Dan Olmsted and Andrew Wakefield. Rumour Mongering Ahoy!

14 Jun

UPI journalist Dan Olmsted has released another in his series of autism related pieces. This one is entitled: *The Age of Autism: But is Wakefield Right?*

The piece then goes on to discuss Olmsted’s belief that he may well be. Lets take a critical look at Olmsted and also Wakefield’s beliefs and contrast them with what we know and strongly suspect about Wakefield and the whole MMR debacle. Olmsted begins with:

Let’s put aside the issues surrounding the Lancet paper and concerns about a measles epidemic and go straight to the heart of the matter: Does the MMR cause autism? In other words, is Wakefield right? After looking into the topic for more than a year, I’m very concerned that he may be — that, especially in children whose immune systems have been rendered susceptible by any number of possible exposures, the combined live-virus vaccine has its fingerprints all over numerous cases of regressive autism.

I can well understand Olmsted wishing to slide the inconvenient retraction by the Lancet aside. Unfortunately they cannot be so readily shunted away. This (does MMR cause autism) is at heart, a scientific question. Only well designed, thorough, replicable science can support or refute it. The Lancet paper was _not_ good science. The study group was tiny. It seems that not only were the group of subjects sourced via anti-vaccine lawyers but I have heard rumours that there were not twelve subjects in Wakefield’s original group but actually sixteen and that the ‘extra’ subjects were ignored when their outcomes didn’t support Wakefield’s hypothesis. I hasten to add that that is total rumour but if its true, it raises more questions about this study.

I can also well understand Olmsted’s wish to put aside concerns about a measles epidemic. After all, already this year one life has been claimed by measles and hospitalisation rates are exactly in line with those predicted by experts in 2004. These cannot be comfortable truths for a journalist as one-sided as Mr Olmsted to face.

However, Mr Olmsted wishes us to ignore these things – pretend they don’t matter – so lets humour him and discuss only his narrow view.

Mr Olmsted states that he’s been looking into the matter for over a year. I’ve been looking into the matter nearly three times as long as that. Does that mean I ‘trump’ Olmsted? He says that childrens immune systems have been compromised and that the MMR live virus has ‘its fingerprints’ all over numerous cases of regressive autism. However, as is usual in these reports, Olmsted fails to back up these unsubstantiated claims. Indeed, these are part of the same belief system that has led to the point where Wakefield is being investigated by the GMC.

Does MMR cause autism – its a matter of science, not propaganda. If Olmsted wishes to convince people capable of rational thought then he needs to provide the science.

Has any science so far managed to substantiate Wakefield’s claims? Here’s Ben Goldacre:

But let’s not forget, the Daily Mail was promoting Krigsman’s research back in 2002 as well: at that time, he was putting endoscopes into the bowels of young children with autism, and said he had found evidence of inflammation. 4 years later, looking on PubMed, the standard database for all medical papers, it seems this research still has not been published in a peer reviewed academic journal. Forgive my bluntness, but it seems a shame to go poking around up there if you’re not going to write up your findings properly. Meanwhile the Telegraph says that Krigsman’s most recent unpublished claim is replicating similar work from 1998 by Dr Andrew Wakefield, and 2002 by Professor John O’Leary. But there is no such work from 1998 by Wakefield, at least not in PubMed (in that year he publishes his infamous, very different, and partially retracted Lancet paper on MMR, of course). Meanwhile it is well documented that other labs have tried to reproduce the 2002 O’Leary study and come out with different results, and that the protocol was likely to have problems with false positives because of the tests used: two perfect examples of the importance of research being fully written up and published, so it can be replicated and assessed. Oh, and the newspapers didn’t mention that Andrew Wakefield was also an author on the 2002 study along with O’Leary, nor that Wakefield is also very closely associated with Krigsman (they are doctors together at Thoughtful House, a private autism clinic in the USA).

Bad Science.

So despite the claims of scientific verification from Krigsman’s work lets be clear: this work has not so far met the most basic standard of scientific credibility. Olmsted fails to mention this. It bears repeating: *Does MMR cause autism* is a scientific question. It can only be answered with good science. Krigsman’s work is not good science.

After talking about all the families he’s talked to, Olmsted adds:

You get the picture. “Anecdotal evidence.” But you have to wonder how many of these stories — one is tempted to say, bodies — must pile up before the medical authorities go back and take a fresh look at the issue. This blithe disregard for case histories — for what parents, the supposed bedrock of our “family-friendly” society, say — is one of the most appalling features of the current climate surrounding autism research.

Firstly, I have to say I am _not_ tempted to use the word ‘bodies’ in connection with autistic kids. Given recent events Mr Olmsted would do extremely well to choose his words with a little more care.

Lets also note that the ‘medical authorities’ _have_ taken repeated looks at this issue. The truth is that they can look until the cows come home. If there’s nothing there to find, nothing will be found. Ben Goldacre again:

in the May issue of the Journal of Medical Virology, there was a very similar study, only this one has actually been published. It looked for measles RNA in children with regressive autism after MMR vaccination, much like the Krigsman story. It used tools so powerful they could detect measles RNA down to single figure copy numbers. But they found no evidence of the magic vaccine-strain measles RNA to implicate MMR, and perhaps because of that unfrightening result, the study was loudly ignored by the press.

Readers may recall that as recently as last month, the usual tabloid suspects were screaming about MMR again, this time due to another unpublished poster presentation from Krigsman. Strangely, they failed to mention another IMFAR presentation which failed to replicate Wakefield’s work. No scope for shrieking headlines I guess and no scope for propaganda from Olmsted.

Olmsted also refers to Dr Peter Fletcher:

The official, Dr. Peter Fletcher, became an expert witness for parents’ lawyers, which of course creates a competing interest that needs to be factored in. But Fletcher said his new role gave him access to documents that deeply concerned him.

