Bravo Age of Autism

20 May

Yep, you read that correctly.

In a recent blog post on the Age of Autism blog, Dr Lorene E.A. Amet wrote about “Testosterone and Autism”. While much of the piece seems to be fighting a straw man (the theme is that Simon Baron-Cohen wants to use testosterone to screen for autism prenatally–without a link to the story or a quote from SBC, I found this difficult to wade through). But, as part of her piece, Dr. Amet wrote:

It is of great concern that studies on testosterone and autism are being misinterpreted, leading to the use of therapies aimed at disturbing steroid hormone production in individuals with autism. Currently, many autistic children may be being treated, without proof of safety and scientific and medical evidence of benefit, with a view to reducing their hormonal secretion of testosterone (Lupron Therapy, Spironolactone). The rationale behind advocating these therapies appears to be based on a misunderstanding of autistic behaviours and without systematic laboratory evidence of abnormal testosterone levels.

I had to double check that I was reading the right blog! I mean, Age of Autism allowed someone to state that the the rationale behind using Lupron to treat autism is “based on a misunderstanding”.

For those who are lucky enough to not know, Lupron as a treatment for autism is the pet project of Mark and David Geier. These are near heroes to the world of Age of Autism, due in large part to their promotion of REALLY bad epidemiology (for example, here, here and here on Epiwonk’s blog) to support the thimerosal/autism link.

The Geiers took the testosterone theory of Dr. Baron-Cohen and ran with it. Ran without knowing what they were doing or where they were going. Somehow they came to the conclusion that Testosterone binds with mercury in the brain, making it difficult to remove the mercury with chelation. Reduce the testosterone in the system, they guessed, and one could get the mercury out. Since in their world autism is caused by mercury, this will “recover” or “cure” people of autism.

Doesn’t make any sense to you? That’s because it doesn’t make any sense. At all.

Even though the idea of using lupron is misguided and potentially dangerous, that doesn’t mean that the groups that sponsor the Age of Autism blog would be willing to out the Geiers, even without specifically naming them, for the unscientific team that they are.

To be honest, I think the Age of Autism editors just missed that paragraph by Dr. Amet before approving it to be published (if they approve at all).

But, it’s there now for all to read. Bravo Age of Autism. Bravo for joining the world of people who find the Lupron Protocol to be based on a “misunderstanding” of the science.

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8 Responses to “Bravo Age of Autism”

  1. Kev May 21, 2009 at 00:21 #

    Maybe too many legal losses have made the Geier’s bad news these days?

  2. Sullivan May 21, 2009 at 00:35 #

    Not with two talks at Autism One.

    Have the groups that sponsor the Age of Autism blog ever shunned anyone (well, besides that one ex-rescue angel)?

  3. J Kenneth Wickiser May 21, 2009 at 01:20 #

    We need to study history to help avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. To that end… back in 2006:
    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=68

    and the classic:
    http://www.neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/109

  4. Sullivan May 21, 2009 at 01:52 #

    Mr. Wickiser,

    thanks for those links. The one by Promethius is an excellent discussion on how removed from reality the Gier’s “understanding” of teststosterone and autism is.

  5. kopesky.m May 21, 2009 at 06:08 #

    I’m on Spironolactone for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It’s disturbing to think autistic kids could be treated with it.

  6. rajensen088 May 21, 2009 at 13:03 #

    Baron-Cohen’s extreme male brain theory has been tested… by Baron-Cohen himself. He has studied the outcomes of 235 babies born to mothers who underwent amniocentesis while pregnant.

    His theory was that high levels of prenatal testesterone would lead to autism outcomes greater than the prevelance of autism in the general population. None of the the 235 babies at followup (6-8 years later) had ever received an autism diagnosis of any kind, not one. Baron-Cohen must have been extremely disappointed with the results of his study. Baron-Cohen has called for more studies using much higher samples to test his conjecture.

  7. daedalus2u May 21, 2009 at 13:52 #

    raj, that was not what SBC was looking at and/or trying to find. What he expected to find and what he did find was that sub-clinical levels of traits associated with ASDs would correlate with in utero testosterone levels.

    The level of testosterone that is “important”, is the level right next to the cell being affected by that testosterone. The levels in blood, in serum, or in amniotic fluid are considerably less than the levels right next to the cells producing the testosterone. Those testosterone levels are different in different tissue compartments because there are many different tissues that make testosterone, that consume testosterone, and that make and consume metabolites upstream and downstream of the rate limiting enzymes in testosterone synthesis.

  8. Roger May 22, 2009 at 01:53 #

    You forgot this one

    Yes, Mark and David Geier, that father-son team of dumpster-diving pseudoscientists and promoters of chelation and chemical castration as treatments for autism dedicated to “proving” that mercury in vaccines causes autism, no matter how much they need to torture the data to do it, are at it again.

    This time around, they’ve published an allegedly scientific paper entitled Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal- Containing Vaccines, published (where else?) in that repository of dubious medical science, The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. This paper purports to show that autism rates have started to dip since early 2003, when the last lots of thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines expired, the point after which, with the exception of some flu vaccines, for all intents and purposes no child in the U.S. has received thimerosal-containing vaccines. If true, such an observation would represent compelling evidence for the thimerosal-autism hypothesis. Not surprisingly, loony sources like WorldNut Daily and Vox Day (to whom I administered a blog slapdown a few months ago when he uncritically parroted Dan Olmsted’s credulous reporting on a poorly documented population that is claimed not to have been vaccinated and to have very low rates of autism) have trumpeted the Geiers’ study as “proof” that mercury in vaccines causes autism).

    It’s no such thing.

    What it is, in actuality, is yet another example of the Geiers mining the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database for purposes for which it was never designed and misusing the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) database similarly. First, off, as I pointed out extensively before, the VAERS database is designed only as an early warning system for reporting adverse events thought to be due to vaccines. It is not designed to track the incidence or prevalence of vaccine complications. One reason is that anyone can make entries into it, not just medical professionals, and the results are only checked in the most perfunctory way.

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