Archive | Matt Carey RSS feed for this section

Autism and mercury: never held a lot of interest, and now almost none

25 Jan

10 years ago if one went into online discussions about autism, one would find those discussions dominated by parents and one would find a few parents in those discussions trying to dominate the discussions with comments about how autism is caused by mercury in vaccines. David Kirby’s flawed book, Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy came out in 2006. Robert Kennedy Jr.’s even more flawed article “Deadly Immunity” had come out in 2005. Both caused a stir, no doubt. Kirby got a best seller out of it and there were even talks of a movie. But even then, only small fraction of parents were engaging in chelation of their children (thankfully a small number, but it should have never been used as an autism therapy). But, what the autism/mercury movement lacked in numbers they made up for with volume. Aided by some wealthy people who made sure the idea got publicity.

But, how much interest has there really been in the autism and mercury? And where are we now?

I used a simple method to look at interest: Google trends. Google Trends gives us a measure of how often a search term is used over time.

So, what does the trend look like for the search terms autism mercury? (click to enlarge)

Autism Mercury

One sees those spikes in the 2005-06 time frame. But what since? Aside from some noise, a steady decline. People just aren’t searching on autism and mercury much anymore.

And “much” is a relative term. Let’s consider autism as a search term on it’s own. (Click to enlarge)

autism

Lot’s of spikes, but interest is relatively flat over time. So the drop in the “mercury autism” search isn’t due to a drop in autism interest. Sure, some people are likely just entering “autism” and looking for autism and mercury, but, still, interest is way down for mercury.

One thing about Google trends is that they normalize their graphs. They take the highest interest level and set that at 100. So the two graphs above don’t tell us how the “autism mercury” search compares with interest in autism in general. Let’s graph them both, shall we? (click to enlarge)

autism and autism mercury comparison

Blue is autism. Red autism mercury. Yes, that line at the bottom that is so small you can’t see the trend at all is autism mercury. And that’s the point that I found most interesting. For all the noise made by the “mercury moms” in the past, the mercury idea was never as big a movement as they would like you to believe.


By Matt

No, gastrointestinal symptoms are not a sign that autism is environmentally caused

21 Jan

There is a great deal of misinformation in the vaccines-caused-an-autism-epidemic message. The most commonly discussed misinformation is the fear that is spread about vaccines. But there is also a great deal of misinformation about autism causation and biology. For example, it is often stated that environmentally derived disabilities can be treated and that genetically derived disabilities can not. Some of the recent proposed treatments for autism have come from studies of fragile-X syndrome (a genetic condition with a high prevalence of autism). People with Down Syndrome are living longer and more healthy lives due to improvements in treatment. Another misunderstanding that get promoted is that co-morbid conditions, especially gastrointestinal symptoms, in an individual indicate that his/her autism is a result of environmental influences. Much of this impression likely results from the work of Andrew Wakefield, who tried to tie autism, GI disease and the MMR vaccine together.

While it has been long known that this “GI disease means environmental causation” idea is false, a recent paper helps to illustrate that. Gastrointestinal problems in 15q duplication syndrome discusses how gastrointestinal problems are very prevalent in individuals with the genetic 15q duplication syndrome. 15q duplication syndrome, like fragile-X, is a condition with a high prevalence of autism. About 80% of people with 15q duplication syndrome have GI problems, and this number is the same whether or not the individuals also have an autism diagnosis.

