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Tuesday, November 9, 2020 Reader Supported
Lead Poisoning Treatment Less Effective for Mercury
From the National Institutes of Health xrl.in/6mwl
A drug commonly used to treat lead poisoning is relatively ineffective at removing mercury from the blood. The finding provides insight into a compound currently being used as an alternative therapy for autism.
Mercury poisoning can be dangerous and even fatal. Children might be exposed to mercury from several sources, but the majority of exposure in the United States comes in the form of methylmercury, which is found in foods such as certain fish. Methylmecury is known to be toxic to fetuses. Thimerosal, a preservative previously used in vaccines, contains another form of mercury called ethylmercury.
Some people believe that the low levels of mercury once used in vaccines can affect development of the nervous system and contribute to autism. However, extensive research has found no conclusive evidence that any part of a vaccine or combination of vaccines causes autism. Even so, aside from some flu vaccines, mercury compounds aren’t used anymore in routine childhood vaccines.
Although it's not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reduce mercury, a drug called succimer is reportedly being used as an alternative therapy for autism. Succimer is a chelating agent—a substance that can bind particular ions and remove them from solution. Succimer has been shown to effectively remove lead from the body and is commonly used to treat lead poisoning.
A research team led by Dr. Walter Rogan at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) sought to investigate whether succimer can also remove mercury from the blood. The team used blood samples and data from 767 children, aged 12 to 33 months, who participated in an earlier clinical trial of children who were treated for high blood levels of lead.
The research team measured mercury concentrations in blood samples collected prior to treatment, a week after beginning treatment with succimer or placebo, and again after 3 month-long courses of treatment. The study was funded by NIEHS, NIH's National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results appeared online on October 1, 2010, in the Journal of Pediatrics.
The researchers found that, after 1 week, succimer lowered blood concentrations of mercury by 8%. In contrast, it reduced blood lead concentration by 42%. After 5 months, those taking succimer had blood mercury concentrations about 20% lower than the control group. However, the therapy had only slowed the rate at which the children accumulated mercury.
"Succimer is effective for treating children with lead poisoning, but it does not work very well for mercury," Rogan says. "Although succimer may slow the increase in blood mercury concentrations, such small changes seem unlikely to produce any clinical benefit."
New Study Will Test Theory That Enzyme Contributes to Autism
By Susan_Brady xrl.in/6mmz
The debate rages on both the causes and “cures” for autism. There is the mercury-vaccination contingent , the gluten-free, casein-free diet  supporters, those that believe genetics  play a role, and the list  goes on. There may very well be multiple etiologies for this developmental disorder, and research continues throughout the world to determine, definitively and finally, what that is.
One of the newest clinical trials is just beginning across the country, at fifteen institutions, including the University of California at San Francisco. Funded by Curemark, a New York-based drug company, this Phase III clinical trial for CM-AT autism treatment, has been granted fast track status by the FDA. Researchers will be testing whether certain children with autism can benefit from regular doses of an enzyme to help them digest proteins, which may in turn improve their brain function and ease some symptoms of autism.
The trial is not without its naysayers. There is very little research to support the premise that a missing enzyme is a factor in the cause of autism. There are those studies which have shown that a small subset of children diagnosed with autism have enzyme deficiencies, but there is debate as to whether it is a causation or a symptom of the disorder. But with a new case of autism being diagnosed every 20 minutes in America, it is imperative that research such as this be conducted. Sometimes, with a bit of persistence and creative thinking, you do find that needle in a haystack.
The trial will involve 170 children, ages three to eight, over a 90-day period. Half of the participants will be a control group and receive a placebo, while the other half will receive three enzyme treatments per day (a tasteless powder sprinkled over food). At the end of the 90 days, parents can remove their children entirely from the project or choose to continue for one year on the enzyme regimen.
"The treatment is enormously simple, but finding it out wasn't simple at all," said Joan Fallon, chief executive of Curemark. "Is it theoretical? Yes. But we hope the trials will give some benefit to a subgroup of children. And we hope our trials will make other researchers look at the physiology of the disorder."
Curemark has identified a series of biomarkers that determine which children with autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) may have digestive deficiencies underlying or as a major component of their disease. Research by Dr. Fallon showed enzyme deficiencies in children with autism, resulting in an inability to digest protein. The inability to digest protein affects the production of amino acids, the building blocks of chemicals essential for brain function.
• • •
Electrical Brain Stimulation
May Improve Math Skills
A weak current allows neurons to fire more freely, which could help patients with learning disabilities or neurological problems.
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times xrl.in/6mo1
Applying a mild electrical current to a particular part of the brain could improve mathematical abilities in people who suffer impaired skills or in patients who have suffered strokes or other neurological problems, British researchers reported Thursday.
