Friday, September 02, 2005

String of Pearls

In my relatively short tenure as a blogger, I have posted a fair bit about autism and mercury. This is not necessarily by design - I have simply followed where the current led. During this time, I have had a number of people try to show me the error of my ways - that there is data supporting the hypothesis that mercury causes autism.

These people have been, in turn, collegial, insulting, threatening and accusing. A few have even been comical, although I don't think that was their intent. The majority of them (at least, those that tried to use reason) have presented a series of studies and other findings which they believe show that mercury causes autism.

What they are doing is known by a number of different names - the name I am most familiar with is data chaining. In mathematics, this is a solid theorum - if A = B and B = C, then it follows that A = C. In the biological sciences, this is not always so straighforward, but it can be deduced that if A causes B and B results in C, then A can cause C (although A may not be the only cause of B or C).

In biology, the use of data-chaining has led some investigators to make claims they later regretted, usually because they failed to consider the following caveats:

[1] Even if A causes B, it may not be the only cause.
[2] If A and B occur together, one is not necessarily the cause of the other.
[3] Biology is probabilistic, not stochastic. (In other words, organism vary, even within a sub-species)
[4] A biological organism - even the simplest - is a complex of interconnected systems that are only partially known.

The autism-mercury supporters tend to use data-chaining in a very cavalier way, as in the following simplistic example:

[1] Mercury is known to cause brain injury. true
[2] Autism is a brain disorder. also true
[3] Children are exposed to mercury in the form of thimerosal in vaccines. was true, is less true now
[4] Ergo, autism is caused by mercury.

Now, this is admittedly a very easy "chain" to break, but it is also a widely quoted one, so the example is valid. To "break" this chain, all you have to do is note the lack of solid connection between the data used. In this example, it is true that mercury causes brain injury, but the injuries documented over the past hundred years or so have not looked like autism. Some of the individual symptoms or signs may share a certain similarity to autism, but the presentations as a whole are vastly different.

By showing the lack of connection between the "facts" used in this data-chain, it becomes apparent that what we actually have is a series of separate "facts" with an implied connection, something that another writer called a "string of pearls". A "string of pearls" is a beautiful group of data without any visible connection.

Another string of pearls appears in Dr. Hornig's presentations to autism groups. She found that different strains of mice had different susceptibilities to thimerosal. Not suprisingly, a strain that was known to be susceptible to autoimmune disorders did poorly - although they did not specifically look for signs of autoimmune disorders. Curious.

This is her string of pearls - it's a bit more complex:

[1] Children get thimerosal-containing vaccines at ages 2, 4, 6 and 12 month.
they used to, not any more

[2] The developmentally-equivalent ages in mice are 7, 9, 11 and 15 days.
true for certain aspects of development - human infant brain development is much different from that of a mouse in many ways

[3] Giving infant mice thimerosal at ages 7, 9, 11, and 15 days is equivalent in timing to giving thimerosal to infant humans at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months.
only in timing - the metabolism and elimination of thimerosal has not been shown to be equivalent

[4] Humans are genetically diverse.

[5] The SJL/J, C57BL6/J, and BALB/cJ strains of mice are genetically different.
true, but not in ways that are necessarily equivalent to human genetic diversity

[6] Some autistic humans show decreased interest in their environment.

[7] The SJL/J (autoimmune disorder susceptible) mice treated with thimerosal showed decreased locomotion and exploration of their environment - this is similar to what is seen in autistic humans ([6]).
this is a pretty big assumption - a better explanation for the decreased locomotion and exploration is that the SJL/J mice were ill from autoimmune disorders that were not tested for

[8] Some autistic humans are averse to novel situations.

[9] Thimerosal-exposed SJL/J mice showed increased exploration in a novel environment.
it is hard to see how this can be seen as an analogue to [8], but that was the implication

[10] Self-injurious behavior is seen in some autistic humans.

[11] Some of the thimerosal-exposed mice repeatedly bit their tails.
this is also seen in partial denervation in mice and rats and may simply be a sign of mercury toxicity. Humans do not bite partially denervated limbs

In the final analysis, Dr. Hornig has found out that SJL/J strain mice - who are known to be susceptible to autoimmune disorders - also react poorly to mercury. The other mouse strains in this study did not. She also - and I know I'm being repetitive here - did not test the SJL/J mice for signs of autoimmune disorders. That could have explained many of the results.

Interestingly, it appears that the SJL/J strain of mice has a much lower ability to excrete mercury, which would then lead to a higher tissue level. It's a pity Dr. Hornig didn't get hair and blood samples from these mice - we would then have a chance to see if the string of pearls proposed by Holmes et al (and here) has any validity. Oh, well.

So, the next time somebody says that they have "incontrovertible proof" of something based on a study that shows A causes B and B is seen in cases of C, look for the string connecting the pearls. It may not be there.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all thank you for your time. I hope you do not consider this a waste of time.

I think that the thimerosal controversy is the tree in the forest. I respectfully hope I can demonstrate why I think this way.

First, epidemiological studies, CDC, FDA, WHO or the IOM or anyone doing an epidemiological study on this neurodevelopment problem can declare or supposedly demonstrate ANYTHING, because

1) It depends on human beings manipulation-Inclusion criteria for example, diagnosis criteria consideration, not known information

2) Each one reads the information with the personal view/interests ( searching for the link ( or the non-link) looking at the cover-up ( or denying it), worried by carriers and lack of vaccination or by other interests ( if you want to see that way) and nobody knows what were the personal intentions/ thoughts of the people in any meeting/manuscript so ...

3) We, parents of ASD children, are totally ALONE, left unattended by all these organizations, that manage the health of the world. They say:Vaccination is safe- but when your child is Hg poisoned demonstrated by clinical analysis of blood, like mine AT MY LOCAL LAB,in Argentina, where DAN! movement is ABSOLUTELY unknown, nobody knows what to do in the ortodox medicine.When you have a PDD diagnosis, the procedure is to test for NMR, EEG and NOTHING MORE, if epilepsy is discarded .

4) Epidemiological studies consider that all participants are equal and they are not genetically. Having the genetic predisposition a role, epidemiological studies are flawed in origin. 80-90 % of the patients of Drs that perform genetic analysis in ASD children have the MTHFR ( methyltetrahydrofolate) mutations (Dr Yasko-Dr Kunin).

For me as a parent, any epidemiological study means nothing because it gives me nothing, nor a clue, to treat my son that it is desperately ill. As a scientist (I have a PhD in Chemistry BUT I Am NOT A DOCTOR, therefore these are personal opinions), I want epidemiological studies EXTREMELY well done, considering the population that is genetically predisposed. Neither has done this because there are no clinical studies included, only numbers. BUT depending on how you consider data you find up to 7.62 x risk of autism ( of even more in the generation 0-12 x) Initial report of Verstraaten- or no link-Fifth version of Verstraaten report- or a linear relation between amount of injected thimerosal in vaccines with neurodevelopmental problems (Geier). But even Dr Verstaaten reported that his final report was neutral.

Did you read the Top Scientific papers from Generation rescue? I can send them by e-mail.

All epidemiological study I read tell me that I can find in all flaws- or anyone can read it with a different view and giving a personal interpretation, because there are a lot of data -. Not included several times-that can be crucial. For example, only after thimerosal was banned Denmark begun to count all the ASD children. Before, only hospitalized children were counted ( 1/5 of the total) so..

What I know

1-When my son was diagnosed, the future prognosis was GRIM: Total autism, My son would became extremely worse, probably on drugs, with nothing to test because it was not worth: HE is AUTISTIC, that´s all. See if he is celiac ( if you want) but this ( or even more test) does not deserve the time ( this is what my husband and I were told) because EEG for 7 hours was normal.

