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What the world is reading

A report in the latest issue draws attention to cases of stillbirths in women who have been given the H1N1 vaccine. The writer of the article, Christina England, quotes a paper by National Coalition of Organized Women (NCOW) which states that "as many as 3, 587 women may either have miscarried or had a stillbirth after receiving the H1N1 vaccine. " England goes onto to quote another report written by Child Health Safety Website: "The corrected estimate for the total number of 2009-A-H 1N1-flu-shot-associated miscarriages and stillbirths during the 2009/10-flu season is 1, 588. " These alarming findings were presented early last month by Eileen Dannemann, director of NCOW, at a meeting of Advisory Commision on Childhood Vaccines. "Just prior to Ms. Dannemann's presentation Dr Marie McCormick of the Vaccine Risk Assessment Working Group, had pronounced that there were absolutely no H1N1 vaccine-related adverse events in pregnant women in 2009/10, directly contradicting the evidence publicly available, " writes England. The figures of stillbirths /miscarriages have been verified by the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Yet, says England in the article, the US government continues to recommend "this potentially dangerous vaccine, reported to have killed thousands of developing fetuses, to pregnant women of the USA. "

John Donvan and Caren Zucker travel to Forest in Mississippi in search of the first autistic child recorded in medical books - Donald Gray Triplett. Doctors and researchers now want to study this 77-year-old man's life more closely to find an answer to the most pressing question faced by parents of autistic children and the medical community - what will happen to them once they grow up? How is he coping with autism? Donvan and Zucker write that with current epidemic of autism, "within a decade or so, more than 500, 000 children diagnosed with autism will enter adulthood. " Once they outlive their parents who will take care of them? "How we respond to those needs will be shaped in great measure by how we choose to view adults with autism. We can dissociate from them, and hope we are humane enough to shoulder the burden of meeting their basic needs. Alternatively, we can dispense with the layers of sorrow, and interpret autism as but one more wrinkle in the fabric of humanity. " Donvan and Zucker quote Dr Peter Gerhardt, an expert on adult autistics, who says that as a society we need to be as empathetic to adults with autism as to children with the disorder. "People want to treat these adults like little kids in big bodies. We underestimate their capabilities, and display impatience when they inconvenience us, " says Gerhardt. He has always encouraged autistic adults to aspire for independence. "What's the worst thing that can happen?" he asks. "You know - he's at the supermarket and he drops some eggs. I would rather he be there alone, and only getting nine out of 10 items he came shopping for, than need me there with him to get all 10. That's a much better way to live. "

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