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Do Vaccines and Tylenol Cause Autism? One Family’s Story

Editor’s note: This is not a debate about whether vaccines and Tylenol cause autism but a true story written by a mom about her son Liam who was born healthy and now has severe autism. Liam’s health was destroyed after his family did everything the doctors told them to do, including giving Liam the vaccines on the current childhood schedule, as well as Tylenol before and after the shots. As Susie Olson-Corgan, Liam’s mom, explains in this story, she followed all of the doctors’ advice she and as a result her son ended up with severe autism. I met Susie at a conference about the future of immunity in Seattle, Washington. She left her son for the first time to attend the conference, needing two caregivers to be with him while she was gone. Susie looked familiar and I realized I had seen her in a Vaxxed video called Seattle Moms Rock. She has generously agreed to share what happened to her family on this blog. ~Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.Do vaccines and Tylenol cause autism? This little boy's mom tells his story. Via JenniferMargulis.net

 

My Son’s Stolen Childhood

 

By Susie Olson-Corgan

 

I was 22 years old, healthy, and active when I got pregnant with Liam. The pregnancy was pretty easy. The first trimester I had morning sickness, but after that it was a breeze. We moved twice while I was pregnant and I would overdo it sometimes, but a few days of downtime was all I needed to recover. I loved walking around our local lake with friends. When it got colder I turned to mall walking and doing pregnancy exercise DVDs. I felt great. I was so excited to become a mom.

 

Liam was born strong and healthy at 10 pounds 3.1 ounces. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9 at one and five minutes. Right after he was born, they gave him antibiotic eye ointment, then put him on my chest. He started nursing immediately. He knew just what to do.

 

Liam was given vitamin K at birth and a hepatitis B shot despite my request that those not be given. The staff apologized afterwards. They told me they were changing shifts and had not communicated well. I had forgotten my birth plan at home so no one had it in writing that I did not want vitamin K or hep B. It was an unfortunate mistake.

 

After that, I didn’t let them take him out of my sight for anything. We were released from the hospital within a day of the birth and went home to enjoy being a family of three.

 

By two and a half weeks Liam was rolling over. He gained head control and was able to sit up early on. At six months, Liam was waving, saying, “Hi,” “Momma,” “Dada,” “Nana,” and “Meow.”

 

By eleven months he was walking like a pro.

 

At a year he could climb, run, jump, and get into everything!

 

But when he was a year old is also when things started to go wrong. When Liam went to his 12-month well baby visit, he had a fever.

 

I called them before we came in. I told both his doctor and nurse that he was sick.

 

They said it wasn’t a problem and they would vaccinate him anyway and I should bring him in. Since he had been acting fussy all day, they told me to give him Tylenol before the shots, which I did.

 

“He could die of the flu,” the doctor said

 

The only vaccine I knew I didn’t want Liam to have was the flu shot.

 

Several people in my family had had negative reactions to that vaccine.

 

I myself had never had a flu shot, and I had never had the flu. Liam’s dad agreed. He had never had a flu shot either.

 

But the doctor was visibly upset when we told her we did not want the flu vaccine.

 

She actually told us Liam “could die of the flu” if we declined the shot.

 

She left the room and returned a few minutes later saying we were in luck, they were out of the flu vaccine.

 

Then she joked that if she had had the vaccine in the clinic that day, she would have just slipped it in with the rest of his vaccines without telling me.

 

An inconsolable baby

 

As soon as he was administered his 12-month vaccines, Liam started screaming.

 

That night he had a fever of 105.

 

He also started having explosive diarrhea that covered his body. It was so acidic and painful that he screamed until I put him in the tub. The diarrhea ate away at his skin until it bled. He started arching his back and wouldn’t let me hold him.

 

He was inconsolable.

 

I didn’t know what to do. I called the pediatrician.

 

She advised me to alternate Tylenol and Motrin. She also reassured me that the reaction her was having was “normal.”

 

Never the same again

 

But after that night Liam was never the same again.

 

He recovered from the diarrhea, but he stopped making eye contact. He no longer seemed curious about things like he had been before. His physical demeanor changed so drastically that it was obvious, even to people who rarely saw us.

 

Liam stopped breastfeeding around 15 months. When I took him in for his next well baby visit, at 18 months, I expressed concern about Liam’s sudden decline in health after the 12-month vaccines.

 

The doctor literally laughed at me.

 

She told me his previous reaction was “typical,” and made me feel like I was a just a nervous first-time mom being paranoid about nothing.

 

She was the expert.

 

I was just the mom.

 

What did I know?

 

So I let the doctor give Liam another round of shots that day, vaccinating him against eight diseases.

 

I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for that choice.

 

This time it was much, much worse

 

The same series of events happened with this round of vaccines but this time it was much, much worse.

 

Within a couple of hours Liam’s leg swelled, his eyes became swollen and glassy.

 

He started screaming, arching his back, and kicking.

 

Like the last time, he was completely inconsolable.

 

I called the pediatrician who once again reassured me what was happening was “normal,” and advised me to alternate between Tylenol and Motrin.

 

I gave him the painkillers as she advised but he got even worse.

 

His breathing became labored and I called again and told the doctor I wanted to bring him in.

 

I could tell by the way she spoke to me that she thought I was being dramatic. We showed up at her office anyway.

 

After examining him, she acknowledged that she thought he was having a bad vaccine reaction. She ran blood tests. She saw with her own eyes that she was burning up with fever, had a high white blood cell count, an increased heart rate, and concerningly high blood pressure.

 

Now she started taking me seriously.

 

She told us we needed to take Liam to the ER.

 

In the Emergency Room they gave Liam oxygen, steroids, antibiotics, Benadryl, and Motrin.

 

Despite what his doctor had said, the Emergency Room doctors insisted Liam was not having a vaccine reaction! They did not have any explanation for what was wrong with our son, but they were sure it was unrelated to vaccines.

 

After that day Liam stopped making eye contact.

 

He could no longer walk.

 

His words decreased to just “Momma” and “Dada,” and then to none at all.

 

He used to sing the alphabet song. Now his singing was replaced with screaming.

 

Liam no longer wanted to be held or touched or to interact with anyone.

 

He would crawl into his closet and close the door.

 

At night he would scream for hours at a time.

 

Nothing we did helped.

 

He started banging his head on everything: his crib, the walls, the floor.

 

He would hit himself in the head with his hands, with his books, with his trucks.

 

Over the following days and weeks our phone calls to the doctors were answered less and less.

 

Every time I called they told me to give him Tylenol for the fever and to stop being so paranoid.

 

They told me he was acting was “normal.”

 

I knew this behavior was anything but normal but I had no idea what to do about it.

 

My son was in pain.

 

He had left our world and entered his own.

 

Signs of autism ignored

 

Child Find is a public service that identifies and evaluates children with disabilities. We asked them to assess Liam when he was two and a half years old. When they came to do an evaluation, he wouldn’t come out of the closet. He wouldn’t talk, acknowledge them, or interact with them at all. I answered their questions. Then they interacted with him for all of fifteen minutes and concluded he was normal.

 

I still wonder how in the world they thought this behavior was normal. They kept assuring me that boys are “slower to develop,” and he would “come out of his shell” in his own time.

 

I explained that he used to talk, make eye contact, sing his alphabet, and play with friends.

 

This wasn’t a lack of development, this was a loss of development, I told them.

 

They said I was being worried for nothing and I would see that what they said was true.

 

We were told to “just give it time.”

 

Vaccines caused my son’s severe regressive autism

 

After being laughed at and having our fears dismissed by doctors for more than two years, we brought Liam to an autism clinic at our local university. At three years nine months old, he was diagnosed with severe regressive autism. He was completely non-verbal.

 

We wasted more than two years not helping our child because medical professionals ignored our concerns.

 

The doctors failed our son.

 

We failed our son.

 

Looking at videos of my boy and photographs from when he was a baby, you can see the light leave his eyes.

 

The curious little boy who once ran to the door every time Daddy came home no longer acknowledged either of us.

 

Vaccines were the trigger that took away my child’s health.

 

Vaccines caused his autism.

 

Mom with boy with autism. Do vaccines and Tylenol cause autism? This mom believes that's what happened to her son.

Susie with her son Liam. After getting vaccines and Tylenol, Liam had a severe vaccine reaction. A talkative baby, he is non-verbal, and incontinent.

 

A good day for Liam

 

Liam is 10 years old.

 

He never really has a typical day, as things are constantly changing with him.

 

While Liam eats breakfast, I massage his feet with oils to relax the muscles. First his feet, then his calves. He has cramps in his feet and problems walking from having been a toe-walker for so long, an issue associated with autism.

 

After breakfast we move on to our school day. Liam is still non-verbal. Most of our structured time is spent matching colors, letters, and shapes. We also work on speech, coordination and small tasks. After lunch we usually do art and sensory play, and practice life skills such as getting dressed, pouring water in to a cup, going to the bathroom, brushing teeth.

 

Then Liam gets a couple of hours of free time while I make dinner and clean up. During that time he plays with his cars, his iPad, interactive books, his sensory table, and his stuffed animals. He also likes to jump on his trampoline.

 

At 7:00 p.m. I start the bedtime routine with him and by 8:00 p.m. I have him in his room for the night. He gets to pick out two or three books to read with me.

 

While he is looking at the pictures, I massage his feet or rub his head. Whatever is hurting him the most.

 

He likes lavender essential oil so I mix that in with magnesium to help calm and relax him.

 

Then it’s lights out.

 

Liam spends the next 4 hours or so trying to wind down for sleep.

 

That’s a good day for Liam.

 

Not the life I had planned

 

One of our biggest challenges has been around diapers.

 

The diapers on the market for larger children aren’t made for kids like mine. He is chemically sensitive so most diapers cause him angry, painful rashes. The ones that don’t, leak. So they have been leaking throughout the night, which makes him agitated and aggressive when he wakes up in the morning. On those days I get him in the shower as quickly as possible, which helps to diffuse the meltdown. Then I strip his bed, put new linens on, and get his breakfast ready.

 

Watching him go through life facing these difficulties on a daily basis is hard.

 

Some days I feel despair. If there were a magic pill to wipe out all of his suffering, I would give it to him immediately. But since there isn’t, I try to find the best in this situation.

 

My life is nothing like I had planned, but better than I could have ever hoped.

 

When I look back to who I was before his diagnosis, how I stressed about the smallest things and didn’t appreciate my life like I should have, I know that I am better off now.

 

Liam finds such glee in simple things: sitting in a tide pool at the beach, watching the waves, being bounced on his trampoline.

 

He has taught me to find glee too.

 

I have become an advocate for my son.

 

I have shed the insecurities I once had.

 

I no longer allow other people’s opinions of me to stop me from moving forward in helping him. I have left my ego behind. I ask for help whenever I see an opportunity that could benefit him.

 

I have become outspoken in my community. When he and I are in public and people make snarky comments, I take the time to educate them about vaccines and the damage they caused our family.

 

My son’s stolen life

 

My son should be in school, making friends, playing sports or in band.

 

He should be going off to summer camp and enjoying his childhood.

 

Instead he stays home with me, trapped in a body that has been damaged by modern medicine.

 

I do the best I can to bring him joy, but it pales in comparison to what he deserves.

 

This is avoidable.

 

Please, do better for your children than I did for mine.

 

Do your research.

 

Never give your child Tylenol or any product containing acetaminophen (these Duke and Harvard researchers explain why).

 

You can always vaccinate later, but you can never un-vaccinate.

 

My son’s life will never be what it was supposed to be because he was injured by vaccines.

 

Now I fight for your children, to protect their futures, to give them the chance mine doesn’t have.

 

Readers, did something like this happen to your family? Do you think vaccines and Tylenol cause autism? Are you feeling concerned about vaccines and Tylenol or do you think it is just an unfortunate coincidence? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

 

Do vaccines and Tylenol cause autism? This mom, Susie Olson-Corgan, explains what happened to her sonSusie Olson-Corgan is a children’s health activist and a stay-at-home mom of one. She lives with her family in Seattle, Washington.

 

 

 

Jennifer Margulis author headshot. Do vaccines and Tylenol cause autism? Read the guest post on her blog about how this boy's autism was caused by vaccines and TylenolJennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an investigative journalist, book author, and Fulbright awardee. She is the author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family and co-author (with Paul Thomas, M.D.) of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can hear her explain how Tylenol may be implicated in the autism epidemic in the series, The Truth About Vaccines

 

5 Places to Find Help If Your Child is Diagnosed With Autism

 

Generation Rescue – a non-profit founded by J.B. and Lisa Handley dedicated to recovery for children with autism spectrum disorders. Participation in their Family Grant Program was the first time Susie saw improvements with her son.

 

Thinking Moms Revolution (TMR) – an amazing website and accompanying Facebook page that connects moms and dads and grandparents whose children have been over-exposed to toxins and injured by vaccines or other medically sanctioned health interventions. Their blog, which is updated regularly by a group of hardworking volunteers, contains a wealth of information about autism, SPD, PANS, and more. TMR helped Susie’s family learn how to access information and connected her with other parents. It was one of the founders of TMR, Alison McNeil, who first explained how vaccines and Tylenol cause autism to Jennifer Margulis.

 

The Canary Party – A movement created to stand up for children who are the victims of medical injury and environmental toxins. Our sick kids are the canaries in the coalmine. This group also keeps you informed about legislation that could impact your family.

 

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) – A non-profit dedicated to educating, empowering and supporting families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. They helped with Susie’s family with information about helpful diets and with other resources.

 

The Arc –A community-based organization with nearly 700 state and local chapters that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc of Washington State helped Susie set up play dates with other families facing similar challenges.

 

How This Mom Scored a Victory Over Autism

Normal at 5 months, this little boy started showing signs of autism at 7 months

When Mary Romaniec’s son Daniel was seven months old he was developmentally delayed: he could not lift his head. He did not roll over.

 

The doctor recommended a pediatric physical therapist who started coming to their home. The physical therapist worked wonders with Daniel, who started catching up and hitting milestones.

 

Then, when he was 12 months old, his health took a nosedive.

 

As Romaniec, a journalist who lives in Grafton, Massachusetts, describes in a 2004 article in Mothering magazine, Daniel had all the recommended vaccines at his one-year visit, including the combined vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). After the visit, he got very sick. He had such terrible green stinky diarrhea that Romaniec called the doctor. When Daniel spiked a fever of 105, she called the doctor again.

 

By the time he was 18 months old, Daniel was in so much pain he would scream when he awoke from naps

By the time he was 18 months old, Daniel was in so much pain he would scream when he awoke from naps

And then he started regressing.

 

He lost the desire to walk.

 

He was no longer able to play peek-a-boo.

 

He no longer understood when his mother spoke to him.

 

As Romaniec describes in her new book, Victory Over Autism: Practical Steps and Wisdom Toward Recovery for the Whole Family (Skyhorse Publishing 2015), Daniel was in visible pain as a toddler. He screamed when he woke from napping. He banged his head against the floor. He was sick and miserable, as was the whole family.

 

Conventional medical wisdom holds that autism isn’t curable.

 

Doctors, who are now handing out autism diagnoses to 1 in every 45 American children, often advise parents to get their finances in order and start investigating group homes for when their child with autism gets to be too much to handle or ages out of publicly funded aid.

 

But Mary Romaniec did not listen to the dire predictions about her son’s condition.

 

Her reaction wasn’t “this is hopeless, my son’s life is over.” Her reaction was “let’s fix this.”

 

She wasn’t interested in hearing why nothing would work, why autism was irreversible, or why any given doctor’s suggested treatment was quackery.

 

She was interested in treating the illnesses that had started just after Daniel’s 12-month vaccines, healing her sick son, and trying everything—no matter how experimental or outside the mainstream—she could to help Daniel get well.

 

And it worked.

 

Thanks to a herculean effort that included multiple interventions, Daniel’s tummy stopped hurting. He started regaining his speech. And he was able to start kindergarten at the same time as his peers with little more than extra speech therapy.

 

Recovery from autism is possible. Find out how. Via www.JenniferMargulis.net

 

Mary Romaniec’s son recovered from autism.

 

Something we are told is “impossible.”

 

I have a friend whose son was diagnosed with autism by five different doctors, including two specialists. She took him to that many different doctors because she was desperately trying to find one to tell her there was nothing wrong with him! But the doctors agreed that he had autism. Like Romaniec, my friend started researching. She also stopped sleeping. She connected with other moms, sought out alternative health care practitioners, and did everything she could—everything—at the same time carefully documenting how her son responded to each treatment. She made massive changes to the way she fed her family. She took sugar, gluten, and all packaged foods out of their diet. At one point she had a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in her home. Before autism this friend was the opposite of crunchy or alternative. Before autism she was so glad to be part of the mainstream medical establishment that she did everything that the doctors suggested—including every vaccine—and asked for more.

 

Her son, too, conquered autism. He’s now in an elite private school getting good grades.

 

Did the doctors who diagnosed him with autism ask my friends what interventions she tried and which ones worked? Have they suggested doing a case study of her son? No. Every mainstream doctor she talks to now dismisses her son’s recovery from autism as “impossible,” telling her that “he must not have had autism in the first place” and that their colleagues, all five of them, must have been wrong!

 

Romaniec and thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of other parents have had to deal with doctors, nurses, educators, and family members who believe that once a child is diagnosed with autism the label never goes away. At the same time, the number of children overcoming autism is increasing; parents are fighting harder for their children’s health and becoming more aware that recovery is possible.

 

Do you see the CDC sending out experts to do case studies of children who recover from autism? Or contacting the medical doctors (like this one, this one, this one, and this one) who are using alternative health protocols and reporting much less autism and much better outcomes among their patients?

 

Do you see conventional doctors looking critically at their own practices–recommending a bloated and dangerous vaccine schedule, overprescribing antibiotics, promoting infant formula and hawking pharmaceuticals to new moms–to find out how they themselves are harming our children’s brains?

 

I don’t either.

 

Mainstream doctors would rather throw five colleagues under the train than stop and think. They would rather tell parents that sudden onset autism with co-existing health conditions like devastating diarrhea or constipation is genetic (a lie which no one is stupid enough to believe anymore. Keep repeating it, doctors. Shout it from the rooftops, CDC. You can say it over and over again. But that won’t make it true.) They would rather tell you that all vaccines for all children are safe and effective than examine their own harmful practices. They refuse to open their minds enough to pay attention to what we know about how to stop autism from happening in the first place. And they seem to care more about their own egos, as they blindly adhere to their medical profession, than they do about helping children diagnosed with brain and immunological dysfunction.

 

IVIG therapy is one of the interventions that helped Mary's son recover from autism

IVIG therapy is one of the interventions that helped Mary’s son recover from autism

 

Victory Over Autism is a road map. It’s a practical guide for parents of children diagnosed with autism. It teaches you how to fight. You don’t just channel your inner mama bear. You channel your inner mama lion. You find your tribe. And, as Romaniec tells the reader both with practical advice and dozens of real life examples, you never take “no” or “it won’t work” or “it can’t happen” or “the school doesn’t have the funding” for an answer.

 

Ever.

 

Romaniec is fierce.

 

And inspiring.

 

And she wants you to be too.

 

Today Mary's son Daniel is a thriving young man.

Today Mary’s son Daniel is a thriving young man.

 

My favorite thing about this book is Romaniec’s suggestion that women have more sex with their husbands. As a way to reconnect. As a way to communicate. As a way to open channels of better understanding. As mad as you might be because he’s not doing as much as you are as you both fight for your child, Romaniec recommends getting horizontal together, giving him a night he will always remember, and then talking to him the next morning about how he can do more.

 

I love that.

 

Surround yourself with those on the same mission as youThis book is a must-read for any parent with a child on the spectrum.

 

It’s also a painful read.

 

Not every child will respond to treatments.

 

Many parents feel they don’t have the time, the money, or the privilege to try expensive interventions that may or may not make a difference.

 

My nephew is a schoolteacher in the inner city. There’s an African-American child in his class with severe autism. This child’s working class single parent family cannot afford to buy whole foods or eat organic, let alone find the time to take the gluten and the casein out of their child’s diet. The school knows that the family does not have the wherewithal to ask for an aide in the classroom or make sure the school is doing their part to get the child special help. The mom is being told by the doctors that their child’s health condition has “nothing to do with vaccines.” And she, sadly, still trusts the doctors, and still trusts the system that is failing her family so badly.

 

There are different kinds of autism. I respect the neurodiversity movement and understand that some forms of autism are cause for celebration.

 

But the toxin-induced autism—whether it’s being caused by acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol) given at the time of vaccines, the ingredients in the vaccines themselves, other toxic environmental exposures, or ultrasounds—that manifests as severe brain and immune damage is devastating and must be stopped. That our medical community is silently watching this happen, discouraging parents with the lie that “autism isn’t curable,” and doing nothing to prevent it from happening in the first place is nothing short of criminal. We watch children being knowingly poisoned by lead in Flint, Michigan and we are outraged, as well we should be. But what about the children being knowingly poisoned by the medical establishment’s business as usual? I find that just as outrageous. Whether you have a child with autism or not, autism is the health crisis of our time.

 

Read Victory Over Autism.Yes, children CAN recover from autism. Victory Over Autism by Mary Romaniec explains how

 

And while you’re at it, read A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention, and Recovery, by Christina Adams, a writer and parent advocate who also recovered her son.

 

And then buy a copy of each book for every doctor you know.

 

The truth is out there. It’s time for doctors, the CDC, and every parent in America to face it.

 

Jennifer Margulis, author and journalist.

Photo by Bryon Devore

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning author and investigative journalist based in southern Oregon. Her latest book, Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family includes two chapters that discuss autism. Her next book, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, co-written with Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D., is forthcoming from Ballantine. Find her on Facebook. Follow her on twitter at JenniferMarguli [no “s”] and Pinterest.

 

 

Yes, children CAN recover from autism. Via www.JenniferMargulis.net

From Mothering magazine: Yes, children CAN recover from autism

What’s Really Causing Autism? My Letter to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

What is really causing autism? An open letter to the government to investigate Tylenol and ultrasounds

What is really causing autism? No one knows. But we have some strong suspicions. Photo credit: visualhunt.com

 

The good folks at The Thinking Moms’ Revolution have put out a call to action today, asking anyone interested in autism to write to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Linda S. Birnbaum, to tell the NIEHS what environmental factors that may be triggering autism you think the government should investigate.

