Tag Archives: autism spectrum disorder

IOM: Vaccines safe and unrelated to autism

The print media devoted major coverage to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report showing that the benefits of vaccines far exceed their risks. In addition, the IOM assures professionals, researchers, policy makers, and, most importantly, parents, that vaccines are NOT associated with and DO NOT cause autism or autism spectrum disorders ASD). Continue reading

Early screening test detects autism in children as young as one year

An early screening test for autism, designed to detect signs of the condition in babies as young as 1 year old, has just been released. USA Today reports that the test “could revolutionize the care of autistic children, experts say, by getting them diagnosed and treated years earlier than usual.” Continue reading

Investigator Planned to Make Vast Profit From Autism/MMR Vaccine Scare

Andrew Wakefield, the lead author on the 1998 study that reported a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and a new condition of regressive autism and bowel disease called autistic enterocolitis (AE), was planning to market a prestudy diagnostic testing kit with expected yearly sales of 28 million pounds (43 million US dollars), a new paper published online in the BMJ reports. Continue reading

Autism and Childhood Vaccinations: The Myth is Finally Debunked

In a number of previous blogs, I’ve discussed vaccine myths, in an attempt to bring you information about vaccines that is reliable, trustworthy, and medically accurate. I recently found this review of the myth that vaccines cause autism and wanted to share it with you. It’s a discussion between Robert Dachs, MD, FAAFP (Ellis Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, Schenectady, New York), Andrea Darby-Stewart, MD (Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale, Arizona), and Mark Graber, MD, FACEP (University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa) and was published in the American Family Physician (2010 Sep 15;82(6):586-592).

Are childhood vaccinations associated with subsequent development of autism?

Bob: In 1998, a British gastroenterologist, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published a report in the Lancet on eight children who developed symptoms of autism within one month of receiving the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.1 Since then, the media, advocacy groups, and celebrities have promulgated the link between childhood vaccinations (particularly the MMR vaccine) and the development of autism. But, is it true?

This month’s article clearly outlines the epidemiologic and biologic studies that should reassure physicians and parents that there is no connection between childhood vaccinations and autism.2 For the family physician, the data in this article are impressive and can be used to counter most parental concerns.

What does this article say?

Bob: This article reviews the three most commonly proposed hypotheses for vaccine-induced development of autism:

  1. the MMR vaccine damages the intestinal lining, allowing the entrance of encephalopathic proteins;
  2. thimerosal induces central nervous system toxicity; and
  3. multiple vaccinations overwhelm and weaken the immune system.

This article looks at the genesis of each theory and the data that debunk them.2

In regard to the MMR vaccine, Dr. Wakefield noted lymphoid nodular hyperplasia on endoscopy in eight children with gastrointestinal symptoms and signs of autism within one month of receiving the MMR vaccine. He then postulated that this intestinal inflammation allowed nonpermeable peptides into the bloodstream, subsequently affecting brain development.1

There are many holes in this argument.

  • First, this was a self-referred cohort without a control group.
  • Second, in Great Britain, approximately 50,000 children one to two years of age receive the MMR vaccine each month; this is a time when autism typically presents, making this likely a coincidental association.
  • Third, the MMR vaccine has not been found to cause chronic intestinal inflammation.
  • Fourth, no toxic encephalopathic proteins traveling from the intestine to the brain have ever been identified. Instead, genes that code for endogenous proteins, which influence neuronal synapse function, have been identified in children with autism.3

Mark: The most glaring flaw in the argument connecting an MMR-induced intestinal hyperplasia and subsequent autism development is assigning cause and effect to a potential association. Association should not be confused with causation.

Without a control group in the original study by Dr. Wakefield, it is imprudent to even suggest that there is an association between the MMR vaccine and intestinal lymphoid hyperplasia. Large-scale studies are often needed to demonstrate whether an association is statistically present.

Bob: The authors of this month’s article reviewed 13 such large-scale studies that demonstrate no association between the MMR vaccine and autism.2 These are separated into three types of studies:

Ecologic (studies comparing vaccination rates with autism diagnosis). In California and the United Kingdom, the diagnosis of autism increased through the 1980s and 1990s, yet MMR vaccination rates remained stable during this time.4,5 In Quebec, Canada, autism rates increased despite a decrease in MMR vaccination.6

Retrospective observational (studies comparing vaccination status with autism diagnosis using national registries). The best study was one conducted in Denmark in which 440,655 children born between 1991 and 1998 who received the MMR vaccine were compared with 97,648 children born during the same years who were not given the MMR vaccine. There were no differences in autism rates between the two groups.7

