MB Comment: This is a first-class article on the mechanism of how vaccines cause autism by Russell L. Blaylock, MD, neurosurgeon.
Vaccines, Neurodevelopment, and Autism Spectrum Disorders
In 1976, children received 10 vaccines before attending school. Today they will receive more than 36 injections. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured parents that it was safe to not only give these vaccines, but that they could be given at one time with complete safety. Is this true? Or are we being lied to on a grand scale?
The medical establishment has created a set of terms, which they use constantly to boost their egos and firm-up their authority as the unique holders of medical wisdom—the mantra is “evidence-based medicine”—as if everything outside their anointing touch is bogus and suspect. A careful examination of many of the accepted treatments reveals that most have little or no scientific “evidence-based” data to support it. One oftenrepeated study found that almost 80% of medical practice had no scientific backing.
This is not to say that medical practice should be solely based on pure and applied science, as understood in the fields of physics and chemistry. Medicine, as pointed out by many of the great minds of medicine, is an art.
Most men and women of medicine recognize that some things are obvious without a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study. For example, there has never been such a study to see if smashing your finger with a hammer is painful, but we accept it without such pristine evidence. The same is true with removing brain tumors or sewing up severe lacerations.
I find it interesting that there exists an incredible double standard when it comes to our evidence versus theirs. The proponents of vaccination safety can just say they are safe, without any supporting evidence what-so-ever, and it is to be accepted without question. They can announce that mercury is not only safe, but that it seems to actually increase the IQ, and we are to accept it. They can proclaim thimerosal safe to use in vaccines without their having ever been a single study on its safety in more than 60 years of use, and we are to accept it.
Yet, let me, or anyone else, suggest that excessive vaccination can increase the risk of not only autism, but also schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases, and they will scream like banshees— where is the evidence? Where is the evidence? When we produce study after study, they always proclaim them to be insufficient evidence or unacceptable studies. More often than not, they just completely ignore the evidence. This is despite the fact that we produce dozens or even hundreds of studies that not only demonstrate the link clinically and scientifically, but also clearly show the mechanism by which the damage is being done—even on a molecular level. These include cell culture studies, mixed cell cultures, organotypic tissue studies, in vivo animal studies using multiple species, and even human studies. To the defenders of vaccine safety our evidence is never sufficient and, if we face reality, never will be.
We see how questions of medical importance that are nitpicked to death on points of scientific purity can cost a lot of lives—millions of lives. There are more than one million children and adults with autism and the numbers continue to grow. This is a medical disaster of monumental proportions. The link to the vaccine program is scientifically and logically compelling but these same medical elitists refuse to listen.
Like smoking and lung cancer, we have enough proof today to call a halt to the present excessive vaccine program and ban any level of mercury in vaccines. In 1983, before the autism epidemic began, children received 10 vaccinations before attending school and the autism incidence was 1 in 10,000. Today children receive 23 vaccines before age 2 years and 36 by the time they attend school; the autism rate is now 1 in 150 births. Medical “experts” have provided no other explanation for this dramatic and sudden rise in autism cases, despite a draconian effort to find one.
They attempted to say it was genetic, but geneticists were quick to respond that genetic disorders do not suddenly increase in such astronomical proportions. Then they said it was because of better diagnosis, despite the fact that the diagnosis is obvious in virtually every case and that the criteria officially accepted for diagnosis has become more restrictive, not less.
When trapped by a lack of evidence, defenders of a nefarious position resort to their old standby—the epidemiological study. Statisticians will tell you that the least reliable type of study is an epidemiological study because it is easy to manipulate the data so that the study tells you anything you wish it to. Every defense offered by vaccine defenders is based on such studies and never the actual science. Then they announce that the issue is settled and no further studies need be done. After the media has been informed that the issue has been settled, those who continue to present the evidence are considered kooks and the great unwashed ignorant.
The Autism Disaster: Is it Man-Made?
Today, specialists speak of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which include a number of related neurodevelopmental disorders such as classical autism, Retts syndrome, Aspergers syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). I have noticed over the years that when specialists know very little about a disorder they spend an inordinate amount of time naming and sub-classifying it periodically. In addition, they go to great lengths to define characteristics and symptoms of the disorder that must be present to meet the criteria of classification. Those who fail to meet these criteria are dispensed with into another dimension, that is, they are ignored.
