Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vaccine-Autism War: Where In The World Is Dr. Paul Offit?

When the Vaccine Court Special Masters ruled against parents claiming their children's autism disorders were vaccine induced Dr. Paul Offit was the go to guy, once again, for the vaccine industry/public health establishment. The vaccine patent holder was ready with an enthusiastic endorsement of the Vaccine Court's autism triology:

"It's a great day for science, it's a great day for America's children when the court rules in favor of science."

Now another Vaccine Court decision has been made public and .... ooooops ... the Special Master in the case of 2007 Banks v. HHS has ruled in favor of the Plaintiff who claimed that as a result of the MMR vaccination received on 14 March 2000, his child suffered a seizure and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (“ADEM”) which led to Pervasive Developmental Delay (one of the autism spectrum disorders), a condition from which he continues to suffer. The decision is available in pdf and is discussed in some detail by David Kirby and Robert Kennedy at the Huffington Post.

Will Dr. Paul Offit appear before the cameras and reporters to once again declare a victory for science or will his love for the Vaccine Court wane with a victory for an injured child over the government and the vaccine industry? And how about Andre Picard of the Globe and Mail who removed his journalist's hat and decreed that the debate about vaccines and autism should end? Should the all knowing Andre Picard lose his god like status and be ordered to rejoin the ranks of ordinary citizens who exercise their freedom of expression to discuss public health issues? Or are some Vaccine Court decisions better than others?

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Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Offit, Offit, Offit...I'm constantly amazed at the scientific and medical professionals on how adamant and determined they are to prove that all of the parents stating they saw a change in their children after the MMR are wrong.

Litsa and I keep saying that One Size doesn't fit all! Every child's immune system is different, some more tolerable than others.

Why are children now getting double or more vaccines than what we were given as children? In the States I believe they went from 12 vaccinations to 32 or 36. Are these children traveling abroad?

Why is it so impossible that vaccines can have a direct link to autism? After all autism is a multi-system disorder and many of the children do show signs of either a neurological imbalance, gastro intestinal problems, and weak immune system that cannot absorb the multi vaccines shot in their bodies. Why can't they see this?

The only solution I see, and I am being sarcastic now, is the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar empire. Who is going to go against that.

Thankfully, there are many advocates, like David Kirby, and Kim Stagliano, and many many more who are not going to sit down and take this lightly.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Good reporting Harold. I'll have to post on this tomorrow. Are there any other such cases under the radar one wonders?

tiffrutherf said...

Right on!!!!! You tell em!!!!

Unknown said...


Robert Kennedy at the Huffington Post has stated that :

…… an explosive investigation by CBS News has found that since 1988, the vaccine court has awarded money judgments, often in the millions of dollars, to thirteen hundred and twenty two families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines. In many of these cases, the government paid out awards following a judicial finding that vaccine injury lead to the child’s autism spectrum disorder. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs’ attorneys made the same tactical decision made by Bailey Bank’s lawyer, electing to opt out of the highly charged Omnibus Autism Proceedings and argue their autism cases in the regular vaccine court. In many other successful cases, attorneys elected to steer clear of the hot button autism issue altogether and seek recovery instead for the underlying brain damage that caused their client’s autism.“

It seems to this humble small town lawyer that 1322 cases is a very significant number considering the great media attention paid to the 3 Autism Omnibus proceedings that went against the plaintiff families.

I respect expertise and public health authorities. I was never an "anti-vaxxer" in the autism debates and generally accepted the official positions of the health authorities. In the last year though, as I have blogged earlier, I have moved to the "undecided" camp. (Although I may be the only member of that camp in the intense vaccine-autism wars :-).

Statements by credible authorities like Dr. Bernadine Healy and Dr. Julie Gerberding, the Poling case, the recent Banks case, the revelation that there have been in excess of 1300 settlements flowing from vaccine injury claims, and ... the high powered, high pressured media blitzkrieg led by Paul Offit have created serious doubts in my mind about the objectivity if not the interests of some health authorities and their claims that vaccines are perfectly safe.

I have also been amazed at why there is so little research on environmental causes of autism not just vaccine ingredients but environmental causes generally. Simon Baron-Cohen has stated several times that the fact that there are a significant number of identical twin cases (20-40%) where one twin develops autism and the other does not means that autism is not ENTIRELY genetic, that ENVIRONMENTAL factors must be involved.

That seems to fit completely with Dr Healy's remarks that the epidemiological studies are not specific enough to determine whether thimerosal containing vaccines, or vaccines generally, cause or induce autism in susceptible population subsets.

WHY is so little research being conducted on vaccines and OTHER POSSIBLE environmental causes of autism. Researcher Teresa Binstock wrote in 1999 that in order to receive funding for autism research the research proposal had to focus on genetic causes of autism. She called it the "it's gotta be genetic" paradigm. She said it was unlikely the health authority establishment would fund environmental and vaccine research of autism. In 2004 the IOM expressly discouraged any such research.

