Sharyl Attkisson blogs the Hannah Poling settlement

10 Sep

I had forgotten Sharyl Attkisson. She is a reporter for CBS news who has covered vaccines in the past, but has been silent on the issue for the past year or more.

Her recent piece shows exactly the sort of reporting that frustrated me in the past: Family to Receive $1.5M in First-Ever Vaccine-Autism Court Award

In that piece she links to her piece from 2008 on the Hannah Poling case: Vaccine Case: An Exception Or A Precedent?

Here’s a quote from that earlier piece:

While the Poling case is the first of its kind to become public, a CBS News investigation uncovered at least nine other cases as far back as 1990, where records show the court ordered the government compensated families whose children developed autism or autistic-like symptoms in children including toddlers who had been called “very smart” and “impressed” doctors with their “intelligence and curiosity” … until their vaccinations.

They were children just like Hannah Poling.

What’s still being debated is whether the Poling case is an exception … or a precedent.

So, which is it? Were there children “just like Hannah Poling” or is this the “First-Ever Vaccine-Autism Court Award”?

Actually, it is neither. This isn’t the first vaccine court award involving autism, and the other cases are not “just like Hannah Poling”.

For real information on the other nine cases, read Kathleen Seidel’s piece on Neurodiversity.com. Few, professional or amateur, can compare the the thoroughness of Kathleen Seidel. For example, one case (the first I read involving autism from the vaccine court) is Suel v. HHS. Young David Suel had tuberous sclerosis, a condition known to be associated with autism and epilepsy. Epilepsy occurs in about 60 to 90% of individuals with TS. Autism occurs in about 25-50%. David Suel’s case was declared to be a “table injury” wherein the seizures began within a set period after his DPT vaccination. What is notable about that is the table for DPT was later changed–when it was shown that DPT was not responsible for inducing seizure disorders. In other words, had David Suel been vaccinated, or just filed, after the change in the table, he likely would not have been awarded damages.

“They were children just like Hannah Poling”? Is tuberous sclerosis just like mitochondrial disease? (answer: not even close).

Shall we go on? In her recent piece, Ms. Attkisson states:

In 2002, Hannah’s parents filed an autism claim in federal vaccine court. Five years later, the government settled the case before trial and had it sealed

Not accurate. The court did not “settle” the case in 2007. They conceded the case, and they were in the process of completing the settlement when someone leaked the information to the press. The government did not “seal” the case–it is standard procedure to keep this information confidential until the settlement is completed.

But that doesn’t make a good story, does it?

Ms. Attkisson goes on:

In acknowledging Hannah’s injuries, the government said vaccines aggravated an unknown mitochondrial disorder Hannah had which didn’t “cause” her autism, but “resulted” in it. It’s unknown how many other children have similar undiagnosed mitochondrial disorder. All other autism “test cases” have been defeated at trial. Approximately 4,800 are awaiting disposition in federal vaccine court.

Mito-autism was a big thing for a while there. David Kirby took the story and ran with it–making a lot of mistakes along the way and propagating a lot of misinformation. It is unknown how many other children have similar disorders–but the researchers who studied cases like Hannah Poling have stated that cases such as hers are “rare”.

“All other autism “test cases” have been defeated at trial”.

What is conspicuous about the other “test cases” is that in none of them was it argued that the children were like Hannah Poling–i.e. the attorneys did not argue that a mechanism of autism through mitochondrial dysfunction aggravated by vaccines existed. In fact, one child named as a test case was pulled from that slot in order to argue that mitochondrial based case. The expert report filed for that child (since pulled from the Omnibus website) did not argue mitochondrial disorder or dysfunction at that time. In other words, the idea of a mitochondrial disorder being linked to autism was so alien from the cases being made by the attorneys for the families in the Omnibus that this child had to argue the case separately.

It is often pointed out that many autistics may have mitochondrial dysfunction. This is based largely on studies out of Portugal. It is left implied, and it is often believed that mitochondrial dysfunction means vaccine injury in these cases. This was the impression that David Kirby put forth and it was clearly wrong. First, mitochondrial disorders are a very broad spectrum. The type that Hannah Poling has is not the same as those detected in most autistics. Second, most reports of mitochondrial disorders and autism, including the Portugal studies, do not involve regression. Third, even amongst those children reported by the groups that identified Hannah Poling, regression was often idiopathic or followed fever clearly independent of vaccination.

I do not expect Ms. Attkisson to present the following (quality) information, so I will repeat it here:

Here are the answers to some questions posted to mitochondrial medicine experts and their answers:

When asked, to respond to the position: ‘‘I view the risk of vaccination in known metabolic disease patients to generally be outweighed by the risk of the infectious diseases being vaccinated against”

63.2% strongly agreed
31.1% agreed
0.9% disagreed
and 0.9% strongly disagreed.

Asked about the opinion that the risk of vaccination in metabolic disease was ‘‘greater than the risk of the infectious diseases being vaccinated against”

52.9% strongly disagreed
40% disagreed
3.5% agreed
and none strongly agreed

98 Responses to “Sharyl Attkisson blogs the Hannah Poling settlement”

  1. John Gilmore September 10, 2010 at 00:37 #

    Let’s review: the US federal government just awarded $1.5 million to Hannah Poling’s family for autism caused by vaccines.

    Spin it any way you want.

  2. ANB September 10, 2010 at 00:54 #

    Nice spin, John. Did you even read the article?

  3. Chris September 10, 2010 at 01:24 #

    John, does every child with autism have a mitochondrial disorder? Yes or no.

    And would a fever associated with yet another ear infection or a flu bug cause a similar reaction? Yes or no?

