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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.

Hannah Poling and the Pediatrics thimerosal study: two “big” stories with little press response

18 Sep

Two stories which are “big” news in some segments of the online autism community are the settlement amount for Hannah Poling and the recent study showing no link between autism and thimerosal in vaccines. While these have caused a fair amount of discussion on blogs (like this one), they didn’t generate that much press coverage.

We broke the Hannah Poling award story here on LeftBrainRightBrain on September 3. The story was ignored, even by such pro autism-as-vaccine-injury blogs as the Age of Autism until September 9th, when Sharyl Attkisson (who has some connection to the people at the Age of Autism blog) wrote about it for CBS.

There are a couple of dozen entries in Google News on Hannah Poling. Few major outlets. One that did carry it is the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the home town newspaper for the Poling family. In Settlement reached in autism-vaccine case the AJC quoted Dr. John Shoffner:

Dr. John Shoffner, a neurologist and national expert who has conducted research on autism and its causes, said researchers have found no link between vaccines and autism. And he said he strongly favors vaccination.

“The preponderance of data shows that vaccines are important and safe for children to prevent preventable and sometimes life-threatening infectious diseases,” Shoffner said. “I certainly am in favor and support the CDC’s as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of vaccination.”

Shoffner is a co-author of a journal article that describes Poling’s case without naming her.

Edited to add: I forgot to include this quote from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“It’s critical to remember that the government has never compensated, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines,” said Martin Kramer, communications director for the Health Resources and Services Administration. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is part of the administration. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims decides who will be paid damages for injuries that result from vaccines, under a 1988 law that created a program.

Another so-called “big” story from the last few weeks is the study on autism and thimerosal in Pediatrics, Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism. Sometimes when an important paper comes out (that I am aware of) I watch Google News as the embargo is lifted. I did so with this paper. Nothing happened. OK, I think Disability Scoop had a story out right at midnight (this one, if I recall correctly). Heck, it wasn’t until Friday that the CDC added the study to their website (it isn’t mentioned on the main webpage). Even SafeMinds (who are, in cases like this SafeBet–as in, it is a safe bet they will put out a critique of the paper) didn’t respond for days.

Sure, I was interested. And, yes, these stories sparked some of the most active conversations on this blog in a while. But I am still left with the basic conclusion: the general public has already absorbed these stories. The government conceded the Hannah Poling case 2 years ago. It isn’t new. The idea that mercury in vaccines cause autism–no longer part of the front line public discussion.

I’m not the only one to make this comment. The Washington Post had this to say four days after the paper was made public:

But when the journal Pediatrics published on Monday a study that found no increased risk of autism among more than 1,000 babies who’d been exposed prenatally or in the first 20 months of life to ethylmercury from vaccines, it was met with a general shrug. Neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times even reported on it, though the Los Angeles Times did, in its Booster Shots blog.

Sure, these stories will never completely go away. The vaccine/autism story will never go completely away. But the heyday is over.

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 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

Fever Plus Mitochondrial Disease Could Be Risk Factors for Autistic Regression

24 Sep

Autism, regression, mitochondrial disease and vaccines. With a combination like that, this paper is likely going to be very important.

Fever Plus Mitochondrial Disease Could Be Risk Factors for Autistic Regression

Here is the abstract:

Autistic spectrum disorders encompass etiologically heterogeneous persons, with many genetic causes. A subgroup of these individuals has mitochondrial disease. Because a variety of metabolic disorders, including mitochondrial disease show regression with fever, a retrospective chart review was performed and identified 28 patients who met diagnostic criteria for autistic spectrum disorders and mitochondrial disease. Autistic regression occurred in 60.7% (17 of 28), a statistically significant increase over the general autistic spectrum disorder population (P < .0001). Of the 17 individuals with autistic regression, 70.6% (12 of 17) regressed with fever and 29.4% (5 of 17) regressed without identifiable linkage to fever or vaccinations. None showed regression with vaccination unless a febrile response was present. Although the study is small, a subgroup of patients with mitochondrial disease may be at risk of autistic regression with fever. Although recommended vaccinations schedules are appropriate in mitochondrial disease, fever management appears important for decreasing regression risk.

