This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dr Bernadine Healy, former head of the NIH, speaks about the potential link between vaccines and autism

In this interview of Dr Bernadine Healy by Sharyl Attkisson (linked to in the article "The Open Question on Vaccines and Autism"), Dr Healy discusses why the possibility of a relationship between vaccination and autism has not been settled by the scientific research, and why it needs to be kept open.  Dr Healy is an MD and the former head of the NIH so she is no fringe character, but instead has had a view of this from the inside.  Her perspective is valuable and it's a shame that it's been pushed aside by the media.

She explains that we have technology and opportunities now to study this question in new ways and that there is a responsibility to the public to really examine potential risks to vaccines, and to identify groups of people susceptible to vaccine injury if there are any.  She says that identifying at risk groups, and finding ways to keep them safe, won't make the public lose faith in vaccines...rather it will increase public trust to know that questions of safety are being taken seriously.  She says that the insistence by many government officials that there is adequate evidence to conclude that vaccines are not involved in autism is simply not supported by the evidence and is premature.

Here are some highlights of the interview:

"This is the time when we DO have the opportunity to understand whether or not there are susceptible children, perhaps genetically...perhaps they have a metabolic issue...a mitochondrial disorder....immunological issue...that makes them more susceptible to vaccines plural? Or to one particular vaccine?  Or to a component of vaccine, like mercury.  So we now, in these times, have to I think take another look at that hypothesis, not deny it.  And I think we have the tools today that we didn't have 10 years ago, that we didn't have 20 years ago, to try and tease that out and find out if indeed there is that susceptible group."

"I do not believe that if we identify the susceptibility group, if we identified a particular risk factor for vaccines or if found out that maybe they should be spread out a little longer, I do not believe that the public would lose faith in vaccines."

" is the job of the public health community, and of physicians, to be out there and to say "yes, we can make it safer, because we *are* able to say this is a subset, we're going to deliver it in a way that we think is safer".  So I think the public would respect that."

Question from Sharyl Attkisson "But public health officials have been saying they know, they've been implying to the public they know, there's enough evidence, and it's not causal" (vaccines and autism):

Dr B.H. "I think you can't say *can't* say that.

S.A. "Do you think the government was too quick to dismiss out-of-hand that there was this possibility of a link between vaccines and autism?"

Dr B.H. "I think the government, or certain public health officials in the government, have been too quick to dismiss the concerns of these families without studying the population that got sick.  I haven't seen major studies that focus on 300 kids who got autistic symptoms within a period of a few weeks of a vaccine.  I think the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational without sufficient studies of causation.  I think that they often have been too quick to dismiss studies in the animal laboratory- either in mice, in primates- that *do* show some concerns with regard to certain vaccines and also to the mercury preservative in vaccines.  The government has said, in a report by the Institute of Medicine- and by the way, I'm a member of the Institute of Medicine, I love the Institute of Medicine- but a report in 2004 it basically said "do not pursue susceptibility groups, don't look for those patients, those children who may be vulnerable.  I really take issue with that conclusion.  The reason why they didn't want to look for those susceptibility groups, was because they're afraid that if they found them, however big or small they were, that that would scare the public away.  First of all, I think the public is smarter than that, the public values vaccines, but more importantly...I don't think you should EVER turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you're afraid of what it might show."

S.A. "You're saying that public health officials have turned their back on a viable area of research largely because they're afraid of what might be found?"

Dr B. H. "If you read the 2004 report, and converse with a few of my colleagues, who believe this still to be the case...there is a certain concern...there is a completely expressed concern that they don't want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people.  I don't believe the truth ever scares people, and if it does have an edge to it then that's the obligation of those who are delivering those facts to do it in a responsible way so you don't terrify the public.  One NEVER should shy away from science, one should never shy away from getting causality information in a setting in which you can test it.  Populations do not test causality, they test associations.  You have to go into the laboratory and you have to do designed research studies in animals.  What we're seeing in the bulk of the population is that vaccines are safe.  Vaccines are safe, but...there may be this susceptible group.  The fact that there is concern that we don't want to know that susceptible group is a real disappointment to me.  If you know that susceptible group, you can save those children.  If you turn your back on the notion that there's a susceptible group, that means that you are...what can I say?"

S.A. "It sounds like you don't think the hypothesis, of a link between vaccines and autism, is completely irrational?"

Dr B.H. "When I first heard that there was a link between autism and vaccines I thought "well that's silly".  Really, I tended to dismiss it just on the superficial kind of reading...reading what was in the offense to the media....  So when I first heard about it, I thought "that doesn't make sense to me".  The more you delve into it, if you look at the basic science, if you look at the research that's been done on animals, if you also look at some of these individual cases, and if you look at the evidence that there is no link, what I come away with is that the question has not been answered."