Autism Vaccine Connection

Jaquelyn McCandless, MD

June 12, 2001

I am a physician in Southern California, board certified in Psychiatry and Neurology. I am currently specializing in biomedicine of autism from both personal interest and sheer demand by ever-increasing numbers of parents seeking help for their children with this diagnosis. I was disturbed by the report released Monday and published in the LA Times April 23 by IOM. Though I agree that long-term peer reviewed studies do not yet prove the relationship between the MMR and autism, I believe the report was misleading to the general public and especially to parents or parents-to-be. There is overwhelming clinical evidence by those of us out in the fields dealing with rapidly increasing numbers of autistic children that vaccine safety needs a great deal more investigation.

As a clinician, my current belief which guides my practice with these children is that any child given the HepB vaccination at birth and subsequent boosters along with DPT has received unacceptable levels of neurotoxin in the form of the ethyl mercury in the thimerosal preservative used in the vaccine. In any child with a genetic immune susceptibility (probably about one in six) this sets off a series of events that injure the brain-gut-immune system. By the time they are ready to receive the MMR vaccination, their immune system is so impaired in a great number of these children that the triple vaccine cannot be handled by the now dysfunctional immune system and they begin their obvious descent into the autistic spectrum disorder.

The histories are very similar in the majority of these children. Dutiful parents get their child all mandated vaccinations, then come the multiple ear infections, multiple courses of antibiotics, development of food sensitivities (especially wheat and milk products) and allergies, chronic diarrhea/and or constipation, gradual marked restriction of food intake, and evidence of cognitive deficits in the form of gaze avoidance, intolerance of changes in routines, lack of interest in socialization and interacting with others, and lack of language development. This latter is finally what gets most parents to seek help for their child if they are not familiar with the autistic spectrum syndrome, which most parents are not. The next thing that frequently happens is that the pediatrician tells the parents that “it’s just toddler diarrhea” (the child hasn’t had formed stools in months) or “he/she looks fine, some children just talk later than others” (no words at 18-24 months), etc. and the diagnosis is further delayed. THESE ARE MEDICALLY SICK CHILDREN!! Their gastrointestinal system is so injured first by the injected toxins, then by the ensuing invasion of pathogens, especially yeast infections, and then by the ingestion of foods they cannot process, like milk and wheat, and the end-point is a malnourished brain that cannot develop and process the world the way a normal child does. They desperately need special early educational intervention to help their brains be receptive, and fortunately this is already well known and happening to some extent. Concomitantly, these children need early bio-medical intervention to help the gastrointestinal, immune, and neurological systems heal and begin to function appropriately. They need dietary intervention and removal of toxic foods and substances, including gut and brain pathogens, so their starving brains can develop properly. They need special vitamins and minerals to offset the chemical aberrations produced by the toxins and subsequent neurological malnutrition.

In the last few years thousands of children have been treated with oral chelation methods to reduce their toxic load of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and aluminum in their bodies, and the results by the clinicians who are willing to step out of the “medical box” to use this form of treatment are having good and sometimes amazing results with a therapy that is very safe. As in all treatment, the earlier the children are treated, the more likely they respond. The protocols are still changing for this new kind of treatment, but children are followed very closely with blood and urinary tests to make sure they remain in good health throughout the process. It is a prolonged process; heavy metals that have become a part of their cellular make-up do not leave easily. The children need to be monitored carefully and strict attention must be paid to their nutritional/vitamin/mineral intake throughout this therapy. In my practice, I have been amazed by the improvement in many children who are started on a good vitamin/mineral/ nutrient program even before they receive any chelation medications.

Each child is a complex, unique biochemical/psychological system, and must be evaluated and tested and treated individually. Therefore this kind of therapy is much more prolonged and complicated and demanding both on the parents, the child, and the practitioner than usual forms of medicine dictated by pharmaceuticals, and is not cost-effective for busy practitioners particularly dictated by bottom-line-money-saving health plans. There is a desperate need for doctor education in this arena, as well as need for insurance carriers to recognize new treatments that in the long run stand to save them a great deal by helping early in the course of these disorders. There is a desperate need for screening clinics where interested physicians and health workers can evaluate these children and counsel parents on the best way to prevent life-long disability. At a meeting I recently attended at the annual NIH conference on children’s health in Bethesda MD, one of the directors at that meeting said that the estimated life-long cost of educating and treating a child with autism is $2,000,000! 700 new cases have been added to the California school system in less than the last 3 months. Our educational and medical systems are woefully inadequate to this incredible challenge. Spending most of the millions allocated to autism on obscure genetic rodent studies in universities by persons who may have never encountered a child with autism is tantamount to neglect of many thousands of children who need medical evaluation and treatment as well as proper educational intervention RIGHT NOW!!

In my opinion, to take the MMR vaccine out of context of the entire vaccine program and state that it is safe stands to create complacency in parents and researchers, and will continue to endanger many more children before the full truth of this very complicated picture is understood.