Let me start the question with you. Do you subscribe to the theory that part of the problems of kids getting autism is caused by the vaccine? Dr. Cook. I guess that is a direct question to me, having evaded that. Mr. Burton. Yes. Dr. Cook. I have heard more today than I knew before I came. I did not specifically address that because I have not directly studied the question. As I see the data at this point, the data do not support the idea that vaccines cause autism. As someone who studied secretin as an example, I realize that I cannot prove the absence of something. For example, on secretin, all I can say is that I have proved the absence of it for myself; if someone else wants to come and only treat a certain kind of child in a certain kind of setting, then perhaps our work will have helped them. Mr. Burton. What would you think, Doctor, of taking a hard look at the conclusions that Dr. Wakefield and Professor O'Leary and Dr. Singh came to with their research? I know you work on genetics, but what would you think about looking at their research? Dr. Cook. Well, in some ways, I work in the area of clinical trials, so I can comment on why they fail to convince me that there is a connection. They have raised the possibility of a connection, but there are several areas in their logic that do not come together. It may be that if they were up here, they would say, yes, those are gaps that we have to fill--but I am concerned that in the presentations, starting with the original paper and today, they have not sufficiently highlighted where the gaps are, so the logic falls apart in a few places. First of all, if we know that we have prevented a lot of autism by preventing rubella-caused autism, which was a prevalent cause 20 or 30 years ago, as Dr. Chess showed, then why is it now MMR, and all of a sudden, it is measles? Now, if someone is so pleased--and I must say it is fairly fancy methodology in terms of pulling the measles virus out-- why not show that they can pull the measles virus out from the vaccine, differentiated genetically from the measles virus that would occur without the vaccine? These are holes, and my main thing is what I hear from the positive side is an almost total lack of self-criticism, OK? That is a key point---- Mr. Burton. But---- Dr. Cook [continuing]. That is a key point of the scientific method. Mr. Burton. But you do not think that their research is worth taking a look at? Dr. Cook. Oh, I think their research is very interesting, and I think it is particularly interesting to what I think--and this is an interesting epidemiological question--if there is autistic enterocolitis--and I think they have interesting data--how much of the total group of autism is it? From what I have seen, it would not be nearly enough of autism to account for an increase in prevalence. Mr. Burton. You heard the--and I am going to go down the line with the rest of you in just a minute---- Dr. Cook. If I have a child who is vomiting, I very much agree with the---- Mr. Burton [continuing]. You heard the testimony of the four parents as well as the testimony I gave about our grandson; and within just a day of their getting these shots, their temperatures went up, and they started the violent reactions, and it got worse. How would you account for that? Is that just a coincidence, or what? Dr. Cook. Well, if I am to take that as a reason for their autism to be caused, then I will agree with the parents who told me their child had autism because they took a 2-day trip, leaving the child with very good grandparents; they came back, and the child had autism suddenly. Am I supposed to now tell them, yes, you are right, because you see the connection-- because of a potential coincidence--you are right and caused it by taking 2 days off and leaving your child in very loving hands? I think we have got to be very careful and use careful epidemiological approaches. Dr. Taylor has done the best epidemiological study. There is not another one on the other side. If there were, I would weight it--in fact, I would give more weight to a positive, well-done epidemiological study. We have only got one. Mr. Burton. Well, I am not a doctor, but it just seems to me that the scientific community ought to have their minds open to all possibilities as far as the causes of autism are concerned. From your testimony, you sounded like it is a gene problem, and the vaccines could not possibly be a contributing factor. Dr. Cook. No. They could, but the people who think they could, the people who want to raise the hypothesis--and I am someone who has spent a lot of effort testing other people's hypotheses--I think there is a lot of duty when people raise a hypothesis, including Dr. Wakefield, from GI studies, who raise an epidemiological hypothesis, I think it is his responsibility to test the hypothesis carefully. I have thrown out hypotheses that I quite loved, and they were great--they were not all genetic; some were immunological--but you have to go with the data. If I have the data, I will go with it. Mr. Burton. When you studied secretin, did you study more than one dose? Dr. Cook. No. As a matter of fact, before we did the study, there was a meeting which included people who were convinced that secretin worked who said it was one dose, and we used the dose it was supposed to be; we used porcine-derived secretin-- and now, all of a sudden, the hypothesis shifts. Now, the hypothesis shifted to multiple doses--that is fine. The people who think it is multiple doses and single doses now have to test it. And if we have helped to refine the hypothesis so they can do a better study and show that it works, then I am fine with that. I recognize that basically, science cannot disprove anything. It is