lilly. If you have read David Kirby's book Evidence of Harm you may recall that Mitch Daniels was a prime suspect when the Lilly Rider was secretly tacked onto the Homeland Security Act within hours of that bill going up for passage. The purpose of the Lilly Rider was to protect vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits filed by families of children who have been injured by vaccines. Mitch Daniels has denied being involved in the insertion of the Lilly Rider. He has denied knowing anything about it, and has denied ever even hearing about Thimerosal until after the insertion of the Lilly Rider became the source of public outcry. You will have to decide for yourself what your beliefs are on this issue. The present concern is not with what he did or did not do in the past. It is with what he is doing currently and what he is likely to do in the future.

Mitch Daniels is the current governor of Indiana. It is becoming increasingly clear that he intends to seek the presidency in 2012.

I am asking you to please view the information presented here and decide if you believe this would be a good move for America, or for the world.



Since taking office in January 2005, Mitch Daniels has improved the economic status in Indiana. The question is, "At what cost to Indiana's children?"

In 2007 Indiana ranked 6th in the U.S. for the number of children with an autism diagnosis in the public schools. At that time the rate was 1 in 106. And that number doesn't count children who are home-schooled, or children who are not yet identified by the school system.



Since taking office, Mitch Daniels has consistently pushed for more and bigger coal burning power plants in the state of Indiana, comparing Indiana's coal reserves to Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.



This graphic depiction shows the results of a study that was conducted in Texas, comparing the rates of autism with proximity to sources of environmental mercury from coal plants. The box at the upper right shows the results. For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released into the environment from coal burning power plants, there was a 61% increase in the rate of autism....AND, the closer in proximity, the higher the autism rate.

In southwestern Indiana, we are surrounded.


It's not just mercury we have to worry about. The effects of toxins are not only additive and cumulative over time, they are synergistic. That means they interact with each other in such a way that the effect of two different toxins in small amounts is much more damaging than the effects of either one in larger amounts. It's like drinking alcohol and taking prescription drugs. Either one will hurt you if you take enough of it, but if you take them together, they will hurt you in much smaller amounts.





Vanderburgh County is where Evansville is located. This county has for the last few years, had the highest suicide rate in the United States. An article in the local newspaper from September 21, 2010 documents the latest death by suicide and confirms what I have suspected: The drastic increase coincides with Mitch Daniels' ownership of the governor's office in the state and the resulting increases in heavy metals in the environment here.

The rate of suicides in Vanderburgh County is 4 times the national average - AND it's also 4 times the rate of the state of Indiana. WHY?

What role does the environment, and specifically heavy metals in the environment, play in the high rate of suicide? Could the high rates of suicide and the high incidence of autism be linked to a common factor?
Note: Use this link to go the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website’s database for the Toxic Release Inventory (2008) information for the state of Indiana.


Note: I have been told that there are 17 coal-fired power plants within a 50-mile radius of Evansville. I was only able to find information for 15, using the EPA TRI data, so that is the number I am using.



The information at the top in blue includes all 15 sites. When I separated the totals for Indiana and Kentucky, the Kentucky numbers went down considerably, which resulted in the decrease in the overall total.
The number in red at the bottom is Indiana's performance with the impact of Kentucky plants factored out.

The information at the top in blue includes all 15 sites.
The number in red at the bottom is Indiana's performance with the impact of Kentucky plants factored out.

Total for Indiana and Kentucky combined is at the top.
Indiana's total is at the bottom, with Kentucky factored out.

Total for Indiana and Kentucky at the top.
Indiana without Kentucky in red at the bottom.

Indiana and Kentucky at the top.
Indiana alone at the bottom.

Indiana and Kentucky combined at the top.
Indiana alone at the bottom.

Remember way back at the beginning of this post when I asked if the environmental heavy metals may be a common factor related to the high suicide rate and the high rate of autism? Vanadium excess, in particular, bears further examination.

