Monday, March 29, 2010

You are invited to join us

First Friday April 2nd for


a night of great art and community education


Time: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Location: The Gallery Underground

Street: 109 Linden Street, Fort Collins


In honor of Autism Awareness month the Autism Society of Larimer County and the Gallery Underground presents Art on the Spectrum.


Art on the Spectrum will feature guest artists including local autistic professor Dr. Temple Grandin (recently documented in the HBO film with Claire Danes) as well as 15 local creative children who fall on the Autistic spectrum. We initially received over 50 entries and we had the tough job of choosing our favorites from these. Their art will be for sale on the guest wall and proceeds will be donated to the Autism Society of Larimer County. The show is designed primarily as an awareness event with hopes  of raising funds for to assist families and individuals with autism in Larimer County.

Sponsored by our great friends at New Belgium Brewery
We lock the doors at 10pm, be sure to be here by then!


Art on the Spectrum Featured Artists

Kenzie Anderson

Cameron Cotton

Johnathan Evans

Dr. Temple Grandin

Tavian Gipson

Besa H.

Jiu Lee

Nathan Molineaux
Kaylee Noble
Luke Scafidi

Brody Stevens

Max Timm

Keith Tuttle  

Matthew W.  
Anthony Zimmerman  



Coming Mid April

All art submitted to the Art on the Spectrum will be on display at the

 Front Range Village in Fort Collins.

Stay posted for dates


Monday, March 15, 2010

Court Says Thimerosal Did Not Cause Autism

      By Randolph E. Schmid, AP.

      The vaccine additive thimerosal is not to blame for autism, a special federal court ruled Friday in a long-running battle by parents convinced
there is a connection.
      While expressing sympathy for the parents involved in the emotionally charged cases, the court concluded they had failed to show a connection between the mercury-containing preservative and autism.
      "Such families must cope every day with tremendous challenges in caring for their autistic children, and all are deserving of sympathy and admiration," special master George Hastings Jr. wrote.
      But, he added, Congress designed the victim compensation program only for families whose injuries or deaths can be shown to be linked to a vaccine and that has not been done in this case.
      The ruling came in the so-called vaccine court, a special branch of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims established to handle claims of injury from vaccines. It can be appealed in federal court.
      The parents presented expert witnesses who argued mercury can have a variety of effects on the brain, but the ruling said none of them offered opinions on the cause of autism in the three specific cases argued. They testified that mercury can affect a number of biological processes, including abnormal metabolism in children.
      Special master Denise K. Vowell noted that in order to succeed in their action, the parents would have to show "the exquisitely small amounts of mercury" that reach the brain from vaccines can produce devastating effects that far larger amounts ... from other sources do not. The ruling said the parents were arguing that the effects from mercury in vaccines differ from mercury's known effects on the brain. Vowell concluded that the parents had failed to establish that their child's condition was caused or aggravated by mercury from vaccines.
      Friday's decision that autism is not caused by thimerosal alone follows a parallel ruling in 2009 that autism is not caused by the combination of vaccines with thimerosal and other vaccines.
      The cases had been divided into three theories about a vaccine-autism relationship for the court to consider. The 2009 ruling rejected a theory that thimerasol can cause autism when combined with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. After that, a theory that certain vaccines alone cause autism was dropped. Friday's decision covers the last of the three theories, that thimerosal-containing vaccines alone can cause autism.
      The ruling doesn't necessarily mean an end to the dispute, however, with appeals to other courts available.
      The new ruling was welcomed by Dr. Paul Offit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who said the autism theory had "already had its day in science court and failed to hold up."
      But the controversy has cast a pall over vaccines, causing some parents to avoid them, he noted, "it's very hard to unscare people after you have scared them."
      On the other side of the issue, a group backing the parents' theory charged that the vaccine court was more interested in government policy than protecting children.
      "The deck is stacked against families in vaccine court. Government attorneys defend a government program, using government-funded science, before government judges," Rebecca Estepp, of the Coalition for Vaccine Safety said in a statement.
      SafeMinds, another group supporting the parents, expressed disappointment at the new ruling.
      "The denial of reasonable compensation to families was based on inadequate vaccine safety science and poorly designed and highly controversial epidemiology," the goup said.
      The advocacy group Autism Speaks said "the proven benefits of vaccinating a child to protect them against serious diseases far outweigh the hypothesized risk that vaccinations might cause autism. Thus, we strongly encourage parents to vaccinate their children to protect them from serious childhood diseases."
      However, while research has found no overall connection between autism and vaccines, the group said it would back research to determine if some individuals might be at increased risk because of genetic or medical conditions.
      Meanwhile, in reaction to the concerns of parents, thimerosal has been removed from most vaccines in the United States.
      In Friday's action the court ruled in three different cases, each concluding that the preservative has no connection to autism.
      The trio of rulings can offer reassurance to parents scared about vaccinating their babies because of a small but vocal anti-vaccine movement. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, are on the rise.
      The U.S. Court of Claims is different from many other courts: The families involved didn't have to prove the inoculations definitely caused the complex neurological disorder, just that they probably did.
      More than 5,500 claims have been filed by families seeking compensation through the government's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and the rulings dealt with test cases to settle which if any claims had merit.
      Autism is best known for impairing a child's ability to communicate and interact. Recent data suggest a 10-fold increase in autism rates over the past decade, although it's unclear how much of the surge reflects better diagnosis.
      Worry about a vaccine link first arose in 1998 when a British physician, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published a medical journal article linking a particular type of autism and bowel disease to the measles vaccine. The study was later discredited.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Russell and Robalee Bruesewitz sit with their 18-year-old daughter Hannah, center, at their home on Lebanon Avenue in Mt. Lebanon on Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case brought by the Bruesewitzs on Hannah's behalf.

The Supreme Court will decide whether drug makers can be sued by parents who claim their children suffered serious health problems from vaccines.
The justices on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from parents in Pittsburgh who want to sue Wyeth over the serious side effects their daughter, six months old at the time, allegedly suffered as a result of the company's diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled against Robalee and Russell Bruesewitz, saying a 1986 federal law bars their claims.
That law set up a special vaccine court to handle disputes as part of its aim of insuring a stable vaccine supply by shielding companies from most lawsuits.
Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, Inc., prevailed at the appeals court but also joined in asking the court to hear the case, saying it presents an important and recurring legal issue that should be resolved.
The Obama administration joined the parties in calling for high court review, although the government takes the side of the manufacturers.
Only one state appeals court, the Georgia Supreme Court, has ruled that families can sue in a vaccine case. The vaccine industry has fiercely opposed the Georgia ruling in the case of Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari. They claim their son suffered neurological damage after receiving vaccine booster shots made by pharmaceutical companies Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline that contained the preservative thimerosal.
The family has since withdrawn its lawsuit, possibly in an effort to avoid an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling, although the Georgia court's opinion allowing similar lawsuits remains in force.
The court did not act on the companies' appeal Monday, but the decision in the other case almost certainly will apply to the Georgia case.
According to the lawsuit, Hannah Bruesewitz was a healthy infant until she received the vaccine in April 1992. Within hours of getting the DPT shot, the third in a series of five, the baby suffered a series of debilitating seizures. Now a teenager, Hannah suffers from residual seizure disorder, the suit says.
The vaccine court earlier rejected the family's claims.
Wyeth lost another high court fight last year over whether federal law barred lawsuits against drug makers. That case, involving a botched injection, asked whether federal law included an implicit prohibition on the lawsuits. The court said it did not.
In this appeal, however, Congress clearly laid out how claims over vaccines were to be made, and the court has repeatedly ruled against plaintiffs when Congress has explicitly sought to bar lawsuits.
Other than the Georgia court, state and federal courts have uniformly invoked a provision of the 1986 federal law, which seems to bar most lawsuits against vaccine makers.
The idea behind the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was to ensure a stable supply of childhood vaccines by shielding drug makers from most lawsuits, and setting up a federal vaccine court to handle disputes. The law would serve to block state laws that otherwise would give families the ability to sue the manufacturers.
In recent years, the legal fight has frequently come from families of autistic children claiming that mercury-based thimerosal is linked to autism. Numerous studies have addressed vaccines and autism and found no link, including with the preservative.
Thimerosal has been removed in recent years from standard childhood vaccines, except flu vaccines that are not packaged in single doses.
Last year, special masters appointed by the vaccine court concluded that vaccines aren't to blame for autism, disappointing thousands of families hoping to win compensation and others who remain convinced of a connection.
But the vaccine court still must rule on additional cases that argue that vaccines with thimerosal are to blame, if the mercury reached and damaged brain cells.
The case, to be argued in the fall, is Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 09-152.