Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Support Libel Reform

Bloggers in the Health Field are often threatened with legal action. This is a problem especially in the UK because of their plaintiff-friendly libel laws. The Libel Reform Campaign lobbies for changes in law with some success, which is not comprehensive enough, though. I can't go to the below, so if you are in the UK, please have a read of the following and consider becoming a
Dear Libel Reform Supporter,
On 27th June, we will be part of group who will present the petition you have signed to No.10 Downing Street. We will be asking for a Defamation Bill that will make the libel laws fairer, more accessible and in the public interest. Will you help us and let MPs know that the Defamation Bill currently passing through Parliament is still inadequate?
For example, the Bill lacks a public interest defence, which is what those writing on matters on public interest desperately need. The unfair libel cases (Singh, Goldacre, Wilmshurst, etc) that sparked the Libel Reform Campaign could all happen again without a public interest defence.
In this final push for a truly fair and effective Defamation Bill, you can do your bit in three simple ways in three minutes: 
1. Please send an email to your MP if you have not done so already last week. You can find a template email and instructions for contacting your MP here http://www.libelreform.org/news/527-write-to-your-mp2. Please tweet: “Support #LibelReform by signing the petition http://bit.ly/8gJQ7w - if you’ve signed already, click http://bit.ly/LvOqrG to remind your MP”3. Please forward this email to 5 people who you think care about free speech and ask them to write to their MP and tweet. 
Finally, please  join us all at the Houses of Parliament on 27th June at 10.30am immediately before the delivery of the petition to Downing Street. A large show of support will impress upon MPs that many people are committed to winning the battle for a fairer defamation law. You can find details of what to do and where go here.  Let Mike and Síle know if you can come at news@libelreform.org so we can save you a space.
Brian Cox
Dave Gorman 
Dara Ó Briain

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sue Reid propagates MMR Manufactuversy in the Daily Mail

MMR does not cause autism. There is no controversy about this. Medical experts agree. There is no epidemiological connection between MMR and autism (in Denmark, England, Japan, Japan, Japan, Poland, and the United States), papers alleging a connection have been retracted, no one has ever reproduced the "MMR measles virus infiltrates gut, causes autism" claims of Andrew Wakefield and the largest court hearing, the Autism Omnibus trials in the US, has denied all three test cases and appeals for the various "autism is caused by vaccines" hypotheses. The media hype, largely responsible for the drop in MMR uptake in the UK and subsequent mumps and measles outbreaks has died down, parent confidence is rising, and MMR coverage rates are picking up.

It seems this is not common knowledge across Europe though. This March, a provincial court in Rimini, awarded a family €140000 for their son's autism "caused by the MMR". A quick glance at the plaintiff's side reveals an anti-vaccine "dream team":

Their lawyer, Luca Ventaloro, is a well known Italian anti-vaccine advocate (seen here on YouTube explaining how to legally avoid compulsory vaccination). And while their doctor, Massimo Montinari (misspelled as Montanari in the court decision), has no proper biomedical research papers on autism or MMR or vaccines in general, he authored the book "Autismo: i vaccini fra le cause della malattia" and sells his own autism "cure" protocol. Why the defendants, the Italian Ministry of Health, apparently did not present any of the huge body of evidence against any association between MMR and autism is not clear. Ironically, the Cochrane Team reviewing the MMR is Italian. After the ruling, horses bolted and all, it appears that this decision will be appealed. Already, the Italian Federation of Pediatricians has protested and pointed out the poor factual basis on which the court's decision was made.

Now, the lack of evidence-based information in the Italian decision and the bias in the parents' team should be blatantly obvious to anyone with a keyboard and access to the internet. Nevertheless, the Daily Mail, not entirely innocent in the original media campaign against the MMR, joined the ranks of the usual anti-vaccine activists (no links to those guys) and published a sensationalist article:

MMR: A mother's victory. The vast majority of doctors say there is no link between the triple jab and autism, but could an Italian court case reignite this controversial debate?

What they obviously mean is "let's help them reignite the debate, so our web site gets clicks and our paper sells copies - yeah". That kind of fear mongering is highly irresponsible in the light of the lack of evidence for a connection between MMR and autism (see above - interestingly, Autism Omnibus verdicts never made the Daily Mail) and record measles outbreaks across Europe and the UK. A fellow blogger, equally astonished about this inflammatory piece of poorly researched journalism, now revealed the Daily Mail author's motivation. Sue Reid is just simply anti-vaccine minded, conspiracy theories, pharma shill allegations and all, although she seems to recognise that this is not popular and threatens libel action. If the comments are correct, she is no stranger to controversial reporting based on fabricated evidence either.

