November 15, 2008

A great response to a hot topic

I've followed my doctor's recommended plan for Jack's vaccinations. I discussed the issue with both doctors in the practice when Jack was first born and I felt comfortable with their responses. I still do. Sort of.

Over the weekend, I sold a card to a mom who had a blog link in her signature. Naturally, I checked it out. The top post was one on the issue over whether or not autism and vaccines are at all related . . . which, unless you've been living under a rock, you know is a hot issue among parents right now.

When completing her sale, she had mentioned that one of her boys is autistic, and because I have issues with staying inside what are regarded as normal personal boundaries, I sent her an e-mail asking her if I could know more about her story with her oldest son. Her response was really educational, and not at all like the typical fanatic response that you might get from either end of the autisum/vaccine spectrum (did anyone see Matt Lauer's interview with Nancy Snyderman?).

Anyway, I asked her if I could post a portion of her note here, and she was very willing. Her oldest son Tom, was diagnosed with autism at 2 years, 10 months. Her youngest son is Hank.

She send some .pdf files with alternative vaccination schedules and I'll be discussing them with my doctor at Jack's 18 month check-up in December. If you'd like copies, contact me and I'm happy to forward them to you.
Keep in mind, this is kind of a soapbox issue for me - I've completely changed my mind about all of this, and ultimately I think we all just have to pray and punt!

My dad is a doctor, and I've never been an "alternative" kind of person before. I've always been all for air-conditioning, Diet Coke, preservatives, etc..... ;)

Tom is fully vaccinated - at least vaccinated up 'til about age 4. No more, though. My 2nd son, Hank, was vaccinated on a regular schedule, but our pediatrician (who's actually old friends w/ my dad, and is probably one of the top pediatrician's in Dallas) actually said to me, before the MMR, without me even asking.... "I don't think vaccines and/or the MMR have anything to do with autism - but, having said that - there's no reason we can't delay the MMR for Hank - especially since he has a brother with autism."

I was actually sort of surprised, because I'd always thought all those crazy moms who thought that vaccines caused their children's autism were just looking for something to blame, and probably a little crazy. :) Tom never had an obvious regression, like so many kids I know now, and he didn't have chronic poop issues, ear infections, or rashes, which can all be early indicators of vaccine reactions.

Tom had been diagnosed for 2 years before I really bought into a lot of the vaccine argument. We did stop vaccinating Hank just before his MMR, and we haven't started up again, although we will.

The science now says that some people are able to detoxify better than others - that's a genetic thing. It's like a bucket. If our bodies were all buckets, we'd maybe have 3 holes in the bottom for drainage. So as we throw in vaccines, preservatives in our foods, junk in the air, aluminum cans, mercury fillings, etc.... normal people can drain all that gunk out pretty well. But for some kids, like Tom, we found out that he only has the equivalent of one hole in his bucket. So at some point, as we slosh all that gunk in (gunk being a technical term, of course!) at some point, the bucket's going to overflow. That's what a lot of autism researchers are now calling our toxic "tipping point." The problem is, there's not really a way to test babies to see how well they detoxify ahead of time - and we vaccinate all kids the same way at the same time.

My personal belief is that first, Tom was created exactly who he was meant to be -and that he is precious and created for a purpose. Having said that, I also think that there were many things stacked against him from the beginning which may have pushed him down in to autism. I have ADD, and now chronic fatigue syndrome (I know, sounds like Debbie Downer!), but I only had the 10 or so vaccines they were giving in the early 70's. My goal is just to remove as many obstacles for Tom as I can so he can be the best precious little Tom he can be!

I do think there is a purely genetic version of autism - but that it's more the 1 in 50,000 it was 20 years ago. I think all the autism we see now is a combination of genetics and environment. The 1 in 150 number the CDC quotes all the time is for 14 year olds - 8 year olds in 2002. The number now is more like 1 in 67, and it's 4:1 boys to girls. Scary!!

