We investigated a consecutive series of children with chronic enterocolitis and regressive developmental disorder.
12 children (mean age 6 years [range 3-10], 11 boys) were referred to a paediatric gastroenterology unit with a history of normal development followed by loss of acquired skills, including language, together with diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Children underwent gastroenterological, neurological, and developmental assessment and review of developmental records. Ileocolonoscopy and biopsy sampling, magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and lumbar puncture were done under sedation. Barium follow-through radiography was done where possible. Biochemical, haematological, and immunological profiles were examined.
Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another. All 12 children had intestinal abnormalities, ranging from lymphoid nodular hyperplasia to aphthoid ulceration. Histology showed patchy chronic inflammation in the colon in 11 children and reactive ileal lymphoid hyperplasia in seven, but no granulomas. Behavioural disorders included autism (nine), disintegrative psychosis (one), and possible postviral or vaccinal encephalitis (two). There were no focal neurological abnormalities and MRI and EEG tests were normal. Abnormal laboratory results were significantly raised urinary methylmalonic acid compared with age-matched controls (p=0.003), low haemoglobin in four children, and a low serum IgA in four children.
We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers.
Doctor Wakefield had been approached by several parents at his gastroenterology clinic at the Royal Free Hospital in London, complaining that their autistic children were chronically ill and had crippling stomach pain, diarrheoa all day and were bashing their heads against the wall in pain. Despite these symptoms of severe pain and gastrointestinal disease, they were ignored by family doctors who passed off all their problems as 'just autism'. Frustrated and wanting to help their children, they asked Dr. Wakefield, a top gastroenterologist for assistance.
When he and his team examined the children they discovered they all had an inflammatory bowel disease accompanied by developmental regression and autism - despite being previously normal. In eight of the 12 children, this had occured following an MMR vaccination.
The paper said it did NOT confirm a link and research had to be done. Immediately he was pounced upon by people calling him 'anti-vaccine' and trying to get him fired. They also criticised the paper, saying it wasn't a study as it only involved 12 children.
They were right on that point, it WASN'T a study, it was merely a selection of case notes on some patients and case notes are frequently published by doctors, especially if they have noticed something unusual.
When Leo Kanner discovered autism, there were only 11 children in his paper.
Andrew Wakefield had clearly said that research needed to be done and that is what he set out to do. He had managed to treat autistic children with anti-inflammatories and other drugs used in the treatment of bowel disease and he found when their bowel symptoms subsided, some could maintain eye contact and regain lost skills. As a doctor whose first thought was with the patient, he didn't want to leave an entire generation of autistic children to their fate because of the mistaken belief that autism was psychological or purely a behavioural disorder. Clearly, these children had immune system issues with involvement from the gut.
He knew that the gut and the brain are linked (if in doubt, have a beer and you'll see the connection) and he suspected that measles virus, being extremely immuno-suppressive, might be a trigger.
But were his initial observations really that revolutionary? And was his the first ever paper to question vaccines and their relation to autism?
Actually NO. The medical profession has known for DECADES that vaccines are capable of triggering autism and other brain maladies and they're also aware of the ability of viruses to bring about regression or autistic tendancies in the child.
See this 1976 medical report:
[Autistic syndrome (Kanner) and vaccination against smallpox (author's transl)
3-4 weeks following an otherwise uncomplicated first vaccination against smallpox a boy, then aged 15 months and last seen at the age of 5 1/2 years, gradually developed a complete Kanner syndrome. The question whether vaccination and early infantile autism might be connected is being discussed. A causal relationship is considered extremely unlikely. But vaccination is recognized as having a starter function for the onset of autism.
(Klin Padiatr. 1976 Mar;188(2):172-80).
Yes, you read that right, in 1976, 38 years ago, 'Vaccination is recognized as having a starter function for the onset of autism.'
They knew years before the Wakefield/MMR/Autism controversy even broke.
A study in favour of MMR also admitted that the rubella virus can cause autism when a baby is exposed to it in the womb. Since the rubella virus is contained in the MMR, it's not that much of a leap to think that it may also cause autism in immune-susceptible babies.
(Pediatrics Vol. 107 No. 5 May 1, 2001)
Exposure to viruses early in life can cause behavioural changes later in life - particularly rubella virus and influenza virus if the fetus is exposed before birth. Despite this, health authorities recommend influenza vaccination of pregnant women when they already have an uncontrollable autism epidemic on their hands.
Autistic disorder and viral infections
Autistic disorder (autism) is a behaviorally defined developmental disorder with a wide range of behaviors. Although the etiology of autism is unknown, data suggest that autism results from multiple etiologies with both genetic and environmental contributions, which may explain the spectrum of behaviors seen in this disorder. One proposed etiology for autism is viral infection very early in development. The mechanism, by which viral infection may lead to autism, be it through direct infection of the central nervous system (CNS), through infection elsewhere in the body acting as a trigger for disease in the CNS, through alteration of the immune response of the mother or offspring, or through a combination of these, is not yet known. Animal models in which early viral infection results in behavioral changes later in life include the influenza virus model in pregnant mice and the Borna disease virus model in newborn Lewis rats. Many studies over the years have presented evidence both for and against the association of autism with various viral infections. The best association to date has been made between congenital rubella and autism; however, members of the herpes virus family may also have a role in autism.
Journal of Neuroviology,
2005, Vol. 11, No. 1 , Pages 1-10