In the early 1980s, the incidence of autism was 1 in 10,000 births. By 2005, the incidence had leaped to 1 in 250 births and today it is 1 in 150 births and still climbing. One of the strongest links to this terrible set of disorders was a drastic change in the vaccine programs of the United States and many other countries, which included a dramatic increase in the number of vaccines being given at a very early age. No other explanation has been forthcoming from the medical elite.
In this paper, I shall present evidence, some of which has not been adequately discussed, that provides strong evidence for a connection between excessive vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders. In a paper I wrote in 2003, I stated that removing the mercury from vaccines would help relieve the problem, but it would not eliminate it. This was based on a number of studies in the neuroscience literature that indicated that excessive and especially repeated immune stimulation could result in severe disruption of brain development and even neurodegeneration.
In this paper and a follow-up paper, I attributed the central mechanism to excessive and prolonged microglial activation with an interaction between inflammatory cytokines and glutamate receptor subtypes. The Vargas, et al, study, published 2 years later in 2005, strongly supported this hypothesis, with the finding of elevated inflammatory cytokines as well as the presence of extensive, widespread activated microglia and astrocytes in examined autistic brains from age 5 years to 44 years of age. This indicated that the brain’s immune activation persisted for decades. Recent research indicates that this phenomenon is not that uncommon and can be reproduced in the laboratory using a variety of immune-stimulating agents and neurotoxins, including mercury and aluminum.
Autoimmunity and Vaccinations
A number of studies suggest a link between autoimmune disorders and autism risk. Support comes from studies showing an increased risk of ASD in children of mothers with autoimmune disorders. Yet, not all studies agree, since at least one carefully done study found no strong link.
Other more carefully done studies provided evidence suggesting some link. For example, in one study, serum from a mother with an autistic child was found to bind immunologically with specific brain cells (Purkinje cells). When this serum was injected into pregnant mice, their babies demonstrated neurological changes suggestive of autistic behavior, indicating a transfer of the autoantibodies into the developing baby mouse.
A number of studies have found autoantibodies in a significantly higher number of autistic children to various brain structures, including serotonin receptors, myelin basic protein, neuron axon filament protein, nerve growth factor, and cerebellar neurofilaments. It should be understood that these autoantibodies are not found in all cases and that they may develop as a result of the damage caused by the disease itself, rather than causing the disease. For example, we know that after a stroke or head injury a substantial number of people develop autoantibodies to brain proteins. Nevertheless, the autoantibodies can worsen the damage and prolong the damaging pathology.
It has also been demonstrated that methylmercury (from fish) and ethylmercury (in thimerosal) are both powerful immunosuppressants and are associated with a high incidence of autoimmunity. In this study, researchers found that unlike methylmercury, thimerosal (ethylmercury) initially caused immune suppression and then strong Th2-induced autoimmunity. They attributed this to the higher conversion of ethylmercury to ionic mercury (Hg+) than seen with methylmercury. In fact, one study found that strains of mice highly susceptible to developing autoimmune diseases were sensitive to the ASD-like behavioral effects on mercury exposure, whereas mouse strains that were not genetically susceptible to autoimmunity do not develop ASD behaviors. It is obvious from the extremely high incidence of ASD that these autoimmune-related genes are very common, but they remain silent until triggered by vaccines or other environmental toxins.
Immunologists have now concluded that autoimmune disorders are not the result of excessive activation of a normal immune system, but rather activation of a dysfunctional immune system. The question remains: what is causing such widespread immune dysfunction among our population? Studies show that the number of autoimmune diseases has increased over the past 30 years, with asthma, type-1 diabetes and eczema rates increasing more than two-fold. There is also compelling evidence to indicate that certain vaccinations are associated with these autoimmune-related conditions.
A compelling number of studies have shown an increased incidence of autoimmune reactions in children with the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), especially involving measles antigens, milk antigens, and antibodies to gliadin and gluten. Some of these have been shown to cross-react with brain-derived proteins as well, especially those in the cerebellum, a major structure affected in these disorders.
