By Lisa Reagan
First published in Mothering Magazine, Issuse 105, March/April 2001
"Science for Hope and Healing: Challenging the Status Quo," the Second International Public Conference of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), was held September 8 to 10, 2000, in Arlington, Virginia. Thirty distinguished scientists from the US, Canada, and Europe, including immunologists, molecular and cell biologists, epidemiologists, gastroenterologists, pediatric neurologists, microbiologists, and internal medicine specialists, presented and discussed the biological mechanisms and possible high-risk factors for adverse responses to vaccination. The conference drew nearly 500 representatives from 37 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, England, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia. Representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health also were in attendance; they answered questions during breaks but did not make any presentations.
"The purpose of this conference is...to provide a forum for an open discussion and debate about the science, policies, and ethics of vaccination," said Barbara Loe Fisher, president and co-founder of NVIC, in her opening remarks. "NVIC has a long public record of working to institute safety and informed consent reforms in the mass vaccination system. We believe that a child who dies from a vaccine is just as important as a child who dies from an infectious disease. We believe that a humane society will place equal emphasis on preventing both kinds of deaths and injuries. We support the rights of all healthcare consumers to know what is and is not known about vaccines. We are not antivaccine. We are pro-education."
The first NVIC conference for scientists and scientific inquiry into vaccine safety, the International Scientific Workshop, held in 1989, evaluated the neurological complications of pertussis and the whole-cell pertussis vaccine. Over 70 percent of compensation claims to the national Vaccine Injury and Compensation Program [VICP] have been for the whole-cell pertussis part of the DPT. In 1996, the NVIC realized a major goal when the FDA licensed an improved pertussis vaccine known as the acellular pertussis (DTAP) vaccine.
In 1997, the NVIC held the First International Public Conference on Vaccination, which brought more than 500 doctors, scientists, health officials, lawyers, ethicists, journalists, and parents from 34 states and five foreign countries to Washington, DC. Many scientists who spoke at this conference felt they could be risking their careers for presenting their views. One speaker, Andrew Wakefield--the eminent British scientist who postulated a link between the measles viral infection, either from the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine or from natural measles, and autism--was threatened professionally and personally after presenting his findings at the conference.
Since 1997 concerns over vaccine safety have continued to escalate. The three-year interim between the NVIC's two public conferences witnessed a parade of nine US congressional hearings, British Parliament inquiries, and international media articles. All have questioned vaccine safety, the lack of long-term scientific safety research, and the inherent ethical conflicts of interest between vaccine manufacturers and the policy makers of the compulsory, mass vaccination system. Many parents, doctors, scientists, and vaccine safety advocates also believe that the lack of informed choice for parents in a government-mandated vaccination system has led to a lack of accountability and progress in vaccine safety research.
The NVIC's long history of working for vaccine safety and informed consent began in 1982, when parents of vaccine-injured children formed the group Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT). DPT's first major victory came in 1986, when Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. DPT's goal was to create a centralized reporting system for vaccine injuries and a fair and quick compensation process for injured children. These goals were included in the law.
The resulting national Vaccine Injury and Compensation Program, VICP, required vaccine providers to give benefit and risk information to parents before their children were vaccinated; to keep written records of vaccine manufacturer names and lot numbers for each vaccination given; and to report adverse events following vaccination to the government. (For additional information on the VICP, contact them at National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Parklawn Building Room 8A-46, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; 800-338-2382.)
The 1986 act also established the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a passive system; reporting an adverse event to VAERS is not required, therefore only 1 to 10 percent of injuries are reported. Reporting a vaccine injury does not automatically file a claim for compensation with the VICP. Anyone, even parents, may report an adverse reaction to a vaccine to VAERS. (To do so, see their website at www.vaers.org/ where you may print out a postage-paid report form. Or call them at 800-822-7967.)
The 1986 law also preserved the right of vaccine-injured persons to bring suit in the court system if federal compensation is denied or insufficient. By 1997, the US Court of Claims had awarded nearly $1 billion to 1,000 vaccine victims. However, the VICP has been criticized by vaccine-injured families and vaccine safety advocates for refusing compensation to three out of four children who claim permanent immune system and brain damage following the administration of government-mandated vaccines.
In 1989, DPT evolved into the National Vaccine Information Center. In addition to its role in initiating the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, VAERS, and VICP, the NVIC has represented consumers on vaccine advisory committees such as the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Institute of Medicine's Vaccine Safety Forum. The NVIC has also testified at congressional hearings on vaccine safety and helped to provide victims and experts for these hearings.
