By Dr. Mercola
Many parents don't think twice about taking their children in for routine vaccinations, as they are an integral and heavily promoted part of the conventional medical system. But this decision has had life altering, and sometimes life-ending, ramifications for more children than you might expect.
Many hard core health activists are distressed that I do not promote the avoidance of all vaccines outright. Instead, I strongly urge you to invest the time to educate yourself about the potential benefits and risks of each vaccine prior to vaccination, and to make educated decisions based on what you conclude is likely to be the best course of action for your child.
While some vaccines appear to be safer than others, it's important to realize that each vaccination carries a certain amount of risk and vaccine risks can be greater for some than others due to biological and environmental factors, and the timing and types of vaccines given. The risks of vaccination may be exponentially increased when revaccination takes place after an individual has already had a previous vaccine reaction, or when multiple vaccines are administered at the same time.
There are vaccines that historically have been associated with more side effects than others, and the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine - MMR shot - is one of those.
The MMR vaccine's side effects has been in the news for about 15 years, and we're undoubtedly going to see a re-emergence of questions about this vaccine in the coming days and weeks because the Italian health ministry recently conceded that the MMR vaccine caused autism in a now nine-year-old boy, who suffered brain inflammation and permanent brain damage after he was vaccinated.
Italian Court Rules MMR Vaccine Caused Autism
Valentino Bocca was given an MMR shot in 2004, at the age of 15 months. According to his parents, the change in his behavior was immediate. That same night he refused to eat, and he developed diarrhea during the night. It quickly went downhill from there. Within days he was no longer able to put a spoon to his mouth, and he spent nights crying in pain. His parents immediately suspected the vaccination, but were told this was "impossible." Valentino progressively regressed, and received the diagnosis of autism a year later.
In the final analysis, the Italian Health Ministry disagreed with the initial conclusion of the pediatrician, conceding that the vaccine was at fault.
As a result, a court in Rimini, Italy recently awarded the Bocca family a 15-year annuity totaling 174,000 Euros (just under $220,000), plus reimbursement for court costs, ruling that Valentino "has been damaged by irreversible complications due to vaccination (prophylaxis trivalent MMR)i." According to a featured article in the UK newspaper, The Independentii, about 100 similar cases are now being examined by Italian lawyers, and more cases may be brought to court.
"Luca Ventaloro the family lawyer, said yesterday: "This is very significant for Britain which uses, and has used, an MMR vaccine with the same components as the one given to Valentino.
It is wrong for governments and their health authorities to exert strong pressure on parents to take children for the MMR jab while ignoring that this vaccine can cause autism and linked conditions." The number of autism cases has risen sharply since the 1970s, with one in 64 British children affected," The Independent reportsiii .
Why is US Media in Black-Out on this Story?
It's well worth mentioning that this story has yet to be addressed in the US media... The Daily Mail was the first paper in the UK to talk about it on June 15iv. The Independent was the second to print an article, on June 17. The Daily Mail was the most substantive of the two. Their version included the following statements:
"Judge Lucio Ardigo, awarding compensation to the family... said it was 'conclusively established' that Valentino had suffered from an 'autistic disorder associated with medium cognitive delay' and his illness, as Dr Barboni stated, was linked to receiving the jab. Lawyer Mr Ventaloro explained yesterday: 'This is very significant for Britain which uses, and has used, an MMR vaccine with the same components as the one given to Valentino. 'It is wrong for governments and their health authorities to exert strong pressure on parents to take children for the MMR jab while ignoring that this vaccine can cause autism and linked conditions.'
Claudio Simion, a leading member of the lobby group Association for Freedom of Choice in Vaccination (Comilva), adds: 'The Rimini judgment is vitally important for children everywhere. The numbers with autism are growing. It is a terrible thing that the authorities turn a blind eye to the connection between the MMR vaccination and this illness.'"
The complete lack of coverage of this case in the US media is a potent example of how health information is flat out censored in the US. Is it any wonder so many Americans are still in the dark? Whether hearing about this case in the US media would sway you to believe vaccines may cause autism or not, the REAL story here is the fact that you're not even being allowed to learn about it in the first place!
