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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Friday, March 7, 2008

More on Autism/Vaccine Case

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog provides some background on the recent case involving the girl who received childhood vaccines and developed autism-like symptoms.  Jacob Goldstein writes,

The father of a girl who developed autism-like symptoms after receiving several vaccinations in a single sitting doesn’t oppose vaccines.   “I want to make it clear I am not anti-vaccine,” Jon Poling, who has an MD and a PhD, told WebMD. “Vaccines are one of the most important, if not the most important advance, in medicine in at least the past 100 years.” But, he added, “every treatment has a risk and a benefit. To say there are no risks to any treatment is not true.”

The federal government conceded that the vaccines Poling’s daughter Hannah received as an infant may have combined with an underlying disorder to contribute to her neurological problems. The family will receive a payment from a special vaccine court that reimburses people who have been harmed by vaccines.

Hannah Poling has a disorder of the mitochondria, the part of the cell that provides energy. It is common for infants and toddlers with mitochondrial disorders to appear healthy, then develop problems when placed under certain kinds of common physical stress, such as dehydration or fever. Because the brain is such a heavy user of cellular energy, those problems are often neurological.

“Children who have mitochondrial disorders, even though they may appear normal initially, are actually somewhat pre-destined to have a regression of neurological function when placed under stress,” Edwin Trevathan, who runs the CDC’s Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said during a press call yesterday. . . . .

“The government has made absolutely no statement indicating that vaccines are a cause of autism,” CDC chief Julie Gerberding said. “This does not represent anything other than a very special situation and a very sad situation for the family and the child.”

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