Stephen M Edelson gets it wrong, wrong, wrong…

25 Nov

Communication is the members mgazine of the UK’s National Autistic Society. In an issue earlier this year, Mike Fitzpatrick, GP and author had an extract from his latest book published.

The extract touched on chelation and the death of Tariq Nadama.

This prompted a bilious response this month from Stephen M Edelson in this months Communication. The level of ignorance in his response is astounding. I have attached the whole response as a Word document to save me getting accused of taking things out of context. BUt for here, I’ll quote selected parts.

Fitzpatrick has been a longtime, outspoken critic of chelation. (Chelation involves a medication, such as DMPS or DMSA, which removes neurotoxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, from the body; it is given under the supervision of a doctor.) If an individual tests with very high levels of one or more heavy metals, chelation is the treatment of choice throughout the medical profession.

If test results indicate very high levels in someone on the autism spectrum, isn’t this person entitled to the same medical care as someone without autism?

This is far too simplistic. Of _course_ if someone on the spectrum has test results that indicate high levels of metals they should have the standard treatment. That is a strawman.

The _point_ is rather more complex that that as Mike mentions in his book and I have blogged about numerous times.

The labs that Mr Edelson and his DAN! colleagues recommend test for levels of metals in people on the spectrum very, very often give false results. Take this extract of the testimony of Dr Jeffrey Brent, a sub-specialty board certified medical toxicologist and the former President of the American Academy of clinical Toxicology.

…I have seen a number of patients now come to me because of these ‘doctor’s data’ type of laboratories which are based on urines – chelated urines – and they always have high leads in their chelated urines and I tell them ‘well, lets just do the gold standard test, lets get a blood/lead level and so far, *100% of the time they’ve been normal*.

So when ‘these Doctors Data’ type of labs do the tests they indicate the need for chelation. When _experts_ in the field such as Dr Brent do the gold standard tests ‘100% of the time they are normal’.

Dr Edelson needs to realise that _that_ is why chelation is an invalid treatment for autism. The fact that when taken to an expert in Chelation and Toxicology, the results usually indicate that chelation is not warranted.

Edelson continues:

In his article, Fitzpatrick brings up the accidental death of Tariq Nadama after chelation treatment. What he does not tell the reader is that Tariq was given the entirely wrong drug, one with a similar name and label that was nearby on the office shelf. Regrettably, these drug errors do
happen in hospitals and doctors’ offices and Fitzpatrick has exploited this unfortunate incident several
times in the past without explaining the complete story. (I have already corrected Fitzpatrick in a previous issue of Communication, and I am disappointed that the editor knowingly allowed such half-truths to be disseminated to NAS’ membership once more.)

Once more, Mr Edelson is quite wrong. Tariq Nadama was not given a drug by mistake ‘with a similar label that was nearby on the office shelf’.

When Dr Roy Kerry (who joined Mr Edelsons loose affiliation of practitioners after the death of Tariq Nadama) was prosecuted for the death of Tariq, the following was admitted by him:

70. Respondent admitted that EDTA is very rare to use on children.

71. Respondent admitted to using Disodium EDTA to chelate Tariq.

72. Respondent stated to Investigator Reiser that Disodium EDTA is the only formula of EDTA he stocks in his office.

73. Respondent admitted that CaNa2EDTA is available but that he has never used this agent.

I would recommend that Mr Edelson reads the entire complaint against Dr Kerry.

Edelson continues again:

Over the past 20 years, scientists have clearly documented immune system dysfunction and gastrointestinal problems associated with autism. Many of these problems can be treated successfully using established medical treatments.

Of course, this is twaddle. I challenge Mr Edelson to provide peer reviewed journal published science to back up these statements. As recently documented by Professor Stephen Bustin, the gastrointestnal ‘link’ to autism is not valid and never was.

I wonder why these treatments that so successfully treat autistic peoples autism have never had one single (that I can find) case study published?

