Congressman Introduces Bill Requiring Study of Autism Rate in Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated

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Speech of :

HON. Bill Posey
Of Florida
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Friday, April 26, 2013

I rise today to draw the attention of the Congress and the American people to the Autism epidemic that is tragically ravaging too many of America’s children.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and I am pleased to join with parents, siblings, grandparents, special education school teachers, medical care providers, and interventionists to draw attention to the rapidly expanding autism community.

When I was young, autism was virtually unheard of. In the 1980s rarely did you meet someone who knew someone with autism. Yet, in the 1990s there was an explosion of autism. Indeed, in the course of just my lifetime, Autism Spectrum Disorder has grown from a very rare condition to – according to the Centers for Disease Control – a developmental disorder affecting 1-in-50 school aged children. And, tragically, the rate for school aged boys is a disturbing 1-in-33.

On December 19, 2006, the effort to address this epidemic took a major step forward as President Bush signed into law the bipartisan Combating Autism Act. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Autism community to reauthorize this program next year. Though the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee each year produces a strategic plan to address Autism, the billion-dollar allocation of resources to autism has not been evenly invested among genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors. I must concur with the experts who have been willing to speak out, that the epidemic increase in the rates of autism are not a ‘genetic’ epidemic. Indeed, you don’t have genetic epidemics. While there is likely a genetic component to many who have been diagnosed with Autism, we must seriously consider that there are likely several key factors in autism.

Also, so some who have suggested that the increase in Autism is due to better diagnosis, you don’t go from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 80 in three decades due to better diagnosis alone. And, if that were the case, where are the tens of thousands of autistic adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s. While better diagnosis may be a factor, common sense says there is a real increase and something is causing it.

While some may be borne with Autism, there are many parents who testify to the fact and present cases where their children were progressing normally but something triggered a regression where they lost speech, abilities, and regressed from developmental milestones that they had earlier met. Was that regression due to external factors such as medical injury, exposure to environmental toxins such as lead or mercury, or was it adverse reactions to medications that lead to high fevers, brain inflammation or seizures? We must get answers to these questions.

I was pleased to participate in a November 2012 House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the Federal Response to Autism. That was one of the most attended hearings I have participated in since coming to Washington in 2009. Indeed at this hearing it was standing room only, and overflow rooms had to be used to accommodate the public. This was a much anticipated hearing from many parents of children suffering from Autism who want clear and unbiased answers to questions surrounding the epidemic.

I, like many in Congress, were frustrated with the lackluster response from the federal witnesses, particularly the CDC witness that was evasive and took more than five months to respond to the Committee’s questions. The responses that finally arrived this month were incomplete, often evasive, and showed a complete lack of urgency on the part of the CDC. I was also disappointed that the federal government witnesses did not have the courtesy to remain at the hearing to listen to the testimony of the public panel representing non-profit organizations and academic institutions focused on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Parents, grandparents, educators, health professionals, and highly functional adults on the autism spectrum are frustrated at the federal response to this epidemic. There is much more that we could and should be doing.

Some believe that toxins like thimerosal, which is 50% ethylmercury, have played a role in the rise in autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities. In 2000 there was near universal agreement that mercury should be removed as a preservative for vaccines. Yet, today, nearly half of all annual flu vaccines, which are recommended for children and pregnant women, still contain mercury as a preservative – not simply trace amounts of mercury. It’s 2013! Why are we still injecting ethylmercury into babies and pregnant women?

I have been deeply disappointed in the failure of the CDC and the Department of Justice to see that Dr. Poul Thorsen is extradited to the United States to stand trial for orchestrating an elaborate scheme stealing more than $1 million from the CDC-Denmark grant. That money was supposed to be used to investigate the causes of autism and developmental disabilities. Instead it was diverted to personal use by Dr. Thorsen. Thorsen was a key author on 22 of the CDC’s key studies related to autism and developmental disabilities.

Before coming to Congress in 2009, I heard from some in the autism community who have advocated for a retrospective study to examine whether there are different health outcomes when comparing vaccinated children and unvaccinated children, including autism and chronic conditions. I have continued to hear these requests over the past four years. At the hearing I asked CDC if they had conducted such a study and they said they’ve done dozens of studies related to autism but never have looked at a comparison of vaccinated versus unvaccinated. In fact, a recent study they published compared fully vaccinated children to those who were not fully vaccinated, but for some reason it did not include data on completely unvaccinated children. Seems like common sense to do a study comparing vaccinated children vs unvaccinated and this week I was pleased to be joined by my colleague Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in introducing H.R. 1757, The Vaccine Safety Study Act. This would direct the National Institutes of Health to conduct a retrospective study of health outcomes, including autism, of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. That should bring an answer to this decades long question.

Whether the number is 1-in-88 twelve-year-olds, or 1-in-50 school-aged children, or 1-in-33 young boys, we can all agree that the number is devastatingly high. We must overturn every stone to get to the bottom of this epidemic. We cannot afford to see this epidemic grow. We must examine every possible risk factor to protect the world’s greatest resource: our children. And, we must invest to develop the best interventions to help those who are autistic.

Link to above speech here

_____________________________________________________________

HR1757 IH

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1757

To direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct or support a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 25, 2013

Mr. POSEY (for himself and Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


A BILL

To direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct or support a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘Vaccine Safety Study Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

The Congress finds as follows:

(1) Securing the health of the Nation’s children is our most important concern as parents and stewards of the Nation’s future.

(2) The Nation’s vaccine program has greatly reduced human suffering from infectious disease by preventing and reducing the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases.

(3) Total health outcomes are the best measure of the success of any public health effort, including security from both chronic and infectious disease.

(4) Childhood immunizations are an important tool in protecting children from infectious disease.

(5) The number of immunizations administered to infants, pregnant women, children, teenagers, and adults has grown dramatically over recent years.

(6) The incidence of chronic, unexplained diseases such as autism, learning disabilities, and other neurological disorders appears to have increased dramatically in recent years.

(7) Individual vaccines are tested for safety, but little safety testing has been conducted for interaction effects of multiple vaccines.

(8) The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.

(9) Childhood immunizations are the only health interventions that are required by States of all citizens in order to participate in civic society.

(10) Public confidence in the management of public health can only be maintained if these State government-mandated, mass vaccination programs–

(A) are tested rigorously and in their entirety against all reasonable safety concerns; and

(B) are verified in their entirety to produce superior health outcomes.

(11) There are numerous United States populations in which a practice of no vaccination is followed and which therefore provide a natural comparison group for comparing total health outcomes.

(12) No comparative study of such health outcomes has ever been conducted.

(13) Given rising concern over the high rates of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and other chronic conditions, the need for such studies is becoming urgent.

SEC. 3. STUDY ON HEALTH OUTCOMES IN VACCINATED AND UNVACCINATED AMERICAN POPULATIONS.

(a) In General- The Secretary of Health and Human Services (in this Act referred to as the ‘Secretary’), acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health, shall conduct or support a comprehensive study–

(1) to compare total health outcomes, including the incidence and risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States; and

(2) to determine whether exposure to vaccines or vaccine components is associated with autism spectrum disorders, chronic conditions, or other neurological conditions.

(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the conduct or support of any study in which an individual or population is encouraged or incentivized to remain unvaccinated.

(c) Qualifications- With respect to each investigator carrying out the study under this section, the Secretary shall ensure that the investigator–

(1) is objective;

(2) is qualified to carry out such study, as evidenced by training experiences and demonstrated skill;

(3) is not currently employed by any Federal, State, or local public health agency;

(4) is not currently a member of a board, committee, or other entity responsible for formulating immunization policy on behalf of any Federal, State, or local public health agency or any component thereof;

(5) has no history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy; and

(6) is not currently an employee of, or otherwise directly or indirectly receiving funds from, a pharmaceutical company or the Centers for Disease Control.

(d) Target Populations- The Secretary shall seek to include in the study under this section populations in the United States that have traditionally remained unvaccinated for religious or other reasons, which populations may include Old Order Amish, members of clinical practices (such as the Homefirst practice in Chicago) who choose alternative medical practices, practitioners of anthroposophic lifestyles, and others who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

(e) Timing- Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue a request for proposals to conduct the study required by this section. Not later than 120 days after receipt of any such proposal, the Secretary shall approve or disapprove the proposal. If the Secretary disapproves the proposal, the Secretary shall provide the applicant involved with a written explanation of the reasons for the disapproval.

(f) Transparency- To facilitate further research by the Secretary or others, the Secretary shall ensure the preservation of all data, including all data sets, collected or used for purposes of the study under this section.

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