Recently, neuroscientists have shown that much of the damage in cases of autoimmunity is not due to direct immune reactions with brain structures, but rather results from the release of storms of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products during the immune reaction, something I call a “hand grenade in a shopping mall effect.” If you use a hand grenade to target a single person in a crowd you will not only kill and injure the intended target, but all of the bystanders as well.
Neuroscientists P.L. McGeer and E.G. McGeer have named this effect “bystander damage.” The immune attack caused by the autoimmune reaction in an autistic person’s brain damages a number of surrounding structures, especially brain connections called dendrites and synapses. Subsequent studies have confirmed that bystander damage is the most destructive reaction of autoimmunity.
Some studies, as referred to above, have shown that autism is much more common in families with a hereditary tendency for autoimmune diseases, which makes sense because these individuals have a dysfunctional immune system. There is also compelling evidence that vaccines themselves can damage the immune system of immature animals, leading to a higher incidence of autoimmunity and abnormal brain development. Mercury, even in small concentrations, is also known to induce autoimmunity in a high percentage of those exposed to it.
Ironically, things that suppress a portion of the immune system, usually cellular-type immunity, increase the likelihood of autoimmunity. Immunologists speak about a Th1 to Th2 shift and vice versa. This can occur with exposure to mercury as well as in response to vaccination. A great number of autoimmune diseases are associated with a Th2 shift.
The immune system is a very complex system, which at birth is incompletely formed. This means, and has been confirmed in animal and human studies, that immune reactions to vaccinations differ at different ages, so that small babies have a different reaction than adults. This has been shown with the hepatitis B vaccine now given to newborns. The rate of maturation of the immune system also differs considerably among babies and children, meaning we cannot say what effect will occur in all children. There are a great many variables, including diet.
The immune system’s reaction to infection and immunization can be quite different. Normally, the immune system relies on a shifting of T-lymphocyte function to determine which is better for the particular situation. The T-helper lymphocytes (Th) can exist as Th1, Th0, or Th2 forms. When no infection is present, the system is in the Th0 mode (an uncommitted phase). If a virus invades, it quickly switches to the Th1 phase, which allows immune cells to secrete a group of cytokines that kill viruses. It also activates immune lymphocytes that kill viruses and bacteria. At other times, the immune system needs a whole different set of immune signals and cells, which are supplied by the Th2 phase. The Th2 phase favors the production of antibodies, mainly supplied by Bcells, but in general they reduce immune reactions.
Infants are stuck in the Th2 mode during intrauterine life, to prevent being immunologically rejected by the mother during pregnancy (much like transplant rejection), since the baby is seen as a foreign body to the mother’s immune system. At birth, the baby remains in a Th2 mode, but has a limited ability to switch to the Th1 defensive mode if the need arises, say from an infection. Months later, the baby switches to the adult Th1 mode. If the baby’s immune system remains in a Th2 mode, it has a high risk of developing an autoimmune disorder, including eczema, asthma, or other allergies.
Presently, vaccine authorities recommend every baby be vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine at birth. But, is this safe? A recent study looked at the immune reaction in newborn infants up to the age of 1 year who had received the hepatitis B vaccine to see if their immune reaction differed from adults getting the same vaccine. What they found was that the infant, even after age 1 year, did react differently. Their antibody levels were substantially higher than adults (3-fold higher) and it remained higher throughout the study. In essence, they found that the babies responded to the vaccine by having an intense Th2 response that persisted long after it should have disappeared, a completely abnormal response.
Autistic children have been described as having a Th2 predominance, which would explain their propensity to developing autoimmune diseases and being more susceptible to infections early in life. Elevated proinflammatory cytokines, particularly TNF, have been described in studies of the cytokine profile in autistic children. As we shall see later, an excess production of B-cell cytokines and suppression of T-lymphocyte Th1 activity, as seen in autism, is associated with a high incidence of neurological damage by excitotoxins.
