John Stone Posted - 11/07/2006 :  14:38:28

Peter Fletcher/Anne Dachel on the Autism Epidemic

This is an exchange of letters yesterday between Peter Fletcher, former chief scientist at the Department of Health, and Anne Dachel (reproduced with permission):

Dear Anne

Perhaps the following may be of some help.

I think many people are having the same problems with autism and genes as you are. It appears that we are stuck with the term "autism" even though it is impossible to define with any precision. I suppose it does not matter as long as everyone understands that it is not a single abnormal condition but a cluster of different disorders having some signs and symptoms in common.

There is little doubt that what we might call "old fashioned" autism, as it was before 15 or so years ago, probably had predominantly genetic origins although even then other factors may have triggered the disorder.

There is absolutely no doubt that in the USA and the UK the number of cases of autism being diagnosed has reached epidemic proportions.

It has been suggested that this not a real increase but is due to increased awareness and/or new classifications. If that is so then there must have been the same number of cases prior to the observed increase as there have been since. All efforts to identify these earlier cases in both the USA and the UK have failed. There are only two possible reasons for the absence of earlier cases. They could all have been spontaneously cured in the intermediate period (which would strongly suggest that they were not autism cases) or they could all have died. Both of these possibilities seem remotely unlikely. The conclusion has to be that the increase is real.

There are only two possibilities to account for this increase. The cause could be due to an inherent or "internal" patient factor or it could be an "external" factor. For all practical purposes the only inherent cause would be genetic, either congenital from a parent or a gene mutation in the child. Whichever may be the case it would necessitate the coincidental occurrence, in about the year 1990, of precisely the same genetic mutation in thousands of individuals in both the USA and the UK. As far as I am aware this has never happened in the billions of years of evolution so this would be a first of monumental proportions.

The observed increase in autism in such a short period of time (15-20 years) therefore has to be real and to have external causality.

I invite all those who disagree with these statements to offer a more plausible conclusion. One of Sir Austin Bradford Hill's criteria of causality is biological plausibility. At the present time the only plausible cause(s) may be attributed to vaccination/toxic substances/immune challenge. Could all those wise people who know better than others please come forward with their much needed plausible causes. We might then have a list of possibilities that can be tested by a well tried assortment of research methods. This, in turn, would have a reasonable chance of solving our problems and bring the mindless bickering to an end.

It is of the utmost urgency that wide ranging research, with the aim of identifying possible external causal factors, be initiated without delay on an international basis.

My starting proposal would be to create a detailed case registry of as many patients as possible with full medical histories, clinical signs and symptoms, investigations and therapy. My experience from the UK litigation has revealed many unusual medical histories. For example, how many affected children have presented with gait disturbance and tip-toe walking? Does this correlate with cerebellar dysfunction? It is certainly temporally associated with vaccination, is it also causally associated? Positive rechallenge reactions have been reported following booster doses. How many such reactions would be required by sceptics to make them reassess their conclusions?

Instead of repeated denials of parents claims, could the sceptics of vaccination/toxic substances/immune challenge being causal discontinue their entirely negative attitude and give us something more positive. I could accept their disbelief if they supported it with convincing alternatives, but none have been forthcoming.

Until such alternatives appear the claimant parents and children are winning the competition. This is like a good boxing match: all the telling punches are coming from the challenger.

Peter Fletcher MB BS MSc PhD FFPM (Dist)

Dear Peter,

Thank you for spelling out the reality of the autism epidemic and the science that must be addressed to rationally explain the numbers.

I will use these points in future and quote your expert opinion.

My real fear is that the truth will continue to be covered up, despite the number of autistic individuals in our midst. I say this because I have for years seen the press fail overwhelmingly to investigate this issue. News articles everywhere still repeat the baseless claims of the federal health agencies that "there is no evidence of harm" from using mercury in vaccines with unconscionable levels of exposure. "Studies show no link" and "better diagnosing/greater awareness" have been the continual mantra of the federal health officials. I have sent the scientific research to challenge the bogus claims, and the press rarely responds. I can't understand why they don't question the absurd explanations that haven't changed in five years and make no sense in the face of all the kids diagnosed autistic.

Not only has the press bought it, but so has the medical community along with the education system. These are the people dealing first hand with the epidemic number of disabled kids and they should be demanding answers and I know from personal experience that they're not.

We only need look at the tobacco industry and the years it took to wake the public up to the damage caused by smoking. The press, influenced by the revenue generated by cigarette ads, failed to cover the mounting independent research done by top scientists linking lung cancer and other deadly diseases to smoking.

I got interested in this parallel after hearing about "Tell the Truth and Run" by journalist George Seldes. He was the lone voice in the 1940's and 50's publishing the research that was never covered in the mainstream press. In fact, the big name newspapers and magazines were printing the opposite findings, i.e. the studies done by the tobacco industry showing no health risk. Smoking increased dramatically during that time with idiotic ads like, "More doctors surveyed smoke Camels" and "Your doctor says 'Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.' "

Smoking related deaths went from 100,000 to 200,000, to 400,000 deaths per year till finally, the press had to recognize the truth.

I'm sure the science was undeniable involving smoking, we just never heard it. Propaganda was published and the public bought it.

The stories out of Britain in the last day two days are especially disturbing. Housing for disabled adults faces cash crisis
This reports on the shortage of facilities for adults with learning disabilities and autism.They use the words, "growing problem" and "cash crisis" yet we all know this is just the tip of the ice berg compared to the masses of disabled adults that are coming.

What will articles be saying when there are 1,000's of "people waiting to be housed," instead of 136?

The second story that was covered in a lot of places in Britain was the stunning one about the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology call for active euthanasia of disabled newborms.

Debate on baby killing
Doctors call for baby euthanasia

I have to wonder if the stage is being set for the new explanation for all the people people with autism. This time, will we be told that all the autism is the result of newborn survival? Actually, my son's doctor told us five years ago that most of the autistic kids are ones that would never have survived gestation previously. He was also a proponent of the genetic autism theory. All the wrong people are reproducing. Talks with him usually left my head swimming.

Peter, look at all the science, literally volumes, that are out there and still the top officials continue to deny the reality of all these children. These people have no choice but to defend the myth, and they'll come up with all the lies they have to and feed them to the gullible press and public. This is not about the science or the truth any longer.

It is my belief that there are simply too many well-informed parents now. People who have nothing to do for the rest of their lives than to exposure this cover-up. It keeps me going.

Thank you again for the information.