When I was pregnant, I had (and still have) 4 amalgam fillings, which are 50% mercury, I had a flu shot in my first trimester of pregnancy (not thimerosol-free, even though it was available), Tom then had 3 flu shots (with Thimerosol) in his first 3 years of life, and his DTaP had mercury in it. Plus, having so many vaccines in such a short period of time is making a lot of kids, including Tom, have some autoimmune problems.

It was Tom's labs I finally did, 2 years after he was diagnosed, that convinced me. He had porphyrin tests (a measure of heavy metal body burden in the kidneys, brain, etc.) that came back saying he had toxic levels of mercury, lead, and this specific pesticide built up in his brain. Ugh. Even my old-school plastic-surgeon dad was shocked. Tom also had major brain inflammation and oxidative stress, which are all inter-related. So we started doing some alternative things, like IV chelation (which gets rid of metals) and he started getting significantly better. Lots of his therapists were shocked and wondered what he'd been doing since the change was so dramatic.

He still has a long way to go, but he's getting close, and closing the gap!

My feeling is that he might have had ADD or something like that, but that all the crud that got to him so early pushed him down into autism. But I don't think I'll ever know for sure!

But the thing is, I think there's a happy medium. I do believe our current vaccine schedule is wayyyyy too many, wayyyyy too soon. There are not very hard ways of just spacing them out, even, and kids can be funny immunized by kindergarten but not take quite as much of a risk. Do I think that will help? Who knows. But, there's no harm, except the inconvenience, so if I had it to do all over again, I'd probably do Dr. Cave's version, which is on that blog I posted. [This is one of the links she sent me . . . let me know if you'd like it.]

I've been to conferences around the country, I'm on all kinds of websites and blogs, keeping up with all the research, and I think you'll see much much more come out in the next few years.

There's tons of interesting info on the website. Like vaccinated vs. unvaccinated studies (autism risk a jillion times higher in vacc.). All those people who get on the news saying that there's no controversy about vaccines and autism are simply wrong. It's still controversial, there are valid points on both sides, but there's enough real science now to convince me that it's definitely at least a factor.

Hope that wasn't too preachy!! I've just seen so many sad stories - we're one of the lucky ones since Tom is so high-functioning now. But I know so many moms whose kids regressed right before their very eyes.


Sara Neufeld said...

wow, very interesting. I will definitely check out that vaccine schedule for this little one.

Sarah said...

Thank you for posting this. My older brother(33) was diagnosed when the number was 1 in 10,000 and my mom has always wondered if it was triggered by vaccines. My son is 11 months old and I have been following the Sears alternative vaccine schedule(Dr Sears was my son's pedi) and am so very scared of this same thing happening to him. I like reading reasonable, thoughtful insights like this one. Thanks again!

Beth said...

I delayed my last child's vaccination schedule, and I am not a fanatical mother either. Very

Smith Family Blog said...

Can you email me the alternative vaccination schedule? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Veerrrrrryyyyyyy interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Typical indicators for autism will show up around the same time the MMR vaccine is administered, which can create a false correlation. As an autism teacher, I have a student who has two younger siblings with autism. The first 2 were vaccinated, the third was not. They all have autism on pretty much the same part of the spectrum. The alternative schedules are interesting and I wonder what the longer term studies will show...

Kyle Luke said...

yeah' I've always been told that the link is purely temporal, but it seems as though science might be proving that wrong.

Anonymous said...

is the vaccination schedule you have the same used on

i have spaced out my son's vaccines so as not to overload his system all at one time.

Thanks for posting this.

Xander said...

hey sara,
can you email the alternate vaccine schedule? do you have it? I can't find it online and I don't think I can get to the library to find the book and photocopy it before Eli's next appointment in 2 weeks...


sudu said...

This is very interesting. I couldn't get the vaccination schedule in the post, where can i get it? Can you pls email it to me.
Thanks a lot.