Prospective observational (a long-term vaccination project allows researchers to prospectively record adverse events associated with the MMR vaccine). In Finland, 1.8 million children were prospectively followed after MMR vaccination, and no cases of vaccine-induced autism were recorded.8

Andrea: To further refine the concept of association and causation, there are times when an association does represent a cause and effect. A good example is smoking and lung cancer rates. Clearly, smoking is associated with increased lung cancer rates, and a randomized, placebo-controlled trial is not needed to prove this. The association between smoking and lung cancer meets all of the following criteria: strength and consistency of the scientific data; existence of a temporal relationship (between smoking history and lung cancer); existence of a biologic gradient (increased exposure results in increased risk); a scientifically plausible association; and experimental interventions that work (smoking cessation decreases cancer rates).9 However, in the case of MMR vaccine–induced autism, none of these criteria are present. The data, in fact, overwhelmingly support no association.

Bob: Let’s briefly look at the second hypothesis of thimerosal-induced neurotoxicity. Thimerosal is an antibacterial agent that has been used in multidose vaccine preparations for more than 50 years. It is 50 percent ethyl mercury by weight. However, mercury poisoning has a distinctly different presentation than autism. The CDC has also demonstrated that the mercury in vaccines has not resulted in any subtle signs or symptoms of mercury poisoning.10 The authors of this month’s article review seven large-scale studies—again, ecologic, retrospective, and prospective studies—all demonstrating no association between thimerosal and autism.2

Mark: And, by the way, live vaccines like MMR do not contain thimerosal.

Bob: The third and final theory suggests that the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overloads the immune system, triggering autism in a susceptible host. However, because of advances in protein chemistry and DNA technology, the immunologic load has decreased from more than 3,000 immunologic components in the seven available vaccines in 1980 to less than 200 in the 14 recommended vaccines today.2

Andrea: Two more points: (1) an infant’s immune system is capable of handling the thousands of antigens it is exposed to early in life; and (2) autism is not an autoimmune disease. Therefore, this theory has no credibility.

Should we believe this study?

Bob: This month’s article clearly provides the science and statistics to dispel the theory that childhood vaccinations induce autism.2 A Cochrane review came to the same conclusion in October 2005.11

Andrea: Large-scale studies, smaller studies, retrospective studies, prospective studies, and case-control studies (you name it) all come to the same conclusion: there is no connection between vaccines and autism. The only outlier is Dr. Wakefield’s study, which suggests this possible link.1

Mark: Lo and behold, 10 of the 13 authors of Dr. Wakefield’s Lancet article have since publicly retracted the interpretation they reported.12 The editor of the Lancet has acknowledged that, had they appreciated the full context of Dr. Wakefield’s study, “… publication would not have taken place the way that it did.”13 On further review, the Lancet also recently published an official retraction of Dr. Wakefield’s study (http://press.thelancet.com/wakefieldretraction.pdf).

What should the family physician do?

Bob: Get this month’s article. It’s an easy read. Keep it handy for when parents are apprehensive about immunizing their child.

Andrea: A national survey conducted in 2003 to 2004 indicated that more than one fourth of all U.S. parents were either unsure of vaccine safety or refused or delayed vaccination of their children because of safety concerns. However, the most important take-home point from that survey was that the parents who changed their minds and immunized their children did so because of information and assurance provided by their health care professional.14 Indeed, we do make a difference!

Mark: Understand the consequences if we just give in to fear and myths. In 2008, only three fourths of preschool children in the United Kingdom received two doses of the MMR vaccine. The result: measles infection rates have reached more than 1,000 cases per year, the highest since monitoring began in 1995.15

Main Points

There are no epidemiologic or biologic studies that support a connection between childhood vaccinations and autism.

EBM Points

An association does not confer causation.

Multiple criteria should be examined when considering if an association implies causation, including strength, consistency, specificity, temporality, dose-response relationship, plausibility, coherence, experimental evidence, and analogy.9

REFERENCES:

