Vaccines, Neurodevelopment/ASD's Pt. II
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|Tue, 04-01-2008 - 11:11am|
Autoimmunity and Vaccinations
A number of studies have suggested a link between autoimmune disorders and autism risk. Support comes from studies showing an increased risk of ASD in children of mothers with autoimmune disorders.1-3 Yet, not all studies agree, since at least one carefully done study found no strong link.4
Other more carefully done studies provided evidence suggesting some link. For example, in one study serum from a mother with an autistic child was found to bind immunologically with specific brain cells (Purkinje cells).5 When this serum was injected into pregnant mice, their babies demonstrated neurological changes suggestive of autistic behavior, indicating a transfer of the autoantibodies into the developing baby mouse.
A number of studies have found autoantibodies in a significantly higher number of autistic children to various brain structures, such as serotonin receptors, myelin basic protein, neuron axon filament protein, nerve growth factor and cerebellar neurofilaments.6-10 It should be understood that these autoantibodies are not found in all cases and that they may develop as a result of the damage caused by the disease itself, rather than causing the disease. For example, we know that after a stroke or head injury a substantial number of people will develop autoantibodies to brain proteins. Never the less, the autoantibodies can worsen the damage and prolong the damaging pathology.
It has also been demonstrated that methylmercury (from fish) and ethylmercury (in thimerosal) are both powerful immunosuppressants and are associated with a high incidence of autoimmunity.11 In this study, researchers found that unlike methylmercury, thimerosal (ethylmercury) initially caused immune suppression and then strong TH2-induced autoimmunity. They attributed this to the higher conversion of ethylmercury to ionic mercury (Hg+) than seen with methylmercury. In fact, one study found that strains of mice highly susceptible to developing autoimmune diseases were sensitive to the ASD-like behavioral effects upon mercury exposure, whereas mouse strains genetically not susceptible to autoimmunity do not develop ASD behaviors.12 It is obvious from the extremely high incidence of ASD that these autoimmune-related genes are very common, but they remain silent until triggered by vaccines or other environmental toxins.
Immunologists have now concluded that autoimmune disorders are not the result of excessive activation of a normal immune system, but rather activation of a dysfunctional immune system. The question remains- what is causing such widespread immune dysfunction among our population? Studies have shown that the number of autoimmune diseases has increased over the past 30 years, with asthma, type 1 diabetes and eczema rates increasing over two fold. There is also compelling evidence to indicate that certain vaccinations are associated with these autoimmune-related conditions.13,14
A compelling number of studies have shown an increase incidence of autoimmune reactions in children with the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), especially involving measles antigens, milk antigens and antibodies to gliadin and gluten.15-17 Some of these have been shown to cross-react with brain-derived proteins as well, especially those in the cerebellum, a major structure affected in these disorders.18
Recently, neuroscientists have shown that much of the damage done in cases of autoimmunity is not due to direct immune reactions with brain structures, but rather results from the release of storms of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products during the immune reaction, something I call a “hand grenade in a shopping mall effect”. If you use a hand grenade to target a single person in a crowd you will not only kill and injure the intended target, but all of the bystanders as well.
Neuroscientists P.L. McGeer and E.G. McGeer have named this effect bystander damage.19 The immune attack caused by the autoimmune reaction in the autistic person’s brain damages a number of surrounding structures, especially brain connections called dendrites and synapses.