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So what’s the deal with aluminum in vaccines, anyway? Part II

As I was saying in Part I, it’s important to look at what happens to the aluminum adjuvant compound particles once they enter the body, in order to understand where and how they end up.

Again, I’m not making claims to be an expert in chemistry, human physiology or even math, so if any bona fide experts find errors of substance or calculation, please let me know.

Not all parenteral administration is the same

Sears conflates all methods of parenteral (i.e, not via the gut) administration of aluminum as being exactly the same, and thus compares the amount of aluminum given in intravenous solutions to that injected intramuscularly/subcutaneously in vaccines, and is astonished such a relatively large amount is allowed in vaccines. However, this comparison is not, in my opinion, a valid one.

It’s important to remember that aluminum compounds can only bind to carrier proteins and enter the blood, brain and other organs as individual molecules in a solution. That is the state in which they’re injected IV. However, vaccine adjuvants are purposely constructed to form large – 2-5 micron particles, which are not visible to the naked eye, but huge on a molecular scale – crystals/chunks of aluminum compound. It makes about as much sense to compare the two methods as it does to compare the IV administration of 20ml of a 50% glucose solution to implanting a 10gr piece of (glucose only) rock candy inside a muscle. Sure, you’ve inserted 10 grams of glucose into the body either way. But which method of administration do you think will have more profound an effect?

In order for the glucose in the rock candy to reach the bloodstream, it would need to be dissolved in the interstital fluid and be carried from there, via the lymphatic system, to the blood. The same thing needs to happen to the aluminum compound particles: the aluminum needs to dissolve into the interstitial fluid, apparently with the help of weak acids existant in this fluid, and this doesn’t happen all at once. It’s very much like a slow-release mechanism of a drug, if you will.

So what happens to the adjuvant after IM administration?

Unfortunately, there is only one study which looks at the distribution of aluminum derived from vaccine adjuvants injected IM – an animal study, no less! – and that is
Flarend et al (1997). The sutdy in full is not available for free online, but there is online what looks like a draft with the relevant text in .doc form, minus the tables and figures (which I’ll provide if relevant). While one may be inclined to dismiss a mere animal study, keep in mind that the animals involved (New Zealand white rabbits) weighed about as much as a small newborn human (2.5-2.8kg at the beginiing of the sutdy, 3.2-3.7kg at the end of it), and we’re still talking about fellow mammals here. So while the analogy to human infants is probably far from perfect and human studies should most certainly be done, it’s still somewhere in the ballpark and we can, I think legitimately draw a few conclusions from this study.

Flarend and colleagues used 6 rabbits for their experiment. Two of them were injected IM with 850 micrograms (mcg) of aluminum in the form of Al hydroxide vaccine adjuvant (the maximum amount of aluminum the FDA allows in a single vaccine, to remind you) and another two were given a similar IM dose of aluminum in Al phosphate form. The aluminum isotope used was the synthetic 26Al, so that the vaccine-derived aluminum’s path through and out of the body could be easily traced. The fifth rabbit was given 850mcg of aluminum citrate (as solution) IV, and the sixth – 850mcg of IM aluminum phosphate using regular 27Al (as a control for cross-contamination of the samples). They then repeatedly checked the rabbits’ blood and urine levels of 26Al, and at the end of the 28-day experiment, sacrificed the animals and examined how much 26Al had concentrated in various tissues of the body in the interval.

The researchers found that after 28 days, only 17% of the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant dose, on average, and only 51% of the aluminum phosphate had been absorbed from the muscle into the bloodstream (for some reason, people often quote these figures as being the amount eliminated from the body after 28 days, but a simple and careful reading of the text shows this to be erroneous). Of the total dose, 6% of the aluminum from the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant was excreted in the urine after those 28 days, as opposed to 22% from the aluminum phosphate. Though this demonstrates that aluminum phosphate is more soluble (about 3 times more soluble, in fact) in the interstitial fluid than aluminum hydroxide, the fact is that either adjuvant will take several months to completely clear from the body. Therefore, Dr. Sears’ method of spreading out the shots month by month, especially in the early months when many shots are given simultaneously, is unlikely to make that much of a difference regarding the elimination of aluminum.