However, as readers may recall in an earlier piece I wrote at the time, Fletcher brings _nothing_ to the table except vague insinuation and conspiracy mongering. No new science is mentioned or discussed whatsoever.

Lets go through it once again: *Does MMR cause autism?* – this is a question of science. It can only be answered using the scientific method. So far, this science question has been answered in the negative. At some point Olmsted, if he wishes to continue thinking of himself as a journalist, will need to start looking a little more deeply at the issues he writes about. At the moment, he’s not a journalist. He’s a propagandist.

34 Responses to “Dan Olmsted and Andrew Wakefield. Rumour Mongering Ahoy!”

  1. Orac June 14, 2006 at 13:13 #

    Nice piece. Olmsted is indeed nothing but a propagandist. His report on a group of physicians in Chicago who claim that unvaccinated children have a lower rate of autism is a perfect example. It was completely data-free and relied on the memories of physicians who say things as silly as “I don’t have a single case [of autism] that I can think of that wasn’t vaccinated,” use such memories to convince themselves that there is a link, but never bothered to look at their patient records to see if there’s any actual evidence that might be true.

    My favorite quote from that Olmsted piece is from Dr. Schattauer:

    “In no way would I be an advocate to stand up and say we need to look at vaccines, because I don’t have the science to say that. But I don’t think the science is there to say that it’s not.”

    Yet Olmsted takes these guys’ “feelings” and tries to present them as hard evidence that vaccines cause autism. As I put it:

    “The article does not show a ‘large group of unvaccinated children’ who are ‘free of the very issues that the vaccine advocates claim cannot be caused by vaccines.’ What the article does show is that a few physicians in an unconventional medical practice in Chicago believe that autism is associated with vaccination, a belief that Olmsted’s article, ironically enough, unintentionally shows to be based on poorly described and undocumented anecdotal evidence.”

    Olmsted’s a twit, and the article you cite is just more evidence of it.

  2. Joseph June 14, 2006 at 14:55 #

    This is the article Sue was touting? What a laugh.

  3. David H June 14, 2006 at 19:18 #

    Kev,

    “He says that childrens immune systems have been compromised”

    Dan is not the only to say that and I’ve provided you with multiple links to studies finding compromised immune systems in autistics

    “However, as is usual in these reports, Olmsted fails to back up these unsubstantiated claims.”

    Dan always points out that his reporting relies on anecdotal evidence and always makes a plea for the research to be done that would provide a definitive answer. Until that time comes, he is entitled to his opinion just as you are entitled to yours.

    “So despite the claims of scientific verification from Krigsman’s work lets be clear: this work has not so far met the most basic standard of scientific credibility. Olmsted fails to mention this. It bears repeating: Does MMR cause autism is a scientific question. It can only be answered with good science. Krigsman’s work is not good science.”

    Not good science? I think you could call it incomplete science because the study is not yet complete and it has not yet been published but what makes it bad science?

    “Lets also note that the ‘medical authorities’ have taken repeated looks at this issue. The truth is that they can look until the cows come home. If there’s nothing there to find, nothing will be found.”

    Have the medical authorities attempted to replicate the O’Leary or the recent Krigsman/Walker study? The study you reference is not the same thing. To say there is nothing there to find is extremely misleading.

    Orac,

    “The article does not show a ‘large group of unvaccinated children’ who are ‘free of the very issues that the vaccine advocates claim cannot be caused by vaccines.’ What the article does show is that a few physicians in an unconventional medical practice in Chicago believe that autism is associated with vaccination, a belief that Olmsted’s article, ironically enough, unintentionally shows to be based on poorly described and undocumented anecdotal evidence.”

    You obviously dislike Olmstead because you don’t share his opinion. If you were able to read his articles for what they were, you would realize that the common theme is his pleading for more research. Do you have a problem with more research being conducted? One senator is trying to get a bill passed to do just that – largely based on pressure exerted from people like Olmstead. His point wasn’t that we had proof that unvaccinated children are healthier than vaccinated children. His point was that there are children out there to be studied.

    “Olmsted’s a twit, and the article you cite is just more evidence of it.”

    A twit? Because he is willing to ask tough questions and apply some pressure to get those questions answered. If that’s the case, we could sure use more twits.

  4. Joseph June 14, 2006 at 19:52 #

    I think you could call it incomplete science because the study is not yet complete and it has not yet been published but what makes it bad science?

    The lack of a control group.

  5. David H June 14, 2006 at 20:55 #

    Joseph,

    “The lack of a control group.”

    But it may have been impossible for them to get a control group who was willing to be scoped. Surely that is not an easy task. But there was a control group in O’Leary’s study and there was a significant difference between those two groups. Are you telling me that all clinical studies are “bad science” unless there is a control group present? Are you positive that all of the studies that support your position that you consider “good science” have controls?

    I just read a summary of the recent MMR study by Afzal & O’Hare (the one that is seemingly “good” science). They apparently wanted to replicate O’Leary but were not able to find autistic children willing to be scoped. But I guess they found a handful who were willing to have blood drawn. So I have two issues with this study being used to refute the findings of O’Leary & Krigsman. For starters, this study used a very different technique. The second issue is that as far as I can tell from the description I read, this Afzal study didn’t restrict the study to autistic children with stomach problems – as was done in the O’Leary study it was attempting to replicate.

    The third “problem” I see with this study is that there is no mention of a control group. Please tell me that there was a control group and I just missed it.

    Homeboy Zeus,

    i read that thread about fries and bad fats but have no idea how it applies to Olmstead. Please explain.