really meant to--you have to actually set up a hypothesis to tear apart to accept the other one. That is what I mean by part of the self-criticism of the scientific method. So absolutely--if this gets turned around in particularly children with projectile vomiting--that is a very rare group of autism--but somebody with projectile vomiting, maybe 30 kids like that, secretin would work wonderfully. Mr. Burton. Dr. Hirtz, we were talking about the study at Brick Township, NJ. I do not know if you heard me ask the question of the doctor from the CDC earlier. Why would you think that the National Institutes of Health and CDC and others would go into Brick Township, NJ and look at all the environmental problems that may have caused the autism epidemic they have had there, and when the parents asked that they check to see if any of the vaccines had anything to do with it, why would you think the health agencies did not check that as well? Dr. Hirtz. I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, I am not at all familiar with the study at Brick Township; that was conducted by the CDC, not the NIH, and I am afraid you will have to ask them questions about it. I would be glad to tell you about activities that the NIH is doing in this area, however, if you would like to hear some of them. Mr. Burton. What would you say about the NIH taking a hard look at the studies done by Dr. Wakefield, Dr. O'Leary, and Dr. Singh, and some of the theses that Dr. Megson espoused earlier? Dr. Hirtz. I think that examining scientific evidence is always a useful thing to do; there is nothing wrong with that. In terms of the vaccine issue, I would just like to say that you are right--we do need to keep our minds open. I do feel that at this time, the available, valid scientific evidence does not support that vaccine is a cause of autism. However---- Mr. Burton. What bothers me about a lot of this is Dr. Cook and you say if there is a hypothesis that says this, it has to be proven before we will even take a hard look at it. Dr. Hirtz. No---- Mr. Burton. Well, that is the impression that I am getting, and---- Dr. Hirtz. May I finish? Mr. Burton [continuing]. Let me just finish. The problem is that there are a large number of children who have acquired this problem shortly after getting these vaccines, and when scientists and doctors from other parts of the world come up with a thesis, I think it is irresponsible to out-of-hand just discard that and say, well, that is something they have to further prove, because their hypothesis has not yet been proven. It seems to me that you say, hey, if there is a positive result there, if it looks like there may be something there, why don't we take a look at it, too, instead of keeping yourselves confined to one area? Dr. Hirtz. If you will let me finish, Mr. Chairman, I was going to tell you about all the efforts we are making to look at that. What I was going to say when I continued was that even though that is the case at the moment, we do take this very seriously, we take the concerns of the parents very seriously, and when we have reports like this and concerns like this, we do address them. We are taking three steps at the NIH, and we are undertaking three projects to look at the relationship of vaccines and autism. One of them is very immediate and is going to be done in the centers that now exist. The Child Health Network has Centers of Excellence in autism, and they have about 1,000 children enrolled. In conjunction with the Deafness and Communicative Disorders Institute and the CDC, they are going to look at the children who have regressed and look at their vaccine histories and study this issue, compare them to other children. That is going to be done as soon as possible, hopefully, this fiscal year. In addition to that study, something I have been working on, we are planning at the NIH to look at the very important issue of not only vaccines but risk factors for development of autism as well---- Mr. Burton. I have had a number of people today testify from the health agencies that there is no scientific evidence that autism is related to vaccines. How do they know that? Dr. Hirtz. They do not. Mr. Burton. How do you know that? A vaccine is put out on the market, children all take it---- Dr. Hirtz. On the---- Mr. Burton [continuing]. Let me just finish--and there is an increase from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 400 or 500, so we have an epidemic on our hands; and yet the health agencies of this country are telling us there is no connection between these vaccinations and autism. How do you know? Dr. Hirtz. I do not know that there is no connection. What I know is that the evidence that has been reviewed by the British Medical Research Council and the epidemiologic evidence does not support a large-scale causation. But I still think---- Mr. Burton. How do you know that? Dr. Hirtz [continuing]. But I still think that there are and there may be certain children who are susceptible, and that is what we have to go after. It is very important that we look for why children develop autism and whether there might be a small minority of children who have some susceptibility, and we are not ruling that out. Mr. Burton. Yes. One of the things that concerns me--and pharmaceutical companies are extremely important; they employ an awful lot of people in my district and in Indiana; we have some great pharmaceutical companies that have saved a lot of lives and probably kept epidemics from happening around the world, there is no question about that--but there are so many people who work at CDC, HHS, NIH, and the other health agencies who have some kind of connection to the pharmaceutical companies and are on these advisory boards, that