The maximum increase in total aluminum blood levels in the rabbits was found to have been 2 nanograms (nanogram=1/1000th of a microgram, or 1 billionth of a gram) per mililiter, above a normal level (for rabbits) of 30ng/ml. The authors caclulate that when a similar adjuvant dose is given to an adult human, this will result in a rise of 0.04ng/ml over a baseline mormal value of 5ng/ml – which would be completely undetectable but for the extremely sensitive methods of detection used for the 26Al isotope. If we’re talking about a ~3kg baby (about the same weight as the rabbits), the 6% rise in blood aluminum values would translate into a rise of 0.3ng/ml (i.e, the babies would have 5.3ng/ml aluminum levels instead of 5.0). Not exactly something to write home about, especially when you consider that the same dose of aluminum in the rabbit given it intravenously, saw a whopping 2000% rise in its blood aluminum concentration (an increase of 600ng/ml). (Edited to add: Even if the rise is in absolute terms, i.e 2ng/ml per vaccine, no baby would reach anything resembling toxic blood levels even if several vaccines were administered simultaneously).

What’s even more interesting is the minute amounts of aluminum which ends up in the body’s solid tissues after those 28 days. Figure 3 of the paper (shown below, click on the thumbnail for full-sized graphic) demonstrates these amounts graphically:

As you can see, the amount of aluminum that accumulated in those 28 days was on the order of 0.1ng/gram wet weight of rabbit brain for the aluminum hydroxide, and about 0.3ng/gr wet weight for aluminum phosphate (the text clarifies that 2.9 times the amount of aluminum was deposited in the tissues in the rabbits who received aluminum phosphate adjuvant).

Given this data from this study, let’s do a little calculation that purposely exaggerates the amount of aluminum a baby will get, and see if we can raise the aluminum levels in his brain to toxic levels. I repeat, this calculation is both very exaggerated and very simplified, so please don’t quote me as saying “brain aluminum levels will rise by X% as a result of vaccines”. This is a maximum number – the real amount of aluminum from vaccines that ends up in the brain is most likely to be much lower (and should, in fact, be determined by research).

Until the age of 18 months, a baby can, at most, receive up to 17 aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines, according to the 2008 childhood vaccine schedule (Hep B X3, DTaP X4, Pneumococcal vaccine X4, Hib X4, and Hep A X2). Let’s assume that our hypothetical baby is getting all 17, separately (no combination vaccines), each of them containing the maximum 850mcg of aluminum. Let’s also assume half the vaccines have aluminum phosphate adjuvant and half Al hydroxide (some have both, actually), and that the rate of dissolution of the adjuvant and its entry into the blood happens at the same rate as seen in the rabbits for 18 months (not likely in real life; the rate of the dose entering the blood would likely taper off after a few months due to the decreasing dose of adjuvant in the body).

In which case, such a baby would accumulate 0.2ng(average between 0.1 and 0.3) x 17 vaccines X 18 months = 61.2ng/g wet weight of brain.

The average newborn’s brain weighs ~350gr; by 18 months it weights about 1.2kg (1200 grams). Let’s pretend, for ease of calculation, that the baby’s brain weighs 1kg (1000 grams) on average throughout. Hence, 61.2ng/g *1000 grams = 61.2mcg/kg (or 0.0612mcg/gram) will collect in the baby’s brain from those 17 vaccines.

For the next step, we’ll convert this figure to dry weight of brain (you’ll see why in a minute). As the human brain is ~75% water, if we were to squeeze all the water out of it, the concentration of aluminum in the brain would increase by a factor of 4. Hence, we’ll have an accumulation of 0.0612mcg/g X 4 aluminum = 0.2448mcg is added to each gram of brain tissue (dry weight) as a result of all 17 of those aluminum-loaded vaccines.

The Priest review (remember I told you to keep it open in another tab?) has, on page 12/29 of the .pdf file (under section 5.4, “aluminum in the brain”), in the right-hand column, various estimates of aluminum content of normal human brains by dry weight:

(The various measurements just wouldn’t C&P properly, hence the screenshot). As you can see, the amount of aluminum in neurologically normal human brains ranges from about 0.5-2+ micrograms per gram of dry weight of brain. Compare that to the extra ~0.25mcg per gram added by the vaccines (and to remind you, that is most likely an extreme exaggeration of the amount)…the amount falls well within the standard error of some of the measurements!

OK, that’s the math lesson for today :). But I hope I’ve made clear that, unless rabbits and humans are as physiologically distant as rabbits and glow-worms, it’s extremely unlikely that huge amounts of aluminum are getting into, and poisoning, babies’ brains as a result of the aluminum in vaccines. Mind you, if you think anything less than perfect knowledge isn’t enough, consider the information we have about the safety of medicines during pregnancy and nursing, which doctors (and “natural” parents) use every day: most of what we know in that field is a result of animal experiments and empirical evidence of harm (or lack thereof), not detailed toxicological studies or randomized controlled trials.

So where do we go on from here?