"Controversial" MMR Vaccine Research Replicated and Accurate
It's virtually impossible to read an article about the MMR vaccine without coming across a reference to British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield's 1998 research published in The Lancet, which suggested there may be a link between the MMR vaccine, chronic bowel disease, and autism. Ever since the article's publication, it has remained one of the most cited yet controversial studies on the topic of vaccine safety.
Few public health officials or doctors speaking about vaccination in the media today fail to drive home the point that Wakefield's research was subsequently "discredited" by the General Medical Council in Britain, while completely ignoring the facts about what his research actually showed, and the long list of studies done since then by other researchers that back up his initial findings.
Dr. Wakefield's 1998 study involved a retrospective case series analysis, which essentially reviews the clinical histories of a group of patients with a constellation of signs and symptoms that link them together and create a pattern. In this case, it was a group of autistic children with gastrointestinal problems, which led to the discovery of a novel bowel disease that Wakefield and his colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital in London first described.
But rather than celebrating the discovery of a tangible, treatable and potentially preventable serious health problem that could help those suffering with similar health issues, Wakefield's discovery became a hotly debated controversy in which Dr. Wakefield's personal and professional reputation was smeared.
Because the clinical story didn't end with bowel disease; it also included symptoms of regressive autism after receiving the MMR vaccine...
In the years following his 1998 finding, which linked the MMR vaccine to inflammatory bowel disease and symptoms of autism, Dr. Wakefield published another 19 papers on the vaccine-induced bowel disorder. All were peer reviewed, and none have been retracted. However, none of these 19 papers are ever discussed in the media.
The only study that keeps seeing the light of day is the original Lancet article from 1998. Another interesting fact is that, since that study, a large number of replication studies have been performed around the world, by other researchers, that confirm Wakefield's initial findings. Yet you never hear a word about those either!
For a list of 28 studies from around the world that support Dr. Wakefield's controversial 1998 findings, please see this previous article.
As one example of many, at the 2006 International Meeting for Autism Research, Stephen J. Walker, Ph.D. shared preliminary research findings that confirmed Dr. Wakefield's contested findings.
A research team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina had examined children with regressive autism and bowel disease, and of the 82 tested at the time of his presentation, 70 were positive for the vaccine strain of the measles virus (as opposed to the wild strain of measles). What this proved was that a majority of children diagnosed with regressive autism had the vaccine strain of measles in their gastrointestinal tract, which is exactly what Dr. Wakefield had found back in 1998.
This doesn't automatically prove the vaccine was the cause of the autism, but it does at the very least suggest a link between these three factors—the presence of MMR vaccine strain of measles in the digestive tract; chronic bowel inflammation; and symptoms of regressive autism. Which brings us to even more recent research into the ramifications of chronic bowel inflammation.
The Connection Between Your Gut and Your Brain
Is it really so unlikely that chronic bowel inflammation from a measles virus could lead to autistic behavior? After all, the gastrointestinal system is often referred to as your "second brain," containing some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system!
The research of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride shows there's a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, your brain, and your immune system, and she has developed what might be one of the most profoundly important treatment strategies for preventing autism, as well as a wide range of other neurological-, psychological-, and autoimmune disorders—all of which are heavily influenced by your gut health.
I believe her Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and Gut and Physiology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional program is vitally important for MOST people, as the majority of people have such poor gut health due to poor diet and toxic exposures, but it's particularly crucial for pregnant women and young children.
According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, children who are born with severely damaged gut flora are at a significantly increased risk of vaccine damage, which may help explain why some children develop symptoms of autism after receiving one or more childhood vaccinations, such as the MMR vaccine, while others do not.
In a previous interview, she explained the chain of events that is typical for many, if not most, autistic children:
"What happens in these children [is that] they do not develop normal gut flora from birth… As a result, their digestive system—instead of being a source of nourishment for these children—becomes a major source of toxicity. These pathogenic microbes inside their digestive tract damage the integrity of the gut wall. So all sort of toxins and microbes flood into the bloodstream of the child, and get into the brain of the child.
That usually happens in the second year of life in children who were breast fed because breastfeeding provides a protection against this abnormal gut flora. In children who were not breastfed, I see the symptoms of autism developing in the first year of life. So breastfeeding is crucial to protect these children."
If a child with abnormal gut flora and damaged digestive tract receives a vaccine, the added toxic burden may prove too great to bear. Keep in mind that this toxic burden is NOT necessarily limited to thimerosal (mercury-based preservative) or aluminum-based adjuvants found in some vaccines. The MMR vaccine for example does not contain thimerosal or aluminum. Instead, it appears the measles virus in the vaccine may contribute to chronic inflammation of the bowel, thereby unleashing a cascade of harmful effects on the brain.
"... If the child's brain is clogged with toxicity, the child misses that window of opportunity of learning and starts developing autism depending on the mixture of toxins, depending on how severe the whole condition is, and how severely abnormal the gut flora is in the child," Dr. Campbell-McBride explains.
It's important to understand that the gut flora your child acquires during vaginal birth is dependent on your—the mother's—gut flora. So if your microflora is abnormal, your child's will be as well. Autism isn't the only potential outcome in this case.
GAPS may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of either autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities. Digestive issues, asthma, allergies, skin problems and autoimmune disorders are also common outgrowths of GAPS, as it can present itself either psychologically or physiologically.
A Simple, Inexpensive Solution to Reduce Risks of Vaccine Damage
Dr. Campbell-McBride's book Gut and Psychology Syndrome contains an entire chapter outlining what health care professionals need to do to improve the vaccination strategy, because the standard vaccination protocol is bound to damage GAPS babies. She explains:
"It's a matter of the last straw breaking the camel's back. If the child is damaged enough, the vaccine can provide that last straw. But if it doesn't provide that last straw in a particular child, then it will get the child closer to the breaking point."
Fortunately, it's possible to rather inexpensively identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby's life, which can help you make better-informed decisions about vaccinations, and about how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.
The entire process for identifying children who would be at risk for developing autism from a vaccine is described in her book, but to sum it up, in her practice she starts out by collecting a complete health history of the parents, and their gut health is assessed.
Then, within the first few days of life, the stool of the child can be analyzed to determine the state of her gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child's immune system.
These tests are available in most laboratories around the world and cost a very reasonable amount, about $80-100 per test -- peanuts compared to the incredible expense of treating an autistic child once the damage is done.
In my view it is absolutely VITAL to perform this analysis BEFORE you consider vaccinating your child. As Dr. Campbell-McBride states, she has yet to find an autistic child with normal bowel flora. If you find that your baby has abnormal gut microflora, or begins to develop symptoms of autism a year or two later, the GAPS program should be started immediately, as the younger the child is when you start the treatment, the better the results.
You should seriously evaluate the potential increased risks of giving a child vaccines before their microflora tests normal. For more information about the GAPS Nutritional Program, including the two types of GAPS diets, and the importance of fermented foods, please review this previous article.
MMR Vaccine Linked to Brain Inflammation
Whereas the research of Dr. Wakefield and others provide compelling evidence that MMR vaccine can cause chronic inflammatory bowel disease, other researchers have found links between the MMR and inflammation of the brain. Dr. Harold Buttram has written about the MMR vaccine's potential link to autism, due to the vaccine's potential to cause brain inflammation. He explains:
"First and perhaps foremost, MMR is incubated in chick embryo culture medium, which necessarily includes precursors of all the organ systems of the chick, including myelin basic protein. Merck Pharmaceuticals, which produces MMR vaccine, claims that all traces of the chick embryo are removed before the vaccine is released for use.
This may be true, but it is probably irrelevant as it does not take into account the process of mobile genetic elements, more commonly referred to as "jumping genes." Viruses being made up entirely of genetic material, they are highly susceptible to this process.
It has been shown that viruses are genetically changed by accepting genetic material from cell cultures.' The genetic imprint of the chick myelin basic protein, which is foreign to the human system because of its chick origin, may be programmed to induce antibodies against human myelin basic protein, once injected into the human system.
This in turn, potentially resulting in encephalitis."
If you don't want to take his word for it, take a look at the package insert for Merck's MMR vaccinev , which, on page seven, lists encephalitis as a potential side effect. Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is another, along with a number of other potentially life altering conditions. Rarely, if ever, will your pediatrician calmly inform you of these reported side effects, which is why you'd be wise to read through the vaccine manufacturer product inserts as part of your own personal research, prior to vaccination.
