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Scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism exposed by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson

Vaccine-autism link

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(NaturalNews) In a recent post on her web site, journalist Sharyl Attkisson summarizes many of the studies that have shown a potential connection between vaccines and autism.

Attkisson does not claim that a link has been proven, but she does take issue with the efforts to dismiss all evidence of a link and claim that the matter has been settled.

"To be clear: no study to date conclusively proves or disproves a causal link between vaccines and autism and—despite the misreporting—none has claimed to do so," she writes. "Each typically finds either (a) no association or (b) a possible association on a narrow vaccine-autism question. Taken as a whole, the research on both sides serves as a body of evidence."

Vaccines and brain damage

Attkisson notes that no scientist disputes the fact that in certain cases, vaccination can result in "permanent brain damage." The question that has yet to be answered, she says, is whether brain damage leading to autism can actually be caused by vaccines or whether its occurrence after vaccination is due to some other cause.

Three recent studies expand upon this question. A 2010 pilot study in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis found suggestions of changes in brain structure function in infant monkeys given the vaccine regimen from the 1990s, when childhood vaccines were still made with the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal, which has since been removed from all but the flu vaccine and adult-only shots. A study in the Journal of Immunotoxicology from the following year concluded that autism could be triggered by many causes, including encephalitis following vaccination. A 2012 Chinese study found a correlation between autism and both febrile seizures (a known vaccine side effect) and a family history of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Vaccines and underlying susceptibility

The latter study points to a trend that Attkisson identifies in the research wherein a certain subset of children might possess underlying neurological or immune vulnerabilities that make them susceptible to vaccine-induced brain damage that is then labeled as autism.

A 2002 study conducted by the Autism Research Institute found that thimerosal could cause a depression of infant immune systems, while a 2013 study by researchers from the Methodist Neurological Institute found that a mild mitochondrial defect might make children more susceptible to thimerosal and other toxins. A 2004 study from Columbia University found that mice with a predisposition to autoimmune disorders developed autism following vaccination with mercury-containing shots. A whole array of studies have also linked thimerosal to neurological damage more directly and supported the hypothesis that that vaccine ingredient might contribute to autism development.

A significant but often overlooked 2009 study in the Journal of Child Neurology reviewed a famous study that supposedly refuted a thimerosal-autism link and actually found that the data in that study did support a small connection.

"Even a small effect can have major health implications," the researchers wrote.

MMR, Hep B and Aluminum

The other most commonly studied potential vaccine-autism connection is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, and Attkisson reviews the results of three studies suggesting that in some children, the MMR shot may induce an abnormal immune response linked to autism.

Surprisingly, Attkisson also tracked down two studies linking autism to lesser-known vaccines and vaccine ingredients. A 2011 study by researchers from the University of British Columbia noted a correlation between aluminum-containing vaccines and autism, and they concluded that the link "may be causal." Another study found that boys who received the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth were three times more likely to develop autism than other boys, including those who received the vaccine later. Meanwhile, yet another study found that the full Hep B vaccine series was linked with higher rates of developmental disability.

Taken together, the studies presented suggest that the vaccine-autism question is far from scientifically settled.

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