Not in my backyard: Vaccines, autism and acceptable losses

In her post The AAP vs. Eli Stone (January 2008), Ginger Taylor at Adventures in Autism tells the AAP that her son is not “an acceptable loss in the war against TREATABLE viruses” (emphasis hers). The steel trap that is my mind (ha!) remembered that Ginger had brought this up before when talking about vaccines. In Where I stand on vaccines (June 2005), Ginger wrote:

The CDC’s vaccine policy is based on the principle that the good done for the many outweighs the harm to the few. And that is fine if you are making vaccine policy for 300 million people. But I am not responsible for holding back another Rubella epidemic; I am responsible for two little boys who just may fall into that sliver of the population that the CDC considers an acceptable loss. (my emphasis)

An anonymous commenter responds:

YOU are not responsible, but you do share that responsibility with all of us parents. If enough parents assumed your attitude, pertussis, mennigitis, and perhaps even measles would make a deadly comeback. I’m not saying you must vaccinate, the risks/benefits must be evaluated carefully. But if you choose not to, please acknowledge dropping your share of responsibility for the good of all children for what it is – selfish. Please note that I do not consider selfish anything more than a decision taking only you or your children into account. It does not mean you are an all-bad person.

I’ve thought about this very thing quite often when looking at the vaccine question. Does any single parent have any responsibility to “hold back another Rubella epidemic?” I’ve come to the conclusion that no, they don’t. Though the commenter takes great pains to say being selfish doesn’t make Ginger a bad person, the fact that he had say that at all points to the general feeling that being selfish is bad.

But, and this is a big but, everything that everyone does is for selfish reasons. I’ve written about this before in the context of behavior in the world of business, but the general principal is the same. Every action that we take, or influence, or try to make happen, we do because we want a benefit for ourselves or someone we care about. The Founding Fathers of the US knew this fact, and they also realized that this is the only way it can be if the fundamental freedoms they believed in were to be realized. (This is also why you can’t, and shouldn’t, try to get rid of Congressional ‘ear-marks’ .)

The obvious pop culture reference here is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Spock was right that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but Captain Kirk was just as right – maybe more so, considering what happens later – in not accepting this “axiom” in this case.

The AAP, and others, have gone overboard over Eli Stone, if you ask me, but this is how it should be. I’d expect nothing less if the tables were turned and the proverbial shoe were on the other foot.

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36 thoughts on “Not in my backyard: Vaccines, autism and acceptable losses

  1. OK, so let’s say you don’t subscribe to the teachings of Lister (that microbes cause disease, and transmission of disease can be slowed by hand washing). Let’s say you feel that “good” microbes on your hands shouldn’t be washed off.Should you be allowed to work in a restaurant? To go to the bathroom and not wash your hands before serving food to others?While I think that one can make a case for the “freedom not to vaccinate”, then one should also accept that society has a right (perhaps even an obligation to the group) to exclude you from the group if you choose not to vaccinate (or subscribe to other behaviors that are considered good for the group).Living in society has many benefits (division of labor, public resources, transportation, commerce, etc.). Vaccination does protect the group more so than the individual, but being a member of the group should have its price.Perhaps those that choose not to vaccinate should live by themselves on farms, growing their own crops, home schooling so as not to contact those that they might infect.Joe

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  2. Joe,I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, after I finished writing the post, I realized that I should have reiterated the importance of public policy and the role it plays in protection of society as a whole. (You’ve saved me from having to do that.) Ginger acknowledges as much in her June 05 post when she says, “[The CDC’s vaccine policy] is fine if you are making vaccine policy for 300 million people.”If you think that the rules of your society are wrong, it is your right (and responsibility) to try to get them changed. But until that happens, if you choose to violate those rules you have accept the consequences. That is part of the equation you have to consider when making decisions, and figuring out what is best for you in the long run. Sometimes the selfish path is to do what society asks, because the cost of not doing so far outweighs the benefit.