  1. Wakefield  AJ, Murch  SH, Anthony  A, et al.  Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children [retraction published in Lancet. 2010;375(9713):445].  Lancet.  1998;35(9103):637–641.
  2. Gerber  JS, Offit  PA.  Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses.  Clin Infect Dis.  2009;48(4):456–461.
  3. Sutcliffe  JS.  Genetics: insights into the pathogenesis of autism.  Science.  2008;321(5886):208–209.
  4. Dales  L, Hammer  SJ, Smith  NJ.  Time trends in autism and in MMR immunization coverage in California.  JAMA.  2001;285(9):1183–1185.
  5. Kaye  JA, del Mar Melero-Montes  M, Jick  H.  Mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by general practitioners: a time trend analysis.  BMJ.  2001;322(7284):460–463.
  6. Fombonne  E, Zakarian  R, Bennett  A, Meng  L, McLean-Heywood  D.  Pervasive developmental disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: prevalence and links with immunizations.  Pediatrics.  2006;118(1):e139–e150.
  7. Madsen  KM, Hviid  A, Vestergaard  M, et al.  A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism.  N Engl J Med.  2002;347(19):1477–1482.
  8. Peltola  H, Patja  A, Leinikki  P, Valle  M, Davidkin  I, Paunio  M.  No evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine–associated inflammatory bowel disease or autism in a 14-year prospective study.  Lancet.  1998;351(9112):1327–1328.
  9. Simon S. Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. Causation. http://www.childrens-mercy.org/stats/ask/causation.asp. Accessed January 8, 2010.
  10. Thompson  WW, Price  C, Goodson  B, et al.; Vaccine Safety Datalink Team.  Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years.  N Engl J Med.  2007;357(13):1281–1292.
  11. Demicheli  V, Jefferson  T, Rivetti  A, Price  D.  Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev.  2005;(4):CD004407.
  12. Murch  SH, Anthony  A, Cassen  DH, et al.  Retraction of an interpretation.  Lancet.  2004;363(9411):750.
  13. Horton  R.  The lessons of MMR.  Lancet.  2004;363(9411):747–749.
  14. Gust  DA, Darling  N, Kennedy  A, Schwartz  B.  Parents with doubts about vaccines and reasons why.  Pediatrics.  2008;122(4):718–725.
  15. Health Protection Agency. Measles figures soar. http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1227774034336?p=1204186170287. Accessed December 6, 2009.

For more information on EBM terms, see the EBM Toolkit here.

More Evidence That Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

Children exposed to high, low levels of thimerosal had similar odds for the disorder as children with no exposure to thimerosal, a new study has found. This should be absolutely no surprise for two reasons: (1) since thimerosal has been removed from virtually all vaccines, there has been an INCREASE (not a decrease) in autism, and (2) no study has found any evidence of an association between thimerosal and autism. Here are the details from this newest study from HealthDay News:

Infants exposed to the highest levels of thimerosal, a mercury-laden preservative that used to be found in many vaccines, were no more likely to develop autism than infants exposed to only a little thimerosal, new research finds.

The study offers more reassurance to parents who worry that vaccination raises their children’s risk for autism, the researchers said.

“Prenatal and early life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal in vaccines or immunoglobulin products does not increase a child’s risk of developing autism,” concluded senior study author Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the immunization safety office at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study was released in the journal Pediatrics.

Thimerosal has been used as a preservative in vaccines since the 1930s, according to background information in the article.

Concerns about the chemical began to crop up in 1999, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that because of the increased number of thimerosal-containing vaccines added to the infant vaccination schedule, infants may be exposed to too much mercury. Thimerosal used to be found in hepatitis B, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccines, among others.

During the ensuing years, the FDA worked with manufacturers to eliminate thimerosal from vaccines, according to the agency’s Web site. Today, thimerosal has been removed or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated seasonal flu vaccine, according to the FDA. Parents who are concerned about thimerosal can ask for a preservative-free version, DeStefano said.

And thimerosal wasn’t the only proposed autism-vaccine link. A 1998 paper in The Lancet suggested the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine might trigger autism. The journal later retracted the paper, and numerous studies have refuted any link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

In February of 2009, a U.S. federal court ruled that there was no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism.

In the new study, researchers examined medical records and conducted interviews with the mothers of 256 children with an autism spectrum disorder and 752 children matched by birth year who did not have autism. The children were all members of three health care management organizations in California and Massachusetts.

Researchers also gathered information about the manufacture and lot number of the vaccines that the children received, to determine how much thimerosal they were likely exposed to.

Children in the highest 10 percent of thimerosal exposure, either prenatally or between infancy and 20 months, were no more likely to have autism, an autism spectrum disorder or autism spectrum disorder with regression than children in the lowest 10 percent of exposure.

“This study adds to a large body of evidence indicating that early thimerosal exposure through vaccination does not cause autism,” said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for a leading advocacy group, Autism Speaks. Dawson was not involved with the research.

She urged parents to have their children vaccinated.

