Study Fails To Clear MMR/Autism Link

by Barbara Loe Fisher

As the latest study attempting to disprove a link between vaccination and autism demonstrates: if you really don't want to know the answer, just ask part of the question. When medical researchers take a reductionist approach to investigating vaccine risks, the public can always count on spin doctors to position the conclusions of a narrowly focused study in a way that appears to totally exonerate vaccines from association with all risks, especially autism.

The most recent paper purporting to clear MMR vaccine from any relationship with the development of regressive autism in previously healthy children was published by researchers at the CDC and Columbia University in the online journal of Public Library of Science . The authors report on a federally funded initiative to address the hypothesis published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield, M.D. and others that some children who receive MMR vaccine develop inflammatory bowel disease and regressive autism due to persistent measles virus (MV) infection.

The examination by three laboratories of intestinal tissues from 25 autistic children, five of whom developed gastrointestinal (GI) and autistic symptoms after MMR vaccination, confirmed the presence of measles virus RNA in one child with autism and one control case. Even though the study only included five children who were previously healthy before regressing into autism after MMR vaccination, it is being touted as concrete proof that MMR vaccine is not in any way involved in the development of regressive autism in previously healthy children.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While Wakefield may have imperfectly described the biological mechanism for development of MMR vaccine induced autism in 1998 (proposing a persistent measles virus infection in the GI tract that affected the brain), he certainly DID correctly report an association between receipt of MMR vaccine in previously healthy children and subsequent simultaneous development of serious bowel disease and autism. It was an important clinical observation and call for further research published in a respected medical journal (The Lancet) but one that Wakefield and his colleagues would pay for dearly. The hypothesis has been furiously denounced for a decade by mandatory vaccination proponents in government, industry, and medical organizations in Europe and the U.S. as they scramble to defend aggressive one-size-fits-all MMR vaccine policies being used in measles eradication campaigns worldwide.

Thoughtful House, a pediatric care facility and research institute in Austin, Texas founded by Dr. Wakefield, issued a response to the study which said in part: "We are pleased to see that this new study provides further confirmation that children with autism suffer from gastrointestinal problems that deserve to be addressed as a priority. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Executive Director of Thoughtful House Center for Children, whose work has focused on intestinal disease, and on the possible role of MMR vaccine in regressive autism in children with GI symptoms, welcomed these new findings. Dr. Wakefield was a co-author of the 2002 paper that, unlike yesterday's study, examined children in the majority of whom there was a clear temporal link between MMR exposure and regression. Dr. Wakefield comments, "The search for the 'footprints' of measles virus in the intestine is merited, based upon the previous findings and the intestinal disease that is commonly found in these children. This new study rules out only one possibility - that the measles virus must remain for the long term in the intestine. We need to consider that the MMR vaccine can cause autism as a hit-and-run injury, but not necessarily leave the measles virus behind."

The biological mechanism for MMR vaccine induced regressive autism - as well as autism that develops in previously healthy children following injection with other vaccines like DPT/DTaP, hepatitis B, varicella zoster, pneumococcal - could well involve an interaction between individual genetic vulnerabilities (autoimmunity, allergy) and the known ability of drugs and vaccines to induce immune mediated inflammation in the body, especially brain inflammation. The most serious and feared complication of the very first vaccines - smallpox and rabies - is inflammation of the brain (encephalitis/encephalopathy), which can be mild or severe with a constellation of acute symptoms that are subtle (deep sleep with difficulty arousing) to dramatic (convulsions, high pitched screaming).

Mild to severe brain inflammation can lead to permanent brain dysfunction in at least one-third or more of all who experience it. The residual effects of brain inflammation can vary from learning disabilities and ADHD/ADD to medication resistant seizure disorders, autistic behaviors and mental retardation.

In 1998, officials of the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) published a review of vaccine injury and death claims submitted to the VICP involving measles vaccine either alone or in combination (such as MMR). They analyzed the medical records of 48 children ages 10 to 49 months who either had died or suffered mental regression and retardation, chronic seizures, motor and sensory deficits and movement disorders following receipt of measles containing vaccines. The authors concluded that "The onset of neurologic signs or symptoms occurred with a nonrandom, statistically significant distribution of cases on days 8 and 9" and "This clustering suggests that a causal relationship between measles vaccine and encephalopathy may exist as a rare complication of measles immunization."

Immune mediated chronic inflammation of the brain, gastrointestinal tract and other parts of the body in previously healthy children following receipt of MMR and other vaccines may not be as rare as CDC officials would have the public believe.

Researchers have found evidence of chronic inflammation in the brains of patients with autism, particularly in the cerebellum. Brains of those suffering with autism have been observed to be in "a chronic state of specific cytokine activity." The suggested biological mechanisms for the observed brain inflammation included chronic disease or an external environmental source. In addition, there is a good possibility that genetic predisposition to immune system dysfunction (autoimmunity, allergy) may be a key to development of regressive autism following vaccination in some children.

The recent study out of the CDC and Columbia University is not good enough evidence to disprove the autism-MMR link first reported by Wakefield and others in 1998. The scope of the most recent investigation was far too narrow and enlightened pediatricians and informed parents know it. As autism advocate Rick Rollens and national autism groups have pointed out, more methodologically sound research must be done before the public jury questioning MMR vaccine safety will stand down. A good start would be a prospective case controlled study comparing immune and brain function of highly vaccinated children to that of unvaccinated children for a period of at least ten years, which has been requested by parents of vaccine injured children for several decades.

For a comprehensive summary of the decade- long persecution that Andrew Wakefield has endured at the hands of individuals with major financial conflicts of interest with government and industry, visit the Cryshame website at maintained in Great Britain. A new essay by British journalist Martin Walker entitled "An Interest in Conflict" examines the tactics used by those determined to punish Wakefield for daring to publish an hypothesis discussing the association between vaccines and autism.

The Cryshame website also features a video tutorial by British pediatrician Richard Halvorson on measles, mumps, rubella, and MMR vaccine. Questions Dr. Halvorsen poses and answers include:

• How dangerous is measles?
• Is measles a killer?
• Can measles be good for you?
• Does vaccination give life-long protection?
• Is MMR necessary?

COMING UP IN THE NEWS: On Monday, Sept. 8, the Dr. Mehmet Oz show on the Oprah & Friends Network is scheduled to broadcast a radio debate on hepatitis B vaccine (; On Tuesday, Sept. 9 the new daytime CBS show "The Doctors" will feature a segment on Gardasil vaccine; On Sept. 18, "The Doctors" will broadcast a segment on mandatory vaccination. For more information or to post a comment after the segments have aired, go to


"We are certain that there's no link between autism and the MMR," Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Mailman School of Public Health Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, said at a Wednesday teleconference...... Not everyone is convinced, however, that the vaccine does not play a role in causing gastrointestinal problems that can precede the onset of autism. "This study addresses one hypothesis. This study, by itself, does not exonerate the role of all vaccines. There are many biological mechanisms where environmental factors could present in the development of autism," said Rick Rollens, the father of an autistic son and one of the founding members of the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California, Davis. Rollens was also part of the teleconference." - Serena Gordon, U.S. News & World Report (September 4, 2008)

"While several researchers said this study is "conclusive" proof that there is no link, Tampa pediatrician, Dr. David Berger says the study is too small (38 children) to make that claim and not comprehensive enough to give parents 100 percent assurance. Dr. Berger says larger, longterm studies are needed. The Tampa board certified pediatrician advises parents to separate the live combination virus vaccine so they can tell if their child has had an allergic reaction to any of the vaccines. That will help parents when it comes time to give kids their MMR booster shot around kindergarten.....'If this study was done in an attempt to try and replicate the original research that was done by Dr. Wakefield, the researchers completely missed the point. Dr. Wakefield specifically looked at children- who had developed symptoms of both autism and intestinal abnormalities after receiving the MMR vaccine, and in those particular patients he was able to identify the presence of the measles virus. In this current study 80% of the patient'st had abnormal gastrointestinal symptoms prior to receiving MMR.'" - Heather VanNest, Tampbays10-TV (September 4, 2008)

"For years, parents have claimed that MMR triggered their child's subsequent GI (gastrointestinal) disease and autism. In a 2002 paper where the majority of autistic children were found to have measles in their intestines, the children examined showed a clear temporal link between MMR exposure and regression. The CDC's attempt to replicate the 2002 study fell far short of proving the safety of the MMR vaccine.....Inflammatory bowel disease in the absence of MMR RNA does not mean that MMR shot didn't precipitate the GI disease and didn't precipitate autism." - National Autism Association (September 3, 2008)


John H said...

There are people who come to this blog and ask...Where is the proof vaccines cause harm? That question needs to be addressed to the producers of the television show 'The Doctors'.