  4. Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 01:26 #

    John Gilmore,

    While people like Dan Olmsted dismiss such talk as Orwellian, it is very important to not spin it as you have just done.

    The government awarded $1.5M–plus an annuity which is likely to cost $10M or more–for a table MMR encephalopathy.

    Why is this important? Because the whole point of the Omnibus was to decide whether autism could be considered as a table injury. Hannah Poling does not set that precedent. Another way to put it is this–One can not say, “My kid had his/her first symptoms of autism within a month of a vaccine, therefore the autism is a vaccine injury”. Had one of the Omnibus test cases made the general causation argument stick, something like that would be possible.

    Further, spin it as you might, even the most optimistic interpretation of this case does not give any credibility to vaccines being the cause of the increase in autism prevalence reported.

    Spin it as you want, but mitochondrial dysfunction alone is not the same thing as vaccine injury. People attempting to push that idea in court will fail.

    The precedent Hannah Poling sets is very different than how many will try to present it. And that difference is very important. She sets the precedent that vaccine injury awards can pay out for much more than just supplementing existing public programs. The award for Hannah Poling creates a system which will give her a life independent of those public programs.

    That is huge. It is my belief that credit for that likely belongs to Hannah’s mother, who was an attorney, and the very unique circumstances of this case.

  5. Anne September 10, 2010 at 01:53 #

    “Because the whole point of the Omnibus was to decide whether autism could be considered as a table injury.”

    I think the point of the OAP was to decide whether causation of autism was proved in cases where there was no table injury. Remember, the table injury creates a presumption of causation; where there is no table injury, there is no presumption, and the petitioner has to prove causation (general and specific) by a preponderance of the evidence.

    So I think autistic kids with table injuries will get compensated. Otherwise, autistic petitioners have a hard row to hoe.

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 04:12 #

      I think the point of the OAP was to decide whether causation of autism was proved in cases where there was no table injury. Remember, the table injury creates a presumption of causation; where there is no table injury, there is no presumption, and the petitioner has to prove causation (general and specific) by a preponderance of the evidence.

      So I think autistic kids with table injuries will get compensated. Otherwise, autistic petitioners have a hard row to hoe.

      I don’t think what we are saying is different. The purpose was, as you say, to prove in cases where an existing table-injury was not present. The attempt to prove “general causation” would have set out the conditions whereby an autism case could be easily considered to be a vaccine injury, negating the need for a proof of causation. That way the 5,000 cases of the Omnibus could be decided quickly and inexpensively.

      Those conditions would have established a new table injury–either officially (i.e. written down and added to the existing table) or practically (a set of rules which could be used to quickly decide whether a case should be conceded).

  6. John Gilmore September 10, 2010 at 03:02 #

    Did the VICP special master decide that Hannah Poling has autism as a result of a vaccine injury? Yes.
    Has a substantial monetary award been made to compensate her family for that injury? Yes.

    Everything else is rationalization and spin. Keep on spinning guys.

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 03:27 #

      Did the VICP special master decide that Hannah Poling has autism as a result of a vaccine injury? Yes.

      Actually, you are mistaken there. No Special Master issued a decision on the Hannah Poling case. That’s what a concession is.

      If you don’t want to discuss what is important in this case, you can find places where you can just join the cheerleading. The questions being discussed here are actually quite important.

  7. Science Mom September 10, 2010 at 03:38 #

    @John Gilmore, Is Hannah Poling representative of the rest of the petitioners in the OAP?

  8. Dedj September 10, 2010 at 04:07 #

    In addition, the concession was not for autism.

    I believe a formal statement explaining such has already been issued.

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 04:27 #

      Dedj,

      The document to which both the Poling family and the government agreed to put it as:

      Respondent has conceded that petitioners are entitled to compensation due to the significant aggravation of Child’s pre-existing mitochondrial disorder based on an MMR vaccine Table presumptive injury of encephalopathy, which eventually manifested as a chronic encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder and a complex partial seizure disorder as a sequela.

      The term “features of autism” comes from the expert reports wirtten by Hannah Polings physicians. Dr. Zimmerman, whose report is quoted in the concession document, referred to her condition as “regressive encephalopathy with features consistent with an autistic spectrum disorder, following normal development.”

      It is interesting watching people try to spin the “features of autism” statment as evidence of the government trying to obscure the facts. The statement is directly from Hannah Poling’s own doctor.

  9. Maurine Meleck September 10, 2010 at 05:25 #

    The Age of Autism–Mercury, Medicine and A Manmade Epidemic by
    Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
    Available in stores beginning Sept. 14th
    Available now on Amazon

    Be sure to spin in both directions or you might get dizzy and fall down.

  10. Julian Frost September 10, 2010 at 06:43 #

    Did the VICP special master decide that Hannah Poling has autism as a result of a vaccine injury? Yes.

    No. Hannah had a mitochondrial disorder, not autism.

    Keep on spinning guys.

    BOO0MMM!!
    Huh?!! What the?!! Oh, my hypocrisy meter just exploded.

  11. Kev September 10, 2010 at 07:28 #

    Maurine and John. You are, as you were last time Hannah Poling was news, only looking at the superficial and refusing to see the details. That doesn’t bode well for you.

    ‘features of autism’ is not the same as ‘autism’. If it was, Ms Poling’s doctors would’ve simply said ‘autism’.

    Take a look at the case study authored by amongst others Jon Poling, Hannah’s dad. In it it lists every symptom caused by vaccines. Compare that list to the DSM IV for autism. Its not even close. That’s why they refer to ‘features of autism’.

  12. Chris September 10, 2010 at 08:01 #

    Do you think Maurine and John would like some rhubarb pie?