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  3. Thanks for your response. I was hoping that you weren’t arguing for anarchy. :)When I read Ginger’s post, I took her to mean that just because something’s good for society doesn’t mean that she should do it (because it might not be good for her child).Like I said, I respect that opinion, but only if the person is ready and willing to give up all of the other benefits that society has to offer, or at least to live in such a way that they are not increasing the danger to society as a whole by their actions.Joe

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  4. Let’s suppose Ginger does not vaccinate her 2 little _boys_.Her cost/benefits analysis might be sensible, she’s balancing the possible adverse reactions to the vaccine (extremely low, but …) and and as a speculative cause autism ( imaginary/ nodata), against the possible effects of a rubella infection: mild rash, mild fever, lasting a few days. So far Ginger is well ahead, considering her exagerated fear of autism.Now what if Ginger has a daughter ? Will she vaccinate her, or not ?Regardless, say one of her boys get to adulthood, and marry a beautiful, unvaccinated, young woman.They’re living the dream, and are expecting a baby.Being unvaccinated, they both catch Rubella.Their unborn baby catches Rubella too, and either aborts, or get born crippled for life (CRS).They both thank Ginger, for having protected them from the evils of modern vaccines. They are not autistics, and their baby is crippled.Seen that way, maybe Ginger is not that smart.

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  5. Or Ginger doesn’t vaccinate her boys, one of them gets rubella (no big deal for him) but Ginger is pregnant and her baby is born deaf and blind (oops) because her own defense against rubella was marginal… or one of her sons gets rubella (no skin off Ginger’s nose, she don’t care a bit) and the kid goes and sneezes on a neighbor who is early in her pregnancy and the baby is born with limb deformities, deaf, blind or autistic or it just dies. Nice. Thanks for helping make this a real possibility for others Ginger! You’re regular bright little penny you are.

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  6. Exactly; Ginger is not responsible about forsetalling Rubella epidemics, and she’s not responsible either for the pregnant women in her neighborhood or her family. If they are pregnant and unvaccined, they should make sure to keep Ginger’s kids the heck away.See if she cares.Ginger possibly plans the hold a “Rubella party”; when one kid of the neiborhood get Rubella, she’ll bring her kids to catch the virus, get their rash and mild fever; done.But, what’s to point of playing with a wild virus to build immunity, rather than a tame one in a vaccine ? The immune process is the same; the vaccines is just safer.And if Ginger refuse to protect her kids against Rubella, a mild illness, what about Pertusssis ?Whopping cough is anything but mild.Does she thinks only the Rubella vaccine is somehow dangerous, only the MMR, or *all* vaccines ?Measles is is less mild than Rubella, but generally manageable … unless her 2 boys catch it after puberty, where measles can make them sterile.I guess that’s not Ginger problem either. Ginger has spared her 2 little boys a 0% risk of autism, against a 0.01% risk of becoming sterile. She thinks she’s ahead of the game.

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  7. As a friend of Ginger, I can attest that she is indeed smart enough to make an informed decision and responsible enough to apply her intelligence with wisdom (and I believe we can all agree that intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing).Decisions like vaccination or treatment always require a balancing of possible risks, potential rewards. That balancing process must also weigh individual interests (in this case, the child’s) against any countervailing interests of society. But we can’t necessarily accept those societal interests that are identified by a particular group. For example, the AAP accepts as an article of faith that infants should be vaccinated against Hep-B in the first few hours of life. I accept that we should protect individuals and society from the spread of Hep-B. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept the mindless vaccination of a newborn child when there is no indication that he/she may be at risk for contracting the disease before a later age.One of the problems many of us have with the vaccine program in place is that it does not address individual needs, but is designed to be blindly — and often stupidly — imposed.Society cannot exist separate and apart from the individuals who comprise it.

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  8. Well, Wade, Ginger can thank her parents who had the foresight to make sure she was vaccinated against Rubella when she was a kid, so she could have healthy kids without fear of rubella while she was expecting them.On the other hand, if she is NOT vaccinated for Rubella, she’s better to quarantine herself from her unvaccinated kids, next time she’s pregnant. Unless she thinks the consequences of CRS, Congenital Rubella Syndrome, are overblown.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_rubella_syndromeShe can be endangering her yet-to-be-born child, and the clild of any pregnant women in her neighborhood, those are *proven* risks of not vaccinating her kids, against the *disproven* risks attributed to vaccines by quacks.You are aware that the MMR vaccine has *never* contained mercury preservatives, are you, Wade ?