2-Thanks to the ARI (Autism Research Institute, DAN! Doctors – and others, besides parents- and the FREE information they give to everybody ( through the conferences in the websites, through the summary of the books or yahoo groups) or several books , like the Dr Jacquelyn Mc Candless book, the Dr William Shaw book and web page of Great Plains , the Dr Amy Yasko book, I found A LOT of health problems in my son that I will detail to you

a-Candida Albicans in FS, 500 times normal

b-Lack of good flora, leaky gut, allergy to gluten and casein, other food allergies

c-Malabsorption of vitamins ( A-awful, C- bad, B complex-all (including B6 and B12), D, E,)

d-Malabsorption of aminoacids ( all , essential and non.-essential)

e-Malabsorption of Ca, Mg, Zn

f- BAD defficiency of Se (very low levels ), problems with Natural Killers

g-Hg in blood ( 20 times the normal values) AFTER a GFCF diet-Very important-LAb in Argentina

h-Al, Cd, Pb and As poisoning, the worse the Hg-low-Hair analysis

i-Compensated hypothiroidism-High values of TSH

j-IgA defficiency.-severe; IgA secretory defficient, severe-Not a primary immunodefficiency, adquired, Increased on probiotics and now on colostrum ( no casein)

i-IgG Antibodies, EB, CMV, HSV, Hzoster other vaccines of schedule, etc out of order-ALL in my local LAb

j-Extremely high values of alkaline phosphatase

k-MTHFR problems, problems with NADH related enzymes

j-Adrenal problems –Steroid hormones disbalanced

k-Problems with the polio receptors

l-Blocking of methionine synthase, Blocking of methyltransferases and phosphoribosyltransferases

ll-Mitochondrial problems-ATP management and synthesis

m-Testosterone problems

n-TMG defficiency, Glutathion defficiency, Gluthatione transferase and reductase imbalances

o-Parasites in gut

p-Problems with a lot of enzymes in the sequence of the DHEA,Pregnenolone, Testosterone cycle

q…I can add more things…up to 65 parameters out of order with the help also of a detox doctor from Canada

So Do you see my point?? I will be ALL the next 3 to 5 years trying to fix all his problems with all the things I can. My son was born normal, after vaccines he stagnated in progression. I vaccinated against chickenpox and he had chicken pox because his immune system was assaulted and the vaccine PRODUCED him the disease. See my point?? The IgA defficiency was not related because my son almost have not been ill. I think his IgA defficiency was adquired.Therefore I must hear that you consider me some kind of idiot, because I am looking for answers and I FOUND ALL THESE PROBLEMS, here I Argentine, ONLY with the help of DOCTORS FROM YOUR COUNTRY you say are not SERIOUS and confabulated with USA labs or only focused on their profits.

IT is very sad from someone that seems so intelligent, to be blind to the truth: DAN! Doctors, and doctors who think that a link exists are the only ones to whom our children are important and helped me to find all his health problems-10 000 km awayUSA- and no profit for that because the information was for free. I finally found a detox expert from Canada. When I treated his health issues based on lab analysis and a lot of researhc and discussion with his doctor, my son improved. All the doctor´s opinions and manuscripts I read about the non-link seem very worried about carriers and to have no responsabilities and vaccinations for all and son then is an acceptable collateral damage?? His life means nothing?They give me nothing to search to treat my son.

Do you know the Dr Vjendra singh papers-High measles titers and high autoantibodies in autistic children? Dr Aristo Vojdani manuscripts? Scientific foun dations of the DAN protocol?

My son tested high in Hg after 6 months in GFCF diet. Some children/adults are non-excretors of heavy metals, especially if they have subclinical high load virus-viruses infections. (Dr Amy Yasko ideas, Teresa Binstock monographs and citations).My son demonstrated to have high viral load also.

You can talk about lawyers and trials and … I live in Argentine, I will never go to a court in my country or in any country because I have not the money, the time or the emotional strenght to put in this. I have to treat my son . I have to fix the medical problems DAN! Doctors , Yasko, and an excellent homeopath/detox expert doctor from Canada helped me to detect-using an excellent local lab from my country mainly and tools of the so called “alternative” medicine-and to treat…

I am a researcher, and a mom, although not a doctor. The scientific literature I read demonstrated me that the approach of orthomolecular/functional medicine –In the sense of Linus Pauling/2 times Nobel prize-here works WITH all the gentle approach you can apply from ortodox medicin with common sense. Chelation is another tool. If Hg is present, you must rid off and there are several ways but chelation is needed sometimes because of the high levels of Hg. I can send to you the Consensus Report about detox from ARI, if you want so you can analyze the spirit of this group of doctors.