The weak current apparently allows neurons to fire more freely, stimulating the ability to learn, the researchers reported in the journal Current Biology. Reversing the flow of the current made it more difficult for neurons to fire, impairing learning ability.
The improvements in learning persisted for at least six months in the small study.
"It's perfectly conceivable that this type of stimulation can change people's capacity to learn," said Dr. Edwin M. Robertson, a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who was not involved in the research. "The stimulation techniques they are using, people think, can alter the capacity of circuits in the brain to change, and those changes underlie our capacity to learn."
An estimated 6.5% of the population has a severe problem with even basic numerical understanding, a disabilitycalled developmental dyscalculia. As many as 20% have milder difficulties with math that present significant practical, educational and employment difficulties.
Neuropsychologist Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford and his colleagues hope the technique they are developing can eventually be used to improve mathematical ability among such people, but they are still a long way from that goal.
The seat of mathematical capacity is the parietal lobes, which lie at the back of the head. Kadosh and his colleagues used a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation, in which a helmet applied to the head allows a very weak current to be passed through. The current produces only a very slight tingling sensation, Kadosh said. Such stimulation has been studied for at least a decade for its potential to treat various neurological defects, including the aftereffects of stroke.
The team worked with 15 volunteers ages 20 and 21, using a numerical variation of the well-known Stroop test. In the conventional Stroop test, the word "red," for example, might be printed in green. An adult asked to identify the color of the word may hesitate longer than a child due to confusion between what he sees and what he reads.
The mathematical version assigns numerical values to shapes previously unseen by the participants. The researchers might then ask them which of two shapes has a large value, confusing them by making the picture of the shape with the larger value smaller than the picture of the shape with the smaller value
+ Read more: xrl.in/6mo1
• • •
Children Find Their Own Way
to Solve Arithmetic Problems
A study by Dr Lio Moscardini found that children deal better with arithmetical problems if they can use their own intuitive strategies such as using number blocks, drawings or breaking an equation up into smaller, simpler parts- rather than being instructed in arithmetical facts and procedures. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Strathclyde)
ScienceDaily — Children with learning difficulties can benefit from being encouraged to find their own way to solve arithmetic problems, according to new research from Strathclyde.
A study by Dr Lio Moscardini, in Strathclyde's Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, found that children deal better with arithmetical problems if they can use their own intuitive strategies such as using number blocks, drawings or breaking an equation up into smaller, simpler parts- rather than being instructed in arithmetical facts and procedures.
All the teachers taking part in the study underwent professional development in children's mathematical thinking before introducing these ideas into their classrooms. Nearly all felt that their pupils had benefited from learning in this way- and several said they had previously underestimated the children's ability and potential.
Dr Moscardini, a specialist in additional support needs, said: "We found that pupils with learning difficulties were able to develop an understanding of arithmetic through engaging in these activities, without explicit prior instruction.
"When teachers have an insight into children's mathematical thinking they can use this knowledge to inform their teaching. The study also supported the view that maths learning isn't just about acquiring a series of skills but is about making sense of problems and building understanding."
+ Read more: xrl.in/6mnj
• • •
Manage Complex Medical Conditions Like Autism With iBiomed
By David Winograd Filed under: App Review xrl.in/6mv9
iBiomed is not for everyone. It's a niche app designed for detailed tracking of care management for patients with complex medical conditions, such as autism. Once set up (and that can be a bit daunting), a care-giver can take control of everything related to the care of a patient. iBiomed is totally flexible, allowing a user to input all pertinent information and keep historical track of everything involving the patient. It can send push alarms, too, when it's time to administer the next dosage of any supplement, medicine, or test. That just scratches the surface of what this amazingly-flexible, multifaceted, and free app can do.
Walking you through its functions will give you a good idea of just how detailed and important this app can be for care-givers. You start by creating a patient profile, including name, birth date, and sex. From there, you fill in information about the treatment history of the patient. Beginning with diagnoses, you can enter information for each one, be it autism, allergies, or any other problem. Descriptions can be added for each condition.
Next, using a summary treatment screen, you can enter information which details required supplements, medicines, tests, diets, and alternative treatments. Once you get the hang of entering one topic, which is detailed and can take some time, it gets easier since most of the input modules are quite similar. For example, when entering supplements, the required information includes the name of the supplement, the start date, what quantity comprises a dose, and the dosing frequency. A stop date is optional, and any notes you would like to enter are also optional. The same is true for medicines and a number of other items. Each item needs to be input and saved individually, which can take some time.
Entering information regarding tests is a bit different and requires additional information. If a test can be quantified, such as blood sugar or weight, there is the option of entering numbers for a high and low value. Test frequency must also be entered from a seven item list including daily, every other day, every third day, weekly, monthly, yearly and as needed. Each time a test, supplement, or medication is given, the results are entered.