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  9. _arthur,You seem to think I believe that mercury is the only problem in vaccines, and that vaccines are the only contributing factor to the autism epidemic. If that’s what you believe of me, then you obviously don’t know me. Oversimplification of the issue by peorple on both sides of the debate has become an obstacle to reaching the truth. Although I believe that the manner in which our vaccination program is administered — and please note the semantics; the words are carefully chosen — has been a major contributor to the surge in diagnosed cases. And yes, I think thimerosal has been a part of the problem. But the problem is far more complex. There are any number of toxic insults that might be involved. I cannot speak to Ginger’s personal vaccination history. I know that I only had to get roughly a quarter of the number than my son had to get. And that’s part of the problem.I notice you focus on a particular vaccine — and that’s okay. We should all be able to do that as part of the balancing process I mentioned. Unfortunately, we must either declare a religious aversion to all vaccinations or we must get each and every shot on the schedule, whether or not it makes sense.

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  10. If a medical doctor states that there is an immunocompromising condition already in existence, then the wisdom of the parent should be to resist vaccination on that grounds, resistance to vaccinate due to the influence of peer-pressure groups without serious research to back it up is using the head only for a hat rack, in my opinion.

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  11. Hello All,Since I am being put on trial here, I might as well offer you some insight on how we have made our vaccination decisions.Both our sons were being vaccinated up until Chandler was diagnosed. We stopped vaccinating both afterward, but allowed our older son to get two shots several years later after investigating them further and weighing the risks FOR HIM and putting reasonable precautions in place to avoid harm to his health from the shots. Our older son has gotten at least one dose of everything (which gives him about a 90% chance being protected by the shots (most are about 90% effective in the first dose, adding a few more percentages with each subsequent dose, but some people do not gain the immunity no mater how many times they are given a shot).Chandler is autistic. He has very serious autoimmune disorder. His autistic symptoms are one expression of that disorder. His overactive immune system attacks his own tissues and debilitates him.People who have autoimmune disorders should not be vaccinated. (Here I am quoting the head of the Maine state vaccine program when I called her to ask for a recommendation as to how to most wisely respond to a chicken pox case at my son’s school. Not exactly an anti-vaxxer.)As a primer for those who may not know, the way vaccines work is that they contain a virus and substances called ‘adjuvants’ (like mercury and aluminum and others) that kick the immune system into high gear so that they go on the hunt for the viruses, eat ‘um up, and create antibodies against further infection.In people with typical immune systems, the body then stands down from high alert. But in some people, it doesn’t, and the immune system begins to behave like early 20th century Germany and attacks what ever is in sight. When it attacks the connective tissue, you get arthritis, when it attacks the mylon sheath around the nerves, it is called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a known side effect of the flu shot that causes paralysis. When it attacks the pancreas it is known as Type 1 Diabetes. And on and on.Because autism was first seen as a psychiatric problem caused by bad parenting, it has taken decades for it to be properly medically investigated, and for the autoimmune features of the disorder (i.e. cytokines in the brain causing swelling leading to cognitive dysfunction) to be recognized. (Which is why even mild anti inflammatory agents like fish oil improve communication skills of so many people with autism, and why parents report that children’s autistic symptoms seem to improve when their kids are sick.)When Chandler was diagnosed and we had his immune system tested, viola… hyper drive. I just thought he had rough skin… turns out it was mild eczema. Started him on fish oil and his skin turned back into baby skin and his eye contact and verbal skills improved.As we have reigned in his angry immune system over the last few years, his behavior and communication become less ‘autistic’.So when you say that my son has zero risk from being vaccinated, you could not be more wrong.His risk of exacerbating his autoimmune disorder is virtually 100% from being vaccinated. (That is also true from almost any other toxic insult that he may encounter).It is actually much safer for him just to get the illness with out getting the adjuvants.And the irony is, that when he actually does get sick, which is few and