    Oops, sorry. Wrong blog. 😉

  13. Julian Frost September 10, 2010 at 08:33 #

    Ha, ha, Chris.
    (Respectful Insolence, for those who don’t get the comment on rhubarb pie.)

  14. Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 11:06 #

    Maurine Meleck,

    If you would like to provide some details rather than a plug for a book, we could have a discussion rather than name calling.

    That said, let’s consider the book Age of Autism. It is a book dedicated to promoting the idea that mercury causes autism (and other ills), correct?

    Hannah Poling’s case was settled as a table MMR injury. This is consistent with the opinions of the dcotors who studies the children like Miss Poling who considered MMR and, in specific, the measles component to be the likely cuplrit for such regressions based on its ability to cause fever. How, exactly, does that fit into the mercury hypothesis? Mitochondrial doctors do not consider mercury to be an important factor in the disorders.

    Speaking of spin, would you like to comment on Ms. Attkisson’s comment that the government “sealed” the Poling case in 2007? That statement is clearly intended to make her readers suspicious of the government and it is also clearly wrong.

  15. John Gilmore September 10, 2010 at 13:13 #

    Hannah Poling has autism. She did not have autism before she received her shots at age 18 months. The US federal government is giving the Polings a lot of money now because they have determined that Hannah’s autism is the result of an injury caused by those vaccines.

    This is pretty simple.

    Quibble, spin, rationalize in whatever way you need to.

  16. Dawn September 10, 2010 at 13:21 #

    Gee, John Gilmore. I am impressed that you, above Hannah’s doctors, the Special Court, and everyone, just KNOW that she has autism. I mean, it can’t be possible that Hannah’s own doctors, who wrote: “features of autism” know more than you.

    Hey, Chris…I want rhubarb pie. 😉

  17. Julian Frost September 10, 2010 at 13:23 #

    John, you’re the one who’s spinning. You’re also flat out lying. Hannah Poling has Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, not autism.

  18. RickK September 10, 2010 at 13:30 #

    John,

    Did the vaccine cause a fever? Yes
    Did the fever trigger the autism? Yes

    Do many other things cause fevers? Yes

    Do many vaccine preventable diseases cause fevers? Yes

    Is comprehensive vaccination important in minimizing childhood fevers? Yes

    Are vaccinations one of the best ways to keep our children alive and healthy? Yes

    Are arguments like yours leading directly to the deaths of children? Yes

    Spin it any way you want

  19. Visitor September 10, 2010 at 13:52 #

    I knew who had written the piece before I looked it up. This woman Atkisson is either so profoundly ignorant or ruthlessly deceitful (I guess she is struggling to keep her job), that it beggars belief.

    Hannah Poling does not have autism. And she was not a test case. And yet this lying creep Atkisson says both.

  20. Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 15:20 #

    I don’t know if Hannah Poling has autism or not. Both sides couldn’t come to an agreement on how to release the expert reports, and her medical records have not been given for some third-party to review.

    That said, I don’t doubt she has a diagnosis. That is a different thing from whether the government is stating that vaccines cause autism in this case.

    I know it sounds like a very fine point, but it is critical to future cases in the vaccine court.

    Lastly, I’ll again point out that “featurs of autism” comes from Hannah Poling’s doctors. While we debate the meaning of the phrase, it’s good to keep in mind that this wasn’t some phrase made up by the government as many would suggest.

  21. Visitor September 10, 2010 at 15:27 #

    Sullivan, I hate to quibble with you, but “features consistent with an autistic spectrum disorder” does not mean the same thing as “features of autism”.

    “Autism” in any professional or legal context would mean DSMIV autistic disorder.

    “consistent with” only means consistent with. High blood pressure is consistent with a heart attack. It doesn’t mean the same thing.

    Actually, I’m amazed that the government allowed those words to be dropped.

  22. Orange Lantern September 10, 2010 at 15:59 #

    Or for another example, a person can have features of ADHD (a degree of inattention, forgetfulness, and/or hyperactivity), but not have ADHD, that is, not meet the DSM IV criteria for ADHD.

    Count me in on the rhubarb pie.

  23. Maurine Meleck September 10, 2010 at 16:41 #

    At present, the diagnosis is based on features of autism, autism like symptoms—whatever way you want to call it—features or like symptoms–that is autism. Were it to be based on physical symptoms, where it should be—one would not call it autism—perhaps heavy metal toxicity, mercury poisoning, oxidative stress, immune dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, regressive encephalopathy—some or all of these would describe the children who have autism and then they could remove the word autism from our vocabulary. Sadly they want to continue to use the A word–so Hannah has autism, my grandson has autism and so on and so fourth.
    The reason I mentioned the book is because I’d like to see if any of you are brave enough to read it—course sticking to your predetermined sentiments might make your life easier, but allowing opposing viewpoints into your life might offer you some enlightenment. It promises to be a big bestseller and hopefully will bring about healthy change for our children of the future.

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 19:22 #

      Maurine Meleck,

      I would claim (justifiably, I believe) that Kev and I are at least as aware of the “science” behind the vaccine-causation theories as most of the people who support it. We are not afraid of looking at the science or challenging our understanding. Kev and I both came from a position of looking at vaccine causation with an open mind, so I don’t think your assertion of “predetermined sentiments” is accurate at all.

      I know of a few bloggers who contacted the publicist for the AoA book, asking for preview copies. The books were not sent.

      heavy metal toxicity, mercury poisoning, oxidative stress, immune dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, regressive encephalopathy—-some or all of these would describe the children who have autism

      Not accurate at all. A person could have all of the above and not have autism. A person could have none of the above and not have autism. Would you like to challenge your predetermined sentiments on that?

