Sunday, December 30, 2018

Complex Ethical Questions Raised in Pre-Natal Screening

I've mentioned that I believe the film Children of Men is most prescient in predicting the future. It imagines a dystopian world where vital fetuses have become an impossibility.

In the 1950s, many scientists studying the biological effects of radiation anticipated a future where too many radiation-induced errors in the human genome would impede healthy human reproduction.

Today, autism's de novo mutations and the plummet of men's sperm quality in developing economies appear as portents of this line of dystopic imagining. 

Consider for example this study examining trends in sperm count:
Hagai Levine, Niels Jørgensen, Anderson Martino-Andrade, Jaime Mendiola, Dan Weksler-Derri, Irina Mindlis, Rachel Pinotti, and Shanna H. Swan (2017). Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reproduction Update, pp. 1–14, 2017. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx022 

ABSTRACT: There was a significant decline in SC between 1973 and 2011 among Unselected Western (−1.38; −2.02 to −0.74; P < 0.001) and among Fertile Western (−0.68; −1.31 to −0.05; P = 0.033), while no significant trends were seen among Unselected Other and Fertile Other. Among Unselected Western studies, the mean SC [SPERM CONCENTRATION] declined, on average, 1.4% per year with an overall decline of 52.4% between 1973 and 2011..

Trends for TSC [TOTAL SPERM COUNT) and SC were similar, with a steep decline among Unselected Western (−5.33 million/year, −7.56 to −3.11; P < 0.001), corresponding to an average decline in mean TSC of 1.6% per year and overall decline of 59.3%. Results changed minimally in multiple sensitivity analyses, and there was no statistical support for the use of a nonlinear model…

WIDER IMPLICATIONS: This comprehensive meta-regression analysis reports a significant decline in sperm counts (as measured by SC and TSC) between 1973 and 2011, driven by a 50–60% decline among men unselected by fertility from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Because of the significant public health implications of these results, research on the causes of this continuing decline is urgently needed….
This study was a META-ANALYSIS so it looked at the results of 7,500 empirical studies on sperm counts and therefore came to its conclusions based on evaluation of the results of those 7,500 studies.

In this context of concern over the viability of human life, we see that prenatal screening raises complex ethical questions about the valuing and guarding of human life.

Screening, on the one hand, may help prevent future suffering, but on the other hand it ushers in a new eugenics where we value only the most perfect forms of life. Here is a relevant discussion of the impact of pre-natal testing on Downs syndrome rates in the US illustrating the pursuit of (imagined) perfection.

Interestingly, one study in Canada (here) found that poor and immigrant women were more likely to be screened than affluent citizens, a finding which illustrates how this new eugenics can be inflected with race and economics.

In Japan, the Mainichi is reporting a significant increase in the overall rate of prenatal screening here:

Norikazu Chiba (2018). Number of prenatal screening tests in Japan jumps 2.4 times in 10 years. The Mainichi, 
According to their estimates, the ratio of pregnant mothers who received such exams was 2.7 percent of the total in 2006, and 15.2 percent among those aged 35 or older. These figures jumped to 7.2 percent and 25.1 percent, respectively, in 2016. 
By test type, the number of maternal serum screenings, which test for chromosome abnormalities from the composition of the mother's blood, doubled from about 17,500 in 2006 to about 35,900 in 2016. 
Meanwhile, the number of NIPT, which is capable of examining DNA fragments of the fetus in the mother's blood at a high level of accuracy, has been steadily increasing since 2013, when it was introduced on a clinical trial basis by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The consequences of this new eugenics have not been broadly discussed because decision-making is individuated as each mother decides whether to screen and how to interpret results and act upon them.

In the US there is grave concern among autism advocates that identification of "autism" susceptibility genes will be used to eradicate people who are different but not deficient.

There are complicated ethical issues that are raised, but for me the biggest concern is how the risks from catastrophic environmental degradation are individualized in the biological bodies of our most vulnerable yet important members, DEFLECTING attention away from the conditions of possibility for biological life to thrive or fail.


Japanese Geneticists on Radiation (1957). Science, New Series, Vol. 126, No. 3263 (Jul. 12, 1957), pp. 68-69. Stable URL: Accessed: 27-11-2017 15:24 UTC "From what has been pointed out above, we are led to conclude that any amount of radiation, however small it may be, is deleterious to the heredity of man. Although a certain dose has been set as 'permissible' for people engaged in the operation of X-rays and radioactive apparatus or substances, this is only aimed at the safety and health of those people themselves. However, as far as the genetic effect on their descendants is concerned, there is no theoretical limit below which danger may be entirely excluded."


Majia's Blog: Autism and Ionizing Radiation
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Majia's Blog: Autism and Exposure to Excess Ionizing Radiation: Is ...
A number of you have asked about the reaction to my paper on autism and ionizing radiation delivered at an international conference on autism in Cyprus: My paper argued for a systemic approach to understanding autism that deconstructed the idea that the body is separate from its environment: ...

