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    Gov't: Girl’s Autism-Like Symptoms Linked to Vaccines

    Federal Officials Say Vaccines Worsened Condition That Led to Autism Spectrum Disorder in Georgia Girl

    Autism-Vaccine Link: Hannah's Story continued...

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

    "I don't think the case should scare people," Poling adds. "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 hopes the fed's 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."

    His advice for parents? 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, he says.

    Mitochondial Disease

    Hannah Poling suffered from a form of mitochondrial disease caused by a genetic defect in her mitochondrial DNA.

    Mitochondria are organelles -- tiny bodies within our cells -- that carry their own DNA, which we inherit from our mothers. Mitochondria provide the energy cells need to function.

    Edwin Trevathan, MD, MPH, director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said at the news conference that when children with mitochondrial disorders are placed under severe stress, such as a high fever, their bodies don't make enough energy. This often damages the brain, the body organ that needs the most energy.

    The type of problem such children develop depends on the part of the brain that is affected. Some may become spastic and have trouble walking. Others may have seizures, problems with language, and sometimes problems with social behavior, Trevathan said.

    Children who have mitochondrial disorders, even though they seem normal, are predestined to have a problem when they have stress," he said at the CDC news conference. "This is distressing for parents who watch their children suddenly deteriorate. Most are normal appearing until they exhibit signs of disease when placed under severe stress. Most do not have problems with autism."

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