As I said in Part I, even though all signs indicate the amount of aluminum in vaccines is entirely benign, the research in humans still needs to be done. It’s technically feasible, though probably extremely costly, to take a bunch of babies, give them the full course of vaccines specially made so their aluminum adjuvants contain 26Al, and subject them to either regular urine samples and needlesticks (essentially, what Pichichero did with thimerosal), or/and periodical total-body scans to see which organs picked up the labelled aluminum. I’m not sure I’d volunteer my baby for such a lengthly ordeal, especially since the babies would probably need to be sedated regularly (perhaps with chloral hydrate) for the scans.

Another option is to inject (intramuscularly!!) the labelled adjuvants into adult volunteers, who can consent to all the interventions and lie still for the scans without sedation. Yet another, though even more expensive, possibility would be to take 2 groups of infant monkeys and dose them according to the infant vaccine schedule – either with or without 26Al-labelled adjuvants (hopefully, avoiding the pitfalls other researchers have stumbled into). You could even try and teach them some tricks at the end of the experiment, and see if there are any cognitive differences between the two groups.

Either way, if people stop vaccinating because of scare campaigns like those against thimerosal and aluminum…the results will be far, far more costly.

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39 Responses

  1. Thank you! I’ll admit that after reading Dr. Sears’ book, even though it was blatantly obvious that his aluminum fear were unfounded, I was left with a nagging concern about aluminum anyway. It’s nice to have some actual evidence to back up the claim that the aluminum levels aren’t a problem. It would be nice to get some human studies, but I can’t imagine signing up one of my children to be a guinea pig.

  2. Esther, I think you did a wonderful analysis with the available data (which, yes, is lacking). The most important aspect was your background information and ability to put it into layman’s terms, well done.

    SM

  3. Very interesting, thank you.

  4. Does a combined vaccine like Pediarix have less aluminum than the total of each of the vaccines given separately? If so it would seem that this is another way the anti-vaxers shoot themselves in the foot.

  5. The Pediarix happens to have about the maximum dose, but Pentacel has much less so it really depends upon what you’re getting. I enclosed this table in Part I of this post. However, IMO, parents shouldn’t feel the need to be counting Al micrograms in the first place.

    SM, Ksenia and Lisa – Thanks :) .

  6. But Ester, more importantly, how was your vacation? What was the best part?

    I am starting to think the global warming is causing all the autism. It did start about the same time. J/K……

  7. I agree that parents should feel the need to to count the micrograms, but I have a funny feeling that people will do it anyway as part of their ‘research’.

  8. Pinky – I already mentioned in the comments of another thread the vacation was mahvelous! The best place? I think Ein Tina (not my photo)…a beautiful pool with fish fed by a stream that ends (begins?) in a waterfall. And surrounded by yummy wild blackberry bushes!

  9. From the NY Times: Vaccinations of Toddlers Set a Record. I guess the anti-vaxers aren’t as influential as we feared.

  10. I appreciate both of these posts on aluminum so much. Thanks for explaining this in a way that I can (kind of) understand. I have a question though–I understand that those vaccines which contain adjuvants should be given IM rather than SC, for the reasons you have detailed very well, and I think that live virus vaccines like MMR are given SC, is that correct? If a vaccine containing an adjuvant is inadvertantly administered SC, or a live virus vaccine is administered IM would the efficacy of the vaccine be greatly effected? And how much would SC administration of an adjuvated vaccine affect the pharmacokinetics of the vaccine?

  11. Wanted to add–I thought that it was important to avoid SC administration of an adjuvated vaccine mostly because it would cause more local irritation, but not that it would make any difference in the immunogenicity of the vaccine, but I really don’t know why it would be preferable to give a live virus vaccine SC.

  12. Alex – I know that the MMR and the Varicella vax are administered SC. I don’t know if anyone’s studied the effects of inadvertent SC administration of adjuvanted vaccines, to be honest. The basic idea of the particles needing to dissolve interstitial fulid would probably be the same, but the difference may be in the amount and composition of such fluid in the subcutaneous fatty tissue vs. muscle tissue. I really don’t know which way the effect would go, however.

  13. Li – that’s great news, though the vax coverage obviously varies greatly according to state/region, hence the measles and mumps (OK the latter was in Canada so it may not count) outbreaks in certain areas.

  14. Please consider the following study.
    http://snipurl.com/shots

  15. I am a new parent researching all the information surrounding vaccines. I found your article interesting, but the blog disappointing with all the “anti-vax” talk. Parents just want choices and easy to understand information….

    • I’m sorry you’re disappointed, but I don’t see this (vaccinating vs. not) as a choice between chocolate and vanilla – and I’m fairly laissez-faire about many other parenting decisions that others aren’t. The position advocating not to vaccinate one’s children is based upon hysteria, half-truths and outright lies, and I make no secret of where, exactly, I stand on this issue. Though compared to some others, I think I put it fairly mildly…

    • I agree.

