Friday, October 13, 2006

CDDS Q3 2006: Thimerosal Hypothesis Still Dead


Back in November, 2005, David Kirby agreed with blogger Citizen Cain on the following:

If the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis.

Let me emphasize that David Kirby also conceded that what matters is the total number of 3-5 year-olds, not changes in caseload growth. As I have argued, drops in caseload growth should be expected in the long run anyway.


With one quarter to go before 2007, the latest quarterly report is out, as first blogged by Dad of Cameron. Please check out his graph of the 3-5 cohort caseload for the last 17 quarters.

Here's a table with some of the highlights from the last 4 quarters.

Table 1: State-wide comparison of Q3 2006 with three prior quarters.
(False New Cases)
Annual Growth (%)3-5 Cohort
Q4 200529,42470010.72%5,680
Q1 200630,18175710.50%5,827
Q2 200631,01283110.56%6,083
Q3 200631,85384110.89%6,188

The key information in Table 1 is that the 3-5 caseload continues to grow, and this growth is still rather fast compared to population growth in the state of California. Barring any miracles, in one quarter David Kirby will either need to issue a statement saying that he no longer believes in the autism-thimerosal hypothesis, further goalpost-shift the target date for a caseload drop, or claim that there hasn't really been a significant drop in the thimerosal dose per child in California. What do readers predict he will do?

It's a bit surprising that caseload growth has increased for at least the last 4 quarters in a row. Even when expressed as an annual percentage, it seems to be in an upward trend. As I've noted before, this might indicate that leveling off of the population (i.e. annual caseload growth matching California population growth of about 1%) is still very far away.

CDDS autism prevalence for the 3-5 cohort is currently about 40 in 10,000. This is not supposed to include PDD-NOS or Asperger's, but anecdotally it is known that diagnoses are changed in order to force eligibility in some cases.

Thimerosal Hypothesis

It is important to understand what the "thimerosal hypothesis" is. Versions vary slightly, but let's take Mark Blaxill's one, as presented to the IOM in 2001. Blaxill indicated that mercury exposure from vaccines went from about 70 micrograms for the 1991 birth year cohort to about 180 micrograms for the 1994 birth year cohort, which coincided with an increase in the prevalence of autism for birth year cohorts between those years. That is, most or all of the prevalence increase during the "autism epidemic" of the 1990s can be attributed to an increase of the thimerosal dose per child, according to Blaxill.

Were Blaxill's hypothesis correct, if thimerosal exposure drops to levels below 70 micrograms, the 1990s epidemic of autism should be reversed. Even if you believe there are still traces of thimerosal in vaccines, and that children are still exposed to 25 micrograms of thimerosal from the Flu vaccine, it is clear that thimerosal exposure is no more than it was in 1991 and the entire 1970s and 1980s for that matter.

Note that the 3-5 CDDS autism caseload in Q2 1992 was 462. That is about 13 times less than what it is today. There is no denying such clear numbers. The only way to continue to believe in a hypothesis such as Blaxill's involves suspending reason. At this point we are simply waiting for the main proponents to come clean on that, provided intellectual honesty means something to them.


  1. "Andy Waters, of the law firm of Waters & Kraus, takes another stiff drink and sobs uncontrollably into his briefs.... He stops crying long enough to get on the intercom and say to his perky blonde secretary, 'I'm not taking any more calls from Lyn Redwood, do you understand??!!... And book me on a flight to Tahiti leaving day after tomorrow. I need a break from this stinking autism stuff."

    That's the opening directions from the script for the upcoming "Evidence of Harm" movie. :-D

  2. Great summary Joseph.
    It is interesting that when taken annually, growth doesn't appear to be slowing - yet.

    It will be most interesting to see what becomes of David Kirby.

  3. Great post.

    If you listen very closely, you'll hear the sound of a few actively chelating parents paging through lab reports looking for a different metal that was noted as being "in the red zone".

    Ahhhh, here it is: aluminum. It's the new mercury and the same old claims can be recycled (20 cents each in MN, VT, IL, WI, ME, and NY).

  4. It is interesting that when taken annually, growth doesn't appear to be slowing - yet.

    It did slow down considerably right after a law was changed in California to narrow the eligibility criteria in Q4 2003, with the purpose of slowing down autism caseload growth specifically. More than preventing a lot of children from entering the system, drop-outs increased a lot that year, presumably due to loss of eligibility.

    But it seems that the effects of that law are wearing out.

    The trend is not very clear to be able to determine when caseload will level off. We could be talking a whole generation.

  5. We are going to see a lot more of the general environmental toxin theories of people like Herbert and Lathe - poisoned planet syndrome and autistics as the early warning canaries. Of course the anti vaxers will never change and Elvis never died and the moon landings were faked and God didn't make the little green apples ...

  6. FYI - Checked the EOHarm mailing list and there hasn't been one mention of the latest report so far (10/17/2006). There has been a lot of discussion about the TV study.

  7. Correction - Rick Rollens just posted a message on EOHarm. In it he states that caseload growth has slowed down compared to the late 1990s, and that this could be due to thimerosal being phased out. I guess he believes that with thimerosal still in vaccines, caseload would continue to grow at the same pace (20% annually or so) until everyone in California is registered as autistic in the CDDS. Oh well.

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