Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

The new strategy of the antivaccination movement: Autism is a “misdiagnosis” for mitochondrial disease

I should have seen this one coming a mile away in light of the concession of vaccine injury in the case of one child that led to the incredibly shrinking causation claim when it comes to vaccines and autism. Having had it conclusively demonstrated through several large studies in multiple countries that mercury in vaccines does not cause autism (nor do vaccines themselves), the mercury militia are rapidly changing course. No longer is autism a “misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.”

Now it’s a “misdiagnosis for mitochondrial diseases.”

Or it soon will be. Just wait. The new propaganda from the mercury militia will be that autism is a result of mitochondrial diseases plus vaccines, just as they claimed before that it was due to the mercury in vaccines plus a “sensitivity” to mercury. (Of course, they only started to claim the sensitivity to mercury after studies failed to find any link between thimerosal and vaccines in large general populations.) Don’t believe this will happen? Think again:

Is Miss Hannah Poling patient #1 in the new paradigm for “The disorder formerly known as autism?” Perhaps we’lll come up with a really funky sign like Prince did? Was Hannah misdiagnosed with autism, when she actually had a mitochondrial disorder that was triggered by her childhood vaccines? If so, there may be tens of thousands of children who have been misdiagnosed. That opens up rather a large can of wigglers, doesn’t it?

Now that’s a really concentrated hunk o’ hunk o’ burnin’ stupid, but it really does show that everything old is new again, just this time with mitochondrial diseases. Indeed, the mercury militia is cranking up the propaganda mill with a press conference about this “concession” that “vaccines cause autism” (that is not any sort of admission that vaccines cause autism) to take place as this post shows up and an appearance of the parents on Larry King Live.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the press conference. Googling the phone numbers of the listed contact Todd Scott produces some rather interesting results in terms of the hits that it produces.

Unfortunately, this is not going away. As I have predicted many times, now that mercury in the thimerosal preservative in childhood vaccines is increasingly being exonerated by science as a cause or contributor to autism, antivaccinationists have latched on to another cause–a cause that involves vaccines of course. Never mind that mitochondrial diseases are very rare. Indeed, there are only a handful of patients reported in the medical literature with mutations in the same gene in which the child above has a mutation. Never mind that it could well be that mitochondrial diseases alone might be implicated in a small number of autism-like conditions without needing to invoke the involvement of mercury or vaccines. To the antivaccinationist, it’s not so much about the autism as it is about the vaccines. It’s all about the vaccines. It’s always been all about the vaccines. It will always be all about the vaccines.

I hazard a new prediction: Just as the antivaccinationists pivoted on a dime to start invoking other “toxins” in vaccines as a cause of autism when studies consistently failed to find a link to mercury in vaccines, overnight, a veritable cottage industry of quackery related to mitochondrial diseases will pop up, just as chelation therapy and other “biomedical interventions” designed to “detoxify” mercury poisons were the quackery of choice for autism a couple of years ago. Indeed, chelation therapy will now be viewed as so 2005. It’ll be time to get with the program and entere 2008, when “treatments” for mitochondrial disorders will be the big “in” thing for autism quackery. I also can’t resist hazarding another prediction: As science, as seems quite likely, increasingly shows that this “vaccines plus mitochondrial disease” has no more validity than the mercury claim, antivaccinationists will find another condition to latch on to as the One True Cause of autism. The only thing it will share in common with previous One True Causes of autism like mercury (and now mitochondrial disorders) is that somehow, some way, it will have as part of its hypothesis that it’s vaccines that cause autism.

That’s because it’s all about the vaccines–period.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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