  16. Excuse me, trying to follow, but the wet rabbit brain weight chart says mg/g not ng/g. hello?

    Also, what does 1E-8, 1E-7 etc mean.

    I would LOVE to read a compelling argument that vaccines are safe, but…haven’t found it yet. And the attitude is NOT good for credibility.

    Also, there is nothing that says that there aren’t threshholds after which metabolic effects CHANGE. Like, alcohol can get you buzzed, drunk, or poisoned.

    We take tiny pills every day on faith that some minute quantity of something has a terrific effect. Or, pardon me, not on faith, it can come to be based on experience.

    Yet we are supposed to believe a sheer quantity argument about injecting babies and children, whose systems differ from adults, never mind rabbits.

    And we are supposed to think we are being smart and not notice that it doesn’t say mg/g, it says ng/g.

    Who pays you?

    • Let’s see: You admit you don’t understand me, therefore you accuse me of fudging the numbers and allege that I must be in someone’s pay. And I’m the one with the ‘tude?!

      As to the explanation: The E’s in the Flarend graph stand for exponents of 10 (a not very common and IMO awkward notation) – each mark on the Y axis is X10 the mark below it. Namely, 1E-6 would be 1*10^-6, or one millionth of a milligram per gram wet weight brain. One millionth of a milligram=1 nanogram. The brain aluminum levels measured in the bunnies on Flarend’s graph fall between the 1E-6 and 1E-7 range…namely, the tenths of a nanogram range.

      Is that perhaps clearer?

      It is theoretically possible that human brains have an extreme affinity to aluminum, hence what happens in the bunnies doesn’t necessarily apply. Which is why I said that human studies would be more informative. And no, babies’ “systems” are not so different from adults’ (though the rabbits used were also babies, mind) as you pretend. However, we are still both mammals and the the assessment is probably good enough. Also, if human brains were much more likely to uptake aluminum than rabbit brains, we’d expect to see Priest finding much more aluminum in human brains. The brain is exposed over a lifetime to far greater quantities of aluminum than those in vaccines, after all. The brains examined in Priest were of neurologically normal people, to remind you. To argue that the men the brains belonged to suffered from some neurological impairment too subtle to detect from those low aluminum levels is simply an argument in bad faith. There is enough in the literature about people with aluminum poisoning to know that these people didn’t have it.

      Most medicines we take are in the mg or tenths of mg range, and are biologically active compounds designed to have an effect.

      By the way, since I wrote this, I’ve found out that Doc Sears is an advisor to Andrew Wakefield’s Thoughtful House and a DAN! doctor, to boot. If you’re going to accuse someone of lying to the public for pay, you might want to look into his financial interest in keeping the ‘vaccines are unsafe’ lie alive…

      • Roberts Sears does not say ‘vaccines are unsafe’. He advocated for vaccines and gives parents information on which to make decisions,
        much the same as you are trying to do.

  17. Thank you for this post! I am a recovering non-vaxer trying to un-learn several years of misinformation, and you aluminum breakdown has been very reassuring.

  18. Hi,

    I love it when people refer to anti-vaxers as using ‘scare’ tactics when pro-vaxers employ the same tactics (grossly misrepresenting the occurrence of certain illnesses for instance relative to severe reactions to the vaccines). As someone who has taken a neutral approach and researched all the available literature regarding incidence rates I have chosen to selectively vaccinate by skipping pneumococcus, given that it is virtually non-existent in the under-2 risk group when breastfed, not in day care, and not living with a smoker. Not to mention that the strains in the available vaccine have been all but eliminated via herd immunity anyway. We are also delaying MMR until the age of 4 since the illnesses it protects against rarely occur in children under 5 and most often present as a low-grade fever when they do). I caught measles and mumps as a child and did just fine. Anyway, thanks for the informative article.

    • Um, if you’re looking for a gold star for your selective vaxing, you’re not about to get one here. Your information regarding the VPD’s mentioned is simply incorrect. In fact, one of tne of the first posts on this blog was about a baby miserably ill with measles.

    • Good informative articles.

      Kieran, I can see that you are of the “tough love” parenting style. What can’t kill you can only make you stronger. If your kids get measles and/or mumps, what’s a little fever or cough going to do? A little unneccessary suffering never hurt anyone. I just hope they don’t get complications like bronchitis or pneumonia…. or encephalitis but then they’d just be REALLY lucky.

      Also, do you understand how herd immunity works? It’s people like you who may be the cause of why outbreaks of VPDs are occuring all over the place.

