Autism as a Plague We Created by staying indoors and then vaccinating: Woo to You

My friend Thelma was kind enough to pass on this bit of outrageous woo she found when she was writing a post on Mercola, http://evendumbasseshavefeelings.blogspot.com/2009/11/pagin-doctor-quackaloon.html. She found a site that has some connection to Mercola called the Vitamin D Council.

The Vitamin D Council has some theories on vitamin D that are interesting to say the least, but haven't, near as I can tell, gotten a lot of play; there are a couple dozen hits over at Age of Autism, but they appear to be in the comments section, and the Council's attempt to get some play for their theories and perhaps to sell their test kits.

Thelma used this quote in her piece from the Council and its theory that if pregnant mothers had just gotten enough vitamin D and then made sure their children had adequate vitamin D after birth, their child wouldn't be autistic: "The theory that vitamin D deficiency, during pregnancy or childhood, causes autism is just a theory. However, the theory has a plausible mechanism of action, explains all the unexplained facts about autism, subsumes several other theories, implies simple prevention, and is easily disprovable—all components of a useful theory."

Cannell, the executive director, writes in his conclusion to the vitamin D causes autism theory: "If the vitamin D theory of autism is correct, then to the extent it is correct, the current plague of autism is an iatrogenic disease, caused by modern sun-avoidance and the organizations that promulgated it."

Great, our children are a plague or are carrying it. Now if his hairbrained, alternative refrigerator-mom theory of autism hadn't offended you, let that idea of autism being a plague roll around in your head for a moment. By the way, what's the definition of plague? Oh yes, here it is: "Plague is a severe and potentially deadly bacterial infection" (google.com/health).

Oh, and if you thought he didn't have anything to offer the mercury militia, think again. He's made his vitamin D theory work with the mercury poisoning gambit of thimerosal in vaccines: "That is, the mercury in Thiomerosol vaccines may have injured vitamin D deficient children while normal children would have easily bound the mercury and excreted it." There you go, you let your children be deficient in vitamin D and then you vaccinated them.

He keeps digging the hole deeper, too: "Can autistic children get better? We don't know although most do not. However, if vitamin D is involved in autism then young autistic children, whose brains have not been irreparably damaged, may improve if they move to sunnier latitudes, increase their sun exposure, or start consuming more vitamin D in their diet."

Most autistic kids don't get better? Right. Bull. It's a developmental delay. They improve, they grow, they learn. So, I suppose, it's a Clintonian is. What do we mean by better? No longer autistic? Or make developmental progress?
His comment over at AoA reveals his angle in this: you need to test your kids often, and he's got a test kit for 65 dollars. So, every couple months, plunk down 65 bucks to him to test your kid's vitamin D level. Think about it. If he can get all 20,000 or so parents ( I know, a complete guestimate on my part based on the autism-mercury and environment of harm yahoo groups' memberships then doubled, and a couple thousand more thrown in)  who think mercury did this, get them to think that vitamin D deficiency keeps it going, you can see he's got a profit motive ( http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/11/an-open-letter.html).

Here's one of his plugs in the comment section from the above link:

"One thousand IU of vitamin D per day is not enough for most autistic children. The Vitamin D Council's protocol for diagnosing and treating vitamin D deficiency in autistic children is below. Remember, the worst thing that can happen is that children will have stronger bones and fewer influenza infections:


1. Advise parents to stop giving children all preformed vitamin A, such as cod liver oil, and all vitamins or supplements containing retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. Preformed vitamin A antagonizes the action of vitamin D, probably at the vitamin D receptor site. Beta carotene does not have this same effect but children only need extra beta carotene if their diet is poor in colorful fruits and vegetables, dairy products, or fortified breakfast cereals.

2. Order a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] blood test. Do not order a 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D as it is often elevated in vitamin D deficiency and will mislead you. A home test kit for vitamin D is now available for children. It uses a heel or finger stick, does not require a doctor's visit and results are returned directly to the parents in a few days:


3. If the 25(OH)D level is less than 70 ng/ml, the mid range of American references labs (30 - 100 ng/ml), give your child vitamin D3 supplements, available at any pharmacy. Generally children require 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight per day. However, great individual variation exists and autistic children need to be retested and the dose adjusted about every month until levels are at least 70 ng/ml in any child with autism.

4. Test for 25(OH)D every few months and treat with enough vitamin D until 25(OH)D levels are stable. Some children will require 2,000 - 3,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight, but frequent 25(OH)D testing will assure proper dosage. Vitamin D toxicity has never been reported, in adults or children, with 25(OH)D levels below 200 ng/ml.

Again, the worse that can happen is the children will have stronger bones and fewer colds and flu.


We believe the key to preventing autism is diagnosing and treating vitamin D deficiency in early pregnancy. Pregnant women can follow the above protocol, as can anyone who no longer wants to be vitamin D deficient.

John Cannell, MD

The Vitamin D Council

Posted by: John Cannell, MD
November 19, 2008 at 10:42 AM "

And his website further makes clear what he's advocating and selling:

"So until we know for sure, pregnant women, infants, children, everyone—especially autistic children—should receive sensible sun exposure daily: around noon or 1:00 p.m., expose as much skin as possible, 10–30 minutes duration, depending on how easily one sunburns. In the winter, use a suntan parlor once a week, with the same precautions—or better yet, purchase an ultraviolet vitamin D lamp for home use.

I prefer to avoid sunlight, what should I do? You and your child should have a vitamin D blood test, called a 25-hydroxyvitamin D."

Note: I recognize the vital importance of vitamin D, I supplement my family's vitamin D, and it should be frikking obvious from the garden pictures that we get ample time in the sun. And, my kids aren't more autistic in the winter and less in the summer. Not that an anecdote science makes, but since this guy took a bit of science and mangled it to sell his kits and refer back to Mercola to sell his tanning  beds, I figure my anecdote is even more convincing than his crap. Especially since I'm not trying to sell you anything.
The danger that these people who prey on parents of autistic children, offering them products to cure autism, is enhanced because they use scientific language, they couch their language in certitude, and then they offer to fix the problem for you. Note, it's never a permanent cure; you have to keep buying their products.
Now, isn't it interesting that those in the mainstream, those who blog about the science that shows no link, aren't selling you anything? No product recommendations? No sponsors? (I know Orac's site has ads, but they're on the blogging platform and not something he's profitting from) But these sites that promote the vaccination link, who provide the woo out the wazoo, they all have lots and lots of sponsors selling you products? These doctors claiming to have figured it out, they're selling you stuff, too, profitting directly from convincing you that autism is all sorts of things that mainstream research does not confirm.  They're growing rich off of you, and because their cure isn't permanent, parents spend a fortune out of pocket that never ends.
And the desperation never ends, either, because the autism doesn't go away. You're on a treadmill, going nowhere. There are better ways, but it means giving up certainty and answers. It means recognizing that autism is a lifelong neurological condition/difference. It means pushing up your sleeves, realistically examining the issues your child has, how these issues impact their daily functioning, and working on how to address these issues, not with the idea of some magic bullet, but with science, reason, patience, and acceptance behind it.
If your child has physiological symptoms like intestinal distress, you absolutely address it.You look for possible allergens, absolutely.  Not feeling well makes a person irritable, no doubt about it, and that irritability should reduce when distressing physical symptoms are treated. You make sure your child has the right diet for him or her, as healthy and balanced a diet as possible, with adequate fiber. It's amazing what the right amount of fiber can do to help intestinal issues. There now, I may not have gone fully into the poo, as McCarthy or our pal Roger, but I addressed the patently false contention that many on the anti-ND side put out that folks who (blah, blah, blah) don't want to treat autistic children for their medical issues.
So, what's my angle? I'm not selling products. I suppose I'm trying to convince you I'm right, but about what, exactly?
Adaptive coping beats the hell out of maladaptive coping. Acceptance isn't not doing anything. It's accepting where you are regardless of how you got there. As long as you're stuck on the whys, you aren't focused on the what-nows.
For a discussion of a recent journal article dealing with resolution, "Resolution of the Diagnosis Among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Associations with Child and Parent Characteristics," see
Sullivan sums it up lovely: "Resolution is not giving up. Resolution is accepting the reality of you and your child’s situation. Resolution does not mean one doesn’t fight to improve your own life or that of your child."