Chromosome 15q duplication syndrome (Dup15q syndrome) is a neurodevelopmental disorder involving copy number gains of the maternal chromosome 15q11.2-q13 region, characterized by intellectual disability, developmental delay, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and epilepsy. Gastrointestinal (GI) problems in Dup15q syndrome have been reported only rarely, mostly focused on neonatal feeding difficulties. A retrospective review of the medical records of 46 patients with Dup15q syndrome was conducted to assess GI issues and their treatments in this population. GI symptoms were present in 76.7% of subjects with an isodicentric duplication and 87.5% with an interstitial duplication. There was no clear association between GI issues and ASD, with symptoms occurring in 78.9% of all subjects and 78.2% of ASD subjects. The most commonly reported symptoms were gastroesophageal reflux (56.7%) and constipation (60%), with 30% of subjects reporting both. The most common treatments were polyethylene glycol for constipation and proton pump inhibitors for reflux. Behaviors such as irritability and aggressiveness improved with treatment of GI symptoms in several subjects. The results indicate that GI symptoms are common in Dup15q syndrome and may have an atypical presentation. Diagnosis may be difficult, especially in individuals who are nonverbal or minimally verbal, so increased awareness is critical for early diagnosis and treatment.

Genetic conditions are frequently multisystemic. Consider Down Syndrome:

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives -

It seems to be a relatively small point I know. It is a topic that I see come up a great deal. And given the guilt that is instilled in parents and the way that the vaccine-causation idea is used as a hook for people selling useless and often risky alternative treatments, it really isn’t such a small point.


By Matt Carey

So, the National Vaccine Information Center has a Twitter bot?

20 Jan

Nonprofit organizations’ tax forms are public records. One can find them on many sites, and most nonprofits even host them on their own website. I was looking over the 2012 tax form for the National Vaccine Information Center recently and found something very interesting. The NVIC is one of the organizations that continues to push the failed idea that vaccines cause autism. This idea has caused a great deal of harm in the autism communities, but we get to be their hammer against vaccines.

The NVIC has a “vaccine ingredient calculator” or VIC (The NVIC Vaccine Ingredient Calculator: A disingenuous deceptive instrument of vaccine fear mongering).

Lately I’ve seen a lot of social media chatter where vaccine antagonistic people and groups are claiming that any opposition they see is being coordinated by “twitter bots”. Programs designed to create tweets.

So, imagine my response when I saw this on the NVIC 2012 tax form (click to enlarge):

NVIC tweet machine

Yes, the NVIC created a “Tweet Machine” which produced 8,760 tweets in one year. That’s one an hour over a 365 day year.

I am assuming that is this Twitter account.

VIC twit

See how they are still pounding the old, failed “autism is mercury poisoning” idea? That idea led to many kids being subjected to unnecessary chelation and other alternative treatments that range from useless to harmful.

Also, they want a stop to robocalls. Because that’s on topic for a vaccine discussion. And not at all ironic given the NVIC’s “Tweet Machine”


By Matt Carey

If MMS, CD, chlorine dioxide, “parasite protocol” is safe, why does ClO2 dissolve tissue?

15 Jan

One of the marketing ploys for MMS* is that it somehow attacks viruses, bacteria, parasites, heavy metals, toxins and more but doesn’t affect human tissue. It’s safe! Of course this is from the same people who said that it isn’t a bleach. Emily Willingham did a very simple and elegant demonstration that, MMS: Yes, It Is Bleach. Put a few drops on a black cloth and, lo an behold, it bleaches it.

photo+%25286%2529[1]

I thought about taking this to the next step–putting some drops on raw meat to see how much tissue would be bleached. Then I thought, I wonder if there’s a study on this already? Consider this paper, Comparison of Organic Tissue Dissolution Capacities of Sodium Hypochlorite and Chlorine Dioxide (full paper here).

Organic tissue dissolution capacity. In other words: how well do these solutions dissolve tissue.

According to the main site promoting MMS as an autism cure:

What is MMS?

MMS stands for Master Mineral Solution. It’s chemical name is Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2). ClO2 is a gas that is produced as a result of combining 2 liquids, Sodium Chlorite (NaClO2) and citric acid. When added to the sodium chlorite, the citric acid brings the combined pH level to under five, causing the sodium chlorite to become unstable and release chorine dioxide. (ClO2) Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizer with a lower oxidation potential (.95 V) than any of the other oxidizers in the human body.

