By DAN OLMSTED
WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) -- It's amazing the coincidences one comes across while reporting about autism:
The autism rate rises in tandem with increasing numbers of vaccines that contain a known neurotoxin, ethyl mercury.
Public health authorities say that's coincidence.
Parents say their children became autistic after receiving mercury-containing vaccinations, sometimes several shots in one day.
Pediatricians call that coincidence, too.
Another remarkable fact that caught my attention: Autism was first identified in both the United States and Europe at almost exactly the same time. Child psychiatrist Leo Kanner published his landmark paper at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1943; pediatrician Hans Asperger published his -- about a slightly less severely affected group of children -- in Vienna in 1944. Cut off by a world war, neither knew of the other's work.
Coincidence, say the experts, who attribute the timing to improving diagnostic techniques in both countries.
What else can the experts say, literally invested as they are in massively funded genetic research to find the presumed cause? If it's not a coincidence that autism arose simultaneously on separate continents, that suggests something happened in two places at once to trigger the disorder. And that would suggest genes are not the fundamental factor, though they certainly could be implicated in making some children susceptible to whatever the new exposure was.
The first Age of Autism column in early 2005, titled "Donald T. and Fritz V.," made this point, noting that the first Austrian case report and the first American case report "were born within four months of each other, Fritz V. in June of 1933 and Donald T. that September."
Because Kanner's kids became known as "autistic" and Asperger's as having "Asperger's disorder," the overwhelming commonalities have not been fully appreciated; Kanner's study of Donald and 10 other children was titled "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact," and Asperger called his study of Fritz and three other children "'Autistic Psychopathy' in Childhood."
At different times in different places, they were seeing the same remarkable disorder. These kids were all "on the spectrum," as we say today, and that raises a question I put this way in that first column: "Was it coincidence the first few cases of these strikingly similar disorders were identified at the same time, by the same term, in children born the same decade, by doctors thousands of miles apart?
"Or, is it a clue to when and where autism started -- and why?
"The question reflects a huge, and hugely important, debate. If autistic children always existed in the same percentages but just were not formally classified until the 1940s, that would suggest better diagnosis, not a troubling increase in the number of autistic children.
"If, however, autism had a clear beginning in the fairly recent past ... then the issue is very different. That would suggest something new caused those first autism and Asperger's cases ... something caused them to increase, and something is still causing them today."
At that time, I had no clue about a possible connection. But now, after reporting and writing more than 100 Age of Autism columns over the past two years, I do.
The clue could be the simultaneous arrival of ethyl mercury -- but not, necessarily, in the vaccines that some parents blame for the huge rise in reported cases over the past two decades. What I've learned is that this especially dangerous form of organic mercury also was used starting around 1930 in fungicides. Morris Kharasch, the same American chemist who patented its use in vaccines -- where it is called thimerosal -- also pioneered its use as a seed disinfectant.
Remember, this type of mercury didn't exist in nature; it's man-made, and Kharasch is the man who made it marketable.
Two companies, one German and one American, built their ethyl mercury fungicide, called Ceresan, on those patents. In a joint venture, they sold it in both Europe and the United States. (Mercury-containing agricultural products were phased out decades ago after their effects on humans and the environment were recognized -- though ethyl mercury still remains in most flu shots given to pregnant women and young children. Go figure.)
So what might have happened -- warning, hypothesis ahead -- is that some early exposures to ethyl mercury came from inhaling or otherwise coming into contact with it via that agricultural route. And some of the children exposed to this novel and neurotoxic form of mercury developed a novel neurological disorder called autism.
Speculative, yes. But everything about the cause of autism at the moment is speculative. And as I showed in a column earlier this year titled "Mercury Link to Case 2," the first three cases diagnosed in the United States can plausibly be linked to such exposures.
Case 2, in particular, is compelling, because documents show that the father of that child was a plant pathologist experimenting with ethyl mercury fungicides for the U.S. government at the time his child was born in 1936. The father of Case 3 was a forestry professor -- not a very different occupation from plant pathologist -- in the South, and Case 1 lived in a town called Forest, Miss., near sites where ethyl mercury was first tested as a lumber preservative.
