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Flu & Fever during pregnancy linked to Autism - Irony Meter Overload

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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12 November 2012 19:05
 

http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/12/15056697-flu-fever-linked-with-autism-in-pregnancy-study?lite

By Maggie Fox, NBC News

Doctors trying to find some of the causes of autism put another piece into the puzzle on Monday: They found women who had flu while they were pregnant were twice as likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. Those who had a fever lasting a week or longer—perhaps caused by flu or maybe by something else—were three times as likely to have an autistic child.

The study of 96,000 children in Denmark raises as many questions as it answers. But it fits in with a growing body of evidence that suggests that, in at least some cases, something is going on with a mother’s immune system during pregnancy that affects the developing child’s brain. Health officials said the finding reinforces their recommendations that pregnant women should make sure to get flu shots.

hmph.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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12 November 2012 22:29
 

Yes, that would be ironic. 

I work with a woman whose son is autistic.  She is in touch with lots of other moms of autistic children, and she researched the heck out of the subject.  She did wonders with her son, through intensive therapy, and doctors who predicted he would not talk, etc.were proven wrong.  Anyway, this woman is convinced that immunizations can trigger autism in some cases, based on many first-hand reports she’s heard personally.

It’s like when people say the flu shot gave them the flu because they came down with it the next day after the shot.  The medical establishment says OH NO, it’s just a coincidence.  Maybe so, but I’m surprised to find myself just cynical enough to say that the pharmaceutical industry could be swaying the statistics a little.  Why couldn’t a flu shot be the last straw for some people in succumbing to flu?  So technically they didn’t get the flu from the shot, but it could have contributed to making them sick.

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?  Just like the study proposes a link between a mom’s fever and autism for some fetuses.  Hey, a lot of babies get a high fever as a result of those DPT immunizations.  Happened to both my sons.  No, they didn’t become autistic, but they sure yelled their lungs out in distress a few hours after the shot due to the fever and pain.  Heck, I got ill from just the tetanus booster I got last year.  That is one potent, nasty shot.

 
Jefe
 
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13 November 2012 14:41
 
Hannah2 - 12 November 2012 09:29 PM

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?

Because autism is a physiological syndrome, tied to brain development (Including prenatal development in the womb), not something that just happens because of an injection.

 
 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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13 November 2012 15:12
 

The vaccine-autism controversy has been brewing ever since Andrew Wakefield published his infamous 1998 paper in The Lancet. Fourteen years later, the study has been retracted and scientists have had no luck finding a legitimate link between childhood vaccinations and autism. Yet, the debate rages on.

Why does over 20 percent of the population still think that vaccines cause autism? And what happens when parents act on their fears, refusing to inoculate their own children against dangerous diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella?

My opinion? Because of fuckwit celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, and people who listen to them, instead of the scientific experts.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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14 November 2012 01:07
 
Jefe - 13 November 2012 01:41 PM
Hannah2 - 12 November 2012 09:29 PM

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?

Because autism is a physiological syndrome, tied to brain development (Including prenatal development in the womb), not something that just happens because of an injection.

Well, I think that some physical states can be tipped one way or the other due to environmental influences.  This is shown by identical twin studies.  So if a baby, who surely is not done with brain development, has a latent autism, and he’s given a huge shock to the immune system, via an immunization that also results in high fever, I think that could tip the balance.

The woman I spoke of above said she knew moms whose babies showed no abnormal signs before the immunization, then started autistic behaviors the next day.  I guess I just don’t feel we know enough about the causes of autism to discount first-hand accounts.  Not that we should be afraid to immunize babies, but this woman chose to have her subsequent children given the DPT as separate vaccines, rather than a threesome.  This caused less dramatic adverse reaction.

I’ve seen medical “facts” change so many times in my life, I feel there’s gotta be more changes coming.

 
Jefe
 
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16 November 2012 13:21
 
Hannah2 - 14 November 2012 12:07 AM
Jefe - 13 November 2012 01:41 PM
Hannah2 - 12 November 2012 09:29 PM

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?

Because autism is a physiological syndrome, tied to brain development (Including prenatal development in the womb), not something that just happens because of an injection.