I watched the 'Gardasil' episode. While the drug pushing female Dr. (sorry I don't know her name.) got on her soap box to push hard and heavy the HPV vaccine known as Gardasil, there was NO mention of the MANY facts surrounding the dangers of this 'live virus' vaccine what-so-ever. None of the FACTS were ever brought up that Gardasil can NOT deliver on it's claims, but what else would you expect from a 'Wall Street' produced show.

The public needs understand this example of how 'Wall Street paid for media' will NOT give you the FACTS on vaccine dangers or there non effectiveness. Not to mention other drugs and treatments as well. This is why blogs such as this and websites that give you the 'flip side' of the vaccination coin are a imperatively important public asset.

This is the very reason why the A.A.P. is handing out disinfo packet information home with new parents who visit their local pediatrician's office saying the 'internet' is the root of all evil. Big Pharma does NOT want you to see ANY facts that goes against profit margin grain and is relaying on you to be lazy and non proactive by getting all your vaccine info from the very sources that profit from their distribution.

Fielding J. Hurst said...

Less than shocking, but great work on your part.

Clara said...

I'm always surprised at how vehemently people defend their positions when it comes to autism. I think there is no one cause and that it can be caused by several things.

Sara said...

What continues to astonish me is the fact that the focus of the mainstream (pharm industry funded) studies is always to disprove a link between vaccines and autism; if our esteemed public health agencies were truly interested in protecting our health, you would think there would be a huge push for research into the causes of this autism epidemic that is exploding in numbers and causing such devastation in our society! Even if you believe their conclusion that vaccines are not a cause of autism (which I don't), then what is causing this non-contagious epidemic? It has to be some type of environmental (including vaccines) poisoning which has become more severe and widespread in the last two decades.

Enlighten said...

Once upon a time there was no MMR vaccine.
Once upon a time there was no Autism.
Connection? Common sense?

Enlighten said...

We need verifyable evaluation testing of administered vaccines such as was carried out by:
Dutch Association for Conscientious Vaccination
Independant Vaccine Study
Roosendaal, 1 December 2004
Dutch Independant Vaccine Study
We need totally unbiased participants such as parents of Autistic children or adults. No one on evaluation panel can be associated with vaccine mfg. or related group.All participants must be screened just as was in Dutch Association for Conscientious Vaccination study.

wingless said...

John H... Alot of generalities, and talking around the subject - but you never answered the question: WHERE IS THE PROOF VACCINES CAUSE HARM?!

And Enlighten:
Once upon a time there was no electricity, one upon a time there was no AIDS...

Call it a 'double analogy' -
1. correlation is not causation (say it 10 times fast, maybe then you'll understand)
2. it's a misnomer, like your statements... electricity has always existed, we just did not know where to look for iit... And AIDS - or more correctly, HIV? - Sure, it's only been in the news for the past 40 years but can we say it 'did not exist before'? Absolutely not!!! It's a very big world! A virus could have existed within the bowels of a host so small, so shy, so rare, so remotely habituating as to never be on man's 'radar'. Heck, it could have existed in creatures that made their homes right near man and simply not made the small evolutionary jump until recently!

People, there is no excuse for make belief in the age of the internet. Show us the proof. The onus is on you.

Mountainwillow said...

My son is proof, in addition to the many others out there. For a long time they said BPA wasn't harmful, and now suddenly it is a cause for concern. After years of mothers and groups trying to say this.

Electricity and aids are poor examples John. We are talking about a supposed genetic or development disorder, as opposed to your examples of man made wonder, and an STD. Huge differences not relevant to a debate about vaccines.

The CDC and Companies who make the vaccines - its not a secret they are in kahoots.

My son was absolutely 100% normal, we have no history of ASD in our family and honestly if ASD was never around before the 1900's, I have a hard time believing arguements of genetics. My son got the MMR and had severe bowel issues that puzzeled his doctors for months. He was so sick. I suspect you have no children John.

People should care more about half-worked studies and how it affects everyone. Not just in Autism -MMR cases. Can you imagine how many other studies aren't performed from all possible angles? What kind of toll that will have? What if the medicine you are on or the latest treatment/vaccine you received wasn't correctly studied and suddenly at the 20yr mark, you a millions of others just drop dead of heartattacks or cancer or something caused by long term affects not studied.

Great work blog owner. Thank you so much for your dedication to unveiling truth and logic in such important issues.