  6. mike stanton June 14, 2006 at 21:33 #

    At Thoughtful House every child with a suspected gut problem is scoped, not as a volunteer in a research study, but as a patient whose parents sign the consent forms and pay for it, unless their health insurance covers it. I guess that is how Krigsman got his scopes up at NYU as well.
    This is from the Thoughtful House FAQ

    What is the purpose of doing a diagnostic endoscopy/colonoscopy in a child with an autistic spectrum disorder?
    Children with ASDs and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms often have a disorder known as Autistic Enterocolitis. The only way to diagnose this with certainty is to perform a diagnostic endoscopy and biopsy and inspect the tissue under a microscope.

    What can be done for a child with autistic enterocolitis?
    Proper medication may be given and dietary intervention may be prescribed in order to alleviate any or all of the symptoms, including diarrhea, pain, constipation, abdominal distension, malabsorption, and growth retardation. It is not an attempt to treat their autism.

    Why not simply treat all ASD children with gastrointestinal symptoms as if they had autistic enterocolitis, and bypass the need for an invasive endoscopy?
    In general, it is poor medical practice to empirically treat conditions that have not been properly diagnosed. This is especially true for treatments that involve the use of medications with the potential for unpleasant or dangerous side effects, and for conditions in which empiric treatment would interfere with subsequent proper diagnostic tests.

    There you have it. No treatment without a scope. that is how Krigsman gets all his subjects while ethical practitioners struggle to find enough for a decent study. I stand by what I said in my blog with one qualification.“Thoughtful House exploits parents fears and abuses kids by turning them into lab rats.” Make that “unwilling lab rats.”

  7. clone3g June 15, 2006 at 00:50 #

    David H: Dan is not the only to say that and I’ve provided you with multiple links to studies finding compromised immune systems in autistics

    Dan is certainly not the only one to say that, it’s not like he came up with it all on his own.

    There is a difference between “childrens immune systems have been compromised” and “childrens immune systems are compromised”

    So let’s try saying that “autistic children’s immune systems are compromised” which doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been compromised by something or that it has to be measles. How are autistic children’s immune systems compromised? Do you mean different? How are they different? All autistic children?

    Can you provide a few of these ‘multiple links’ to show a pattern of altered immunity consistent with persistent vaccine strain measles infection?
    ————————————————————-
    They apparently wanted to replicate O’Leary but were not able to find autistic children willing to be scoped. But I guess they found a handful who were willing to have blood drawn

    Most medical professionals are unwilling to subject children to colonoscopies for the sole purpose of looking for the measles virus. All the more reason for the scientists behind the claims to share samples for independent analysis.

    For starters, this study used a very different technique.

    If by different you mean superior or more comprehensive, I agree. They used PCR and there are two similar studies that found no measles in blood samples. You can argue that the virus is restricted to the GIT if you’d like.

    The second issue is that as far as I can tell from the description I read this Afzal study didn’t restrict the study to autistic children with stomach problems – as was done in the O’Leary study it was attempting to replicate.

    Unless you think the MMR strain of the virus can only be found in guts of autistic children with stomach problems, wouldn’t measles be detected in many if not the majority of subjects?

  8. David H June 15, 2006 at 01:24 #

    “How are autistic children’s immune systems compromised? Do you mean different? How are they different? All autistic children?”

    Those are tough questions and I don’t think we (certainly not I) have all of the answers. My point was simply that I was able to find about a dozen studies from this year alone that found compromised/different immune systems in autistics and it sure seems to be a common trait although I can’t say that it is present in 100% of autistics. Here’s a link to an article discussing different immune system reactions in autistic children: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom/releases/archives/mind/2005/immune_sys5-2005.html

    “Can you provide a few of these ‘multiple links’ to show a pattern of altered immunity consistent with persistent vaccine strain measles infection?——————————————————————————————-”

    I intentionally stopped short of linking measles with the immune disorders. I think there may be a couple of studies in that area but not enough for me to make any claims.

    “If by different you mean superior or more comprehensive, I agree. They used PCR and there are two similar studies that found no measles in blood samples. You can argue that the virus is restricted to the GIT if you’d like.”

    My argument is that no one has disproved O’Leary’s original study and now we have an even larger study by Krigsman and Walker. Using a completely different type of test is not replication.

    “Unless you think the MMR strain of the virus can only be found in guts of autistic children with stomach problems, wouldn’t measles be detected in many if not the majority of subjects?”

    That may absolutely be the case. If the measles virus is there it could very well be causing gut issues.

  9. clone3g June 15, 2006 at 01:43 #

    David H: Those are tough questions and I don’t think we (certainly not I) have all of the answers.

    Well Dan Olmsted is ‘concerned’ and says the MMR has it’s fingerprints all over it. Do you think he is wrong or doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

    My point was simply that I was able to find about a dozen studies from this year alone that found compromised/different immune systems in autistics

    Other than the word immune, how does that implicate MMR or thimerosal?

    clone3g: “Unless you think the MMR strain of the virus can only be found in guts of autistic children with stomach problems, wouldn’t measles be detected in many if not the majority of subjects?”

    David H: That may absolutely be the case. If the measles virus is there it could very well be causing gut issues.

    Maybe, possibly may absolutely definitely may be. Or not.

    So you think it’s possible that measles would be missed in blood from a few hundred autistic children if they didn’t select kids with GI problems and look for it in the GI tract? What percent of Krigsman and Walker’s samples were positive? How many in Bradstreet’s?

  10. María Luján June 15, 2006 at 02:29 #

    Hi
    I have done a personal search about several points related that IMHO have not been addressed properly up to now.Please let me know if you are interested to read ( is long…sorry). As always I have a lot of questions and some clues… but not definite answers.
    Sincerely
    MAría Luján

  11. David H June 15, 2006 at 03:34 #

    “Well Dan Olmsted is ‘concerned’ and says the MMR has it’s fingerprints all over it. Do you think he is wrong or doesn’t know what he’s talking about?”

    I think he is getting ahead of himself and speaking about the anecdotal evidence which it comes to MMR’s fingerprints.

