Yes, Vaccines Can and Do Cause Autism
By Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., and Zoey O’Toole
Our friend and colleague, J.B. Handley, a graduate of Stanford University, successful investor, and father of three, has a young adult son with nonverbal autism.
As he details in his book, How to End the Autism Epidemic, Handley—like literally hundreds of thousands of other parents (including this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one)—watched firsthand how the vaccines given to his boy at every “well baby” visit caused his son Jamison to slip away into autism.
At the same time, the connection between vaccines and autism has been soundly dismissed by the CDC and the vaccine manufacturers. They insist that vaccines are “safe and effective” and that the idea that vaccines may cause autism—or any other health issue, for that matter—is nothing but “conspiracy theory.”
However, this blanket dismissal is nonsensical. Many excellent books have been written about why. For those of you who are new to thinking about vaccine safety issues, we’ll give you a few highlights.
1. Every vaccine has a different safety and efficacy profile. To say “vaccines are safe and effective” is akin to saying: “Gas works and all gas works for every car.” Then, when a car that takes diesel starts stuttering on unleaded fuel, you blame everything but the gasoline.
2. The CDC continues to add vaccines to the schedule without removing any. While any given vaccine may be safe (see #1), overloading a child’s body with too many vaccines too soon is not.
3. Autism is likely multifactorial. There are likely several environmental toxins that cause autism. At the same time, there are now literally hundreds of studies that show that children who receive fewer vaccines or none at all have a lower risk of many health problems, including autism, encephalitis, infant mortality, and several chronic illnesses, like asthma, central nervous system demyelinating syndromes, and chronic arthritis.
Not a Conspiracy Theory
Despite the pharmaceutically-funded pseudo-science that claims otherwise, over-vaccination is likely a causative if not the causative factor in the rise in autism in the United States.
In other words, yes, vaccines cause autism.
Our government knows it and has purposefully kept this information from the public.
In the 1970s autism rates were about 1 in 10,000. Today they are as high as 1 in 30, according to new research. No amount of verbal gymnastics or data massage can change the fact that the difference between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 30 cannot be explained by “better diagnosis,” “increased awareness,” “bad genes,” or “bad luck.”
The uncomfortable truth, a truth that people who care more about their egos and their profit margins than they do about children’s health, willfully or naively ignore is that it is likely that the vast majority of cases of severe autism can be prevented in the first place.
Indeed, there are safe and effective ways to help keep your child from suffering from toxicant-induced brain and immunological damage.
There are also safe and effective ways to recover your child from environmentally induced autism.
In the late 1990s in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began calculating the amount of mercury infants were receiving via intramuscular injection courtesy of childhood vaccines.
At that time, mercury, in the form of thimerosal, was added to vaccines as a preservative. But since in the United States, vaccines are approved on a vaccine-by-vaccine basis, no government agency had ever calculated the cumulative amounts of mercury exposure American babies were being subjected to.
The math yielded worrisome results. Government officials realized that the amount of mercury the average child was receiving far exceeded maximum safety levels. As David Kirby details in his 2005 bestseller, Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy, many parents believed that their children with autism were exhibiting symptoms of mercury poisoning.
To test whether the mercury in vaccines was causing brain damage, the CDC commissioned Thomas Verstraeten, M.D., to compare health outcomes in children who had received high doses of mercury early in their lives with children who hadn’t received any mercury.
When he crunched the numbers, Verstraeten found large statistically significant correlations between high doses of mercury and outcomes like autism, ADHD, tics, and speech disorders. He redid the numbers the next month and found an even higher correlation for autism. In fact, autism was more than 11 times as common in the high early exposure group than the non-exposure group.
These first calculations were nicknamed “Generation Zero” by the people at SafeMinds, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the autism epidemic by supporting environmental research and effective treatments. SafeMinds, which was co-founded by Sallie Bernard and Lyn Redwood (a nurse married to a medical doctor), received the information through a Freedom of Information Act request.
So what did the CDC do with that information? First, they tried to make the signal go away. Then, when they couldn’t, they called a closed-doors secret meeting in June of 2000 at the Simpsonwood Retreat Center in Norcross, Georgia, to which they also invited vaccine manufacturers.
SafeMinds also received the transcript of the meeting in that same FOIA request.
Nothing To Worry About, Nothing At All
One doctor at that meeting insisted he didn’t want his new grandson to be injected with any thimerosal-containing vaccines. But, true to form, the Simpsonwood participants still managed to convince themselves there was nothing to worry about.
In fact, what they were most concerned about was the damage this information could do to the overall childhood vaccine program, not the damage that the vaccines were actually doing to the brains and bodies of America’s children. So, presumably with clear consciences, they decided not to make any of the worrisome findings available to the public.
Verstraeten massaged the numbers a few more times. Three years after the secret meeting at Simpsonwood, he finally managed to make enough of the signal go away that what remained was statistically insignificant—except for the connection between mercury-containing vaccines and tics. The end result was a neutral study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics in 2003, with no consistent findings. The authors reported “conflicting results” and could not make any definitive statements or reach any conclusions about whether thimerosal in vaccines caused brain damage.
The data was so inconclusive and the water so muddy, in fact, that all the scientists concluded was: “For resolving the conflicting findings, studies with uniform neurodevelopmental assessments of children with a range of cumulative thimerosal exposures are needed.”
But that wasn’t how the press reported it. Verstraeten’s neutral study was touted as “proof” that vaccines didn’t cause autism, even though the good folks at the CDC knew that it was anything but.
Without ever admitting a causal link between thimerosal and brain damage, vaccine manufacturers began a voluntary phase-out of mercury in vaccines.
While mercury is now used as an ingredient in only three brands of vaccines for influenza as well as one brand of tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, the problem of environmentally-induced autism continues.
Our public health officials continue turning a blind eye to the damages caused by the cumulative exposure to harmful vaccine ingredients.
Many of the world’s experts on aluminum—a known neurotoxin which is present in many of the childhood vaccines as an adjuvant—believe this ingredient is also causing brain damage and immunological damage to children born today.
One such expert is Dr. Christopher Exley. In a 2017 study, Exley and his team found high levels of aluminum in the brain tissue of autistic subjects. The sample study was small but the findings were significant. The location of this stored aluminum, inside inflammatory cells in brain tissue, led the researchers to speculate that aluminum could penetrate the blood–brain barrier through these inflammatory cells from a vaccine injection site.
These findings, however, did not seem to interest or concern public health officials. The response, as expected, has been to simply declare aluminum-adjuvant containing vaccines “safe.”
His research on aluminum in vaccines has had repercussions for Exley’s career, however. First, Keele University stopped sending press releases about his work. Then they silenced him and stopped his research by forbidding him from accepting any outside funding and shutting down his website, thus forcing him out of his job.
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What About the MMR Vaccine and Autism?
If vaccines didn’t cause autism, we would no longer be talking about this issue. But hundreds of thousands of families continue to witness severe health declines in their children after following their doctors’ orders. In the late 1990s, a group of these parents begged British gastroenterologists to help them.
So a group of Britain’s best medical doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London teamed up to figure out what was going on.
Their extensive research led to the publication of a now infamous scientific paper whose lead author was a young gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakefield.
The now-retracted scientific paper mentioned that parents of children suffering from regressive brain disorders along with unusual intestinal problems reported that both conditions began shortly after their children received the live virus MMR vaccine (given to children to help protect them against measles, mumps, and rubella).
The MMR vaccine is a live-virus vaccine. It has never contained thimerosal or aluminum.
Vaccine apologists have criticized vaccine safety advocates for investigating different vaccines and analyzing the toxicity of different ingredients in their quest to better understand vaccine-induced brain damage.
Apologists complain that this is “moving the bar.” But the truth is autism rates keep going up and parents continue to report severe immune, gastrointestinal, and cerebral damage after vaccines. That is a clinical signal that should be investigated—not dismissed or ignored.
Jenny McCarthy Not to Blame
We can’t blame Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy. In fact, most of today’s young parents have no idea who they are. Vaccine hesitancy does not continue because of an obscure scientific paper about gastroenterology published by a team of 13 scientists and retracted over a decade after it first appeared in print.
That’s one of the many myths perpetuated by the medical industrial complex.
No, vaccine hesitancy continues because parents continue to see poor health outcomes in their children post-vaccination.
Vaccine apologists should be the most eager to champion and fund more vaccine safety research. Since they are sure that vaccines don’t cause autism, this research should exonerate vaccines once and for all.
The truth is we cannot say vaccines don’t cause autism until we have investigated every ingredient and every vaccine, as well as the potential for synergistic toxic effects of so many vaccines given to such young children.