  19. Hi Esther, In the reading I have done about aluminum toxicity the concern is not necessarily the build up in the body (although that is an issue), but the elevation of the Th2 response caused by the aluminum adjuvant. An overactive Th2 response has been linked with chronic illnesses like bowel disease, autism, adhd, inflammatory bowel disease among many others. The role of aluminum in vaccines is specifically to achieve an elevated Th2 response. In terms of the build up in the body, a question re the study you analysed is whether they also injected any polysorbate into the rabbits? Polysorbate acts to make the blood brain barrier more porous and is contained in many vaccines vastly altering the aluminums ability to enter and remain in the body. Would be very interested in reading a Part 3 that addressed some of the more recent research – particularly the elevated Th2 concerns.

  20. Esther, what do you think about these two research about aluminium killing significant amount of neurons?

    http://www.whale.to/vaccine/Petrik%20et%20al.,%20Lo2007.pdf

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819810/pdf/nihms171746.pdf

    • What exactly am I supposed to think about those “two research” (which are essentially two nearly identical experiments)? Even assuming Gulf War Syndrome is real and the research was sound , is there an epidemic of motor-neuron deficits in children that could be plausibly tied to aluminum in vaccines? At least we all agree that, for whatever reasons, the incidence of autism diagnoses is rising.

      Though you might be interested to know that Christopher Shaw, the lead author of those papers and a known anti-vaxer, tried to insinuate that aluminum in vaccines is the cause of autism as well (apparently forgetting that correlation is not causation, since his thesis was that children are getting more vaccines with aluminum adjuvants and they now supposedly have more autism). You can read about it here.

  21. I have some issues and questions. I really hope you can answer these.
    (1) The Priest review aluminum concentration per brain weight you used does not appear to be based on an infant. (But your link doesn’t work so I haven’t seen the full paper.) It wouldn’t seem surprising to find un-vaccinated infant aluminum brain concentrations orders of magnitude lower than adult ones, they are brand spanking new and might be constructed that way, and I don’t know of any basis for denying such a low aluminum might be essential to neural development, especially since injecting the vaccine schedule into baby monkeys was claimed to cause brain development issues by Hewitson et al. and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21568886 reports a range of issues with aluminum. Comment?
    (2) Priest’s discussion of blood measurements appears to falsify Offit’s repeated claim that vaccines don’t create a measurable rise in blood aluminum. Apparently it can be measured.
    (3) Your discussion of the slow entry of aluminum appears likely to explain away the Cochrane review you cite. Since I don’t think anybody questions the assertion that Doctors report less than 10% of adverse vaccine events (I’m open to correction if you have a citation) it is suspect anyway. However, I presume (please correct me if I’m wrong)
    that vaccine side effect events would have counted in this study only if they immediately followed the vaccination. Since the aluminum reaching the blood is spread out over over weeks and months, the study is presumably worthless for measuring aluminum side effects which would likely be longer term. Also it seems likely that over this period the children might have received other vaccines, clouding the study in another way.
    (4) Offit argues that breastfeeding infants receive 10 mg of aluminum from breast feeding and 4 mg from the vaccine schedule over the first 6 months. (40mg from formula).
    http://www.chop.edu/export/download/pdfs/articles/vaccine-education-center/aluminum.pdf
    However, only .25% of dietary aluminum makes it to the bloodstream, most being directly eliminated, whereas virtually all the parenteral aluminum eventually does. So in fact the total load from injections appears to be 160 times the load from breast-feeding in the first 6 months.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21568886
    This suggests the deposits in the brain will be 160 times from vaccines what they are from breast feeding. Comment?
    (5) The aluminum is introduced to the vaccines because it inflames the immune system. So we know, however low it is in absolute terms, it is enough to be active. The assertion that it is released into the system over weeks and months appears to suggest that in some people it may keep the immune system (and perhaps the brain) inflamed over this whole period. Comment?

    • Sorry it took a while to get back to you – I don’t check the blog every day.

      1. The aluminum measurements in the Priest paper are of adult cadavers who in life, were known to be neurologically normal. Their aluminum content would be reflective of whatever aluminum sources they were exposed to during their lives, including vaccinations. The point was to demonstrate that vaccines (even in the highly exaggerated schedule I posited) contribute a minuscule amount of aluminum to the total. Laura Hewitson’s monkeys are not proof of anything but the desperation of a mother with severe conflicts of interest (see here), nor are the speculations of Shaw and Tomljenovic (have you read the full article? More on them later).

      2. I can’t speak for Dr.Offit (though he’s quite accessible via email so you can ask him yourself), but I suspect he meant that the rise is tiny, which it is, not that it’s literally not measurable. It’s kind of a nitpick, if you ask me.

      3. Since the overwhelming majority of vaccine reactions from aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines are local ones, I don’t see how the slow entry into the bloodstream of aluminum has anything to do with it. Also, anyone, not just doctors, can report to VAERS, and the database tends to underreport mild alleged reactions while overreport severe ones (operative word here is “alleged”). If you’re implying there are hidden cases of severe reactions to aluminum adjuvants not reported and happening months later, the burden of proof is on you. Also, the Cochrane report is a systematic review that covers several studies from different sources.

