Thursday, February 16, 2017

Do Rising Rates of Autism Diagnoses Reflect a Real Increase in Incidents?

The AP assault against Trump has simplified and homogenized scientific consensus on autism research by denying growing research evidence that rising rates of autism reflect actual rising incidents.

You can read the AP story here, which basically uses CDC data to argue that Trump lacks understanding of autism science if he thinks autism rates are actually increasing, as opposed to being driven by increased diagnoses:
AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s iffy grasp of autism research
I'm not a fan of Trump and have been very opposed to his efforts to de-regulate finance, eliminate new mercury disposal rules that would dictate disposal of mercury-amalgam fillings, and eliminate new EPA rules on contamination of fresh water by coal mining, among other concerns (e.g., I also oppose deportation policy and travel bans).

However, I really oppose dragging autism into the media battle over Trump in an overtly politicized fashion.

Trump's position that vaccine safety should be investigated is controversial, but the CDC whistle-blower's testimony should certainly lend support to those who call for impartial safety reviews.

The whistle-blower situation is interesting. A senior CDC scientists testified that CDC data had been destroyed showing a higher rate of autism among a sub-set of vaccinated children, African American boys. If valid, the data beg the question of the special vulnerability of that population segment.

Perhaps, the sub-set of African American boys have genetic susceptibilities, or are exposed to other environmental toxins. I bet on the environmental toxins explanation - particularly lead exposure - because African American boys have higher rates of lead exposure because they are more likely to be poor and live in older housing with disintegrating leaded-paint. Lead has already been identified by researchers at UC Davis as potentially methylating DNA during early synaptic brain development.

Here is a discussion of the CDC whistle-blower story:
Alice Park. (2014, August 28). Whistleblower Claims CDC Covered Up Data Showing Vaccine-Autism Link. Time,
William Thompson, a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and one of the authors of a 2004 study published in the journal Pediatrics, spoke with Brain Hooker, who serves on the board of Focus Autism (which was founded to “put an end to the needless harm of children by vaccination and other environmental factors”), about the data that was not included in the final report. The study looked at both healthy children and those with autism, to see if there were any differences in their rates of being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and found none. That suggested that childhood immunizations likely were not contributing to an increased risk of autism. Hooker and Thompson, however, discussed a subset of the 624 children with autism and 1824 without the condition who were studied and Thompson admitted that among African-American boys, the incidence of autism was higher among those who were vaccinated than among those who weren’t. But that information was not part of the paper. Thompson claims he was not aware that the discussion was being recorded, and his statements appeared in a video released on YouTube on August 22 entitled “CDC Whistleblower Revealed.”
I personally do NOT believe that vaccines are a primary cause of autism, which was the overall finding of the CDC, but I do think autism needs to be thought in terms of the entirety of our toxic environmental exposures and the special biological vulnerabilities of our progeny in their earliest stages of development.

There is substantial growing evidence of rising INCIDENTS of neurological disorders in adults and children, including Parkinsons and ADHD. In my book, Governing Childhood (Nadesan, 2010) I trace the close linkages between lead poisoning and ADHD and in my book Constructing Autism (Nadesan, 2005) I review environmental accounts, which I am now updating in my Autistic Ontologies project.

While it is true that consensus has not been reached on whether autism rates are increasing, there is growing epidemiological and laboratory research-based evidence of environmentally-mediated causality. 

I believe there is an underground paradigm war going on in the autism research between those who favor (1) an account of heritable susceptibility alleles and "spontaneous mutations" and those who favor (2) an account of complex interdependencies between and among biological bodies and their physical, biological, psycho-social, and cultural-economic environments.

Atomism and mechanism are the foundations of the established paradigm. The systems account evolving out of mechanism's limitations aims to break down boundaries by demonstrating interdependencies.

The world looks different if you believe that dis-ease is a product of complex systems interdependencies.

I hate to think that an evolving paradigm shift will be disrupted through politicization.

Here are my views on the mechanistic and systems paradigms in contemporary autism research:


  1. Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History

    The reason we have religions is that time after time we find our leaders fail to be perfect. And yet, every leader is subject to the usual criticism as a result of his lack of omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. Could anyone in the academic world admit to being a supporter of Trump without suffering consequences of varying degrees? Despite academia's assumption of intellectual superiority it would have embraced Hillary Clinton who frankly strikes me as fairly stupid really, not to mention rather immoral.

    "Not too long ago, lethal infections were feared in the Western world. Since that time, many countries have undergone a transformation from disease cesspools to much safer, healthier habitats. Starting in the mid-1800s, there was a steady drop in deaths from all infectious diseases, decreasing to relatively minor levels by the early 1900s. The history of that transformation involves famine, poverty, filth, lost cures, eugenicist doctrine, individual freedoms versus state might, protests and arrests over vaccine refusal, and much more. Today, we are told that medical interventions increased our lifespan and single-handedly prevented masses of deaths. But is this really true? Dissolving Illusions details facts and figures from long-overlooked medical journals, books, newspapers, and other sources. Using myth-shattering graphs, this book shows that vaccines, antibiotics, and other medical interventions are not responsible for the increase in lifespan and the decline in mortality from infectious diseases. If the medical profession could systematically misinterpret and ignore key historical information, the question must be asked, “What else is ignored and misinterpreted today?” Perhaps the best reason to know our history is so that the worst parts are never repeated."

    1. the book looks very interesting. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to read it this summer. My own research found that better sanitation and nutrition were what transformed our civilization.

      Still, there are certain bacteria and viruses that are so lethal as to require more than good health to overcome, as illustrated by small pox.

      I believe that SAFE vaccines are a solution for these types of high risk epidemics.

      I'm just not persuaded that that safety is always evaluated fully. E.g., see The Constant Gardener

    2. Actually Dr. Humphreys specifically treats small pox and determines that the information we have been given is false. If I remember correctly small pox increased with the introduction of the vaccine. The essential problem is that the hypothesis of inoculation has never been adequately tested. So first we need real science investigations and not these specious ones . . . money is the barrier. Just think how much money they bring in. By the way Roundup now being traced to liver ailments.


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