FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Do vaccines cause autism?
A: The debate about whether vaccines can cause regressive autism began in 1985 with the publishing of the landmark book DPT: A Shot in the Dark by Harris Coulter and Barbara Loe Fisher. Among the more than 100 cases of DPT vaccine induced brain inflammation and immune system dysfunction detailed in the book were children who had developed regressive autism after suffering a brain inflammation and encephalopathy following DPT vaccination.
When Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which created a federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), the first awards for vaccine injury and death were given to children who had suffered a brain inflammation/encephalopathy after DPT vaccination and died or were left with a variety of brain and immune system problems such as medication resistant seizures, mental retardation, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD and other developmental delays. Since then, federal compensation has been awarded to children who developed brain inflammation/encephalopathy after DPT or DTaP vaccination and whose permanent disabilities include autistic behaviors. (In 2008, the federal government conceded that a girl who had received multiple vaccines on one day and regressed into autism was entitled to compensation for her injuries.)
In 1990, NVIC was contacted by California mother, Cindy Goldenberg, who explained how her bright healthy son became autistic following his MMR vaccine. Following many visits to different doctors in her attempt to find out what had happened to her son, multiple tests were performed to evaluate his immune function and revealed a high antibody count to rubella vaccine. After conducting research into the connection between rubella infection and autism, she contacted an immunologist and they put together a biomedical protocol to address his immune dysfunction which resulted in her son recovering from autism.
Since 1990, a growing number of physicians have acknowledged that development of regressive autism has multi-factorial causes and that there are many questions yet to be answered about the biological causes for and prevention and treatment of autism. What has become clear since the autism-vaccine connection was first reported in 1985 is that many children with regressive autism are getting better from biomedical and holistic health approaches to healing brain and immune system dysfunction. There are a number of autism support groups and resources which have been founded by parents since the late 1990's, which are dedicated to helping families with children with autism.
If you suspect that your child's autism or developmental delays are related to a vaccine or combination of vaccines, it is very important that you report a vaccine reaction to NVIC's Vaccine Reaction Registry which NVIC has operated since 1982. Information about vaccine reactions can help discover why some children develop health problems following vaccination and others do not.
A report should also be made to the federal government's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). The law requires doctor's to report any serious problem within 30 days following vaccination. If your doctor refuses to report, NVIC can provide the forms for you to report the reaction yourself.
Children with autism have educational, behavior and medical challenges that may be modified or eliminated with individualized interventions. It is important to consult qualified health care professionals familiar with regressive autism and vaccines. Autism groups providing information about regressive autism can be found on our resources page.
You may want to post your child's story of regression after vaccination at NVIC's International Memorial for Vaccine Victims website. Personal stories are very important and can help others learn more about vaccine reactions.
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