MMS starts out as sodium chlorite, not the hypochlorite as mentioned in the paper. But the final solution contains ClO2, the same as one tested in the above paper. In that paper they were exploring whether these solutions (sodium hypochlorite and ClO2) could be used in dental work. They wanted to test whether ClO2 solutions would have an effect on tissue, in this case the pulp from the inside of teeth. They already knew that sodium hypochlorite dissolved tissue.

What did they find? When they put tooth pulp (taken from cows) into these solutions, after 20 minutes about 28% of the tissue was dissolved.

Dissolved.

In ClO2 solution.

But wait, you say. That’s a paper using cow teeth, published in Turkey. Realizing that this argument would come up, I searched for more papers. Such as Effect of chlorine dioxide and sodium hypochlorite on the dissolution of human pulp tissue e An in vitro study. Which concludes

5% Chlorine dioxide is capable of dissolving human pulp tissue but sodium hypochlorite was more effective.

Or

Comparison of Organic Tissue Dissolution Capacities of NaOCl and ClO2

Conclusion: Within the limitations of this in vitro study, it was concluded that ClO2 is efficient as well as NaOCl in dissolving organic tissue.

Not all tissues are the same. Skin, especially the dead skin in the outer layer, is likely more resistant than tooth pulp. But, how about the intestinal lining (a consideration for those using this as an enema solution)? Or once absorbed in the stomach (for those taking an oral route) or the esophagus?

OK, it dissolves tissues. But why go to these papers? How about just looking at the MSDS? People have long brought out the MSDS for thimerosal to tell us that it should be removed from vaccines. The MSDS for thimerosal shows that the LD50 level (the exposure where 1/2 of the test animals died, lethal dose 50) is Acute oral toxicity (LD50): 75 mg/kg [Rat] for thimerosal. A chlorine dioxide solution of 0.054 weight% Chlorine Dioxide is less toxic than thimerosal, with an LD50 (oral) rats: 292 mg/kg. So, it would take about 4 times as much chlorine dioxide solution at this concentration to kill a rat as thimerosal.

The thing is, people don’t drink thimerosal solutions. Or do so repeatedly. People are encouraged to drink MMS.

Consider what happens if we increase the concentration of ClO2. Up the concentration to 3% ClO2 in water and it is as toxic as thimerosal. But, again, dose makes the poison and the dose of ClO2 from MMS is much higher than the dose of thimerosal from a vaccine.

The idea that MMS, or CD or Chlorine Dioxide is somehow a magical solution which rids the body of harmful substances while having no effect on human tissues is just flat out incorrect. It dissolves organic tissue. It’s toxic and the doses are significant.

(*MMS is “miracle mineral solution”, a relatively new bit of alternative medicine that is being sold as an autism cure. It has been promoted at parent conventions such as Autism One and by the blog The Age of Autism. It is a scam and if the discussion above wasn’t clear: it should be avoided.)


By Matt Carey

Yes, it may be illegal to sell MMS

14 Jan

A few years ago a new “treatment” appeared in the alternative medical world: MMS or Miracle Mineral Solution. As just criticism came out on this treatment, the name has morphed. One can now find it called CD (chlorine dioxide) or CDS (chlorine dioxide solution) or even the “parasite protocol). It goes by many names and it’s a scam. It is a well marketed scam and it’s taken in a lot of smart people. If you haven’t heard of it before you may be wondering what it is. Essentially, it’s a bleach (sodium chlorite) which is supposed to be mixed with a weak acid to make another bleach (chlorine dioxide). There are some effective marketing materials posing as scientific talks that use the classic alt-med sales techniques: testimonials and science-like discussions. In the autism world, this means claiming that it makes autistic kids non-autistic. Usually they avoid the “c” word (cure) because that is a quick way to get noticed by the people who are supposed to protect us from such scams.

