Schafer Autism Report

________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, January 28, 2009                                              Vol. 13 No. 12

COMMENTARY
Autism, Vaccines and the CDC: The Wrong Side of History
Liability for Exercising Personal Belief Exemptions from Vaccination

PUBLIC HEALTH
Much High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury
Mercury Study Outdated; Based on Discontinued Technology

TREATMENT
Message Therapy for Autism

ADVOCACY
Autism Groups Protest Federal Autism Committee's Deceitful Reversal on Vaccine-Autism Research

EVENTS
Pope Invoke’s God’s Blessings on Autism Community for Autism Sunday
'All Ages and Abilities' - Anaheim Autism/ Asperger Conference
2009 Regional Autism and Asperger Conference in New Jersey

LETTERS
New Italian Thimerasol Study


COMMENTARY

Autism, Vaccines and the CDC: The Wrong Side of History

      By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and David Kirby on huffingtonpost.com. 
is.gd/hsVn

      Even as the evidence connecting America's autism epidemic to vaccines mounts, dead-enders at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) -- many of whom promoted the current vaccine schedule and others with strong ties to the vaccine industry -- are trying to delay the day of reckoning by creating questionable studies designed to discredit any potential vaccine-autism link and by derailing authentic studies.
      On January 12, a cadre of mid-level health bureaucrats left over from the Bush administration ignored Federal requirements for advance notice in order to vote to quietly strip vaccine research studies from funding allocated by Congress in the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006. Members of Congress had said that this money should be used to study the vaccine-autism connection.
      These rogue bureaucrats -- members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee -- held an unannounced vote to remove previously approved vaccine studies from funding under the CAA. Nearly all of the "Federal" members of the panel voted to remove the two studies, whose estimated cost was $16 million - or 1.6% of the billion dollars authorized by Congress for autism. The panel's civilian members, in contrast, voted nearly unanimously to retain the funding.
      IACC's action to halt vaccine-autism research flies in the face of congressional intent. The bill's authors clearly stated that vaccine research should be funded. Even the esteemed Institute of Medicine has condemned CDC's methods. In 2005, an IOM panel condemned CDC for its "lack of transparency" in vaccine-autism research.
      The bureaucrats responsible for this scandal are on the wrong side of history and it's hard to not attribute an obstructionist motive to their act since vaccine-autism research has already entered the realm of mainstream science. Serious scientists (except those tied to the vaccine industry) no longer debate whether vaccine-autism research should be done, but rather how it should be done, and by whom.
      And Congress concurs: "I want to be clear that ... no research avenue should be eliminated, including biomedical research examining potential links between vaccines, vaccine components, and autism,pronounced Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the H.E.L.P. Committee at the bill's passage. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said the bill should fund "environmental research examining potential links between vaccines, vaccine components and autism. And last week, Dodd called the potentially illegal maneuver to shut down vaccine research, "contrary to the spirit of the bill."
      These days, being opposed to vaccine-autism research puts one outside of the "mainstream" (and let's be clear, supporting such research in no way makes one "anti-vaccine" -- that charge is a tired, diversionary charade -- an ugly lie perpetrated by vaccine industry allies and their blind supporters.) Recognizing this fact, the vaccine industry and its CDC allies have continued to fund a series of deceptive and badly flawed studies designed to dispute the connection between vaccines and the epidemic of pediatric neurological disorders. The latest of these is the controversial Italian study released this week intended to allow Thimerosal's defenders to argue that the preservative is safe. The study comparing two groups of Italian children, who received a moderate level of Thimerosal vs. a moderately higher level, is so poorly designed it could only find one child in 1400 who tested with autism. The researchers did not include in the study the records of children who received no Thimerosal. For years, a cadre of vaccine officials at CDC has vigorously opposed funding for epidemiological studies that include both vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts that might give us useful information about causation.
      The evidence of a potential link between vaccines and autism is now so compelling that every national autism organization firmly supports research into vaccination as a possible trigger for the disorder, including Autism Speaks, the world's largest, most well funded, well connected mainstream group.
      Autism Speaks was co-founded by Bob Wright, former CEO of NBC-Universal, former Vice Chairman of General Electric. Autism Speaks, a staunchly pro-vaccine group, supports vaccine research. Its statement on the issue is right down the middle.
      Why has vaccine-autism research gone mainstream? The reasons are many:
+Read more: is.gd/hsVn

See also: Autism Groups Protest Federal Autism Committee's Deceitful Reversal on Vaccine-Autism Research below under "ADVOCACY".