Update 28 Nov 2008

An update from Mike who read some of this thread:

It is true that a number of environmental factors have been identified as causing autism in a small number of cases – these include viral infections (rubella, CMV) and drugs (thalidomide, sodium valproate). What is striking is that ‘over the past decade not a single new environmental factor has been identified as playing a significant role in the causation of autism’ (Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion, p 81). Indeed, it would be more accurate to say ‘over the past two decades’. By contrast, over this period there have been dramatic advances in the genetics of autism. Meanwhile intensive researches into alleged vaccine-autism links have failed to confirm any causative relationship.

‘The conviction of the biomedical activists that there must be some environmental explanation for the rising prevalence of autism has grown in intensity in inverse proportion to the emergence of scientific evidence in favour of any particular environmental cause.’

41 Responses to “Stephen M Edelson gets it wrong, wrong, wrong…”

  1. Socrates November 25, 2008 at 17:32 #

    You missed a bit: “heavy metals can lead to exponential brain damage”

    Stephen M Edelson clearly doesn’t even know the meaning and application of the word exponential.

    He goes on to say “I am
    disappointed that the editor knowingly allowed such half-truths to be disseminated to NAS’ membership once more”

    Well, at least we’ve all got some common ground…

    I’m disgusted (of Surrey) that the NAS would allow such a thing to be publishes without fact-checking. The right of reply doesn’t include the right to promote B*llsh!t.

  2. Ringside Seat November 25, 2008 at 17:42 #

    So is this idea of Edelson’s that the boy was given the wrong drug, rather than that he died from what he was intentionally given, generally going round? Or does it look like Edelson himself made it up?

    I’m always interested in how falsehoods get started. Maybe if anyone knows where to contact Edelson, he will explain why he said what he did.

  3. HCN November 25, 2008 at 18:26 #

    The wrong drug idea came from a flubbed CDC report:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/08/one_year_later_the_cdc_flubs_it.php

    All that Kerry every stocked was the stuff he shoved into the veins of that little boy. There is also lots of coverage in the Autism-Diva blog (which is on the Autism Hub).

  4. RAJ November 25, 2008 at 18:31 #

    Michael Fitzgerald is crank pseudo scientist. In his book he questions not only if vaccines cause autism, for which he is correct, no evidence has ever been produced that ‘vaccines’ cause autism. He is what Rutter has called a ‘genetic envangelist’ in that he extrapolates no evidence for vaccine induced autism into stating there is no evidence for ANY environmental component in autism.

    That is the defintion of a pseudo scientific crank.

    Rubella autism, Valproate Sodium Syndrome, Anti-convulsant Syndrome, thalidomide embropathy, newborn encephalopathy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are all associated with autism. Infections and chemicals all have strong associations with autism.

    Fitzgerald cannot name one genetic variant that ’causes’ autism.

  5. Socrates November 25, 2008 at 18:41 #

    Neither can I name a genetic variant (apart from the mitochondrial one that causes a few cases of AS), but I do know that both my brothers, my father, two twin cousins of his and my maternal granfather were all on the spectrum to some degree. And then there’s the younger generations…

    I suppose you’d put it down to DrainO fumes?

  6. Kev November 25, 2008 at 21:04 #

    He is what Rutter has called a ‘genetic envangelist’ in that he extrapolates no evidence for vaccine induced autism into stating there is no evidence for ANY environmental component in autism.

    Really? I can’t recall that in his book. Did you have a quote in mind?

  7. dr treg November 25, 2008 at 22:50 #

    “The gastro-intestinal ‘link’ to autism is not valid and never was.”
    Gastro-intestinal symptoms, inflammation and enzyme abnormalities are associated with autism. Dr. Buie Paediatric Gastro-enterologist, Harvard University has performed over 400 endoscopies in children with autism.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/h02x77hu54672212/

    http://autism.suite101.com/article.cfm/gastrointestinal_problems_in_asd

  8. Ringside Seat November 25, 2008 at 22:57 #

    “Dr. Buie Paediatric Gastro-enterologist, Harvard University has performed over 400 endoscopies in children with autism.”

    Of course there are kids with autism and GI problems. And with bad teeth, diabetes, heart disease. There are every kind of kid with bowel problems, bad teeth, heart disease…

    However, that doesn’t mean autism is caused by bowel problems. Indeed, Buie is one of the authors of the latest research rejecting absolutely Wakefield’s claims.

    What are you a doctor of? Can’t be a life science.

  9. Socrates November 25, 2008 at 23:04 #

    And anyway given the dangers involved in the procedure (cf Jack Piper), I hope it was more than constipation he was investigating.

  10. RAJ November 25, 2008 at 23:16 #

    Kev:
    “He is what Rutter has called a ‘genetic envangelist’ in that he extrapolates no evidence for vaccine induced autism into stating there is no evidence for ANY environmental component in autism”.

    Really? I can’t recall that in his book. Did you have a quote in mind?

    From a review of his book:

    “In Defeating Autism, Michael Fitzpatrick, a family doctor and father of a son with autism, questions the scientific basis of environmental explanations of autism”

    http://www.routledgesociology.com/books/Defeating-Autism-isbn9780415449816

    In his own words:

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2008/11/michael-fitzpat.html

    “Many families affected by autism welcome the higher public profile of autism, as reflected in the US election campaign. If this leads to greater resources to enable children with autism to get appropriate schooling and for affected families to get the support that they need, then that will be progress. If, however, resources are diverted into the PURSUIT OF PHANTOM ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES such as vaccines – this is likely to have damaging consequences for all concerned. What we need is not a crusade but to move beyond discourses of blame based on irrational views about autism”.

    Italics mine

    I haven’t read his book nor would I waste the money in purchasing it, but this qoute from his book sure sounds like no money should be wasted on phantom environmental causes, even though the most compelling evidence is that prenatal exposure to infections (rubella) and chemicals, which happen to be neurotoxins, is strongly associated with autism.

  11. dr treg November 25, 2008 at 23:18 #

    DEFINITIONS

    ASSOCIATION

    To connect in the mind or imagination: “I always somehow associate Chatterton with autumn” John Keats.

    CORRELATION
    The simultaneous change in value of two numerically valued random variables: the positive correlation between cigarette smoking and the incidence of lung cancer; the negative correlation between age and normal vision.

    CAUSATION

    The producer of an effect, result, or consequence.

  12. Socrates November 26, 2008 at 00:16 #

    RAJ,

    Your reasoning follows this method (I’m sure someone more learned than me will have a latin phrase for it)

    Some people go blind because of vitamin deficiency, therefore all blindness is due to vitamin deficiency.

    Gamma minus for freshman rhetoric.

  13. Kev November 26, 2008 at 00:34 #

    RAJ – so when you said ‘in his book’ what you meant were ‘in reviews of his book’?

    And yes, the pursuit of vaccines is a phantom environmental cause. Not sure what your point is…??

    _”this qoute from his book sure sounds like no money should be wasted on phantom environmental causes”_

    Uh, yeah….? Are you proposing we spend lots of money on phantom environmental causes? Why?

    Dr Treg, I’m not questioning that some autistic kids have gastro issues. Of course they do. So do non-autistic kids. I’m questioning that there is a link between gastro issues and autism. That is the claim at the root of the MMR silliness and is clearly, demonstrably false.

  14. Joseph November 26, 2008 at 03:13 #

    I have IBS. I’d be astonished if it has something to do with autism. On the other hand, I can see how stress could make it worse.

    RAJ reminds me of David Kirby’s amazing revelation that the CDC thinks autism might be associated with environmental factors. Mainstream researchers generally think that, so that was kind of silly of Kirby.

    The more interesting question is this. What proportion of autism can be explained by the currently accepted environmental risk factors? That is, if all those factors were removed from the environment completely, what would be the impact on the autistic population? A fraction of 1% perhaps?

    That just comes to show the complexity of the problem. Even if all autism were caused by environmental factors, that doesn’t mean autism will be prevented. Consider Cerebral Palsy.