it causes one to wonder whether there is thorough research going into these things before they are approved. Does that concern you at all? Dr. Hirtz. At the NIH, we do not really deal with the approval process of the vaccines. Other agencies can tell you more about how they deal with that. What I am really concerned about--it is hard for me to convey to you that we really--there is nothing I would not do to stop autism from occurring and to stop children from developing this order, but I---- Mr. Burton. Well, then, what I would suggest is that we are going to get all of these studies--I am going to get them--and we are going to send them to all the health agencies, and I want the health agencies to write back and tell me, after they do some research, whether or not they feel there is any merit to these arguments. And I want them to look at--and I will get other Members of Congress to join me if necessary--I want them to look at Dr. Wakefield, Dr. O'Leary, Dr. Singh, Dr. Megson-- all of the doctors who have come here today with various solutions that have worked--Dr. Upledger with his cranial manipulation. Those things should all be looked at, because we are giving the health agencies in this country billions and billions and billions of dollars, and for them not to look at every avenue for possible treatment for these things I think would be wrong. Let me just go down to the end of the table and give all of you a question--Drs. Rimland, Goldberg, Megson, Upledger, and Ms. Pratt. Do you think from what you have heard today and seen in your scientific research that there is a possibility that the vaccines are contributing to the increase in autism? Mr. Rimland. There is not only a possibility, there is an extremely high likelihood. Mr. Burton. Would you pull the mic closer? Mr. Rimland. There is not only the possibility, there is an extremely high likelihood from all the evidence available, including the so-called anecdotal evidence that people like to snicker at, but which is really very important evidence, from the kind of evidence that Dr. Wakefield submitted, from the rise in autism at the time of initiation of the MMR, the time of the rise of the epidemic, the data that I provided in my handout which shows that late-onset autism started at just about the same time that the MMR was initiated. There is just a world of evidence that leads me to think that it is extremely likely that when the final answer is known, if it is ever known, the MMR will be strongly implicated as an important cause of autism. Mr. Burton. Dr. Goldberg. Dr. Goldberg. With caution as I say this, as a practicing pediatrician, I have vaccinated children in my practice whom I considered high-risk--I have literally had a godchild with one foot in autism and one foot out and vaccinated her along the way. As I stated this morning, I however try to practice vaccination policies that I was taught 20, 30 years ago--you do not vaccinate an ill child; you use certain plans; I never gave a child a hepatitis B shot in the nursery yet. But I think that the effort to solve autism gets distracted by the fact that we do have a lot of children triggered off by some time correlation to the vaccine. As I mentioned in my testimony, I think that if we are going to understand this, we need to step back and figure out why there is a wealth of science that says, hey, the vaccines do not create this or cause it, and then we suddenly have this epidemic going on, and I really believe the way it will come out in the end, whether we do it in the next 6 or 8 months or in 10 years, is going to be that this will all tie in from the eighties and nineties with what is going on in our population and it is not specifically the vaccines, but the vaccines are playing a role in it. Mr. Burton. Would play a role in it. Dr. Goldberg. Pardon? Mr. Burton. The vaccine would play a role. Dr. Goldberg. Yes, the vaccines would play a role. But we need to understand why, suddenly, a population has become susceptible to those when they did so much good along the way. Mr. Burton. Dr. Megson. Dr. Megson. I am seeing more and more families that are completely devastated. I know one mother who has been very active in the parent support group in our local community has had three children. The oldest has severe dyslexia/ADD; the second one died of SIDS within 24 hours of DPT; and the third one is autistic. If my theories are correct, there is an organ in the neck at the base of the main artery to the brain called the carotid body, and we are disconnecting the pathway. When the oxygen- level in the blood decreases in the carotid body, there is a signal sent to the respiratory center in the brainstem to increase breathing rates, and we are disconnecting that pathway. Recently they discovered that, oh, if you put children down to sleep on their backs, they do not die of SIDS. I think we really need to look at this. I do not want to be here. I have never gone against the grain. I am not a vaccine researcher. But once I discovered some of these connections, I do not think any of us can turn our backs. So many families are devastated. Mr. Burton. Thank you. Dr. Upledger. Dr. Upledger. I have to say yes, I do. As I stated earlier, I think there is a group of autistic children--and by no means do I say all autistic children--whose problems are due to membrane dysfunction. But I have learned to understand that a significant number of them do, and I can easily differentiate autism from childhood schizophrenia just based on the feel of the membranes. I think that the membrane is a place where several factors may go, and it can be, as I said, a fever due to a virus, it can be a vaccine reaction, it can be a traumatic delivery--it can be anything that