    “Other than the word immune, how does that implicate MMR or thimerosal?”

    I wasn’t trying to implicate either of those. But thimerosal is known to cause immune disorders.

    “So you think it’s possible that measles would be missed in blood from a few hundred autistic children if they didn’t select kids with GI problems and look for it in the GI tract?”

    Yes

    “What percent of Krigsman and Walker’s samples were positive?”

    85%

    “How many in Bradstreet’s?”

    I’m not familiar with his study.

    Maria,

    “I have done a personal search about several points related that IMHO have not been addressed properly up to now.Please let me know if you are interested to read ( is long…sorry).”

    Don’t be shy. You can start a discussion by going over the high level points and then provide more details as questions come up.

  12. María Luján June 15, 2006 at 11:04 #

    Hi David, thank you for your interest.

    Some of my questions

    1- If an altered immune answer is present in autism, “normal ” values of IgG can be of non-value in terms of comparison to healthy controls, in blood. Where are the studies related to this? There are a lot of partial findings of immune alterations in ASD and they have already been presented before.
    2-Is it possible a slow replication virus cycle in the case of measles, that by molecular mimicry-mutation-exchange of genetic material (with mumps and rubella) can be hidden of an abnormal immune system and -such as in the case of herpes zoster. remain apparently inactivated but doing subclinical damage at CNS level? What are the probabilities of this situation to be present in a subgroup of children with ASD? What are the chances of false negatives considering that the virus is present in cycles? What is the number of copies of viruses that can be problematic to handle in ASD? Depends on the tissue?
    3-The differences found in IgG in blood from different studies ( including those of Dr Singh) can be due to this kind of problems related to the combination of abnormal immune system answer to viruses in combination plus slow replication of mutated-exchanged DNA measles?
    4-Immunosuppresion/immunodefficiency can play a role in the lack of IgG for measles found in some children with ASD?
    5-What is the synergic effect of previous problems in the immune answer to MMR: GI issues,nutritional defficiencies-even unnoticed, food allergies, etc?
    6-In the schedule at 2006, MMR is given with HiB and PCV (with all the adjuvants these vaccines have, including Al and other preservants)-and after a lot of others during the first year. I wonder what is the effect of altered immune status in Al excretion or HM (if present)?
    Besides
    “Preservants “:http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/gen/additives.htm#Facts
    Here you can find the information about the vaccine
    “MMR insert”:http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/VIS/vis-mr.pdf#search='MMR%20CDC%20insert
    If people should check with the doctor if there is “another disease that affect the immune system” before receiving the MMR- whose risks are high, why children are not checked for Ig defficiencies before vaccinations?

    In autism there are a lot of clues that says that immune problems are present.Why these considerations for the problems with MMR are not more seriously analyzed under the possibility of subclinical-unnoticed immune problems ?

    7-Where is the published science about all this in ASD?
    There have been some partial studies on the issues above and the complete list updated to 2006 can be found in the Briefing of David Thrower-even when I do not share some analysis of the manuscripts- the recopilation is excellent for me.
    References-not from Drs Wakefield/Bradstreet and non-exhaustive
    1- Measles virus infection in a transgenic model: virus induced immunosuppresion and central nervous system disease Cell 1999,Sep 3. 98 (5), 629-640.
    2- Measles virus infection causes transient depletion of activated T cells from peripheral circulation J. Clin, Virol. 1999, 12 (3), 201: 10 Nanan R, Chittka B, Kreth H. W
    3- Changes within T cell receptor B subsets in infants following measles vaccination Clin. Immunol Immunopathol 1996 May 79 (2) 163-170. Auwaerter PG, Hussey GD, Hughes J. Goddard EA, Ryon JJ, Strebel PM, Beatty D, Griffin DE-from John Hopkins
    4- Pathogenesis of measles virus infection: an hypothesis for altered immune responses J Infect Dis 1994 Nov 170 Suppl 1 S 24-31. Griffin DE, Ward BJ , Esolen L. M: John Hopkins
    The immune response that is effective in clearing virus and in establishing long term resistance to reinfection.. “ is associated with immune suppression, autoimmune encephalomyelitis and increased susceptibility to secondary infections”. This apparent paradox may be explained in part by preferential long term activation of type 2 CD4+Tcells by measles virus infection. Preferential stumulation of type 1CD4+Tcells by inactivated virus vaccines is hypothesized to play a role in subsequent development of atypical measles,
    5- Measles virus induced immunosuppresion in vitro is associated with deregulation of GI cell cycle control proteins J Gen Virol 1999, Jul 80 (7), 1599-1608 Engelking O, Fedorov LM. Lilischkis R, ter Meulen V, Schneider-Schaulies S
    6- Measles virus infects human dendritic cells and blocks their allostimulatory properties of CD4+Tcells J Exp Med 1997, Sept 15; 186 (6) 801-812.
    7- The pathogenesis of Crohn´s disease J Gastroenterol 1994, Jul 29 Suppl 7 11-15.Pounder R. E
    The author considers that the main problem is the mesenteric blood supply“Viral particles have been identified within the vascular endothelium, with the appeareance of para myxoviridae. In situ hybridization and other studies suggests that these particles are measles virus”
    8- Colonic CD8 and gamma delta T cell infiltration with epithelial damage in children with autism LJ Pediatrics 2001 Mar 138 (3) 366-372
    9-Stubbs EG. 1976. Autistic children exhibit undetectable hemagglutinin-inhibition antibody titers despite previous rubella vaccination. J Autism 6: 269-274.
    10-Stubbs EG, Crawford ML, Burger DR, Vandenbark AA. 1977. Depressed lymphocyte responsiveness in autistic children. J Autism 10: 15-19.
    11-Gupta S, Aggarwal S, Rashanravan B, Lee T: Th1- and Th2-like cytokines in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in autism. J Neuroimmunol 85:106109, 1998
    12-Denney DR, Frei BW, Gaffney GR: Lymphocyte subsets and interleukin-2 receptors in autistic children. J Autism Dev Disord 26:8797, 1996
    13-Plioplys AV, Greaves A, Kazemi K, Silverman E: Lymphocyte function in autism and Rett syndrome. Neuropsychobiology 29:1216, 1994

