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The MMR Causes Brain Damage, Just Not of the Autism Kind

Posted Sep 02 2010 12:00am

Whats in a name By J.B. Handley
I often think about how people will judge this moment in time, the time right before the whole Autism lie came cascading down, and I’m continually struck by how remarkably silly and transparent some of the other side’s arguments are when brought out into the light of day.
As a simple example, look at all the epidemic-deniers, many of whom are still practicing, trying to peddle this idea that “autism has always been with us” to anyone who will listen. It doesn’t matter how many times, with compelling data, this absurd position is repudiated, they just keep on talking. Here’s Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., a neuroscientist from UCSF 
"It irritates me to no end that we still argue over whether there is an increase in incidence [of autism]. I think there is lots of evidence for increased incidence. Overwhelmingly it supports that there are things in the environment that are contributing to the rate of incidence. But people still argue."
Another simple example concerns autism and the environment’s role in causing it. Again, using the weakest interpretation of all available data, there are “experts” willing to assert that autism’s cause is solely genetic, even as our own Senate holds a hearing making it clear as day that scientists have moved on to looking for an environmental cause of autism. From a recent Huffington Post article 
“Dr. Isaac Pessah, Director of the UC Davis Center for Children's Environmental Health, testified [before the Senate last week] that many of the molecular and cellular systems associated with autism are the same ones that are the target of environmental chemicals currently of concern to human health because of their widespread use. He spoke of a critical need to identify which chemicals in the environment influence the same biological pathways that are effected in autism. Dr. Pessah said that limiting exposure to these chemicals is the only way to mitigate or prevent autism in susceptible individuals.”
Yet, of all the silliness, the deniers save their most tenuous and pathetic arguments when discussing vaccine injury. As we all know by now, Jackie Fletcher’s son Robert saw a whiff of justice after her Sisyphean task finally reached its culmination. Ten cheers for Jackie, her husband, their beautiful son and, hopefully, a domino-like reaction out of the UK for many more to seek their own justice.

Having said that, Jackie Fletcher had to fight for 15 years to prove her son had a reaction to the MMR that the damn MMR packaging insert says is a potential side-effect: brain injury! Here’s the packaging insert for one of Merck’s MMR vaccines:
The following adverse reactions are listed:

Encephalitis; encephalopathy; measles inclusion body encephalitis (MIBE) (see CONTRAINDICATIONS); subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE); Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS); febrile convulsions; afebrile convulsions or seizures; ataxia; polyneuritis; polyneuropathy; ocular palsies; paresthesia.
To help clarify the above list, here are 2 definitions pulled from the internet 
- Encephalitis: Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include headache, fever, confusion, drowsiness, and fatigue. More advanced, and serious, symptoms include seizures/convulsions, tremors, hallucinations, and memory problems.

- Encephalopathy: Encephalopathy literally means disorder or disease of the brain. In modern usage, encephalopathy does not refer to a single disease, but rather to a syndrome of global brain dysfunction; this syndrome can be caused by many different illnesses.
To repeat, the Fletcher’s had to fight for 15 years to get compensation for their son for an adverse event that the packaging insert of the MMR vaccine says is a possible risk. God save us from the judgment of future generations!
Which brings us, as we all know, to the stupidest of the stupid, the explanation that will keep future generations up late theorizing about what in the hell we humans were thinking when we allowed people to say this and it goes something like this (my paraphrasing)“OK, fine, MMR can cause brain injury in certain susceptible children, that’s indeed true.

But, it doesn’t cause autism. Ever.”

Why? How? Who? What the hell? It’s a world, or at least a person, gone mad.
I guess we need to start at the beginning. Do you have a child with autism? If you do, do you think they have a healthy brain? A brain that in many cases can’t form words, complex ideas, the capacity to socialize, and so many other missing things? Did I just describe some aspect of your child?
Does this definition, the one for “encephalopathy” from above, describe your child 
“a syndrome of global brain dysfunction.”
We can take some comfort here. The crazy statements, the illogic, the assertions that autism has always been with us, that it’s genetic in origin, they’re all coming to an end. Even MMR, with billions behind it, will lose at some point. The liars will come out of the shadows, the truth spelled out ever more clearly. Robert Fletcher, millions of other kids, hundreds of thousands of families, you just can’t bottle the truth when so many lives have been ruined, and so many of us are here to always fight.
The MMR causes brain injury in some children. Sometimes, it manifests as something we call autism. As Jim Moody told me, it’s really not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “how many?”

J.B. Handley is Co-Founder of Generation Rescue .

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