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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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Dad in Autism-Vaccine Case Speaks Out

Jon Poling, Father of Hannah, Explains He's Not 'Anti-Vaccine'

Poling Not Anti-Vaccine

The experience with Hannah, Poling says, has not turned him against vaccines. "I want to make it clear I am not anti-vaccine," he says. "Vaccines are one of the most important, if not the most important advance, in medicine in at least the past 100 years. But I don't think that vaccines should enjoy a sacred cow status, where if you attack them you are out of mainline medicine."

"Every treatment has a risk and a benefit. To say there are no risks to any treatment is not true.''

"Sometimes people are injured by a vaccine, but they are safe for the majority of people. I could say that with a clean conscience. But I couldn't say that vaccines are absolutely safe, that they are not linked to brain injury and they are not linked to autism."

Poling is hopeful that the decision will trigger government action. "I hope it will force government agencies to look further into what susceptibility factors are out there for children to develop brain injury after vaccination, to look into the susceptibility factors of people at risk."

Vaccine Safety: What Can Parents Do?

His advice for parents?

Poling says they should demand to know a vaccine's safety record before agreeing to give it to their child, including any known links with metabolic disorders and susceptibility to injury from the vaccine.

Coming to Terms With Autism

Although Poling has an MD and a PhD and is trained as a neurologist, he admits it was very difficult to come to terms with his daughter's diagnosis. In his neurology practice in Georgia, some of his patients are children with autism, so he is very familiar with the condition. His wife, Terry, is both a nurse and an attorney.

Even so, he says, they had some trouble initially getting doctors to take their concerns seriously. When Hannah exhibited symptoms after a series of five immunizations including nine vaccines, doctors initially passed them off as nothing serious. But as the symptoms didn't abate and in fact got worse, as parents, the Polings knew something was wrong.

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