May you and your family have a happy holiday season.
(and may autism not wreak havoc on your plans)
No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.While at first glance this passage seems to be as clear as mud, when you consider the backdrop of how product liability works it starts to make a certain kind of sense.
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How do we evaluate the claims of these products and prevent ourselves from (1) wasting precious financial resources, and (2) putting our precious children in harm's way? There are some key things that one can look for that indicate woo and pseudoscience. We don't have to be experts in a field; we just have to know how to evaluate claims and evidence.The post continues with six tips on how to avoid bad treatments, aka "woo". The tips start out with phrases to look out for such as "Natural", "Organic", and "Doctor recommended", continue on with an admonition about discounting testimonials, anecdotes, guided questionnaires, and illegitimate published articles, before finally ending with the suggestion that only people with an appropriate pedigrees can make a good product.
|Flickr photo by Mary Harrsch|
Our objectives were to determine prevalence rates of PDDs among school-aged children, and to evaluate the impact of discontinuation of thimerosal use in 1996 in routine childhood vaccines on PDD rates.Pay attention to that second part (yes, sorry, vaccines again), and what it implies. The goal is to measure what impact - if any - the removal of thimerosal had on autism prevalence. To do determine that, you need some measure of exposure to thimerosal.
Our study provides additional evidence that the PDD rate is close to 1%. We estimate that at least 11 500 Canadian children aged 2 to 5 years suffer from a PDD. The reasons for the upward trend in prevalence could not be determined with our methods. Discontinuation of thimerosal use in vaccines did not modify the risk of PDD.And, in the main body of the study, look at the "Interpretation" section -
As in other studies where the effect of the discontinuation of thimerosal in childhood vaccines was examined, no change in the underlying population trends for PDD rates could be observed in relation to thimerosal discontinuation.I think it is obvious that the authors feel that their data shows that removing thimerosal didn't impact the rate of autism. So, clearly, the paper should have measure of thimerosal exposure, right?
Individual immunization data were not available for study subjects.Wait, data about the actual exposure to vaccines and thus the exposure to thimerosal wasn't used? Then how did the authors support their conclusion?
In Quebec, thimerosal was removed from vaccines used as part of the recommended childhood vaccine schedule in 1996. In previous years, exposure to thimerosal varied from 125 to 200 micrograms for birth cohorts included in our study.Oh. So every child born before 1996 was assumed to have exposure to thimerosal but every child after that was assumed to have no exposure?
The prevalence in each individual birth cohort born in or after 1996 was consistently higher than that in cohorts born prior to 1996 (Table 1). ... Further, the inclusion of a dummy predictor variable indicating exposure or not to thimerosal (before or after 1996) to the model predicting prevalence with birth cohort did not improve the model and was not significant.OK, no thimerosal data, just a "dummy predictor variable". Hmm. If thimerosal was completely removed from all vaccines in Quebec, then what should we make of this "Statement on Thimerosal" from the "National Advisory Committee on Immunization" in 2003 -
In Canada, the vaccines currently used in routine infant immunization do not contain thimerosal (see Table 1). Some hepatitis B vaccines licensed in Canada do, but one formulation with no thimerosal and another with only trace amounts are now available in Canada, and NACI recommends their use in infants preferentially. The two hepatitis B vaccines in which thimerosal is added as a preservative are gradually being phased out. Influenza vaccine also contains thimerosal but is only recommended for use in Canada for those infants > 6 months of age. The other vaccines licensed in Canada that contain thimerosal are primarily used for people travelling to developing countries and are not routinely administered to infants.So, thimerosal was completely gone in 1996 - except that in 2003 it was still in some hepatitis B vaccines, the flu vaccines, and "other vaccines"? I guess it is possible that Quebec did remove it completely from all vaccines in 1996 and it is only the rest of Canada that didn't.
|Picture from Wikimedia Commons|
|Flickr picture by The Doctr|
In clinical practice, differential diagnosis of high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SCH) is difficult but important. It is especially difficult when adult patients with ASD have psychotic symptoms as a result of maladjustment to their circumstances. Diagnosis of ASD requires a knowledge of early developmental history, but sometimes that is difficult to clearly ascertain when the patient is an adult. If such patients were not diagnosed as having ASD during their childhood, we cannot distinguish their symptoms from the positive symptoms of SCH. Similarly, when ASD patients are in social withdrawal or in an autistic state, it is difficult to distinguish their state from the negative symptoms of SCH. Thus, a reliable measurement for differentiating the two disorders is needed.This study looked specifically at the Autism Quotient (AQ) test and how well it could distinguish between high-functioning autism and schizophrenia in adults. The researchers gave the AQ to 51 adults of normal intelligence who had either autism or pdd-nos and 46 adults who had schizophrenia.
The group of protesters will be protesting the lack of funding that Autism Speaks spends on funding services for children and adults with autism, as well as the fact that they are researching a prenatal test for autism to encourage soon to be parents to abort fetuses of children who may have Autism.So lets talk about these reasons.
We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.So I am not really sure what ASAN's beef is. You can't just go up to an autism non-profit and say "Hey, I have autism so I should decide how you spend your contributions." Autism Speaks is very clear about how they are going spend the money that they raise. People who give money to Autism Speaks do so with the understanding that it will be used to pursue the goals of the organization.
Of course, there is a disclaimer that these tests are not diagnostic, and they're only to be used for "genuine research." Still, for parents of children on the autism spectrum, adults wondering whether they might fall into an autism spectrum category, or anyone concerned about the symptoms of autism, these tests may be a useful first step in deciding whether or not to seek an evaluation.This is very bad advice.
Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilitiesThe "gifted" label is not that complex idea. Yet there are those who take a relatively simple label and seem to feel the need to make it into something that it is not. A perfect example of this is an article published in the New Scientist called Prodigy psychologist: The gifted child's curse. From the first paragraph -
When children are labelled as "gifted" we like to think the world will be their oyster when they grow up. Be very careful, warns British psychologist Joan Freeman. As she explains to Alison George, her 35 years of studying children with extraordinary abilities has revealed that the label has as many negatives as positivesThe rest of the article continues in the same vein, but what is missing from it is what is negative about the label "gifted". The psychologist being quoted describes many problems with how parents react to the label or how gifted children don't always go onto to be successful as an adult. All of these "negatives" describe how people's reaction to the label might be less than ideal or how having a certain high level of intelligence doesn't guarantee success. But none of these negatives have to do with what the label represents - being "gifted" is not a negative.
Some traits that are typical of Asperger's syndrome, such as attention to detail and focused interests, can increase chances of university and career success. Many people with Asperger's seem to be fascinated with technology, and a common career choice is engineering. But scientific careers are by no means the only areas where people with Asperger's excel. Indeed, many respected historical figures have had symptoms of Asperger's, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Thomas Jefferson.There are so many things wrong with the paragraph it isn't even funny. People with Asperger's aren't focused on details, they are obsessed with certain specific ones and not in a good way (Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities anyone?). Nor is there an automatic relationship between technology and Asperger's - that is a myth. And don't even get me started on the absurdity of saying that historical figures could have had Asperger's because of certain characteristics that appear in writings about them. All of the labels are based on a set of characteristics that appear to a greater or lesser extent in all people but having some similar characteristics does not mean you have "symptoms of Asperger's".
@TannersDad: We can save more children if we cure the parents. #autismand this -
@TannersDad: I was being sarcastic. WTF is a profound autism anyways?and this -
Finding a cure for #autism is all about parents trying to make their kids "normal" so they can be proud of their productive little NT kids.