Posted tagged ‘PDD’

A good week for science & parents

February 13, 2009

It was a good week for science, and a good week for parents. In the long run, it will have been a good week for the many families struggling with children who have autistic-spectrum disorders.

News #1: The entire MMR-autism link has been resting on a study that has now been revealed to be entirely fraudulent. Andrew Wakefield published a paper in The Lancet involving twelve children in 1998. In it, he claimed that they developed autistic behavior very shortly after receiving their MMR vaccinations. He formulated a new theory, that the MMR vaccine caused gut damage that allowed foreign proteins to invade, triggering autism.

This study has been widely refuted, and The Lancet has retracted the paper based on revelations that Dr. Wakefield didn’t reveal money he was taking from plaintiffs’ attorneys seeking damages based on an MMR-autism link. Furthermore, his study has never been replicated; several labs have tried, with uniformly negative results. His own technicians have testified that their results differed from what was published in the paper, and Dr. Wakefield has refused to share his original data or biopsy specimens. Almost all of the co-authors of this paper have seen recanted and asked for their names to be removed.

And now, the nail in the coffin: a reporter has uncovered documents showing that Dr. Wakefield made everything up. The children in the paper didn’t have autism after the vaccines; most already had abnormal symptoms well before receiving the vaccine. And their gut pathology specimens didn’t show any inflammation at all. They were entirely normal, according to hospital records and pathologists reports.

Dr. Wakefield’s study, upon which the entire MMR-autism link was founded, is a fraud. He took money to make up data, and it turns out shortly before publication he sought to patent a new kind of measles vaccine—so he stood to profit mightily by scaring the public away from the existing MMR.

Now, measles is no longer considered “controlled” in Great Britain. As vaccination rates have fallen, the disease is back. Here in the USA, outbreaks of measles and mumps are common.

All the result of the greed of a single man.

For details, with plenty of links to the source material: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/why_am_i_not_surprised_it_looks_as_thoug.php

News #2: The United States “vaccine court” has unequivocally rejected the possibility that the MMR vaccine causes autism. In very strong language, the ‘special masters’ (essentially judges) in the case declared that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supported the safety of the MMR vaccine.

short summary:

http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20090212/vaccine-court-rejects-autism-claims

more details, including several quotes from the ruling:

http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=478

I’d like to say that this should be the end of the MMR hysteria, which I’ve written about before. Unfortunately, the anti-vax movement includes a truly delusional fringe that rejects any sort of science, and certainly isn’t going to care that their entire foundation is a lie. But I’ve found that most parents just want to do the right thing, and with good solid information they’re eager to protect their children. Good for them, and good for all of us.

Best of all, perhaps we can move beyond the entirely discredited vaccine-scare theory and spend more time and research dollars looking into what really does cause autism. That should be a rallying cry of hope for suffering families and their children. It’s time to move on, together, to find a cause and a cure.

For a detailed historical account of autism and the many sleazeballs who’ve taken advantage of suffering families for their own egos and wealth, read Paul Offit’s Autism’s False Prophets, reviewed here.

Subtle developmental clues

November 4, 2008

A post from Day: “Dr Roy, what is considered “normal range” for a one year old’s speaking ability? My 13 month old doesn’t speak yet and this concerns me. He might babble “gagaga” but it has no meaning. I stay at home with him and every day I try to teach him words such as momma, daddy, bye bye, cat etc and he isnt learning to say them. His pediatrician told me this would be something we would address at 15 months(my pediatrician was not worried at all that he wasn’t speaking) but as a mom who sees other 12 month old’s ability I am worried. Also, he 100% understands what I am saying. I can say simple commands such at ‘lets eat’ and he knows to go to his high chair so I know he understands me. Thank you!”

From my point of view, how many words a 13 month old is using really isn’t a useful marker of how well the child is developing. Some normal 13 month olds have 4 words, some fewer; some have no words at all. There’s a lot of variability there, and concentrating on word count at this age can create a lot of unnecessary worry.

A neurologically normal 13 month old should do all or almost all of these things:

  • Follow simple directions.
  • Use gestures like waving or nodding.
  • Point to things he wants, or point to things he wants you to look at.
  • Look at things you point at.
  • Bring things to show you.
  • Show off—that is, do cute things, then look to make sure you’re paying attention.
  • Combine sounds with a melodic quality, similar to speech. Even if words don’t make sense, the overall “sound” of his babbling should sound like a monologue, with pitch and speed changes and pauses.

The easiest “milestones” to talk about and compare between children are things like when they start walking, or how many words they say at a certain age. However, the subtle things like the ones I’ve listed are far more important, and offer far more insight into how a child is developing.

Book review: Autism’s False Prophets

October 9, 2008

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Winston Churchill

The scientific and medical community, finally, has got its pants on. (more…)