Plants, forests, timber, the South.
Now check this out: Among the earliest cases seen in Europe were 10 identified by a Dutch researcher named D. Arn Van Krevelen. One of the 10 fathers was a horticulturalist; another was a florist's salesman.
Other early studies in the United States found a clear "chemical connection" via the occupations of a similar percentage of parents, a connection overlooked as the gene-hunting juggernaut gained steam.
Maybe that's no coincidence.
Andrew Wakefield, Scientific Censorship, and Fourteen Monkeys
A statement from Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey
Los Angeles, February 5, 2010
monkeysDr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials.
It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues.
The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England's General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal.
Despite rampant misreporting, Dr. Wakefield's original paper regarding 12 children with severe bowel disease and autism never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not vaccines cause autism, and The Lancet's retraction gets us no closer to understanding this complex issue.
Dr. Wakefield is one of the world's most respected and well-published gastroenterologists. He has published dozens of papers since 1998 in well-regarded peer-reviewed journals all over the world. His work documenting the bowel disease of children with autism and his exploration of novel ways to treat bowel disease has helped relieve the pain and suffering of thousands of children with autism.
For the past decade, parents in our community have been clamoring for a relatively simple scientific study that could settle the debate over the possible role of vaccines in the autism epidemic once and for all: compare children who have been vaccinated with children who have never received any vaccines and see if the rate of autism is different or the same.
Few people are aware that this extremely important work has not only begun, but that a study using an animal model has already been completed exploring this topic in great detail.
Dr. Wakefield is the co-author, along with eight other distinguished scientists from institutions like the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Washington, of a set of studies that explore the topic of vaccinated versus unvaccinated neurological outcomes using monkeys.
The first phase of this monkey study was published three months ago in the prestigious medical journal Neurotoxicology, and focused on the first two weeks of life when the vaccinated monkeys received a single vaccine for Hepatitis B, mimicking the U.S. vaccine schedule. The results, which you can read for yourself here, were disturbing. Vaccinated monkeys, unlike their unvaccinated peers, suffered the loss of many reflexes that are critical for survival.
Dr. Wakefield and his scientific colleagues are on the brink of publishing their entire study, which followed the monkeys through the U.S. childhood vaccine schedule over a multi-year period. It is our understanding that the difference in outcome for the vaccinated monkeys versus the unvaccinated controls is both stark and devastating.
There is no question that the publication of the monkey study will lend substantial credibility to the theory that over-vaccination of young children is leading to neurological damage, including autism. The fallout from the study for vaccine makers and public health officials could be severe. Having denied the possibility of the vaccine-autism connection for so long while profiting immensely from a recent boom in vaccine sales around the world, it's no surprise that they would seek to repress this important work.
Behind the scenes, the pressure to keep the work of Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues from being published is immense, and growing every day. Medical journals take extreme risk of backlash in publishing any studies that question the safety of the vaccination program, no matter how well-designed and thorough the research might be. Neurotoxicology, a highly-respected medical journal, deserves great credit for courageously publishing the first phase of this vaccinated monkey study.
The press has been deeply misled in the way The Lancet retraction, and Dr. Wakefield's mock trial, have been characterized. Led by the pharmaceutical companies and their well-compensated spokespeople, Dr. Wakefield is being vilified through a well-orchestrated smear campaign designed to prevent this important new work from seeing the light of day.
What medical journal would want to step in front of this freight train? Moreover, why now, after 12 years of inaction, did The Lancet and GMC suddenly act? Is it coincidence that the monkey study is currently being submitted to medical journals for review and publication?
We urge the media to take a close look at the first phase of the monkey study discussed above and to start asking a very simple question: What was the final outcome of the 14 primates that were vaccinated using the U.S. vaccine schedule and how did that compare to the unvaccinated controls?
The U.S. vaccine schedule has grown from 10 vaccines given to our children in the 1980s to 36 today, perfectly matching the dramatic rise in autism. The work of Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues deserves to be shared with the world to further, rather than censor, scientific progress.
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