Several things about these immune responses are important to all parents, including effects of such immune overstimulation during pregnancy. For example, it has been shown that excess immune stimulation, as occurs with vaccination, can significantly increase the risk of a pregnant woman having a child with autism or schizophrenia later in life, depending on when the vaccine is given. In addition, persistent Th2 responses caused by the hepatitis B vaccine puts your child at a great risk of developing an autoimmune disorder and impairing your baby’s ability to fight off infections. This means that immediately after birth this vaccine has put your child at a greater risk of all childhood related infections, including H. influenzae, meningitis, meningococcal meningitis, rotavirus, measles, and chickenpox. Not only that, but numerous studies have shown that such immune suppression greatly increases the number of severe complications associated with these infections, which means that should your child be exposed to measles or chickenpox they are more likely to suffer neurological damage, seizures, or other systemic disorders. When this occurs, rather than admit that the science indicates that the vaccine program is the cause of the complications and deaths, the vaccine proponents scream that it demonstrates again the need for greater efforts to vaccinate our children.
Immune Suppression by Live Virus-Containing Vaccines
It is also known that certain viruses powerfully suppress immunity, including the measles virus. The MMR vaccine contains live measles viruses and recent studies have shown that immune suppression after vaccination with this virus suppresses immunity in a profound way that last as long as 6 months. In fact, the CDC recommends separating this vaccine from other live virus vaccines to prevent viral overgrowth (Yet, they combine it with two other live viruses—rubella and mumps viruses).
Yet, they never address the obvious question: wouldn’t this vaccine also make the child more susceptible to other naturally occurring infections such as Haemophilus influenzae type B, meningitis, meningococcal meningitis, persistent measles infection, influenza infection, and even chickenpox? This has been strongly suggested by a number of studies. Not only would they be more susceptible, but severe complications and even death would be more common as well.
When death and severe complications occur due to these infections, pediatricians, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics use this as a justification for more vaccines, never admitting that the increased incidence of these infections and complications was caused by their previous vaccine recommendations.
This risk is especially high in families with a number of other children in the household or in children in day care centers. With prolonged suppression of the immune system, exposure to other sick children would put this child at a high risk of contracting the infection and having complications or dying from the infection as stated.
Studies have also shown that vaccines that cover only a few strains of a virus or bacteria that naturally have a great number of strains (some have more than a hundred strains), can cause a shift in strain dominance so that the strain not included in the vaccine then becomes the dominant disease-causing strain. We see this with the meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines. This is discussed in the scientific literature but the public is never informed. Most pediatricians are completely unaware of this.
When combined with mercury, which is also an immune-suppressing substance, the effect is compounded. Fluoroaluminum, formed in fluoridated drinking water, also interferes with immune function, as do many insecticides and herbicides used around the home.
Often forgotten, is the substantial evidence that omega-6 oils powerfully induce inflammation and immune suppression when consumed in large amounts. Those eating a Western diet are consuming 50-fold higher amounts of this type of oil (called linoleic acid) than needed for health. These oils include corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, peanut, and soybean oils. So, we see that the average child is exposed to a number of substances in their food and environment that can also alter immunity, making them not only more susceptible to natural infection, but also to vaccine complications.
In essence, by over-vaccinating our children, public health officials are weakening their immune system, making them more susceptible to a number of infections and less able to combat the infections. This gives them an endless source of “horror stories” to justify even more vaccines. Remember also that mercury is an immune suppressant, from both vaccines and seafood contamination.
One can see that a pregnant mother having dental amalgam fillings who eats a diet high in methylmercury-containing seafood and living in an area with high atmospheric mercury, such as West Texas, would be at a greater risk of having an autistic child than one not exposed to these other sources of mercury. These differences in environmental mercury exposure are never considered by those insisting all children have the same vaccines, including mercury-containing vaccines such as the flu vaccine.
The Autistic-Prone Child
It is becoming obvious that certain children are at a higher risk of developing autism than others, for a variety of reasons. It is also obvious that these newborns and small children develop infections at a higher rate than less vulnerable children. This may be due to a developmental immune deficiency, which can affect only a portion of the immune system and may be easily missed by their pediatrician. Indeed, it has been noted that a great number of cases of childhood immune deficiencies are missed by practicing pediatricians, especially the more subtle cases, which may make up the majority of ASD-prone children.