When you are finished creating the profile, you'll find that reporting is the strongest part of iBiomed. It provides a lot of critical information. You can view a summary screen broken down by category, showing each item in a separate tab along with dosing information. Tapping on one of these tabs brings up details of everything you've entered about that item. Tapping on a history button from the profiles screen displays a listing, again by category, of each item along with how long ago treatment started in years, months and days. You also have the option to review items by any particular date, which shows all the items and how many times a day they should be given. Everything you input builds a database of all treatment options, and the app keeps an extensive record of everything that can be easily viewed at any time in a number of ways.
Tapping on an item's tab shows a detailed screen that includes your description, notes, and details -- including when the item was first administered, how often it should be taken or performed, when that was last done, when the next one should be given, and if reminders have been set. If it's a medication or supplement, you can also see how long your supply will last, prompting you to re-stock. You also have the option of checking any particular day to see what occurred at that point.
+ Read more: xrl.in/6mv9
Q&A: Swallowing Pills
From the latest Lovaas Institute Newsletter. xrl.in/6mvf
I am working with a 6-year-old student who has been receiving ABA services for almost 3 years. "Andrew" is able to speak in single-word responses, is learning beginning abstract concepts such as colors, and is learning some beginning interactive play skills. In order to assist Andrew with his receptive and expressive language skills, sign language and visual prompts are frequently used. I am looking for suggestions to successfully teach this child to swallow a pill. He takes anywhere from 5-15 vitamins per day and the family is no longer able to administer the vitamins "secretly" in his juice.
We taught a child to swallow supplements and vitamins systematically. We began by teaching the child to swallow all of the liquid on a spoon in one swallow, beginning with a small amount of liquid and increasing the amount up to a full teaspoon. We began with juice, then water, and then a variety of liquids. Once the child had learned to swallow a variety of liquids, we began adding things to the spoon. We started with juice plus a powdered form of the vitamin. Then we gradually reduced the amount of juice on the spoon while simultaneously increasing the size of the solid item the child was required to swallow. The team often followed the response with a spoon full of the child's favorite juice.
I taught swallowing vitamins and pills to an older client through imitation and by initially using very small ice chips and gradually increasing the size. We crushed a bunch of ice and started with very small pieces that would nearly melt as soon as they were placed on the tongue. Through imitation, we taught the student to place the ice chip on his tongue, take a drink of water, and swallow. Once we increased the size of the ice chips, it was a smooth transition to replace the ice chips with actual pills.
+ Read more: xrl.in/6mvf
• • •
Cedillo Hearing: How Reliable were Eric Fombonne and Stephen Bustin?
Ed Yazbak reviews the evidence in the Cedillo hearing.
By John Stone, UK Editor for Age of Autism.
Eric Fombonne and Stephen Bustin were the star witnesses for the defence in the Michelle Cedillo case, the first case to be heard in the Omnibus autism proceedings in the US vaccine court. There is no doubt that the case hinged on the success of the evidence the two men gave. In a series of three articles just published on Vaccination News, paediatrician and veteran court expert F Edward Yazbak subjects their testimony to scrutiny and raises important questions. How well qualified was Fombonne to give evidence in reality? Yazbak shows that while the court deferred to Fombonne’s apparent seniority over an appellant witness this was not justified by his CV and aspects of his evidence regarding his expertise and qualifications were vague and misleading.
Serious questions also arise over the evidence of Stephen Bustin. How, and why was he allowed give it, at the last moment and without giving the appellant’s lawyers time to prepare? Did he not actually endorse the validity of key results from the O’Leary laboratory while trying to discredit them?
Double Standards by F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP (Part 1 of 3) Read full article here .
The long awaited decision in the Cedillo MMR/Thimerosal/Autism case [Theresa Cedillo and Michael Cedillo, as parents and natural guardians of Michelle Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services - No. 98-916V] was filed by Special Master George L. Hastings Jr. on February 12, 2009.
It immediately became the ultimate proof that the MMR vaccine and Thimerosal do not cause autism.
I chose not to publicly comment on the case until the plaintiffs’ appeal was decided. Needless to say, I was like many others, most saddened and disappointed to learn recently that the original decision was affirmed. This was even more painful for me because it coincided with the good news from the U.K. about the Fletchers’ case...
Busting Rules by F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP (Part 2 of 3) Read full article here
Busting Rules: How a questionable testimony affected so many cases
The Cedillo case was one of three test cases involving the vaccine-autism connection.
The verdict in Cedillo v Secretary of HHS was interpreted as absolute proof that vaccines never triggered autistic regression in children.