      4. You’ll have to take that up with Dr. Offit, But I agree that only a small fraction of the aluminum ingested is taken up by the body and said as much. However, people ingest a lot more food than they receive vaccines over their lifetime, and I see no need to limit the observation to 6 months. Solid food often has a much higher aluminum content than either breastmilk or formula (see here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019791).

      5. You’re confusing a tiny localized inflammation with a generalized inflammatory state. There are thousands if not millions of local inflammatory processes all over the body at any given moment,as our bodies are constantly being bombarded by foreign antigens.

      6. Seriously? Gaia-health? You find that site or any argument it makes credible?!
      The posts takes a legimitate study from PNAS comparing neurotypical and autistic boys’ brain volumes and finding the latter have larger brains. It then speculates, with no evidence whatsoever, that this has something to do with vaccines. That’s known as the “Global Warming is due to lack of pirates” argument (aka “correlation is not causation”) demonstrated so nicely here, in this case referring to another speculative paper written by…surprise, surprise, anti-vaxers Shaw and co.!

      • (1) The vaccines may make a small contribution to lifetime aluminum, as you note, but they appear to make up the vast majority in the first year of life, a time when the brain has likely been evolved to develop properly in a very low aluminum environment. That vaccines contribute 100′s of times as much aluminum as diet in the first months of life was confirmed, incidentally, in another paper I found recently, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X02001652
        Under the circumstances, it would not seem at all surprising if such huge amounts of aluminum cost infants multiple IQ points on average, or caused autism or asthma in more sensitive individuals. What reason do you have for believing that these things are not happening? Supposedly vaccines are proven safe, so where is the proof?

        Ad hominem attacks on Hewitson do not change the fact that she was the first to inject the vaccine schedule into monkeys, and that she found developmental brain damage in some of them. If you don’t like the fact that Hewitson perhaps had a conflict of interest, I would ask you why nobody ever did this obvious experiment before, perhaps with more monkeys? Shouldn’t an experiment like this have been done *before* it was declared safe to inject so many vaccines into such young children in the whole population? What otherwise is the basis for claiming the schedule is “safe”?

        Nature’s marvel: building an intelligent brain is a very complex and highly programmed task of which we have very little understanding. It would not be at all surprising to find it disrupted with a substantial increase of a neurotoxin.

        (2) I raise the issue because the CHOP guide http://www.chop.edu/export/download/pdfs/articles/vaccine-education-center/aluminum.pdf
        conflates dietary and parenteral aluminum in a way seemingly calculated to give most every reader the idea that the amount of aluminum from vaccines is not much greater than that from dietary sources. When you take into account the fact that perhaps 0.25% of dietary aluminum makes it into the bloodstream, but all of the parenteral aluminum eventually does, the vaccine load is in fact much much greater in the first six months of life, which it discusses. And contrary to the claim that it is not measurable or somehow unimportant, the aluminum is only there precisely because it is present in biologically active amounts, to inflame the immune system.

        (6) Again you resort to ad hominem attacks, rather than dealing with the substance of the claim. They did not speculate with “no evidence whatsoever”. They pointed out that the inflammation appeared at roughly the times that might be expected if it were caused by the vaccine schedule. The aluminum adjuvants are known to inflame the immune system, and the brain is known to be very sensitive to aluminum. What is absurd is the claim that the finding of brain inflammation in autistics somehow absolves vaccines.

        • 1) Since neither the amount of aluminum from vaccines nor from dietary sources is anywhere near the toxic level, this is a non-sequitur. Keith was wrong and the explanation why is in my blogpost (basically, he conflates IM and IV administration). It might interest you to know that 3 years later, a team of researchers came to the same conclusion and published more accurate results than mine : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22001122 .

          There is no *reilable* evidence to date that the vaccine schedule is in any way causative of autism in any child – and the schedule is constantly tested in real life and in context of adding new vaccines to a given schedule. Laura Hewitson’s ad-hominem is well deserved – she was attempting to sue the gov’t at the time for vaccines causing her son’s autism, her husband is (or was) on the board of Andrew Wakefield’s Thoughtful House, and in fact her research was done with Wakefield, a known fraud. So even before we mention the many criticisms of her ‘research’ (seen here), her COI, some of which were not disclosed by her, are very relevant.

          2) As I said before, the arousal of the immune system (the aluminum adjuvant’s purpose) is very small and local to the injection site. Whatever aluminum gets to the bloodstream is largely cleared immediately by the kidneys, and only a tiny fraction is even seen by the brain and there is no evidence it causes any widespread inflammation (or anything else) in the minuscule amounts uptaken.

          6) Gaia-health isn’t a reliable website, sorry. it uses conspiratory language and bad science to make its points. A prime example of bad science is taking a study which measures brain volume in autistic and normal children and deciding *out of the blue* that because the timing correlates with vaccine administration, vaccines are responsible ecause they cause brain swelling (not mentioned at all in the original article). Of course, there could be a million and one other culprits, or no cuplrit at all, but Gaia-health decided it must be vaccines, because that’s their pet cause. As i pointed out (and you really should have read the link I added there), that’s confusing correlation with causation (and a very weak correlation at that) and nothing more than a flight of fantasy on the part of Gaia-health (sheesh. What next, whale.to?)

          • (1) (a) Mitkus et al make two main changes to Keith et al. (Thanks for the link.) The most important by far is to add/assume a substantial baseline aluminum for infants at birth (a question you may note I asked about in my first reply.) This is estimated from blood aluminum concentrations at birth. I don’t yet consider this estimate reliable enough for my newborn, because the newborn brain could have been evolved/constructed to be anomalously low compared to the blood, and they in fact mention that the placenta has mechanisms in place to try to restrict aluminum reaching the fetus. This indicates that in injecting aluminum we are bypassing 3 different filters evolution has developed to keep it out: the placenta filtering it, the mother’s providing very low aluminum breast milk, and the dietary system filtering 99.75% of aluminum. In my opinion, you should be very cautious about bypassing 3 filters.

            The second is to assume a much slower release from parenteral injection. Keith et al relied on a source for their estimate, Mitkus relies on a different source, Valenti, for their radically different estimate. Valenti’s results are admittedly based entirely on injections into 2 rabbits. This also seems to be an issue that should be pinned down better, among other reasons since it seems to be integral to the whole model (that you seem to be discussing) of adjuvants inflaming the immune system locally but not globally.

            The results of their changes are that they agree the vaccine aluminum is several orders of magnitude higher than the dietary aluminum, but claim this is less important compared to the aluminum already present, and not spiking over the MRL.

            So we come to the MRL. According to Keith et al, the MRL was determined by feeding aluminum to adult mice until they became visibly unable to move well, and dividing that concentration by 3 for safety and 10 for human variability. I would seriously like to know if you think that is a valid basis to try to judge whether aluminum is stripping 5 IQ points off newborn human babies.

            Incidentally, there is a possible factor of 3 the wrong way in Keith and Mitkus’s guesstimate of dietary absorption. they assume 3/4 % absorbed. Keith made explicit this is a guess. But Tomjanevic cited a source that measured 1/4 % absorbed in animal studies. So the dietary aluminum could well be a factor 3 higher than Keith or Mitkus use.

            These guys
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0162013413001773
            injected something like the vaccine schedule into mice, and found it causes neurological problems.

            (1)(b) You are defending ad hominem attacks with other ad hominem attacks. If you want to talk about conflicts of interest, why don’t we talk about your conflicts of interest? Am I wrong in thinking that you are a doctor who has injected vaccines, and profited financially from them?
            And at the same time a mother who would have very complicated emotions about learning that you really should have read the literature with a more open mind before injecting your own kids, maybe you cost them 10 IQ points each? And that you would likely wind up stigmatized in your social group and probably harmed professionally if you were to suddenly do a reverse on vaccines and advise not to use them because you concluded they were dangerous?

            As to your link allegedly debunking Hewitson’s research, its virtually entirely ad hominem. I can’t get through it it smells so bad of ad hominem. My general expectation when someone makes ad hominem attacks is they have no substantive case, so it makes it hard to invest the effort in getting through them. And what is your answer to the question: if you don’t like the way Hewitson did the research, why has nobody else done this obvious and important experiment before? And one more question: are you really going to continue to inject neonates with aluminum when the only two studies I’ve seen injecting the vaccine schedule into animals both found developmental brain damage? How would you justify that? You appear to be justifying it above on the basis of toxicological studies that are not conducted in any better way, in fact much more indirectly and relying on fewer animals and injecting substantial fudge factors that are at best guesstimates.

            (2) As in 1(a), relying a lot on 2 rabbits.

            (3) As to your link that “I really should have read”, it doesn’t work for me. Again, all you have here is ad hominem. Gaia health is just reacting to the absurd claims in the original study and all the press about it, that finding brain inflammation in autistics somehow absolves vaccines. It doesn’t. If anything it tends to incriminate them. I agree with you, and I think Gaia does too, this is not conclusive by itself. But its worrying, not relieving.

            • that is, the link doesn’t work for me.