  24. Kev September 10, 2010 at 17:03 #

    Maurine, for the reasons outlined above ‘features of autism’ is *not* the same as ‘autism’. Thats just the plain simple truth.

    As for AoA the book, I’ve already read the Introduction and found it par for the course…sensationalist, big on claims, low on evidence. I suspect the meat of the book to be exactly the same.

    Have you read Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion? Or do you not allow opposing viewpoints into your life?

  25. Visitor September 10, 2010 at 17:14 #

    It won’t be a big seller either. Sadly, for them, they’ve missed the boat. It was Kirby who cleaned up before anybody (including himself) realized that what he’d dutifully copied down and arranged to seem exciting,was total bilge.

  26. Chris September 10, 2010 at 18:30 #

    Maurine, considering the severe lack of scientific rigor used by Blaxill and Olmsted in the past, starting with the silly Autism, a Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning published in Medical Hypothesis, and ending with their entire set of AoA writings; I am not going spend any money, nor waste any time on reading their book.

    (though I will be going to the university library and checking out Dangerous Pregnancies by Leslie Reagan, which is about the 1960s rubella epidemic and its impact on abortion rights, disease and disability rights…. hmmm, I wonder if the library cafe will have rhubarb pie)

  27. When Prophecy Fails September 10, 2010 at 18:59 #

    “Were it to be based on physical symptoms, where it should be—-one would not call it autism—-perhaps heavy metal toxicity, mercury poisoning, oxidative stress, immune dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, regressive encephalopathy—-some or all of these would describe the children who have autism and then they could remove the word autism from our vocabulary.”

    Six of the best “test cases” in the OAP failed miserably to provide any scientific basis for this sentiment. To continue to believe it, and assert it as fact to others, cleary demonstrates the belief disconfirmation paradigm.

  28. Robert September 10, 2010 at 19:02 #

    Did you know that possible adverse reactions to the MMR vaccine include encephalitis and encephalopathy? (i.e. brain damage)

    Here’s an interesting quote:

    “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out that “a certain number of cases of encephalitis may be expected to occur in a large childhood population in a defined period of time even when no vaccines are administered”. However, the data suggest the possibility that some of these cases may have been caused by measles vaccines.”

    Where did I grab that info from? Age of Autism? No. Generation Rescue? No. Some other anti-vaccine propaganda website? (as the medical industry likes to refer to them). No. Those quotes are taken right out of the MMR Vaccine Insert from Merck.

    If the vaccine makers themselves are willing to admit that, why does the rest of the medical industry constantly try to deny the possibility that vaccines will do irreperable damage to SOME children?

  29. Kev September 10, 2010 at 19:10 #

    Robert – which has what to do with _autism_ exactly?

  30. AutismNewsBeat September 10, 2010 at 19:56 #

    I requested a review copy about two weeks ago. I even received a reply from the publicist saying the book would be on its way. Nothing so far. That’s not surprising. Vaccine rejectionism thrives on universal assent. That’s why journalists are thrown out of AutismOne conferences, and Jenny McCarthy only agreed to appear on a talk show if the AAP was barred from the set.

  31. Robert September 10, 2010 at 20:00 #

    Kev – There’s a growing movement among parents of autistic children to “stop calling it autism” and in fact label it as encephalitis or even autistic encephalitis. The notion being that the autism that was diagnosed in 1 in 20,000 children 30 years ago has not increased, but rather that the 1 in 100 children nowadays being classified as autistic are actually suffering from some form of brain damage, which is being labelled as autism because the medical industry doesn’t fully understand it and doesn’t know what else to call it.

    However, that’s somewhat beside the point. Your comment makes it sound like you’re fine with admitting that brain damage is a possible side effect of the MMR, as long as the word autism isn’t used. Surely I’ve misunderstood where you were going with your comment.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the vaccine makers themselves admit that their product does cause brain damage in some children. If they’re willing to admit that vaccines are not safe for everyone, why does the rest of society have such a problem with that notion?

  32. Visitor September 10, 2010 at 20:17 #

    Robert,

    If you would just take the trouble to inform yourself, you will discover than an encephalopathy is a table injury, compensatable under the vaccine damage act. Hannah Poling was compensated for having suffered a presumed encephalopathy within 15 days. The plaintiffs in the autism omnibus action were claiming something else altogether.

    And in any action of this sort, compensation does not prove causation. That is the whole point of the vaccine act. It removed the need to prove causation. Thus, the Poling case proves nothing, not even that she had an encephalopathy. All it proves is that the concession and an award were made. Nothing more than that.

    Compare that with the omnibus action, which went through three special masters, three district judges and three circuit judges. The proposition that vaccines can cause autism was rejected.

    Yes, vaccines can have side effects. Everything does. People are seriously injured by Tylenol. People have dropped stone dead in reaction to the latex in a surgeon’s gloves. So what?

  33. Chris September 10, 2010 at 20:34 #

    Robert, my son’s formal diagnosis from the pediatric neurologist is “static encephalopathy.” He also noted the history of seizures, the first set for no known reason, and the last major one during an actual illness, but would only say they “may or many not be the cause.” Also, after a phone conversation with neurologist’s nurse while reading the ten page report, my definition of “static encephalopathy” is neurologist speak for “there is something wrong with the brain, we don’t know what, but it is not changing.”

    So my reaction to you little diatribe is: [sarcasm]Big Freaking Whoop-dee-doo![/sarcasm] So what?

    Oh, and encephalitis, meningitis and other forms of brain damage happen with measles, mumps, Hib, and lots of other real diseases — at rates many hundreds and thousands of times more often than the vaccines!

  34. Kev September 10, 2010 at 20:49 #

    Robert, there’s nothing more I can add to those between your comment and mine. I hope you got something from them?