• Vanadium depletes Lithium.
• Lithium (the prescription drug) has been the drug of choice for the treatment of bipolar disorder for decades.
• Bipolar disorder is THE psychiatric disorder with the highest incidence of suicide.
• Officials in Vanderburgh County will tell you that a large percentage of the suicide victims were also abusing drugs and alcohol.
• Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a very high rate of comorbid (co-existing) substance abuse and addictions.

VANADIUM EXCESS DEPLETES LITHIUM.

With regard to autism…
• Lithium deficiency (the mineral) is extremely common among children diagnosed with autism.
• Elemental lithium (the mineral, in very small doses) is a natural anti-viral with specific action against herpes viruses.
• Children with a diagnosis of autism frequently have viral infections in the herpes family, especially HHV-6.
• Research has revealed a subset of children with autism who have high viral titers for HHV-6 and Measles. Research also indicates that this combination of factors appears to result in the formation of auto-antibodies to specific brain proteins (myelin basic protein and neuron-axon filament protein).



Follow this link to read the full text
of my letter to Governor Daniels.




For more on Mitch Daniels, Eli Lily, and the 2012 presidential election, you may want to check out this recent article from Steven Higgs of The Bloomington Alternative.



The coal-burning power plants in Indiana are not only situated extremely close to schools, where our children run around on the playgrounds, increasing the uptake of heavy metals into their bodies. As this photo depicts, the heavy metals are also going into the environment where a substantial amount of food is being grown. This impacts everyone because these crops are exported to other states and other countries.

For more about the toxic air and the impact on school children, check out these articles from USA Today and The Bloomington Alternative.

This is an actual hair analysis performed on a four year-old boy diagnosed with ASD, and living in SW Indiana.



The top part of this report shows elevations in toxic metals that are present in coal and released into the environment by coal-fired power plants.

The bottom of this graph shows the dysregulation of essential minerals. This is the signature of heavy metals poisoning.

Mercury is not elevated, which is very common for children with autism, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Research has shown that children with autism often have lower levels of mercury in their hair when compared to children who do not have an autism diagnosis. Researchers believe the reason is because in order for it to show up in the hair, the children have to be able to excrete it. Children with autism frequently have trouble with the excretion of mercury. Instead of excreting it, mercury is stored in the brain, liver and kidneys.

Exposure to mercury depletes metallothioneine, which is necessary for detoxification of metals. This sets the stage for extreme toxicity for children who live in areas that are polluted with heavy metals (like Southwestern Indiana).

As long as the amount of heavy metals in the environment continues to increase, the rates of autism will also increase, even if we stop vaccinating. Our children are being poisoned. If we continue to vaccinate them at the current rate, the damage will be worse for children who live in environments like Southwestern Indiana. The effect is synergistic and cumulative.


Mitch Daniels wants to be president.
With a 70% approval rating and being tagged as a "rising star" in the Republican Party, it could happen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dear doctor: I can't sleep.

Dear doctor:

I can't sleep.

Before you reach for your prescription pad and write me a script for Ambien, please... just take a few moments to listen to what's bothering me. I have a feeling that if you just focus for a bit on what I am trying to tell you, the beneficial effects will be much more lasting than anything you could possibly prescribe to ameliorate the symptoms of insomnia associated with my underlying frustration.
I really just need to be heard.

You have seen me in your office many times. Over the years, I have gained weight, acquired wrinkles, and my hair has turned gray. I have come to you on occasion asking for bloodwork because I have been concerned about my own health, but it has been much more likely for you to see me when I bring my daughter in because she is sick with strep, or because we need a referral for the neurologist, or for the endocrinologist, or immunologist, or dermatologist, or neuropsychologist, speech pathologist, gastroenterologist, audiologist, ENT or orthopedic surgeon.

I am 50 years old. My daughter is 16. Her medical file is bigger than mine. Much bigger. I have finally realized that this is a good thing, since I will most likely be the one taking care of her for the rest of her life, and I need to be healthy. Without me, she has no one.

So, here it is... 3:38 a.m.