The authors note neurologic regression in general (not just autistic regression) is observed with patients who have metabolic diseases:

Patients with mitochondrial diseases, like many patients with metabolic diseases, are at increased risk of neurologic regression in conjunction with stressors such as fever, infection, and dehydration.

They studied 28 patients who met DSM-IV criteria for autism and diagnostic criteria for mitochondrial disease.

They define regression and whether it is related to fever thusly:

Autistic regression was defined as loss of developmental skills that included speech, receptive skills, eye contact, and social interests in individuals ❤ years of age. A relationship between fever and autistic regression is defined as regression beginning within 2 weeks of a febrile episode without the suggestion of infectious meningitis or encephalitis.

One comment–the definition of regression is somewhat vague to me. What is also critically important in this discussion is whether there were any signs of autism before the regression. Or, as some may put it, is this regression into autism or autistics undergoing regression? Is there a mix of pathways?

They state that 17 of the 28 patients studied underwent an autistic regression. This is higher than the roughly 25% value for autistic regression they assumed for the general autism population, and statistically significant.

In other words, they are saying that autistic regression may occur more often with kids with mitochondrial diseases.

They note that some of the fevers could be linked to vaccination:

The 17 individuals with autistic regression could be divided into 2 groups, those who regressed with fever (70.6%, 12 of 17) and those who regressed without identifiable linkage to fever or vaccinations (29.4%, 5 of 17).


No individual showed regression with vaccination unless a febrile response was present.

They discuss the concerns with vaccination in the conclusion, noting that vaccination is still recommended for children with mitochondrial diseases. My experience in discussing this issue with mitochondrial disease experts is that they find vaccination to be extremely important. If, for some reason, they decide to not vaccinate a child with mitochondrial disease, they insure that all family members are vaccinated to protect the child.

Children with identified mitochondrial diseases are routinely managed carefully by their physicians with aggressive fever control and hydration. In this context, vaccination of children with mitochondrial diseases is recommended. In our experience, the vast majority of patients with mitochondrial diseases receives a full vaccination schedule according to American Academy of Pediatric guidelines without consequences, particularly when physicians are sensitive to fever control and hydration. In our patients with mitochondrial disease and autistic spectrum disorders, the vaccines did not appear related to the neurologic regression.

I will note again that I feel autistic regression as defined is too vague. Were the patients on the spectrum before the regression? Were they typically developing before the regression?

At least two children were noted to have multiple regressions (a sibling pair). That indicates that at least in some cases, regressions occurred in people already autistic. There just isn’t other information on this.

Another area I would like to see discussed further is on siblings:

Affected siblings were identified in 35.7% (10 of 28).

Affected how? Mitochondrial disease. But, are they also autistic? It would seem not since they included one sibling pair.

This is a big question to me. While the spotlight has been shown on the possibility of mitochondrial disorders being linked to autistic regression, the more general question is more important: could fevers induced by vaccination result in any regression (autistic or otherwise) in people with mitochondrial disorders.

Another question in my mind in this study. Are there patients who underwent regression from non-autistic to autistic) after age 3? According to the Johns Hopkins group, this doesn’t happen. According to them, there is an age window where the regressions could result in autism. This is a very important question in how these patients might fit in to the broader spectrum of autism.

Jon Poling – no such thing as bad publicity

4 Oct

As broken by Kathleen and discussed further by Kristina, the Poling saga has taken another nasty twist and reveals the ‘respected’ Jon Poling as a scientist lacking even the most basic of scientific scruples.

In a series of three letters from Jon Poling, his co-authors Frye, Zimmerman and Shoffner and lastly Roger Brumback, the editor of the Journal that published their case study of Hannah Poling, Jon Poling is revealed as a man perfectly prepared to game the system.

In his letter, editor Roger Brumback says (he calls his letter ‘the Appalling Poling Saga’) he says:

In the United States Federal Register of May 21, 2003 (volume 68, number 98), on page 27829, there is an entry (“145. Terry and Jon Poling on behalf of Hannah Poling, Vienna, Virginia, Court of Federal Claims Number 02-1466V”) mentioning a filing under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program listing of petitions received. This occurred before the manuscript was submitted for consideration by JCN and clearly represents a conflict of interest. Yet the authors made a definitive statement to the Editor-in-Chief and to potential peer reviewers that there was no conflict of interest (Figure 1).