  35. lilandtedsmum September 10, 2010 at 20:56 #

    Robert,
    Some people have dangerous reactions to aspirin….some people die whilst under anaesthetic, some people have dangerous reactions to penicillin……so should we start campaigning against these too?

    There are few medical procedures or treatments that are safe for everybody…so what do we do? Put everybody at risk? Some individuals will react badly to vaccinations but a hell of a lot more would be brain damaged or die as a result of whooping cough, measles, polio etc etc.

    As far as I can see, nothing has changed. There has yet to be a single case where it has been proven that a vaccination caused Autism.

    Can you honestly say to me that it is to the benefit of the human race to stop immunising?…and before answering…stop, breathe and THINK.

    Maurine I agree with Visitor completely – “features consistent with an autism spectrum disorder” does not equate to Autism. I think the fact that we are debating whether or not Hannah Poling is autistic speaks volumes…..do you honestly think if she had an actual diagnosis of Autism her parents would have kept that quiet?

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 21:42 #

      lilandtedsmum,

      Jon Poling has publicly stated that she has autism (about 3 min 40s into the video)

  36. RickK September 10, 2010 at 21:52 #

    Robert said: “If the vaccine makers themselves are willing to admit that, why does the rest of the medical industry constantly try to deny the possibility that vaccines will do irreperable damage to SOME children?”

    They DON’T deny it. You are arguing against a strawman that you dreamed up. Vaccines are not 100% safe. Nothing that has any medical effect is 100% safe. Period. That’s why VICP was created.

    If you’re going to argue, at least argue against a real position, not a strawman you made up.

    Argue against this:

    “After clean water and personal hygiene, vaccines have reduced harm and suffering more than any other public health measure in history.”

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 22:26 #

      Argue against this:

      “After clean water and personal hygiene, vaccines have reduced harm and suffering more than any other public health measure in history.”

      Could I add “sufficient food” to clean water and personal hygiene?

  37. Robert September 10, 2010 at 22:00 #

    So there’s a few comments of the kind “Yes, we acknowledge that brain damage is a possible side effect from certain vaccines. So what?” I don’t have a response to a question like that.

    RickK : There are several comments on this very page arguing the point that “just because there was a settlement, it doesn’t mean that the vaccines caused Hannah’s problems”.

    Lilandtedsmum : You jump to the same conclusion that the majority of vaccine-injury deniers take. You assume that anyone who feels that vaccine injury is a legitimate concern that warrants much more investigation is somehow broadly campaigning against the use of all vaccines. That’s a completely false assumption. You make that assumption because it’s much easier to dismiss the arguments of those people if you feel they are crazy enough to imply that we should completely abandon immunizing children.

    However, you raise a very interesting point about comparing penicillin to vaccines. Penicillin is one of the greatest medical discoveries of recent history. It saves countless lives every year. Some people react badly to it, and for a very small percentage of the population, it can prove deadly. Now, imagine if the medical industry was of the opinion that penicillin saves many more lives than it destroys therefore they will blindly prescribe penicillin any time any child has an infection that calls for penicillin. Sure, a small percentage of children would die as a result of the penicillin, but so what, right? Could you imagine if that’s how the medical industry operated?

    In fact, the medical industry acknowledges that serious adverse effects of penicillin are a legitimate concern, and an effort is made to provide people who can’t tolerate penicillin with a suitable alternative. But when it comes to vaccines, the medical industry adopts the insane attitude of “sure, we’re destroying some children, but we’re saving lives here”.

    Granted, with penicillin, it’s pretty easy to determine if someone’s allergic. With vaccines it’s much more difficult to try and predetermine which children are at high risk of serious side-effects. But we’re never going to get to the point where we can minimize the occurrence of vaccine injury (which is much higher than the reported numbers, as most cases of vaccine injury are dismissed as coincidence), unless we first acknowledge that vaccine injury is a legitimate concern.

    • Sullivan September 10, 2010 at 22:25 #

      Robert,

      you mix vaccine injury and the proposed idea of vaccine injury resulting in autism together. People here don’t deny that there can be vaccine injury. Some people can react badly to a vaccine. Funny you should note allergic reactions. One leading cause of vaccine injury is an allergic reaction. For example, many vials are (or were) sealed with latex to allow a needle to enter and draw the liquid. Not surprisingly, people with latex allergies can react to those vaccines.

      That is a separate question from whether vaccine injury results in autism. The known environmental events linked to autism occur prenatally. Not only that, but in a specific time period prenatally.

      The idea that mitochondrial dysfunction leads to autism is still not fully established. Yes, there is the paper by the groups at Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic (as I recall) which discusses a cohort of children with conditions similar to Hannah Poling (she was either one of the study subjects or was considered for the study and was removed. I can’t recall which at this time). It is a good area to research. The government is going to pay out in excess of $10M to Hannah Poling’s family, the government better put some money into researching this.

      One problem with this whole discussion is terminology. For so long we have heard “Vaccine cause autism” as a short form of “vaccines cause most autism” or “vaccines caused an autism epidemic”. Well, vaccines do not cause most autism and vaccines did not cause an epidemic. The Hannah Poling case doesn’t change this. Whatever diagnosis Hannah Poling has now, her situation is rare. Not my word, that of the researchers who studied her and the others reported in that paper. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for answers in her case. It does mean that her case is not an answer to why about 1% of the population has an ASD.

  38. RickK September 10, 2010 at 22:34 #

    Robert said: “In fact, the medical industry acknowledges that serious adverse effects of penicillin are a legitimate concern, and an effort is made to provide people who can’t tolerate penicillin with a suitable alternative. But when it comes to vaccines, the medical industry adopts the insane attitude of “sure, we’re destroying some children, but we’re saving lives here”.”

    And if vaccines had never changed to improve safety since their original introduction, you might have a point.

    But since they HAVE changed, have been steadily improved to be safer, you have no point.

    Again, you’re arguing against a false strawman. If you’re going to invent both sides of the argument, why don’t you just use a mirror instead of a blog?

  39. RickK September 10, 2010 at 22:44 #

    Robert also said: “unless we first acknowledge that vaccine injury is a legitimate concern”

    See my previous post. Show me a quote from a doctor saying vaccine injury is not a legitimate concern.

    As for vaccines causing autism, that was a legitimate concern, then the EVIDENCE showed us that:
    – Andrew Wakefield is a charlatan;
    – There is no statistical link between vaccines and autism;
    – Many of the anecdotes of vaccines causing autism (including those studied by the Special Masters, AND including Jenny McCarthy’s son) were found to be baseless;
    – Prevalence of ASD in the adult population are actually the same as in children – around 1 in 100;
    – And therefore there doesn’t seem to BE an autism epidemic, just an increase in ASD as a diagnosis and an increased awareness.

    In other words, there’s no more evidence for vaccines causing autism than there is for Tylenol causing autism, or ginko causing autism, or Gracco strollers causing autism.

    All the passion in the world doesn’t make you right when the evidence proves you wrong.

  40. Dedj September 10, 2010 at 22:59 #

    “I don’t have a response to a question like that.”

    Why?

    Surely you didn’t believe that only you and a small set of people like you were the only ones that understand that vaccines can cause damage?

    Was your entire purpose of being here just to show off that knowledge?

    Why did you assume everyone else was either stupid or ignorant? Please have more respect and consideration for others.

    “But when it comes to vaccines, the medical industry adopts the insane attitude of “sure, we’re destroying some children, but we’re saving lives here”.”

    No it does not. Not only are there lists of conditions for which vaccines can be contraindicated, but there is also a compensation scheme for vaccine damage. You may have heard of it. You have utterly misdescribed the process. Please do not post until you can refrain from doing so.

  41. Roger Kulp September 10, 2010 at 23:04 #

    I tried posting this over at ORAC’s,but somehow it didn’t get past the filters.

    Let’s start with Olmstead’s little screed over at AoA.Here’s the “money” quote.

    “The government lawyers mumbled something Orwellian and incoherent about a pre-existing mitochondrial disorder and how vaccines didn’t cause Hannah’s autism — the condition just “resulted” from the vaccines. Translation: The medical industry’s wall of doublespeak…”

    This has got to be the most ignorant,most dumbass statement I have read over at AoA,in I don’t know a couple of weeks.Well documented facts about mitochondrial disease are just “Orwellian Doulblespeak”,but disproven conspiracies about big pharma profiteering off pumping kids full of mercury are taken as gospel.Well that’s typical of these nuts.

    But then,it’s no better than Sheryl Atkisson over at CBS,and the rest of her ilk mainstream media.So many of these people only tell part of the story like they did with Wakefield.The whole mitochondria angle was ignored perhaps because it would mean confronting the evils of science and fact.

    Mitochondria disease comes under the broader umbrella of inborn metabolic disease

    “One group of such disorders is inborn errors of metabolism. These genetic disorders encompass defects in the complex biochemical pathways both of catabolism and anabolism. These disorders traditionally include those involving amino acids, organic acids, ammonia metabolism, and lysosomal storage disorders.With advances in genetics,inborn errors of metabolism now encompass mitochondrial disorders of aerobic metabolism, fatty acid oxidation, carbohydrate modification of proteins and lipids,purine and pyrimidine catabolism,peroxisomal function, and vitamin and mineral metabolism.Diagnosis of these conditions requires special laboratory studies not routinely ordered or performed by hospital laboratories.As individually these disorders are rare,and the diagnosis and treatment of the conditions specialized,many primary care physicians have little experience with diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.”

    While very few autistics have inborn errors of metabolism, measureable by genetic testing,a fairly large per centage of those with IEMs have autism,or conditions that have been diagnosed as such.

    Prometheus @ comment #12 at the RI post wrote:
    “To begin with, Ms. Poling has a mitochondrial abnormality – which preceded any vaccination, not to mention her birth – which makes her inordinately sensitive to – among other things – fever. In this case, the government has conceded that the vaccine(s) she received caused a fever (which is a common side effect of vaccines) which more likely than not (50% plus a feather) was the proximal cause of a neurological injury.

    Secondly, Ms. Poling – while she may have many aspects of autism – is not similar to the vast majority of autistic children (and adults). She is acknowledged to have an atypical case of autism. Also, technically, it can’t be “autism” if there is a known neurological injury.

    Finally, vaccines are not unique in their ability to cause Ms. Poling’s neurological injury. Any febrile illness (including, I must add, all vaccine-preventable illnesses) could have done the same. This is analogous to a person struck while crossing a busy freeway – there are numerous vehicles which could have done the injury, but the unlucky chap who hits the pedestrian gets the blame.

    If Ms. Poling had come down with influenza or even a nasty adenovirus prior to getting her vaccinations, she would be just as “autistic” as she is now, but she wouldn’t be exploited by the anti-vaccination movement.”

    Thanks Prometheus,I couldn’t agree more.It isn’t just mitochondrial disease that this happens with,but those of us with “autism”,and almost any other inborn metabolic disease,face the same sort of risk of regression after any severe fever.I have a diagnosis of a complex,and unusual folate metabolism disorder,and what may be he same type of atypical autism.This gives me a little more authority to speak on this than most.Life for those of us with “autism” and metabolic disease,is a nasty cycle of regression,and recovery,until the underlying metabolic problems are corrected,if they can be.This is true if you are four months old,or forty years old.