  15. Tyler November 26, 2008 at 06:21 #

    >> Fitzgerald cannot name one genetic variant that ‘causes’ autism.

    Because he’s too lazy to write down “Fragile-X”? :)

  16. RAJ November 26, 2008 at 11:42 #

    Fitzgerald cannot name one genetic variant that ‘causes’ autism.

    Because he’s too lazy to write down “Fragile-X”? :)

    Fragile X has been proposed as an “Autism Syndrome’. Fragile X represents everything that is wrong with the concept how autism is defined. Fragile X males with a developmental disability are all mentally retarded. A small subgroup also possess enough secondary isolated symptoms to qualify for an ASD diagnosis. The social communications problems seen in Fragile X mental retardation are not the same as is seen in ‘true’ autism and investigators who work with those men and boys do not see any link between autism and Fragile X:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8110411?

    The failure of the autism research community is their inability to differentiate mental retardation from ‘autism’.

  17. RAJ November 26, 2008 at 11:51 #

    ‘RAJ – so when you said ‘in his book’ what you meant were ‘in reviews of his book’?’

    Here’s the quote again:

    “If, however, resources are diverted into the PURSUIT OF PHANTOM ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES such as vaccines”

    That quote was not what a reviewer stated it was a direct quote taken from Fitzgerald’s book.

    What is he proposing, that we should divert resources into chasing phantom genetic causes? Or that no resources should be devoted to any research into causation?

    Kev,

    You know I was directly quoting Fitzgerald, in his own words.

  18. Kev November 26, 2008 at 12:03 #

    I also think you’re deliberately putting a false slant on what Mike said. I just don’t know why.

  19. RAJ November 26, 2008 at 12:08 #

    “The more interesting question is this. What proportion of autism can be explained by the currently accepted environmental risk factors? That is, if all those factors were removed from the environment completely, what would be the impact on the autistic population? A fraction of 1% perhaps?”

    Autism prevention has aleady taken place. Rubella autism has been virtually eliminated with development of an effective rubella vaccine. Thalidomide embryopathy was removed from the list of environmental factors that result in autism by banning the use of Thalidomide in obstetrics. There are now warnings issued to the obstetrical profession of the dangers of prenatal use of Valproate Acid in pregnancy. If the obstetricians actually heed the warning there would be a decline in Valproate Acid autism.

    Autism is likely for most cases a gene-environment interaction etiology. It is also heterogenous, there is no one environmental pathogen that explains all of autism, just as there is no one gene that explains all of autism susceptability. There is a vast difference between autism genetic transmission (unproven) and autism susceptability that interacts with specific environmental pathogens.

    The preventions in place are all removal of specific environmental pathogens, not further research into loosely defined autism causing ‘genes’.

    Fitzgerald call for no research into phantom environmental ’causes’ of autism is simply bad ‘woo’ pseudo science.

  20. dr treg November 26, 2008 at 13:06 #

    Why is it inconceivable that Fragile X syndrome and autism overlap? Both demonstrate abnormalities of neuronal dendrites i.e. shorter and less sparse and both exhibit abnormalities of the immune system i.e. T.N.F. Minocycline treatment is being studied in trials in both conditions in order to enhance dendritic growth.

  21. Joseph November 26, 2008 at 15:16 #

    Fragile X and autism overlap, that’s for sure. What they don’t know is if it overlaps more than would be expected for any other form of developmental or neurological disability. For example, does it overlap more than Down Syndrome?

    And I agree with Kev. RAJ is not honestly representing what Mike Fitzpatrick said. And what he said is clearly something we should all agree with: “If, however, resources are diverted into the PURSUIT OF PHANTOM ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES such as vaccines…”

    Why would you think resources should be diverted into the pursuit of phantom environmental causes such as vaccines?

    Only an “environmental evangelist” might think that.

  22. RAJ November 26, 2008 at 16:42 #

    “Why would you think resources should be diverted into the pursuit of phantom environmental causes such as vaccines”?