Well, I think that some physical states can be tipped one way or the other due to environmental influences.  This is shown by identical twin studies.  So if a baby, who surely is not done with brain development, has a latent autism, and he’s given a huge shock to the immune system, via an immunization that also results in high fever, I think that could tip the balance.

The woman I spoke of above said she knew moms whose babies showed no abnormal signs before the immunization, then started autistic behaviors the next day.  I guess I just don’t feel we know enough about the causes of autism to discount first-hand accounts.  Not that we should be afraid to immunize babies, but this woman chose to have her subsequent children given the DPT as separate vaccines, rather than a threesome.  This caused less dramatic adverse reaction.

I’ve seen medical “facts” change so many times in my life, I feel there’s gotta be more changes coming.

Studies have shown no link between autism and immunization.

Statements and anecdotes like the one in bold above do not promote greater understanding, but instead undermine the pro-immunization position in a very sensitive and emotional subject.  And due to that very trend in questioning of immunization procedures, children are dying of whooping cough and measles that need never have contracted it - due to reduced immunization in some communities.  These mothers may be suffering from their own confirmation bias, or have overlooked other signs of autism prior to the immunization event.  As mentioned, unbiased studies have not found a link between the two, and the developmental differences in autistic children begins well before the usual age of immunization - even if that is when symptoms commonly begin to be observed.

1) There is no evidence linking immunization to autism
2) There is plenty of evidence linking the deaths of infants to preventable diseases with failure to immunize

Seems like a fairly simple risk assessment to me.

[ Edited: 16 November 2012 13:24 by Jefe]
 
 
Fool4Reason
 
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25 November 2012 04:46
 
Hannah2 - 12 November 2012 09:29 PM

Yes, that would be ironic. 

I work with a woman whose son is autistic.  She is in touch with lots of other moms of autistic children, and she researched the heck out of the subject.  She did wonders with her son, through intensive therapy, and doctors who predicted he would not talk, etc.were proven wrong.  Anyway, this woman is convinced that immunizations can trigger autism in some cases, based on many first-hand reports she’s heard personally.

It’s like when people say the flu shot gave them the flu because they came down with it the next day after the shot. The medical establishment says OH NO, it’s just a coincidence.  Maybe so, but I’m surprised to find myself just cynical enough to say that the pharmaceutical industry could be swaying the statistics a little.  Why couldn’t a flu shot be the last straw for some people in succumbing to flu?  So technically they didn’t get the flu from the shot, but it could have contributed to making them sick.

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?  Just like the study proposes a link between a mom’s fever and autism for some fetuses.  Hey, a lot of babies get a high fever as a result of those DPT immunizations.  Happened to both my sons.  No, they didn’t become autistic, but they sure yelled their lungs out in distress a few hours after the shot due to the fever and pain.  Heck, I got ill from just the tetanus booster I got last year.  That is one potent, nasty shot.

Hi Hannah, actually, what the medical establishment says about people who come down with the flu the day after they got their shot is “It takes two weeks for your immune system to build up the anti-bodies for the strains of flu covered in this years shot. There are too many strains of flu in the wild to create an effective vaccine that covers all of them. And if you have been exposed to flu within the past few days, or become exposed during the next few weeks, even to one of the strains covered in this years shot, then the chances are, you are still going to get sick. And if you happen to be exposed to one of the strains of flu not covered this year, than all bets are off. Still, it’s far better to get the shot, than not to get the shot. It WILL protect almost anyone for the rest of the season for the most prevalent flu bugs expected that year - after it becomes effective - in about two weeks after you get it.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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25 November 2012 13:15
 
Fool4Reason - 25 November 2012 03:46 AM
Hannah2 - 12 November 2012 09:29 PM

Yes, that would be ironic. 

I work with a woman whose son is autistic.  She is in touch with lots of other moms of autistic children, and she researched the heck out of the subject.  She did wonders with her son, through intensive therapy, and doctors who predicted he would not talk, etc.were proven wrong.  Anyway, this woman is convinced that immunizations can trigger autism in some cases, based on many first-hand reports she’s heard personally.

It’s like when people say the flu shot gave them the flu because they came down with it the next day after the shot. The medical establishment says OH NO, it’s just a coincidence.  Maybe so, but I’m surprised to find myself just cynical enough to say that the pharmaceutical industry could be swaying the statistics a little.  Why couldn’t a flu shot be the last straw for some people in succumbing to flu?  So technically they didn’t get the flu from the shot, but it could have contributed to making them sick.

