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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Vaccines, Autism, and Our Daughter, Hannah

Our daughter, Hannah, developed normally until receiving nine vaccines at once. She immediately developed a fever and encephalopathy, deteriorating into what was diagnosed, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM IV, as autism.

The federal government, not an "unusual court," made the concession. The decision wasn't careless. It was based on a thorough review of Hannah's records by Health and Human Service doctors.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program does rely on a "preponderance of evidence" standard, which Hannah's case met. It doesn't necessarily compensate families "quickly, generously and fairly." We filed our claim six years ago. Pain and suffering are capped at $250,000, and Hannah has yet to receive compensation.

Dr. Offit's assertion in his recent Op-Ed article that "even five vaccines at once would not place an unusually high burden on a child's immune system" is theory and risky practice for a toddler's developing brain. No one knows if Hannah's mitochondrial dysfunction existed before receiving vaccines. Dr. Offit's claim that Hannah had "already weakened cells" is unfounded.

We support a safe vaccination program against critical infectious diseases. We need straight facts, serious science and speedy answers on these important issues.

Dr. John Poling is a neurologist; Terry Poling is a lawyer and nurse.

According to Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of the infectious diseases division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in the past few years, parents of 4,800 autistic children have filed claims to the vaccine court which have yet to be heard. Average awards in other recent vaccine cases have been more than $800,000.

Advice to parents of young children: Until the science becomes conclusive, request mercury-free vaccines for your children.

Browse for related stories in the index at the very bottom of this page, or read a vaccination_story.

Thanks to the Polings for their letter to the editor in today's NY Times.

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