Autism – the role of the oral contraceptive and the MMR vaccine

Dr Ellen Grant – Mitochondrial dysfunction in pill mothers and ASD

Dr Ellen Grant, a founder member of the BSEM and a long time campaigner against the contraceptive pill gave an impassioned talk linking the use of the contraceptive pill and the resulting progesterone dominance and endocrine disruption to the massive rise in autism and related conditions – up between 1987 and 1998, in California, by 300% in comparison to rises of around 3% in cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mental retardation during the same period. Today an estimated 25% of children need ‘special needs treatment’ while one in 64 has autistic spectrum disorders.

In 1972 only 10% of single women were using oral contraceptives before their first pregnancy but by 1981 that figure had risen to 95%. Progestins act like progesterones leading to mitochondrial damage in women; ASD is a mitochondrial gene dysfunction.
Since children inherit their maternal DNA, hormonal disruption and mitochondrial gene dysfunction caused by oral contraceptives can be transferred to the child.

Over the subsequent 20 years, the rising rate of autism was matched by the rising rate of breast cancer in younger women and the rate of lung cancer in older women taking HRT. In each case, excessive progesterone was implicated.

For children born through IVF treatment the situation is made worse as the mothers are given added progesterone both to prevent miscarriage and to control labour.

For a more detailed exposition of Dr Grant’s ideas, see her website at


Dr Andrew Wakefield – Callous Disregard

Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose recently published book Callous Disregard, Autism and Vaccines – the truth behind a tragedy, tells the story of his research at the Royal Free into the inflammatory bowel conditions of autistic children and his subsequent vilification by the UK medical establishment and by the UK government, gave a brief overview of the autism/vaccine link from the late 1980s to the present day.

Fifteen to twenty years ago autism was a relatively rare, ancient, genetic condition; a psychiatric disorder from which there was no recovery, that was unconnected with intestinal disease and that was suffered from birth. Children did not regress into autism. There was no link, no causal association with vaccination; any apparent link was purely coincidental as vaccines were known to be completely ‘safe’.

Today autism is recognised as a medical, not a genetic disorder; it has grown to epidemic proportions; it appears to be triggered by some environmental assault or toxin; regression is common; autistic children very frequently have intestinal disease; it has been replicated; diets can be helpful and recovery is possible although not necessarily universal.

Dr Wakefield places the change around the last years of the 1980s, first in California, then in the rest of the US and then in Japan. So what environmental exposures happened in all of those countries at that time?

The importance of history

In diagnosis, history is the most important element. Infection and disease are highly complex and their effects can differ hugely depending on the age and health of the individual who catches them and on the strength and type of the infection. Also important is what Dr Wakeful described as ‘ecological synergy’.

For example, in Mongolia the ground squirrel carries the plague in its throat but while it kills some squirrels it does not kill others. A recent study carried out in Moscow showed that if the forest plants on which the squirrel feeds are either high in toxins or low in nutrients, the squirrels die of the plague, but if the forest plants are low in toxins and high in nutrients, the plague that they carry does not infect them and they live.

In the case of a vaccinated child, the thimersol (mercury) and aluminium in the vaccines bias the child towards the creation of more TH2 (‘allergic’) cells. If you then apply a live vaccine, you have no idea what other, as yet unknown, risks you are creating.

Gastrointestinal symptoms of all kinds are very common in autism – 45–80% of autistic children have some sort of gastrointestinal condition; of these 76–100% have inflammatory bowel diseases. (But inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that can be treated.)

So is there a link between bowel and brain? Normal gut bacteria determine brain development and are relevant in autistic spectrum disorders and in food allergy.

The cumulative effect of the vaccine programme has never been tested.  Preclinical WHO testing for the MMR vaccine was done in monkeys and only monitored effects for 17–21 days after the vaccination. If a monkey died within the first 48 hours they were allowed to replace it with another monkey. If too many animals died, they just started the trial again….

A recent study that his group has done with new born macaque monkeys showed that a vaccine containing thimersol significantly delayed their acquisition of survival mechanisms – normally acquired very shortly after birth. A second study looked a macaques both before and after they were given the MMR vaccine found that the administration of the vaccine significantly affected the growth of the monkeys’ brains.

