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Mitochondrial Dysfunction and autism. Brief Q and A with lead author

13 Dec

Mitochondrial Dysfunction was thrust back into the news again earlier this month when a team from UC Davis led by Professor Cecilia Giulivi discovered:

In this exploratory study, children with autism were more likely to have mitochondrial dysfunction, mtDNA overreplication, and mtDNA deletions than typically developing children

In itself this is a fascinating development and the first true look at whether autistic children were more likely or not to have mtDNA dysfunction(s).

However, as ever in the world of autism, the world of the anti-vaccinationists are never far behind. This passage from Harold Doherty demonstrates this bizarre need to always conflate the two:

The Poling family was successful in advancing a vaccine injury claim on behalf of their daughter Hannah Poling to the point of settlement by US authorities. Hannah’s father is Dr. Jon Poling, a practicing neurologist in Athens, Georgia, and clinical assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia. He reviewed his daughter’s case in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 11, 2008. In his comments Dr. Poling explained how mitchondrial dysfunction was related to his daughter’s case and to the existence of a possible mitochondrial dysfunction subgroup of autism disorder. He also discussed, as a medical doctor who expressly recognized the importance of vaccines in preventing serious diseases, the need for public health authorities to abandon fear tactics and conduct research to restore confidence in public health authorities and vaccines

In order to try and staunch the upcoming flood of misunderstandings and false statements like those implied by Doherty (and John Poling whom other mtDNA specialists such as John Shoffner clearly don’t trust on the issue), I contacted Professor Giulivi and asked her three simple questions about the study she is lead author of. She supplied three simple answers.

KL: Do you think, based on available science (including your paper) that vaccines cause autism?

CG: We do not have any evidence for this in our study. Our study was cross-sectional not longitudinal so it cannot point to any cause (not just vaccines), meaning we do not have anydata supporting one way or another.

KL: If so, why is this? Does it follow (in your opinion) that mitochondrial dysfunction can be triggered by a vaccine?

CG: Again, please see (1).

KL: Do you believe your own paper adds weight to any opinion regarding autism causation by any means?

CG: No. At this point we do not know if it is mainly genetic, environmental or a combination of both. Again, with a cross-sectional study you get a snapshot of the situation but not how you got to that situation.

There you have it. The lead author of the study everyone is raving about is very carefully pointing out that the study in question does not add weight to _any_ hypothesis of autism causation, let alone vaccines.