far between, it is very mild, because his immune system stomps it out so quickly.In the case of rubella, I weigh a 100% chance of a decline in his long term health and functioning, against his chances of getting rubella which is lower than 1 in one million (the MMWR stats showed 267 cases in the US in 1999, in a distribution chart of the cases in 1994-1996, there where no cases in the state of Maine where we live).In the very rare event that there is a rubella outbreak, because he has not been vaccinated for it, his school would call us and he would stay home until the risk has passed. That happened last fall when a child at school got the chicken pox. Now the chicken pox vaccine is only 89% effective, so actually at least one in 10 kids can manifest the illness, but because he has not had the shot or the illness yet, he did not go to school and his teacher and therapists came to our home.Small price to pay for the gains we have made in his health. [An aside here… and an appeal for a little credit please… what kind of crap human being do you think that I am that if my son contracted such a serious illness as rubella I would allow him to come into contact with ANYONE much less a pregnant woman? “…no skin off Ginger’s nose, she don’t care a bit) and the kid goes and sneezes on a neighbor who is early in her pregnancy and the baby is born with limb deformities, deaf, blind or autistic or it just dies. Nice. Thanks for helping make this a real possibility for others Ginger! You’re regular bright little penny you are.”Seriously? That is just mean.Can we use just a little restraint here in judging me as that uncaring and irresponsible? At least attempt to have a conversation with me before you decide that I am that level of a-hole please?]Back to the point. Keep in mind, his immune system is over active and he just is not that susceptible to viruses. Last winter Pertusssis was all over our little town. (The vaccine is not that effective and the CDC reports around 14,000 confirmed cases a year last time I checked, not counting people who are never cultured and just think that they just have a really bad cough, which was me until I had been sick for a month and my next door neighbor/doc told me about the outbreak and said he thought I had it). I had a miserable 6 week course of death, my older son stayed home from school for two or three days as I recall, and Chandler coughed twice one morning, so I kept him home thinking he was getting sick, but he turned out to be fine and went back to school the next day.My personal vaccination history? I got all my shots as a kid. But then again, I have a typical immune system so the risks for me were low. Add to that the much lighter vaccine schedule in the early 70’s, and my risk was much lower than it would be if I was born today.Chandler, however, showed a serious reaction to his first shot at two weeks, and his doc should have recognized it as such and taken reasonable precautions, but he didn’t, and Chandler continued to take the hits right up until he regressed following his 18 month vaccinations.This is not about ending vaccination, this is about treating vaccination like the PHARMACUTICALS that they are. They should be measured as carefully as any other injectable medication is when being given to a child, especially a child with multiple medical problems and a history of reacting to those same medications.Not every child can be safely vaccinated any more than every child can safely take antibiotics or eat peanut butter. This is about looking at the individual child and figuring out what the risks are for THAT CHILD.Would you indict a parent of a child who has extreme reactions to antibiotics for not giving them to a child because they could pass along a bacterial infection the same way you are indicting me, the parent of a child who has extreme reactions to vaccinations for not giving them to him because he could pass on a viral infection? We live in a small town in Maine. There is no polio or rubella. There are mumps cases elsewhere in the state, and it if comes to our town we will have to weigh the risks again and take wise precautions. We have a medically fragile child and it is all about weighing the risks.If you have any other questions of me I would be happy to answer them.… and there will be no more children for us. We have seen to that permanently. So you don’t have to worry about our future daughter.

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  12. Who diagnosed him with this autoimmune disorder Ginger? What is it? Who diagnosed his autism as being an expression of it?Are these medically valid opinions or more kookery to back up the anti vaccine and epidemic kookery?

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  13. Kev,I was going to provide some links for you on autism and autoimmunity, but the links I attempted in the above comment didn’t work, so apparently I didn’t do it right.I would encourage you to go to pubmed.com and type in ‘autism autoimmune’ and just start reading abstracts.The autoimmune features of autism is mainstream science.