Let no one tell you any different. Jon Poling did not ‘forget’ to tell the publishing journal about the fact his daughter was part of the Autism Omnibus, he purposefully misled the Editor-in-Chief by stating conclusively there was no conflict of interest. Being a gentleman, Brumback avoids calling Poling an out-and-out liar. Brumback goes on to say:

Although, according to the leaked testimony (available to be viewed on numerous websites) [Brumback is referring to the testimony leaked to David Kirby – KL], it does not appear that the JCN article was used in the legal proceedings, media linkage of the published article to the legal outcome implies scientific support from JCN for this legal opinion. Of course it is possible to view this media exposure along the lines of the quip: “There is no such thing as bad publicity—just publicity”.


Two things stand out for me – aside from this pathetic litany of dishonesty of course.

Firstly, Jon Poling is his letter says:

A third party subsequently leaked, without our knowledge or permission, my daughter’s
identity and the government’s concession report to the media.

Now lets have a look at this timeline. ‘The media’ Poling is referring to above is David Kirby who posted the details to the HuffPo on Feb 26.

Starting a bare 9 days later, the Polings are holding a press conference, being interviewed on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Cable News Network, USA Today and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Wow. I guess Brumback is right – there is no such thing as bad publicity because in little over a week, the totally non-media savvy Poling’s had managed to get themselves interviews on the leading media outlets in the USA. And they expect us to believe they did it ‘without our knowledge’ of the documents being leaked to quote Poling.

Something else really stands out from Poling’s letter. Its this:

2001. Because our daughter has diagnoses of autism, regressive encephalopathy, and mitochondrial dysfunction, her case was placed in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings.

Before HHS government physicians conceded that Hannah’s July 2000 vaccinations triggered her encephalopathy…..

Woah there…..what? Triggered her _what_ ? Encephalopathy? Thats funny because David Kirby and the anti-vaccine world has been swearing up and down the HHS conceded her vaccinations triggered her _autism_ .

This is a true bombshell. Jon Poling, Hannah’s father has just stated that HHS conceded vaccinations caused her encephalopathy as oppose to her autism. He’s quite clear and specific. In the first paragraph I quote he lists three separate things:

….autism, regressive encephalopathy, and mitochondrial dysfunction…

and in the second, he states which of these three HHS conceded was triggered by vaccinations. Encephalopathy. Not autism.

Next time anyone tells you HHS conceded Hannah Poling’s autism was caused by vaccines, point them here where they can read the words of her father.

Jon Poling on Paul Offit

7 Aug

Jon Poling writes a letter in the NEJM that says:

Offit’s remarks about Hannah’s case are not evidence-based. He has no access to my daughter’s personal medical records, legal documents, or affidavits. In contrast, physicians from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) who studied this information recommended that the government concede Hannah’s case. The clinical history Offit presents contains significant inaccuracies, and the resulting conclusions are consequently flawed.

This paragraph lies at the very heart of the mystery surrounding Hannah Poling’s diagnosis, concession and the subsequent media-frenzy.

There are two documents regarding Hannah Poling from which all medical information has been forthcoming.

1) Concession Report (This document has been removed due to the possibility of it being illegally obtained). If people really wish to read the document for themselves it can be founf here, at the Huffington post

2) Zimmerman Case Study

These two documents – and only these two documents – have informed *everyone’s* opinion. Aside from these two documents, there is nothing else (aside from Hannah Poling’s medical records). If anyone believes that not to be the case, I challenge them to either link to them or have the Poling’s release them. The Special Masters have made it very very clear that all that needs to happen for *all* records to be released is for the Poling’s solicitor to write and ask.

….in the case that is the subject of the media reports, if the parties who supplied documents and information in the case provide their written consent, we may then be able to appropriately disclose documents in the case.

Until the Polings elect to do this very simple action, they have to assume that people will write about what is available. They will also have to put up with the fact that people like me find it very, very suspicious that they repeatedly claim what they simply cannot back up and then refuse to release information that could clear these issues up straight away.