I have a class at 8:00. The alarm will go off at 6:20. That gives me roughly 2.5 hours to tell you why I can't sleep.

I am tired.
I am tired of being talked down to.
I am tired of the way you roll your eyes when I express my concerns about mercury and aluminum in vaccinations.
I am tired of worrying about whether or not you are going to give me a hard time when I ask for a note for school so my daughter is not forced to drink milk at lunch.
I am tired of trying to explain to you why she needs to take enzymes at school so she doesn't spend the second half of the day in the bathroom or in the nurse's office.
I am tired of riding to the hospital in an ambulance.
I am tired of holding her head up off the floor so she doesn't get a concussion when she seizes after getting a tetanus shot you insisted she had to have.
I am tired of enduring your disdain and the dirty looks of the nurses in your office when I, once again, refuse to give consent for her to get the flu shot.

After all of the time and money I have spent in your office over the years, I deserve your attention, if not your respect. I know you are the one with the initials M.D. behind your name. What you don't know is that if not for the last 16 years spent caring for my sick child, I would also have some pretty impressive initials behind my name. As it is, the initials I have are M.S. (Master of Science). When my daughter got sick, I was on my way to obtaining my Ph.D. That didn't happen. She needed me more and I couldn't do both.

So here I am, 16 years later, and I'm working on my MSW (Master of Social Work) because I finally realized that if I'm ever going to be able to pay off my student loans I need to figure out a way to make a living at something I can do while caring for my daughter for the rest of her life. The best way I know is to do something that benefits not only her, but other children who are struggling with the same issues she struggles with. I had hoped to go on and finish the Ph.D., but at this point, it's probably not going to happen.

What I need you to understand is that just because I don't have the proper initials behind my name does not mean I have lost my ability to think critically or to do excellent research. If anything, my skills in this area have improved, being strengthened not only by 16 years of experience, but by the motivation that comes from being the Parent of a sick Child (Ps.C).

When you were studying medicine, you learned about a lot of things in a span of six or eight years. You have worked hard and there are a lot of people who respect you and who depend on you to help them feel better. You deserve the respect that comes with the initials "M.D."

Over the last 16 years I have learned a lot, too. The difference is, I have been specializing in a very narrowly focused area. I am now THE expert on MY child. I may not have the same initials as you, but I deserve the respect that comes from sacrificing and working hard to heal my daughter. I will no longer tolerate your rolling eyes or heavy sighs when I ask for a moment of your time. And I will not lose one more minute of sleep worrying about whether or not you will work with me to help my daughter. If you don't, I will find someone who will. I hope it doesn't come to that, because there are times when I really do need your help and expertise, and I do not want to have to start over, building that relationship with someone new. But if I have to, I will.

So here are the rules:

1. Do not try to push any more vaccines on my family. You know how I feel about this, and you know I have done my research. If you want to know WHY I will not give consent, please ask. I will be more than happy to spend as long as it takes to share the information I have learned with you because I fully believe it will help you to become a better physician.

Actually, that's pretty much it.
I am asking for your respect.
I am demanding it.
I deserve it.

Thank-you. I feel so much better. I think I can actually grab a couple of hours sleep before the alarm goes off.

I am looking forward to building our new relationship; one that is focused on the common goal of healing my child.

With the highest regard,
Marcella Piper-Terry, Ps.C.
(Parent of a sick Child)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Follow-up to My Critique of Pediatric Article Proclaiming No Link Between Thimerosal and Autism

I have been asked to respond to a critique of my comments regarding the study published in the journal Pediatrics, which was used earlier this week to proclaim (once again) that there is no link between thimerosal and autism. I do not know the identity of the person who responded to my comments, so I do not have a name or title to use to help delineate my responses from his or her responses. The person did self-identify as a one of the "shills," so I will use that term to indicate his/her statements, and MPT (my initials) to indicate mine.