You focused only on thimerosal and the problems are much worse with

1-the accumulative exposure of thimerosal in vaccines containing thimerosal following schedule ( and Al)- The damage to the gut related-ARI website and conferences 2003/2004/2005 present a lot of information about these facts ( and there are a hundred of citations I can send to you). The bolus dose of a newborn when he was vaccinated with HepB vaccines with thimerosal (12.5 ug/dose) was up to 40 times higher than the EPA safe limit (NEw born 3-3.5 Kg, EPA limit 0.1 ug/day/kg so maximum 0.3 ugHg/day). The amount of Hg a baby received at 2 months ( when DTP/HiB and HepB with thimerosal was given-total up to 62.5 ug ) can be up to 130 times the safer dose (for a 5 Kg baby , limit is 0.5 ug/day). And you can go on and on with the schedule. You can check the total amount. My son received a total amount of near 250 ug of Hg in accumulation.I checked in the FDA page the amount of thimerosal in vaccines he received . It is certain that there were available thimerosal-free vaccines in USA since 2000/2001, but they were around up to 2003 and parents in USA must request for thimerosal-free vaccines. I was never told about such a thing as a thimerosal-free vaccine.

2-The multidose vaccines and combinations of these with preservants (Al, Hg, neomycin, other allergens, formaldehyde, formalin), especially for boys. The role of MMR as a trigger after accumulation of DPT-HiB and HepB-With Hg/Al- during the first year of life. This is very clear in the Dr Bradstreet presentation to the USA Congress and the gastrointestinal problems associated to the ASD.

3-The exposure in the womb to amalgams with Hg in mother, contaminated fish, Rhogam vaccines or DT, PCBs, other contaminants and solvents such as toluene, viral or bacterian infections of the mother-Conference of DAN! 2003/2004/2005-Autism One-Teresa Binstock monographs.

4-The overuse of antibiotics that produces problems with good flora-Dr Jepson protocol-Dr Lewis Mahl Madrona page, especially if near vaccination.

5-The genetic polymorphisms that predispose to susceptible children to be affected by environmental toxins, vaccines and oportunistic viruses (herpes) in combination-TeresaBinstock monographs. These polymorphisms have been detected: MTHFR, COMT, MS, CBS, etc and nutritional supplementation to bypass them can be designed (Dr Amy Yasko web see the diagrams)

Please if you are interested I can give you the citations where all l am telling you is based and explanations from the doctors who are doing the different protocols. Please let me know

You question OUR elections without the careful analysis of the information on the treatment, only focused on the controversy of the thimerosal . What I propose to you is to analyze this information, including the consensus paper of the ARI about chelation. I am convinced. My evidence (much much better in 1.5 years with the biomedical approach-no ABA, only phono and one to one support in kinder) runs in my living room and has begun to talk in sentences and he is improving day after day. Until now, I have tried a natural approach with Se, Vitamin C and natural support to rid off metals and I will try an antioxidant Alpha lipoic acid in the future. I can send to you the basis of my election, if you are interested.

I am a productive hyperactive with a touch of AD and my husband is a mild Asperger. Unfortunately I think that my son received a genetic combination that made him susceptible to damage from the near 22 vaccines he received. My husband and I received only 6…(Born in 1963/1964…no MMR) Do you see my point??

Please, read the information I have with the heart of a parent and the mind of a scientist. I hope we can share/discuss in a productive way the analysis of the information, that I think it is worth to analyze.

What I want to point out is that this is for me a multifactorial disease, as Dr Yasko presents, and the presentation of it is extremely individualized. Therefore the treatment must be also.

I know that you do not think that this is serious, but I can send to you the Dr Jepson explanation of his protocol, based on DAN! ideas. For my son it was very helpful. Imagine that my son begun to talk when I added Essential Fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, under his doctor advice.

In you can find a personal analysis of David Thrower of all the published manuscripts, favoring and against the link MMR/thimerosal with autism.

Glad to discuss with you this information.

Sorry if I disturbed you in any way.Sorry also by the long e-mail.


María Luján-Argentina- mom of John Paul PDDNOS, with prognosis of autism in Dec 2003

02 October, 2005 05:26  

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