In any case, the ruling is unlikely to stand very long - the inflammatory language used in the Daily Mail piece is likely to cost some children their health. The current measles outbreak in Merseyside has well over 300 patients, with a hospitalisation rate of 18%. Well done, Sue Reid and the Daily Fail.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Open Letter to the Biomeddlers

I'm not going to couch this in the platitude, "I think you love your children but..." because I don't think you do.  That's right, I said it...

You don't love your children.

Sure you say you do, you go on about your sacrifices, how much money you spend "recovering" your children but you love you more and you may love the idea of the child you think is "trapped" inside but you don't love the child there in front of you.  You also lie about "us neurodiversity folks" who you say are just about accepting our children and having no hope.  False and you know it because it's been explained many times over.  Neurodiversity is about accepting your child as challenged or differently-abled but also providing the tools and treatments necessary to allow them to fulfil their potential and help them negotiate a neurotypical world.  It is the opposite of hopeless; we just don't treat our children as "stolen, souless shells who'll suck the life's marrow out of family members". And even though you'll try to defend this paraphrase as referring to autism, you can't because that's precisely what you see when you look at your children.

And neurodiversity folks aren't jealous of your "aspirations" and your "hope" and "recovery".  On the contrary, some pity your lack of empathy, your denial and your desperation but others, like me don't have it within to pity you any longer and see you for the inhumane, ignorant child abusers you are.  I don't think love is complicated at all, sure there are different kinds of love or different ways to love but reducing a child to a gruesome science experiment in the name of "recovery" isn't love, determination perhaps but your warped rationalisation for what you do to your children will never be love.  This ain't love:
Thank you for writing this article! We have been using MMS now for 3 weeks and have only seen positive results. I have to say the amount of worms and junk coming out of my son now is really what has convinced me to stay the course. Who knew our kids were harboring such horrific parasites inside their little bodies. I am one of the Moms who for the past seven years has seen multiple DAN docs, attended conferences, had $1000's of dollars of tests done and spent 10 times that on supplements and treatments. I cannot count the hours spent reading books and researching. I am please to say that almost every single thing we tried has been helpful in some way. Things that worked, like Chelations, TMG and vitamin support help my son to speak in 2 word utterances when he was 5, before that it was guteral sounds, finally be toilet trained at the age of 6, and to go on to make continual and significant recovery. Yasko and Enhansa helped hhim take the next step and today he is in 3rd grade, reading at grade level and talking in full sentences all the time. Just learned to ride a bike, is swimming, and even has a few friends. Cured? Recovered? No, not fully, not yet, there is still a ways to go, but he went from very severe Autism to a moderately high level of functionality. The immense amount of progress made so far gives me hope and I will NEVER quit trying to help my child.
"Worms and junk"?  Bullshit!  Your child didn't have parasites or heavy metal toxicity or any other imagined diagnosis you came up with.  You're bleaching your child you ditchpig and any developmental advancement is coincidental and in spite of you, not because of you.  It's all about you isn't it?  And where the hell are the spouses in all of this?  I'm going to say husbands because this is primarily perpetrated by women.  Do you blithely join in holding your child down for numerous blood draws for bogus tests, the infamous one two punch of chemical castration and chelation and enemas? Or have capitulated to your wife the care abuse of your special needs children because she spends so much time "researching" and shuffling them off to DAN! quacks?  Whether you are actively participating or enabling, you're still responsible for the abuse of your children.

And if it's not bad enough you are abusing and exploiting your own children, Teresa Conrick another Age of Autism luminary exploits a teenage autist for her own gain.
As fate would have it, I was to meet another inspiring and heroic man, this one was only seventeen-years-old, yet his mission and message equaled the two I have just described.  While I was waiting to talk to a presenter, I watched this young man make his way over to a space near me, talking to a nearby mother, I heard his words - "I am recovering myself from Autism."  I looked quickly as he smiled at me and I reached out to shake his hand, while I tried to hide my tears.  "How", I asked him, "are you doing this on your own?" He began to tell me his name, "Nicholas Glenski", and that he and his Dad were up from Springfield, MO.  (That's he in the photo with AofA's Jake Crosby.) I was so impressed that I asked if we could talk together, maybe I could ask him some questions for a blog about Autism?  He smiled again and was very happy to oblige.  Saying he was freezing in the air conditioning, with his dad's permission, we sat outside on a strip of warm, narrow grass, with the sun blazing above.
Congratulations, now you have indoctrinated a young man into believing he is "vaccine-damaged" and needs "recovery".   I'll bet it just thrilled you to hear this young man's beliefs because it validates your own.  You are positively shameful, gathering at that quackfest AutismOne for what passes as camaraderie with your fellow biomeddlers to share your bullshit recovery stories (even though you've been "recovering" your kid for years now) and swap "diagnoses' and "treatments" like baking tips you foist upon your children.