If you haven't read my comments from which this discussion stems, here is a link to the previous blog post: http://4allofyou.blogspot.com/2010/09/cdcs-latest-study-finds-no-link-between.html

SHILL: Let's look at Ms. Piper-Terry's complaints:

"1. Lower functioning children were excluded because their problems were so severe that it made it tough to assess them."

She makes this complaint based on an interview that the author did:

http://www.wellsphere.com/autism-autism-spectrum-article/questions-and-answers-with-the-thimerosal-autism-study-author/1220904

She manages to quote the author's explanation as to why they did a subgroup analysis excluding the more serious cases, but, like any good quote miner, she managed to leave out a key quote from Dr. Price:
Therefore, an outcome category for AD with low cognitive functioning excluded was created and its relationship to exposure was estimated. The results for this subgroup were very similar to those for the overall analysis"

The reason the low-functioning children were excluded was because there was the concern that it could mask a true association. She also seemed to miss the point that the results for this subgroup are no different than the overall analysis (i.e. that thimerosal was not associated with development of autism even in this severe group). This data can all be found in the technical reports that are publically available, but I doubt she or T4TN has read them.

MPT RESPONSE:
It is true that I took the quote from an interview of one of the authors. It is also true that I did not include the entire explanation and omitted the information about the establishment of an "outcome category for AD with low cognitive functioning excluded..." My reason for leaving out this information is simple. I do not know how to quantify or interpret the author's statements that "exposure was estimated" or "results for this subgroup were very similar..." There is no statistical information provided in the article to either back up this statement, or to assist in further analysis of the author's assertion. Apparently, we are just supposed to take his word for it.

As for the exclusion of children with low cognitive functioning "because there was the concern that it could mask a true association," I would like to know more about the specific concerns that led to this exclusion criteria. Since it appears from the article that the researchers employed the ADOS as their sole method of criteria in their direct assessment of case-children, the possibility for over-inclusion could be considered a valid concern for children who were higher-functioning and whose scores may be closer to the neurotypical range of functioning on the domains this instrument adresses. For that reason, Best Practices dictates that assessment of children suspected of having an autism diagnosis must also include review of the developmental history, interview with parents (and teachers, if applicable), and review of previous medical history, including pre-existing diagnoses. The ADOS itself has demonstrated high reliability and validity in the standardization process, including demonstrating very high inter-relator reliability coefficients. At the risk of being accused of "quote-mining" the following may provide further clarification:

"The authors reported good inter-rater reliability estimates on the Communication, Reciprocal Social Interaction, Total, and Stereotyped Behaviors and Restricted Interests domains, with intraclass correlations ranging from .82 to .93 (Lord,
Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 2001). Test-retest reliability was also good, with intraclass correlations ranging from .73 to .82 on the Communication and Reciprocal Social Interaction domains, and .59 to .86 on the Stereotyped Behaviors and restricted Interests domain. Published validity studies also suggest good predictive validity, with sensitivities ranging from 90% to 97%, and specificities ranging from
87% to 94% for autism/ASD versus other clinical diagnoses" (Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 2001).
For additional information about the ADOS, follow this link: http://www.casrc.org/People/Internal_Investigators/Akshoomoff%20CASP%202.pdf

I have not read the technical report. When I looked at the study and wrote out my observations, it was not yet available for review. Whether or not I will take the time to read them remains to be seen. I really don't know what they could possible reveal that would change my mind about the validity of the study. If there is something in the technical report that is significant enough to negate the impact of the design flaws in the published article, then the authors should have included that information in the article.

SHILL: The technical reports are located here:

http://abtassociates.com/reports/Aut_Tech_R­eport_Vol1­_090310.pdf http://abtassociates.com/reports/Aut_Tech_R­eport_Vol2­_090310.pdf

They also include some other interesting information as well including:

1. Mother's who took prenatal vitamins with folic acid had an approximately 2-fold higher risk (p value 0.0176) of having an autistic child. So, a possible non-vaccine related environmental factor right there it would seem.