The Case Report contains _all_ the information necessary to make a judgement on whether:

a) Hannah Poling was diagnosed with autism (she was)
b) Hannah Poling was injured by vaccines (she was)
c) Hannah Poling’s autism was caused by vaccines (it was not)

How do I claim point c) as true? Easily. One takes the symptoms listed in the Case Study as being those caused by vaccines and compares them to the DSM (IV) criteria for autism.

fever to 38.9°C
inconsolable crying
refused to walk
waking up multiple times in the night
having episodes of opisthotonus
no longer normally climb stairs
Low-grade intermittent fever
generalized erythematous macular rash
gaze avoidance
disrupted sleep/wake cycle
expressive language was lost
chronic yellow watery diarrhea
appetite remained poor for 6 months
body weight did not increase
decline on a standard growth chart
atopic dermatitis
slow hair growth
generalized mild hypotonia
toe walking
normal tendon reflexes.

I have emboldened the items which match the DSM (IV). I’ve italicised the items which are repeated.

Hannah Poling’s Case Study was authored by four people. One was, of course, Jon Poling. The other authors are:

John Shoffner. In an interview in Scientific American, Shoffer agreed that the scientific evidence presented in the case did not make enough of a case to warrant compensation. He went on to say:

Shoffner notes that parents and advocates looking to impugn vaccines as triggers for autism—or mitochondrial disease—need direct, not just circumstantial, evidence. “If you were sitting in a waiting room full of people and one person suddenly fell ill or died or something,” he says, “would you arrest the person sitting right next to them?”


Jon Poling, says Shoffner, has been “muddying the waters” with some of his comments. “There is no precedent for that type of thinking and no data for that type of thinking,” Shoffner says.

Its worth noting that John Shoffner – unlike Jon Poling – is a mitochondrial specialist.

Andrew Zimmerman: When I attempted to get Zimmerman’s comments about the case, I received the following reply:

Dr. Zimmerman…….is not able to publicly discuss this patient. As a participant in this case, the family provided consent for Dr. Zimmerman to share information with the court, but we do not have parental consent to discuss the patient publicly – as we are bound by HIPAA privacy regulations, as in any healthcare setting in the U.S.

Why? If the Poling’s are so very keen to make an _accurate_ case then surely, giving permission to the doctors involved is the first step? What is it they don’t want Zimmerman to say?

Richard E Frye, as far as I know has not made any public statements on this case.

The report from Dr Offit was not inaccurate. It was accurate to the information we have. If there is more information then I ask the Poling’s once more to _release_ it. They are legally able to and if they really believe in what they claim then they should be doing it right now. Why aren’t they?

Age of Autism Excels Itself

4 May

It’s my opinion that the blog Age of Autism has not ever once published a post that has contributed anything to the sum of human knowledge in a general sense, nor has it ever published a post that is designed to actually help autistic people live their lives.

However, every once in awhile, it publishes a post that is so monumentally stupid that I literally think the worse of myself for wasting time reading it. And here I am actually blogging about one. Sigh.

Such a post appeared today. It is entitled ‘CDC triggers measles outbreak’. The author of this post, ex-UPI journo Dan Olmsted says:

I’m starting to think we should rename the CDC the Centers for Disease Contagion. You’ve all seen the news that there are suddenly more measles cases in the United States and the CDC is blaming it in part on the increasing reluctance of parents to vaccinate their kids.

But it’s the CDC’s fault, and no other. Getting the “measles shot” means getting the MMR, and the MMR is “the autism shot” in the minds of many, many parents.

So, let me get this straight. It is the CDC’s fault that measles is making a return across the US? I see.

Its not, for example, the fault of the non-vaccinating upper-middle class soccer-mommies and daddies, for example:

Of the 64 people infected by the measles virus, only 1 had documentation of prior vaccination. Among the other 63 case-patients were 14 infants who were too young to be vaccinated. Many of the cases among US children occurred in children whose parents claimed exemption from vaccination due to religious or personal beliefs, or in children too young to be vaccinated.

Hell, no. _That_ couldn’t be the issue, right? Its obviously the CDC’s fault. Damn them for providing the vaccines and a schedule that has led to serious measles epidemics being held at bay in the US and the UK prior to the last 10 years of utter complacency and idiocy.

And why is Dan Olmsted happy to blame the CDC?