I am still "agnostic", still undecided about specific causes of autism including vaccines and vaccine ingredients but I would like to see the research done and I am not persuaded in the least by the high pressure strategy and blanket assurances of public health authorities, of vaccine patent holders like Dr. Offit or of imperious journalists like Andre Picard.

jypsy said...

This case wasn't made public "now", Kathleen Seidel posted about this case, and others, on her blog in March 2008.
I assume it was "made public" in 2007.
Here's another take on this story

Unknown said...


Thank you for your comment. You are correct, the decision was published previously and mentioned as you indicated. The amount of the award was determined last week.

As for the other take, you referenced Kevin Leitch's views which, with all respect, I do not usually find helpful.

Anonymous said...

The definition of autism is expanded. PDD-NOS,
Pervasive Development Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified means the person with the diagnosis did not meet the criteria for autism nor Aspergers. The condition has become known as "atypical autism" and in general conversation the atypical gets dropped off.

Just as red and green are both on the color spectrum, but different colors. The many forms of ASD are hugely diverse in how they affect those who have them.

I think the arguments over PDD vs. PDD-NOS are quite strange. One side seems to be saying that since the PDD was caused by ADEM, it cannot be PDD-NOS. I think the argument is PDD-NOS must have an unknown etiology. I am thoroughly convinced my daughters profound autism is genetic/epigenetic. If they discover the exact cause, i.e. the etiology of her condition became completely known, would she no longer have autism? Of course not.

I'm not convinced this case shows vaccine caused autism. However, I do believe eventually there will be a case where the strength of the claim will be undeniable that a vaccination caused a condition which resulted in full-fledged autism. I also think this will be an extremely rare, and that nearly all those who believe they have vaccine-damaged children are wrong. Those that do deserve compensation, and will get it whether the vaccination caused autism or another type of brain damage. if one claims that vaccination can never lead to autism, then one proven case destroys that house of cards.

The trouble with epidemilogical studies not being able to find subpopulations prone to acquiring the disorder is explicitly stated in the IOM report. I find it strange that this is often mentioned as if the IOM were trying to hide it.


Unknown said...


PDD-NOS is one of the pervasive developmental disorders now referred to as the autism spectrum of disorders.

It is often, as it was in my son's case, an initial diagnosis which is sometimes changed as the child ages and the deficits between the child and other children his age become more apparent.

My son Conor was intitially diagnosed as PDD-NOS but within a short time a second pediatrician changed the diagnosis to Autistic Disorder. In addition to time, the second pediatrician had the advantage of subsequent assessments by a clinical psychologist specialized in working with autistic children.

The Banks case clearly resulted in an award of substantial compensation for the onset of PDD - autism.

Anonymous said...

PDD is not a diagnosis. It is the class of disorders to which autism belongs. However, it is unclear to me if there are conditions which do not belong to the ASD spectrum in the class. If all PDD is on the ASD spectrum than the child was diagnosed with an ASD, if not then has it been.

Harold, if your son was misdiagnosed with PDD-NOS, before some more qualified gave him the diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, that does not mean Autistic Disorder and PDD-NOS are to be conflated. They are on the ASD spectrum, but different diseases. Like the color spectrum it may be difficult to say where green stops and blue begins, but one can easily separate medium blue form medium green. They are separate colors and Autistic Disorder and PDD-NOS are separate diagnoses.

Unknown said...


I did not "conflate" PDD-NOS and Autistic Disorder. And I am fully aware that the Pervasive Developmental Disorders are the "class" of disorders under which PDD-NOS and Autistic Disorder are currently organized under the DSM-IV.

The ASD atributed to the plaintiff's son in Banks v HHS was PDD-NOS, a PDD, or as it is called today by many an ASD. This topic was dealth with in footnote 4 of the Banks v HHS case:

""4 Pervasive Developmental Delay describes a class of conditions, and it is apparent from the record that the parties and the medical records are referring to Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (“PDDNOS”):
Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a ‘subthreshold’ condition in which some - but not all - features of autism or another explicitly identified Pervasive
Developmental Disorder are identified. PDD-NOS is often incorrectly referred to as simply “PDD.”

The term PDD refers to the class of conditions to which autism belongs. PDD is NOT itself a
diagnosis, while PDD-NOS IS a diagnosis. The term Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not
Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also referred to as "atypical personality development," "atypical
PDD," or "atypical autism") is included in DSM-IV to encompass cases where there is marked
impairment of social interaction, communication, and/or stereotyped behavior patterns or interest, but
when full features for autism or another explicitly defined PDD are not met.

It should be emphasized that this ''subthreshold'' category is thus defined implicitly, that is, no specific guidelines for diagnosis are provided. While deficits in peer relations and unusual sensitivities are typically noted, social skills are less impaired than in classical autism. The lack of definition(s) for this relatively heterogeneous group of children presents problems for research on this condition. The
limited available evidence suggest that children with PDD-NOS probably come to professional
attention rather later than is the case with autistic children, and that intellectual deficits are less