Majia's Blog: Could Ionizing Radiation Play a Role in Autism? studying the effects of low-levels of ionizing radiation, I began to suspect a link to autism. I have found a possible mechanism. NK CD 56 cells are very radiosensitive and they have also been implicated as dysfunctional in children with autism. Maybe there is a connection here? Below are the steps I used in making this ...


  1. History never studies ethics and morality but mover along more instinctive lines like a predator animal doing what It needs to do to survive. Human societies have placed religion in its path in an attempt to protect themselves and with some success. Of course if the sperm count is down due to radiation there is little that can be done, whereas if it has something to do with vaccinations, why that would interfere with pharmaceutical profits, so best to focus on radiation and other things that would be dead ends for change.
    With time everything imaginable will eventually be done . . . All things considered and the speed with which autism has increased I think the best candidate is the vaccination. Getting vaccinated for relatively harmless ailments like measles is simply stupid. Perhaps you have noticed that doctors now seem to be in something like hypnotic trances and lack almost most all initiative apart form drugs.

    1. An American Dr got a gold star from the army for irradatiating 100 black men to death at Los Alamos in the 40s and 50s.

      Now a British Quack has been knighted by the queen for saying that all childhood leukemia is from babies not getting enough probiotics. All sounds like something William Unknown would agree with and applaud.
      Knighted for Services Rendered: Don’t Worry about the Nukiller Plant on your doorstop – Just Let Them Drink. Yogurt

      The New Years Honours List Does its Thing…..‘For 30 years I’ve been obsessed by why children get leukaemia. Now we have an answer’
      Let Them Drink Yoghurt!

      Newly knighted cancer scientist Mel Greaves explains why a cocktail of microbes could give protection against disease

      The national press trumpet the clarion cry that could have come from the nuclear industry’s PR book:   “From this perspective, the disease has nothing to with power lines or nuclear fuel reprocessing stations, as has been suggested in the past, but is caused by a double whammy of interacting prenatal and environmental events, as Greaves outlined in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer earlier this year.”

      The Germans did a study that was accepted by the German Government that concluded that children living close to nuclear power plants had several fold increases in leukemia.

  2. from Dr. Chris Busby from an article in a the Ecologist
    In a study I published in 2014 of the offspring of members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) we saw a 9-fold excess of congenital disease in the children but also, and unexpectedly, an eight-fold excess in the grandchildren. This raises a new and frightening spectre not anticipated by Herman Muller.

    In the last 15 years it has become clear that radiation causes genomic instability: experiments in the laboratory and animal studies show that radiation exposure throws some kind of genetic switch which causes a non-specific increase in general mutation rates.

    Up until these genomic instability discoveries it was thought that genetic processes followed the laws of Gregor Mendel: there were specific dominant and recessive gene mutations that were passed down the generation and became diluted through a binomial process as offspring married away.

    But radiation scientists and cancer researchers could not square the background mutation rate with the increased risks of cancer with age: the numbers didn’t fit. The discovery of the genomic instability process was the answer to the puzzle: it introduces enough random mutations to explain the observations.

    It is this that supplies the horrifying explanation for the continuing high risk of birth defects in Fallujah and other areas where the exposures occurred ten to twenty years ago. Similar several generation effects have been seen in animals from Chernobyl.

    Neonatal mortality in the nuclear bomb era

    So where does that leave us? What can we do with this? What can we conclude? How can this change anything? Let’s start by looking at the effects of the biggest single injection of these radioactive contaminants, the atmospheric weapons tests of the period 1952 to 1963.

    If these caused increases in birth defects and genetic damage we should see something in the data. We do. The results are chilling. If babies are damaged they die at or shortly before birth. This will show up in the vital statistics data of any country which collects and publishes it.

    The human ova is as susceptible to mutagenesis from radiation exposure and radionuclide infiltration if not more so. It just so happens that most of the studies were carried out on veterans. Veterans that were marched out to witness atomic bomb detonation, and got their balls irradiated

    Just a few sequences damaged in sensitive enzyme systems could lead to autism.

    Autism is heterogeneous but is mostly heritable.

    Slanted political agents like William always come out to lie and cover-up in sensitive subjects like this. No mention of science or genetics because that's the way things are on the inet. They have to try to suppress the 80 years of lying and brainwashing

    1. Keep suppressing with lies ignorance and brainwashing that is

    2. It is called beating a dead horse, Anonymous. If the pharmaceuticals have power, that power is nothing compared to the power of the nuclear club. So,yes, radiation is not good for the body; but people still have some choice with respect to vaccinations. By the way, if you would stand up straight I would not look slanted. Your assuming rather grotesque postures like a demented Yogi is the source of the problem. See a chiropractor as soon as you can.