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?  Just like the study proposes a link between a mom’s fever and autism for some fetuses.  Hey, a lot of babies get a high fever as a result of those DPT immunizations.  Happened to both my sons.  No, they didn’t become autistic, but they sure yelled their lungs out in distress a few hours after the shot due to the fever and pain.  Heck, I got ill from just the tetanus booster I got last year.  That is one potent, nasty shot.

Hi Hannah, actually, what the medical establishment says about people who come down with the flu the day after they got their shot is “It takes two weeks for your immune system to build up the anti-bodies for the strains of flu covered in this years shot. There are too many strains of flu in the wild to create an effective vaccine that covers all of them. And if you have been exposed to flu within the past few days, or become exposed during the next few weeks, even to one of the strains covered in this years shot, then the chances are, you are still going to get sick. And if you happen to be exposed to one of the strains of flu not covered this year, than all bets are off. Still, it’s far better to get the shot, than not to get the shot. It WILL protect almost anyone for the rest of the season for the most prevalent flu bugs expected that year - after it becomes effective - in about two weeks after you get it.

Here’s where I find myself unexpectedly cynical (I’m not usually a cynical person).  I think that if a person feels healthy, gets a flu shot, then comes down with the flu the next day, then the shot may have been a factor.  Yes, they were probably exposed to the flu earlier, and it may have been brewing in them, but getting the shot may have tipped the balance toward succumbing to the illness. 

My cynicism comes in when I accept that the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry would hold back that caveat to assure that as many people as possible got the shot.  All vaccines have risks and benefits.  Surely the flu vaccine is worthwhile (I get it every year).  They tell you the risks are fever and soreness.  I’m just thinking that whatever is happening to the immune system to cause these reactions may be linked to getting sick, for a previously exposed individual—and this is different than the vaccine alone causing the flu.

 
burt
 
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burt
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25 November 2012 15:13
 
Hannah2 - 25 November 2012 12:15 PM
Fool4Reason - 25 November 2012 03:46 AM
Hannah2 - 12 November 2012 09:29 PM

Yes, that would be ironic. 

I work with a woman whose son is autistic.  She is in touch with lots of other moms of autistic children, and she researched the heck out of the subject.  She did wonders with her son, through intensive therapy, and doctors who predicted he would not talk, etc.were proven wrong.  Anyway, this woman is convinced that immunizations can trigger autism in some cases, based on many first-hand reports she’s heard personally.

It’s like when people say the flu shot gave them the flu because they came down with it the next day after the shot. The medical establishment says OH NO, it’s just a coincidence.  Maybe so, but I’m surprised to find myself just cynical enough to say that the pharmaceutical industry could be swaying the statistics a little.  Why couldn’t a flu shot be the last straw for some people in succumbing to flu?  So technically they didn’t get the flu from the shot, but it could have contributed to making them sick.

Why couldn’t immunizations be the last straw in triggering autism in some babies?  Just like the study proposes a link between a mom’s fever and autism for some fetuses.  Hey, a lot of babies get a high fever as a result of those DPT immunizations.  Happened to both my sons.  No, they didn’t become autistic, but they sure yelled their lungs out in distress a few hours after the shot due to the fever and pain.  Heck, I got ill from just the tetanus booster I got last year.  That is one potent, nasty shot.

Hi Hannah, actually, what the medical establishment says about people who come down with the flu the day after they got their shot is “It takes two weeks for your immune system to build up the anti-bodies for the strains of flu covered in this years shot. There are too many strains of flu in the wild to create an effective vaccine that covers all of them. And if you have been exposed to flu within the past few days, or become exposed during the next few weeks, even to one of the strains covered in this years shot, then the chances are, you are still going to get sick. And if you happen to be exposed to one of the strains of flu not covered this year, than all bets are off. Still, it’s far better to get the shot, than not to get the shot. It WILL protect almost anyone for the rest of the season for the most prevalent flu bugs expected that year - after it becomes effective - in about two weeks after you get it.

