Autism and Mitochondrial Disease

Mitochondrial Disease 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

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
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • 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 and the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


5 thoughts on “Autism and Mitochondrial Disease

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  • Early intervention is how we manage autism…there is no cure for “autism” – and maybe the trigger is environmental…like cellphones, wireless stuff…the worldwide increase of the world wide web and all of the technology that goes with it seems to be a more likely “cause” to autism in the last 14 years – coinciding with the launch of the internet, cell phones and so forth in the last 16 years than anything else.  Thimersol in vaccines was removed in the mid 90’s – the increase in autism diagnosis has been in the last 15 years – we are also better about diagnosing autism – to market a “cure” for this is very frusterating – my son was born with autism – the vaccinnes DID NOT trigger it – as a result of this so called belief a lot of people are endangering their children further by not vaccinating and in a world where we have nearly extinguished such terrible diseases that were present less than 50 years ago only to have them come back is more scary than the rise in autism diagnosis which is still less than 1% of the population.  My crusade is to protect all children and to educate people properly with regards to early intervention which has worked wonders for my child and not any kind of therapy that has not been proven by science specifically and what may work on one kid will not work on the masses.  Every child with autism is different – there are no two that are the same…marketing a “cure” to people is encouraging the belief that autism is a curable disease.  It is not a disease it is a biological organic disorder that we don’t understand and coming up with different ways to effectively manage it and teach our children and society the benefits of healthy living, patience and understanding would be far more effective.  JMO…


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