From: Dr. Chun Wong
It was the Vaccine Court Poling Case that brought the possible link between Mitochondrial Disease out into the open in 2008. The Poling family won compensation, in the form of an out of court settlement, because they were able to convince people that their daughter Hannah’s autism was a result of nine vaccines that had been administered to her just 48 hours before Hannah developed the first signs and symptoms of autism.
Hannah Poling suffered from Mitochondrial Disease, or dysfunction, a disorder that she had inherited from her mother, and it is not known whether it was the vaccines alone that caused her autism or whether her mitochondrial disease had left her vulnerable to the vaccines triggering the autism. The Chief Science Officer of the charity “Autism Speaks” thinks that in cases like Hannah Poling, the vaccinations stimulate the immune system, putting stress on the functioning of the cells in of the body and exacerbating the symptoms of the Mitochondrial Disease that the child already has and triggering autism symptoms.
Mitochondrial Disease is not just one disease, but is actually a collection of over 40 different disorders that affect the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the “powerhouse” organelles (subunits) of cells known as the eukaryote cells. The job of the mitochondria is to covert energy from food molecules into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is needed to power cells and for metabolism.
Mitochondrial Disease has many different characteristics, depending on where the defective DNA has been distributed in the body, but symptoms can include:-
- Muscle weakness
- Heart problems
- Episodes similar to strokes
- Problems with co-ordination and motor skills
- Developmental delays
Evidence Linking Autism and Mitochondrial Disease
As well as the Poling Case, a Portuguese Study has also suggested a link between autism spectrum disorders and Mitochondrial Disease. This study (”Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-based Study” 2005) looked at 69 autistic children and found that five of the group had mitochondrial abnormalities. A US Study by Dr John Shoffner backed this up by finding that about 20% of autism sufferers also have markers for mitochondrial disease.
Scientists have explained that Mitochondrial Disease sufferers are more at risk of neurological abnormalities, like autism, and also muscular abnormalities because the cells of their bodies need more energy than other people’s body cells and can actually sustain damage if they don’t get enough energy. A lack of energy can lead to a brain condition called encephalopathy, which has very similar symptoms to autism.
In Hannah Poling’s case, we are never going to know definitively whether Hannah would have developed the autism symptoms anyway, even if she had not received the vaccinations, or whether the vaccines worsened her condition and triggered her regression, seizures and other autism symptoms.
If there is Mitochondrial Disease in your family, you may want to get your child tested to see if they have it, before going ahead with childhood vaccines.
For more information on Mitochondrial Disease, you can go to http://www.mitosoc.org/blogs/diagnosis and http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/mitochondrial.htm the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.