The recent decision by the Special Masters in the Autism Omnibus case that MMR/thiomersal can’t cause autism according to evidence presented by HHS and lack of evidence presented by Master et al hit the mercury militia hard. They genuinely thought they were going to win.
But, of course, there was a ‘Plan B’ ready just in case. Today we see its co-ordinated unveiling. In part one, that scientific heavyweight Jenny McCarthy, together with her partner Jim Carrey released a press release:
Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Los Angeles-based non-profit autism organization, today announced that the United States Government has once again conceded that vaccines cause autism…
Both the inference and the statement of fact are in error here. The United States Government has _never_ conceded that vaccines cause autism. I challenge McCarthy and Carrey to show the statement that contradicts me. Team McCarrey’s announcement today also fails to establish that the US government have conceded vaccines cause autism.
Of course, the historical reference is to Hannah Poling. As has been discussed numerous times, Hannah Poling’s autism has not been shown to have been caused by vaccines. I have asked various people, including David Kirby numerous times to provide back up to their belief the government have said vaccines caused ehr autism. They cannot. They have not. In point of fact, only three of Hannah Poling’s symptoms that were described by both HHS and a scientific case study co-authored by her father as those being caused by vaccines, tally with the DSM (IV) criteria for ASD.
The case of Hannah Poling is a red herring.
As we shall see, so is this ‘new’ case.
Team McCarrey go on:
The announcement comes on the heels of the *recently unsealed* court case of Bailey Banks vs. HHS
If by ‘recent’ one means July 2007 then they may have a point. But I don’t think ‘recent’ can really apply to a case which has had open access to it (Kathleen blogged about it in May 2008) for about a year and a half. So why lie? To add to the drama, whip up mystery and confusion of course.
But now we get to the meat of it – the actual ruling. In Part II of today’s coordinated attack, RFK Jr and David Kirby blogged about this case.
Kennedy jumps straight in:
…last week, the parents of yet another child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were awarded a lump sum of more than $810,000 (plus an estimated $30-40,000 per year for autism services and care) in compensation by the Court, which ruled that the measels-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine had caused acute brain damage that led to his autism spectrum disorder.
Whereas David is a tad more circumspect:
Is vaccine-induced ADEM (and similar disorders) a neurological gateway for a subset of children to go on and develop an ASD? That question will now become subject to debate…Special Master Abell had no trouble linking MMR to ADEM in Bailey Banks’ case. But linking his ADEM to PDD/ASD was more difficult.
So, lets rewind a little. Bailey was awarded a payment because he was found to have suffered vaccine induced damage. Cool. Thats the system working as it should – a child is damaged by a vaccine, they get compensated. What the MMR vaccine was established to have done in Bailey’s case was cause something called ADEM. What McCarthy, Carrey, Kennedy and David are now all claiming is that this ADEM resulted in an ASD diagnosis.
They rest their case on the conclusion of Special Master Abell:
The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.
On the fact of it, it looks like they are right. But they aren’t.
Bailey has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) which is indeed a subtype of ASD.
However, whilst PDD-NOS is a subtype of ASD (alongside autism etc). ASD is in turn a subtype of PDD. As the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities notes, the term PDD actually refers to a category of disorders and is not a diagnostic label. So when Abell refers to Bailey’s vaccine induced ADEM as leading to PDD he is not referring to ASD. He is referring to PDD. Not PDD-NOS, which _is_ a subtype of ASD but PDD, of which ASD itself is a subtype. Or, to quote Wikipedia:
PDD-NOS is often incorrectly referred to as simply “PDD.” The term PDD refers to the class of conditions to which autism belongs.
Abell made something of a worrying statement in his conclusion. I’ll quote from David Kirby:
Abell also chided MacDonald for his assertion that “all the medical literature is negative” in regards to an ADEM-PDD link. “However, soon thereafter, he corrected this statement by clarifying, ‘I can find no literature relating ADEM to autism or [PDD],’” Abell wrote. “It may be that Respondent’s research reveals a dearth of evidence linking ADEM to PDD, but that is not the same as positive proof that the two are unrelated, something Respondent was unable to produce. Therefore, the statement that ‘all the medical literature is negative’ is incorrect.”
Was any evidence that there _is_ a link between ADEM and PDD produced? I’ll have to read through more carefully. Its worrying that the SM is reduced to ‘chiding’ a witness for such a thing as a clarification of terms. Wasn’t he more worried that there was an extreme lack of evidence linking ADEM to PDD at all? Did Petitioners produce _any_ evidence that there was a link? A quick search of PubMed reveals nothing for ‘ADEM autism’ or ‘ADEM PDD’. I don’t want to second guess a Special Master but it does make me worried that maybe he simply didn’t get some of the science.
David also lists some of the symptoms of ADEM:
Symptoms usually appear within a few days to a couple of weeks. They include: headache, delirium, lethargy, seizures, stiff neck, fever, ataxia (incoordination), optic nerve damage, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, irritability and changes in mental status.
None of these say autism to me. I also did fine one ADEM paper in PubMed together with measles:
We report a seven year old male with measles associated acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) despite having received measles vaccination in infancy. The diagnosis was based on serum antimeasles antibodies and MRI brain. The patient was managed with high dose corticosteroids along with supportive measures. There was a complete neurologically and physica recovery.
There was a complete mental and physical recovery. This doesn’t seem to indicate causation or autism.
In my opinion based on what I’ve read so far here we have a little boy who either already had or was on the cusp of PDD-NOS. He was also vaccine damaged resulting in ADEM….and thats where the link breaks down. It might be enough for 50% and a feather but the fact that PDD is not PDD-NOS, together with the total lack of any evidence I can see to link ADEM to PDD, let alone PDD-NOS speaks volumes.