            • Erratum: I meant, the load from dietary aluminum could well be a factor 3 *lower* than Keith or Mikus estimate, ie the vaccines might dominate by an additional factor of 3 over what they say.

      • By the way, if you know of some useful survey articles or even web posts on the subject of how vaccines have been proved *effective*, I would be very interested in a pointer.

        Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History by Suzanne Humphries MD and Roman Bystrianyk (Jul 27, 2013) made what I find to be a compelling case that vaccines are not in practice very effective, for example documenting numerous examples of epidemics in 100% vaccinated populations. As a concerned parent, I would really like to see an informed rebuttal.

        • Ah, now we’re veering sharply into crackpot territory (not that we weren’t before…). Suzanne Humphries? The nephrologist-cum-homeoquack who treats everybody and everything with vitamin C, last seen trying to convince Israeli parents not to vaccinate their children with polio with the ludicrous claim that Judaism and Islam are against vaccines? I don’t think so.

          And it looks like you’ve finally tipped your hand, and I suspect nothing I write will ever convince *you* that vaccines are effective and safe (after all,m Suzanne Humphries and Gaia-health say otherwise! LOL!). But vaccines’ effectiveness, despite being documented in countless studies (go to Pubmed and search for the term), is kind of self-evident. Seen any smallpox cases lately? Did hepatitis A (vaccination campaign started here in 1998, haven’t seen a case since about 2000 where before it was fairly common) come about because of improved hygiene or whatnot? How about chickenpox? It’s not gone quite yet, but in the 4 years since the vaccine became part of the regular schedule here, the number of cases has diminished in a very obvious manner – I see the number of kids with CP in an outbreak that I used to see per day before.

          So this isn’t for you but for anyone else who might come along:

          http://www.quackwatch.com/03HealthPromotion/immu/immu00.html

          http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/top-20-questions-about-vaccination

          • Again, ad hominem attacks.

            (1) I am very open minded. I would love to believe there is a magic drug I can inject into my kids that won’t have side effects and will protect them from problems. I always did believe that, until I started looking at the actual literature lately, which unfortunately has forced me to change my mind, pending further data. I could be convinced back, if the data and science were there. I did in fact vaccinate my first two kids according to schedule, and neither has or had any complications attributable to vaccines in any obvious way. The fact that defenders of vaccines such as yourself are forced into ad hominem attacks and seem unable to supply convincing research is very worrisome.

            (2) Dr. Humphries documents huge drops in mortality from numerous diseases before the vaccines were even introduced. For example, mortality from measles was down 99.96% from its peak before the vaccine was even introduced. So plainly there is another factor (or factors) that vaccines may simply be taking credit for by lucky timing.

            Dr. Humphries also documents that the data are unreliable because the definition of each disease is generally changed to be much less inclusive at the time the vaccine is introduced. For example, before the polio vaccine was introduced most any form of childhood paralysis was considered polio. After, the polio virus had to be present, and it turned out that only 20% or some such of the cases that would have qualified before qualified after.

            Dr. Humphries documents epidemics and outbreaks in numerous fully vaccinated populations. For example, according to the WHO study, the last outbreak of smallpox on the planet, in 1972 in Yugoslavia, the index case had been vaccinated in a clinic a month before he contracted the disease, and 3/4 of the adult cases had been vaccinated. She also documents numerous smallpox epidemics in the 19th and 20th century among 100% vaccinated populations. She cites a study of a diptheria outbreak in Russia in the 1990′s. 2/3 of the patients were vaccinated according to schedule, 1/3 not according to schedule, all vaccinated. Etc.

            Finally Humphries and other authors point out that a huge issue with vaccines (and chicken pox is particularly mentioned) is that the immunization may not last. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, even the manufacturer doesn’t claim chicken pox vaccine immunization lasts for more than 5 years. But getting the vaccine is widely said to cause Original Antigenic Sin, wherein the body thenceforth becomes unable to develop cellular immunity, which is said to be the more important form of immunity. Thus getting previously vaccinated diseases later can potentially be much more serious than getting the initial childhood disease in the first place. Hence a 4 year window on chicken pox would hardly be convincing that giving it had a positive overall effect on public health, even if it does prevent chicken pox for a few years (about which I remain to be convinced.) Or allegedly previously vaccinated viruses can lurk in parts of the body, because you don’t have cellular immunity, causing potentially incorrectly diagnosed but serious complications many years later.

  22. (6) There is some evidence for the suggestion in point (5)the link argues that a new study in PNAS (linked within) does in fact show that (on average) autistic kids have brains that are inflamed at ages that roughly parallel the vaccine schedule.
    http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/2011-11-30/new-study-claims-autistic-boys-brain-size-clears-mmr-it-actually-implicates-all-vaccines/

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