FeaturesAug/Sept 2008 Issue

Vaccines & Autism

In March 2008, medical experts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that vaccines played a role in the development of autism in 9-year-old Hannah Poling. The federal government agreed to award damages to her family, concluding that because she had a “rare” mitochondrial disorder, vaccination did trigger her autism. 

Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Julie Geberding, who has led the campaign to defend vaccines and to reassure the public of their safety, admitted in a recent interview on CNN that there is a subset of children in whom vaccination could cause autism. “If there is a mitochondrial disorder then any stressor creates a situation where their cells can’t make enough energy to keep their brains functioning normally. Now we all know that vaccines can occasionally cause fevers, so if a child is immunized, got a fever or had other complications from the vaccine then, if you’re predisposed with a mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage and some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism,” she said.

Geberding stated that Hannah Poling had a rare mitochondrial disorder. But these types of disorders may not be all that rare. David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm, published a bombshell in the March 26th edition of the online newspaper, The Huffington Post. Kirby reported that on March 11, 2008, a CDC vaccine safety agency held a conference call on this topic. One researcher shared the results of his as yet unpublished five-year study of 30 children with autism. The biochemistry of these children was studied intensively and in each case the results showed the same abnormalities as those found in Hannah Poling. The researcher estimated that up to 1 in 50 children may have a genetic mutation that puts them at risk for mitochondrial dysfunction.

According to Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institutes of Health, “At some level, the Poling case was a vindication for families.” She added, “Vaccines as a trigger carry a ring of both historical and biological plausibility.” She called for more rigorous research to answer the question definitively.

At the 7th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) held in May, Laura Hewitson of the University of Pittsburgh reported on the first research examining the effects of the total vaccine load received by children in the 1990’s. The study’s researchers found autistic symptoms in macaque monkeys given the same vaccinations as human children. Global developmental delays, behavior problems and brain changes in monkeys mimicked the neurological abnormalities seen in autism. These findings suggest that non-human primates develop autistic traits when subjected to the same types and numbers of vaccinations that American children received at the time that autism diagnoses skyrocketed.

The researchers also reported in the conference abstracts that “vaccinated animals exhibited progressively severe chronic active inflammation (in gastrointestinal tissue) whereas unexposed animals did not. We have found many significant differences in the GI tissue gene expression profiles between vaccinated and unvaccinated animals.” It’s interesting to note that children with regressive autism show high frequencies of gastrointestinal disorders.

Vaccines prevent diseases and are safe for the majority of children. But as the Poling case indicates, the possibility that vaccines or some component in them is a factor in the explosion of children with neurological disorders should not be ignored. Medical experts should be examining the national vaccine schedule to determine whether or not children are being immunized too early and too often.

In the meantime, what should parents do about vaccinating their children? First, find a doctor who is open to a modified vaccination schedule. Many vaccines given to infants can be delayed until the child is school age or older. Other important considerations:

• Do not ever vaccinate a child who is ill, even with the “sniffles.”

• Do not give more than one or two shots at time. Space them out as much as possible even if it means extra visits to the doctor.

• Do not allow your child to receive a vaccine that contains thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative. Although mercury has been removed from most new vaccines, there are many still being used that predate that removal. Furthermore, some shots, e.g., flu shots and tetanus shots, still contain some mercury.

For more information, visit the National Vaccine Information Center website at www.909shot.com.

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