By Dr. Mercola
In February 1998, the Lancet published Dr. Andrew Wakefield's case series of a group of autistic children with gastric problems, which has become one of the most controversial studies in medicine because part of the patients' story included regression after receiving the MMR vaccine.
The debate is a heated one, as the study suggests there may be a link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism.
In an interview I conducted with Dr. Wakefield in 2010, he said he knew he was about to enter treacherous waters when the study was published, and he expected the inevitable backlash from the vaccine industry.
However, "backlash" is putting it mildly, as Dr. Wakefield's reputation was completely smeared.
The latest revelations in this controversy add yet another twist, and suggest that a series of articles published by the BMJ in January 2011 alleging that Wakefield falsified data, making the original Lancet article fraudulent, were in fact the inaccurate ones …
New Investigation Defends Wakefield's Lancet Study
At the heart of the Wakefield controversy has been whether or not the children in the study were, in fact, diagnosed with non-specific colitis, or if that information had been fabricated -- allegations that were largely initiated by investigative journalist Brian Deer.
Writing in the BMJ, research microbiologist David Lewis, of the National Whistleblowers Center, explains that he reviewed histopathological grading sheets by two of Dr. Wakefield's coauthors, pathologists Amar Dhillon and Andrew Anthony, and concluded there was no fraud committed by Dr. Wakefield:
"As a research microbiologist involved with the collection and examination of colonic biopsy samples, I do not believe that Dr. Wakefield intentionally misinterpreted the grading sheets as evidence of "non-specific colitis." Dhillon indicated "non-specific" in a box associated, in some cases, with other forms of colitis. In addition, if Anthony's grading sheets are similar to ones he completed for the Lancet article, they suggest that he diagnosed "colitis" in a number of the children."
In a press release, Lewis continued:
"The grading sheets and other evidence in Wakefield's files clearly show that it is unreasonable to conclude, based on a comparison of the histological records, that Andrew Wakefield 'faked' a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Now that these records have seen the light of day, it is time for others to stop using them for this purpose as well. False allegations of research misconduct can destroy the careers of even the most accomplished and reputable scientists overnight. It may take years for them to prove their innocence; and even then the damages are often irreparable. In cases where mistakes are made, every effort should be taken to fully restore the reputations and careers of scientists who are falsely accused of research misconduct."
Wakefield is Not the Only Researcher to Look Into the Possible Connection Between MMR Vaccine, Bowel Disease and Autism
While the press continues to battle over Dr. Wakefield's purported guilt or innocence, the bigger issue -- that there appears to be a connection between inflammation, and particularly gut inflammation, and autism -- is getting lost in the shuffle. Plus, other research has confirmed Wakefield's hotly contested findings, linking the MMR triple vaccine with bowel disease and autism -- contrary to what you might hear in the press.
" … a team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina are examining 275 children with regressive autism and bowel disease - and of the 82 tested so far, 70 prove positive for the measles virus … the team's leader, Dr Stephen Walker, said: 'Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain and none are wild measles.
This research proves that in the gastrointestinal tract of a number of children who have been diagnosed with regressive autism, there is evidence of measles virus. What it means is that the study done earlier by Dr Wakefield and published in 1998 is correct.
That study didn't draw any conclusions about specifically what it means to find measles virus in the gut, but the implication is it may be coming from the MMR vaccine. If that's the case, and this live virus is residing in the gastrointestinal tract of some children, and then they have GI inflammation and other problems, it may be related to the MMR."
The lead researcher, Stephen J. Walker, Ph.D., was also quick to state however, that this does not necessarily mean the MMR vaccine causes autism. Still, his research notes the same connection that Wakefield's team did, which is that many autistic children have chronic bowel inflammation, and have the vaccine strain of the measles virus in their intestines.
Says Dr. Wakefield of his original 1998 findings:
"… it's been replicated in Canada, in the U.S., in Venezuela, in Italy… [but] they never get mentioned. All you ever hear is that no one else has ever been able to replicate the findings. I'm afraid that is false."
You can see a list of 28 studies from around the world that support Dr. Wakefield's controversial findings in this past article. In addition to his hotly contested MMR study, Dr. Wakefield has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers looking at the mechanism and cause of inflammatory bowel disease, and has extensively investigated the brain-bowel connection in the context of children with developmental disorders such as autism. As described below, other researchers are also doing the same …
What You Should Know About Gut Health and Autism …
In her research, Dr. Campbell-McBride discovered that nearly all of the mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because newborns inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of your baby's immune system. Babies who develop abnormal gut flora are left with compromised immune systems, putting them at higher risk for suffering vaccine reactions.
If your baby has suboptimal gut flora, vaccines can become the proverbial "last straw"—the trigger that "primes" his/her immune system to develop chronic heath problems.
In short, there is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development—a condition Dr. Campbell-McBride calls Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).The best way to prevent GAPS is for the mother to avoid all antibiotics and birth control pills prior to conception and then by breastfeeding and avoiding the use of antibiotics after delivering. This is because they destroy the balance of gut floras and promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria. In addition to breastfeeding,
I highly recommend the use of fermented foods and probiotics for your baby to help reduce his/her risk of GAPS.
Fortunately, it's possible to screen your child for GAPS before he or she is vaccinated, so that you can make a better-informed vaccination decision. Dr. Campbell-McBride describes the entire process in her book. It involves providing a detailed family health history to a knowledgeable healthcare provider, combined with stool and urine analysis, and these combine to give you a picture of your baby's gut health and overall immune status.Dr. Campbell-McBride states:
"If your child has abnormal gut flora, we can assume that your child has compromised immunity, and these children must not be vaccinated with the standard vaccination protocol because they simply get damaged by it. They should not be vaccinated."
These non-invasive tests are now available in most laboratories around the world for, typically, $80 to $100 each. This cost is insignificant compared to the incredible expense of treating an autistic child, once the damage is done.
New research published by the American Society for Microbiology further contends:
"Many children with autism have gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances that can complicate clinical management and contribute to behavioral problems. Understanding the molecular and microbial underpinnings of these GI issues is of paramount importance for elucidating pathogenesis, rendering diagnosis, and administering informed treatment.
Here we describe an association between high levels of intestinal, mucoepithelial-associated Sutterella species and GI disturbances in children with autism. These findings elevate this little-recognized bacterium to the forefront by demonstrating that Sutterella is a major component of the microbiota in over half of children with autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction (AUT-GI) and is absent in children with only gastrointestinal dysfunction (Control-GI) evaluated in this study."
Remember, you make serious, at times life-and-death, decisions based on what and who you believe … The avalanche of autism must be curbed—and quickly! And for now the burden rests on you, the parent, to take control of your and your child's health, and to arm yourself with information that can have life-altering ramifications when it comes to making health care decisions.
Please, as always, make your vaccination decisions educated ones.