    They shouldn’t. There is certainly enough evidence to end the vaccines cause autism debate, it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean as the woo pseudo scientist Michael Fitgerald has stated in his own words:

    “If, however, resources are diverted into the PURSUIT OF PHANTOM ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES such as vaccines – this is likely to have damaging consequences for all concerned”.

    What he saying is that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, therefore all environmental theories are phantom environmental causes. uackery at the highest level.

  23. Tyler November 26, 2008 at 17:15 #

    >> Fragile X has been proposed as an “Autism Syndrome’.

    I got that impression that you were looking for a “look alikes”. For example Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is at best a misdiagnosis for ASD, and visa versa.

  24. Tyler November 26, 2008 at 17:22 #

    >> What he saying is that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, therefore all environmental theories are phantom environmental causes. uackery at the highest level.

    Umm, no. You are choosing to read it that way. His statement in now way excludes pursuit non-phantom environmental causes/triggers or suggests that they don’t exist. You are putting your own words into his mouth, attempting the distort the context of certain words within a larger phrase.

  25. Socrates November 26, 2008 at 17:56 #

    Well said Tyler.

  26. Prometheus November 26, 2008 at 18:37 #

    Although I can’t speak for Dr. Fitzgerald, I know that the vast majority of biologists realize that environment has an impact on ALL genetic traits – disorders included. I direct your attention to the concept of broad-sense heritability, which allows us to quantify (in experimental situations) the environmental and genetic contributions to trait variation in a population.

    I also agree with Dr. Fitzgerald that – while autism may be influenced by environmental factors – there is nothing to be gained (and much to be lost – e.g. time, money, other resources) by perseverating on an “environmental factor” (e.g. mercury, vaccines, etc.) that does not appear to be associated with autism.

    If we are to spend our scarce time and money researching “environmental factors”, let’s not dwell on those that haven’t “panned out” in studies to date.

    If there are any “evangelists” in this discussion, they are those who insist, in the face of overwhelming data, that their hypothesis (e.g. “vaccines cause autism”) is correct because, well because they just know it is and nobody has shown them enough data to change their minds.

    Mind you, when those “evangelists” are shown the data, they generally close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and yell, “Nah, nah, nah! I can’t HEAR you!”.

    As for Dr. Edelson, I feel truly sorry for him. He is a weak reed that is being bent to the will of several powerful personalities. I doubt that he makes any public statements that are not “vetted” by his “biomed” masters.

    Unfortunately, the CDC gave Roy Kerry his “out” when they mistakenly referred to his actions as a “medication error”. Most people see “medication error” and think, “Oh, he used the wrong medicine – or the wrong dose of the right medicine.”

    Neither happened in the tragic case of Tariq Nadama. Tariq received exactly the medication that Dr. Kerry intended to give, in exactly the intended dose, given by exactly the route (IV push) that Dr. Kerry intended to have it given.

    And it had exactly the effect that the “black box” warning in the prescribing information said it would, given in that dose and in that fashion: death.

    There was a “medication error” of sorts, however. In fact, there were several:

    [1] EDTA – in any formulation – is not the first-line course of therapy for lead or mercury poisoning.

    [2] Autism is not has not been show to be caused by lead or mercury poisoning, so chelation – with EDTA or other agent – is not indicated.

    [3] Tariq Nadama had no signs – clinical or laboratory – to indicate that he was suffering from lead, mercury or aluminium poisoning.

    I would hope that Dr. Edelson has sufficient courage to admit his mistake as publicly as he has made it. However, I doubt that his masters will let him.

    Prometheus

  27. HCN November 26, 2008 at 19:03 #

    (Prometheus, it is Dr. FitzPATRICK, otherwise excellent note)

  28. Kev November 26, 2008 at 19:26 #

    _”What he saying is that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, therefore all environmental theories are phantom environmental causes. uackery at the highest level.”_

    As Tyler has said, that is not what Mike is saying at all. If it was he would’ve clearly said that.

