of a Science Bending Group Within the CDC?
Commentary by Teresa Binstock
As summarized by Rosie Waterhouse's news item, a transcript
of the CDC's secret meeting about thimerosal effects indicates
that a small group within the CDC acknowledges major flaws
within its initial study of the autism epidemic's link to
Despite this awareness, this small but influential group
within the CDC (i.e. the group that enacted the fatally flawed
"study") has touted and continues to use the study's
"conclusions" -- e.g. on the webpages of the American
Academy of Pediatrics (spring, 2000) and at the recent Institute
of Medicine (IOM) hearing (July 16, 2001).
What the CDC's secret meeting transcript conveys is that
the study's data about autism were insufficient. As a result,
conclusions about rates of autism in the pediatric cohort
from several HMOs in the study are fictional. Yet invalid
findings do not stop this CDC group from continuing to disseminate
Importantly, as indicated by reporters' rhetoric in recent
Boston Globe and Lancet articles about the IOM hearing, a
tradition of respect for the CDC enables the phony conclusions
to be presented as if valid.
Paragraphs that follow are an attempt to set forth a summary
of what this "rogue group" within the CDC has achieved
and continues to achieve. The seriously flawed CDC "study"
-- initially distributed as RL Davis et al, spring 2000 --
had at least three major flaws:
a.. The HMO data had major under-reporting
b.. Data analysis by Davis et al did not
include susceptible subgroups likely to be more affected by
c.. Davis et al relied upon the EPA's "safe"
limit for methylmercury, which had been derived in relation
to gradually ingested mercury and which, therefore, minimized
the fact that during the 1990s human infants and toddlers
had been injected with bolus doses of ethylmercury, which
persisted in their bodies during a post-vaccinal, extended
pulse of cytokines, which alter permeability of intestinal
tissue and of the blood-brain barrier.
These several factors -- and others identified by analysts,
e.g., Thomas Kurt, MD -- indicate that the rate of autism
"documented" by Davis et al was an extreme under-representation
of the actual rates of autism among children within the HMOs
whose data Davis et al utilized.
Despite these flaws the CDC's rogue team has continued to
distribute and utilize the flawed data and the misleading
The CDC's rogue team has stated and continues to state that
an association with autism was not found. Note: this statement
is inaccurate and is quite different from what the CDC ought
be stating, namely, that the study design was inadequate for
evaluating a link between thimerosal (TMS; 49.6% ethylmercury
by weight) and the increased incidence of autism.
Yet despite the flawed study, the CDC's team continues to
tout the study's "conclusions" as if valid, which
they are not!
At the IOM hearing (7.16.01), the CDC presented summaries
of its "Phase 1 and Phase 2" studies (i.e. several
versions of what had been called RL Davis et al, spring of
2000) as if the Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies had had valid
methodologies and had thereby derived valid conclusions about
autism and thimerosal.
In fact, during the hearing, the CDC appeared content to
convey the impression that conclusions from the Phase 1 and
Phase 2 studies were legitimate. At the IOM hearing, the impression
conveyed by the U Washington presenter was that there was
no need to study what had already been found to be non-existent.
In my opinion, this requires a severe leap of faith.
Even Alice in Wonderland might pause incredulously. The CDC
acknowledges (off the record and in secret meetings) that
the Phase 1 and Phase 2 Davis et al studies were seriously
flawed in regard to autism, yet the CDC is happy to proceed
with a Phase 3 study that omits autism -- because, so we were
told, there was no finding of an autism/thimerosal study in
the Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies.
In other words, despite the fact that the CDC's Davis et
al methodology was fatally flawed in regard to autism and
thimerosal, the CDC's rogue team and their U of Washington
allies seem quite willing to continue diverting attention
away from the substantial likelihood that physician-injected
ethylmercury has been an etiologic factor in many cases of
autism and related disorders.
If ADHD, Tourette's, PDD, and PDD/NOS are added, then the
number of children adversely affected by physician-injected
thimerosal is potentially huge. At the IOM hearing, presenter
Mark Blaxill summarized epidemiological similarities between
autism's increase and the increased use of vaccines containing
He also expressed dismay that the CDC group most responsible
for developing and encouraging TMs-injections into neonates
(via the HepB vaccine) is the group that also has been conducting
and superintending studies intended to evaluate the relationship
between autism and injected-ethylmercury.
Given the 1990s history of injecting thimerosal and the recent
history of CDC-led "studies" about thimerosal, the
CDC's conflict of interest is clear.
The actions by the CDC's rogue team appear to be masking
and diverting attention away from thimerosal's adverse effects
in hundreds of thousands of children.
Excerpts from the CDC's secret meeting -- obtain via the
Freedom of Information act -- were presented to IOM by representatives
of SafeMinds. As an official submission to the hearing, the
SafeMinds letter to IOM is to be posted on the IOM website
-- as will other materials that implicate thimerosal injections
as having damaged many of America's children (and those in
other countries too).
Having the CDC team that developed and encouraged early infant
injections with TMs also be running studies about TMs is akin
to having Al Capone investigate the liquor business in 1930s
That the CDC's conflict of interest is having a real effect
is seen in five factors:
a.. The CDC continues to trumpet the Phase
1 and Phase 2 conclusions as if valid, which they are not;
b.. The CDC continues to utilize the EPA's
so-called "safe" limit for ingested organic mercury
despite the fact that vaccinal ethylmercury was injected;
c.. The CDC continues to perform data analysis
while ignoring the fact that some children are more susceptible
to adverse sequelae from bolus exposures to toxic metals;
d.. The CDC is allowing a major "Phase
3" study to proceed without autism as a focus;
e.. The CDC's rogue team uses its organization's
prestige as a lever whereby the flawed conclusions autism/thimerosal
conclusions of Davis et al are presented as if acceptable
and useful -- e.g. in allowing Phase 3 to omit autism.
At the IOM hearing, an autism-parent suggested that the HMO
data utilized by the CDC ought be analyzed by professionals
selected by trusted autism organizations. Not surprisingly,
the CDC's Dr. Chen -- apparently a leading actor in the development
and use of the HepB for neonates and infants -- took the microphone
and offered reasons why independent analysis ought not occur.
After the meeting, Beth Clay -- assistant to Congressman
Dan Burton -- commented that the CDC seems quite ready to
allow new "outsiders" to view the HMO data so long
as the CDC selects who those outside experts are. In my opinion,
outside analysis of the CDC's primary data for Davis et al
ought occur; and the analysts ought be persons not within
and not hand-picked by the CDC.
Furthermore, the CDC's conflict of interest already has a
track record of diverting attention away from the link between
injected ethylmercury and autism. A solution is needed to
the CDC's conflict of interest. By continuing to misuse Davis
et al conclusions -- the CDC's rogue team continues to shape
public opinion and near-future research regarding the link
between thimerosal and autism.