Something momentous happened last Thursday (11/29/12)… something that has not happened in 10 years… but you would not have known about it if you relied on mainstream media to tell you about it or if you weren’t somehow intimately connected to Autism and the Autism community in some way….
So what was it?
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held the first hearings on Autism in nearly a decade. Nearly 4 hours of testimony including governmental officials, government agency representatives, parents of autistic children, individuals with autism and leaders of autism organizations were put “on the record”.
For some of you, “So what?” may be your response… for others of you (maybe with a child impacted by autism or related condition) you may find this event a bit more monumental. Today, I hope to recap Thursday’s meetings for the “So-What-ers” out there… so that maybe, just maybe you will see the significance of this event and note the significance of this hearing.
The Hearing consisted of 2 Panels, The first included 2 representatives from government branches: Dr. Coleen Boyle from the CDC and Dr. Guttmacher from the NIH. In this post, I will be summarizing this first panel (part 1 and 2):
The second panel was made up of representatives from Autism organizations, parent representatives and individuals with Autism. If you would like to view that panel in its ENTIRITY.. you can view it here:
One of the most striking thing to me about the hearings was the educated level and detail of research that the Representatives on the committee had done in preparing their questions. The other thing that struck me was that for the first 2 hours of the testimony, the words vaccine and autism were heard together in the same sentence more times than I could count, in questions asked by the congressional representatives.
Many are aware of the long-standing belief and accertation by many that vaccines cause autism. More, perhaps, believe that this connection has been firmly disproven. Few, though, realize that the true issue and concern at hand is not one of vaccination but instead of what ELSE is in vaccines, besides the live or dead virus, and the amount, number and timing of the vaccines currently given to babies and children. I was amazed that THESE few included the members of the oversight committee on Thursday as they struggled and grapple with the logic and rhetoric of this situation of EPIDEMIC (Rep. Issa’s words, not mine) proportions. They asked many of the same HARD questions that many educated parents, who have read volumes of scientific research, ask each and every day as they care for their children and seek treatments to help and heal their sick kids.
Below are the highlights of some of this questioning, with some questions/statements of the representatives highlighted…
Burton- “Contrary to what has been stated in the media over the years, I am not against vaccinations…. What we have always opposed is putting toxic chemicals or metals in the vaccination. Thimerisol contains Mercury. When I was a boy we used to have mercury in the thermometers. And they said if they break that thermometer and get the mercury your hands as time goes by, that was toxic.”
Burton-”I am convinced the mercury in vaccination is a contributing factor to neurologic disease such as Autsim and Alzheimer I am convinced of it after all those years we had hearings.”
“My question to presidents and CEO’s of pharmaceutical companies… is if there is any doubt that mercury in vaccine can cause a neurologic problem then get it out! You shouldn’t put mercury in any form in the human body esp. in children in vaccination or in adults in my opinion.”
“Err on the side of Safety”
Rep. Burton showed this video at the hearing on the effects of mercury on brain cells-
Rep. Burton previously chaired the government oversight committee, and has been a LONG term supporter of Autism due in part to the fact that his grandson is diagnosed with autism, here you can watch a hearing that was held in 2002, where he was asking the same questions he is asking this week… The only thing that has changed is the prevalence rate of autism has gone from 1 in 200 to 1 in 88… In just 10 years.
Meehan, “I don’t know of another issue that has effected more of my constituents, that have demonstrated a greater degree of frustration than this issue (autism).”
Meehan, “Has anything had a trend with this kind of accelerated pace?”
Meehan, “In your words, this is a Public health concern. Would you explain to me why this is not a public health CRISIS? Why this is not an issue that is on the front burner of the CDC every day”
Meehan, ”Who’s in charge of this? Who wakes up in the morning and says this is my priority, I am going to drive this train and make sure something happens today. Who’s in charge of this?”
Rep. Dr. Gosar
Gosar- ” Dr. Boyle, in your testimony, I didn’t hear a prevalence about diet. I didn’t hear a pertinent aspect focusing on diet.”
Gosar- “I also Celiac Sprue by the way”
Gosar- “I am finding more from them (the families of children with autism) than I am from the medical research. And it seems to me we are focusing on something wrong here. We should be focusing on the family, they are telling you what is going on. And they are frustrated is because the research is cylindrical , they are not sharing, they are not coordinating, at all, and they are telling you what is going on and what is wrong. And we should be focusing on the family and utilizing that as a coordinating factor.”
Gosar- “You cannot point to me to a disease factor, point to one of them, I dare you , and we will find a dietary problem with it. I mean, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid conditions, you name them MS, you are going to find a dietary aspect. ….. We need to be looking at how to help the parents in a dietary aspect.”
Gosar- “It is unbelievable what these people have to do, absolutely unbelievable and we got researchers who don’t listen to them. To me this is just absolutely incredible. And I think it is a slap in the face for these people, to be looking at those aspects.”