MPT RESPONSE: First of all... (and this is a pet-peeve of mine), it is difficult for me to take seriously the comments of someone who is attempting to debate such a highly technical and complex issue as thimerosal and autism, when that person does not understand the basic rules of punctuation. For future reference, "Mothers" is a plural word, indicating that there is more than one "Mother" involved. "Mother's" is the possessive term, to be properly used when you are referring to an object or possibly a trait that belongs to a single (1) "Mother."

Now that that is out of the way... The finding that mothers who took prenatal vitamins with folic acid had a higher risk of having an autistic child is very interesting. Without knowing anything further about this, I would hypothesize that it is possible that these women may have had deficiencies of other B-vitamins (folic acid is one of the family of B-vitamins, which work together in concert), and if they were given folic acid without assessing the levels of B-12 and B-6, in particular, they may have problems in their methylation pathways. They methylation pathway is one of two major detoxification pathways in the body (the other being the sulfation pathway). The methylation pathway is responsible for detoxifying heavy metals, including thimerosal from the body. If the methlyation pathway is not working, thimerosal will not clear from the body as it is supposed to, and as vaccine-makers insist it does. When it does not clear the body because the pathways are not working properly (for example, because of a B-12 or B-6 deficiency), thimerosal deposits in soft tissues, including the kidneys and brain. Thimerosal has an especially strong affinity for the brain because it is very attracted to lipids, and the brain is the most lipid-dense organ in the human body. With regard to the folic acid, it is possible that by elevating folic acid in a group of women who have unknown deficiencies of the other nutrients necessary for methylation to take place, the tendency of the body to increase retention of thimersosal was facilitated. This is, of course, all hypthetical, as I am sure none of these women had their B-12 or B-6 levels checked during their pregnancies. This is, however a very important area of future research, that should not be overlooked as a possible contributor to the increase in autism, especially since oral contraceptives, antibiotics, and steroids ALL deplete B-6. Perhaps we could start looking at WHICH subgroups of women might be more prone to have infants that are at an increased risk of autism from thimerosal and other toxins in vaccines, rather than assuming that if it doesn't happen to everyone, it couldn't possibly happen to some.

SHILL: 2. There were COMPLETELY unvaccinated children both in the ASD group and the control group. That would seem to blow the "unvaccinated children can't get autism" hypothesis out of the water, now wouldn't it?

MPT RESPONSE: If this is a reference to my critique of the article, it is out of place. I never said unvaccinated children cannot get autism. (This tactic is called a "red herring" and is often used to steer a discussion off-topic.)

SHILL: 3. They examine the ASD prevalence as a function of HMO and year of birth.

http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/ABT-prevalence.png

What they find is that the rate of autism per 1000 is pretty flat and quite near the current estimated CDC values (~1.1%). That would certainly argue against any massive increase in overall incidence or an "autism epidemic".

MPT RESPONSE: No, that wouldn't argue against anything, since the explosion of the autism epidemic began in the 1980s and increased exponentially with the addition of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, all of which happened prior to the time frame that included the birth dates of the subjects in the study (1994-1999).

SHILL: Ms. Piper-Terry's other complaint is rather perplexing:

"2. The participants were pre-selected by virtue of mandatory physician's consent before they could be recruited into the study."

Yes, the evils of requiring consent. Only a very small number of potential subjects were removed via this mechanism (3.9%). Hardly suspicious of anything, except to the conspiratorial. I find it interesting though that Ms. Piper-Terry failed to castigate all of the parents who refused participation. This was a far larger proportion (32%) and some survey results are included as to why they refused to participate. Where is the conspiracy suggesting that those parents are involved in covering up the "truth"? But why expect consistency, right?