  29. Socrates November 26, 2008 at 19:37 #

    FitzGERALD’s a boffin at Trinity College, Dublin.

  30. Ettina November 26, 2008 at 22:59 #

    “Rubella autism, Valproate Sodium Syndrome, Anti-convulsant Syndrome, thalidomide embropathy, newborn encephalopathy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome”

    “Fragile X has been proposed as an “Autism Syndrome’. Fragile X represents everything that is wrong with the concept how autism is defined. Fragile X males with a developmental disability are all mentally retarded. A small subgroup also possess enough secondary isolated symptoms to qualify for an ASD diagnosis. The social communications problems seen in Fragile X mental retardation are not the same as is seen in ‘true’ autism and investigators who work with those men and boys do not see any link between autism and Fragile X”

    Fragile X overlaps with autism more than Fetal Alcohol Syndrome does – both have typical presentations that are distinct from autism (though classic Fragile X boys have autistic traits such as avoiding eye contact) and a subset of children who actually meet criteria for autism.
    What about Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome? An autosomal recessive metabolic condition, 50% of affected individuals meet DSM-IV criteria for ‘autistic disorder’ and all but a small minority meet criteria for one of the DSM-IV autism spectrum conditions (mostly autism and PDD NOS).
    Rett Syndrome is an X-linked genetic condition (MECP2 mutation) that is actually one of the subtypes of autism described in the DSM-IV.
    I could name many others if I chose to.
    Just think – would you consider Fragile X to be an autism syndrome if it was environmentally caused? It seems to me that you probably would.

  31. RAJ November 27, 2008 at 21:00 #

    “I got that impression that you were looking for a “look alikes”. For example Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is at best a misdiagnosis for ASD, and visa versa”.

    That’s your opinion. Christopher Gillberg was the first to diagnosis ‘autism’, or in the case of his published study ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ consequent to FAS.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9344050?

    Romanian orphans who were abandoned at birth an experienced severe emotional deprivation also qualify for an ASD diagnosis using universally accepted Gold Standard diagnostic tools such as ADOS-G, ARI-R and AUTI-R.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16167089?

    Mentally retarded childern who also qualify for an ASD diagnosis could also be described as at best a misdiagnosis of an ASD.

    No one can define exactly what autism is. Kanner was closest but his defintion was completly removed from all diagnostic criteria in 1994.

  32. Joseph November 28, 2008 at 00:36 #

    No one can define exactly what autism is. Kanner was closest but his defintion was completly removed from all diagnostic criteria in 1994.

    Why was Kanner closest? What is the basis for deciding this? Certainly, he was the first to propose the new classification, but it would be difficult to argue that his criteria was better designed and more thought through.

    What you want to say is that autism is a cultural construct, which is defined by authority. This is true of a lot of things. Consider, for example, what “dollar” means. It’s a construct, controlled by an authority. Another example: Who defines what “proper English” is and why?

    The part that is difficult to get about social constructionism is that social constructs generally have a purpose, and exist in parallel to realities of the physical world. When social constructs are actually useless, they should either be discarded or replaced.

  33. Tyler November 28, 2008 at 01:32 #

    >> No one can define exactly what autism is.

    Yet you seem to be trying to … with an obvious bias towards attempting to discount “genetic”. :) Even in your link talking about FAS there is only a small overlap (much more with ADHD). Really you are stumbling on the same problem that autism research has traditionally had, a focus on the more superficial locating of people with symptoms in common (things that have behaviors that “look like”, with an overlap of the symptoms) with the main body of autistic people but with obvious causes that mean these people don’t have much in common with the main autistic body at all. That of course logically includes Fragile-X. Whether or not that serves your agenda. :D

    Of course medicine isn’t the only science that has this problem. Astrophysics has “Dark Matter”, it’s own messy placeholder that tends to cause all sorts of problems and misunderstandings as people take it far too literally instead of understanding that it is just a category of matter defined by what are analogous to medical symptoms.