On September 28, 1999, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, the NVIC charged the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice with violating the "spirit and intent of the law" and turning what Congress promised parents would be a "nonadversarial, expeditious and informal [compensation] process" into a "highly adversarial, lengthy, traumatic and unfair imitation of a lawsuit."
The NVIC asked Congress to undo the changes made by the DHHS to the vaccine injury compensation table in the 1986 law, which caused "a fatal compromise of its integrity." The changes included a narrower definition of encephalopathy, resulting in the exclusion of the majority of DPT vaccine-injured children for compensation. On October 5, 2000, the bipartisan House Committee on Government Reform voted unanimously to approve recommendations for refocusing the VICP. However, no changes have been implemented so far.
"Show Us the Science!", the theme and mantra of the NVIC conference, accurately reflected the demand for well-designed, independent, ongoing scientific investigation of the biological mechanisms of vaccine injury and death and the chronic, long-term effects of multiple vaccination. Nearly every presenter concluded with a call for government-funded research on the reported links between vaccines and neurological and autoimmune disorders, including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, asthma, diabetes, otitis media, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohn's disease (intestinal disorders), chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's, cancer, AIDS, Gulf War syndrome, and personality disorders.
"Anyone who has every cared for a child with polio, or a severe case of whooping cough, measles, or Hib meningitis, knows how devastating the complications of infectious diseases can be. It is easy to understand why medical research has tried to devise ways to prevent this kind of suffering. I think there are few in this room who would argue with the fact that the mass use of vaccines has suppressed once common childhood diseases.
"And yet, while vaccines have driven infectious diseases out of childhood, over the past quarter century there has been a simultaneous and unprecedented increase in the numbers of children suffering from chronic disease and disability. The incidence of learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and asthma has doubled, diabetes has tripled, and every state in America has experienced a 200 to 500 percent increase in autism in the past decade. The total number of children suffering with these chronic disabilities numbers in the ten of millions in the US, Canada, and Europe.
"Public health, like individual health, is not measured solely by an absence of infectious disease. And so one of the great unanswered questions in medicine today is: Has the mass use of multiple vaccines in early childhood, when the brain and immune systems are developing at their most rapid rate, been a major co-factor in the broad-based brain and immune dysfunctions seen in so many young children and young adults today?"
Without proper scientific investigation and proof, Fisher believes that it is unreasonable to assume that vaccines are solely to blame for the explosion in brain and immune dysfunctions. But she also believes that it would be illogical to assume that the increase in childhood chronic diseases is not attributable to parallel increases in vaccinations, environmental toxins, human exposure to chemicals, and antibiotic abuse. The need for more research is obvious, and yet it is not being supported by those who could and should be undertaking it: governmental institutions and the pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions that maintain and profit from the $7 billion-a-year vaccine industry.
The speakers at the conference hailed from distant and varied geographical points, and their views on risk factors and biological mechanisms for vaccine injury were similarly varied. Most agreed on the existence of a genetic component for predisposition to vaccine-induced illness and injury, the appalling lack of basic scientific vaccine safety studies for infants and children, and the need for independent vaccine research. Few, however, advocated foregoing all routine childhood vaccinations. Many speakers, including US Representative Dan Burton (see "What about Mercury?"), recommended the use of monovalent , mercury-free vaccines to parents who choose to vaccinate their children. Some vaccines are trivalent, containing three different diseases in one shot, like the MMR-measles, mumps, and rubella. Monovalent vaccines usually must be requested from pediatricians ahead of time.
Bonnie Dunbar, PhD, a professor of molecular and cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has spent most of her 25-year career in new vaccine development. She began to study the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine after her research assistant and her brother suffered severe reactions to the vaccine within months of each other. Dunbar's brother, a healthy, athletic physician, was left permanently and totally impaired; her research assistant was permanently blinded in one eye.
In 1998, Dunbar said, worldwide sales of the hepatitis B vaccine totaled $2 billion. Drug companies maintain that there are no reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine, but they only monitor for five days after a dose; Dunbar says it can take weeks and sometimes months for autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis to develop following a vaccination. She noted that no basic scientific research has ever been conducted in this country to determine the biological mechanism of vaccine injury or long-term studies into the side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine on infants, children, or adults. Hepatitis B is primarily a blood-born adult disease, with IV drug users and people with multiple sex partners at highest risk. In 1991, the CDC recommended that all infants receive the first dose of the vaccine before leaving the hospital, even though the only newborns at risk for hepatitis B are those born to infected mothers.