 

Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S

 

Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
and National Toxicology Program
phone: 919-541-3201
fax: 919-541-2260
email: birnbaumls@niehs.nih.gov

 

Autism disproportionately affects boys. We need to figure out why. Photo credit: flickr.com

Autism disproportionately affects boys. We need to figure out why. Photo credit: flickr.com

The latest numbers are staggering: 1 in every 45 American children has an autism spectrum disorder. One organization likens the rise in autism spectrum disorders to a tsunami. I believe that autism — or, perhaps more accurately, the neurological and immunological dysfunction that we are lumping under the umbrella term “autism” — is THE health crisis of our time.

 

Though I fret that Lyn Redwood’s assertion that the government is going to continue to willfully ignore the iatrogenic causes of autism, I wrote to Linda Birnbaum at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

 

I hope you will too.

 

Here’s my letter:

 

Dear Dr. Linda Birnbaum,

 

I’m an award-winning science journalist and book author with an interest in children’s health and autism. I am also a Fulbright grantee — I lived and worked in Niger, West Africa in 2006 – 2007. I was also in Niger in the 1990s, working in part on a child survival campaign. I think it is important to have a global perspective on health.

 

I have a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from Emory.

 

I’ve been researching possible causes of autism for over ten years. It’s very distressing that in the time I have been looking into what is causing brain damage among America’s children as journalist, the numbers of neurologically compromised American children have continued to go up. I have no personal interest in autism — my four children (ages 16, 14, 12, and 6) are all in excellent health and have not sustained any kind of genetic or environmental brain malfunction.

 

My extensive research has a journalist has led me to suspect that two environmental factors may be directly contributing to the autism epidemic:

 

1) Over/ill-timed exposure to prenatal ultrasound. Dr. Manuel Casanova, M.D., proposes one plausible mechanism of how prenatal ultrasound may be disrupting the developing fetal brain. His work dovetails with the work of Eitan Kimmel, Ph.D., in Israel. More about Kimmel’s theories here. We know that autism disproportionately affects boys. This could be accounted for by the difference in timing in fetal development during gestation.

 

Pasko Rakic, M.D./Ph.D., has been working on this issue for quite some time—conducting a multi-year double blind study on the effects of ultrasound on the brains of primates. I am under the impression that his research is completed. It has not yet been published, to the best of my knowledge. A reminder that in 2006 he said publicly that we should be using the same caution with prenatal ultrasound as we do with x-rays.

 

2) The use of Acetaminophen, especially before or after infant vaccination. This may be the smoking gun. Please take five minutes to read this outstanding article by Duke University research scientist William Parker, Ph.D., as well as the accompanying references. There is a growing body of science suggesting a possible connection between acetaminophen and brain damage. I think it would be easy and inexpensive to design a really good study on this subject and either put the issue to rest, because it is incorrect, or definitively show that acetaminophen should be taken off the market. We know that autism disproportionately affects boys. This could be accounted for by the more pronounced effects of acetaminophen in the presence of testosterone.

 

I imagine you are already familiar with these issues but I’d be delighted to send you more information or to talk on the phone, if that would be helpful.

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

 

All best,
Jennifer
*****************************
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

 

Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, is toxic to the liver at higher doses. But most people don't realize it is in hundreds of medicines. Screenshot from KnowYourDose.org

Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, is toxic to the liver at higher doses. But most people don’t realize it is in hundreds of medicines. Screenshot from KnowYourDose.org

 

Author Jennifer Margulis. Photo: Bryon Devore.Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning investigative journalist, Fulbright grantee, and the author/editor of six nonfiction books, including Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family (Scribner 2015).

A Doctor Responds to Terry Gross’s Interview With Steve Silberman About Autism

"I look forward to the day when the doctors, researchers, and journalists who refused to look honestly at the autism epidemic apologize to our children."

I listened to Terry Gross’s interview with Steve Silberman about the history of—and myths about—autism with great interest. I love Fresh Air. I’ve always been impressed with Terry Gross. But I was baffled and sorry to hear Silberman, an award-winning science journalist, make several incorrect assertions about the current prevalence of autism in America. He may be the darling of the mainstream media right now, but some of what Silberman said to Terry Gross was sadly, and dangerously, wrong.

Autism is an umbrella term that we apply to children and adults who have very different illnesses. I agree with Silberman that when autism is neurodiversity it can and should be celebrated. Those with autism or ADHD or ADD or ______ [add your label here] are unique and wonderful and blessed and should be honored for their gifts. Some people who are considered autistic, like Temple Grandin, Ph.D., lead healthy, happy, and productive lives. They are the ones organizing the retreat like the one that Silberman attended. They are the ones capable of reading this blog. But the problem is that Silberman is conflating children and adults who have some neurodiversity with children and young adults who are suffering from severe autism and related health issues like gastrointestinal problems and severe pain.

While Silberman may be correct that the numbers of people who are neurologically different have not increased exponentially, he is incorrect in his assertion that there has only been a “tiny” increase in severe autism.

Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D., explains it best. As he wrote to NPR this morning:

“I am a Dartmouth-trained M.D. and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics in private practice in Portland, Oregon. I have over 11,000 children in my practice and I can tell you definitively that autism rates among America’s children, particularly boys, have risen exponentially since I began practicing in the 1980s. This is not a ‘tiny’ increase and it is not a question of ‘neurodiversity.’ I am talking about children with severe autism who cannot speak, are still in diapers at age 9, and do not grow up to be adults who are able to organize or attend retreats. The California Department of Developmental Services, which keeps the country’s most reliable statistics, reports a 21 percent increase in severe autism in a 5-year period (source) and a peer-reviewed article by Stanford-trained researcher Dr. Cynthia Nevison, Ph.D., confirms that, though changes in diagnostic criteria may account for 20-25% of the increase in autism, between 75-80% of the reported increases are due to a real rise in the disease: ‘Diagnosed autism prevalence has risen dramatically in the U.S over the last several decades and continued to trend upward as of birth year 2005. The increase is mainly real and has occurred mostly since the late 1980s’ (source).”

Silberman is correct that we have wasted millions of dollars looking for a genetic cause of autism. But he is incorrect that we should stop looking for a cause and putting money into finding cures. The money has been wasted because severe autism accompanied by other health problems is not caused by genes. Something in the environment—or perhaps two or three things—is causing brain damage to our children that we call autism.

What are the plausible culprits?

1) Prenatal exposure to ultrasound, which both disrupts cell membranes and encourages brain cells to divide and migrate when they should not.

2) Acetaminophen, a coal-derived medication that is known to interfere with the body’s production of glutathione, a chemical necessary to rid the body of neurotoxins like aluminum and mercury. Read more about this here.

3) A combination of toxic environmental exposures, perhaps including glyphosate and the ingredients in certain vaccines, that creates an inflammatory response in the body, leading to sometimes irreparable brain disruption and autoimmune dysfunction.

I am glad that Silberman’s book is drawing attention to the autism epidemic and the needs of people with autism.

I look forward to the day when the doctors, researchers, and journalists who refuse to look honestly at the autism epidemic apologize to America’s children.

 

For Further Reading:
* A balanced review of Silberman’s book
* Face It, There *IS* an Autism Epidemic by Lisa Wiederlight, director of SafeMinds
* A comparison of temporal trends in United States autism prevalence to trends in suspected environmental factors (PDF text of full article)

 

Jennifer Margulis, author and journalist.

Photo by Bryon Devore

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning investigative journalist, author of Your Baby, Your Way, and frequent contributor to the Jefferson Monthly, an NPR affiliate magazine.

I F*****G Hate Cancer

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I do not have a dog in the fight.

None of my four children has autism.

But when I got pregnant for the fourth time (yes, it was planned. No, it was not an accident), I couldn’t stop the desperate worry. I had three healthy children. How could I possibly be lucky enough to have a fourth?

That fourth child was born healthy, at home, unassisted, in November 2009.

I still cry when I think about it.

Did I really deserve to have a healthy baby? So many moms I know do not. So many people I love are struggling so much.

I’m furious about it. I’m furious that their daily lives include changing their 11-year-olds’ diapers and trying to stay safe when their child throws a violent tantrum.

No mom should have to be dealing with that.

Something is going desperately wrong in America.

I was invited to speak at the AutismOne conference in May 0f 2013.

That conference was amazing. Terrifying. Inspiring.

At AutismOne I met some members of a group called the Thinking Moms’ Revolution.

They have dogs in the fight.

They started out as 24 friends. Twenty three moms and one dad. They did what their doctors told them. They followed the current American pediatric protocol exactly as the mainstream would have them follow it. With disastrous results. These 24 brave souls, unlike me, do not have healthy children.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 11.19.00 PMThey came together to write a book about their efforts to heal their damaged children, most of whom were suffering from neurological disorders and the effects of autism.

I bought three copies of their book.

The TMRs also started a blog focused on all kinds of children’s health issues.

They are people who make things happen.

They are people who learned the hard way that the system is broken.

They are brave women (and one man) who aren’t afraid to face the trolls. And who aren’t afraid to tell the truth.

Now the TMRs have got their fingers in all kinds of pies related to children’s health and autism.

One of the women I met at AutismOne was Melanie Baldwin, a.k.a. Booty Kicker.

Melanie’s son, Luke, is severely affected by autism, and Melanie, whose religious faith means a great deal to her, has written eloquently on the subject of churches and special-needs ministries. Her writings have touched a lot of people and helped many to understand the spiritual needs of families dealing with autism.

But Melanie isn’t just dealing with autism.

She had breast cancer a while back and seemed to be doing fine, till a resurgence of cancer was found in her hip last year.

I’m so mad.

I’m so mad I can’t even write this.

I’m mad at autism and I’m mad at cancer and I’m mad that a mama who is trying so hard and giving so much is suffering like this.

I hate cancer. Cancer stole my friend Amy’s daughter Whitney when she was only 18 years old. Cancer stole my grandmother.

FUCK YOU CANCER.

Melanie had surgery last year.

And now Melanie’s cancer has come back a third time.

She’s very sick now, and she’s in the hospital away from her husband, Tim, and their son.

Their finances have already been ravaged by cancer and autism treatments.

The Thinking Moms’ Revolution has set up a donation site to raise money to help their spiritual sister Melanie and her family defray the costs they are facing.

Since I’m a luddite and I didn’t want to pay GiveForward’s fees, I sent Melanie a check for $100.

It wasn’t enough enough.

No amount of money is enough.

But it’s something.

We need to STOP THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC.

Please do something.

Please send Melanie and her dear family a donation.

Please tell everyone you know that autism is your problem too, whether your kid is on the spectrum or not.

That the current state of America’s health is unacceptable.

That we can no longer allow businesses and for-profit medicine to dictate the health of our children.

My four year old–that same one who was born healthy nearly five years ago–just woke up. Her small blond head is leaning against my left shoulder.

“She needs to go to bed, Mom! It’s after 11 p.m.” Her 15-year-old sister chastises me.