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  14. Wow, Ginger, I didn’t know you were an immunologist. Wait, you aren’t. You aren’t even a scientist or a medical doctor. The more I read your blogs, I see that you have a little knowledge that you’re dangerously extrapolating to complete your unfounded theories. Just because someone has an an autoimmune disease does not mean that they have a better response to infection. It just means that their body has a dysfunctional immune system.All that stuff you wrote about type 1 diabetes and other diseases being exacerbated because of vaccines and other antigen exposures are barely hypotheses. I know type 1 diabetes research. Members of my family have it. It’s related to my thesis work. And while some people think that maybe an activation of the immune response due to a cold or other illness can possibly exacerbate the development of type 1 diabetes, it’s not proven. There’s some data from Sweden I believe that type 1 diabetes diagnoses are higher in the winter/cold season. However, another competing hypothesis is that this increase in type 1 diabetes in the winter months is due to a lack of vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure. Apparently, identical twins only have about a 40% chance that both will develop type 1 diabetes (Knip et al., 2005). And I’m presuming that in most cases both twins would have been vaccinated at the same time. If they have the same genetics, and vaccines are so dangerous to those with autoimmune disorder potentials, a higher percentage of both twins would get diabetes. And I don’t know why that woman told you people with autoimmune disorders should not get vaccinated. Those with type 1 diabetes actually are encouraged to get the flu vaccine every year because they’re more susceptible to disease and have a harder time recovering from the flu.

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  15. So University of Google didn’t tell you that rubella is most contagious and thus dangerous when there arent any symptoms, and that one can be carrying the disease without ever getting sick? Darn those internet colleges.And of course everyone knows that with actual diagnosed autoimmune disorders they encourage vaccination because it isn’t an OVERACTIVE immune system, but more accurately a trigger happy immune system with piss poor aim. Oh, and they treat autoimmune disorders, too. With immune modulators or corticosteroids. Even Google U has that.

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  16. Science Girl,I am not an immunologist. I am a mother making the best informed medical decisions that I can for my children.Instead of just insulting me about my blogging, I would encourage you to go to what ever post on my blog you find objectionable and challenge whatever statements you think are inaccurate.Just because someone has an an autoimmune disease does not mean that they have a better response to infection.I didn’t say that “they” did… I said that MY SON does. And if you spend time with other autistic children, you will find that is common among them. You will also find that there are some children with autism that have chronic viral infections that they cannot get rid of. And as you did on my blog, you are putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say that diabetes and other autoimmune diseases were made worse by vaccines, I was listing different kids of autoimmune diseases, the last of which was autism. I am sorry if I was in any way unclear.I cannot speak to a relationship between vaccines and diabetes. I do know that there has been discussion on the rise in Type one diabetes and the increase in the vaccine schedule, and I do know of one study that reported a hire rate in the disease for vaccinated children as opposed to unvaccinated children, but have not looked into it in any detail, so I would not presume to make any judgments on it.However, the first settlement of an autism claim was issued in the “Vaccine Court”, and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund will be paying for a child whose autism was made worse by subsequent vaccinations. The Department of Justice did not even take it to a hearing. Apparently the evidence was so overwhelming that they stipulated to the facts and settled the case.Kind of a significant development, but pretty much went unreported.And I don’t know why that woman told you people with autoimmune disorders should not get vaccinated.Why is this such a stretch for you? It makes medical sense. Why would you want to add fuel to the fire of a run away immune system?And I’m presuming that in most cases both twins would have been vaccinated at the same time.This is an important presumption to check. If one twin is sick during a doctor visit they often are not vaccinated.Does one twin take Tylenol more often than the other, or did they have it when they were vaccinated? Tylenol lowers glutathione levels and peds who recommend it for mild vaccine reactions, or to prevent pain, may be unknowingly making it more difficult for their patients to clear the vaccine additives from their system.And among those twins that are not both diabetic, does the other develop a different autoimmune disorder?You would probably know better than I if these questions have been investigated or not.Those with type 1 diabetes actually are encouraged to get the flu vaccine every year because they’re more susceptible to disease and have a harder time recovering from the flu.And this would be a risk benefit analysis for people with Type 1 Diabetes. Which is worse for them, the flu or the flu vaccine itself? But the problem that I have is that vaccine risk/benefit analysis is not taking place. Vaccines are treated as a sacred cow and only ‘Vaccine Benefit’ analysis is taking place. To my knowledge (and correct me if I am wrong here, because again, I have not looked into this in detail) there is not been, any comparison in rates or severity of T1D occurrence between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations (other than the Generation Rescue survey). I know that is true of autism.And parents like me have been complaining to high heaven because the CDC just won’t do simple comparison studies that would give us good data on overall vaccine risk. They have come up with every excuse in the world not to do it. The first one was one by a parent group last summer at a cost of a mere $200,000 that did find a significant increase in autism, asthma and T1D in vaccinated children as compared to unvaccinated children.It would be quite simple for the CDC to try to replicate the survey, but then are in no hurry to do so.If you are really interested in looking at the issue objectively and seeing if parents like me can offer evidence for our position, than I am more than happy to discuss the state of the research on the matter. But i have been doing this for four years and honestly, I have grown really weary of the bad faith and sarcasm that characterizes much of the discussions that go on, and that are exhibited in this comment thread.So If anyone has any earnest question, again, I am happy to answer them. But enough of the insults, please.It is hardly becoming of someone who puts the word, “science” in their moniker.