According to evidence presented by Michael Belkin (see his presentation page 51), a parent of a vaccine-killed infant, at the May 18, 1999, hearing of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, physicians reported 54 cases of hepatitis B in infants to the CDC in 1996, while VAERS received 1,080 reports of adverse reactions and 47 deaths in infants. Between July 1, 1990, and October 21, 1998, VAERS received 17,497 reports of adverse reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine alone; of these, 5,983 were serious events such as hospitalization, and 146 were deaths. Since adverse reaction reporting to VAERS isn't mandatory, the FDA estimates that these figures represent only 1 to 10 percent of such events.
In France, where similar reactions have been reported, the hepatitis B vaccine was taken off the market in October 1998, and there is an ongoing criminal investigation into why it was allowed on the market without proper safety studies. In addition, 15,000 French citizens are suing government health officials for understating the risks of the vaccine and exaggerating its benefits. Meanwhile, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and the World Chiropractic Alliance have called for a moratorium on the hepatitis B vaccine for schoolchildren. In July 1999, the US Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics urged the elimination of the mercury content in the hepatitis B vaccine and the rollback of the universal recommendation that every newborn infant receive the vaccine.
Dunbar also presented findings from her studies comparing the rates of hepatitis B disease and vaccine reactions for different nationalities. Noting that Caucasians are more likely to suffer adverse reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine, while non-Caucasians are more likely to be carriers of the disease, she recommended further genetic studies to find out what nationalities are more at risk for autoimmune diseases or other adverse reactions.
Dunbar listed the major hurdles facing scientists who wish to study the hepatitis B vaccine and adverse reaction reports: the inaccessibility of original clinical trials from drug companies; the unavailability of patient information from the adverse reactions reports; a complete lack of government funding for studies; and "total denial from the pharmaceutical companies that there are any problems." To see Dunbar's testimony on hepatitis B vaccine before the Congressional Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, go to www.house.gov/reform/cj/hearings/99.5.18/Dunbar.htm.
J. Barthelow Classen, MD, MBA, is founder and CEO of Classen Immunotherapies, a biopharmaceutical company that develops vaccine technology to prevent type I diabetes and autoimmune disease. He has published epidemiological data demonstrating a relationship between vaccination and the development of type I diabetes.
Classen began collecting information from international diabetes registries and studying the effects of vaccines on insulin-dependent diabetes over nine years ago. These data revealed a pattern of increased cases of insulin-dependent diabetes in children, correlating with increases in the use of certain vaccines, such as Hemophilus influenza and hepatitis B. In animal model studies, Classen was able to mimic the data from the diabetes registries by inducing diabetes in mice. His studies have predicted rises and falls in the cases of diabetes in many countries according to changes in their vaccination schedules.
Classen cited a large clinical trial of the new Hemophilus influenza vaccine on 114,000 children in Finland. The vaccine was aimed to prevent seven deaths and seven to 26 cases of brain damage per 100,000 children vaccinated. After the first round of vaccinations, Finland saw an extra 58 cases of diabetes per 100,000 children. When a stronger version of the vaccine was administered, an extra 75 cases of diabetes per 100,000 children vaccinated developed. Each time, the increases occurred in statistically significant clusters three to four years after the vaccine was administered.
"The long-term complications of diabetes make it a fatal disease, so what we see here is a kill ratio of three to one," said Classen. "We are killing about three kids for every one kid that would benefit from the vaccine....The more vaccines you are exposed to, the greater your risk of diabetes. It's more than just an association, because we can give these vaccines to animals and cause diabetes...I am very confident that we have proven that vaccines are causing diabetes. We have tons of data now to support this, including randomized, controlled clinical trials."
According to Classen's data, 79 percent of insulin-dependent diabetes in children under the age of ten is due to vaccines. Insulin-dependent diabetes in American children has tripled in the last quarter century, and the average age of diagnosis has dropped from 12 to five years old. Compulsory, government-mandated vaccines have increased from ten to 36 during that same time period. For more information on Classen's work, see the Vaccine Safety Website at www.vaccines.net or contact him at Classen Immunotherapies, 6517 Montrose Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21212; 410-377-4549; Fax: 410-377-8526; or Classen@vaccines.net.
Andrew Wakefield, MD, director of research and chairman of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London, received the NVIC's Courage in Science Award at the conference for his "courageous defense of the freedom in science to explore an original hypothesis and for reminding health officials of their continuing responsibility to evaluate public health policies for significant risks to individuals." Dr. John Menkes, internationally recognized as the founder of pediatric neurology, also won a Courage in Science Award for being "one of the first pediatricians to dissent from the widely held a priori assumption in infectious disease medicine that all neurological adverse events following DPT vaccination are only coincidentally and not causally related to the...vaccination."
Despite the personal and professional criticism he has endured since publishing his original study in 1997, Wakefield has continued to investigate the possible link between persistent measles viral infections in children (either from natural disease or live virus vaccine), chronic inflammation of the bowel, and damage to the central nervous system in the form of autism. He began formulating his hypothesis after a group of exasperated parents of autistic children with an unknown bowel disorder asked for his help. The children's medical histories revealed atypical regression, which was unlike classic autism, where the regressed state is established from birth; irregular bowel problems such as reflux, alternating constipation, and loose stools; and immunodeficiency, resulting in chronic ear infections and other ailments. According to the parents, these symptoms occurred after the children received the MMR vaccination.
Wakefield has studied 160 children with the same pattern of symptoms and biological markers, which has now been labeled autistic enterocolitis. He discovered a measles virus-specific antibody in the children's cells but did not find antibodies for rubella, mumps, or HIV. "The take-home message for the medical profession is that the parents were right," said Wakefield. "In our infinite arrogance it is a difficult pill for us to swallow." Wakefield pointed to two American studies, conducted in 1969 and 1974, that showed that the combination of measles, mumps, and rubella in one vaccine resulted in the "interference" of the viruses with each other. In addition, he cited Scott Montgomery's findings that when wild (naturally contracted) strains of measles and mumps infections occurred within months of each other in subjects, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was often a side effect of the viruses' interactions with each other. (See Dr. Montgomery's statements below.)
The National Institutes of Health has placed autistic enterocolitis on its research budget for the year 2001. For further information on the Wakefield studies, see the National Library of Medicine's PubMed search page at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi. To read Wakefield's testimony to the Congressional Committee for Government Reforms' hearing, "Autism, Present Challenges, Future Needs-Why the Increased Rates?" held on April 6, 2000, go to www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/index.htm (click on Dr. Andrew Wakefield).
[Author's note: Two months after the NVIC conference, Wakefield warned a Scottish Parliament group that the United Kingdom was facing an epidemic of autism if the government failed to act on the information in his research. He called for the discontinuation of the triple vaccine, MMR, and the substitution of monovalent forms.]
Erdem Cantekin, PhD, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh, is an internationally recognized authority on otitis media and an early, outspoken critic of the overuse of antibiotics to treat ear infections. Cantekin discussed the new Prevnar vaccine for pneumococcal/pneumonia, which is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and was approved by the FDA in February 2000 for use with infants and toddlers. "The alleged benefits for this new vaccine are greatly exaggerated, and the risks are significant," he said. "The bacteria pneumococcus, with more than 90 serotypes, is a common pathogen with many unknowns. The vaccination of newborns with seven pneumococcal serotypes is an uninformed experiment at best."
"The big push for Prevnar came from its supposed prevention of otitis media, even though it had not been approved for this use," Cantekin said. "The promise of saving children from this common, self-limiting disease, now turned into a persistent childhood pest, is an excellent strategy for marketing. Every parent knows and abhors otitis media. However, in two days, 90 percent of the otitis cases resolve by themselves without treatment. Regardless of these facts, our experts for two decades have been recommending aggressive interventions, such as long-duration antibiotic therapy, designer drugs, antibiotic prophylaxis, and aggressive surgery. This clinical practice, not supported by existing scientific-based evidence, fuels our $5 billion-a-year otitis media medical economics."
Cantekin said, "Prevnar will have the same effect that antibiotic abuse currently has because, by changing serotype, it will exert selective pressure on the microbial ecology. This vaccine is the perfect example of profit-driven health care with no checks and balances." One of the most expensive vaccines ever developed, Prevnar is expected to deliver sales of between $300 and $500 million per year. To see some of Cantekin's papers, go to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed, at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi. Also see Michael Horwin's fact sheet on conflicts of interest with Prevnar manufacturing and promoting at http://www.vaccineinfo.net/index.shtml
Scott Montgomery, PhD, is a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He spoke on the evolution of infectious diseases.
"Our immune systems have developed over millions of years to deal with specific patterns of exposure to disease," he said. "...Age, dose, strain, and many other factors significantly change the acute and delayed outcomes of disease. This is why, paradoxically, our battle against infectious disease has had some unexpected consequences." Just as the brain develops with appropriate stimulation, the immune system also requires appropriate stimulation in order to develop properly.
Analyzing a 1970 British study of 16,000 people who were followed from birth at a time when the multivalent MMR did not exist, Montgomery found a highly statistically significant relationship between atypical or uncommon exposures to measles and mumps and IBD. The study showed that a patient who naturally contracted measles and mumps in close succession would develop a phenotype of IBD, either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. The study found no risk for IBD from monovalent measles (measles contracted alone).
"None of these things prove that MMR will be a problem for IBD; however, it does make us suspect that we should be looking to see if there is a problem. We see that there is a relationship between these two diseases, measles and mumps, and a later development of another disease. This is a form of exposure that the immune system isn't used to.
"Vaccine exposure is as atypical a form of exposure as you get," he concluded. "We need to look for vaccines which more closely mimic wild infection."
Walter Spitzer, MD, is professor emeritus of epidemiology, McGill University, and clinical professor of medicine, Stanford University. He believes that, in the absence of clinical, social, religious, or other extenuating circumstances, children should be vaccinated for communicable diseases but questions whether prevention of measles, mumps, and rubella is best effected with multivalent MMR.
"What are we calling for?" he asked. "Objective, valid, reasonable, rigorous, research. I agree fully that we should be shown the science. In the rules of science, you cannot even think about going to origins of cause until you've established an association...."
"So how do you diagnose causation in the presence of observed association?" he asked.
Spitzer cited a blind study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that compared 25 autistic children and 25 healthy children. The study found that 25 autistic children showed measles virus in their intestines, whereas the virus was only found in one of the healthy children's intestines.
"If you calculate, you get an odds ratio of 336 with that probability value. An odds ratio of 336 means, as the British say, the bug is in the gut. This gut-brain-autism thing, it isn't just speculation."
By comparison, Spitzer said, studies of the association of oral contraceptives and strokes revealed an odds ratio of between 4 and 9, and in studies of cigarette smoking and lung cancer the odds ratio was 23.
"I have not found any reports of any long-term control studies that bear on safety by...drug companies, regulators, or anyone who should be worried about what Dr. Wakefield's research might mean."
Referring to the most widely cited study that says that MMR is safe and has no link with autistic enterocolitis, Spitzer said that it was too short-term in its follow-up, representativeness wasn't demonstrated, date marks were inconsistent, the analysis was incorrect, and the study was uncontrolled and had conflicts of interest. "At best it is a hypothesis-generating study."
An epidemiologically sound study, Spitzer said, would include collaborations between governments, public health agencies, and consumer groups; it would be accountable to an international board that did not have any conflict of interests in the pharmaceutical companies, and would cost an estimated $57 million. "Many vaccine manufacturers have sold hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and have not done or funded any controlled post-marketing epidemiology bearing on safety," he said.
Vijendra Singh, PhD, research associate professor of immunology at Utah State University, is an internationally recognized authority on autism, autoimmunity, and immunotherapeutic approaches to treating autism. He spoke on "Deciphering the Link between Vaccines and Autoimmune Autism."
Singh's neuroautoimmunity model of autism hypothesizes that an autoimmune reaction in brain structures, in particular the myelin sheath, plays a critical role in causing the neurological impairments in children with autism. He suggested that an immune insult, such as a natural infection or vaccination, causes "nicks" in the developing myelin sheath. In his viewpoint, up to 80 percent, and possibly all, cases of autism are caused by abnormal immune reactions.
Singh believes that autism can be treated successfully with drug therapies used for treating other autoimmune diseases. He also believes that it is important to recognize autism as an autoimmune disease, since the vaccine manufacturers place warnings on their products saying that vaccines should not be given to children with challenged immune systems. Because autism, according to Singh's research, is an autoimmune disease, "It would be a piece of cake for national governments to fund a test that would detect the genetic and other predisposing markers for autism before administering vaccines to children." For additional information on Singh's work, see his paper "Autism, Autoimmunity and Immunotherapy" at http://libnt4.lib.tcu.edu/www/. See also his testimony at the Congressional Committee on Government Reform's hearings on autism, April 6, 2000, at www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/singh.htm.
F. Edward Yazbak, MD, was a pediatrician and school physician in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, for 35 years, where he assisted the Rhode Island Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control in coordinating mass vaccine campaigns to contain outbreaks of polio, measles, and meningitis.
Over the past two years, Yazbak has been conducting research into live virus vaccination of women over the age of 16 before, during, and after pregnancy, and the subsequent development of autism in their children. He has studied cases where mothers were vaccinated with the MMR (for rubella) and with hepatitis B within five months prior to or during their pregnancies. Of the mothers in the study, 85 percent had children with autism. His studies also raised questions about the mercury-laden rhogam shot routinely given to Rh-negative mothers during pregnancy and the resulting higher incidences of autism in their children. (See also statements by Stephanie Cave, below, who said that the majority of mothers of autistic children in her practice are Rh negative.)
Because the diagnostic criteria for autism haven't changed since 1994, Yazbak believes that the increase in autism is real. He spoke of explosive increases in states like Ohio, which experienced a 6,822 percent increase within six years, and noted a 26 percent jump in diagnosed autism cases in the US just in the last year. "The thing that increased at the same time as the autism rates is vaccination," said Yazbak. "We now have the most vaccinated group of children ever. More importantly, the mothers of these children are also the most vaccinated mothers ever and have the most immune diseases ever in the history of the world."
Yazbak believes that immune-challenged adult females do not necessarily develop protective antibodies after receiving live virus vaccine boosters. After revaccination due to the lack of antibodies, these mothers developed autoimmune disorders such as arthritis and thyroid conditions and had higher rates of miscarriages and stillbirths; in addition, their children had higher incidences of autism.
In another study, Yazbak found that babies born to 20 of 25 women who had received an MMR vaccine postpartum developed autism. He pointed to CDC and vaccine manufacturers' recommendations on postpartum vaccination, which state that lactating postpartum women vaccinated with live attenuated rubella vaccine may secrete the virus in breastmilk and transmit it to breastfed infants and that "caution should be exercised when the vaccine is administered to a nursing mother."
Yazbak believes that all postpartum vaccination should cease immediately and that mothers who wish to breastfeed should avoid vaccinations. He also recommends that, when obtaining "informed consent," health providers should clearly explain to mothers that the rubella vaccine virus would be excreted in their nose, throat, and breastmilk. Serious research on whether measles vaccine virus is passed from mother to infant through breastmilk should be undertaken. To read Yazbak's paper, see "Autism: Is There a Vaccine Connection? Part I: Vaccination after Delivery" at www.garynull.com/documents/autism99b.htm
The most inspirational segment of the conference concerned treatments for vaccine-injured children pioneered and implemented by some of the speakers.
Mary Megson, MD, is the founder and director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Ability Center in Richmond, Virginia, and assistant professor at the Medical College of Virginia.
"I am first and foremost a clinician in the trenches working with children with developmental disabilities, and children with autism especially," said Megson. "I feel that we are dealing with some of the best and brightest children in the country who have been affected by this disorder."
Megson agrees with Singh that autism is both a neuroimmune and autoimmune disorder. In her studies of authistic children, she prepeatedly found chronic diseases such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, insulin-dependent diabetes, IGA deficiency, and psoriasis in the families' medical histories. Megson is currently investigating her hypothesis that G-alpha protein defects are a high-risk factor for developing autism after vaccination. Her study of 60 autistic children suggests that autism may be caused by inserting a G-alpha protein defect, the pertussis toxin found in the DPT vaccine, into genetically at-risk children. This toxin separates the G-alpha protein defect from retinoid receptors. The most at-risk families report a history of at least one parent with a G-alpha protein defect, including night blindness, pseudohypoparathyroidism, or adenoma of the thyroid or pituitary gland. Megson believes that natural vitamin A therapy may reconnect the retinoid receptors critical for vision, sensory perception, language processing, and attention.
When Megson treated autistic children with vitamin A, using only the recommended daily allowance of cod liver oil, their chronic ear infections and sinusitis stopped. She showed slides of triplets who were brought into her office after they regressed following vaccination and would not make eye contact. After a few days on the cod liver oil regimen, "They were back," said Megson.
The live measles vaccine, Megson said, depletes children of their existing supply of vitamin A, which negatively impacts the retinoid receptors. When the pertussis toxin is added at 18 months of age, it may disconnect the G-alpha protein pathways. She also recommends that all vaccines with thimerosal (mercury) be taken out of circulation. "Thimerosal irreversibly blocks pumps that pump calcium out of the cells. The current stance is to use up all those vaccines with thimerosal that are out there. But I know that there are children out there with calcium pouring into the cells without the ability to pump it out. This is a disaster. The calcium channels in the heart are affected by this." Megson's paper, "Is Autism a G-Alpha Protein Defect Reversible with Natural Vitamin A?," can be found on the Autism Research Institute's homepage at http://www.autismwebsite.com/. Megson's Pediatric and Adolescent Ability Center's homepage is www.megson.com. See also her testimony at the Congressional Committee on Government Reform's hearing on April 6, 2000, "Autism--Present Challenges, Future Needs: Why the Increased Rates?" at www.house.gov/reform/hearings (Click on "Healthcare," then on "Autism--Present Challenges, Future Needs," then on Dr. Mary Megson).
Stephanie Cave, MD, teaches at Louisiana State University Medical School and has a private practice in Baton Rouge. She specializes in allergies, attention deficit disorder, autism, and other neuroimmune dysfunction, and treats over 400 children with autism, with ten to 12 new cases a week. Cave talked on "Listening to Parents and Individualizing Treatment Options."
"Family genetics, family socioeconomic conditions, family medical histories, and the children's individual biochemical makeup with impact the risk/benefit ratio of these vaccines," Cave said. "What we see coming through the parents' histories over and over again in our office is that the developmental delays began after the vaccines."
In Cave's practice, after fraternal twins had the same shots on the same day, one child suffered ear infections and displayed speech and behavior regressioning, and the other did not. The only difference in their medical histories was that the regressed child had the hepatitis B vaccine at one month of age and his twin sister had the hepatitis B vaccine at six months of age.
Cave also questioned the rhogam given to Rh-negative pregnant mothers. "When we started looking at the mothers in our practice, I realized that we probably have a majority of Rh-negative mothers. The rhogam shot has a huge does of mercury in it, especially for a fetus in the gestational stages with brain development," said Cave.
In 1990 and 1991, the hepatitis B vaccine had 12.5 micrograms of mercury per dose, which was 25 times the EPA's "safe" level. (See "What about Mercury?" for more of Cave's comments about mercury and infants.) Cave cited a study in the May 2000 Journal of Pediatrics that measured levels of mercury in newborns before and after the hepatitis B vaccine. Researchers found the mercury in newborns before the vaccine was given.
"So we are going back to look at prenatal sources, dietary sources, through fish, and amalgam fillings in the mother's mouth," said Cave. "Mercury poisoning and autism have nearly identical symptoms: self-injurious behavior, social withdrawal, lack of eye contact, lack of facial expression, hypersensitivity to noise and touch, and repetitive behaviors." Cave's treatment program for autistic children includes a rigorous history and physical evaluation of the family and the child; routine blood and thyroid work; quantitative immunoglogulin and cellular studies; hair analysis to screen for toxic metals; digestive stool analysis; food allergy studies; amino acid, vitamin, mineral, and unsaturated fatty acids assessments at the cellular level; urine morphine peptides and urine organic acids tests; and autoimmune antibody studies.
"You would be amazed at the devastation in their chemistries when you go down to the cellular level," Cave said. "Most of the time, baseline blood and thyroid tests are perfectly normal. But these children are like barren deserts in their cellular chemistry."
Hair analysis reveals high levels of aluminum, which is also found in vaccines. "I think in later years we are going to look back at aluminum the way we are looking at mercury now," said Cave. "Aluminum is neurotoxic but is found in city water, cookware, cans, and foil. All of this can accumulate, and it is a very difficult metal to pull out of their systems....It is a slow, arduous process, but if I had to name one treatment that has had astounding results, it is pulling metals [through nutritional therapies]....The age group that seems to benefit the most is between two and seven. Between seven and 12 there is speech and social recovery, and after 12 there is an ability to reduce the rage usually seen. Metal is rage. When you pull the metal, the rage goes." For Cave's testimony to a congressional hearing on mercury, see www.house.gov/reform/hearings (Click on "Healthcare," then on "Mercury in Medicine," then on Dr. Stephanie Cave).
