Mercury & Autism – Naming and Shaming Dr Gorski & “Science Free Zone” Bloggers

… Who Have it Sooooo Wrong Once More

Almost funny if it was not so serious for childrens’ health and safety worldwide.  The usual same sad characters who are happy for mercury to be pumped into infants [neuro-toxic in parts per billion] crow over the junk science published in Pediatrics journal yesterday.

But the difference today is it is easy to show they are all uniformly wrong.

We name and shame the same “armchair web experts” and their instant science free analyses of “the government funded” study they proclaim is the last word in the issue of vaccines causing autistic conditions and brain damage in infants.

Sadly [for them] the study is palpable junk – “science free” and with it so are they and their analyses it would seem:- Mercury As A Cause of Autism – More Denialist Junk “Science” from Pediatrics Journal Posted September 14, 2010.

This is hardly surprising as this is a study funded by the US Centers for Disease Control [as we have shown before over another CDC funded study into mercury toxicity in vaccines: US Research Fraud, Tax Dollars And Italian Vaccine Mercury Study].

But today’s  example shows these desperate bloggers as incapable of independent analytical or scientific thought  [whether by choice or intellectual deficit we cannot say].

It is known and documented autistic childrens’ brains and other organs retain mercury when other childrens’ bodies do not.  The authors of this Pediatrics study carefully measured what went into all the children but not what did or did not come out of the non autistic compared to autistic.  So we cannot tell how much mercury the autistic children accumulated in their brains compared to the non autistic  children.   End result – another piece of hyped junk science that neither adds to nor takes away anything from what is already known.

For our readers pleasure, you can sample some “science free” ranting writing in these examples, led by the beneficiary of drug industry largesse himself ORAC, aka Dr David Gorski [David Gorski’s Financial Pharma Ties: What He Didn’t Tell You] and the inimitably misleading blog from Kev Leitch [Lies, Damn Lies and Blog Posts]:-

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Mercury As A Cause of Autism – More Denialist Junk “Science” from Pediatrics Journal

The journal Pediatrics published yesterday amid media hype a paper claiming to show that mercury in vaccines cannot be associated with causing autistic conditions in children: Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism.

The paper in fact provides no such evidence. The study compared cases of autistic children to control cases of children who did not have autistic conditions.  The problem is that both groups were from the same highly vaccinated population of US children.  Here are some examples of what this means:-

If cases of lung cancer are compared to a control population of only smokers without lung cancer, the authors of this study would conclude smoking does not cause lung cancer.

If cases of heart disease were compared to a control population of only obese people without heart disease the authors of this study would conclude that obesity and heart disease have no association.

If cases of flu are compared to a control population of all people who were exposed to flu virus but did not contract flu the authors of this study would conclude that flu virus does not cause flu.

US child health and vaccine safety advocacy organisation SafeMinds says on Age of Autism:-

Planning for this study began in 2001. Over the nine year study period, the large external panel of consultants providing input to the investigators was reduced to a small subset by study end. The original large panel recommended against the study design ultimately employed, as insufficient to answer the question of early thimerosal exposure and autism rates. The CDC and AHIP overruled the external consultants.

The study was meant to look for differences in exposure to vaccines to see if there was any association between having a different exposure and developing an autistic condition.  As both groups of children were highly likely to have similar exposure to vaccines from the outset, no difference in risk could have been detected. And the authors were told at the outset this was the wrong way to go about it but they went ahead.  Their results simply served to confirm what could have been predicted had no study been carried out:-

On average, case-children and control children had similar cumulative ethyl-mercury exposures at the end of each exposure period (Table 2).”

End of page 660-661 – “Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism”

And the US CDC under Julie Gerberding did exactly the same thing over the previous CDC funded genius study on exactly the same issue: “US Research Fraud, Tax Dollars And Italian Vaccine Mercury Study”.

Gerberding’s CDC funded a study of mercury exposure in Italian children knowing from the outset that the Italian children had received insufficient mercury for there to be detectable brain injury using current methods of investigation.  Internal CDC emails obtained under US Freedom of Information laws shows that the CDC knew that a dose of 75 ug mercury or less given to children by the age of four months was insufficient to cause an effect which could be detected.  The Italian children received by 3 months two thirds of the minimum [no more 37.5 ug].  By 4 months they had only three quarters of that minimum.

It was also Gerberding who walked straight in to the job of Director of Merck’s Vaccine Division last December – another job of vaccine sales person in chief for the drug industry.  And it was Gerberding also who confirmed in a US national TV interview one of the mechanism by which vaccines can cause autistic conditions:-

“… if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.“

HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA – Unraveling the Mystery of Autism; Talking With the CDC Director; Stories of Children with Autism; Aging with Autism – Aired March 29, 2008 – 08:30 ET

That concerned the case of Hannah Poling [who had mitochondrial dysfunction – not mitochondrial disorder] – see also: Vaccination Causes Autism – Say US Government & Merck’s Director of Vaccines

The medical establishment and the drug industry continue to bury their heads – not in sand, but junk science, to cover over what they have been doing and continue to do to millions of children worldwide. Yet again, despite being documented in formally published papers, the authors failed to look in the right places.