Other Acknowledged Cases of MMR Vaccine Brain Damage
In 2009, the US District Court of Claims, also known as the "Vaccine Court," ruled in favor of awarding federal vaccine injury compensation to a young boy, who developed Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD), a constellation of symptoms of brain dysfunction that includes autism and other learning disorders.
The parents of Bailey Banks argued that their son had a seizure 16 days after his first MMR vaccination. That, they said, led to a type of brain inflammation called Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which, in turn, led to PDD.
The court agreed that the MMR vaccine had, indeed, caused him to suffer Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis leading to permanent brain damage. According to the court decision, there was, "a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay."
As you can see, what we're seeing in some cases is little more than semantics, really, because what's the difference, in practical terms, between PDD and autism? Both words describe chronic brain dysfunction. They are essentially two ways to describe the same brain disorder at different points along a spectrum.
Essentially, this is how many people are misled and kept in the dark, because when the word "autism" is not used, everyone can keep insisting that "there's no evidence linking vaccines to autism." Still, for a parent and their affected child, the end result is the same
The case of Hannah Poling is another important case to ponder when discussing potential vaccine damage. In her case, it was found that vaccines "significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder," resulting in a brain disorder "with features of autism spectrum disorder."
Mitochondria are the powerhouses in your body's cells that produce energy. The US Court of Claims and government health agencies again stopped short of admitting a direct link between autism and vaccines, saying instead that vaccines may only be a danger for children who have a "rare" mitochondrial dysfunction.
The problem is that mitochondrial "dysfunction" may not be as rare as initially thought. According to some estimates, the prevalence may be as high as 1 in 50 children—which is pretty darn close to the current prevalence of autism.
But is it possible that what the government is calling a genetic predisposition for mitochondrial dysfunction is actually a biological or cellular response to numerous environmental assaults? You bet!
A brand new meta-analysis published in the March issue of Molecular Psychiatryvi discovered that, while five percent of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) had mitochondrial dysfunction (MD)—far higher than that found in the general population—79 percent of them were NOT associated with any kind of genetic abnormality! Seventy-four percent of children with ASD were also found to have gastrointestinal abnormalities, again supporting the link between chronic bowel disorders and autistic symptoms.
According to the authors:
"Neuroimaging, in vitro and post-mortem brain studies were consistent with an elevated prevalence of mitochondrial dysfunction (MD) in ASD. Taken together, these findings suggest children with ASD have a spectrum of mitochondrial dysfunction of differing severity...
The prevalence of developmental regression (52%), seizures (41%), motor delay (51%), gastrointestinal abnormalities (74%), female gender (39%), and elevated lactate (78%) and pyruvate (45%) was significantly higher in ASD/MD compared with the general ASD population.
The prevalence of many of these abnormalities was similar to the general population of children with mitochondrial dysfunction, suggesting that ASD/MD represents a distinct subgroup of children with MD.
Most ASD/MD cases (79%) were not associated with genetic abnormalities, raising the possibility of secondary mitochondrial dysfunction. Treatment studies for ASD/MD were limited, although improvements were noted in some studies with carnitine, co-enzyme Q10 and B-vitamins.
... Overall, this evidence supports the notion that mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with ASD. Additional studies are needed to further define the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD." [Emphasis mine]
A Pediatrician Responds
In response to the Italian case, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, MDvii, posted the following statement on his Facebook page:
"One of the reasons the measles vaccine was originally administered to children was to prevent against the unfortunate, but rare complication of a measles infection-SSPE (Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis). Before the measles vaccine was licensed for use in the US in 1963, the CDC reports that 400,000 cases of measles infections occurred each year in the US. Yet, the incidence rate of measles encephalitis (SSPE) was only .0061 %. Encephalitis is another term for brain inflammation, and it occurs rarely after a measles infection due to a slow viral infection of the brain weeks, months or even years after the resolution of a measles infection.
