Former Head of NIH Says Link Between Autism & Vaccines Should Be Investigated
By Melanie Phillips
Good to see that the Telegraph of London has picked up on developments I wrote about here in the U.S., where a head of official steam is building behind the perception that there is a troubling relationship between certain childhood vaccines, including MMR (mumps/measles/ rubella), and autistic symptoms and other damage in a subset of particularly vulnerable children. As I have written, this has been prompted by recent U.S. cases in which multiple vaccinations have aggravated an underlying mitochondrial weakness to produce catastrophic effects, leading Dr. Bernardine Healy, the former head of the National Institutes of Health, to tell CBS News:
“I think that the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the [autism link to vaccination] hypothesis as irrational.”
In addition, the Telegraph reported this: “The vaccine hypothesis was bolstered recently by a five-year study in monkeys who were given the same vaccinations that American children are routinely given. Last week, Dr. Laura Hewitson, a specialist in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, told the International Meeting for Autism Research in London that in the double-blind placebo-controlled study, 13 vaccinated animals showed increased aggression, impaired cognitive skills and developmental delay. The three unvaccinated animals in the study developed normally.”
“There was a significant difference between the two groups,” said Hewitson. “The vaccinated group had trouble developing reflexes. . . . They also became more insular and more aggressive. There was an increase in aggressive behavior after they had their MMR vaccines, and they stopped exploring their surroundings as much.”
Abnormal brain activity was found in the monkeys, and higher sensitivity to a naturally occurring brain chemical linked to sleeplessness, hallucinations, lack of social skills and a high pain threshold—all symptoms found in
children on the autistic spectrum. The monkeys also exhibited abnormalities of the amygdala, the part of the brain which regulates emotions.
“We can’t conclude that vaccines cause autism from this study,” said Hewitson. “What we can conclude is that the vaccinated monkeys showed significant negative behavioral differences before and after the MMR.”
This research, carried out at five U.S. research centers, including The University of California, Washington National Primate Research Center, Seattle, The University of Kentucky and the Thoughtful House Center for Children, Texas (founded by the man at the eye of this storm, Andrew Wakefield) has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Some suspicious minds may think (however unfairly) that Wakefield’s involvement taints it. And it must be stressed that the other American developments involve certain differences from the British childhood vaccination regime, including multiple jabs in the course of one day and the use of mercury-based preservatives.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that the suspicion gathering momentum in the U.S., that a vaccine schedule including MMR may trigger a catastrophic reaction in both brain and gut among a small proportion of children who are vulnerable, is almost exactly the claim made by Wakefield, now fighting for his professional life before the General Medical Register for making it—in the teeth of a medical establishment in Britain that states categorically there is no truth in it whatsoever.
Melanie Phillips is an acclaimed and controversial columnist for London’s Daily Mail. Educated at Oxford, she won the Orwell Prize for journalism 1996. She is the author of All Must Have Prizes and other books. Her website, which collects many of her essays, is www.melaniephillips.com. Please take a look. This article was edited for length.
(Issue # 23 & 24, June 9 and 16, 2008)