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  17. When I took off yesterday afternoon I had just read _aurthur’s comments. I was thinking that since I dragged Ginger into this mess that I should somehow defend her in absentia. But, as Ginger has shown, she’s more than capable of defending herself and her position.What the discussion here reveals to me is that we all may have a bit of the “not in my backyard” mentality. (I know I do, if not in this topic then in others.) It seems, for instance, that _arthur has a very strong interest in making sure Rubella is kept at bay. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, _arthur, but it almost sounds as if you are saying, “There are no acceptable losses to Rubella because someone else didn’t get vaccinated.” Sounds kind of familiar, if just a bit different.Until we understand, and accept, that “the other side” is behaving just as rationally as we are (or vice versa), we will never get anywhere.

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  18. Nice wrap up Brett.With that I will go back to my yard now. If anyone has any other questions or wants to discuss further, you know where to find me.Peace. Out.

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  19. Based on all these years of knowing my communication, IF I thought you were a moron, Ginger, I’d have said so.I do think you have shoddy “science”. If you can even call it that. Not to mention that whoever is giving you immunology lessons is a few fries short of a happy meal. That has nothing to do with your intellect, it has to do with knowledge base.Now, if your child gets pertussis and gives it to 15 people at an extracurricular activity, I will delightedly call you a moron AND help the victims call attorneys. Mkay?

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  20. “An aside here… and an appeal for a little credit please… what kind of crap human being do you think that I am that if my son contracted such a serious illness as rubella I would allow him to come into contact with ANYONE much less a pregnant woman?”An aside here bright little penny, you seem to think you can manage what viruses do so easily. You’ll just know that when you son is one of those toting a body with rubella germs oozing from it that he will not come in contact with anyone who is pregnant (at school) or will not come in contact with someone who will then carry the germ to someone else who is pregnant… and so on. I would never call you a moron Ginger, but I think you are murderously selfish and you give yourself airs as to how smart you are about biomed. You’re lack of knowledge about the immune system and about how public health works and how vaccines work is obvious.I also think that Brett’s blog needs to be removed from the hub as of right this minute, but then, what do I know?

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  21. I find that nothing is as excruciating as when my son is struggling and life is wearing him down, and I can’t seem to help him. I know that Ginger’s tone is very off-putting, and her level of surety about her answers seems to be bordering on delusional, but every parent has to make decisions with incomplete information, and she seems to be trying to do the right thing. I personally think that autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders are caused by a brain development that overdevelops some areas of the brain and leaves other areas underdeveloped. I use that reasoning to help guide my decisions for my children, even though I know that I may not be right. So, my heart goes out to Ginger because it can be very difficult to be a parent, and I long for the day that we have a good understanding of how to help our children.

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  22. Ginger, there are currently Rubella outbreaks underway in Australia and Malta; those are faraway places, no chances any such foreign and diseased people ever come to your neighborhood.The last Rubella outbreak in Canada took place in 2005; that’s ancient history. 121 persons were infected in Norwich, Ontario.The UK had outbreaks in 1993 and 1996, and none since, thanks to widespread vaccination.

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  23. I didn’t ask for the science behind autoimmunity and autism Ginger. I asked for details about how you got the idea that your son had an autoimmune disease which expressed itself as autism.Can you supply them or shall I carry on in my assumption that you either had them given to you by a kook or plucked them out of thin air?

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  24. Kev,Ginger has already invited questions directly to her rather than this public forum. You have her email address; ask her that question there. Of course, she may choose to ignore it or answer it as she wishes. (Personally, I would choose to not answer that question, but that’s just me.) All of us have chosen different levels of privacy we wish to maintain for our children and our treatment. You, of all people, should understand and accept that.

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  25. I feel terrible.Ginger was right about aluminium salts being an adjuvant!According to the CDC webpagehttp://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htmAluminum gels or salts of aluminum which are added as adjuvants to help the vaccine stimulate production of antibodies to fight off diseases and aid other substances in their action. In vaccines, adjuvants may be added to help promote an earlier response, more potent response, or more persistent immune response to disease.If her children were born after 2000, their vaccines never contained thimerosal; which is a preservative, not an adjuvant.

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  26. Kev,Ginger posted one blog entry about how she determined that Chandler had autism.http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2005/02/introduction-to-chandler-birth-to.htmlI'm actually curious what others think about this. To me, there didn’t seem to be any definite proof that Chandler had autism. He seemed just like a normal kid, who liked to do his own thing and maybe was slightly slow in developing. And when Ginger said that her mother-in-law didn’t seem worried, because Ginger’s husband was the same way… it just kind of crossed my mind that why would you want to diagnose your son with a disease when your husband was the same way and turned out fine? But I’m not a clinician. And Ginger, if you’re reading this, I’m not trying to attack you. I’m just a little unclear after reading about autism symptoms how people on the “autistic spectrum” are not just shy, independent, and a bit introverted.If anyone can explain (preferably with clinical experience), please do.One last thing, especially to Ginger, if she’s still reading this. Science does not mean having an open mind on everything. Scientists have hypotheses, test them as many ways as possible, and then they come to conclusions, which are usually still tested many more times. Scientists tend to fight pseudoscience when we see it, especially when we’re concerned with how it will affect public health and knowledge.

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  27. _arthur,Again, I feel the issue is not solely thimerosal/mercury (indeed, aluminum needs to be examined). That being said, it is not necessarily accurate to say that a child born after 2000 would not be exposed to thimerosal. First, anything manufactured before the phase-out began in 2000 could conceivably still be on the shelf as late as 2003. Second, although it was phased out, for the most part, as a preservative in 2000, thimerosal is still used in some vaccines as a “purifying” agent in the manufacturing process. Although efforts are made to filter it out, “trace”amounts are left behind. What constitutes a “trace” and how dangerous it might be is still a subject for argument. Finally, many (not all, but many) flu shots still use thimerosal as a preservative. As these are pushed upon pregnant women and infants, there still is a risk of exposure.Science Girl,Although I don’t want to invade Ginger’s family life too much, I can say that I have met her family and I don’t think the diagnosis can be questioned (although there is also no question that Chandler is continuing to make nice progress).

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  28. What’s with some of this deference to Ginger? Come on, she’s a loon. A cult member. And, yes, cultists can be persuasive, that’s part of the game. I am sorry, but Ginger does not have a right to refer to children as being “vaccine damaged” (cf. her letter to the AAP) when they are, in fact, NOT. Ginger is deluded and spreading her delusion to her kids and other peoples kids. If you are going to tell a little kid that they are “damaged”, then you had better be sure — on your life certain — because you are condemning a child to a life of pain and psychic torment. I can’t wait for these kids to grow up and push this toxic crap right back in their perp’s faces. Maybe the grown-up kids will file a class action suit against moms like Ginger; the cult moms; the biohazard moms. Talk about damaged….

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  29. What’s with some of this deference to Ginger?It’s called civility in some places, or just plain good manners. Why don’t you try it sometime? You might even be able to use your own name without worry.

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  30. So, then Wade, you are defending Ginger’s choice to be verbally abusive to children, by falsely telling them they are toxic, poisoned and damaged? I’ll pick being rude to Ginger over not abusing kids, thankyouverymuch.

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  31. “Ginger has already invited questions directly to her rather than this public forum. You have her email address; ask her that question there. Of course, she may choose to ignore it or answer it as she wishes. (Personally, I would choose to not answer that question, but that’s just me.) All of us have chosen different levels of privacy we wish to maintain for our children and our treatment. You, of all people, should understand and accept that.”Yeah right.Ginger has already told me I’m persona non grata over there so I’m limited to asking my questions elsewhere.And you’re absolutely right – she can choose to answer or shirk the question. Of course, we all know what her shirking the question means.Chandler has about as much autoimmune disorder manifesting itself in autism as I have royal blood. The reason why is that Ginger has not ever taken Chandler for a diagnosis is that she knows exactly what it will reveal. Its safer to fall back on kook medicine than admit one was wrong after all.

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  32. I am back in town and wanted to make some quick corrections and answers:Kevin, yes Chandler has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder via lab tests by an MD.It is also visible to the naked eye as his eczema flares up when he does not take his omega 3 oil.You yourself cautioned me a few years ago not to put my son’s pictures or his personal information online, so, no I am not going to give out the names of his doctors. You are just going to have to take my word for it or not.Arthur, mercury in the form of thimerosal is used as a preservative, but mercury is also an adjuvant. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=17820902000 was the year they began taking thimerosal out of vaccines, but full dose mercury vaccines were not recalled and some remained on the shelves until 2007 (and a few still are full dose mercury shots [25mcg], most flu shots, tetanus, meningitis and I think one more). Developing countries still get the full dose mercury shots.I checked Chandler’s shot record and he got the low dose mercury shots, but the birth dose of his hep B shot still exceeded the EPA’s safety limits for his weight. (This was the first shot he reacted to, unexplained fevers and crying for three months and constipation and bowel problems for two years until we put him on the GFCF diet). He regressed after his 18 month (low dose mercury and other adjuvant containing) shots.In addition, the EPA safety limits are based on ingested methyl mercury (which the digestive tract can usually prevent about 90% of from entering the blood stream). There is no safety testing of injected ethyl mercury (the kind in Thimerosal) and an NIH study concluded that injected thimerosal builds up in the brain more easily than ingested fish mercury. So the EPA’s safety limits (of 0.1 mcg/kg per day) are woefully lacking when applied to Thimerosal. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16079072Bottom line, no one know how much mercury is too much and for whom. There is NO SAFE LEVEL OF LEAD, and mercury is about a hundred times as neurotoxic as lead.Science Girl, Chandler was diagnosed with autism by a psychologist. That account is of his descent into autism and how I came to suspect that he might be autistic before his formal diagnosis. My first few months of not seeming worried was the very normal, “he’s going through a phase, his dad was quiet too, everything is fine, Einstein didn’t talk until he was three, stop freaking out” stage of denial that almost all autism parents go through to some degree. Until someone else said it to me, I didn’t want to let myself believe it.”Scientists tend to fight pseudoscience when we see it”. But you have decided that I am preaching pseudoscience with out properly investigating my claims.The problem with your out of hand dismissal is that you have not first looked at the biological model that suggests that vaccines can trigger autism to see if all the pieces fit into the framework of our argument. Which is why I encouraged you to read more of my blog before dismissing the vaccine trigger theory.Again, if you want to start from scratch and investigate this fairly, email me and I will be glad to walk you through it.Donna, “her level of surety about her answers seems to be bordering on delusional” again… this is not about surety. Surety is a very rare thing in life. None of us knows for sure if we will draw our next breath or if the sun will come up tomorrow. This is about weighing the risks for one particular child and making the best decision for him.If my tone is off putting, I apologize, but please bear in mind that I have been called ‘murderous’ on this thread for making reasonable medical decisions for my child. I try not to respond with the same kind of vitriol, but it is difficult to be warm and fuzzy in the face of people calling you a ‘loon’. Sorry if I sound cold, but I am trying to respond to the salient points and not get involved in arguments or personal attacks.Again, if anyone has any questions, even you Kevin, feel free to email me. For the last several years I have tried to walk the fine line of offering as much information as I can (short of publishing his medical records of course) to offer a clear picture of Chandler’s regression and his recovery this far.The interventions that we have employed for him, which are based on the vaccine reaction theory, have hugely improved his cognition, his interaction, his functioning and his quality of life. I want to be clear, unlike Jenny McCarthy’s son, Chandler is not fully recovered and is still autistic, but each time we have found a new piece of his medical puzzle, he has a jump in his functioning that is unmistakable and even surprises people in his life who had no knowledge of what ever new treatment we were trying.So please, before you rush to judgment about parents like me, ask them why they believe what they believe and listen to them.Please email any questions to mail[at]adventuresinautism[dot]com

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