    “Warren et al. reported several immune system abnormalities in autistic patients. Lymphocyte abnormalities included reduced responses to T-cell mitogen concanavalin A, a reduced response to B-cell mitogen pokeweed, a decreased number of T lymphocytes and altered helper/T-suppressor cell ratio, significantly reduced natural killer cell activity, and significantly reduced plasma concentration of C4b protein ”

    María Luján

  13. century June 15, 2006 at 11:36 #

    “After all, already this year one life has been claimed by measles and hospitalisation rates are exactly in line with those predicted by experts when **vaccine uptake started to drop in 2004**.”

    Are you sure about that date?

  14. Kev June 15, 2006 at 12:12 #

    Good spot Century – too many words. I fixed it.

  15. Darren June 15, 2006 at 13:36 #

    Its an obvious point I know… but Olmsted’s plea that we believe, simply due to the level of anecdotal evidence, that there’s a link between MMR and autism would appear to indicate he wants us to believe in the other highly believable issues supported by anecdote, such as crop circles, psychic surgery, jesus’s face in tortillas etc..

    I’m reliably informed by anecdote that you can catch A.I.D.S from toilet seats….

  16. clone3g June 15, 2006 at 14:23 #

    Thanks for the many citations Maria,
    As I’ve said before, immune irregularities in some autistic children aren’t the issue. As a matter of fact I think they are common.

    Olmsted and others want to argue that measles and thimerosal can impact the immune system, autistic children may have subtle differences in their immune system, therefore MMR and TCV’s contribute to autism. It’s a huge leap based on the common word “Immune.”

    From Olmsted’s article as quoted in Kev’s entry:

    Does the MMR cause autism? In other words, is Wakefield right? After looking into the topic for more than a year, I’m very concerned that he may be—that, especially in children whose immune systems have been rendered susceptible by any number of possible exposures, the combined live-virus vaccine has its fingerprints all over numerous cases of regressive autism

    He asks a question and then seems to answer it.

    Kevin points out that “Olmsted fails to back up these unsubstantiated claims” and I agree. To say “children whose immune systems have been rendered susceptible” isn’t meant to describe patients with X-linked SCID, Bone Marrow Transplant, or pediatric HIV patients. He’s clearly talking about autistic children with a none too subtle suggestion that thimerosal paved the way.

    Am I reading between the lines here? You betcha.

    I can cite even more studies that suggest immune differences in children with autism, a whole bunch describing immune alterations in populations exposed to mercury, and even more describing the immunosuppressive effects of measles exposure.

    Does the word Immune establish a connection?

    Not for me.

  17. María Luján June 15, 2006 at 14:36 #

    Hi clone3g
    “As I’ve said before, immune irregularities in some autistic children aren’t the issue. As a matter of fact I think they are common.”
    As I pointed out before, it is not the word Immune what stablish a connection. And as the references cited, the implicancies of the immune alterations for me are important in the answer to vaccines and the potential of negative effects of.
    My point :If a previously healthy child, with a healthy immune system, can be negatively affected by measles.what about a genetically susceptible child, with differences from birth in immune system and with accumulation of environmental /immune insults before, in this case, of MMR?
    María Luján

  18. clone3g June 15, 2006 at 15:12 #

    Yeah, what if?

    For each set of hypothetical sequences of events we include in the hypothetical scenario, the more difficult it becomes to establish a connection.

    The circumstances you are describing make it seem even more remote than David’s; Measles can only be detected in biopsy tissue from the guts of autistic children with stomach problems if analyzed with a very specific technique and a single PCR primer.

    If Measles Virus is undetectable in blood from a few hundred autistic children, MMR is either an extremely rare contributing factor, the virus is hiding out in the GI tract, or it’s been cleared.

    How does a dormant virus in the gut cause autism if it isn’t replicating enough to be found in the bloodstream?

    I’m not saying that any of this is impossible, just improbable given our current understanding. If you want to focus on improbabilities I have no desire to stand in your way. People like Olmsted write about improbabilities as if they are established fact. That’s a problem for me.

  19. María Luján June 15, 2006 at 17:19 #

    Hi clone3g
    Improbable in your opinion, not mine. Biological plausibility is real.
    OK, if you think so, I accept it.I will not continue.
    Sincerely
    MA Luján

  20. María Luján June 15, 2006 at 18:15 #

    Hi clone
    A clarification: I do not think in terms of CAUSE, I think in terms of INSULT to a susceptible child, that is different, generating a non-common answer of the immune system.
    MAría Luján

  21. helen June 16, 2006 at 16:58 #

    Maybe the question we should be asking above all else is:

    Why is the measles virus in the guts of some autistic children in the first place? It should be destroyed by the immune system.

  22. María Luján June 17, 2006 at 00:19 #

    Hi Helen

    First, I have never exchanged opinion with you, Nice to meet .

    When you say

    “Why is the measles virus in the guts of some autistic children in the first place? It should be destroyed by the immune system.”

    I agree with you, it should, but the possibility of an abnormal answer of the immune system to the combination of Measles-Pumps and rubella, plus preservants can not be ruled out for me, especially if there is some previous –even unnoticed- imbalance in the immune function, whatever the cause.

    Hi Zeus …

    Nice to meet you too.
    You say

    “Is there measles virus in anyone’s gut or is some charlatan with nonspecfic primers simply picking up primer-dimer action?”