    P.S. Fortunately there has been some interesting developments in autism on the hard physiological front as well as interesting work done on understanding thought process and learning in the autistic mind that is also pointing where in the brain to look for physiological differences. Research into use of atypical psychotic drugs to induce “feelings” in autistic patients is an outgrowth of some of this.

  34. dr treg November 28, 2008 at 12:08 #

    Re. the Romanian orphans.
    Why is it not possible that similar structural changes in the neurons with childhood stress/emotional deprivation result in clinical manifestations similar to autism? Certainly in animal studies stress hormones can reduce the numbers and lengths of the dendrites of neurons.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311182434.htm

  35. Prometheus November 28, 2008 at 17:59 #

    Why is it not possible that similar structural changes in the neurons with childhood stress/emotional deprivation result in clinical manifestations similar to autism? Certainly in animal studies stress hormones can reduce the numbers and lengths of the dendrites of neurons.

    An interesting juxtaposition of unrelated issues. Since we do not know what structural or functional differences are seen in autism, the fact that “stress” can alter neuronal structure is irrelevant.

    If that seems counterintuitive, consider this:

    If it turns out that autism is the result of a higher than average number of dendrites, the changes seen from stress hormones would be the opposite of what is seen in autism.

    Just because something can affect neuronal function or structure does not mean that it can cause a specific neurological disorder or disability. Speculating that this or that might be a cause (or “the cause”) of autism simply because it can affect neurons is nonsensical.

    Prometheus

  36. passionlessDrone November 28, 2008 at 19:23 #

    Hi Dr. Treg –

    Certainly in animal studies stress hormones can reduce the numbers and lengths of the dendrites of neurons.

    Here is an interesting one regarding knock out mice lacking SHANK1; they show smaller dendritic spines, increased fear response, heightened anxiety, and interestingly enough, improved spatial skills.

    http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/full/28/7/1697

    Neat.

    – pD

  37. dr treg November 28, 2008 at 23:33 #

    Prometheus – one could search “autism, dendritic spines” on Google. I did not know until a year ago that dendrites had spines which seem to be less sparse and flatter in most psychiatric diseases including autism.
    pD – I have already been there but thank you. One could also search “snapin, dendrites” ,”cypin, dendrites” and “MEF2, dendrites” on Google.The neuro-scientists seem to be attempting dendrite spine reconstruction in their research.It`s only another view of this complex subject.

  38. Joseph November 29, 2008 at 04:58 #

    Prometheus – one could search “autism, dendritic spines” on Google.

    I went to PubMed and did that. I see there are a number of animal studies that don’t seem to have any more than a speculative connection to autism. There’s perhaps a connection to Schizophrenia, and maybe a connection to Fragile X.

    Is there a study on, you know, human autistics that would tell us this is a common characteristics of autistics?

    Even if you find such a difference in autistics, suggesting that it is *the difference* that explains autism is like saying that hair length is what makes men different to women, frankly. There are *many* differences and that should be clear by now.

  39. Loftmatt December 2, 2008 at 05:40 #

    Hey Dr. Treg, there are also other common abnormalities in areas of the brains of many autistic individuals, including the hippocampus and amygdala, that are highly sensitive to stress response function, and in particular cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol tends to increase amygdala size and cause hippocampal cell destruction. Admittedly, the results are mixed; see this study, this one, and this one. However, that is not surprising since cortisol function is also consistently abnormal in autism. Overloaded adrenal glands, responding to chronic stress like life in a Romanian orphanage, malfunction in various ways from elevated to suppressed basal levels, to abnormally low marginal responses to new stressors (See Sapolsky’s Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Autism Blog - » Blog Archive » Paul Shattock gets his Biatch on - November 29, 2008

    […] the error strewn Edelson piece that I already blogged about, Communication also ran a response from Paul Shattock that avoided […]

  2. blog-thing : The Wrongs and Rights of Reply - December 1, 2008

    […] Readers may also care to read Kev’s response to Edelson, Stephen M Edelson gets it wrong, wrong, wrong… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,158 other followers

%d bloggers like this: