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tigtog now posts at the new and improved Hoyden About Town. She also blogs at Larvatus Prodeo and Finally A Feminism 101 Blog. If the new Hoydenspace is down you should find updates below.

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2006-04-20

vaccines and autism redux

Orac on Respectful Insolence adds a cracker to his series taking on the Mercury-in-Vaccines-is-causing-Autism crowd.

Some years ago I was for a while concerned about the possibility that the mercury compound thimerosal that is used as a preservative in vaccines might have had something to do with my kids ending up with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (the togster has High Functioning Autism that was initially diagnosed as Asperger's Syndrome, the tigling has PDDNOS - Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: people pick up that the togster has social skills difficulties easily while he fidgets and daydreams in the middle of a conversation, while the tigling's challenges are not so immediately obvious).

But the more I read the more I realised that the claimed connections just didn't have the evidence to back them up, and all the later studies that were done showed to anyone with a decent basic grounding in statistics that the claims of a connection were disproved. Orac does a thorough job in his many archived posts debunking the Mercury-in-Vaccines=Autism claim; that this post does a nice takedown of the self-anointed all-round 'expert' and bundle of trust-funded smug that is "Christian Libertarian" pundit Vox Day is a bonus.

A good lay-person site by a sibling on Autism and Asperger's: Weird Not Stupid

4 comments:

Kate said...

As the sibling of someone with Asperger's (initially diagnosed as Autistic), I've watched these developments with interest too. And yeah, the science just isn't there. As much as we all wish there was some link, some reason, some thing to point the finger at... we just haven't found it.

Thanks for the link to the Weid Not Stupid site.

Sometimes I wish my parents had had the Internet when my brother was younger. Back then they were the only people they knew in the situation and finding information in rural Australia was very hard. It would have been great for them to have more contact with other families going through the same things.

tigtog said...

Some sort of genetic contribution is indicated, as autistic spectrum disorders to tend to cluster in extended families. However, it's not a simple homozygous or heterozygous distribution so the genes are probably multilocar.

Whether a zygote with a collection of the autism genes goes on to develop a clinical case of autism may well depend on some environmental interaction during spermatogenesis, pregnancy or very early childhood. It could be as simple as acid levels/temperature fluctuations in the testes/ovaries/uterus, it could be pollutants in our tissues generally. It could be one or two genes that are the keys that "turn on" a collection of autistic genes.

But from my own reading I'm very sure it isn't actually to do with vaccinations.

Blue said...

My son was originally diagnosed as having aspergers, a diagnosis that was later revoked. He has no language probs but couldn't read social cues at all. Some funny stories in the process of teaching him. The genetic link is interesting though as I'm OCD :-)

We have lots of fun in our house.

Thanks for the link TigTog, I've not ever found one that makes the link between NLD & OCD that clearly before.

tigtog said...

What a little cluster of ASD relatees we are!

Mr Tog had an uncle who was core autistic, one side of my family seems to have lots of folks with autistic traits now that I know what to look for, I see a few in myself, it's all very fascinating.