The fact that the petitioners did not prevail does not mean that Michelle Cedillo was not vaccine-injured. It only means that the Special Masters did not think that the evidence presented by them was as convincing as that presented by the DOJ.
The Special Masters’ conclusion, that the DOJ evidence was more convincing, stands however on shaky ground. It should become clear that the testimony by Stephen Bustin PhD, which seriously affected the decision, should have never been considered because it included extremely complicated yet unsupported scientific evidence that had not been made available to the petitioners as expected...
Translation in the Court by F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP (Part 3 of 3) Read full article here .
Translation in the Court
As discussed earlier, Eric Fombonne MD and Stephen A. Bustin PhD were effective expert witnesses for the respondent in the Cedillo case [Theresa Cedillo and Michael Cedillo, as parents and natural guardians of Michelle Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services - No. 98-916V].
While Dr. Bustin criticized the laboratory testing and results, Dr. Fombonne directly influenced the plaintiff’s case by discussing the vaccine-injured girl herself.
He may have been the respondent’s MVP.
Dr. Fombonne first testified in Washington DC on June 18, 2020 (Day 6).
These three articles leave a profound sense that justice has not been done.
• • •
Boy’s Incredible 4-Year Food Fear ‘Fast’
Daily Mail. xrl.in/6mwo
A little boy in the UK has become so frightened of food and drink he hasn’t eaten anything for four years.
Daniel Harrison’s problem began when he suffered a severe case of acid reflux as a baby.
Because the four-year-old also suffers from autism, the memory of that painful time has stopped him from eating anything solid since.
Daniel’s phobia means the only way he can get nutrition is through a tube in his stomach.
His parents, Kevin and Catherine, regularly shell out on costly trips to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital from their home in Nottingham in a bid to find a solution.
But experts have found no way to help Daniel.
Now, in what father Kevin (41) describes as his “only hope”, the family are determined to raise the £20 000 needed to fund a trip to a unique clinic in Austria which might be able to solve Daniel’s difficult case.
Daniel has had numerous medical procedures and operations to try and correct his condition medically but with no success.
And in November 2009 he bravely fought off swine flu which developed into pneumonia and a collapsed lung.
Kevin said his dream was to see his son eat like any other little boy and that it would mean everything to the family.
He said: “As a dad sitting with my boy at a table with all his feeding tubes and machines I know what it feels like to have people looking at him.
“Catherine and I worry about what would happen if something happened to us, we want Daniel to be able to eat and feed himself.
“The strain on Hannah is enormous also, to see your brother starving himself would be traumatic at any age, but she has been wonderful and is a credit to her brother. There is nothing medically stopping our son from eating, it is in his mind, but there has been nobody yet that has managed to help him overcome that.
“The doctors at Great Ormond Street have been great, but even they don’t know what to do with Daniel.
“Our only chance is to take him to University Hospital in Graz, Austria, as they are the only people who say they have treated a condition like Daniel’s successfully. The problem is Daniel’s case is so rare, even in Graz they have only seen and cured 12 youngsters and that is over 22 years."
Using a technique not practiced in the UK, the Austrian model uses a variety of in-house methods to make a youngster realise they need and want food.
Kevin added: “Daniel is a great little boy and his autism can be managed, but how is he meant to function in adulthood without being able to eat.
“Our local Public Health Trust have refused to offer us any funding and even for things like help with travel costs we have been told we can’t get help because we are working.
“Both Catherine and I have to take time off to take Daniel for treatment and we simply can’t afford the huge cost it would take to get him to the clinic.
“There is a practical side to Daniel’s condition as well, any outing is difficult to organise as we have to take lots of equipment. Our last holiday took six months to organise.
“It is also not fair for Daniel because taking his food through a tube means he has to sit still so we have to strap him down. If he could eat things would be different.” — Daily Mail.
• • •
Tybee Settles Lawsuit
in Tasing of Autistic Teen
By Russ Riesinger xrl.in/6mo5
The City of Tybee Island, GA. has settled a lawsuit stemming from the police tasing of an autistic teenager. 18-year old Clifford Grevemberg was tased by Tybee police officers outside the Rock House during the Beach Bum Parade last May. Grevemberg suffered a broken tooth and scrapes to his face and knees as a result. Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman told WSAV Monday evening that the issue has now been resolved and that Grevemberg will receive 250 thousand dollars as a result of the settlement. The money will be paid by the municipality’s insurance arm. Buelterman says he’s glad for all parties that the matter has finally been put to rest. Two former officers, Timothy Sullivan and Travis Daniel, are still facing charges in connection with the tasing. The two are scheduled back in court on November 29 for a motion hearing. Longtime Police Chief Jimmy Price also resigned in June in the aftermath of the tasing.
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