MMS is sold often with a wink and a nod as a water purification solution. Such appears to be the case with a team charged with defrauding regulators and the sale of MMS as a cure or treatment. Per the press release below, it seems that this U.S. based team was importing their materials from Canada. At some point they “smuggled sodium chlorite into the United States from Canada using fraudulent invoices to hide the true end use of the product. In these invoices, according to the indictment, they falsely claimed that the ingredients they were purchasing for MMS were to be used in wastewater treatment facilities.” Their website shows them selling 4 ounce bottles of the solution. It would take a lot of those bottles to supply a wastewater treatment facility.

Here’s a point I haven’t seen made about MMS. One can purchase the base material, sodium chlorite, for about 50 cents a pound. Alibaba shows the liquid selling for $100-300 per metric ton. (click to enlarge)

Alibaba Sodium Chlorite

But, let’s look at the website of this team selling the sodium chlorite solution. For only $20 you could get a 4-ounce bottle. That’s a savings of $5 off the regular price! Anyone want to do the calculations of how many 4-ounce bottles could be filled with a metric ton purchased for a few hundred dollars?

If one doesn’t want a ton shipped from China, Canada (where this team was sourcing their material) has sellers selling seven pound jars of the solid for $200. Not as big a profit margin as buying by the ton, but still a notable markup.

pgl

The “project green life” team point out that they are selling it as a water purification product only. If, by chance, you are planning on doing the “MMS protocol” they will provide you with information “for your safety and convenience”. And just in case, they have a one-stop shop in that they will sell you the second part of the MMS protocol, citric acid.

pgl2

Wink. Nod. It’s just a water purification product, right? Sold at a huge profit. And for a small additional fee, one could also get the second part of the MMS product.

Apparently after this one team had their production facility inspected by the FDA, they moved production on to the property of one of their team members. There’s a silicon valley legend about companies starting in garages. It’s one thing for making electronics or computers. It’s another thing when we are talking about something sold (even with the wink) for human consumption.

Here is the press release from the Justice Department about when the charges were made.

Louis Daniel Smith, 42, and Karis Delong, 38, both of Ashland, Ore., were charged with defrauding regulators and suppliers in a scheme to manufacture and sell industrial bleach as a cure for numerous illnesses, including arthritis, cancer, and the seasonal flu. Also charged were Chris Olson, 49, and Tammy Olson, 50, of Nine Mile Falls, Wash. A federal grand jury returned an indictment, unsealed yesterday, charging Smith, Delong and Tammy Olson with one count of conspiracy, four counts of interstate sales of misbranded drugs, and one count of smuggling. The grand jury charged Chris Olson with one count of conspiracy, one count of the interstate sale of a misbranded drug and one count of smuggling.

The indictment alleges that Smith and Delong operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2004 to 2011. PGL provided various health products for sale over the internet. According to the indictment, Smith and Delong arranged the manufacture and sale of the “Miracle Mineral Supplement” (MMS), a mixture of Sodium Chlorite and water. Sodium chlorite is not meant for human consumption. Suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet with the chemical that states that it is harmful if swallowed.

According to the indictment, PGL provided consumers directions to combine MMS with citric acid to create Chlorine Dioxide, and the instructions told consumers to drink this mixture to cure numerous illnesses. Chlorine Dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications. In humans, Chlorine Dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration.

As part of the scheme to manufacture MMS, the indictment alleges that Smith, Delong, and others smuggled sodium chlorite into the United States from Canada using fraudulent invoices to hide the true end use of the product. In these invoices, according to the indictment, they falsely claimed that the ingredients they were purchasing for MMS were to be used in wastewater treatment facilities.

According to the charging documents, Smith and Delong were the managing members of PGL Smith co-founded the company, and Delong frequently handled financial transactions for the company and recruited friends and family to participate in the business. The indictment alleges that Smith and Delong paid Tammy Olson to handle all customer inquiries regarding the product. It is alleged that Tammy Olson continued selling MMS on her own website after federal agents shut down the Project GreenLife website and production facilities.