Read more: http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=2730#ixzz0WBtdJ7dv


AutismNewsBeat said...

So if Vitamin D prevents autism, does sunscreen cause it?

KWombles said...

"Sunscreen—Does It Increase Risk?If prenatal or postnatal vitamin D deficiency caused autism, then parents who rigorously used sun protection, both during pregnancy and for their children, would be more likely to have children with autism. Richer parents are more likely to apply sunscreen to their children, as are parents with a higher education. Although numerous studies—especially early ones—linked higher social class with autism, a certain kind of statistical problem (called ascertainment bias) confuses such associations. Despite identifying the source of the bias, Dr. Tanya Bhasin at the CDC recently again found wealthier parents and more highly educated parents were at higher risk for having an autistic child. It was not at all clear that ascertainment bias explained all her findings. It appears that people who bought into the sun-scare are more likely to have an autistic child."


Of course, the good doctor had an answer for that.:-) It's again all our fault for using sunscreen.

And since the good doc can pull this nonsense out of his rear, I can use personal experience to call it bullshit. My oldest and most severely impacted by autism and cognitive impairment is fixing to be 20. While pregnant, I wore no sunscreen and spent plenty of time outside in the sun.

Maybe the next theory will prove that it was no suncscreen and too much time outdoors. I'm an outdoors gal; when not inundated with work like this fall, I usually spend 2 to 6 hours outside each day in the garden, depending on the season and work to be done and my children spend a great deal of that time with me. Although we take great care to break that time up so that they never burn, we do not use sunscreen for much of that time. We only use sunscreen when we know we will be outside for an extended period of time with no access to shade.

I call this theory the bunk that it is. He wants a piece of the lucrative autism-cure related industry.

kathleen said...

So, is Seasonal Defective Disorder a form of autism? Kim, didn't you have your son in Germany? UMMM European sunshine is different..not as much vitamin D as here..it's an FDA thing, you know? :)

AutismNewsBeat said...

While pregnant, I wore no sunscreen and spent plenty of time outside in the sun.

Yeah, sure, but I bet you wore sunglasses!

Thelma said...

Knew ya would run with it, sure I did!

Well now, ya know them folks over at Age of Fools oughta wanna run with it, alongside their cry for a study of vaccinated and unvaccinated, they sure is gonna need ta add in vitamin d levels and sunscreen use, and yup, besta make sure, sunglasses use.

Plague my ass. If it weren't a bastardization of the word, I'd say that there was a plague of dumbasses. We'll call it a scourge instead.

AutismNewsBeat said...

Like I said, we're just supposed to accept everything the antis tell us. "There's an epidemic!" OK, sure. "Thousands of parents can't be wrong!" Never crossed my mind. "It's impossible to contaminate a needle." Can't imagine such a scenario.

Free inquiry and doubt are like kryptonite to these fools.

Nostrum said...

So how come there wasn't an outbreak of autism in 19th century London? There certainly was rampant rickets.

Corina Becker said...

I love the "too much Vitamin D won't hurt your kids" thing they have going, like too much iron won't hurt you either. (for the record, yes, too much iron does hurt. it can kill. so can having too little)

Our family supplements Vitamin D in the winter, due to the widespread seasonal depression in our family in general. It helps for my depression and I think aids in reducing my anxiety. However, for being autistic? Ha ha.... no.

KWombles said...

Ken, to some of them, many of them, undoubtedly. Certainty, the need to know absolutely, informs many people's belief systems For example, you have religious people who are absolutists, but you also have religious people who are steeped in the wonder that not knowing brings. Two people can view one belief system and come away with completely different experiences.

I think it is possible that while we cannot reach those absolutists, we may reach some who recognize the inherent uncertainties in reality and are simply uncomfortable with that fundamental uncertainty.

If we can show them that they can have a support system outside of the anti-vaccination community, that there is a place for them in the wider, science-based, uncertainty-embracing autism-related community, perhaps the need for AoA will lessen.