Here’s where I find myself unexpectedly cynical (I’m not usually a cynical person).  I think that if a person feels healthy, gets a flu shot, then comes down with the flu the next day, then the shot may have been a factor.  Yes, they were probably exposed to the flu earlier, and it may have been brewing in them, but getting the shot may have tipped the balance toward succumbing to the illness. 

My cynicism comes in when I accept that the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry would hold back that caveat to assure that as many people as possible got the shot.  All vaccines have risks and benefits.  Surely the flu vaccine is worthwhile (I get it every year).  They tell you the risks are fever and soreness.  I’m just thinking that whatever is happening to the immune system to cause these reactions may be linked to getting sick, for a previously exposed individual—and this is different than the vaccine alone causing the flu.

One of the reasons for wanting as many people as possible to get the shot (not only for flu but also measles and etc) is that it can provide a group effect - if most people in a school have been immunized, it provides a defense against an outbreak because even if one person comes down with something it won’t easily spread.

 
Jefe
 
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26 November 2012 14:28
 
Hannah2 - 25 November 2012 12:15 PM

Here’s where I find myself unexpectedly cynical (I’m not usually a cynical person).  I think that if a person feels healthy, gets a flu shot, then comes down with the flu the next day, then the shot may have been a factor.  Yes, they were probably exposed to the flu earlier, and it may have been brewing in them, but getting the shot may have tipped the balance toward succumbing to the illness.

This is a near textbook description of confirmation bias.
Also - it may be possible to exhibit flu symptoms after a flu shot, but flu shots have absolutely no demonstrable connection to autism.

Hannah2 - 25 November 2012 12:15 PM

My cynicism comes in when I accept that the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry would hold back that caveat to assure that as many people as possible got the shot.  All vaccines have risks and benefits.

Yes.  The risks of reduced vaccination far outweigh the risks associated with having children vaccinated.
The benefit of having almost all children vaccinated against whooping cough, polio, and rhubella has been an almost universal elimination of these child-killing diseases for many decades.  Only recently has the anti-vax movement resulted in an upswing of infants killed by whooping cough.  Childhood measles is on an upswing also - due to reduced vaccination.

Because the science is poorly understood, and parents are afraid for their children because of mistaken or blatantly wrong claims by celebrities in the anti-vax movement, they are putting children at greater risk of death due to diseases that were all but extinct.

Any ambiguous language surrounding the efficacy of vaccination, or connecting vaccination to other (unconnected) problems can do a great deal of harm.

Hannah2 - 25 November 2012 12:15 PM

Surely the flu vaccine is worthwhile (I get it every year).  They tell you the risks are fever and soreness.  I’m just thinking that whatever is happening to the immune system to cause these reactions may be linked to getting sick, for a previously exposed individual—and this is different than the vaccine alone causing the flu.

Here’s a primer on how the human immune system and vaccinations work.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2012/11/26/immunity-easy-peasy-lemon-squeezie/

 
 
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26 November 2012 21:55
 

Again, the mom I talked to advocated separating the vaccinations, rather than using the DPT.  She admitted she was willing to bring her kids into the doctor multiple times to do this.  However, I know many parents would not be diligent about this.  Thus, the recommendation for the combined vaccines being better than insufficient vaccination. 

The medical establishment is balancing the cost/benefit ratio.  Check out the side effects.

105-degree fever with screaming and crying is a possible effect of the pertussis component.  This is known, but accepted because it is rare.

 
nv
 
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01 December 2012 16:09
 

Also, keep in mind that some on the autism spectrum are valuable to society in, for most people, hidden ways. Eliminating autism altogether might mean eliminating those rare people able to understand technology most thoroughly.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/the-autism-advantage.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&adxnnl=1&ref=general&src=me&adxnnlx=1354384961-BB l a/zeKax06c5eBevVg

 
 
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02 December 2012 01:21
 
nonverbal - 01 December 2012 03:09 PM

Also, keep in mind that some on the autism spectrum are valuable to society in, for most people, hidden ways. Eliminating autism altogether might mean eliminating those rare people able to understand technology most thoroughly.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/the-autism-advantage.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&adxnnl=1&ref=general&src=me&adxnnlx=1354384961-BB l a/zeKax06c5eBevVg

A very interesting read. 
The autistic boy I know best was diagnosed with Aspergers and very high intelligence.  He was in my 5th grade math class, and I had no doubt he would be an asset to a tech company someday.  He was great at finding patterns and was meticulous in his work.  He was also a star at doing Rubik’s cube.

 
nv
 
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03 December 2012 23:32
 

Was he a regular student in your class, Hannah? Did the other kids tend to want to harass him?

Also, I’ve been meaning to add a bit to the OP question—trauma during early childhood seems quite possibly to add to the risk of autism onset, as well as perhaps prenatal trauma. Another likely contributor is advanced age of the parents. Parents are getting older and older, and I’ve attended autism workshops filled with (almost) elderly parents. One more possibility is that (and username might find this interesting), scientifically minded people have recently become more in demand, so to speak. Decades ago it was a sex-cue liability, for some kids at least, to be fluent in math and the hardest sciences. Could it be that such people today are viewed more favorably by the opposite sex? Paul Collins (2004) makes the point that scientists, engineers, mathematicians and musicians are the most likely people to have autistic children. Could it be that we’re in the middle of a new selection trend?

 
 
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04 December 2012 00:14
 
nonverbal - 03 December 2012 10:32 PM

Was he a regular student in your class, Hannah? Did the other kids tend to want to harass him?

Also, I’ve been meaning to add a bit to the OP question—trauma during early childhood seems quite possibly to add to the risk of autism onset, as well as perhaps prenatal trauma. Another likely contributor is advanced age of the parents. Parents are getting older and older, and I’ve attended autism workshops filled with (almost) elderly parents. One more possibility is that (and username might find this interesting), scientifically minded people have recently become more in demand, so to speak. Decades ago it was a sex-cue liability, for some kids at least, to be fluent in math and the hardest sciences. Could it be that such people today are viewed more favorably by the opposite sex? Paul Collins (2004) makes the point that scientists, engineers, mathematicians and musicians are the most likely people to have autistic children. Could it be that we’re in the middle of a new selection trend?

You raise interesting questions, and I have the answer to only a few.  Otherwise, hypotheses.

Yes, he was in my regular (advanced 5th grade) math class.  The other kids were amazingly kind to him.  Schools have to purposely cultivate this sort of kindness.  Kids in general can tell that an autistic kid is different and can’t help it.  They never laughed at him, but they did get impatient or frustrated sometimes.  He was a difficult partner because he was loud, self-centered, and not a good sport at math games.  This particular boy was also hyperactive, so he tapped his pencil a lot and made other distractions.  A few kids were very tolerant and even helpful to him.  Others privately asked me if they could change seats away from him.  But I never saw anyone in my class be overtly mean to him.  I’m sure he got some different treatment out on the playground where teachers couldn’t hear everything.

One of my sons went through grade school with a lower-functioning autistic girl.  She sometimes had meltdowns or tantrums.  My son told me in about 2nd grade that all the kids liked the swings, but swinging was way more important to Lexie, so they always let her have one at recess.  I thought that was a gentle way to say it.

I’m not sure if age of parents is related to autism.  The kids I mention here had young-ish parents. 

The mother of the boy in my class had many characteristics like her son, but to a lesser degree.  She and her husband were both very intelligent.  Where her son was hyperactive, she was full of energy, or should I say she got more done in a day than anyone else I knew.  Where her son would perseverate on patterns, mom was super-organized.  Where her son took everything literally, mom was extremely practical.  They had a very special bond, and mom would explain things to him in a way that would help him understand how to get unstuck and make it through new situations.

So my hypothesis is that certain traits (like recognizing patterns) can be amplified to the point that they become a disability.  Not sure how this works.  The inability to interpret social cues does not seem to fit in with intelligence.  It is this deficit, rather than intelligence, that defines autism, and only a small proportion of autistic people are highly intelligent.

 
nv
 
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04 December 2012 00:34
 

Yes, most autistic people cannot be described as highly intelligent. Those few who can be so described though are pretty extraordinary, wouldn’t you say?

I’m glad to hear that the child in your class wasn’t being picked on or at least was not while under adult supervision. Those are the kids who will provide society with future expertise in the areas we’ve come to appreciate—narrowly focused and technologically brilliant. Billions of people are literally addicted to devices they (we) will never be able to understand on any but the most superficial level. This human condition will most likely only grow in intensity, wouldn’t you say?

 
 
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