For example, many physicians treating autistic children have noted a high incidence of ear infections. These are treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, which often lead to a high incidence of Candida overgrowth in the child’s body. Both infections will prime the microglia in the child’s brain—which is the brain’s specific resident immune cell. This priming effect shifts these normally resting microglia immune cells into overdrive. If stimulated again within weeks or even months, they generate extremely high levels of free radicals, lipid peroxidation products, inflammatory cytokines, and the excitotoxins glutamate and quinolinic acid. Studies have shown that this is the major mechanism for both viral and vaccine-related brain injury.
The high incidence of infection in these children indicates the possibility of a preexisting immune system dysfunction. As stated, this also increases the risk of an autoimmune reaction. The stage is then set for the autism cascade to develop and this can be triggered by early vaccination or a recurrent infection. Remember, the microglia have been primed, either by a natural infection or an earlier vaccination (such as the hepatitis B vaccine given soon after birth). The vaccine is different from a natural infection in that the vaccine produces immune stimulation in the brain for very prolonged periods.
It has been proven, in both animal and human studies, that systemic infections or immune activation by vaccines rapidly activate the brain’s microglial system and can do so for prolonged periods. Once the primed microglia are reactivated by the subsequent vaccination or infection, the microglia activate fully and pour out their destructive elements as discussed above.
With a natural infection, the immune system quickly clears the infection and then shuts off the immune activation, which allows the damage to be repaired. This shutting down of the microglia is very important. There is evidence that with repeated and excessive vaccine-triggered immune stimulation, the microglia do not shut down. This is what was found in the Vargas, et al, study, in which they examined the brains of 11 autistic people from age 5 years to 44 years of age who died without active infectious diseases as compared to age-matched controls. That is, they found widespread activation of inflammatory cells (microglia and astrocytes) in the brains of the autistic patients. This explains the widespread brain damage seen in all autism cases.
This study was one of the most carefully conducted, extensive examinations of the immune reactions in the autistic brain ever done and involved immunocytochemistry, cytokine protein assays, and enzyme-linked immunoascorbant assays of the brain tissue. They also performed similar assays of spinal fluid from an additional 6 living autistic patients, which confirmed the intense immune activation and inflammation.
The average child receiving all of the recommended vaccines will have some 23 inoculations by age 2 years and 36 by the time they enter school. Most of these will be spaced within 1 month of each other, which means the priming and activation cycle of the microglia will be continuous. In addition, should they follow the new CDC recommendation they will receive the flu vaccine every year starting at age 6 month through age 18 years. These vaccines contain a full dose of thimerosal mercury.
In addition, we must consider the effect of the measles and rubella portions of the MMR vaccine, which begins at age 1 year. The profound immune suppression, which last up to 6 months after it is given, will not only increase the risk of developing other infections, but will increase the risk of an autoimmune reaction. Cytomegalovirus is also a powerful immune-suppressing virus that commonly infects newborns and small children, especially if they are immune suppressed. So, we see that giving a live, immunosuppressant vaccine early in life can dramatically increase the risk of autoimmune disorders and increase microglial brain injury, as well as increase the risk of infection by other immune-suppressing viruses and pathogenic organisms. And, it dramatically increases the risk of your child developing one of the autism spectrum disorders.
It should also be appreciated that the Candida infections in these children trigger a prolonged systemic immune reaction, which means a prolonged brain immune response as well and a worsening of any autoimmune disorder it may have produced.
About the Author:
This article is a part one excerpt from Dr. Russell Blaylock’s paper, “The danger of excessive vaccination during brain development: the case for a link to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD),” published in Medical Veritas in 2008. To read the article in its entirety, visit: www.blaylockreport.com.
Dr. Blaylock is a board certified neurosurgeon, author of numerous published papers, and lecturer. Dr. Blaylock serves on the editorial staff of the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association and is the associate editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. He now serves as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Biology at Belhaven College. He has a nutrition newsletter, which can be purchased at www.blaylockreport.com.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #21.
To purchase this issue, Order Here.