And now I’m sobbing. “I’m not wasting time on the internet,” I cry to my oldest daughter. “I’m not trying to ignore Leone. I just have to get this finished. My friend has cancer and her family needs help.”

“I’m glad you’re helping her, Mom,” my daughter says softly. “Don’t cry. I’ll put the baby back to bed.”

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist living in southern Oregon. Find her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The Possible Dangers of Obstetric Ultrasound

Ultrasound has become so popular in America that you can even get one at the mall

Ultrasound has become so popular in America that you can even get one at the mall

I’m often asked what the most surprising thing I learned while researching my book, The Business of Baby. Though I had been studying, writing, and talking about birth for over ten years, including as a contributing editor for Mothering magazine and the author/editor of three other books about babies, my research for this project yielded many surprises. I never considered, for example, that the non-food additives in prenatal vitamins could be contributing to pregnancy symptoms and making women sick. I had no idea how many well designed scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals there were about the benefits of not immediately clamping the cord after a baby is born. And I also did not know that the rise of neonatal ICUs in the United States has led to tremendous profits for hospitals.

But the most surprising research that I came across was about the possible harmful effects of obstetric ultrasound.

I had two ultrasounds during my first pregnancy and when I read an article years ago before I started writing the book about why they should be avoided, I dismissed it. The idea made me angry … and defensive. After all, my daughter was just fine, I told myself. My doctor said they were safe. I had done nothing wrong. Of course the ultrasounds I had were warranted and necessary.

Right?

Maybe not.

According to ACOG’s Practice Bulletin Number 101, “Ultrasonography in Pregnancy“: “Screening detects multiple gestations, congenital anomalies, and intrauterine growth restriction, but direct health benefits from having this knowledge are currently unproven.” [my emphasis.]

In other words, women who are having low-risk pregnancies and who would choose not abort a fetus that had congenital anomalies have no proven reason to have an ultrasound. What multiple scans are good for in these cases is profit for the obstetrician, since prenatal appointments with ultrasound are usually billed to insurance companies for significantly more money than appointments without scans. Doctors and even midwives often insist on ultrasound for another reason: in the case of a poor outcome for either the mom or the baby, they are concerned that if they did not do multiple prenatal ultrasounds they could get sued and accused of not practicing the standard of care.

“The use of ultrasound for fetal monitoring or any other diagnostic purpose raises some alarming questions that can’t be answered by those who employ it,” wrote Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D. in his landmark book, How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor, first published in 1984. “It is another way in which modern obstetrics violates the medical imperative, passed down by Hippocrates, ‘First, do no harm.'”

Eleven years later, Marsden Wagner, M.D., analyzed the existing scientific studies and concluded that routine ultrasound has been shown to be unnecessary, costly, and of no proven benefit: Ultrasound: More Harm than Good?

As both of these doctors predicted, however, instead of applying appropriate caution to the use of ultrasound, obstetricians and even midwives are using it more than ever today. Nearly 100 percent of pregnant women get prenatal ultrasounds in the United States and Canada, regardless of their risk status. Many are further told that they must have weekly or biweekly scans. One pregnant woman I wrote about reported having over 25 scans.

A mom pregnant with her second child contacted me recently because her doctor is insisting she have an ultrasound once a week. He’s deemed her pregnancy “high-risk” because she is 38 years old and he wants to use the scans to measure the level of amniotic fluid in her uterus in order to schedule an induction. Yet we know that ultrasound is  inaccurate in predicting amniotic fluid levels and the evidence also shows that early induction in the absence of real medical need is associated with increased risk of C-section, maternal mortality, and even fetal demise.

But the problem with ultrasound is not just that it may be unnecessary and may lead to a cascade of other unnecessary interventions. There is also a growing body of evidence that ultrasound exposure itself may be harmful to the developing fetus.

One doctor/researcher who has been studying this issue for years, Manuel Casanova, M.D., and his colleague Emily L. Williams, wrote about the possible connection of obstetric ultrasound exposure to brain abnormalities last year. I asked them permission to reprint their article on my blog. Here it is.

The Possible Dangers of Obstetric Ultrasound
By Manuel F. Casanova, M.D. and Emily L. Williams

One problem of which we’ve become poignantly aware is that ultrasound, especially since the early 1990s, has been deregulated and is nowadays used to excess. We would like to see more research into its safety, as well as tighter regulations on its use so that the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. We’d also like to clarify that we’re not proposing that ultrasound is “the” cause of autism. What we’re proposing, instead, is that ultrasound may be one of many risk factors for autism for those who have a selective vulnerability.

Many people when they first hear about ultrasound as a possible risk factor in the development of autism think it sounds like pseudoscience.

Who can blame them?

We’ve been subjected to many different hypotheses about what may be causing autism. It seems like everyone is ultimately seeking the “holy grail” of causation. So we’re all skeptical when we hear something new, especially something which seems to contradict our understanding of how we view the world–or in this case, how we perceive the safety of ultrasound.

After all, ultrasound is just a picture, right?

That’s what we in our laboratory used to think until we began studying what mediates the effects of ultrasound. In the following paragraphs we hope to offer a simple explanation on the rather complex effect of ultrasound on the living cell.

Ultrasound refers to sound that has a frequency above that which can be detected by the human ear. Sound itself is the force of pressure through a solid, liquid, or gas; it causes the movement of those particles.

In the case of prenatal ultrasound, the ultrasound transducer emits sonic waves into the abdomen, the sound enters the body including that of the developing embryo/fetus, bounces off the tissue, reflecting back, and that echo is measured by the transducer to form a representative visual image.