    There is some debate among doctors who see patients with metabolic disease,as to whether we should be classified as being autistic or not.I say for now,we ought to be classified as having both,the way people with Fragile X often are.

    What we need is for families of such patients,metabolic disease specialists,and organizations,like CLIMB,in the UK,and UMDF,in the US to speak up more,and encourage parents of autistic kids, especially those with many medical problems,to be tested for these conditions.

    But then,a genetic condition,that starts in the womb,would pretty much kill the idea an “autistic” child could be cured,and stop the source of untold riches for the DAN!/biomed complex.

  42. Ian MacGregor September 10, 2010 at 23:06 #

    A young girl has an unknown mitochondrial disorder. She is vaccinated becomes ill and develops an ASD Didn’t her CARS scores reveal her to have an ASD? The government has agreed to pay a settlement. It is a case of mitochondrial disorder + vaccination = ASD.

    But it was not any mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde or anything else besides the antigen itself which was involved in this tragedy.

    This makes one wonder, about what would have happened if she had contacted measles and developed the disease. The court cannot deal with such a hypothetical and awarded compensation, because they found the vaccination had a role.

    If one knows your child has an mitochondrial disorder I can see being wary of vaccination, but you would have to keep your child in a sterile environment. I would fear measles itself as much, if not more than the vaccination.

    Perhaps if you can prove an MtDisorder this case sets a precedent. But otherwise its hard to see one. What if her parents had known about the disorder and saw that as a legitimate reason not to vaccinate, but another child who was unvaccinated for no sound reason brought measles into her home, would people be celebrating.

    Interestingly in these posts there has been little about how great autism art. Thank goodness such nonsense is absent from the court.

    Will a vaccine in itself ever be shown to cause an ASD. On one level I think yes, because it is a collection of symptoms without an accepted and or testable biomarker. On the other hand the person would need to prove the vaccine caused those symptoms. No one has shown such proof and population studies argue strongly against such an association.

    This verdict should restore faith in the Vaccine Compensation System. If you can prove your case, you will get compensated.

    Now if we could only get better support for those severely impacted by autism who do not have a claim against a vaccine court.

  43. Midwest Dad September 10, 2010 at 23:39 #

    Something antivaxers (my wife included) frequently claim:

    “Autism, in its various forms, is merely a description of behaviors and that set of behaviors is an outcome of several different physiological syndromes. ONE of which is vaccine induced encephalopathy.”

    IS autism merely a description of behaviors? If it “looks like autism,” then is it autism? What’s the difference between “features of autism” and “autism”?

    This is, I think, why many people (like Robert upthread, and my wife) harp on how vaccines have been shown to cause “brain damage.” Because to them “brain damage” = autism. And therefore “vaccines cause autism.” QED.

    I think this is wrong. Brain damage does not equate to autism. But I can’t quite articulate to myself why not. Can someone help me?

  44. Orange Lantern September 10, 2010 at 23:45 #

    Robert, your penicillin analogy is bizarre for numerous reasons.

    imagine if the medical industry was of the opinion that penicillin saves many more lives than it destroys therefore they will blindly prescribe penicillin any time any child has an infection that calls for penicillin. Sure, a small percentage of children would die as a result of the penicillin, but so what, right? Could you imagine if that’s how the medical industry operated?

    But that is essentially how the “medical industry” operates. Penicillin-derived antibiotics are the first line therapy for a large number of infections. They are given for those infections first-line unless there is a known allergy. But you don’t know you have an allergy until after you have been exposed (usually twice) to penicillin! And even that first reaction to penicillin has the potential to be fatal. But that is not a reason not to use penicillin, just because you don’t yet know if the patient is allergic to it.

    Guess what? The same is true with vaccines. A serious reaction to a vaccine is a contraindication to giving it again, just like with penicillin. The “alternative” is not giving the vaccine, and relying on herd immunity, and this is done every day for legitimate medical reasons.

    Granted, with penicillin, it’s pretty easy to determine if someone’s allergic.

    Is it? It can be actually very hard to obtain the penicillin that is used for skin testing due to low production, and it is not at all feasible to test everyone for allergy prior to their first penicillin exposure. Any other method of finding out involves putting the patient at risk of a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.

    But we’re never going to get to the point where we can minimize the occurrence of vaccine injury (which is much higher than the reported numbers, as most cases of vaccine injury are dismissed as coincidence), unless we first acknowledge that vaccine injury is a legitimate concern.

    Fortunately there is no one here, or in the reputable medical community, who does not acknowledge that vaccine injury is a legitimate concern. The data does not indicate that it is as great of a threat as you present it, but it is a significant concern nonetheless, which is why vaccines are continually evaluated and made safer. But a lot of minimizing vaccine injury requires more research into conditions that may put patients at risk for vaccine injury.

    For example, if mitochondrial dysfunction or disorder puts children at risk of vaccine injury, and it is determined that this risk is greater than the risk from the chance of catching the disease itself, then the answer lies in being able to screen for mitochondrial disorders. This is not simple to do, as it must be noninvasive and cost-effective to use on the entire population. But research into mito continues and is not inhibited by what you perceive as a lack of recognition of vaccine injury.

  45. Chris September 11, 2010 at 02:39 #

    Robert:

    Granted, with penicillin, it’s pretty easy to determine if someone’s allergic.

    Umm, not always. After my dad finished the bottle of penicillin, he developed a rash. Since we had just driven from Minnesota to North Carolina he thought it was mosquito bites (and my parents actually found a monster sized cockroach in the motel room). It was only after the airplane flight, being taken to lunch by the man from my dad’s new job did he start to get seriously ill. So that night he ended up in the hospital.

    Or as Dr. Ben Goldacre says: It is a bit more complicated.

    By the way, a “table injury” refers to a list of known reactions. The table is not a conference table, but an ordered list like a spreadsheet. Encephalopathy is listed on that table, autism is not.

  46. Robert September 11, 2010 at 04:33 #

    Chris,

    Autism would be way too expensive to put on that list. Trying to draw a line between encephalopathy and autism is a big money proposition. The govt is being very careful in their wording to make sure they imply that autism was a result of the vaccinations but not caused by the vaccinations.

    They conceded the case because they knew there was no way they could deny that the vaccinations destroyed this girl. And there are 5000 other families in line behind the one with the lawyer and neurologist as parents thanking them for exposing the fact that this is what vaccinations are doing to SOME children. And many people have nothing but spite for these parents whose children vanished after a round of shots. Do you not think any of these parents would give up all the money in the world just to have their child back?

    For anyone who agrees with RickK that today’s children haven’t changed in 30 years, and there is no autism epidemic and rates have always been around 1 in 100, then shame on the doctors of 30 years ago who dismissed all these 3 year olds with no cognitive awareness as mentally retarded or simply ignored that these children needed help. And shame on the medical industry for not being farther ahead in knowing how to treat or reduce the incidence of ASD. Something that devastates the families of 1 in 100 kids and has been for 30 years should be a much higher priority than it currently is.

    Do you know any adult who had a pt, ot, and behavioural therapist when they were a kid? At 1 in 100, you must know one or two people who would have needed it. If what you say is true, all these poor children of 30 years ago were missing out on the intensive intervention that we know is necessary to give an autistic child even a fighting chance.

    Surely in the readership of all the various science blogs there are tens of thousands of readers. At 1 in 100 adults, I would assume there are some readers in there who qualify as having ASD. Wouldn’t it be great to hear from them on an issue like this?

    With people routinely deciding against vaccinating their children for unfounded fear of autism, wouldn’t it be great to hear from someone who could put their irrational fears to rest by assuring them that he had all the symptoms of autism when he was a kid, but the doctors called it something else or maybe he wasn’t even diagnosed with anything. And since autism is highly genetic, he can tell us about a great uncle in his family who also had all the symptoms of autism as a child but again it was misdiagnosed or missed completely.

    In fact, I’m sure many of you know a family who is dealing with an autistic child. Next time you see them, ask them if anyone from the child’s parents or grandparents generation in the family was a child who had all the symptoms of autism. If you’ve been around any autistic kids, they’re generally easy to identify. Try to find some of the 1 in 100 adults who would look at a typical autistic child and say, “yup, I was just like that when I was a kid. Boy were my parents worried”.

  47. Roger Kulp September 11, 2010 at 05:36 #

    Robert wrote

    Surely in the readership of all the various science blogs there are tens of thousands of readers. At 1 in 100 adults, I would assume there are some readers in there who qualify as having ASD. Wouldn’t it be great to hear from them on an issue like this?

    With people routinely deciding against vaccinating their children for unfounded fear of autism, wouldn’t it be great to hear from someone who could put their irrational fears to rest by assuring them that he had all the symptoms of autism when he was a kid, but the doctors called it something else or maybe he wasn’t even diagnosed with anything. And since autism is highly genetic, he can tell us about a great uncle in his family who also had all the symptoms of autism as a child but again it was misdiagnosed or missed completely.

    In fact, I’m sure many of you know a family who is dealing with an autistic child. Next time you see them, ask them if anyone from the child’s parents or grandparents generation in the family was a child who had all the symptoms of autism. If you’ve been around any autistic kids, they’re generally easy to identify. Try to find some of the 1 in 100 adults who would look at a typical autistic child and say, “yup, I was just like that when I was a kid. Boy were my parents worried”.

    I can say all this.I assume you are antivaccine,right? Just what do you want to know?Yes it’s largely genetic.There are a number of rare chromosomal syndromes that cause autism,that may or may not be underdiagnosed.I am currently being worked up for some on chromosome 22q11.But I am also convinced that once “environmental” causes are found for the more “common” forms of autism,it will be due from something that babies are being exposed to in the womb.Something causing genetic mutations,that wasn’t in widespread use 30,40 years ago.

    And yes autistics are easy to spot,I have taken some heat from certain oversensitive Aspie bloggers,who were too full of themselves,when I have said this on their blogs,but it is true.We can often spot each other.

    I’ll come back tomorrow.My earlier post about metabolic disease, yes I have both types of genetic problems,has not cleared the censors,I mean moderators,yet.

  48. Chris September 11, 2010 at 06:05 #

    Robert:

    Autism would be way too expensive to put on that list.

    It was only during my son’s last year in high school that the school psychologist mentioned that he might be autistic. Even though the school had an autistic program, she also added he would lose services if he was labeled as autistic. It was much better that he got the services he needed, not those based on a label.

    You continue to show that you know very little about the reality of disability, special education, autism and vaccines.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Sharyl Attkisson blogs the Hannah Poling settlement « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - September 10, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev and Catherina+ScienceMom, Alltop Autism. Alltop Autism said: Sharyl Attkisson blogs the Hannah Poling settlement http://bit.ly/cSxFit […]

  2. Choupal India » Blog Archive » CBS News’ resident anti-vaccine propagandist Sharyl Attkisson abuses the Hannah Poling case again - September 10, 2010

    […] autism or that the Hannah Poling case itself is evidence that vaccines cause autism. Fortunately, Sullivan has deconstructed Attkisson’s spin (not to mention Dan Olmsted’s regurgitation of old anti-vaccine tropes based on the case) so […]

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