The indictment also alleges that Smith and Delong paid Chris Olson to clandestinely manufacture MMS in a building on his property after regulators from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected PGL’s original manufacture and shipping locations.

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the health and safety of people with cancer and other serious medical conditions,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Our most vulnerable citizens need real medicine – not dangerous chemicals peddled by modern-day snake oil salesmen.”

Charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty it is to determine guilt or innocence.

The case was investigated by agents of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Christopher E. Parisi, a Trial Attorney at the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch in Washington, D.C.

The defendants have made a number of motions and at least one appears to be defending himself (filing pro se). Here’s an example of one such motion:

In his motion to strike for lack of standing, ECF No. 37, Mr. Smith disputes whether the “United States” and the “United States of America” are “legally one and the same.”

I’d want a real attorney if I were a part of this group, but that’s me.


By Matt Carey

Autism services: questions the next IACC should address part 1

14 Jan

Take a look at the original law that set up the structure for how the U.S. coordinates autism research: public law 109-416 (sometimes called the “combating autism act”) and you will find paragraphs like:

(5) develop and annually update a strategic plan for the conduct of, and support for, autism spectrum disorder research, including proposed budgetary requirements

Now take a look at the wording of public law 113-157 (what was called the “Autism Cares Act“)

(5) develop a strategic plan for the conduct of, and support for, autism spectrum disorder research, including as practicable for services and supports for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and the families of such individuals, which shall include–

“(A) proposed budgetary requirements; and
“(B) recommendations to ensure that autism spectrum disorder research, and services and support activities to the extent practicable, of the Department of Health and Human Services and of other Federal departments and agencies are not unnecessarily duplicative;

See that whole bit about “including as practicable for services and supports for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and the families of such individuals”? There’s a big emphasis on services in the new law and the next IACC will be addressing this in the future strategic plans.

There are so many areas of services that could use attention it is difficult to find one to single out as the first I’d like to see given attention. But I am going to say that services for autistic adults need more attention. With that I can predict that some people are thinking I’m saying jobs and independent living. And sadly some people don’t see that as important. But this is not what I’m focusing upon here. No, I’m thinking of what services are needed to make supportive living most appropriate for autistics. There is so much discussion of the unique and specific educational needs of autistics, especially in preschool, but there isn’t much discussion of what makes an appropriate placement for adults. If I’ve learned anything from observing many, many classrooms it’s that people with


By Matt Carey

London McCabe’s mother’s Google searches

3 Jan

London McCabe was a six year old autistic boy when he was killed by his mother when she threw him from a bridge on November 3rd. The mother claimed to have heard voices, setting the stage for an insanity plea. A family member states that they had been trying to get Mrs. McCabe committed for a year but it has also come out that she had been performing internet searches showing she was thinking of a murder before the act.

Mother May Have Planned Son’s Murder

“We do have some information that Ms. McCabe has searched the Internet to actually evaluate or maybe educate herself on the criminal process,” said Michelle Branam, Lincoln County District Attorney. “‘How to restore competency’ was a website that she had searched. She has searched ‘state hospital,’ ‘guilty but insane,’ ‘involuntary commitment;’ ‘not guilty by reason of insanity.’

Also, in Prosecutors: Woman planned to throw son off Yaquina Bay Bridge we hear a family member state that they had been trying to get Mrs. McCabe committed.

London’s uncle, Andy McCabe, told KATU that he didn’t think losing London could hurt any more than it does already, but knowing London’s mother may have been planning his death makes it hurt even more. He said his family had been trying to get her committed to the state hospital all year.

If the latter part is true then, yes, there’s a failure in the system. Clearly there’s a failure when a murder occurs. And we do need to be careful to respect and not stigmatize those with actual mental illness. But these internet searches by Mrs. McCabe do point to a conscious and planned act.


By Matt Carey

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,168 other followers