See also today’s companion story:

Mercury & Autism – Naming and Shaming Dr Gorski & “Science Free Zone” Bloggers

It is known that children with autistic conditions have difficulty excreting mercury [some references below]. The mercury accumulates in their body tissues including the brain, unlike their non autistic counterparts.  Mercury is highly neurotoxic – in parts per billion.  Only infinitesimally tiny amounts can do significant damage to a developing infant brain.

Despite this being known and documented, the authors of this Pediatrics paper simply measured how much mercury went into all the children but not what did or did not come out.  No information was obtained about how much mercury the autistic children accumulated in their brains compared to the amounts excreted by the non autistic comparison group of children.   End result – another piece of hyped junk science.

The cases of autistic children were not matched with a comparable group of non autistic “control” children to enable a proper comparison to be made.  Yet the study was  supposedly a “case-control” study.  For the cases to be matched to controls it would be necessary to check the controls retained mercury in the same manner as the autistic cases.

The authors of the pediatrics paper not only did not address the issue of mercury accumulation in autistic children, they neither cited any published literature on the point nor did they attempt to discount this aspect of causation.  A complete and abject failure to pay lip service to “science” which wholly invalidates their paper.

This is typical of the quality of “science” to be expected from papers Pediatrics publish. We can now add yet another invalid study to the existing invalid studies purporting to be evidence vaccines and mercury containing vaccines do not cause autistic conditions in children.

If this Pediatrics study were on lung cancer, the famous epidemiologists Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill would laugh at it.  They first established the link between smoking and lung cancer.

It is fundamental in epidemiology to compare an exposed group to a properly selected control group to see if there is any difference between the groups. This Pediatrics study fails on all counts.

This study is the equivalent of taking all smokers and separating them into two groups – those who develop lung cancer and those who do not – and then claiming that as both groups have similar exposures to smoking, that smoking cannot cause lung cancer.

Some people smoke and develop lung cancer.  Some do not.

Some children have vaccines and develop autistic conditions.  Some do not.

A study like this one from Pediatrics would never show anything either way.

The study was funded via organisations with interests in disproving a causal association between vaccines and autism.  The funding was by grants from the US Centers for Disease Control to America’s Health Insurance Plans.  US insurers are not eager to meet the exceptionally high lifetime costs of care for autistic children.

Mercury accumulates in infant bodies as this study comparing the mercury content of milk teeth of autistic children to non autistic controls shows: Mercury, Lead, and Zinc in Baby Teeth of Children with Autism Versus Controls Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Volume 70, Issue 12 January 2007 , pages 1046 – 1051.

In comparison the excretion of mercury as tested in hair samples from infants showed that autistic children had lower levels of mercury excreted in hair than non autistic controls: Reduced Levels of Mercury in First Baby Haircuts of Autistic Children International Journal of Toxicology, July/August 2003; vol. 22, 4: pp. 277-285.

Infant monkeys exposed to the mercury compound thiomersal displayed a five times higher percentage of the total inorganic [metallic] mercury in the brain than monkeys exposed to methyl mercury (34% vs. 7%) and a slightly higher average brain-to-blood concentration ratio (3.5 +/- 0.5 vs. 2.5 +/- 0.3) Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosalEnviron Health Perspect. 2005 Aug;113(8):1015-21.

A detailed summary of over 70 other papers documenting the association published by SafeMinds can be found here: Summary of Science Demonstrating the Harmful Nature of Mercury in Vaccines – 2009 SCIENCE SUMMARY UPDATE.

The association between mercury containing vaccines and the development of autistic symptoms in infant monkeys was also demonstrated in a peer reviewed paper accepted for publication and then withdrawn by the publisher following the UK General Medical Council decision on Dr Andew Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith.  This was solely because Dr Wakefield was one of several named authors and not because of any criticism of the science.  Had his name not appeared, the paper would be in print in the identical journal today: Delayed acquisition of neonatal reflexes in newborn primates receiving a thimerosal-containing Hepatitis B vaccine: Influence of gestational age and birth weight. Neurotoxicology. 2009 Oct 2. [Epub ahead of print].

About Case Control Studies

There was no possibility from the outset of this Pediatrics study ever identifying an association between vaccination and autism. This is because all the controls and the cases had the same exposure.

A case-control study starts with an outcome or effect (lung cancer, heart disease) and a number of potential causative factors.

Cases are selected who have the outcome.

Risk factors are identified plus non-risk.

Controls are chosen who do not have the outcome and should match the cases closely on non-risk factors [eg. age, sex, race, income bracket, geographic area of residence].

The case and control groups are then compared to estimate the strength of association of each risk factor.

When studying heart disease, if all the cases were found to be overweight but none of the controls, that might result in an estimate of a high degree of association of being overweight with heart disease.

That requires a control group of mixed exposure to the risk – in other words a representative sample of the population ranging from the very thin to the clinically obese.

In this Pediatrics study all the controls were exposed to the same putative risk factor – organo mercury containing vaccines.

The end result could have been predicted from the outset without anyone carrying the study out.  The same result would be obtained for any study carried out in such a manner regardless of there being a causal association between the outcome and the potential risk factor.