MPT RESPONSE: My criticism is regarding the mandate that the child's PHYSICIAN had to give consent for the family to be contacted about potentially participating in the study. This is very different from the absolutely necessary practice of obtaining informed consent from study participants, and in the case of children and vulnerable populations, obtaining consent from parents or guardians. There is NO established precident in research supporting the mandate that the physician pick and choose which parents of his patients deserve the right to participate in research. There may well be some reason as to WHY phsyicians were given this power to censor who participates and who doesn't, but the article does not elaborate, and as noted above, the technical report was not available when I wrote out my comments. I would still like to know what the rationale was, and may actually have to invest the time to go through the technical reports after-all. At any rate, the fact that physicians were given the power to pre-select which patients were allowed to consider whether or not to participate presents a HUGE problem with the study design because it means that the cases who were contacted and given the opportunity to participate do not represent a random sample. That fact alone is enough to invalidate the study results.

SHILL: Ms. Piper-Terry also complains about some children not meeting the requirements for the study. The authors are quite clear as to why those children were removed. Eligibility required that a child lived with it's mother since birth, the family spoke fluent English, and that the child did not already have a condition to which autism has been causally linked (in order to reduce the signal to noise ratio and provide a clearly observable signal).

MPT RESPONSE: Actually, the authors are quite clear about the fact that many of the issues raised in the above paragraph were considered before the children were classified as cases. I have no problem with the exclusion criteria listed here. Similarly, I was quite clear in my objections about children who were excluded, either by virtue of low-cognitive functioning or by the denial of access to them at all, by virtue of their physicians' denial of consent to even contact the families. The exclusion of children by either of these means is problematic because in doing so integrity of the study design is compromised, resulting in a lack of validity regarding any results reported.

SHILL: And last, thank goodness

Her final criticism:

"When comparing groups of 49 and 652, there is just a tad of inequality in the number of subjects."

Perhaps Ms. Piper-Terry should stick to being a biomedical consultant since her knowledge of statistical analysis is quite poor. One does not need the number of subjects in two groups to be equal in order to define a statstical difference in the analysis.

MPT RESPONSE: It is true that one does not need the number of subjects in two groups to be equal. However, the closer the groups are to being equal in number, the more power there is in the analysis. Inequality of subject groups influences which statistical analysis can be performed, for example when considering whether to use parametric or non-parametric analysis for comparing differences between groups. This is not a small issue and goes directly to the question of whether or not your results will reveal significance. I'm sure the researchers know this, even if "Shill" does not.

SHILL: Overall, Ms. Piper-Terry's arguments show some good quote mining, poor understanding of statistics, and overall lack of understanding in complex study design. I highly doubt she has read the 400 pages of technical reports detailing the intricacies of the study yet feels confident to comment on all of the details involved. Somehow I think the general acceptance of this study will not be much affected by Ms. Piper-Terry's rather poor commentary.

There you go Time4TruthNow. I guess one of the shills wasn't quite stumped, now was I?

MPT RESPONSE: I don't know this person (who self-identifies as a "shill") and I do not know the extent of his or her education, qualifications, experience, or associations. I am not going to comment on his or her personal strengths or weaknesses. The fact that he or she felt it necessary to attack me personally rather than confining his/her comments to the study design is another tactic often employed as a method of distracting readers from the issue at hand. It's called Ad Hominem and it is the practice of attempting to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. Watch out for this. It's a tactic frequently employed by those who know their arguments cannot withstand the scrutiny of close inspection by unbiased observers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CDC's Latest Study Finds No Link Between Vaccines and Autism! What a Relief! (What a bunch of crap!)

The big news yesterday... "There is no link found between vaccines and autism."
Wow. What a relief that is. We can all get back to our lives.

Don't celebrate too soon.

Here's the link to the article put out all over the place yesterday.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/13/no-link-found-between-vac_n_715090.html

Here's a link where you can download the full-text article for free:
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2010-0309v1

Here are my comments about this "study" after looking at it for about an hour:

Two problems right off the bat:

1. Lower functioning children were excluded because their problems were so severe that it made it tough to assess them.

2. The participants were pre-selected by virtue of mandatory physician's consent before they could be recruited into the study. Their doctors were the gate-keepers. So, if the doctor didn't want a particular kid in the study, he or she denied consent and that child was never recruited. With doctors not reporting vaccine reactions in the first place, and with the serious objections many physicians have to the mere suggestion that there is a link between vaccines and autism, this is a major design flaw. This is not a random sample.