    I do not discard this possibility. But for me there are also other possibilities, that are in fact questions. When contradictory results are presented, for me or there are errors in the data or the theories /hypothesis tested are not enough complete to explain the diversity of possibilities.
    The other possibilities for me- that involve the presentation of questions- are

    1-There is no measles virus –in any form, including a mutated non-specific one-in the gut of autistic children.
    2- There is measles virus, the strain of Edmonton kind or mutated strains, but the number of copies is too small to be detected
    3- There is measles virus, the strain of Edmonton kind of mutated strains, but the method used are not enough specific to detect them properly. 2 and 3 can take place at once.
    4-There is measles virus, but the location is not the same along the gut- and about the depth in the gut- and differ from autistic to autistic person, mainly the kind of affectation that includes severe diarrhea of non-specific kind- similar to IBD or Crohn
    5- There is measles virus but the replication is in cycles and not always in the same location in gut therefore it is very difficult to confirm because of variation of number of copies in time ( besides all the above).
    6-Considered that the viruses are attenuated and not cleared, what about migration to another tissues through the immune system- where biopsies are impossible or studies are too aggressive-and replication cycles in other tissues?Therefore can the problem be latent and subclinical apparently, being the physical symptoms the only ones.?

    What do you think?

    Sincerely
    María Luján

  23. Ms Clark June 17, 2006 at 03:32 #

    I think if we apply Occam’s razor we have to see the fraud involved in all of this the fruadster’s fingerprints all over all of this, the lack of IRB approval and unethical behavior over all of this.

    The simple explanation is that there never was a link between measles in the gut and opiods and kids with autism just being stoned on opiods. Heal the gut, take away the gluten and casein and the autism *poof* disappears…
    If “Wakefield” had been a endodontist it would be “heal the gums and the autism will *poof* disappear…”

    It’s a ridiculous idea on the face of it. If there were measles in the gut it could not cause autism anyway! It’s stupid. It entirely ignores what is known about brain morphology in autism. Brain morphology that begins long before birth.

    Here’s a new one:

    *Functional and Anatomical Cortical Underconnectivity in Autism: Evidence from an fMRI Study of an Executive Function Task and Corpus Callosum Morphometry.*

    Just MA, Cherkassky VL, Keller TA, Kana RK, Minshew NJ.

    —-
    Michelle would argue with their conclusions, but it’s one study that shows a difference in the hard-wiring of autistic brains that ain’t gonna change if you take away bread.

  24. MAría Luján Ferreira June 17, 2006 at 05:13 #

    Hi Mrs Clark
    I understand that you think different. But there are different levels of the analysis of the idea:
    As an only CAUSE of I think that is difficult to think in a direct link.As an additional insult I do not think that is ridiculous. You can have all the different brain structure prenatally related but this is not under discussion. The point for me is what is also different at a systemic point of view that predisposes someone for problems with the management of viruses, even attenuated and other bacterian/xenobiotics insults.
    As I presented several times, I think that genetics is related totally to autism. The brain probably is not the only organ affected and , as always, we do not have enough knowledge about ASD biochemistry, physiology and metabolism, transcriptomics, proteomics and epigenetics to know how at a systemic point of view and at and individual level, xenobiotics can be problematic to deal with, whatever the source, considering the individual .
    The Occam´s razon in Biology is not considered applicable several times.
    J. Clin. Invest. 111:801-803 (2003).

    Eric A. Sobie1,2, Silvia Guatimosim1, Long-Sheng Song1 and W.J. Lederer1
    “The challenge of molecular medicine: complexity versus Occam’s razor”:http://www.jci.org/cgi/content/full/111/6/801?ct

    and, as an introduction
    “Thesis_Moynihan”:http://www.ccwu.edu/Thesis_Moynihan/Chapter4.htm

    “References”:http://cfpm.org/pub/combib/complbib.txt
    specially when complex systems of systems are analyzed.

    You say
    The simple explanation is that there never was a link between measles in the gut and opiods and kids with autism just being stoned on opiods. Heal the gut, take away the gluten and casein and the autism poof disappears…

    I am sorry. This is one of the explanations. BTW I never thought that the autistic child I have would disappear if I heal the gut and take away the gluten and casein. I needed to heal the gut because of awful GI issues and take away the gluten and casein because he is celiac and milk allergic.

    What I can understand is the anger with the proposed conclussion that Autism IS CAUSED by Measles in gut. I also can understand the anger with the lack of reproducibility of the data and the problems with credibility. BTW, I do think that many doctors expert in virology do think in measles with respect and , looking at the recent published manuscripts on measles the last 8 months, well is a very tricky and complex virus. I think that the problem is with the messengers of the role of measles in ASD and how is presented the idea as a fact, how the research is done and the conclussions obtained from.
    I want more high level scientific research produced with care and scientific method, analyzed with open mind and taking into account seriously all the aspects of the potential role of measles in ASD.

    But I still think that there is no simple explanation and that the impact of viruses and infections in ASD is far away from being understood.

    Sincerely
    MAría Luján

  25. Ms Clark June 17, 2006 at 08:34 #

    Maria,

    Apparently, Dr. Wakefield was working in Crohns disease and suddenly jumped to autism because there was money coming from lawyers to prove that kids were injured by MMR. For a while he was thinking autism was a b12 deficiency, caused by gut problems, hence the b12 fervor… If the idea to attack the MMR came about through some kind of empirical observation and if there wasn’t a mile high pile of corruption here, I might see a reason to pursue the measles connection. Understand, that Wakefield’s version is that measles makes holes in the gut wall, allowing opiods through causing a *temporary, reversible* state of intoxication that is mistaken for autism.

    He postulates NORMAL children robbed of their normality by the MMR jab.

    You need to convince him, I think, about all the complexity.

    They won’t have much of a lawsuit though, if they go for your complexity idea where the kid is born on the edge of the spectrum with a not normal brain, with ADHD … and then heavy metals and viruses push him over into the abyss of autism… ok you don’t say abyss… but your idea is not likely to be picked up by many because there’s not much of a lawsuit in there.

    I appreciate you understanding my anger. Yes, I have plenty of it for antivax motivated lies coming from Wakefield and the mercury parents.

    They lie all the time. They lie and they feel justified to lie.

    Notice the problem with the Geiers and David G claiming to be a grad student when the school says he isn’t? Notice how Bradstreet pushed exorcism and is said to have ripped off his patients with a bait and switch with Secretin vials… according to a biomed mom who worked with him? Notice how they don’t have the right credentials, like Neubrander is a pathologist? Notice almost none of them are pediatricians and I think NONE of them is a developmental pediatrician or a true toxicologist or a true virologist?? This is bogus. The whole thing is bogus and I believe a total dead end. Notice how the real epidemiologist say there has been no epidemic? Notice that there’s no evidence for an epidemic of autism? Notice how they lie about that?

    But you are welcome to try to get legitimate scientists to apply for grants to study measles causing autism in susceptible ADHD babies … I won’t encourage them to do that; however, since I think it’s a dead end. It’s certainly a dead end for the majority of autistics — who don’t have gut problems — and don’t have allergies to wheat or dairy, and it’s a dead end for the autistics who never were vaccinated.

  26. David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) June 17, 2006 at 08:35 #

    María: “I am sorry. This is one of the explanations. BTW I never thought that the autistic child I have would disappear if I heal the gut and take away the gluten and casein. I needed to heal the gut because of awful GI issues and take away the gluten and casein because he is celiac and milk allergic.”

    That is actually a reasonable position. Whilst the intention is to deal directly with GI issues because of gluten and casein, the relief of the discomfort those issues cause can lead to a secondary effect which looks like ‘recovery’, but is in fact an autistic kid in less discomfort and therefore not behaving in ways which cause concern.

    I saw this with my own daughter.

    Good idea, if there is a GI problem based on gliadine and casein intolerance. Can be worth checking.

  27. MAría Luján Ferreira June 17, 2006 at 09:07 #

    Mrs Clark
    In April 2006 was published a complete issue dedicated to autism of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. One of the manuscripts ( I transcribe here complete the abstract) :
    Frequency of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Association with Family History of Autoimmune Disease.

    ASSOCIATED MEDICAL FACTORS

    Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 27(2) Supplement 2:S128-S136, April 2006.
    VALICENTI-McDERMOTT, MARIA M.D., M.S. 1; McVICAR, KATHRYN M.D. 2; RAPIN, ISABELLE M.D. 1; WERSHIL, BARRY K. M.D. 3; COHEN, HERBERT M.D. 1; SHINNAR, SHLOMO M.D., Ph.D. 1
    Abstract:
    This is a cross-sectional study that compares lifetime prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) and children with typical development and with other developmental disabilities (DDs) and examines the association of GI symptoms with a family history of autoimmune disease. A structured interview was performed in 50 children with ASD and 2 control groups matched for age, sex, and ethnicity-50 with typical development and 50 with other DDs. Seventy-four percent were boys with a mean age of 7.6 years (SD, +/-3.6). A history of GI symptoms was elicited in 70% of children with ASD compared with 28% of children with typical development (p <.001) and 42% of children with DD (p =.03). Abnormal stool pattern was more common in children with ASD (18%) than controls (typical development: 4%, p =.039; DD: 2%, p =.021). Food selectivity was also higher in children with ASD (60%) compared with those with typical development (22%, p =.001) and DD (36%, p =.023). Family history of autoimmune disease was reported in 38% of the ASD group and 34% of controls and was not associated with a differential rate of GI symptoms. In the multivariate analysis, autism (adjusted odds ratio (OR), 3.8; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.7-11.2) and food selectivity (adjusted OR, 4.1; 95% CI, 1.8-9.1) were associated with GI symptoms. Children with ASD have a higher rate of GI symptoms than children with either typical development or other DDs. In this study, there was no association between a family history of autoimmune disease and GI symptoms in children with ASD.

    What I want to present is that depending on the study ( and these authors are not the controversial ones) if the studies are carried out seriously perhaps new knowledge will arise. I understand all the concerns you presented and I share several with you. Simply, the personal characteristics you mentioned seem not serious- and of enough importance in terms of potential of danger- to be not analyzed with care. What I do not discard is that PART of the message can be true, even when the messenger seems not serious, even when sometimes numbers ( and words) are used without care pursuing particular agendas . Therefore I want serious people to study what is certain and what is not certain BUT with open mind and doing all the questions, not using epidemiology to discard as insults certain potential insults without clinical studies, in some children-not all with ASD.
    You say
    It’s certainly a dead end for the majority of autistics—who don’t have gut problems—and don’t have allergies to wheat or dairy, and it’s a dead end for the autistics who never were vaccinated.

    and I agree with you. I think that measles can potentially be a problem to those autistic children with certain immunological weakness and because of combination of circunstances and NOT as a causal , but as an insult. The biomarkers for this subrgroup and the importance of , specially considering the children with GI issues, for me needs a more careful study and consideration.
    ASD is extremely variable in presentation and totally individualized in medical conditions concomitant to the underlying genetics for me.Like you, I do not agree with generalizations of any kind in these studies. I do think that it is simply not possible to generalize because of the nature of the ASD in terms of genetics/epigenetics.

    MAría Luján

  28. MAría Luján Ferreira June 17, 2006 at 09:40 #

    Hi David
    Sorry, I have been the last 15 minutes struggling with a link- very long and with a lot of characters – to the special issue of the Journal of Developmental &Behavioral Pediatrics. (Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins).Finally I surrender because in textile I can get the link properly but here in the translation something is missing.
    Well, in my son´s case the GFCF diet had a very positive impact in terms of 2/3 days.Because he had also several other GI issues, the diet was a first step, but very important. I think in all these medical conditions ( resulting from me of the interaction of particular individual genetics with environment) as hinderings or confounding medical situations, that surely are not present in all children with ASD but in some subgroups. The neurological effects of gluten in the case of celiac disease are known and the problems with milk casein in terms of allergies are also known. My concern always was why ALL is assignable , you know, to ASD- I was told that all was pshycological and then I insisted and insisted and found another doctor – when concomitant medical conditions treatable under mainstreamed tests and trustable labs can give a lot of relief of pain and disconfort to ASD children, teens and adults. This position is totally different to say that ASD is CAUSED by celiac disease or milk allergy or candidiasis.
    You say
    “Good idea, if there is a GI problem based on gliadine and casein intolerance. Can be worth checking.”

    This is my point. Why ASD children with GI issues and disconfort are not checked for celiac disease and milk allergies routinely, as NT children are when they have similar GI issues ? The first thing that the gastroenterologist did when the antigliadin tests were high was to test/supplement folic acid, because in celiac disease there is generally folic acid defficiency and there can be another malabsorption problems, for example. These medical conditions have several important implicancies.

    What do you think?

    MAría Luján

  29. MAría Luján Ferreira June 17, 2006 at 09:51 #

    Hi David:
    I posted a comment about your comment but probably was considered for evaluation for Kevin because it disappeared.If it does not appear in a while, I will repeat it. Thanks
    María Luján

  30. David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) June 17, 2006 at 10:56 #

    Ah… okay, María… you’re welcome 🙂

  31. bill h July 1, 2006 at 01:49 #

    Kev, You said

    “Lets also note that the ‘medical authorities’ have taken repeated looks at this issue. The truth is that they can look until the cows come home. If there’s nothing there to find, nothing will be found.”

    Not sure what these “repeated looks” are. Presumably you are refering to the Afzal et al. study. I have already pointed out to you that this group only looked at blood samples and this in no way implies what might be present in the gut. There are a huge number of pathogens capable of lodging in a variety of body tissues without being detectable in the blood: TB, Chickenpox, etc. (That’s why invasive biopsies, as opposed to a simple blood test, so often need to be carried out to identify pathogens). Indeed the leader of the research team on this paper, Phil Minor ackowledges this, saying:

    “The samples examined were blood specimens, although the original studies examined bowel biopsies. Moreover blood has been reported positive in unpublished work so this seemed an acceptable sample to examine.”

    In other words he’s claiming not to refute the work of O’Leary , Wakefield et al. but merely some “unpublished work” by an undisclosed author.

    This seems a reasonable explanation for the news media’s lack of interest in the Afzal paper that so infuriates Goldacre. To be fair on Goldacre though, he doesn’t seem to be claiming that Afzal et al. have refuted Wakefield and O’Leary, simply complaining that the media are more interested in an unpublished paper by Krigsman et al. than a published, albeit not very germane, paper by Afzal, Minor et al.

    Regards, Bill.
    (Interest declared: father of child with ASD diagnosis, which I do NOT believe to be caused by vaccination).

  32. Kev July 1, 2006 at 06:03 #

    _”Not sure what these “repeated looks” are. Presumably you are refering to the Afzal et al. study.”_

    Afzal is one clinical study, the Chadwick refutation is another (if it exists in published form). There are more epid. based refutations than clinical.

    _”I have already pointed out to you that this group only looked at blood samples and this in no way implies what might be present in the gut.”_

    Interesting side issue: Afzal et al requested material from Bradsteet and Wakefield and were refused. I wonder why? I know you can’t answer that but its still interesting to me.

    Anyway. Be that as it may, the people I’ve talked to about this (I’ve got nothing to reference other than email chats, sorry) say that there’s no reason _not_ to expect MV to show in the blood as that is its most common place of residence. If Wakefield, Krigsman et al want to make a special case for the gut – and _only_ the gut – then they need to do that.

    _”In other words he’s claiming not to refute the work of O’Leary , Wakefield et al. but merely some “unpublished work” by an undisclosed author.”_

    I agree that its not conclusive but neither does it mean nothing.

  33. bill h July 13, 2006 at 23:48 #

    Kev, You said:

    “there’s no reason not to expect MV to show in the blood as that is its most common place of residence”.

    What you say might be true when someone without immunity catches measles. However, the blood is the seat of the immune system, so the virus soon gets clobbered very efficiently. Once a person has acquired immunity then the virus must find a “place of residence” somewhere else in the body – which then becomes the “most common”. I believe that various measles virus strains (quite apart from the MMR) have indeed been found elsewhere in the body long after initial infection and immune response, so I really don’t understand your emailers’ contention. I’m not an expert on measles virus, but chickenpox is an excellent example of the point I’m making. Once the virus has been destroyed in the blood it finds refuge in the nerve cells where it can later cause shingles.

    “If Wakefield, Krigsman et al want to make a special case for the gut – and only the gut – then they need to do that”.

    I wasn’t aware they were saying the gut was the only place. The reason they looked there was that they were confronted with a lot of kids with severe bowel disease for which there was no apparent cause, and took biopsies of the disordered tissue to try to find out the cause- an eminently reasonable clinical procedure for which Wakefield is now bizarrely being accused of unethical conduct. What was he supposed to do? Tell the parents to go away because he wasn’t morally justified in taking a biopsy of their kids. If biopisies of severely dysfuctional organs are unethical there are an awful lot of turpitudinous physicians about.

    Actually, Wakefield and Bradstreet have reported measles virus consistent with the MMR strain in cerebrospinal fluid as well as the gut.

  34. Kev July 14, 2006 at 06:15 #

    Hi again Bill,

    I’ll raise your points with my friend and get back to you.

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