It may be that the timing of the MMR vaccine—usually given between twelve and fifteen months—coincides coincidentally with the onset of autism symptoms, as some vaccine apologists have argued.
But it’s also possible that the strong immune response provoked by the MMR vaccine plays a causative role in disrupting the brain.
The only accurate thing we can say about the connection between the MMR vaccines and autism is that parents have noticed a temporal association that scientists have not yet been able to explain adequately.
More Malfeasance at the CDC
A group of CDC researchers sought to get to the bottom of the MMR autism connection. They wanted to avoid the “irregularities” associated with the Verstraeten study by setting out a rigid protocol ahead of time. The problem was that when they did the study, they found that African-American boys who received the MMR “on time” (that is, before 36 months) were three and a half times more likely to develop autism than African-American boys who got the MMR vaccine after 36 months of age.
What did the CDC do this time? As Del Bigtree shows in his film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe,” instead of publishing the data, the CDC again massaged it. They changed the study’s protocol. They dropped subjects who didn’t have Georgia birth certificates.
Since parents had to pay for those birth certificates, the children who were dropped were generally from poorer families who were disproportionately African-American. This change in the study protocol allowed the researchers to dump 40% of their data showing the connection between early vaccination with MMR and autism in African-American boys. Once again, the signal almost went away. And, again, the pharmaceutical-funded mainstream media jumped on the published study to crow that it proved that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.
A Whistleblower Comes Forward
But there was a glitch. One senior scientist at the CDC, William Thompson, Ph.D., who participated in manipulating the study’s data in order to hide the clear connection between the MMR vaccine and autism felt guilty about what he and his colleagues had done. He reached out to Brian Hooker, Ph.D., a Professor of Biology at Simpson University in Redding, California, who is also a data analyst and autism dad, to assuage that guilt. Hooker recorded their phone conversations. What Thompson told Hooker was documented in the 2016 film “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe.”
The deliberate malfeasance in order to cover up the connection between vaccines and autism is devastating.
Given the CDC’s history of obfuscation on this subject, it shouldn’t be surprising that they utterly refuse to do the one type of study that could potentially settle the question forever: comparing health outcomes of a large number of randomly selected children who are fully vaccinated with the health outcomes of a large number of children who have never been vaccinated.
Every small study done to date has shown that unvaccinated children have less autism and enjoy better health than vaccinated children, as Dr. William Gaunt discusses in this article and this one. When Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D., hired an independent medical researcher to analyze the data in his practice, they found that children born into his practice who were exposed to the least amount of aluminum and the fewest vaccines also had the best health outcomes. However, this information is so threatening to the status quo that one of Dr. Paul’s two peer-reviewed scientific studies was retracted.
Retraction is an effective way to silence and discredit independent researchers whose publications threaten Big Medicine. Like data massage, it is a tool wielded by the pharmaceutical industry and the government entities they fund to keep information from you that they don’t want you to know.
It is imperative for the medical industrial complex to keep parents from knowing the truth about vaccine safety. The pharmaceutical industry and the American public “health” program that receives millions of dollars in funding from the pharmaceutical industry has too much to lose if the word gets out.
Are vaccines the sole cause of autism? No. Are there several other environmental factors that may be contributing to brain damage among America’s children, perhaps including over-exposure to ultrasound and over-exposure to toxic herbicides like glyphosate? Yes. Are some cases of autism simply genetic? Of course.
But there is no question that the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the vaccine manufacturers have colluded—and continue to collude—to hide data that indicate that vaccines can and do cause autism.
About the Authors
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning science journalist. Zoey O'Toole is a writer and editor currently working as the publisher liaison at Children’s Health Defense. A mother of two children who faced neurological challenges that were greatly alleviated by “alternative health” treatments, she served for many years as the Vice President for Communications for the Thinking Moms' Revolution, where she was known by the nickname "Professor." She has also edited a comprehensive series of 15 videos focusing on vaccine science for the website VaccineCourse.org, the launch of which has been delayed due to COVID. In addition, she worked on the English translation of the vaccine safety book, Turtles All the Way Down. Support independent journalism by becoming a paid subscriber to Vibrant Life.
Jennifer, this post is a big step for you and takes a lot of courage. I have just changed my subscription from Free to Founding Member. God bless!
Accurate, concise and beautiful summary. Great piece of writing. Hope it is published far and wide. Thanks.