Scientific Fraud and Conflict of Interest in Vaccine Research, Liscensing, and Policymaking
Michael Belkin is president of Belkin Limited, a financial and economic forecasting firm in New York City. After his infant daughter, Lyla Rose, died within 16 hours of receiving the hepatitis B vaccine, Belkin become the volunteer director of the NVIC's Hepatitis B Vaccine Project. He spoke on "Scientific Fraud and Conflict of Interest in Vaccine Research, Licensing, and Policymaking."
"In business school we studied what can happen to organizations that suffer ethical management breakdowns, such as Johns Manville with asbestos, Owens Corning's breast implants, etc.," he said. "...Nothing illustrates the syndrome of management ethical failure more clearly than the current scandal faced by Firestone and Ford. Management knew, denied, and concealed that their products were defective and were killing people--the classic ethical breakdown.
"In the vaccine industry, scientific fraud and conflicts of interest are causing a similar, but much larger, cycle of deaths and injuries that is being concealed and denied by regulators and vaccine manufacturers....There are thousands of deaths and many thousands of cases of disability and neurological damage lurking in the FDA Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, VAERS. This is a potential legal scandal of much larger scope than the Firestone/Ford episode."
Belkin called the still-existing 1991 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation that every newborn baby receive the hepatitis B vaccine within hours of birth a perfect example of scientific fraud. He said that Samuel L. Katz, who instituted that policy when he was ACIP chairman in 1991, has admitted that there were no peer-reviewed, published studies showing that it was safe to give the vaccine to newborns when the ACIP made that recommendation. (Katz made this statement at the "Vaccines in the New Millenium" conference at Cornell University's Weill Graduate School of Medicine on April 12, 2000). "The results of that uncontrolled experiment are in: upwards of 36,000 adverse reactions and more than 440 deaths, according to VAERS," said Belkin.
At the February 1999 ACIP meeting, the CDC's head of epidemiology, Dr. Robert Chen, present data in a handout showing that serious reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine were approximately ten times higher than for other vaccines. The CDC has ignored Freedome of Information Act requests for the scientific data used to justify the 1991 newborn hepatitis B vaccine mandate," said Belkin.
US vaccines are licensed by the FDA, and vaccination recommendations are made by ACIP, whose members are appointed by the CDC. ACIP vaccination recommendations are enacted into law by public health departments and/or legislatures at the state level.
"ACIP recommendations are a license for vaccine manufacturers to use state governments, school systems, and social service systems as a marketing department for their products," Belkin said.
"The CDC, ACIP, and American Academy of Pediatrics all insist the vaccine adverse reactions don't exist or are coincidences....Unelected, unregulated, and unaccountable ACIP medical bureaucrats have blatant financial conflicts of interest and are committing scientific fraud by recommending administration of vaccines that have not been tested for safety in the age groups or populations targeted." To see Belkin's full presentation to the NVIC, visit the Optimal Wellness Center Website at www.mercola.com. To view the ARC Research chart listing mercury poisoning and autism symptoms, go to www.autism.com/.
James Filenbaum is a New York attorney and author of the article "Your Right to Avoid Immunizations." He specializes in religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccination. Some state statutes require a parent to be a member of a specific organization to claim a religious exemption, but Filenbaum said that such a requirement has been declared unconstitutional. All states provide medical exemptions, and all but two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, also have religious exemptions. Currently 15 states provide for philosophical exemptions. "A lot of people, including school officials, may tell you that that is still the law, but it is not the law. It changed in 1988 when we brought a case in New York for a chiropractor who didn't want his child vaccinated. As a result of that case, the court declared the law unconstitutional because it discriminates between people based on their religious beliefs....When a school district denies you your right to claim a religious exemption, they are violating your federally protected civil rights under the first amendment....And under federal law you are entitled to financial damages."
If parents have begun vaccinations and then decide that they want to stop, they have the right to claim the religious exemption or philosophical exemption. "It is not what you did believe, it is what you believe now," Filenbaum said, adding that his caseload for religious exemption law has exploded in the last few years. To reach Filenbaum or to request a copy of his article, call 888-SHOTSNO or see www.ImmunizationAttorney.com.
Note: Tapes of the NVIC Conference are available to the public and can be ordered by contacting Repeat Performance, 219-465-1234, www.audiotapes.com (see "Public Health").
Lisa Regan resides in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband, Keith, a portfolio manager, and their son, Collins (3). She is the president of Families for Natural Living (www.FamiliesForNaturalLiving.org), a nonprofit that provides both information to the public and support to families.
For more information on vaccines see the Mothering Reprint: Vaccines: Mercury, Autism and Chronic Disease