creates a change in the membrane flexibility and growth accommodation. From the histories I have taken--and I have taken histories with autistic parents since 1975--it is more than coincidence as far as I am concerned. I do not know how many cases of anecdotes we need to consider that the anecdote has some validity, but it would appear to be that it is infinite. We still will not believe the anecdote. I happen to subscribe to the idea that if you study the anecdote, you might learn something. So I would go very strongly in favor of the idea that vaccines are potentially able to cause autism in terms of their effect on membranes. I think that membrane condition is probably largely influenced by genetic factors along with nutritional factors, along with toxic factors, and so on, so you have a susceptible membrane. I have opened up enough human heads that are not embalmed, that are maybe 4 or 5 hours old, and I can see the difference in the membranes, and when you look at the diagnoses, you begin to put 2 and 2 together. I think one of the major things that has happened in medicine is the meningeal membrane system has been given a very short shrift. It is a very important system. It has just come out recently--I cannot think of his name now, but a fellow from California, UC San Diego, I think, came out with evidence, very strong evidence, that 1 gram of dura mater membrane, which is a very small quantity of that membrane, carries 100 million single-domain magnetic crystals that are ferric. What does it take to change that? The brain itself has 5 million per gram. Anything that interferes with electrical conduction or magnetic fields is going to screw up that brain function. When we stretch that base membrane laterally, why does the kid get better in terms of his emotion? Because I think we are improving the conditions under which his temporal lobes have to live. That is why. You can tear it all apart, and if you study temporal lobes, you can say, OK, temporal lobes cause autism. But what caused the temporal lobe, and what caused the membrane to not accommodate the temporal lobe? When you start looking at it that way, you start looking at multiple factors any one of which can be causal--and I put vaccine in that category. Mr. Burton. Thank you, Doctor. Dr. Pratt, do you have a comment? Ms. Pratt. I think it is a very hard issue, and from both the autism side of America and the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, our job is really to provide information for families. And it is very hard when you listen to very well-respected scientists and researchers like Dr. Cook, whom I have tremendous respect for--and I point him out because he is in Illinois, the State neighboring Indiana--it is very hard when you hear the testimony and the research that says there does not seem to be a link, and then, when you hear from the families their stories. Balancing that out is a very difficult thing, and I struggle with that, because I do not want all of us running down one path, hoping that, yes, at the end of that path is going to be a cure or the reason or whatever. I hope we can all keep our minds open to all possibilities. Again, to be an ethical and decent professional, I have to say to families that I am hearing some stories, and there is a possibility for it. Those families and the families that you have heard from today really cannot wait for the research to tell them conclusively that there is a relationship. I would say that in all likelihood, Congressman Burton, if your daughter had another child, she would take a very serious look at the usage of vaccinations with her third child, regardless of what the research tells her. That is the complexity of the issue. So, what you have heard over the last several hours today is a lot of different testimony and sometimes conflicting testimony, and I hope that what we will all focus on is trying to uncover the complex nature and perhaps the complex causes behind autism. Mr. Burton. Thank you. Let me just ask Dr. Cook one more question, and then I want to make a couple of announcements before we conclude. Dr. Cook, how do you account for these parents and these doctors finding the measles virus in the guts of these kids who have had the MMR shot? Dr. Cook. I am very interested in that finding because I think it is a fascinating finding even if it applies to one in 1,000 kids with autism. Each child is very valuable. So first of all, realize that Dr. Wakefield is talking about a very small group of autism, with documented pathology, with vomiting--which, as I said, is quite rare in autism. I think that is an interesting finding that needs to be followed up. The next step of that may not be a link with vaccines and autism; it may be something quite more important in understanding what is happening with autism. So that some of what was presented today, it was very good to see data ahead of time; it is rare, and it is nice of them to share it. There is something about their work, particularly seeing more controlled data than I have seen before, that is very interesting, and I will be paying quite a bit of attention to, because we need every clue that we can get. Thank you. Mr. Burton. Very good; 1 second. [Pause.] Mr. Burton. Let me just ask you a couple more questions, Dr. Cook. Where do you see the autism rates in the next 10 years? Do you see them pretty close to where they are now, or do you see them increasing? Dr. Cook. I think if we are talking about from the perspective of school districts, they will continue to rise, because I think we are still underestimating across all school districts. In terms of the actual prevalence, meaning all the children who have always been out there suffering from this, I do not see it