Thursday, December 27, 2007

Autism Epidemic

If you have even the tiniest inclination that your child is behind developmentally, I urge you to get them checked out. It is normal for you to be in denial, but it can hurt your child in the long run.

Autism is now impacting one in every 150 kids. It is at epidemic proportions. If your child does, in fact, have a form of autism there is a window of opportunity you don't want to miss. The kids I've seen who are treated early, by 18 months, have much better results.

If you have any concerns at all about your child's development, a screening will only help. Most states offer them for free.

My son does not have autism, but he did have a speech delay. That's how I got involved with a group that helps kids with autism. My pediatrician (not my current doctor) said, "Oh, he's a boy. Boys talk later than girls. He'll catch up." He did catch up, but there are so many kids who don't. So I don't think that's a good thing to say to parents. I have heard parents of children with autism tell me the same stories about their pediatricians and they regret waiting to have their kids screened.

And what about all the controversy over what causes autism?

I spent a year researching this topic, and produced a half-hour special explaining the history of autism, signs and symptoms, and the theories on what is causing the increase in cases.

I posted two of the stories on YouTube from the half hour special: Autism Diagnosis (4:09) and Autism Symptoms(3:55)

If you'd like a copy of the entire special, just e-mail me at:

I compiled a lot more information about the Autism Epidemic Special, including the safety of immunization shots, on my station's website.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Knight in Dragonland said...

Thiomersal (aka thimerosal) has been removed from most vaccines for over a decade, and in that time the reported incidence of autism has increased, not decreased. How does that make sense if thimerosal is causing autism?

Studies have followed cohorts of children who were exposed to thimerosal and those who were not and have done extensive neuro-developmental testing on both groups. The results? No differences were noted.

Thimerosal has another name - merthiolate. Along with mercurochrome, another mercury containing compound, thimerosal was slathered on lacerations and abrasions as an antiseptic for decades. They were pulled from the market because they were proven ineffective as antiseptics, not because of any evidence of brain injury. Where was the epidemic of autism resulting from that?

Linking vaccines to autism is, quite frankly, voodoo ... very dangerous voodoo. Why?

Measles killed 300,000 people last year. It is a highly contagious illness that used to cause regular outbreaks in the millions. While most children in developed nations survive, there remains a significant chance of immediate or delayed encephalitis ... not to mention the enormous burden on our healthcare system if this disease returned in force.

The last major rubella outbreak in the U.S. in the '60s resulted in 20,000 children born with congenital rubella syndrome ... blindness, mental retardation, heart defects ... a syndrome much worse than autism.

In the first 77 years of the 20th century, smallpox killed an estimated 300-500 MILLION people. Since 1977, death from smallpox = ZERO. Why? Vaccination.

The physicians I trained with remember a time when there was almost always at least one child admitted to the hospital with Hib meningitis - often with permanent deafness, seizures or complete neurological devastation as a result. I have NEVER seen Hib meningitis because it is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Non-pandemic, non-avian influenza continues to kill approximate 30,000 people EVERY YEAR in this country ... TEN TIMES the number of people killed on 9/11, and that death toll repeats annually. Universal annual school-based vaccination campaigns could cut that number in half for a minuscule fraction of the cost of operations in Iraq.

You'll note that vaccine opponents are quick to allude to conflict of interest and corruption and never actually address the data at hand ... data that overwhelmingly contradicts their positions. All they can manage is ad hominem slander. When confronted with actual scientific data, they evade, deny and cry corruption.

Here's a little factoid that flies in the face of claims of corruption in the medical establishment - most physicians that offer vaccination LOSE money on it. That's right. From the insurance companies we receive compensation for the cost of the vaccination and a small administration fee (usually less than $20). One wasted dose ... one broken vial ... and my practice is in the red. A refrigeration mishap could easily set a practice back over $100,000. At best a practice with sufficient volume might break even on vaccination - and that's only if they fail to offer some of the newer, more expensive vaccines.

On the other hand, many of the strongest advocates for a link between vaccination and autism profit handsomely from their beliefs. Did you ask the "doctor" on your panel who provide chelation and megavitamin therapies how much they charge for those regimens? Often these detoxification protocols cost many thousands of dollars that are not covered by insurance (for good reason - they don't work!).

Yet, somehow, we in the medical community are the corrupt ones ... shills for the pharmaceutical companies. The accusations made by the vaccine deniers go unchallenged by the media because conspiracies make juicier headlines.