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• • •

Liability for Exercising Personal Belief Exemptions from Vaccination

Excerpt from Choices Should Have Consequences: Failure to Vaccinate,
Harm to Others, and Civil Liability

By Douglas S. Diekema, First Impressions, Michigan Law Review.

tinyurl.com/bqtz3y

      Courts have repeatedly upheld compulsory vaccination laws in the United States as a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power—even in the absence of a disease outbreak. Such laws survive constitutional challenge even in cases where they conflict with the religious beliefs of individuals. In the first such case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court held that: the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good.
      While both the harm principle and Jacobson are primarily concerned with justifying coercive state action, one could argue that laws requiring vaccination of citizens exist to enforce a duty that each citizen has to every other member of the community. These laws suggest that a duty exists, even though most states provide the opportunity to opt out of vaccination on the basis of personal beliefs. The existence of the duty to avoid harming others does not cease to exist simply because one objects to the mechanism (in this case vaccination) by which states ensure that protection.
      In fact, parents who choose not to vaccinate their children illustrate the “free-rider” problem—they take advantage of the benefit created by the participation of others in the vaccination program while refusing to participate and share equitably in the risks and obligations of the program.
      These individuals act unfairly to others in the community by pursuing selfinterest ahead of civic responsibility. Even if the community refuses to 2009] Failure to Vaccinate 93 coerce or punish these free riders, they remain morally culpable in an important way.
      Finally, the expectation that parents vaccinate their children to prevent harm to others is a reasonable one for several reasons. First, vaccination offers direct, demonstrated benefit to the child. Second, the safety of childhood vaccines is well established and the risk of serious side effects or complications is exceedingly rare. Finally, existing data clearly support the conclusion that the risks to a child of remaining unvaccinated, even in the United States, exceed any risks that might be attributable to vaccines themselves. Given this, placing a duty on parents to vaccinate their children is reasonable and represents prudent public policy.
+ Read more: tinyurl.com/bqtz3y

See also at tinyurl.com/bqtz3y :
Parents Should Not be Legally Liable for Refusing to Vaccinate their Children by Jay Gordon.

Unintended Consequences: The Primacy of Public Trust in Vaccination. Jason L. Schwartz.

Challenging Personal Belief Immunization Exemptions: Considering Legal Responses by Alexandra M. Stewart.

Gambling with the Health of Others. Stephen P. Teret and Jon S. Vernick 110

The Problem of Vaccination Noncompliance: Public Health Goals and the Limitations of Tort Law by Daniel B. Rubin and.Sophie Kasimow.


      Note: The opinions expressed in COMMENTARY are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Schafer Autism Report.


• • •

PUBLIC HEALTH

Much High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury
New Study Finds Brand-Name Food Products Also Discovered to Contain Mercury

www.healthobservatory.org/library.cfm?refID=105026   

      Minneapolis – Mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a new article published today in the scientific journal, Environmental Health. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brand- name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient—including products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.
      HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels.
      “Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply."
      In the Environmental Health article, Dufault et al. found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Dufault was working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the tests were done in 2005. She and co-authors conclude that possible mercury contamination of food chemicals like HFCS was not common knowledge within the food industry that frequently uses the sweetener. While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.
      For its report “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” IATP sent 55 brand-name foods and beverages containing HFCS as the first or second ingredient to a commercial laboratory to be tested for total mercury. Nearly one in three products tested contained detectable mercury. Mercury was most prevalent in HFCS-containing dairy products, followed by dressings and condiments. Attached is the summary list of the 55 products and their total mercury content.
      In making HFCS, caustic soda is used, among other things, to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. For decades, HFCS has been made using mercury-grade caustic soda produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately HFCS, with mercury.
      “The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury,” said Dr. Wallinga. “The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients."
      While most chlorine plants around the world have switched to newer, cleaner technologies, many still rely on the use of mercury cells. In 2005, 90 percent of chlorine production was mercury-free, but just 40 percent of European production was mercury-free. Four U.S. chlor-alkali plants still rely on mercury cell technology. In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced legislation to force the remaining chlor-alkali plants to phase out mercury cell technology by 2012.
      The Environmental Health article by Dufault et al. can be found at: www.ehjournal.net.
      “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” by David Wallinga, M.D., Janelle Sorensen, Pooja Mottl and Brian Yablon, M.D., can be found at: www.iatp.org.
      