According to the CDCviii , there were 368 cases of SSPE in US citizens between 1969 and 1981. 55 % (202) of the cases had only a history of having had a measles infection. 14 % (51) had a history of only having received the measles vaccine, and 17% had a history of having had both the natural measles infection and the measles vaccine. 14% (52) gave no history of either having had the measles infection or the vaccine. These data clearly show that SSPE can occur after a subset of people have received the measles vaccine.
The development of encephalitis is not just limited to people, who experience a natural measles infection. According to the CDC, 1 in 88 US children have received the diagnosis of autismix. In children with autism, we are finding that they too have a considerable amount of brain inflammation. In other words, children with autism also suffer from encephalitis.
Since the CDC points out that encephalitis can occur in people who receive the measles vaccine, it is scientifically valid to say that in a subset of the 1 in 88 children who suffer from autism, i.e., brain inflammation, the measles vaccine they received may have contributed to the onset of their brain inflammation. So, here's the tradeoff. We've gone from an encephalitis incidence rate post measles infection of .0061% to an encephalitis incidence rate post measles vaccination of 1.14% (1 in 88 children).
As a result of the use of the measles vaccine, we see fewer obvious cases of acute measles infections. Instead, however, we now have many more clinical cases of chronic brain inflammation, the very complication of a natural measles infection that the vaccine was supposed to protect against.
I'd say the measles vaccine program has failed to accomplish what it was meant to do, and now, as a result of our attempts to minimize the rare complication of a measles infection by stopping children from experiencing a measles infection, we have created the very problem of an inordinate amount of children with chronic brain inflammation. "
Why Don't Health Agencies Look At Risks of Excess Vaccinations?
Bear in mind that vaccine safety is not just about individual vaccines. Dr. Russell Blaylock has written an excellent paper that explains the connection between excessive vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism that is definitely worth reading.
Dr. Blaylock is suggesting that vaccines can over-stimulate your child's immune system and, when several vaccines are administered together, or in close succession, their interaction may completely overwhelm your child's developing immune system.
It's your child, so it's up to you to make an informed decision. For parents who are looking for the truth about vaccinations, I invite you to continue your journey by searching this site and other reliable resources like the National Vaccine Information Center for more information.
Why We Must Insist on Invoking the Precautionary Principle
If multiple toxic exposures and poor nutrition is to blame, then trying to tease out "the" primary culprit for autism will get us nowhere. I believe we must tackle the issue of ASD with a much wider aim, and that is to:
- Reduce ALL toxic exposures
- Improve nutrition for pregnant women and young children
- Improve digestive health of pregnant women and young children, and test all newborns to evaluate their digestive flora to help determine the safest time to vaccinate, for those who choose to do so
This tactic includes but is not limited to reducing the vaccine load, especially in the US where children receive the most vaccines of any country on the planet. I believe it's imperative to invoke the precautionary principle with respects to vaccines, and, at the very least, allow people to opt out if they so choose.
While vaccine advocates tend to stress the importance of so-called "herd immunity," saying the vaccine will not work unless the majority is vaccinated, there's a great price to pay by forcing everyone into a one-size-fits-all mold.
Not only are some children at greater risk for vaccine damage than others, but we also eliminate the ability to evaluate the health risks of vaccinations if no one is allowed to opt out. We NEED to conduct comparison studies to evaluate the health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, yet such studies are not done.
An oft-cited reason for that is that it would be unethical to not vaccinate certain children... But this is not really a reasonable excuse today, as many parents want to opt out of one or more vaccines for their children.
Deciding whether or not to vaccinate your child is a VITAL decision with very high stakes. I implore you to avoid exclusively relying on the advice of public health officials and the media, which are clearly biased and influenced by vaccine industry money. There is a revolving door between many federal regulatory, policymaking and research agencies, like the FDA, CDC and NIH. Former heads of several of these government health agencies are now executives in two of the largest pharmaceutical corporations marketing vaccines in the world.
There are major conflicts of interest between the vaccine industry and government health agencies, which virtually makes it impossible to receive objective advice from them. It is crucial to investigate the other side of the vaccine story and evaluate the risks of vaccines before you make your decision.
One good place to start is NVIC.org as they have been providing accurate and balanced vaccine information and insights to parents on this topic for the last 30 years.