April 3, 2009
LKL Blog Exclusive: Autism is Preventable and Reversible
Posted: 09:06 AM ET
LKL Blog Exclusive by J.B. Handley, founder of Generation Rescue. J.B. will be our guest tonight on LKL, in addition to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey.
Jenny McCarthy's son Evan no longer has autism. This is a very hard concept for most people to grasp, because the popular understanding of autism is that it's lifelong. Quietly, a revolution of tens of thousands of parents around the world are standing firmly behind Jenny and using the same treatments to heal their children that she used to heal Evan. Not a day goes by where I don't hear a story from a parent of their child's dramatic improvement or complete recovery from autism using what we call "biomedical intervention."
In the 1940s, Autism was supposed to be a placeholder diagnosis, used until we had a better understanding of the actual physical issues that would define autism as a disease. Yet even today, a child is diagnosed based entirely on behavioral observation – there is no blood test or other way to test for it. Unfortunately, this has led to a level of inertia and acceptance amongst the mainstream medical community that many parents find unhelpful, if not unacceptable. "Autism is something you can't really change, just learn to accept it" – that's the message so many of us hear from our medical authorities.
Imagine for a second being that parent of a child with autism and told that your child may never speak and that a lifetime of care is likely. You start to do your own research, and you happen upon our community, filled with hope, examples of recovery, and specific actions you can take to heal your child. What would you do?
The vaccine issue has made autism one of the most polarizing topics on earth, which is too bad, because it keeps different communities within the autism world from working for the benefit of the only group that matters: our kids.
The number of children diagnosed with autism today is deeply alarming. The 1 in 150 number often used here in the U.S. is actually from 7 years ago, and we're hearing more recent numbers well below 1 in 100 in states like Minnesota, New Jersey, and Oregon, to name just a few. Published studies in the 1970s showed an autism rate of 1 in 10,000, so autism has grown 100-fold, or 10,000%, numbers that are nearly impossible to imagine.
With autism cases growing this quickly, something in the environment has to be causing the rise. A "spontaneous genetic epidemic" is a scientific impossibility. It's also likely that something relatively straightforward has to be behind the epidemic – it's very unlikely that 100 different things all showed up sometime in the early 1990s and triggered the autism epidemic.
That's where vaccines come in, and I think the case for them as a primary trigger is, unfortunately, very compelling. Firstly, the number of vaccines given to U.S. kids has expanded dramatically. Up until 1989, our kids received 10 total shots by their 5th birthday. Today, they receive 36. At their 2 month old appointment alone, most American children receive 6 separate vaccines in less than 15 minutes. Few other things on the planet that nearly all children receive have grown so dramatically during the exact time period when autism cases have exploded.
Secondly, and this is something most parents don't realize, vaccines are known to cause brain injury in some kids. In fact, the US government has paid out over $1.8 billion in compensation for vaccine injury, most of it to children and much of that for brain injury. How exactly do vaccines cause brain injury? No one knows for sure, but if you check out the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program on the website of the Department of Health and Human Services, you can see for yourself that brain injury is a primary side effect (sometimes called "encephalopathy") of many of our vaccines.
Finally, we have tens of thousands of case reports of parents reporting that their child developmentally regressed, stopped talking, and was later diagnosed with autism after a vaccine appointment. The number of vaccines have risen along with autism rates, vaccines are known to cause brain damage, and parents report regression and later autism after getting them. Is it really so hard to believe we think vaccines are a trigger?
Few parents appreciate that American kids are the most vaccinated on the planet. Generation Rescue just released a study called "Autism and Vaccines Around the World" which will surprise many. We looked at the vaccine schedules of 30 other first world countries to compare how many doses of vaccines children receive. What did we find? Compared to our 36, the average for the rest of the first world is 18, or half of the U.S. schedule. Perhaps more shocking, we looked at countries with the lowest rates of mortality for children under 5 (the U.S. ranks a disappointing 34th, behind Cuba and Slovenia). How many vaccines do the 5 countries with the lowest under 5 mortality rates give? Well, Iceland, Sweden, Singapore, Japan, and Norway give 11, 11, 13, 11, and 13 vaccines respectively – all less than 1/3 the number of vaccines the U.S. mandates!
How do autism rates compare in some of these other countries? Iceland's rate is 1 in 1,000, Finland's 1 in 700, and Sweden's 1 in 800. These countries give 1/3 the vaccines we do and have autism rates that are as little as one-tenth of ours? Something isn't right.
Parents just want a simple answer: "What do I do for my child? I want to give vaccines, but I don't want autism." There is no perfect answer as our kids are so different. But, perhaps you could start by considering the US vaccine schedule in 1989, which is a schedule many countries still use today. In 1989, we gave the following vaccines (and doses): DTP (5), Polio (4), MMR (1). For reference, today we give the following vaccines and doses: DTP (5), Polio (4), MMR (2), Hepatitis B (3), Hib (4), Varicella (2), Rotavirus (3), PCV (4), Flu (7), Hepatitis A (2).
Prevent deadly disease while preventing autism, why can't the two co-exist?
To date, our health authorities have been unwilling to meet us halfway on vaccines. There appears to be no room for moderation, and we hear the American Academy of Pediatrics state that American children should simply get all their shots. Yet, looking at 30 other first world countries, we found that only 3 others had added Varicella to their schedules, and only 2 others had added Rotavirus to their schedules, as two examples of low rates of adoption by other countries, despite the fact that both of these vaccines have now been on the market for over a decade. What do these other countries know that we don't? Would it surprise you to learn that the patent holder for Rotavirus sat on the government panel that adds vaccines to our schedule?
Our health authorities are also quick to assert that "the science shows vaccines don't cause autism." It's disappointing to hear false statements like this from people many of us inherently trust. Having read every study these experts put forward, I can tell you with conviction that any doctor making this claim is either lying or has never read the studies for themselves. In fact, we were so frustrated by this mantra about "the science" that we created a website to analyze all the studies, which you can now find at FourteenStudies.org and see for yourself. In a nutshell, if you never look at unvaccinated kids and if you only ever study one vaccine (the MMR) which accounts for 2 of the 36 vaccines our kids get, its easy to craft studies to get the answers you want.
The debate over the causes of autism will not end anytime soon. Parents trying to do the right thing for their children are being put in the middle. I'm grateful for people like Jenny McCarthy who are willing to share their own stories and help as many parents as possible prevent and reverse autism. Through her courage alone, thousands of kids today are facing a far brighter future.
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