Thursday, June 23, 2011

Autism and Prenatal Vitamins

Original Source: Autism and Prenatal Vitamins

Dr. Harriet Hall has recently written an article pertaining to a new study that was released recently.  The study is entitled "Prenatal Vitamins, One-carbon Metabolism Gene Variants, and Risk for Autism" and was published in Epidemiology on May 23, 2011.  As the name implies the study focuses on the usage of prenatal vitamins during the three months before pregnancy or the first month of pregnancy and what impact this may in terms of having an autistic child.  The authors of the study also found there were genetic factors that predispose a child to having autism or a condition within the autism spectrum.

As Dr. Hall writes: "They [the authors of the study] found that mothers who didn’t take prenatal vitamins were at greater risk of having an autistic child, and certain genetic markers markedly increased the risk. There was a dose/response relationship: the more prenatal vitamins a woman took, the less likely she would have an autistic child. There was no association with other types of multivitamins, and no association with prenatal vitamin intake during months 2-9 of pregnancy."

The fact is, this study isn't really all that shocking.  Numerous studies prior to this one have strongly suggested a genetic factor, and the issue of prenatal vitamins simply ensures the mother and fetus aren't lacking key nutrients which could negatively impact development.  The interesting issue here is that significant, measurable differences in the incidence of autism are clearly seen and there is no correlation to vaccines.

So you may be asking yourself, what do the folks over at Age of Autism have to say about this study?  Surely they would be interested in any study that focuses upon autism especially if that study covers genetics correct?  Well... if that was your thought, you would be wrong because as of this writing, the Age of Autism site doesn't even reference the study.  As is typically the case any time a new study comes out which shows a potential risk factor for autism, the biased contributors at Age of Autism refuse to even consider it.  Rest assured however if they find an article which even suggests a link between vaccines and autism... it will be posted immediately.

The same scenario applies to Mr. Hubbs as well.  He claims he cares about children and claims he wants to find the root cause of autism, yet he blames vaccines at every turn even when there is strong evidence that point to a genetic component.  Mr. Hubbs "backs in" to his viewpoint by finding non-scientific data, opinion pieces, biased websites etc which point to vaccines, but he is unable to look at the body of evidence objectively.

This is why anti-vaxxers like Mr. Hubbs will continue to praise people like Andrew Wakefield long after they have been discredited and why they will ignore proven science if it suggests or even proves something other than what they believe.  This is not letting the evidence guide the viewpoint, but rather this is mandating that the viewpoint guides the evidence.  Unfortunately for Mr. Hubbs and his fellow anti-vaxxers, facts are not open to manipulation nor can they be ignored when they are inconvenient.

The science will continue to speak for itself, and we can look for more and more studies pertaining to the root causes of autism in the future.  Rest assured each time a reputable study is published that shows the root cause pertains to anything other than vaccines, the anti-vaxxers will ignore them as they proclaim there is some vast conspiracy to silence the truth.

This does bring up an interesting point however.  If a study shows that the usage of prenatal vitamins can help reduce the risk of having an autistic child, and since we know most anti-vaxxers are huge proponents (and distributors / sellers) of nutritional supplements... this sort of puts them in an awkward position.  On one hand if they discredit the study they are suggesting that the very nutritional supplements they promote aren't effective.  On the other hand if they suggest the study has merit, they are admitting autism has more to do with a genetic component and nothing to do with vaccines.

I guess we know why they choose to remain silent... because they just can't speak about it while holding on to their preconceived and faulty assumptions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vaccines and Infant Mortality Rates

I came across an interesting study recently and felt it was worth sharing.  It is the report on US deaths and death rates put out by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The actual report can be found here:

There is a lot of strong data presented in the report and at the very least it is worth scanning, but several areas stand out.  On page 13, figure 7 displays a chart of infant (under one year), neonatal (under 28 days), and postneonatal (28 days to 11 months) mortality rates from 1940 through 2007.  If you look at this graph, you will notice an alarming trend. 

The statistics show us that the mortality rates for all of these three categories dropped sharply from 1940 through 2007 (newer data is still considered preliminary, so 2007 is the latest "final" data we have available).  Keep in mind this same time period is when most major childhood vaccines have been introduced.  I say "most" because we know there were some vaccines prior to 1940 (the smallpox vaccine comes to mind among others), but in respect to most modern vaccines, this time frame covers them.

