Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Age Of Autism 
July 29, 2010
Abnormal brain growth and function are features of autism, an increasingly common developmental disorder that now affects 1 in 60 boys in the US. Now researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Thoughtful House Center for Children in Austin, Texas, have found remarkably similar brain changes to those seen in autism in infant monkeys receiving the vaccine schedule used in the 1990’s that contained the mercury-based preservative thimerosal.
The group’s findings were published yesterday in the journal Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis. They used scanning techniques that assessed both brain growth and brain function in the same animals over time. The research team was able to see differences in the way the brains of vaccinated and unvaccinated animals developed. Scans were performed before and after the administration of primary MMR and DTaP/Hib boosters that were given at the human equivalent of 12 months of age.
Throughout the study period, vaccinated animals showed an increase in total brain volume – a feature of the brain in many young children with autism – when compared with unvaccinated animals. However, a specific part of the brain associated with emotional responses that is thought to be important in autism, the amygdala, did not show abnormalities until after the 12-month vaccines had been given. In addition, after the 12-month vaccines only, the functional brain scans showed significant differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. These functional scans looked at the activity of receptors for morphine-like compounds (opioids) that may play a role in the brain of children affected by autism. Vaccine administration was associated with an increase in opioid binding activity in the amygdala compared with a decrease in the unvaccinated group.
The results indicate that multiple vaccine exposures during the previous 3-4 months may have had a significant impact on brain growth and development in ways that are consistent with the published data on autism. For the amygdala, the novel findings of abnormal growth and function appear to be a function of more recent vaccine exposures – the 12-month primary MMR vaccine and the DTaP and Hib boosters.