Vaccine linked to autism?
By Julie Foster
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
A new report by Dr. Harold Buttram, a practicing physician in Quakertown, Pa., suggests the recent increase in the number of autistic children could be caused by the combination measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine routinely given to children at age 18 months -- a phenomenon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim is highly unlikely.
In a past study of autistic children, researchers found that 84 percent of the children had antibodies against a certain type of brain tissue, indicating that the immune system was destroying brain cells. The researchers also found the brain tissue antibody to be very similar to the antibody that's formed against the MMR vaccine. Additionally, MMR antibody was found in 59 percent of the autistic children compared to 10 percent in normal children.
Buttram also noted some experts believe certain childhood illnesses including measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox are a necessary and helpful step in strengthening the immune system. Because the vaccines are given by injection, the immune response of the mucous membranes, through which these diseases enter the body, is not challenged and strengthened. Those who support the theory also attribute the use of vaccines to the great increase in cases of asthma and eczema, both of which are diseases of the mucous membranes.
Buttram was quick to point out that measles and other diseases may result in complications that cause brain injury. Therefore, physicians and government officials may be choosing between the lesser of two evils.
"It is true that there may be situations where extreme measures may be justified, as the lesser of two evils, to preserve life and health," Buttram wrote. "The basic question, therefore, is whether the benefits of current childhood vaccines outweigh the harm, or whether the reverse is true."
The incidence of autism in California increased 273 percent from 1987 to 1998, and a growing number of medical professionals are questioning the FDA's vaccine safety tests.
"A small but growing minority of physicians and scientists are becoming aware that safety testing for the various vaccines has been woefully inadequate," Buttram wrote.
He cited a 1994 National Academy of Sciences review of the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine. The review was done to investigate five possible adverse effects of the vaccine. However, conclusions could not be made about four of the effects due to a lack of enough research.
Dr. Bernard Rimland, founder and director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, Calif., told DiscoveryHealth.com, "There are no data on the triple vaccines."
When the institute opened in 1967, Rimland noticed that a number of parents had mentioned that the diptheria, pertussin and tetanus, or DPT, vaccine seemed to have an adverse effect on their children.
"In the late '70s and early '80s, we began hearing the same thing about MMR," he said.
Rimland pointed out that triple vaccines can put additional stress on the body. A person's immune system usually deals with one virus at a time. Combining the individual measles, mumps and rubella vaccines into one package results in a much more dangerous vaccine, he said.
Rimland also noted that doctors can report adverse effects of vaccines through the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System, which is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration. However, the VAERS is a voluntary program. According to the FDA, between 90 and 99 percent of adverse effects resulting from vaccinations go unreported.
"The physician has been taught repeatedly that these vaccines are perfectly safe and that any event that is supposedly associated with them is just a coincidence," Rimland remarked.
He also cited possible malpractice suits, added paperwork and the lack of a penalty as reasons why doctors do not report these occurrences.
In an exclusive WorldNetDaily interview, Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, said she believes an autism-MMR vaccine link should be investigated.
|Jane Orient, M.D.|
"I think that there has been a frightening increase in cases of autism that has not been explained," Orient said. "There are a number of anecdotal reports from parents that symptoms of autism have appeared close to the time of the vaccine."
Orient, who is a clinical lecturer in medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and a professor of clinical medicine at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, told WND, "With each vaccine and each patient, there needs to be a risk-benefit analysis" to determine if the vaccine is worth the risk of developing autism.
The CDC disputes a connection between the vaccine and autism, saying, "The causes of autism are unknown in most cases."
The government agency's website states: "In a few cases, biologic causes have been identified, although none are unique to autism. ... The current theory favored by many experts is that autism is a genetically-based disorder that occurs before birth."
"To date there is no convincing evidence that any vaccine can cause autism or any kind of behavioral disorder," the agency says. "A suspected link between measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism has been suggested by some parents of children with autism. Typically, symptoms of autism are first noted by parents as their child begins to have difficulty with delays in speaking after age one. MMR vaccine is first given to children at 12 to 15 months of age. Therefore, autism cases with an apparent onset within a few weeks after MMR vaccination may simply be an expected but unrelated chance occurrence.
"The only evidence that has been presented to suggest that MMR vaccine may be associated with autism has been published by the Lancet. An editorial published in the same issue, however, discussed concerns about the validity of the study. Based on data from 12 patients, Wakefield and colleagues speculated that MMR vaccine may have been the possible cause of bowel problems which led to a decreased absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients which resulted in developmental disorders like autism. No scientific analyses were reported, however, to substantiate the theory," says the agency.
However, the CDC does concede, "If measles vaccine, or any other vaccine, causes autism then it would have to be a very rare occurrence since millions of children have received vaccines without ill health effects."
"From January 1990 through February 1998, only 15 cases of autism behavior disorder after immunization were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS)," the CDC states. "Because of the small number of reports over an 8 year period, the cases reported are likely to represent unrelated chance occurrences that happened around the time of vaccination."
But the FDA admits such reports are rare -- only 1 to 10 percent of cases involving adverse affects from the vaccine are reported, making the CDC's statement questionable.
Buttram is skeptical of government involvement in the medical field.
"When arbitrary decisions in the mandating of vaccines are made by government bureaucracies, which frequently work hand-in-glove with the pharmaceutical industry, with no recourse open to parents, we have all the potential ingredients for a tragedy of historic proportions," Buttram concluded.
Buttram's report was published in the March/April issue of the Medical Sentinel.
Julie Foster is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.