The reality is that pediatricians and family doctors continue to offer vaccines - and give them to their own children (as I do) - because they're one of the most amazing medical miracles of the last century.

Childhood used to be the most dangerous time in a person's life. Families had a dozen or more children because half of them didn't make it past age 5.

That changed mostly because of advances in basic sanitation (clean drinking water and contained waste removal mechanisms), improved nutrition and vaccination. Antibiotics are a VERY distant fourth reason. Most vaccines are directed at diseases for which we have NO treatment other than supportive measures.

Hopefully, in the next decade, we'll see polio join smallpox as an eliminated disease. Of course, if the vaccine deniers have their way, that noble goal will never be accomplished.

Maria said...

At your suggestion, I watched the interview on the website. I am not sure that it was completely or singularly relevant to the topic (autism), I think the Doctor interviewed provided a lot of valuable information. However, I think he skirted the issues regarding the multi-vaccinations at one time and the non-"germ" additives in those vaccines. He says there is no evidence to cause the splitting of the vaccines, but he also did not present any evidence that the current schedule is the best or clearly better than a modified schedule.

He admits that the scheduling of vaccinations are rather arbitrary, and as such, I think that perhaps we need to re-look at the standard vaccination schedule. As I said on my blog, if I had to do it over again, I would still vaccinate, but I would have done so on a modified schedule.

Perhaps you could look more at vaccinations as a special-- not their link (or lack there of) to a disease or illness (such as autism), but rather at the risks and benefits of the vaccines. Honestly, there is so much pro-vaccination material out there, but very little material that sets out all of the risks, no matter how big or small. I understand that many people don't really care, but for example, when I go to the ped's office with my son, I end up asking a ton of questions, because the material they hand out does not always contain all of the information.

Also, knight comments that anti-vaccination folks cry corruption, but when you look at who is in charge of the studies leading up to the approval of vaccinations, and who is sitting on the panels at the FDA, it is easy to see where corruption could and does occur. Until the FDA is a completely independent government lab OR issues contracts to companies that do not have a COI, corruption and/or the perception there of, will ALWAYS be an issue. If he thinks that is a reason that folks are using, then perhaps be could work towards changing the situation.

One more thing in regards to Mercury/thiomersal-- we know what mercury does to people (not talking about autism, but rather in general), especially small children. Pregnant women are told to avoid fish and foods that are traditionally high in mercury. Yet, mercury is in vaccines, which we give to our babies on purpose! To me that defies logic. We know that methylmercury causes neurological problems, and yes, fetuses are more susceptible to the consequences, but they are hardly the size of an adult at age 1, 3 or 5, and while the amount of mercury in the vaccination might be small, the problems associated with small amounts of absorption is disturbing at best.

Maria said...

One more thing...

Besides not vaccinating, how else are concerned parents supposed to make a statement that the components of the vaccine are unacceptable. That is my problem and why I wish I had done things different. Not just mercury, but formaldehyde and other components that are added.

Knight in Dragonland said...

The vaccination schedule is not arbitrary. Certain vaccinations are scheduled early (DTaP, Hib, Prevnar) because they prevent diseases that predominantly (and most severely) affect infants - namely pertussis (which can cause apnea and death in infants under 6 months), invasive Haemophilus influenzae (a bacteria, not "the flu"), and 7 invasive strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae. The latter two bugs cause meningitis and other severe bacterial infections that predominantly strike infants and toddlers. Rotateq, the rotavirus vaccine, is also given to young infants because, again, that infection is the most dangerous for infants under 6 months.

Even though the evidence is overwhelming that thiomerosal is a harmless additive in the quantities formerly used in vaccines, that issue is now a moot point. All the vaccines on the infant schedule are now thimerosal-free. Only some types of the influenza vaccine still contain the preservative.

If all those so opposed to vaccines applied the same standards of purity they demand of vaccines to everything that they consumed on a daily basis, they would soon starve to death ... because NOTHING could possibly meet those standards! There are minuscule amounts of toxin in EVERYTHING that we consume ... even in the air that we breath. That's why our bodies have multiple enzymatic detoxification systems and an immune system.

There is NO reason to split vaccines. The theoretical maximum number of vaccinations our immune system could handle is somewhere around 10,000 at one time ... and that's a CONSERVATIVE estimate. Every day, our bodies encounter hundreds to thousands of foreign antigens. The simplest virus has a dozen or more, while bacteria have hundreds or even thousands. Vaccines usually contain a SINGLE highly purified antigen. The idea that these highly purified proteins could somehow "overwhelm" an infant's immune system is ridiculous.

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