Of 802 potential cases (children with autism diagnoses), physician's consent was refused in 31 cases (3.87%). With recent autism rates at 1 in 100 children (1%), this certainly raises more suspicion about WHY these physicians automatically refused consent for these families to even be contacted about potentially participating in the study.

Of 777 cases (autism diagnoses) whose physicians gave consent, 103 (13.26%) were deemed ineligible for participation. In the Opposing Views article (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/q-a-with-cristofer-price-thimerosal-autism-study-author) the following information provides insight about why these children were deemed "ineligible":

Question: "As to the paper, I see that the results are the same for autism with and without regression. Are there any other issues of severity which were checked (e.g. level of intellectual disability, seizures) which were also monitored?"

Response: "We did do a sub-analysis where AD cases with low cognitive functioning were excluded (see technical report on Monday for full details and results) Analysis of the subgroup of AD cases where children with low cognitive functioning were excluded was motivated by the following concern. Because children who are non-responsive during the assessment process are more difficult to assess, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether children with severe developmental delay actually have autistic disorder."

MPT: SO... they eliminated a sizable portion of the cases of children with autism on the basis that they were too severely impaired to participate in the assessment. This would DEFINITELY present at least a POTENTIAL for skewed results by eliminating the population of children with the most severe symptoms of mercury poisoning.

In the final analysis, after all of the physicians’ refusals and elimination of children who were "too severe to be assessed" there were only 49 cases (children with autism) that carried the Regressive Autism diagnosis. This represents 19% of the "Case Group" and 6.11% of the original group of 802 children who were potential "Cases" for the study. Ultimately, the exposures to thimerosal of this group of children (n=49) were compared statistically with the exposures of the "Control" group (children who did not have autism diagnoses; n=652), and "no significant differences" were found between groups.

No Shit.

As anyone who has looked at my previous analysis of the MMR study should know by now... The closer your groups are in number, the more powerful your analysis is. When comparing groups of 49 and 652, there is just a tad of inequality in the number of subjects.

This study is bunk.
Try again, CDC.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

VACCINATION DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST WHOOPING COUGH

News flash! If you haven't heard by now... California is having it's largest outbreak of whooping cough in years. It's a serious situation and very tragically, 8 babies have died. This post is not making light of the problem, but encouraging you to learn the truth about what's going on.


After examining the data from the San Diego health department, authors of the news article below report, "Of the 332 confirmed cases of whooping cough in the county so far this year, 197 of the people who got sick were up-to-date on their immunizations. That's nearly 2 out of 3 cases."


http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/sep/07/vaccinated-people-getting-whooping-cough-sd/


The pertussis bacterium appears to be mutating. It appears this is happening in response to vaccination. When you consider the long list of side-effects associated with vaccinations (that don't work); things like seizures, encephalitis (brain inflammation), ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, and death, holding your infant down while he or she is injected with vaccines that don't even work makes NO SENSE.


Educate before you vaccinate.

If you want to know more about this issue, here are a couple of other posts that I recommend reading and sharing:


http://4allofyou.blogspot.com/2009/05/vaccines-and-autism-your-child-and.html

http://4allofyou.blogspot.com/2008/10/flu-vaccine-is-it-worth-it-cost-benefit.html

And here's one I just came across today, which follows up on the whooping cough article above:

http://thehamblogggerman.blogspot.com/2010/09/whooping-cough.html

If you choose to have your child vaccinated, AND you have done your own research about vaccinations, then you are making an informed decision. While it is not the one I would make or advocate for, it is your right as a parent. It is also my right, and I believe fully, my responsibility, to do what is best for my child and to do what I can to inform parents who do not have the research experience or resources at their disposal to find the information they need.

Keep learning.
Educate before you vaccinate.

Note: In my original post I erroneously referred to pertussis as being caused by a virus, instead of by a bacteria.
Thank-you to the individual who commented to let me know of my error.