I have certainly faltered as a parent; I'll even go so far as to admit that I've spanked my children a couple of times.  I didn't do it out of love; I was angry and where this has a parallel with what you are doing, you are angry with autism; you hate it. Deny as you might, you can't separate the autism from the child, it is part of them.  Your hatred for autism has obscured your humanity and consequently, true love for your children.  Another parallel I can draw from my own meagre experience is the self-loathing I felt afterward.  Oh you haven't gotten to this part yet because you think you are helping your children.  I felt awful for intentionally inflicting physical and emotional harm upon my children; I still feel awful even writing this. I would imagine that actually having the realisation of the harm, physically and emotionally, you are inflicting upon your children would send you to the darkest depths of despair.  If that's where you need to go to stop this insanity, then so be it.  Get the help you desperately need and learn to love your children.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meanwhile in London... (with update - day 6)

This boy is on day 3 of fever and chicken pox - new pox are still appearing (usually they do for 5 days after onset) - have a glimpse:

Mum had tried to get her two kids the varicella vaccine,  however,  the NHS does not offer varicella vaccine in their regular schedule. They say
"Chickenpox in children is considered a mild illness, but expect your child to feel pretty miserable and irritable while they have it."
No kidding: have another look at the boy's back - According to the NHS
"The chickenpox vaccine is not part of the UK childhood vaccination programme, because experts think that introducing a chickenpox vaccination for children could increase the risk of shingles in older people."
There are a number of papers, most of them from the same author, "independent computer scientist" Gary S. Goldman, violently arguing that the varicella vaccination programme has led to an increase in the prevalence of shingles, while not really protecting against chicken pox. However, actual data collected in various countries shows a different picture:
In Israel in a partially vaccinated population, shingles were associated with early (especially under the age of 1) infection with wild varicella and varicella vaccine was found to be protective. In Canada, shingles incidence in the vaccinated age group declined slightly, while it remained the same for older age groups. In Taiwan, the incidence of shingles started increasing before the varicella vaccine was introduced. The same was observed in the United States. In Australia, a slight increase on shingles rate occurred over the past 14 years, although this is not as ambiguous as the drop in varicella cases in the same time period, concomitant with the introduction of the varicella vaccine (see box 1 here). And finally, comparing countries with and without general varicella vaccine recommendations showed that shingles incidence seems to be independent of any vaccination programmes.

UK analyses come to the conclusion that a general vaccination programme for varicella may not be cost effective in the first 30 to 50 years after introduction. However, as the picture above impressively demonstrates and systematic studies also show, the impact of varicella on children and cost to carers is not necessarily captured by data available through health service usage.

The positive effect of varicella vaccination on pediatric health is undebated: between the introduction of the varicella vaccine in the US in 1995 and 2006, disease incidence fell by 57% to 90%, hospitalizations by 75% to 88%, deaths by >74%, and direct inpatient and outpatient medical expenditures by 74%. Varicella vaccination reduced the risk of pediatric stroke, a known complication of chicken pox also in the UK, by over 60% (similar observations were made in Italy).

What can I say? Have another look at that photograph - if you are in a country with a varicella vaccination programme, go get the vaccine. If you are in the UK, consider going private for the varicella - it is not fair that you have to pay out of pocket for a vaccination that will ultimately not only benefit your child's health, but also the NHS and your employer, but I would still consider this a good investment. If you are in the UK and you have gotten the varicella vaccine privately, please leave a comment and tell us where and how much it was as a resource for other parents.

ETA (6/6/12): this is day 6 - the young man (6 years old, no history of eczema or any other "condition") is feeling much better, the back is starting to crust over - take a look:

Measles go to University

As British kids, not vaccinated in the 90ies due to the MMR media hysteria grow up, measles catches up with them - as seen yesterday:


Lovely Dr. S said that while he was happy to actually see a case of measles (young doctor in the post-vaccine era that he is), people would tend to forget that measles can be a very dangerous disease. And indeed, in Merseyside, where they have had over 200 cases of measles this year, 25% of over 15 year old patients (15 of 61) were hospitalised, the highest rate of all age groups (<1s: 24%, 1-5s: 20%, 5-9s: 4% 10-14s: 8%).

Apparently, University Health Service are also seeing lots of mumps and chicken pox, several cases of rubella and whooping cough. The nurse I saw was very impressed with the recent case of whooping cough - the first she had ever heard. She said she had heard a lot of coughs in her career, but the second she heard this one, she knew it as pertussis and "really something else" (in the sense of something much more severe that a normal cough). 

So here is a public service announcement to students in the UK and elsewhere where Universities may not check your vaccination record:

Make sure you are immune against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, whooping cough and meningitis. 

If you don't have one of these, contact your GP, they should have your shots on file. It is your responsibility now.

You can still get the vaccines, if you didn't as a child. Talk to your GP - they'll be delighted to get you covered before you walk into their surgery with measles...