    3. Why is it called beating a dead horse you stupid evil piece of trash?. Humans can stop making nuclear waste stop making bombs turn off the reactors. Do not listen to this obtuse fool. All the have to do is close the reactors stop making the poisons and sequester the radionuclides

  3. I would be interested Dr A in seeing your research or at least the research on which you are basing this claim --"Autism is heterogeneous but is mostly heritable". Of course any cause that might be environment and traced back to any enterprise would apt to be set aside as soon as possible, whereas heritable is the happy solution to autism . . . or even better due to climate change!
    Hope you got your flue shot.

    1. As a matter of fact I do have a doctorate and clinical experience an a relevant medical field. Not an ersatz distance education degree in educational psychology from Liberty Unversity.

      There are 3 generations of autistics in some families now. At its current rate of exponential growth in incidence, there will be 1 in 2 by 2050 because it is heritable.

      What is the mechanism of mutagenesis that causes heritable genetic damage, that would lead to autism agent commander-McBrag?

      I know you have had vaccinations, but you are a sociopath and what's good for the goose is not good for the gander, according to your ethics and morality.

      From a biochemical, scientific, and genetics standpointo, radionuclides are the only serious explanation for the increasing number of autism cases.

      Of course in this backwards society where the worst lying, brainwashing, and propaganda is touted as gospel, what else would one expect?

    2. I forgot to respond to your "Of course in this backwards society where the worst lying, brainwashing, and propaganda is touted as gospel, what else would one expect?" Backwards compared to what society?
      Berlin in the 1930's? Moscow during the same decade. Beijing through out most of the last century and even now with its Golden Age passing. Or would you prefer an African society like Sudan? Americans have been very fortunate. You included. Keep in mind that you get back what you give out. But wait, with a superabundance of PhD's and professional degrees like the MD and JD how account for all the bad stuff? Aren't you guys and gals doing your jobs?

  4. According to a MIT researcher it was going to be 1 in 2 by 2025. (And who is your colleague who has the degree from Liberty University?)
    You know I tend to mistrust persons who hand out insults so readily; whether you are highly educated or not is something you alone know. The fact that you hide your identity is troubling. [For some reason mine won't show up despite my efforts.]
    I have had very few vaccinations. We did not get them for our four children who were almost never sick. I believe Dr Suzanne Humphreys is correct. Have you read her book?
    There are some flaws in you reasoning. And your writing slides in the direction of obscurity. Are you trying to sound smart and knowledgeable? At one time a PhD meant something, but that time has passed.
    You might of course be right about autism. But you have not convinced me. It would not the first time that the obvious candidate for something turned out to be innocent. What is your argument against vaccinations being the cause. One might have a genetic weakness which the adjuvants take advantage of.
    I have had exceptionally good health but then my mother did not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while pregnant nor did she take any drugs. She was married and we lived in a fairly pure environment with good water, air and food. In a small rural town. My school mates were almost all quite healthy as well.
    Urban life is difficult for children I hear. You probably grew up in a city and have city manners.
    Finally, the pharmaceuticals would certainly prefer your thinking to mine.

  5. Why do you go off topic and try to impose your politically correct interpretation of autism here? It is because you are a fake with a political agenda. Nucleoapes have been lying about radionuclides for and their mutagenicity for 80 years and enforcing it.

    In Japan you can go to jail for breaking the State Fukushima and Nuclear Secrecy Act for talking about Fukushima and being Frank about it and the deleterious effects of nuclear with too people.

    For many years you could prosecuted here for similar behavior and truth-telling.

    The FBI and other government and military spy organisations blatatantly Harrassed antinuclear advocates. For 70 years and still do. They used taxpayers money and hired agents for propaganda. They still do. That is outside the millions spent by the Military industrial complex and nuclear cartels to do so.

    What is the mechanism of DNA damage and or chromosome damage that would account for vaccines causing heritable autism?

    Where were you raised? How old are you? Why do you lie so much and attack? Why do you change the subject about nuclear and autism and insist vaccines are the only cause? Vaccines are the chic-popular scapegoat for autism now, especially in the Trump universe and cult 45 libertard, rpukiklican far right and racist universe.

    You have no manners. You are a fake, a propaganda agent.

  6. You seem unable to get the point. You can do nothing just as you point out about the nuclear issue. Often an ailment has more than one cause which is why not everyone dies during an epidemic. The Black Death may have killed about one half of the population. The intelligent thing may be to strengthen the immune system. Change one's diet. Meanwhile why subject children to as many as 41 vaccinations before the age of two; or give multiple vaccinations at one time. The immunity given by vaccinations is inferior to that provided by the disease, for example, measles.

    It is hard to follow your criticisms. I don't tell lies and I do not attack. I merely see alternatives. You and others keep harping on the fact that nothing can be done about the nuclear threat. And that does seem true. Chernobyl, Fukushima. . .I naively thought Fukushima would really bring a change.

    Keep in mind that not everyone who works around radioactive materials gets cancer. Or some other condition. Why? Luck? Find out why and perhaps others can do what that person did.

    There will always be human beings with power who will harm others and have no trouble sleeping at night.

    Why waste time attacking me? You must feel very insecure and doubt what you know.


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