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Subject: Vaccines Are Indeed Linked To Autism
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 12:18:11 -0700 From: "Ingri Cassel" Organization: Vaclib
Date: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 20:22:23 -0400
In response to Patricia Nolan's column "Vaccines have no link to autism"
(Commentary, May 21): The incidence of autism has increased dramatically in recent years. Dr. Marie BristolPowers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states that Autism Spectrum Disorder is no longer considered to be the rare disability it used to be. There is a rapid and consistent increase in the disorder. This is, in fact, a pressing health problem.
The number of children with autism entering school systems has increased dramatically over the past 11 years relative to other developmental disabilities. In the past 10 years, California has had a 273 percent increase in the number of children with autism who enter the developmental services system -- 1,685 new cases in the last year alone. From 1992 to 1999, Rhode Island statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder as reported to the Rhode Island Department of Education showed a 633 percent increase. According to statistics nationwide, there was a 150 percent increase in autistic children from 1994 to 1999.
Growing concerns about vaccines and their possible connection to autism have prompted Congress to hold hearings on the issue of vaccine safety. Dr. Bernard Rimland, director of the Autism Research Institute, made a presentation before the House Committee on Government Reform on April 6. Dr. Rimland has been systematically collecting data on the symptoms and possible causes of autism since 1965. Dr. Rimland reported that he began questioning parents 33 years ago specifically about the child's response to the DPT shot, a triple vaccine. Many parents reported a marked deterioration. He also reported that in the past few years he has been inundated with reports from parents that their children were normal until getting the MMR, another triple vaccine. Medical officials claim that since autism starts at 18 months, when the MMR is typically given, the parents are mistaken in their belief that the MMR caused their children's autism. Dr. Rimland states though, based on his data, the onset of autism at 18 months is a recent development. Autism starting at 18 months rose very sharply in the mid-1980s, when the MMR vaccine came into wide use.
Dr. Rimland feels strongly that there is an autism-vaccine connection. He reports that physicians are not trained to recognize or report any any adverse reactions to vaccines. Dr. Rimland states that "between 90 percent to 99 percent of the adverse reactions reported to doctors are never reported by those doctors to the government's extremely lax Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, known as the VAERS."
The study of the suspected linkage between the MMR vaccination and autism has been challenged by a study reported in The Lancet. However, that study is said to be seriously flawed in many ways, as has been noted in a number of letters to the editor of The Lancet.
Dr. Edward Yazbak is currently conducting independent research regarding environmental causes of autism. He proposes that certain families seem to have a predisposition to a fragile immune system. If a mother is repeatedly exposed to certain antigens or environmental factors, she develops antibodies against them, which she transmits to her children. If the young immune system of those children is attacked early in life by several simultaneous insults, violent complex immune reactions take place, which affect the whole body, but particularly active brain centers, leading to autism.
At this time, research is focusing on a genetic cause for the disease. Many large-scale studies find no answers. With the incidence of autism reaching epidemic proportions, the time has come for research to also look at any and all environmental factors. As Dr. Yazbak states, "Research should be focused on any and all environmental insults affecting this generation of children, and their parents', and only then, will we be able to stop this epidemic, by removing these offenders."
Copyright © 2000 The Providence Journal Company
note: Patricia Nolan, MD, MPH is the Director, R.I. Departement of Health