Elizabeth Mumper is an expert witness for the Petitioners (for the families). She is the medical director for DAN/ARI and founder of the Rimland Centre.
She firmly believes vaccines cause autism.
On Days four and five last week, Mumper testified. Again, there’s little point me going through the Petitioners exam – you can easily guess the content. Where things got interesting was on cross exam.
Again, this is me making notes on the audio so there may be minor errors. I also didn’t get the name of the young man doing the cross exam for the Dept of Justice.
In the expert reports that Mumper prepared for the thiomersal hearings, she stated:
1 in 6 children born today is predicted to have blood levels of mercury high enough to impair neurological development.
And she referenced Stern, 2005 to support that statement.
The DoJ immediately asked her where in the Stern paper that figure was quoted. After 2mins, 01 seconds of which only the noise of someone rifling through a paper could be heard, Mumper stated:
I do not see the 1 in 6 statistic there.
To which the DoJ lawyer asked:
Q: So the Stern paper does not state ‘1 in 6 children born today is predicted to have blood levels of mercury high enough to impair neurological development.’
A: You are correct.
The next question that came Mumpers way was – in fact I’ll do the whole exchange:
Q: Have you ever treated a child for mercury poisoning?
Q: What formal training have you received in toxicology?
Now wait just a minute – Liz Mumper, medical director of DAN! is stating that _she has never treated a child for acute mercury poisoning???_ Did I miss something here?
There was a lengthy to and fro after this during which ‘autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning‘ was discussed. Mumper squirmed a bit but admitted that it was published by three non-scientists, in a non-peer reviewed journal and that as she put it ‘the science had progressed’ since its publication (which was her way of saying it was dead wrong I think).
Mumpers take on the Hornig paper was fascinating. According to her, the:
…mice got OCD behaviours and they clawed through each others skull…
Now firstly – OCD behaviours? According to every member of the mercury militia worth their salt, Mady’s mice got _autistic_ behaviours. Now, obviously, they didn’t. Everyone from the IOM down (including certain tiara wearing bloggers) pointed out that the behaviours reported by Hornig bore no resemblance to autism. Now here was Mumper confirming that.
Secondly – this skull clawing – why was that raised in court? This behaviour was certainly not part of Hornig’s paper. It smacks of second hand sensationalism.
The DoJ lawyer asked Mumper what her opinion was of the Berman paper that entirely refuted Hornig (‘the present results do not indicate pervasive developmental neurotoxicity following vaccine-level thimerosal injections in SJL mice, and provide little if any support for the hypothesis that thimerosal exposure contributes to the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders’).
Amazingly, Mumper’s response was that she hadn’t read it! I must admit that when she said that (and yes, you could clearly hear the embarrassment in her voice when she admitted that) I laughed out loud. Aren’t medical directors supposed to keep up to date with science relevant to their ‘areas of expertise’?
The next section concerned the role of the ‘new kid on the black’ – Porphyrins. I’ll quote the initial exchange as near to verbatim as I can.
Q: You order this Porphyrin test in your own practice?
Q: And do you find them to be a reliable measure of mercury toxicity in autistic patients?
A: *I’m split on that now* because I think that they’re good at showing differential toxicities but the thing that is worrying us now is that we’ve not looked at a lot of control children and we’re starting to do that and *finding that some normal children have abnormal Porphyrins too* .
Again, to those of us who’ve been following these stories, this is not news. However, what _is_ news is to hear the medical director of DAN/ARI confirm that Porphyrins aren’t as useful as touted. Note that although she knows she’s getting false positives she’s still ordering the tests.
There was some back and forth at that point as to why Mumper thought that the Porphyrin test wasn’t very accurate. She says she thinks it is because the control in the Nataf paper were French and Swiss and that US kids are ‘environmentally and genetically different’.
Could be. But, as Prometheus pointed out when we talked about this via email:
Now, if Swiss and French kids are “…too genetically different…” from US (and presumably UK) children for something as simple (and reportedly reliable) as the “porphyrin profile” to work, then what about the Amish?
Which is an excellent point. Its an established fact that the Amish _are_ genetically different. They’re also certainly environmentally different. I guess that doesn’t matter though.
DoJ wrapped up day four by asking:
Q: Porphyrins do not provide any evidence that mercury is in the brain, is that correct?
A: That’s correct.
On day five, DoJ played a little dirty. Bearing in mind that Mumper had said on day four that she was ‘split’ on the efficacy of the Porphyrin test, DoJ asked her to read out sworn testimony she had given in a separate case in Jan/Aug 2007:
Probably the most helpful test to me now is the Porphyrin test….
Which direct contradiction of yesterdays testimony was embarrassing enough, but she then went on to say (in 2007) that:
….it actually looked at the impact of ethyl mercury….
When on day four she had testified that it did no such thing.
All in all, DoJ made Mumper look very unsure. They tripped her up factually any number of times and led her into making statements (never treated mercury poisoning!) that I’m pretty sure she would not really have wanted to make.