The age exposure also seems to be very important. The risk associated with the Hepatitis B triple vaccines appears to be significantly greater the younger the child.

Environmental exposure combined with genetic predisposition

However, environment combined with genes still seems to be key. For example, autism is virtually unknown in Somalia (where there is no vaccination) yet amongst the Somali population in Sweden (where the children are vaccinated), there is a one in 28 incidence of autism. Infant mortality is very much higher in Somalia than amongst the Somali community in Sweden but that does not explain a jump from none to one in 28.

However, there is very much less sunlight in Sweden than there is in Somalia and dark skins are far poorer at absorbing Vitamin D than white skins. Moreover, a genetic quirk among Somalis mean that they metabolise Vitamin D differently from Swedes in the liver so may use up their stocks much quicker.

So maybe Somali communities in Sweden are severely vitamin D deficient and therefore at greater risk from vaccines? The genetic predisposition to use vitamin D quicker combined with the lack of sunlight in Sweden creates a much higher risk of vaccine damage.


And what happens to children who get two doses of MMR?  It appears that there is a systemic difference after the second vaccination with the bowl disease becoming much worse.

Horizontal transmission

Far more worrying is the possibility of horizontal transmission – between siblings or friends. For example: In one family with two autistic children, while the older child regressed, the younger child was autistic from birth. Could the younger child already have been affected by the virus transferred from the older child?

There are outbreaks of vaccine-related measles happening all round the world right now. Could the virus be ‘shedding’ from one individual to another?

Strains of measles vaccines have been found in unvaccinated monkeys who had associated with vaccinated monkeys – had the virus been transmitted from one to the other?

And if vaccine viruses can escape in this way, could they then transmute into some entirely new virus?

Combining vaccines

It is also important which vaccines are combined. The urabe mumps vaccine did not present any problems when administered alone. It was only when it was put into the MMR vaccine that it caused meningitis.

Wild boosting of immunity

When infection diseases were caught by children immunity was conferred. However, this immunity only became lifelong when it was regularly boosted by contact with the disease – as happened as the child grew into an adult and then came into contact with other children which the disease.

However, when children are vaccinated, they no longer get the disease so those who come into contact with them no longer have their immunity boosted by contact with the disease. So how long does that immunity actually last?

The supposed case against him

Speaking of the recent hearings before the Medical Research Council and the accusations by the journalist Brian Deer, Dr Wakefield pointed that:
• The medical records which were available to him and his team, and on which the Lancet paper was based, were not available to Brian Deer who based his accusations only on the GP’s report.
• That the child’s hearing problem which Deer suggested was symptomatic of the autism that he claimed the child suffered from before the MMR vaccination had previously been diagnose by the GP as otitis media, a very common childhood ear infection.
• That Professor Walker Smith, who had unparalled gastrointestinal knowledge and expertise had been concerned about the results of biopsies done on these children entirely independently of Dr Wakefield and it was his results which were used in the Lancet article.
• That Professor Walker Smith already had ethical approval for all of his investigations and that a signed consent form was to be found in every child’s records – but the BMJ were so keen to prove their position that they made no investigations.

Moreover, he suggest that the reason why the government  were so keen to dismiss his findings and any concerns about the MMR vaccines was because they had already agreed to indemnify Smithkline Beecham/GlaxoSmithKline against any claims for vaccine damage.


To buy Dr Wakefield’s book, Callous disregard, or to contact Dr Wakefield, check into where you will also find a good deal of research on the subject.

For further information about Dr Wakefield’s work, Dr Carol Stott and Martin Walker compiled two books (Silenced Witnesses Volumes 1 & 2) from interviews with 16 parents of children who had been helped by Dr Wakefield’s team, with introductions putting the parents’ cases (which were never heard at the GMC hearings or by a wider public) in the context of subsequent events. You can buy both books plus a DVD of Alan Golding’s film, Selective Hearing: Brian Deer and the GMC from


May 10th 2011 - Footnote

A new study released today in the Pace Environmental Law Review revealed that over the last two decades, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has been quietly compensating dozens of vaccine injury cases involving a child with autism. The preliminary findings showed approximately 1300 cases of vaccine injury resulted in childhood brain injury, 83 of which had autism. Read more.

Click here for more articles on the causes of autism

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