“We encourage parents to have their children vaccinated and to establish a trusting relationship with their child’s pediatrician so they can discuss any concerns they have,” Dawson said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on thimerosal here.

U.K. bans doctor who linked autism to MMR vaccine

In past blogs, I’ve exposed what I consider to be the unethical and unscrupulous actions of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his so-called autism research. Here are just a few:

Wakefield’s now disproven 1998 study supposedly linked the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) to autism. Unfortunately, this led to a dramatic drop in vaccinations and a jump in measles cases around the world — causing who knows how many unnecessary childhood deaths.

Since then, at least 25 studies have found no link between the vaccine and autism.

And now, not only have the scientific methods of Wakefield been shown to be highly suspect, but so have his many financial conflicts. You can read more about these in a New York Times report.

Now, Britain’s top medical group has ruled that Wakefield can no longer practice in the U.K. Here are the details from an AP report:

The General Medical Council also found Dr. Andrew Wakefield guilty of “serious professional misconduct” as it struck him from the country’s medical register. The council was investigating HOW Wakefield and colleagues carried out their research, NOT the science behind it (the latter being long ago discredited).

When the research was published a dozen years ago, parents around the world abandoned the measles vaccine in droves, leading to a resurgence of the disease. Vaccination rates have never recovered and there are outbreaks of measles in the U.K. and the U.S. every year as a result.

In 1998, Wakefield and colleagues published a study alleging a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Most of the study’s authors renounced its conclusions and it was retracted then by the journal, the Lancet, this last February.

Many other studies have been conducted since then and none have found a connection between autism and the vaccines. Wakefield moved to the U.S. several years ago and the ruling does not affect his right to practice medicine there or in other countries.

In 2005, Wakefield founded a nonprofit autism center in Austin, Texas, but quit earlier this year.

In January, Britain’s medical council ruled that Wakefield and two other doctors acted unethically and showed a “callous disregard” for the children in their study. The medical body said Wakefield took blood samples from children at his son’s birthday party, paying them 5 pounds (today worth $7.20) each and later joked about the incident.

In a statement then, Wakefield said the medical council’s investigation was an effort to “discredit and silence” him to “shield the government from exposure on the (measles) vaccine scandal.”

In Monday’s ruling, the medical council said Wakefield abused his position as a doctor and “brought the medical profession into disrepute.”

But, worse than this, who knows how many childhood deaths now rest at his doorstep?

Alternative autism treatment , OSR#1, called into question by the FDA

The Chicago Tribune reports that a letter sent on June 17 by the FDA to retired Kentucky chemist Boyd Haley “details five violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act related to his product, OSR#1.”

According to the agency, the purported autism treatment “is NOT a harmless dietary supplement, as claimed, but a toxic unapproved drug that lacks adequate warnings about potential side effects, including hair loss and abnormalities of the pancreas.”

Environmental health expert Ellen Silbergeld believes the product “represents a clear example of endangerment of public health,” especially because it has “no record of any therapeutic aspect” and is being marketed to children.

An FDA spokeswoman confirmed that the agency had yet to receive any communication from Haley since the letter was sent.

Parents who are considering this untested and potentially unsafe therapy should carefully review any potential risks with their child’s physician before using it.

In autism a diet free of cereal grains and dairy products does not help

Autism (and the autism spectrum disorders) are so very frustrating for parents just because there are so few therapies that have been shown to be helpful. Therefore, parents are left to try this or that and see what helps. Dietary manipulation is one that is frequently tried and yet has not been well studied.

Now, USA Today reports that, according to a study presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, “a popular autism diet free of cereal grains and dairy products did NOT improve symptoms in children.”

USA Today adds, “Fourteen children with autism, ages 2½ to 5½, completed the 18-week study. None had celiac disease, in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from gluten, or milk allergies.”

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reported that a team from the University of Rochester Medical Center placed the 14 children “on strictly controlled gluten- and casein-free diets (called the GFCF diet).

After at least four weeks, the children were randomized to receive either milk, wheat, both or neither. The food substances were disguised in the child’s favorite foods, and neither the parents nor investigators rating the children’s behaviors knew whether they were receiving gluten or casein.”

On its website, ABC News reported that after evaluating “the children for changes in attention, sleep, stool patterns, and characteristic autistic behavior,” researchers found no “significant changes in any of these symptoms for any of the groups.”

Lead author Susan Hyman, MD, admitted, however, that “it was possible that children with significant gastrointestinal disease would reap some benefits from the diet.

As an aside, it is highly unlikely that such a diet is harmful, so it still may be worth a try. It’s just that parents need to be told that if they don’t notice any changes, it may be easier and more prudent to utilize an easier-to-make and easier-to-provide nutrition plan.

Should Kids take Fish Oil Supplements?

All the talk about the benefits of omega-3s has parents asking whether CHILDREN should take fish oil supplements. Omega-3s are important for neurodevelopment … and they’re now showing up in many prenatal vitamins, infant formulas, and foods. Fish oil supplements for kids are often promoted as improving visual acuity, brain function, or intelligence.

But, according to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, “there’s no proof that omega-3 supplements make kids ‘smarter’…or have any cognitive benefit in most kids.”

In fact, according to the NMCD, “… many of these claims will be removed … due to pressure from the feds.”

The NCMD recommends this to physicians and healthcare professionals who care for kids:

  • Tell parents that most kids don’t need fish oil supplements.
  • Instead, suggest that kids eat about 4 oz/week of fatty fish … such as canned light tuna, salmon burgers, etc. This provides about 250 mg/day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
  • Supplements may be worth a try for kids who don’t get enough omega-3s from diet … especially those with behavioral or psychiatric disorders as preliminary evidence suggests fish oil MIGHT benefit kids with ADHD symptoms … autism … depression … or those at high risk for psychosis.
  • Reassure parents that most fish oil supplements don’t contain mercury or harmful levels of PCBs. To be safe, suggest a “USP Verified” or “ConsumerLab” product.
  • Tell parents NOT to use cod liver oil, as it has too much vitamin A.
  • Tell parents NOT to use flaxseed, as it doesn’t contain the same omega-3s as fish oil.

Lancet formally retracts paper linking vaccine to autism

U.S. study clears measles vaccine of autism link

One of the world’s most respected medical journals, The Lancet, is formally retracting an article that sparked a fierce debate and falsely linked autism to vaccines.

The 1998 study linked the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) to autism which led to a drop in vaccinations and a jump in measles cases around the world. In the meantime, at least 25 studies have found no link between the vaccine and autism.

The move “is part of a reassessment that has lasted for years of the scientific methods and financial conflicts of Dr. Andrew Wakefield,” whose “research showed that the … vaccine may be unsafe,” the New York Times reports.

Last week, the Times reports, “a British medical panel concluded … that Dr. Wakefield has been dishonest, violated basic research ethics rules, and showed a ‘callous disregard’ for the suffering of children involved in his research.”

A spokesman for the CDC said the retraction “builds on the overwhelming body of research … that concludes there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism.”

The Washington Post reports, “The Lancet said that after the” panel’s “ruling, it was clear that parts of Wakefield’s paper were wrong.”

The journal “highlighted, for example, assertions that investigations of children for the study were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee.”

Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet, said the journal was especially concerned that Wakefield’s study specifically chose certain children to participate rather than testing those who arrived at the hospital as described in the study, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The AP reports, “The retraction … comes a day after a competing medical journal, BMJ, issued an embargoed commentary calling for The Lancet to formally retract the study.”

The BMJ “said once the study” was published, “the arguments were considered by many to be proven and the ghastly social drama of the demon vaccine took on a life of its own.”

“Despite multiple subsequent studies that have refuted the link, vaccination rates have remained lower than they were before” Wakefield’s study, the Los Angeles Times reported.

BMJ editor Dr. Fiona Goodless said the retraction “will help restore faith in” the vaccine “and in the integrity of the scientific literature.”

You can read my other blogs on the topic:

The argument should be over. This final action effectively puts the nail in the coffin to the now disproven theory that the MMR vaccine is associated with or causes autism. Period.

Now, all of who care for and love children should redouble our efforts to find the cause(s) of autism, and abandon the discredited notions that vaccines have a thing to do with this terrible group of disorders.

Many autism therapies are unproven and risky

In a gripping series exploring autism and its treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports that “after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children.”

According to results of the investigation, “the therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly,” with many being “unproven and risky, based on flawed, preliminary or misconstrued scientific research.”

Moreover, “lab tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted,” and “the few clinical trials conducted to evaluate the treatments objectively” have yielded “disappointing results.”

The  Times reports that “up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies.”

While some physicians and people in the autism “recovery movement … say their treatment protocols rest on a foundation of solid science,” the Tribune discovered “otherwise after speaking with dozens of scientists and physicians and reviewing thousands of pages of research and court testimony.”

Chelation seen as emblematic of alternative therapies for autism

The Los Angeles Times is also reporting, “No treatment is more emblematic of the world of alternative therapies for autism than chelation.”

