By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.
I’m still trying to get my mind around the 452 page government report recently released on Gulf War illness and its implications for the vaccine/autism controversy.
For those keeping score, two years ago the National Academy of Sciences released a report asserting there was no such thing as Gulf War illness. (“VA-Funded Report Unable to Find Evidence of a Complex of Symptoms”, www.msnbc.com, September 13, 2006).
The congressionally mandated report entitled “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans” is devastating in its findings. As reported in the November 17, 2008 of USA Today (“Gulf War Syndrome is a Real Illness, Study Finds”), “The illness resulted from exposure to chemicals and anti-nerve-gas vaccinations received, and no effective treatment has been found. It affects 25% of the 695,000 U.S. Gulf War vets (author’s note - approximately 173,000 service members) and perhaps 55,000 British veterans.”
In coverage by Reuters (“Gulf War Illness is Real, Report Finds”, November 17, 2008), they noted that, “Symptoms include persistent headaches, widespread pain, cognitive difficulties, unexplained fatigue, skin rashes, chronic diarrhea and digestive and respiratory problems.” (Can there be a show of hands from the parents of children with autism as to whether their kids suffer from any of these problems?)
I wonder how the National Academy of Sciences feels about missing nearly 225,000 veterans with Gulf War Syndrome? Will any investigation be done as to why the National Academy of Sciences failed so miserably in this task?
As an attorney I usually liked to just let clients or witnesses talk. They’d inevitably tell me what I wanted to know. It was the things they said and those they didn’t.
As a parent investigating whether vaccines contributed to my daughter’s autism and neurological problems I took a similar approach. I decided to simply read the section on vaccines. Roughly 27 pages of the 452 page report is dedicated to the issue of vaccines and Gulf War syndrome. Could the health problems of Gulf War veterans who received multiple vaccinations shed any light on the vaccine/autism theory? (Approximately 70% of soldiers reported receiving more than 5 vaccines, while 30% reported getting more than 10.)
A good deal of the report is historical and explanatory of the vaccination program, but it states the issue quite clearly, “The central question related to vaccines for Gulf War veterans is whether any of the vaccines they received, or some combination of those vaccines, contributed to the development of Gulf War illness or other chronic health problems.” (P. 105)
The authors of the report are honest enough to admit that seventeen years after the guns of that war have fallen silent, the question is still unanswered. “In Volume One of the IOM Gulf War and Health series of reports reviewed research information on effects of the anthrax vaccine, botulinum toxoid, and multiple vaccinations. The report concluded that, while evidence clearly indicated that vaccines are associated with transient adverse effects, there was insufficient evidence to determine whether the vaccines considered, or multiple vaccinations, are associated with long-term adverse health effects. The Department of Defense also commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a review of scientific information related to vaccines administered to Gulf War Veterans, a report that has not yet been published.” (P. 106)
One of the early clinical indicators that something was biologically amiss with the Gulf War vets was the detection of squalene antibodies in the blood of many of those suffering from Gulf War syndrome. Squalene is a naturally occurring oily substance found in plants and animals, as well as a variety of foods, lotions and cosmetics.
While it appears it is safe to eat products containing squalene, it is theorized that like many substances otherwise safe, it is unsafe to inject it. Squalene has been detected in low amounts in some vaccine lots, and has been used as an ingredient in some experimental vaccines, but was not approved for general usage.
However, while the question of whether squalene was added to the Gulf War vaccines is hotly debated, researchers compared the effect of this suspected ingredient, to a placebo, as well as aluminum, a known ingredient of the vaccines. The results were mixed as to squalene, but what the authors reported for aluminum was terrifying.
“Overall, the aluminum adjuvant produced more adverse effects than placebo, squalene, or the combined adjuvants. After six months, mice injected with the aluminum adjuvant exhibited significant declines in muscle strength and endurance, and increased indicators of anxiety, compared to placebo. Aluminum adjuvant was also associated with indicators of increased central nervous system inflammation and motor neuron loss, as reflected by a significant increase (350%) in the number of reactive astrocytes in the lumbar spinal cord and neuronal apoptosis in the motor cortex and spinal cord. Investigators concluded that their findings were consistent with an association between aluminum adjuvants and neurological deficits. By contrast, squalene adjuvant was associated with fewer changes in brain and behavior, none of which was statistically significant.” (P. 119) (Author's note - This specific research finding by Dr. Christopher Shaw of the University of British Columbia is high-lighted in the Generation Rescue list of scientific reports relating to vaccines and autism.)
According to the authors of the report, squalene, which may not have been in the vaccines, is safe, while aluminum which appears to be highly destructive to the brain and central nervous system was in the vaccines.
Is anybody feeling better now?
On that question of whether multiple vaccinations could cause Gulf War Illness, the authors noted that no U.S. study had been done, but two British studies had looked at the question. The first was a 1999 study from King’s College which reported “Gulf War veterans who received the largest number of vaccines for the war had significantly worse health, on multiple measures, than veterans who received fewer vaccines.” (P. 123)
A question arose whether actual deployment in the theater of war contributed to the health problems, but the investigators “found no significant differences between effects of multiple vaccines administered before and during deployment.” (P. 124) In other words, being in the war zone had no effect on your symptoms, only the number of vaccines you received.
While some questions were raised about the initial study, the authors wrote “A second British study provides a more informative look at this issue. Controlling for effects of multiple exposures during deployment, investigators at the University of Manchester reported that the number of inoculations received by British Gulf War veterans was significantly correlated with overall symptom severity, and with symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. The Manchester study also indicated that there were no differences between effects of vaccines received prior to and during deployment.” (P. 124)
The clear implication of these two studies is that the more vaccines you received, the more health problems you had. So, is it crazy think that an increase in the vaccination schedule from 10 to 36 by the age of six has taken place without a corresponding massive increase in neurological problems like autism?
Anywhere from 5 to 10 vaccines given to adults in a short period of time decimated our army. (Actually, that's an understatement, as the word decimate comes from the Roman period when rebellious armies would have punishment inflicted on one out of every ten soldiers. The rate at which our soldiers suffer from Gulf War illness is one in four.) Our children are not just tiny people, but have fundamentally different immunological systems. That's why the medical establishment recently gave a blanket warning against giving cold and cough medicines to children under two.
In the recommendations the authors suggested the following research in regards to vaccines: “In previously-conducted and future epidemiologic studies of Gulf War veterans, analyze associations between Gulf War illness and individual vaccines, combinations of vaccines, and total number of vaccines received using methods that control for potential confounding by other Gulf War-related exposures.” (P. 127)
The truth about Gulf War illness has finally come out. Our Gulf War army suffered a casualty rate of 25% without even taking the field of battle. If a general had suffered such a loss he would’ve been brought up on charges of incompetence.
Perhaps it was best expressed by Anthony Hardie, a Gulf War veteran from Madison, Wisconsin, quoted in the Reuters article. He said, "Today's report brings to a close one of the darkest chapters of the 1991 Gulf War, and that is the legacy of Gulf War illness. For those who ever doubted that Gulf War veterans are ill, this report is definitive, and exhaustive."
I pray the day soon comes when we can close the dark chapter on the cause of autism, and get the best minds working on treatments which help every child.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism