Tag Archives: MMR vaccine and autism

Andrew Wakefield, autism/MMR study renounced

The Wall Street Journal today ran a story on the U.K.’s decision to renounce Andrew Wakefield, a doctor who raised questions about vaccination possibly causing autism.

Wakefield’s study has been the subject of a three-year hearing in front of Britain’s General Medical Council. The council found Wakefield guilty of “serious professional misconduct” and struck his name from the U.K.’s medical register.

At issue was a small study, published in 1998 in The Lancet, describing 12 “previously normal” children with serious gastroentestinal problems. Some were autistic as well. According to the Journal, the paper concluded in this way:

“In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps and rubella immunization. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”

Now, I think these guys in the U.K. are reacting pretty strongly to such a mildly worded suggestion at the end of Wakefield’s paper. (As it happens, I believe, further research has found no link between the measles virus in the MMR vaccine and autism.)

Goes to show how political this vaccination question is.

Parents seek ballot initiative on autism-vaccine link

hypodermic

The battle lines have been drawn for at least five years now, and not much is happening. Many parents of autistics are convinced that vaccines may be to blame. The trend of more and more autism, after all, tracks with the trend of more and more childhood vaccines.  Now it’s 1 in 100 kids in America that have autism, according to some measures, compared to 1 in 10,000 40 years ago.

And the medical establishment, convinced that vaccines are safe, looked into a couple of sub-theories about vaccines and autism (that the measles virus in the MMR causes autism, and that mercury in vaccines causes autsim), declared them invalid, and apparently isn’t planning to do anything else.

In particular, the medical establishment isn’t doing the obvious study: comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations and checking autism rates. Why would they? They’re convinced vaccines are safe. And the mainstream media is parroting the CDC and others. Why wouldn’t they? They’re convinced doctors know what they are talking about.

But many, many parents of autistics are convinced that the doctors and vaccine-makers don’t know what they are talking about, and that vaccines caused their child’s autism. (After all, no tests have been done of the safety of multiple vaccines, just individual ones.) In many of these families, subsequent children have remained unvaccinated–and are not autistic.

So how many of these families are there? Nobody knows. The study looking for autism cases in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations has to be done, and some autism parent groups are teaming up to try to get it done. They’re also hoping to get a viable national dialogue going.

Generation Rescue, Age of Autism, and Talk About Curing Autism, three of these autism advocacy groups, are teaming up to gather donations to put the issue into the public square.  According to Age of Autism’s Kent Heckenlively, liability concerns limit how much exposure a talk show host wants to give here-say items like parent reports on vaccinations. But once the item becomes a political issue, as with a ballot initiative, it becomes fair game.

Organizers hope the vehicle will be a ballot initiative in Oregon, a plan announced November 16. Exactly what would be on the ballot isn’t determined yet. There is a long list of possibilities in Heckenlively’s article. One of the major ones, though, is requiring the government of Oregon to fund a study that compares autism rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Another is permitting waiver of vaccine requirements because of individual philosophy. A third is requiring that the MMR vaccine be made available as three separate vaccines, to be taken at least a week apart.

Why Oregon? The organizers favored California but decided that a campaign in Oregon would cost a lot less–“just” $2 million to $5 million.  So they’re asking for donations from people like you and me to get the issue into the public arena.

Why is this initiative a good idea? The other venue, the vaccine court, isn’t proving a good place to air the issue. The vaccine court was set up by Congress as it created a liability shield for vaccine makers. The court controls a liability fund. In a Feb. 12 decision, the vaccine court ruled that lawyers for three cases, representing 5,000 autism vaccine claims, had not proven that autism was caused in these cases by MMR or thimerosal. (These are the two sub-issues that have been examined and rebutted by studies.) But the court had required that the lawyers come up with a specific causation theory. It couldn’t handle the case that vaccines could be causing autism, but no one knows exactly why at this time. This is where we stand. One hypothesis is that there appear to be “too many, too soon”–too many shots (35), too soon in a child’s life (starting on day 1). But that’s not specific enough for the vaccine court.

The autism parents are trying to get the whole issue out into the public square. They’re not the richest folks in the world–most of them are strapped, trying to pay for supplements, gluten-free diets, and so on. Can you help?

You can donate at Generation Rescue’s website. When you get to the donation page, click that you want to make the donation in honor of somebody, then during Step 2 place the word “Ballot” in the personal note section so your donation can be directed to this cause.

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MMR vaccine: never adequately tested

I am still digesting the book written by Bryan Jepson, MD.  Today I am going to look at the studies done that approved the MMR vaccine for use by the public, as reported by Jepson.

Full-blown measles is a bad virus, no doubt about that. It can cause diseases of the gastrointestinal system and the central nervous system (encephalitis). It can suppress the immune system profoundly.

But what about the milder version of the disease that’s in the MMR vaccine? (MMR for measles, mumps, and rubella)  It’s still bad. The vaccine has been shown to cause complications including acute gastrointestinal problems such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; arthritis, seizures, meningitis, and encephalitis.  These possibilities have been well known for a while. But not particularly common, we assume, seeing as how the vaccine is approved for use.

But that approval was flawed, Jepson argues.  “The pre-licensure safety studies on the various forms of MMR were grossly inadequate in terms of methodology, presence of a good control group, and duration of active follow-up (all follow-ups were less than 28 days; the latent period of the virus is known to last up to 21 days),” wrote Jepson (p. 80).  After this short period, doctors were asked to self-report adverse reactions, a system known to severely under-estimate incidence of reactions.  “All of the adverse reactions were either dismisssed by authorities as coincidental or accepted as an unavoidable element of an overall risk/benefit analysis, a ratio that has never been adequately established through appropriate research studies.”

I don’t know about you but I find this alarming.  MY KIDS all got these shots.  I trusted the doctors. Who were they trusting?

The next problem with the vaccine is the fact that there are three live viruses in it, each indendently associated with autism. Measles,  which strongly suppresses the Th1 anti-viral immune response, will leave the body open to attack by a second virus.

Now, remind me again, why are we doing this to our children?  Jepson says the importance of giving such vaccines to small children is debatable.  Mumps is relatively benign for children, says Jepson.  In fact the mumps vaccine will confer immunity for only a few years, so it doesn’t actually protect when it’s more needed–for males after puberty, when it can cause sterility.  Rubella can cause developmental disability if a woman is infected during pregnancy. But there were only about 20 such cases in the US per year before the vaccine policy went into effect, says Jepson.

“It would make more sense to target susceptible risk groups, such as immediately pre-pubertal males for mumps and pubertal females for rubella, rather than requirng all toddlers to receive a vaccine with viral-viral interactions that are not yet clearly established, and that provide them with time-limited protection at the time in their lives when they least need it,” says Jepson. (p. 81)

Jepson, Bryan, MD, and Jane Johnson, Changing the Course of Autism, Sentient Publications, 2007, 354 pages

Those with Allergies in the Family Are at Higher Risk

Bryan Jepson, MD, says that families most susceptible to autism are those that have a history of allergies.  It is these families that have common gene mutations which may contribute to autism, he says.

Dr. Jepson takes a chapter to explain the immune system in layman’s terms. I will boil it down in this way: when live foreign material, an antigen, enters the body, a T-helper cell (a white blood cell) decides what to do. This “Th” for T helper cell decides whether to invoke a Th1 response or a Th2 response.

  • The Th1 response attacks using cells, effective against viruses and some bacteria.
  • The Th2 response creates antibodies, more effective against pathogens outside the cells.

The immune system can become damaged, and the Th “general” starts making wrong decisions. If it calls for too many Th2 responses,  allergies result. In addition, the individual is less able to fight off viruses.  This can also cause widespread autoimmune reactions, where the body is attacking itself all the time.

Dr. Jepson cited a number of studies which have demonstrated that the quantity and function of immune cells are abnormal in children with autism. Researchers have also found plenty of evidence of food allergies in autism. Campbell et al found a common gene mutation to be a risk factor for autism; this MET gene is involved in brain, immune system, and gastro-intestinal tract.

So someone with a genetically weak immune system (family history of allergies) is exposed to a level of toxins that causes the immune system to become damaged. Then the body reacts toward most antigens with the Th2 response, whether that’s appropriate or not.  As a result, the individual may get a lot of allergies, particularly food allergies. In addition, a virus (from a vaccine?) may not be dealt with by the immune system, and could be causing autism according to some theorists.

In fact, many studies have shown cases where viral infections including measles have induced autism, says Jepson. “It’s thought that these pathogens induce an immune response, resulting in neuroinflammation, autiimmune reaction, and brain injury,” says Jepson (p. 63).

An English team led by Andrew Wakefield published a study in 1998 examining 12 consecutive children referred to their clinic for chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and developmental disorders.  Eight of the children were believed by their parents to have regressed because of the MMR vaccine. Wakefield found extreme bowel inflammation, especially in the small intestine, in all the children. He theorized that the measles virus in the MMR vaccine in some children creates an abonormal immune response that allows the measles virus to persist chronically.  This gut inflammation allows toxins to enter the bloodstream from food or bacteria, ultimately causing secondary brain injury and autistic behaviors.

Jepson lays out the resulting storm of controversy following Wakefield’s publication, and concludes that there is not yet a conclusive answer to the question of how the MMR might be connected to autism.

Jepson, Bryan, MD, and Jane Johnson, Changing the Course of Autism, Sentient Publications, 2007, 354 pages