Sunday, March 02, 2008

The government concedes?

The following article was written by David Kirby, a New York Times journalist, about a week ago. See the full text here. I've only included the first half of the article in my post. The second half gets very technical and scientific and is too long to post here.

I have to say, every time I read an article about the links between vaccinations and autism, I feel so lucky. I let my kids get shot up with every needle their pediatricians could offer...and they seem to be pretty healthy despite it all. If I could go back to November 21st, 2002 and do it over again, their medical care would look very different. Hopefully my girls will do better than I did.

Apparently, while campaigning recently in Texas, John McCain mentioned that there is strong evidence of a link between autism and vaccines. I know that he and Joe Lieberman both believe that, but I was surprised to hear him take an unpopular stand on such a divisive issue during a presidential campaign. Maybe he'll turn out to be my candidate? I'm wide open at the moment. If I even decide to vote...

Here's the article.

Government Concedes Vaccine-Autism Case in Federal Court - Now What?
Posted February 25, 2008

After years of insisting there is no evidence to link vaccines with the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the US government has quietly conceded a vaccine-autism case in the Court of Federal Claims.

The unprecedented concession was filed on November 9, and sealed to protect the plaintiff's identify. It was obtained through individuals unrelated to the case.

The claim, one of 4,900 autism cases currently pending in Federal "Vaccine Court," was conceded by US Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler and other Justice Department officials, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, the "defendant" in all Vaccine Court cases.

The child's claim against the government -- that mercury-containing vaccines were the cause of her autism -- was supposed to be one of three "test cases" for the thimerosal-autism theory currently under consideration by a three-member panel of Special Masters, the presiding justices in Federal Claims Court.

Keisler wrote that medical personnel at the HHS Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation (DVIC) had reviewed the case and "concluded that compensation is appropriate."

The doctors conceded that the child was healthy and developing normally until her 18-month well-baby visit, when she received vaccinations against nine different diseases all at once (two contained thimerosal).

Days later, the girl began spiraling downward into a cascade of illnesses and setbacks that, within months, presented as symptoms of autism, including: No response to verbal direction; loss of language skills; no eye contact; loss of "relatedness;" insomnia; incessant screaming; arching; and "watching the florescent lights repeatedly during examination."

Seven months after vaccination, the patient was diagnosed by Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a leading neurologist at the Kennedy Krieger Children's Hospital Neurology Clinic, with "regressive encephalopathy (brain disease) with features consistent with autistic spectrum disorder, following normal development." The girl also met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) official criteria for autism.

In its written concession, the government said the child had a pre-existing mitochondrial disorder that was "aggravated" by her shots, and which ultimately resulted in an ASD diagnosis.

"The vaccinations received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder," the concession says, "which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of ASD."

This statement is good news for the girl and her family, who will now be compensated for the lifetime of care she will require. But its implications for the larger vaccine-autism debate, and for public health policy in general, are not as certain.

In fact, the government's concession seems to raise more questions than it answers.

See Kirby's questions in the rest of his article, here.

1 comment:

quicksilver said...

Hi Hillary

Great post. Remember it is ONLY 1 in 500 that die coincidentally at the same time as getting a vaccine.

That means with even 10 children you would have to be pretty unlucky to have a problem.

Bit tough on those that do have problems for often the police don't see it so much as vaccine harm as shaken baby syndrom.

Again it's not an indefinite problem even here as half a million dollars and five years in prison and everything will be fine again.

One day the USA may decide to follow the Russians who took out mercury from vaccines in 1982. As of today (March 2008) its still in vaccines and often you don't know.