Vaccines and Autism: Piecing Together the Jigsaw; HEALTH NOTES
Byline: SARAH STACEY
In November 2007, a landmark decision by the US Department of Health and Human Services ruled that Hannah Poling from Georgia, now ten, had developed autism triggered by vaccinations. A healthy baby, Hannah developed normally until 19 July 2000, when, aged 19 months, she was given nine vaccines in five injections. As Dr Richard Halvorsen reports in the new edition of his book The Truth About Vaccines, 'Within 48 hours, she developed a fever, became irritable and cried inconsolably. She refused to walk and instead crawled up and down stairs. Over the next three months, Hannah...avoided eye contact with her parents and lost all language. Four months after her vaccinations, she was formally diagnosed with autism.'
Although she had shown no symptoms before vaccination, tests revealed that Hannah has an abnormality called mitochondrial dysfunction (MD). Mitochondria are the power generators in cells; they're particularly important for the energy-gobbling brain and muscles. The US government doctors felt that the vaccines aggravated Hannah's MD and that this resulted in her developing autism. Recent research found that more than one autistic child in 25 has MD. More than one child in 200 - at least 3,000 - is born with mitochondrial abnormalities in the UK every year, according to Dr Halvorsen, who believes some of these will be - like Hannah - at risk of autistic regression following vaccination. (Other problems possibly linked to vaccinations include asthma, eczema and diabetes.)
But the vaccine/autism link is not a straightforward case of cause and effect. It is 'multi-factorial: MD is another part of the whole jigsaw puzzle,' says Dr Halvorsen. 'With Hannah, it may have been the mercury [a neurotoxin] in three of the vaccines, and/or the number of vaccines she was given - nine in a single hit.' Although mercury (in thimerosal) has been discontinued since 2004 in most vaccines, Dr Halvorsen says that, 'The continued use of aluminium [in mainstream vaccines] may also pose a risk, as it is highly toxic, causes brain damage and has been implicated in behavioural problems in children.'
Another theory for the vaccine/autism link is based on long-term research by the Autism Research Unit (ARU) at the University of Sunderland. Scientists there believe up to one in ten cases of autism are caused by a metabolic disorder, which involves an intolerance to compounds mainly found in dietary gluten and/or casein (a protein found in milk and often used in processed foods). Problems can start when the balance of good and bad gut bacteria is disturbed, which can follow repeated doses of antibiotics. …