• • •

Mercury Study Outdated; Based on Discontinued Technology

is.gd/htDg

      PRNewswire - The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) today challenged the relevance and accuracy of information published by Environmental Health asserting that certain tests found measurable levels of mercury in high fructose corn syrup.
      "This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance. Our industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda, for several years. These mercury-free re-agents perform important functions, including adjusting pH balances," stated Audrae Erickson, President, Corn Refiners Association. "For more than 150 years, corn wet millers have been perfecting the process of refining corn to make safe ingredients for the American food supply."
      "It is important that Americans are provided accurate, science-based information. They should know that high fructose corn syrup is safe," continued Erickson. "In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996."
      "High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets FDA's requirements for the use of the term 'natural,'" Erickson said.

• • •

TREATMENT

Message Therapy for Autism
Chinese qigong massage therapy helps children with autism

      In 2007, a small controlled study by Dr. Louisa Silva and colleagues was published showing that children treated with a five-month qigong massage methodology improved in sensory impairment and developmental delay.  The severity of autism was reduced in measures of autistic behavior as well as measures of language and social skills.  The massage was given by a physician trained in Chinese Medicine and the parents.
      Last month the same group published additional findings showing that trained early intervention staff and parents could achieve the same results when giving the massage for five months.  The authors found that low functioning children responded as well to the intervention as high functioning children, making the case that the primary problem in autism is with the senses rather than a fixed limitation in the brain. Of interest is the finding that the improvement in sensory impairment was accompanied by an improvement in self-regulation, as shown by improved digestion, sleep, and decreased tantrums.
      Sensory impairment is a mixed form of hyper- and hypo- sensitivity that affects one or more senses. It can be measured with several standardized assessment tools. In the case of hyposensitivity, children are simply unaware of what is going on around them. In the case of hypersensitivity, children are physically uncomfortable in ordinary social settings, and thus are less open to the learning that might otherwise occur in such settings. Both types of sensory abnormality functionally reduce the information stream reaching that reaches the child, and therefore diminishing the opportunities for learning. On this basis alone, it is not surprising that individuals with autism experience developmental delays. 
      The group has completed a larger randomized, controlled study of the intervention which will be published in summer 2009 in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. For more information about the project, visit www.qsti.org


Outcomes of a Pilot Training Program in a Qigong Massage Intervention for Young Children With Autism

      Volume 62 / Number 5, American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
is.gd/htHb

      Louisa M. T. Silva-MD, MPH, Robert Ayres-PhD, Mark Schalock-BS

      Sensory impairment is a common and significant feature of children on the autism spectrum. In 2005, a qigong massage intervention based on Chinese medicine and delivered by a doctor of Chinese medicine was shown to improve sensory impairment and adaptive behavior in a small controlled study of young children with autism. In 2006, the Qigong Sensory Training (QST) program was developed to train early intervention professionals to provide the QST intervention. This article describes the preliminary evaluation of the QST program as piloted with 15 professionals and 26 children and outcomes testing using standardized tests of sensory impairment and adaptive behavior. Results of outcomes comparing delivery by QST-trained therapists with delivery by a doctor of Chinese medicine showed that both groups improved and that there was no difference in outcome between the two groups. The intervention and training program are described, and implications for future research are discussed.
+ Full study here: is.gd/htHb

• • •

ADVOCACY

Autism Groups Protest Federal Autism Committee's Deceitful Reversal on Vaccine-Autism Research

From the Autism Action Network.

       The inexcusable actions of the Federal members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) in retracting vaccine-autism studies must be stopped. Sound science must move forward, not thwarted by Federal agencies with vested interests in on-going vaccine-autism injury litigation.
      The autism advocacy organizations listed below implore parents of children with autism - and all those who care about the burgeoning rate of autism and its toll on the health of our children - to take immediate action.
      We are asking you to write a letter of disapproval to key government decision-makers on autism. Click here for a sample letter and instructions on sending. Your letter will be sent to President Obama, your Senators and Representatives, HHS Secretary Tom Daschle, the Senate HELP Committee, Senators Christopher Dodd, Joe Lieberman, and Edward Kennedy, and Congressmen Chris Smith and Joe Barton.
      Your letters are needed NOW. The next IACC meeting is Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - less than two weeks away! Click here is.gd/hsLb for more details.

is.gd/hsKR for entire article and take action now.

• • •

EVENTS

Pope Invoke’s God’s Blessings on Autism Community for Autism Sunday

is.gd/htBt

      Autism Sunday the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome takes place on Sunday 8th February 2009. A letter from the Vatican arrived in the UK for the Co-Founders of Autism Sunday, advocates Ivan and Charika Corea who have a 13 year old son, Charin who has autism.
      They were delighted to read that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has invoked God’s blessings blessing on parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
      His Holiness the Pope will be praying for the Autism Community on Autism Sunday. Ivan Corea co-founder of Autism Sunday said in London: ‘We were thrilled to receive a letter from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. We are also delighted that the Pope said he shared the concerns over autism. We informed him of Autism Sunday and were delighted at his immediate response. We urge World Leaders to speak up for Autism on Autism Sunday. We are also calling on autism campaigners around the world to use Autism Sunday to lobby and campaign on the serious health and education issues.’
      Cathedrals, Churches and religious organisations are to pray for over 60 million people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome around the world. All faith communities have been urged to do more for the Autism Community particularly during the deepening global recession.