On page 14 of the report you will see Table E which is a breakdown of the top 10 causes of death for infants. These, in order of highest to lowest Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities is the leading cause of infant mortality, followed by disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight. From there the remaining eight of the top 10 causes include:
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Newborn affected by maternal complications of pregnancy
  • Accidents
  • Newborn affected by complications of placenta, cord and membranes
  • Bacterial sepsis of newborn
  • Respiratory distress of newborn
  • Diseases of the circulatory system 
  • Neonatal hemorrhage
So what is the significance of this?  Well objectively if you examine the raw data, you soon find that the primary causes of infant mortality are no longer diseases which are able to be prevented via vaccines.  Whereas decades ago some of the leading causes of infant mortality was preventable disease, today we don't see a single preventative disease anywhere in the top 10. 

In fact if you examine data from 1950, you see causes such as influenza, pertussis / whooping cough, and meningitis mentioned whereas today they are not.  The difference?  Today we have vaccines administered to prevent these diseases before an infant can contract them and suffer from the effects.  Bear in mind we are only looking at mortality rates here and not even mentioning the millions of children who would contract these diseases and not actually die from them, nor are we examining data from older children (1 year +).

This isn't to say that vaccines are the only reason infant mortality rates in our nation continue to fall, but clearly they are a factor.  Even though the number of vaccines has risen in the past 50 years, the infant mortality rate has continued to fall.  Oh and for the anti-vaxxer who likes to blame vaccines for SIDS deaths... they may find it interesting that SIDS was still a common cause of infant mortality decades prior to our current vaccine schedule - so that theory doesn't really hold water either.

So what is the alternative?  If you are a vaccine conspiracy theorist like Mr. Hubbs, you would recommend zero vaccines.  This means we could very well revert back to the days of preventable diseases being responsible for killing thousands upon thousands of infants each year, and tens of thousands of others suffering non life-ending ramifications such as permanent disability caused by diseases such as polio.

Is this really the answer?  Obviously the latest trend for Mr. Hubbs and his fellow anti-vaxxers is to claim that vaccines cause autism, and even though we have zero scientific evidence to support that wild theory, we can play along with that line of thinking for a few minutes.  So if we were to end the distribution and usage of childhood vaccines due to the concerns and fears surrounding them, what would be the alternative?  You guessed it... thousands of dead children each and every year as a result.

What type of progress is this?  Apparently in the mind of an anti-vaxxer (since they seem to be convinced vaccines cause autism), a dead child is better than one with autism.  I'm not sure I understand that type of logic, and it because even less tolerable when you realize that there is no evidence to suggest vaccines actually do cause autism in the first place, but it does show us how out-of-touch these anti-vaxxers really are.

By the way, on page 1 of the report, it also lists the 15 leading causes of death in the US for all residents.  They are as follows:
  1. Diseases of heart (heart disease)
  2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
  5. Accidents (unintentional injuries)
  6. Alzheimer’s disease
  7. Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
  8. Influenza and pneumonia
  9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
  10. Septicemia
  11. Intentional self-harm (suicide)
  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
  13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (hypertension)
  14. Parkinson’s disease
  15. Assault (homicide)
Notice that nowhere in this list do we see anything relating to medical errors or deaths as a result of pharmaceuticals.  Thus, yet again we entirely discredit Mr. Hubbs and his "modern medicine is the third leading cause of death" nonsense, although anyone who knows Mr. Hubbs also knows even though he has been proven wrong time and time again, he will continue to parrot the same lies and misinformation as long as he feels someone is listening.

The facts continue to line up against Mr. Hubbs and his anti-vaxxer friends.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to Build a Bridge

Full Article: How to Build a Bridge

I know Mr. Hubbs absolutely hates it when I post information from a science-based source such as the aptly named Science-Based medicine website, but this article is actually very useful for anyone who has ever tried to debate an issue with another person.  It doesn't matter what side of the issue they are on or even what the issue is - the concepts remain the same and are mutually beneficial.

On a side note, I'll never understand why a guy gets so upset when I post someone from a website when the only information Mr. Hubbs has in his entire repertoire comes from *gasp* other websites.  Hypocritical much?

Note to Mr. Hubbs: You can look up the word you don't understand here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quack of the Day: Dr. Russell Blaylock

Most anti-vaccinationists (aka: "antivaxxers") have a list of trusted “experts” they often refer to when speaking of vaccinations, and along with people like Andrew Wakefield, Joseph Mercola, or Sherri Tenpenny... Dr. Russell Blaylock is one of the most common names tossed out there anytime this subject comes up. This led me to ask myself what was it about Dr. Blaylock that was so interesting and why would antivaxxers trust Blaylock to provide medical advice about a variety of subjects when these very same people won’t accept the viewpoints or opinions of the vast majority of the medical community?

Could it be that Dr. Blaylock has produced some peer-reviewed studies that are able to determine the root cause of autism? No – because he has published no such studies.

Could it be that Dr. Blaylock has produced evidence showing long term negative side effects of vaccines? No – because he hasn’t bothered to produce such evidence.

Could it be that Dr. Blaylock has studied the long term negative side effects of the sweetener aspartame and has produced scientific evidence to support his theory that it is responsible for causing Multiple Sclerosis? No, because he has never bothered to produce evidence nor has he participated in research to support his theory.

Could it be that Dr. Blaylock has finally been able to produce evidence that his claims about the dangers of aluminum cookware, or fluoridated drinking water, or dental fillings are substantiated and verified? No, because he hasn’t bothered to produce the research, add his name to a study, or even be bothered to write unpublished papers detailing his claims in any detail.

So if it isn’t about evidence or fact, what is it about Dr. Blaylock that leads antivaxxers to cite him as an expert? The real truth is, the only thing antivaxxers appear to know about Dr. Blaylock is what is found on Blaylock’s website or published in Blaylock’s monthly newsletters. Their opinions aren’t based upon published research nor are they based upon proven science - but rather they are based upon self-cited opinion. In short, there are no legitimate third parties supporting any of Blaylock's claims, so citing his opinions is merely the equivalent of taking his word for it.

This is yet another example of how antivaxxers tend to believe anything that is said or written on the Internet provided it goes against conventional medical wisdom or proven and accepted science. Once again we have shown that a lack of critical thinking ability clouds the judgment and precludes many antivaxxers from understanding that just because someone makes a claim does not make it true.

Unfortunately this is a common pattern for many in the anti-vaccination community. They don't trust peer-reviewed studies or proven science, but they will believe a wild claim from anyone who calls themselves an expert on vaccines or medicine. Why is it that we aren't supposed to believe anything the CDC, FDA, WebMD, or any drug company tells us because they are all in it for the money but yet Dr. Blaylock is considered an expert even though he makes the majority of his income from SELLING his information?

Blaylock writes books and newsletters he can sell instead of studies that he wouldn't profit from even though studies would be more apt to influence other doctors and the medical and scientific community (and thus have a greater impact upon the actual patients).

If Blaylock was really serious about getting his message out there, why wouldn't he just post his articles and information on his website for all to see or (dare I say it) actually get one of his papers peer-reviewed so he can rub it in the face of the big bad drug companies? Blaylock claims he knows things the "major media" are afraid to tell you and he is providing "insider health information", but as with all snakeoil salesman of his type he is never able to actually prove his claims with real science.

But then again, why give information away for free when you can charge $48 a year for 12 emailed newsletters (or $54 if you want the hard copy version)?

So what else does Blaylock have to offer the public? You guessed it - Blaylock sells a 30 day supply of his "brain repair" pills for the low, low price of $51.25! Act now and he will toss in a free booklet with your first order!!

Seriously... you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. Time and time again we find this common pattern with the “anti-vaccine pundits” that antivaxxers just love to quote, and once again we find that when you scrape away all of the wild and unsubstantiated claims or the shocking one-liners meant to spark interest or designed to appeal to the fear of the public, at the end of the day they are nothing more than snakeoil pitchmen selling their nutritional supplements or newsletters or books or DVDs etc, etc.

This just goes to show how out of touch these antivaxxers really are. They won't accept scientific fact, but the first quack who offers to sell them some miracle "brain repair" drug is suddenly an expert on all things related to vaccinations. It is the oldest scam in the book... find an idiot and then convince him to buy a worthless product he doesn't need. Whether it be a Snuggie, a Shamwow, a new type of kitchen gadget, or a bottle of nutritional supplements it is all the same - these products are not designed to make life better but instead are designed for one purpose and one purpose alone... pure unadulterated American profit via the naive, uneducated consumer who doesn't know any better.

I guess poor old Dr. Blaylock couldn't make enough money from these morons by selling newsletters for $48 a year so now he has to sell them pills to fix their brains. Although in Blaylock’s defense, considering his target audience it is quite possible they are in need of brain repair much more than the general populace, so he may be on to something with this one.

I often wonder how many antivaxxers are on the auto-ship program to receive these miracle 'brain repair' pills every 30 days? For those that are, I'd ask for a refund because they clearly are NOT working as designed.

Meanwhile - I have no doubt that Dr. Blaylock is laughing all the way to the bank knowing full well that he has tapped a market of followers that have no interest in separating fact from fiction.

Note (November 2012): I've noticed this particular blog post has been receiving hundreds of hits lately and is being linked to from several online forums and websites. Because of this I have went back through and updated the post to refer to antivaxxers in general terms rather than citing a specific antivaxxer or group of antivaxxers. Considering the recent increase in interest of Dr. Blaylock, I felt this was probably more appropriate since the post should be about him and not about any one specific antivaxxer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lowell Hubbs's Personal Website Seized by Homeland Security!

Lowell Hubbs likes to scour the Internet for random conspiracy theories, unscientific opinion, and just random ramblings of fellow antivaxers... and when he finds this information, he likes to upload it to his personal website (using the ironically named "").  Aside from the oxymoron in the URL itself, the website was a treasure trove of nonsense which any sane or rational person would avoid once they spent more than 15 seconds on it and realized what it was.

So the bottom line is, Mr. Hubbs's website was really nothing more than a joke.  It has never been a reputable source of information and other than Mr. Hubbs himself I'm not sure anyone was a regular visitor (even Mr. Hubbs's fellow conspiracy theorists have standards apparently).

So I must admit it came as a surprise when I was told his website had been seized by the US government (specifically Homeland Security) and it now displays a seizure notice on his homepage with a generic message about copyright infringement and counterfeit goods. 

As of today, his website looks like this:

Now it stands to reason that because nothing on his website was actually Mr. Hubbs's own work (but rather information and data he had 'borrowed' from others without offering credit) that the site could be shut down for copyright infringement, but the reality is that is less than probable since there are literally millions of other websites that do the exact same thing.

So why would the US government be interested in Mr. Hubbs's website?  Sources (and yes that is plural Mr. Hubbs as in "more than one source") tell me it may have more to do with pornography... specifically child pornography.  Considering how often Mr. Hubbs has discussed that very topic in his various messages on this very blog and how often he has accused others of being involved in such activity (textbook example of deflection and/or projection on his part), such accusations don't really shock me in the slightest.

Of course who really knows.  Mr. Hubbs claims it was all due to "hackers" who inserted porn links into his website (where have we heard that before) and then he also claims it may be people who want to "silence the truth", but aside from a few dozen excuses and more clever stories invented by Mr. Hubbs I really don't see anything which explains the situation. 

What we do know is Mr. Hubbs once again finds himself on the wrong side of the law, and once again involved in something that he claims is all some massive conspiracy to silence the truth.  I'm not a naive person, so I generally consider Occam's razor (the simplest explanation is most likely correct) which basically means we ignore the continual excuses and see Mr. Hubbs for what he is... a common criminal with a personal fetish for vaccine conspiracy theories who may or may not have a hobby that involves kiddie porn.

Hey - draw your own conclusions, but with evidence like this stacking up day after day it doesn't look like it is very difficult to eliminate the alternate possibilities.

Friday, June 3, 2011


"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
                                                -John Adams

The above quote may have been written in 1770, but it is as true today as it was then.  Facts are facts, and no matter how much data we throw at them, no matter how much analysis we examine, no matter how many years we spend on a subject... in the end the facts remain.  You cannot debate facts, you cannot change them, you cannot distort them (although many try).  The reality is, a fact is always a fact and it is only our understanding of those facts that changes with time.

This is why when Mr. Hubbs claims he has "facts" of vaccines causing autism, or that it is a "fact" that modern medicine is the third or fourth leading cause of death in the US, or that it is a "fact" that there are natural cancer cures that are being suppressed or hidden by "big pharma", it isn't that he is actually able to support these statements with evidence, it is merely that he misunderstands the term "fact".