Let me tell you one reason why I’m not shy or circumspect about squarely blaming the CDC for this — because Jon Poling, Hannah’s dad, predicted something like this, or much worse, just a few week ago

And as we all know:

Dr, Poling is the real deal, educated at Johns Hopkins, devoted both to his daughter and his patients, tempered by reality. He’s mild-mannered. He’s mainstream. He’s credible.

Riiiiight. This is the same Jon Poling who was recently described by his co-authors as ‘muddying the waters’. The same Jon Poling who’s wife has been a subscriber to the vaccine hypothesis since at least 2001. The same Jon Poling who knowingly uses incorrect epidemiology.

I’m afraid that Jon Poling is right now in the process of extricating himself from the mainstream. And also from any concept of credibility. His refusal to approve access to information that would provide more accuracy to public statements members of his clique have made about the situation is testament to a man who is not governed by any reality other than a desire to push a pre-conceived agenda.

But really, the attempt to point the finger elsewhere by Dan Olmsted is nothing more than a childish ‘It wasn’t me! Its not my fault!’ when both logic and morality show quite clearly that if people decide to eschew something that might not only save their kids lives but the lives and/or well-being of the society in which they live then the finger of responsibility can only point in one direction.

Poling vs HHS – Something is definitely beginning to smell

30 Apr

Back in March I wrote a post highlighting my suspicion that we weren’t getting the whole story regarding the Poling’s. They had – at that time – failed to give permission to Dr Andrew Zimmerman to discuss the case, despite the fact that he was deply involved in the treatment abd diagnosis of Hannah Poling. He has still – to the best of my knowledge – not been given permission by the Poling’s to speak.

I also blogged Jon Poling’s own words on the subject of document release:

The HHS expert documents that led to this concession and accompanying court documents remain sealed, though our family has already permitted release of Hannah’s records to those representing the almost 5, 000 other autistic children awaiting their day in vaccine court.

and pointed out the strange incompatability with what the _court_ said:

in the case that is the subject of the media reports, if the parties who supplied documents and information in the case provide their written consent, we may then be able to appropriately disclose documents in the case.

where it is made crystal clear that the Poling’s had not in fact provided written consent to release their documents.

Further documentation from the courts has now been released which touches on this issue in more detail.

I want to thank M who can choose to name themselves further if they feel like it for helping explain these and for highlighting them in the first place.

The basic gist of this document is that *the Poling’s do not want all the information to be released* despite their oft-repeated claim to the contrary. What information do they not want released – and why?

Respondent points out in the filed Sur-Reply to Petitioners’ Motion for Complete Transparency of Proceedings (R’s Sur-Reply) that while petitioners “did undertake initial steps
necessary to permit discussion of their case before the Special Masters presiding in the Omnibus
Autism Proceeding and before representatives of the Petitioners’ Steering Committee[,] *[i]n fact,
it is respondent who first approached and asked for petitioners’ consent to permit the Secretary of
Health and Human Services to disclose medical information regarding this case* in order for the
Secretary to address inaccurate statements that were being made publicly concerning respondent’s position in this case.”

Now _this_ is a bombshell. It was _not_ the Poling’s who first wanted to release documents, it was HHS. They asked for the Poling’s consent to permit HHS to disclose medical information in order to ‘address innaccurate statements that were being made publicly’.

Well, well.

And there’s more. HHS had also heard aboout the press conference the Poling’s intended to hold:

Having received no response from petitioners, respondent contacted petitioners’ counsel to inquire about the proposed consent form and to “inquire whether press reports were true that petitioners were planning press conference for the following day.” Petitioners’ counsel replied to respondent, and represented during a status conference in this case, that the reports of a planned press conference were not true…….and two days later they held a press conference and appeared in
nationally televised and print interviews discussing the case.

So they lied about the press conference too. Petitioners Counsel is, of course, one Clifford Shoemaker.

What is going on here? Granted there are pre-conditions HHS also wanted placed upon the release of information but why won’t the Poling’s let key medical details that would ‘address innaccurate statements that were being made publicly’ be released right now? Why do they claim that they are asking for complete disclosure when it is clear they are not? Why did their counsel blatantly lie about the press conference?

This is very much an example to me of the ‘muddying of the waters’ that John Shoffner talked about recently.