Gosar-” Here’s how affluent it was. One of my siblings has a son they said was autistic. Thank God one of my sisters is a physician. In going through this tirade we found out that she had celiac spru. She wondered, I wonder if this is the problem for her son. Isn’t it interesting, we had a kid who was diagnosed for- or labeled as autistic, that as soon as we took him off wheat, gluten, and milk products this kid sits, reads does everything appropriately.”
Kucinich cited a University of Texas study which found a statistically significant link between pounds of industrial release of mercury and increased autism rates. The study also showed a statistically significant association between autism risk and distance from the mercury source.
Kucihich- “While mercury occurs naturally in our environment, our contributions in the form of dental amalgam and coal-fired powered plants contribute hundreds of tons of mercury to our environment annually.”
Kucihich- “We owe it to our children to ensure that we are responsible stewards, providing a safe environment for our children to raise future generations,”
Matheson-”We have heard alot about the 1 in 88 number, I come from a state that it is 1 in 47 (Utah)”
Matheson-”Can any of you tell me about any new therapy approaches that are emerging for effectiveness in treating autism”"
Posey-“So clearly, definitely, unequivocally, you have studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated?”
Boyle-“We have not studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated”
Posey- “Never mind. Stop there. That was the meaning of my question. You wasted two minutes of my time,”
Buchanan “Let me just say because I know there’s a lot of evidence that they’re good, but don’t we get like 40 vaccines, to our children today? Is that the number I’m hearing? Upward of 40? Yeah Either of the Doctors, Just out of Curiosity.
Guttmacher- There’s an exact number and it varies somewhat. I think 40 is a little bit high, BUT it’s Uh Uh.
Buchanan- ” …Just to Point out, Why is it twice what France is, more than Finland…. I just don’t understand why our kids are getting so many shots…. I don’t know if we’re spending enough time and energy where our kids are looking at this, where our kids are getting twice the shots as everybody else.”
Buchanan- ”Have they looked at the impact of these, I’m not a chemist, but when you put all of these drugs or vaccines into children the impact that these vaccines may be having in combination? “
Buchanan- ” I just want to let you know, we-ve got to spend more time in resources and fix this problem, because obviously, it’s out of control. Thank you very much.”
Cummins- “There’s something wrong with this picture”
Cummins- “Seems to me someone would say wait a minutes let’s put the brakes on this. And at least try to figure out whether I’m giving a baby 9 shots in a day…how much impact that is having.”
Cummins-”If we are going to err, let’s err on the side of keeping children SAFE. Even if we have to do a pause and do 1 shot a day.”
Maloney-”The numbers he pointed out earlier, it used to be 1 in 10,000 kids got Autism, it’s now 1 in 88, and I’d like to ask Dr. Boyle, WHY? and I don’t want to hear that we have better detection? We have better detection, but better detection would not account for that… HUGE, HUGE, HUGE jump… Take better detection off the table. I agree we have better detection, but it doesn’t account for those numbers.
Boyle-”our survallience Counts cases of Autism and establishes the prevalence, it doesn’t tell us all the answers as to the why…”
Maloney-”…Are you looking at vaccinations, is that part of your studies?”
Boyle- ” there have been a number of studies done by CDC on vaccinations.”
Maloney- “would you send those to the ranking member and chairman?”
Maloney comments on hormone replacement and cancer..
Maloney-”I must of had 50 different parents write me or come to me and say I had a healthy child, then they had ten, nine, six vaccinations at one time, and that child changed overnight and was knocking their head on the wall and it was a changed child.”
Maloney-”Why does the schedule of these vaccinations require a child to receive so many shots in such a short period of time…but why do you have to cram 9, 6 at one time when the verbal evidence seems so strong from so many people that they had a healthy child until they got vaccinated.”
Maloney- “There is too much verbal evidence coming from parents, where they break down, I had a normal child and then I gave them a vaccination and then they came down with Autism…. Why do we need to have 9 vaccinations, 6 vaccinations every 2 months, why can’t we space them…”
Boyle- “There is a Federal Advisory Committee that determines the vaccination schedule, and the reason – again, we’ll clarify this and get you more information, but the reason they cluster the vaccine is really to try to make sure everyone gets it. We’re trying to make sure that vaccines go to all children. and not everybody goes to the doctor routinely. They use that opportunity to make sure that happens.”
All in all, this hearing left many in the Autism community asking Now what? So many more questions than answers yet a clear view that sooo much more needs to be done, from a federal level and from a scientific level. I was most surprised in all of this testimony about autism and environmental causes and vaccines that mitochondrial disease was not brought up, nor the landmark case of Hannah Poling. If you would like to read more about that case, you can view some of my research into the possible connections with vaccines and mitochondrial disease here.
Transcripts of the hearings and supporting documentation HERE