• • •

'All Ages and Abilities' - Anaheim Autism/ Asperger Conference

Set for February 14-15  

      This is a comprehensive autism conference offering practical information for children and adults of all ages and abilities. It features more than 20 great speakers, including separate tracks on Biomedical, Behavior, Speech/Social, Yoga, Family/Life, Sensory Integration, and Teaching. Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) are available.
      Saturday & Sunday Feb. 14-15   Anaheim Convention Center (3rd floor) 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA, 92802   Learn more & Register Online: is.gd/hsFG

• • •

2009 Regional Autism and Asperger Conference in New Jersey

The USAAA / CoMeD 2009 Regional Autism and Asperger Conference held April 30 - May 2, 2009, in Voorhees, New Jersey (20 minutes from the Philadelphia International airport) is now open for online registration: is.gd/huiN.
      Reverend Lisa Sykes will deliver the Keynote address about igniting a global debate on autism.
      With twelve of the world leading autism spectrum disorder speakers, 10 non-concurrent sessions and panel discussions, every day at the USAAA / CoMeD 2009 Regional Conference is packed with information including treating physicians, educational therapies, nutritional interventions, legal issues, plus more.
      After two days and a Thursday evening session, you will leave the conference armed with tools of practical protocols, valuable hope, and new resources for support for your child, grandchild, patient, student, or yourself.
      Click here to learn more: is.gd/htQ4
       Due to the challenging economy and thanks to our supporters, we are offering an early bird rate of $165 for the first person and $125 for a guest before March 31st. Together that is only $7.25 per hour for each of you and all the sessions are non- concurrent so you won't miss anything.
      
• • •

LETTERS

New Italian Thimerasol Study
This study is misleading and was not scientifically worth doing

By John Stone to the editors of the AAP Pediatrics in Review.

      I note the conclusion of this study by Tozzi, Bisiacchi, Tarantino, De Mei, D'Elia, Chiarotti and Salmaso [1]. However, I also note the limitations of the study as described in the discussion:
'Some limitations should be considered in the interpretation of our results. The cumulative intake of thimerosal was relatively low, compared with that in other countries including the United States, where vaccination schedules included more thimerosal-containing vaccines in the first year of life. Moreover, there was no comparison group with no exposure to thimerosal, although our setting was appropriate to identify a dose response effect in the absence of any evidence suggesting a threshold dose for observation of an effect. Our analysis included only healthy children who were selected during enrollment in the original trial, and some families might have declined to participate in the present study because their children had cognitive developmental problems. This might have reduced the prevalence of adverse neuropsychological conditions and might have made potential differences hard to detect.
      The eligibility criteria of the original trial also limited the participation of low birth weight children, and only 55 children with birth weights of <2500 g underwent the neuropsychological evaluation (data not shown). Moreover, only 1% of children in this study received hepatitis B virus vaccine at birth. Although no effect of birth weight according to thimerosal intake was detected through multivariate analyses, our study was not powered to detect an association of thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological development in low birth weight infants.' [1]
      I ask how it would be possible to draw any useful scientific conclusions from a study with such deficiencies in relation to the issues it purportedly set out to investigate? But I also reflect on the headline value of negative results for wider media consumption, as in the Associated Press report by Carla K Johnson, with contributions from Alberto Tozzi himself, Jennifer Pinto-Martin and Paul Offit [2] claiming this strengthens the evidence base for vaccine safety.

      [1] Alberto Eugenio Tozzi, Patrizia Bisiacchi, Vincenza Tarantino, Barbara De Mei, Lidia D'Elia, Flavia Chiarotti, and Stefania Salmaso, 'Neuropsychological Performance 10 Years After Immunization in Infancy With Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines', Pediatrics 2009; 123: 475-482.
      [2] Carla K Johnson, 'Study adds to evidence of vaccine safety', Associated Press.

• • •

     Wouldn't it make sense to study the kids who got sick? 1,403 kids who don't have autism isn't a good study to see if there is a link between thimerosal and autism. Am I missing something here? Is this an example of a study that proves that there is no link between autism and thimerosal?  Shouldn't we be looking at the kids who do develop autism?
      - Shannon Ruhe


                          
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