going up that high. What I see is appropriately--and this is a very important, I think almost civil rights movement--these kids and families are being heard now. But I do not see this as an epidemic in the sense of prevalence. I see it as an epidemic in terms of a wake-up call that lots of kids and families have been suffering for a long time. Mr. Burton. So you are saying the 1 in 10,000---- Dr. Cook. It was never--I do not know---- Mr. Burton [continuing]. It was always a lot higher than that? Dr. Cook. I do not know of a 1 in 10,000. I know that 2 to 4 per 10,000 is what DSM3 said, which was 1980 to 1987. And 1987 has been referred to as around the time of an increase. That is when we went from DSM3 to DSM3R. The reason is DSM3 said the child had to have a pervasive lack of responsiveness. Now, I do not know who these kids were who had autism then, because every child with autism is related; they are just not related in the same ways. So now you have increased the definition as of 1987--and I think I have lost the question. I am sorry. Mr. Burton. It was about the projected increase in the next 10 years. Dr. Cook. Right. So the most important thing about the 2 to 4 per 10,000 estimates is that they were often done by, well, let us say someone has come in to a university clinic, and you estimate that against the population. What has happened, which is better epidemiology since then, is you go knocking on every door. So I have heard 1 in 500 referred to more than just autism, but the best study where they knocked on every door, half a million in Japan, found 1 in 500 for autism. So I do not think we are estimating it yet in terms of its impact. Mr. Burton. Do any of the rest of you have any projections or guesses on that? Mr. Rimland. In California, the increase started in 1977 before the diagnostic changes were made, so the switch from DSM3 to DSM4 cannot even begin to account for that. Dr. Goldberg. If I can tie in a projection, unfortunately, I can remember discussions back, literally, in the mid-eighties with clinicians, and at that time, the CDC, the NIH and everyone was saying this new entity out there that we were calling ``chronic fatigue syndrome'' or whatever it was supposed to be did not exist, or was not in any big numbers, and as clinicians, we were saying we were going to see 1 to 3 percent of the population. Well, now we are in the late nineties, the numbers are getting very close to that, and we are now talking 5 or 10 percent. I think that if this is the same crossover to the children as was seen in adults, you can make a prediction that in the next 5 to 10 years, you may hit 5 or 10 percent of our population or more. One of the most scary moments in my life recently, literally, was coming back on a flight from giving talks in Australia. I remember there was literally not a family who did not know a family who did not know a family that either had chronic fatigue syndrome, ADD, or autism. My thoughts on the flight coming back were, well, where is Australia--near the ozone hole--but my big concern was that that was going to be our country 5 or 10 years later. In the last month, I have literally had three families in--this is only a year and a half from that flight--telling me they do not know a family that does not know a family that does not know a family. This is a major crisis. Mr. Burton. Any other comments? [No response.] Mr. Burton. Let me just end by thanking all of you. I really appreciate your being here. I have two grandchildren-- one got a hepatitis B shot and stopped breathing within an hour; the other one got nine shots in 1 day and had a temperature of about 105 and became autistic, slamming his head against the wall, running around screaming. That is two for two. I guess maybe I am just one of those unfortunate statistics. But I have got to tell you, I think the problem is much greater than we believe, and I do believe, I personally do believe the vaccines have something to do with it. Now, my position, since I am not a scientist, is really not one that most people are going to pay much attention to, or the parents who testified here today. But, what I do want to do is take all the scientific information that we have acquired today from you, from all the other doctors, and submit that to the health agencies of this country and ask them to do a thorough study of all of them to see if there is any validity to what we think the problem is. If they do that and do it thoroughly, and they report back to the Congress, it will be a real service to the American people. Yes, Dr. Rimland. Mr. Rimland. I think it is rather interesting that most of the official authorities are taking the position that the increase in autism is unrelated to the vaccine use. One of my favorite expressions--I do not know who said it; I heard it one time, and I have tried to find out who said it, because I think it is extremely true--is ``The chronicle of man's progress is the history of authority refuted.'' Mr. Burton. Well, thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I have two very quick announcements. The NIH is having a meeting for parents of children with autism tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. to noon at the Natcher Auditorium on the NIH campus in Bethesda. If you would like to attend, you are welcome to attend that. And we need to announce that the Unlocking Autism group is having a reception in HC-5 in the Capitol immediately after the hearing. Thank you very much. I appreciate your being here. We stand adjourned.
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.
One response to “Autism and Childhood Vaccines Hearing Testimony: Q & A Panel 3 | April 6, 2000”
That point about Australia and the ozone hole is very funny!