ARE WE FACING AN AUTISM EPIDEMIC?; for Years, Doctors Pooh-Poohed Parents' Fears over the MMR Jab. When Cases of Autistic Children Rocketed by around 270%, the Statistics Were Dismissed as Fantasy. but Now the Evidence Is Growing Too Strong to Ignore

By Phillips, Melanie | Daily Mail (London), March 13, 2003 | Go to article overview

ARE WE FACING AN AUTISM EPIDEMIC?; for Years, Doctors Pooh-Poohed Parents' Fears over the MMR Jab. When Cases of Autistic Children Rocketed by around 270%, the Statistics Were Dismissed as Fantasy. but Now the Evidence Is Growing Too Strong to Ignore


Phillips, Melanie, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: MELANIE PHILLIPS

FOR three months, Mail writer Melanie Phillips has been investigating the MMR controversy. Here, in the last of three major articles, she examines claims that the vaccine has triggered an epidemic of autism in our children - and how the evidence is piling up that official complacency is sorely misplaced.

ACCORDING to the medical establishment, the whole idea is a nonsense. The suggestion that a new autistic bowel disease is now affecting large numbers of children who were previously normal until they were vaccinated with MMR is simply not borne out by the evidence.

There is, say these experts, nothing new going on. All that's happened is that a few parents are desperate to invent a reason for the appalling disorder of autism that has afflicted their children.

Autism often isn't noticed until the second year of life, which happens to be the time children are vaccinated with MMR. The parents, so the experts insist, have put two and two together and made five.

So it came as a bit of a shock to attend the annual meeting of the Autism Society of America in Indianapolis last June.

There I discovered upwards of 1,000 parents, most of whom told the same story: that their children were developing totally normally until they had MMR, following which their skills and personalities disintegrated and they developed appalling gut problems and food intolerances.

Take Jeff Sell, a Texas lawyer with eight-year-old twins, Ben and Joe.

Ben was born with an autistic disorder but Joe passed all the normal milestones until he had MMR.

'Joe had an immediate reaction with epileptic seizures, very high fever, rash and vomiting the next day,' said Sell. 'We took him to the doctor and were given the standard party line. In a few months after that the language he had developed had all gone, and chronic diarrhoea set in.' Or take Liz Birt from Chicago. Her eight-year-old son Matthew passed all his developmental milestones until he had MMR and Hib (haemophilus influenza type B) vaccinations at 15 months.

'That night he had a high temperature.

Seven days later he started to have severe diarrhoea and stopped sleeping at night. He would wake at 1am and be up for the rest of the night. And he started screaming.

'I was very concerned because he wasn't growing and putting on weight. A few months later he started staring at lights, not making eye contact.

'Previously, he could count to ten, say mama and dada and ball but all these words went away. Then it seemed he wasn't hearing what we were saying at all.' Despite the fact that Matthew had chronic diarrhoea, doctors dismissed his mother's concerns. But then she took him to be examined by Andrew Wakefield's team at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

Wakefield is the British doctor who first raised the alarm about MMR, linking it to autism and bowel problems.

His team discovered that Matthew was in constant pain from a grossly impacted and diseased bowel something he believes is directly linked to autism following MMR jabs.

Other parents tell similar stories.

Tanya Reubarger from Indianapolis said of her five-year-old son Nathan: 'He was a perfectly normal baby until he had his injection.

'Then he started regressing, throwing violent tantrums, beating his head on the walls, beating his hands until they bled, frantic, always crying.

He was eating normally but he had constant diarrhoea. Yet no one will believe you.' In Britain, the National Autistic Society says it has not noticed more reports of regressive autism and bowel disease following MMR.

But other groups say this is because parents with such experiences don't join the deeply conservative NAS because it gives them no support.

Such parents say that through their children's disorder, they have met countless other couples whose autistic children similarly developed normally until MMR provoked a catastrophic regression. …

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ARE WE FACING AN AUTISM EPIDEMIC?; for Years, Doctors Pooh-Poohed Parents' Fears over the MMR Jab. When Cases of Autistic Children Rocketed by around 270%, the Statistics Were Dismissed as Fantasy. but Now the Evidence Is Growing Too Strong to Ignore
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