But, according to “pediatric toxicology experts … all chelation” medications “carry risks — even when used to treat severely lead-poisoned children.”

Barbara Strupp, PhD, of Cornell University, said that when “rats with no lead exposure were treated with succimer, a common chelator given to children with autism, the animals showed lasting impairments of cognitive function and emotional regulation.”

In fact, after Strupp “learned that the National Institutes of Health planned to conduct a clinical trial of chelation in children with autism, she alerted the researchers to her findings,” and the “study was later canceled.”

Alternative therapies seen as getting undeserved credit

In their final report on the topic, the Los Angeles Times reports that stories of “children who could suddenly speak” are, “for many parents … more persuasive than what experts say.”

Nevertheless, “in evaluating a therapy, the challenge is determining how much, if any, of the progress can be credited to the treatment,” because, “over time, children with autism do develop, said” pediatric neurologist and autism expert Max Wiznitzer, MD.”

In fact, “between 10% and 20% of children with autism who were diagnosed early may make so much progress that they are indistinguishable from peers,” and whether or not they are “undergoing alternative therapies,” said Susan Levy, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, progress which parents may attribute to alternative therapies.

You can read more about evaluating alternative therapies and natural medicines in my book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.

  • You can order an autographed copy here.
  • You can read the Table of Contents here, and
  • You can read a sample chapter here.

In a series exploring autism and its treatments, the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-autism-main7-2009dec07,0,5807576.story) reports that “after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children.” According to results of the investigation, “the therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly,” with many being “unproven and risky, based on flawed, preliminary or misconstrued scientific research.” Moreover, “lab tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted,” and “the few clinical trials conducted to evaluate the treatments objectively” have yielded “disappointing results.”
The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-hew-autism-day-two7-2009dec07,0,4327817.story) reports that “up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies.” While some physicians and people in the autism “recovery movement…say their treatment protocols rest on a foundation of solid science,” the Tribune discovered “otherwise after speaking with dozens of scientists and physicians and reviewing thousands of pages of research and court testimony.”
Chelation seen as emblematic of alternative therapies for autism. The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-autism-chelation7-2009dec07,0,3198790.story) reports, “No treatment is more emblematic of the world of alternative therapies for autism than chelation.” But, according to “pediatric toxicology experts…all chelation” medications “carry risks — even when used to treat severely lead-poisoned children.” Barbara Strupp, PhD, of Cornell University, said that when “rats with no lead exposure were treated with succimer, a common chelator given to children with autism, the animals showed lasting impairments of cognitive function and emotional regulation.” In fact, after Strupp “learned that the National Institutes of Health planned to conduct a clinical trial of chelation in children with autism, she alerted the researchers to her findings,” and the “study was later canceled.”
Alternative therapies seen as getting undeserved credit. The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-autism-parents7-2009dec07,0,7076900.story) reports that stories of “children who could suddenly speak” are, “for many parents…more persuasive than what experts say.” Nevertheless, “in evaluating a therapy, the challenge is determining how much, if any, of the progress can be credited to the treatment,” because, “over time, children with autism do develop, said” pediatric neurologist and autism expert Max Wiznitzer, MD.” In fact, “between 10% and 20% of children with autism who were diagnosed early may make so much progress that they are indistinguishable from peers,” and whether or not they are “undergoing alternative therapies,” said Susan Levy, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, progress which parents may attribute to alternative therap

Supposed ‘miracle drug’ for autism called ‘junk’

Desperate to help their autistic children, hundreds of parents nationwide are turning to an unproven and potentially damaging treatment: multiple high doses of a drug sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders. Believe it or not.

More information: Continue reading

Special court rules against families who claim vaccines caused autism

According to an AP report today, a special court has ruled rather dramatically against three sets of parents with autistic children, saying that vaccines are absolutely not to blame for their children’s neurological disorder (autism). The judges in the cases said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parent’s claims — and their ruling backs years of science and mountains of evidence from around the world that found no risk for either the MMR vaccine or the vaccine preservative, thimerosal, having any role in autism or ASD.

More Information: Continue reading

Vaccine Myth #1: Vaccines Cause Autism

Tuesday, in my weekly interview with Mark Elfstrand on WMBI in Chicago, a woman called to inquire about the risk of autism from vaccinations.

It reminded me of a chapter from my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child, in which I discuss a number of myths about vaccinations. This week, I’ll start a multipart series on a dozen or more of these common myths and misperceptions. Continue reading