Families wary as officials stonewall
By David Kirby
Published on: 03/20/08
Reprinted with permission of author
By now, many parents in America have heard of the Hannah Poling court case.
They know the government has acknowledged that vaccines contributed to
autism in at least one little girl from Georgia. Understandably, they
are worried, and they want answers.
But instead of frank talk from leading health officials, their concerns
are being met with stonewalling, denial and misinformation.
By refusing to address what really happened to Hannah - by commanding parents
to settle down and adhere to the nation’s rigid immunization regime
-- officials will only drive people away from vaccines in anxiety-ridden droves.
But what if we could test children for underlying conditions that might
increase their risk of vaccine injury and autism? And what if we allowed
those at risk to slightly delay and spread out their shots?
It’s a difficult, but not impossible, proposition. And I believe
doing so would reduce the rate of autism, seizure disorders and even asthma
in some children. And we would boost vaccination rates by restoring faith
in the nation’s teetering immunization program.
Why do I say this? New documents have surfaced in the Poling case that
shine more light on how Hannah’s vaccine injury led to autism.
A government document filed in the case last November conceded that Hannah’s
vaccines had aggravated an underlying disorder of the mitochondria. Mitochondria
are the tiny powerhouses within each cell that convert food and oxygen
into energy. Government officials acknowledged that Hannah’s disorder
led to a condition known as low cellular energy metabolism, which was
aggravated by vaccines and ultimately led to an autism diagnosis.
It was a tantalizing admission but did little to explain just how the vaccines
had aggravated the disorder or caused autism.
But on Feb. 21, the U.S. government made a second, unpublicized concession
in the case. In addition to triggering autism, officials now admitted,
Hannah’s vaccines had also led to her “seizure disorder,”
And there was more. The November document claimed that Hannah had a mitochondrial
“disorder.” But by February, this was modulated to a mere
That’s because Hannah’s underlying condition was asymptomatic
and most likely environmentally acquired. It was not some rare, grave,
inherited disease that would have progressed to autism anyway, as many
The November report said Hannah’s vaccine reaction had “manifested”
as early-onset brain disease, with “features of autism spectrum
But the February report is more blunt. It says that Hannah’s vaccines
“caused” her “autistic” brain disease.
But the real bombshell was this: Hannah’s autism was caused by vaccine-induced
fever and overstimulation of her immune system, according to court documents.
Her low cellular energy and reduced metabolic reserves, due to mitochondrial
dysfunction, were overstressed by the contents of nine vaccines (including
mercury) at once.
The Cleveland Clinic defines low cellular energy metabolism disorder this
way: “The process of converting food and oxygen (fuel) into energy
requires hundreds of chemical reactions, and each chemical reaction must
run almost perfectly in order to have a continuous supply of energy. When
one or more components of these chemical reactions does not run perfectly,
there is an energy crisis, and the cells cannot function normally. As
a result, the incompletely burned food might accumulate as poison inside
The cause of Hannah’s mitochondrial dysfunction is up for debate,
though ample evidence exists to implicate heavy metals in air, water,
food and vaccines as possible suspects. But the government has acknowledged
that low cellular energy can increase the risk of immune system overdrive,
and regression into autism.
Now, one would think that investigating - and preventing - such vaccine-induced
overstimulation in susceptible children would be a top priority of health
officials. But it is not.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
has vowed to “adamantly” enforce the one-size-fits-all vaccine
schedule, no matter what happened to Hannah and other kids like her.
Frantic parents, desperate for answers, were admonished by Gerberding to
“set aside this very isolated, unusual situation” in so-called
Vaccine Court, even though “the court apparently made the decision
that it is fair to say that vaccinations may have been one of the precipitators.”
Gerberding was either grossly misinformed, or lying.
To begin with, this “decision” was not made by the court at
all, but by medical personnel working for the Secretary of Health and
Human Services, Gerberding’s boss.
More important, the Poling case is neither isolated nor unusual. At least
12 other autism-related claims have been paid out in Vaccine Court to
date, and perhaps hundreds more cases like Hannah’s are pending.
Most striking is how typical Hannah’s cellular dysfunction may be
among children with autism. While extremely rare in the general population,
at two per 10,000 people, it seems unusually common in autism - with estimates
up to 2,000 per 10,000.
Many opinion leaders are calling on the government to release all relevant
documents leading to the Poling concessions. The family has waived all
claims to privacy, and the public has a right to know.
For now, all we have is the CDC Web site, which says that “simultaneous
vaccination with multiple vaccines has no adverse effect on the normal
childhood immune system.”
But did Hannah have a “normal” immune system? Are other kids
out there also metabolically primed for overstimulation from too many
shots at once? Should their vaccines be spread out?
Instead of answers, we get adamant silence. This is not a matter of national
security. It’s a national emergency. Millions of parents are anxiously
waiting for their government to tell them what the hell is going on.
David Kirby, an investigative journalist, is author of “Evidence of Harm - Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical
by David Kirby
Published on: 4/24/08
In February, I leaked news of the Federal government’s admission
that vaccines had triggered autism in a little girl named Hannah Poling.
The stunning revelation, though still reverberating around the world,
was roundly downplayed by US officials, who insisted that Hannah had an
extremely rare, genetic case of “aggravated” mitochondrial
disorder, with zero bearing on other autism cases.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), rushed to the airwaves, exhorting parents to adhere
to the nation’s intensive and virtually mandatory immunization schedule,
and brushing off their legitimate anxieties by saying: “We’ve
got to set aside this very isolated, unusual situation.”
Well, the days of setting aside are over: Hannah Poling is neither isolated
In fact, the boy who was selected to replace Hannah Poling as the first-ever
thimerosal “test case” in so-called Vaccine Court, has just
been found with many of the same unusual metabolic markers as . . you
guessed it, Hannah Poling.
Hannah’s case was scheduled to be heard in Federal Claims Court on
May 12 — as one of three “test cases” of the theory
that thimerosal (a mercury-based vaccine preservative) can cause autism.
Test cases will help address general causation issues in all 4,900 autism
claims now pending in Vaccine Court. But following the government concession,
Hannah was withdrawn as the first test case of the thimerosal theory,
and attorneys scrambled to find a replacement: a young boy from New York.
Last week, however, the court announced that the replacement thimerosal
test case was also being withdrawn, in order to “proceed to an individual
hearing on a different theory of causation.”
That theory, which applies to Hannah as well, maintains that children with
dysfunctional mitochondria (the little batteries within each cell that
convert food into energy) are susceptible to autistic regression, triggered
by a vaccine-induced overtaxing of the immune system.
“We want to pursue an additional theory, not a different theory,”
the boy’s father told me. “We are by no means abandoning the
thimerosal theory of causation but, in the context of the test case, the
thimerosal theory would have eclipsed our other evidence, including evidence
of metabolic dysfunction,” such as impaired mitchondria and low
Following the Poling concession, he said, “I saw right away that
we needed to pursue the mitochondrial theory,”but the lead attorneys
did not see it that way. “Perhaps they did not properly understand
the concession, and believed the finding was of a rare, genetically caused
mitochondrial disorder,” as the government contends. “I think
they rightly want to keep clear focus on thimerosal in the test case,
and not muddy the presentation with other theories.”
The court’s test case process is unusual and unwieldy. “They
limit the cases to one theory at a time, when the theories are not mutually
exclusive,” the father said. “For example, thimerosal could
cause, contribute to, or aggravate mitochondrial dysfunction. These cases
can’t be wrapped into neat little packages.”
The unexpected withdrawal of two test cases in a row - both because of
their apparent mitochondrial underpinnings - is sure to have larger ramifications
in the Court of Federal Claims, as well as the much larger court of public opinion.
A new, additional theory of causation is about to be introduced in Vaccine
Court: Vaccines can trigger a chain of events in children with mitochondrial
dysfunction that causes autism.
But the US Government now has a major quandary to deal with. Federal officials
already conceded that, far from being “theoretical,” this
chain of events already happened to Hannah Poling. This will make it difficult,
if not impossible, to argue against compensating the boy from New York,
when compensating a nearly identical case - Hannah Poling - was already
Some estimates of mitochondrial dysfunction in children with autism range
as high as 20%-30%. But among the regressive subset of cases (virtually
all of the claims in Vaccine Court) up to half of the children might show
signs of it.
No one knows how many of those families will pursue a similar strategy
of individual hearings on causation, based on the mitochondrial concession
in the Poling case. But my guess is that there could be hundreds of them,
following in the precedent of this case’s footsteps. The legal ramifications,
inside Vaccine Court and throughout the judicial system, remain incalculable
at this point.
Still, when the American public finds out that the exceedingly “rare”
Poling case was replaced by what is shaping up to be yet another exceedingly
rare case - they will follow the lead of all three presidential candidates
and finally reject the tired mantra that, “there is no link”
between vaccines and autism.
Then perhaps will end, “One of the most vitriolic debates in medical
history,” as it is called by Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of
the NIH and the Red Cross. “At some level,” she said, the
Poling case “was a vindication for families,” adding that,
“vaccines as a trigger carry a ring of both historical and biological
The government is currently examining the national vaccine schedule to
see if we are, perhaps, immunizing children too early and too often (and
with too much thimerosal from the flu shot).
I personally thought that one Hannah Poling emerging out of Vaccine Court
would be enough to change the way we vaccinate in this country. But now
we have two. And there are many more Hannah’s out there, waiting
to be counted.