Unfortunately for Mr. Hubbs, no matter how many times a person may claim to have "facts" and no matter how many times they brag about their knowledge, it doesn't actually change anything.  Claims are baseless without supporting evidence, and to date Mr. Hubbs, as well as the rest of the antivaxer community, has never been able to provide one single piece of evidence to support their theory that vaccines cause autism, or that vaccines are even a contributing factor for autism.

Obviously they have tried, but things just haven't worked out for them.  First they claimed autism was caused by thimerosal and they attempted to produce data to support that viewpoint.  However, in time their data was shown to be faulty, and once thimerosal was removed from vaccines and the rates of autism did not decrease... the antivaxers were left scurrying for another cause.  They didn't have the evidence necessary to prove their claims, thus the claims of "fact" were once again proven to have no merit.

Next they claimed it was due to the vaccine schedule itself.  Claims of "too many vaccines, too soon" were heard far and wide, yet when studies in other nations were conducted, we found the rates of autism to be merely identical including both nations that have similar vaccine schedules, or nations that have much lower rates of vaccinations.  Even within our own borders we discovered some areas of the nation suffer from higher rates of autism while others have much lower rates and yet these areas share the same vaccination rates and schedules.  So much for that theory.

So could the antivaxers provide any evidence to support their claims that autism was due to the number of vaccines or due to the schedule itself?  No... but that doesn't stop some of them (Mr. Hubbs included) from continuing to cite faulty information about there being no autism in the Amish community.  Even after research has shown that many of the Amish are in fact vaccinated and that many do in fact suffer from autism, the antivaxers refuse to face the real facts as they try to invent their own version of reality.  However many of them did admit that the Amish story wasn't nearly as solid as they had hoped, so they pinned their hopes on the research of yet another charlatan.

Antivaxers far and wide found their new hero in the form of Andrew Wakefield.  Wakefield claimed that the MMR vaccine itself was responsible for autism, and he produced research to support his claims.  The effect sent ripples throughout the medical community and soon you had many legitimate doctors and scientists wondering if there could be a valid connection here.  Parents stopped vaccinating their children and the rates of Measles and Rubella skyrocketed as a result.  There was only one problem... Wakefield was a fraud and his data was based upon faulty assumptions.  Not only that, but Wakefield fabricated data, engaged in unethical behavior, ignored the entire concept of a random sample, and falsified patient records to reach the conclusion he had already determined in his own mind.

Once the scientific community got wind of Wakefield's fraud, his 'research' was retracted, his fellow authors retracted their association with him, and he was stripped of his medical license as he and his followers began their cries of it all being a massive conspiracy by the government or big pharma or whatever else.  Unfortunately for the Wakefield crowd, none of them had any evidence to support any of their claims, and even Wakefield himself was never able to find a single person on the planet who was able to replicate his research (because fabricated research is rather difficult to replicate).  One again the facts get in the way of the anti-vaccination zealotry.

So where do the antivaxers go from here?  It seems the latest target is the rather vague term of 'toxins' even though they don't bother to identify what these mystery toxins are nor do they have any scientific evidence to show how they are harmful or the differences between those people who may have these toxins and those that do not.  Oddly enough, the same claim of mystery toxins has been used to sell herbal detox supplements, detoxification food pads, colon cleansing products, and numerous other snakeoil treatments for decades.  Of course there is never any legitimate science to support these wild claims, but since when has science mattered to an antivaxer or to someone who just wants to make a quick buck.

If we really wish to speak about facts, we need to be honest about the discussion.  Facts are not debatable (which explains why none of the silly antivaxer requests to 'debate' vaccines are ever taken seriously), but since there does seem to be so much misinformation and misunderstanding of facts, I doubt this conversation will go away anytime soon.

The fact is, there is no reputable peer-reviewed or replicable science showing vaccines cause or even contribute to autism.

The fact is, Andrew Wakefield has been proven to be a fraud.

The fact is, some Amish do in fact receive vaccinations.

The fact is, the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

The fact is, thimerosal does not cause autism.

The fact is, real science is not open to debate, and the scientifically supportable facts don't change. 

In the end, the antivaxers continue to slide the goal posts in the hopes that one day they will be able to claim victory, but in reality they are no different than a preacher who continually claims to know when the world will end... yet is proven wrong time and time again.

John Adams was right - facts really are stubborn things.  They are also incredibly frustrating if you happen to be a vaccine conspiracy theorist with a severe misunderstanding of what a fact really is.