Ultrasound is currently used in a variety of ways in medicine and research, including:

1) Production of lesions in neurosurgery, similar to the use of laser;

2) Transcranial (across the skull) stimulation of brain activity, similar to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or the use of electrodes;

3) Vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels, which helps in both visualization of the vasculature as well as the delivery of important medications to tissue;

4) Transdermal (across the skin) delivery of medications which would normally be unable to cross the skin barrier;

5) Wound healing, such as on certain bone fractures and ulcers;

6) Purification of foods via its oxidative potential;

7) Purification of metals also due to its oxidative capacity;

8) Transmembrane delivery of nonviral genes into target cells (mainly used in research).

These are just a few examples of how science and medicine apply ultrasound. As you can probably guess by now, given its capacity at different levels of intensity to promote cell growth, cell destruction, alter membrane fluidity (e.g., poke temporary holes in cell membranes), and alter a cell’s activity such as causing a neuron to fire, ultrasound has an incredible range of effects.

It turns out it’s not just a picture after all.

The physical effects of ultrasound include both its pressure on the water within and surrounding a given cell, and through the creation, oscillation (spinning), and implosion of bubbles in that same liquid. The latter is referred to as “cavitation” or the creation of a gaseous cavity within the liquid. Cavitation and noncavitational effects together can poke transient holes in cells, activate certain molecular pathways within those cells, cause temperature increases when the bubble violently implodes, promote the creation of free radicals (oxidation) when that gas escapes into the surrounding medium which can subsequently damage or even kill a cell, can cause general disarray within the cell, and at certain intensities may even promote mutations of DNA.

Most of the deadly effects on cells are generally not seen at diagnostic intensities levels. However, there is still the potential that ultrasound is altering how normal cells develop and behave. That is, it doesn’t kill them, but it may very well change them.

In the case of autism, we frequently find abnormalities in neuron number and growth patterns in the brain. Given that ultrasound has the capacity to promote cellular growth, as well as its overuse in obstetrics and the apparent rising numbers of autism diagnoses, this is a prime area for scientific study.

These are complicated scientific questions that involve a number of different variables and what we have given you here is a gross simplification of our hypothesis. For anyone interested in more detailed accounts, please contact us for further materials and we’d be glad to supply them (see minicolumn.org/people/Casanova).

Back in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, the scientific community was very cautious about using prenatal ultrasound. As much as science knew in the day, they expressed due concern and performed a good number of safety studies. From these studies, they decided that ultrasound was ultimately safe to use in obstetrics. However, science is ever-changing and continually learning more about development. Back in the 1970s, the height of concern over ultrasound was whether it promoted spontaneous abortion or reduced postnatal survival rates, whether it promoted macroscopic growth abnormalities like differences in birth weight and overall size, and whether it caused genetic mutations.

Nowadays, we know much more about the molecular biology of the cell, and more as to how development can be affected in microscopic ways which can have very big effects on behavior. Let’s face it: when a postmortem examination is performed on an autistic person’s brain, usually one of the most striking things about it from a macroscopic level is that there isn’t anything unusual. So the differences in an autistic person’s brain are indeed very subtle; they need to be teased out with various technologies, with a knowledge of the complexity of anatomical, cellular, and molecular biology, and a nuanced understanding of early development. Our science has continued to mature, but unfortunately the early safety studies on ultrasound were never updated to include this new understanding.

It’s time we go back and reassess, with new knowledge, techniques, and technology, whether or not ultrasound is truly as safe as we assume it is.

It’s also time that the regulations on ultrasound be refined so that we can be doubly sure we’re not putting our unborn infants at risk, be it for autism or other conditions.

Again, what we want to stress is that we’re not advocating the disuse of ultrasound. It’s an extremely vital and useful tool in medicine. But we are advocating that it be used more wisely. For those who are pregnant, we recommend that ultrasound should not be performed during the first trimester unless it is an at-risk pregnancy, and especially not within the first 8 weeks of gestation. The first 8 weeks is the period when the greatest intensity of growth occurs–and therefore when the greatest damage can be done. Be cautious of early and unnecessary ultrasounds. In addition, don’t use fetal heart rate monitors for private use because these are handheld ultrasounds.

manuel.f.casanovaDr. Manuel Casanova, M.D. did his residency training in neurology and then spent 3 years doing a fellowship in neuropathology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. During his time at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Casanova was in-charge of Pediatric Neuropathology, a fact which kindled his interest in developmental disorders of the brain. His clinical experience was enhanced by appointments as either a consultant or staff neuropathologist at Sinai Hospital (Maryland), the North Charles Hospital and the D.C. General Hospital. His expertise in the field was recognized by honorary appointments as a Scientific Expert for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) and as a Professorial Lecturer for the Department of Forensic Science at George Washington University. Dr. Casanova did training in psychiatry at the National Institutes of Mental Health under the tutelage of Drs. Richard Wyatt, Danny Weinberger, and Joel Kleinman. He joined the Medical College of Georgia as a full Professor in 1991 and came to the University of Louisville in 2003 as the Gottfried and Gisela Kolb Endowed Chair in Psychiatry. He has over 200 peer reviewed publications, 71 book chapters and 4 edited books.

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Emily L. Williams is a developmental and molecular biologist with ongoing interests in autism research. She studies underlying characteristics common to autism candidate genes as a means to understand why and when they mutate. She is also interested in how the epigenome regulates DNA stability. In addition, she studies the development of cells, how their proliferation and differentiation are regulated, and how these processes might underlie the etiology of autism.

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Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an investigative journalist and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Her articles have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on the cover of Smithsonian magazine. Her most recent book, The Business of Baby (Scribner 2013), for which she interviewed Dr. Casanova, includes a chapter on the uses of ultrasound.