CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Last week, PhD biochemist Brian Hooker created a stir when he announced he had obtained sensitive documents from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. According to Hooker, these documents implicated the vaccine preservative Thimerosal (50% mercury by weight) in causing autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, revealing what he says CDC officials had long known, but never disclosed publicly: a 7.6-fold increase in autism during infancy after exposure. Emily Willingham, who frequently editorializes in support of the vaccine program, responded in Forbes by criticizing a news story that went viral on the subject of Dr. Hooker's FOIA revelations.
Dr. Hooker methodically itemized "misrepresentations and outright errors" that he says appeared in Forbes.com. "Willingham either confused two CDC studies or intentionally deceived Forbes' readers," said Hooker. "There was one concealed study that found a very high association between Thimerosal and autism. That was the study that was kept from the public which I obtained. And there was a later study by the same researcher – CDC-paid epidemiologist Thomas Verstraeten – who had watered down the results of the earlier study to appear as if there were no association between Thimerosal and autism. That second study was made public even though it was fraudulent. Willingham pointed to the conclusions of the later study and implied that they came from the earlier study."
Although Willingham denies that the CDC researcher, Dr. Verstraeten, was under pressure to alter the results of the earlier study, Dr. Hooker points out that Verstraeten's own email written at the time (an internal CDC document obtained through FOIA) reveals otherwise. Verstraeten's subject line, "It just won't go away," refers to his difficulty in making the statistical association between Thimerosal and autism disappear.
Making an example of how he says Dr. Verstraeten hid that association in his reanalysis of the data on 400,000 infants, Dr. Hooker says Verstraeten did not include clinics within HMOs where there was a strong correlation between Thimerosal exposure and autism incidence. According to Hooker, "Willingham brazenly disregarded Verstraeten's own chilling words: 'All the harm is done in the first month [of life]…' He wrote those words about the study I obtained." The abstracts of Verstraeten's two studies and further comment on the controversy can be viewed here.
Dr. Hooker says Willingham misrepresented the congressional record when she selected quotes from a 2007 U.S. Senate report which falsely asserted that allegations of a cover-up are unsubstantiated. He considers the U.S. House of Representatives' 2003 report titled Mercury in Medicine (the result of a 3-year investigation) a "scathing, 80-page indictment of the CDC regarding the Thimerosal coverup." The report concludes, "Our public health agencies' failure to act is indicative of institutional malfeasance for self-protection and misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry."
Willingham treated Verstraeten's final, watered-down results as solid epidemiological evidence, when, according to Hooker, the final version of the Verstraeten study is fraught with statistical flaws, primarily "overmatching." He provided an example: the cases and controls received the same vaccination schedule and the same Thimerosal dosage; thus, no true comparison could be made. Hooker says this invalidates all of the analyses (done separately for HMOs A, B and C).
Willingham quoted Verstraeten's 2004 letter in the journal Pediatrics regarding his later, diluted study, omitting the fact that the CDC has used the study to exonerate Thimerosal despite Verstraeten calling the study "neutral." In addition, the 2004 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Immunization Safety Review (ISR) committee report used this as the only U.S. epidemiological study (among the 5 studies) as the basis to reject the Thimerosal-autism hypothesis, shutting the door on any further research.
"In light of Ms. Willingham's enthusiastic defense of mercury in vaccines despite conclusive evidence of its harm to children, it is ironic that the tagline for her column is 'I write about the science they are selling you.'" remarked Dr. Hooker. Thimerosal is still administered to pregnant women and infants via the flu shot.
Brian Hooker, PhD, PE is an associate professor of biology at Simpson University. His over 50 science and engineering papers have been published in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journals. He has a son, aged 16, who developed normally but then regressed into autism after receiving Thimerosal-containing vaccines. Dr. Brian Hooker's investigative research is sponsored by the Focus Autism Foundation, which is dedicated to informing the public about the cause(s) of the autism epidemic and the rise of chronic illnesses. To learn more, visit focusautisminc.org and ashotoftruth.org, an educational website sponsored by Focus Autism.
AutismOne is co-sponsoring this message and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides education and supports advocacy efforts for children and families touched by an autism diagnosis. To learn more, visit autismone.org.
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SOURCE Brian Hooker, PhD, PE