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Can Influenza Vaccines Cause Maternal Immune Activation Linked To Autism?

PregnantBy Teresa Conrick

There have been numerous studies over the years, attempting to show a connection from maternal flu to autism. The original studies seemed to develop from the idea that those mothers who had flu during their pregnancy went on to have babies who later developed schizophrenia:

Children’s Health: Flu, Fetuses, and Schizophrenia 

"Pregnant women who contract the flu may increase the risk that their child will develop schizophrenia later in life, according to a recent addition to a growing body of research along these lines. The study, published in the August 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry, “is not definitive but is the strongest evidence thus far that a prenatal virus may be a risk factor [for schizophrenia],” says lead investigator Ezra Susser, head of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“Influenza infection during pregnancy appears to be a risk factor,” agrees Johns Hopkins University neurovirologist Robert Yolken, who adds it is probably one of many risk factors for developing schizophrenia..... Until more study is completed, the Mailman team still advocates that pregnant women get the flu shot. Susser says, “The very safest thing would be to get vaccinated against the flu virus before becoming pregnant.”

At the bottom of that page, we are shown a picture of a woman sneezing, with this caption next to her:

"A cold now, catastrophe later. Having the flu while pregnant may pave the way for future schizophrenia in children."

From this concept, research then on Autism having a connection to prenatal influenza was born. If you go on Pubmed and type in "Autism" and "influenza," 42 studies will pop up, the earliest in 1995, interestingly stating there is NO connection.

There were also studies showing no evidence in schizophrenia as well:

Schizophrenia and the1957 influenza epidemic

"Not a single study found a significant first- or second-trimester effect......Given high infection rates during the pandemic (about 50%), these results do not support the maternal influenza hypothesis."

"There was no increased risk of schizophrenia among the exposed cohort compared to the unexposed cohort."

In their book, The Age of Autism Mercury Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic, Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted included an important finding in a prenatal, viral connection to autism -- rubella. They described how the rubella virus seemed to worsen when coupled with gamma globulin that was preserved with Thimerosal, the mercury preservative. Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) had been shown to produce deafness, cataracts, learning disabilities, sometimes severe heart issues, BUT NO AUTISM. It was after the gamma globulin with Thimerosal was used that autism made its appearance

"For the first time in any CRS study, the Houston group also reported signs of autism....The researchers decided to look more intensively at the rate of autism in the New York CRS cases, and found a rate of 7.4 percent --- 18 out of 243 children evaluated were diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder.

They went on to describe the rates found by Victor Lotter in England (4.1 per 10,000) and Darrold Treffert in Wisconsin (0.7 per 10,000) and remarked, "In striking contrast, the prevalence rate in out rubella children would correspond to 412 per 10,000, for the core syndrome of autism, and 329 for the partial syndrome, yielding a combined figure of 741 per 10,000."

So is it possible there is some similar mechanism happening with influenza? Is there a pattern here? The studies regarding any connection seem to implicate maternal immune activation:

Maternal infection: window on neuroimmune interactions in fetal brain development and mental illness. 

"Direct viral infection of the developing brain can have disastrous consequences for the fetus.....This effect on fetal brain development might be caused by the maternal antiviral immune response, possibly mediated by cytokines."

Here then is a recent article about influenza and Autism:

Could pregnant mothers with flu trigger autism in their unborn? Scientists discover evidence that suggests a mother's immune system could affect their baby's brain

"Mothers who get the flu while pregnant could risk affecting their baby's brain, which might lead to 'infantile autism' in their child.

A Danish study shows that children were slightly more likely to be diagnosed with the condition before the age of three if their mother had the flu.

Researchers claim that when the mother's immune system is triggered - for example, when they have an influenza virus - it is possible that the foetus' developing brain could be affected.

But they have clarified that pregnant women and mothers should not be concerned by the findings, as only a tiny portion of those who had influenza gave birth to children with 'infantile autism' and that the research was so limited and early that no concrete findings had been discovered."

So like the Schizophrenia warning above, Forbes does the same with Autism:

"First, you can get a flu shot, which is recommended anyway for most pregnant women [PDF]. Second, you can find out more about autism, particularly from autistic adults, and learn that having an autistic child is not inevitably a tragic horrorshow that you need to stress about before you even know you’d have one"

Sound advice or an infomercial for phamaceuticals and the joy of autism-rearing? You can decide but let's look more at this issue. What causes a fetus to be affected by a mother's flu and if it is true, why did we see no autism in the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, the biggest and most dangerous influenza ever known? Let's look at some key studies.

Maternal immune activation alters fetal brain development through interleukin-6

Activation of the maternal immune system induces endocrine changes in the placenta via IL-6.

"Activation of the maternal immune system in rodent models sets in motion a cascade of molecular pathways that ultimately result in autism- and schizophrenia-related behaviors in offspring. The finding that interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a crucial mediator of these effects led us to examine the mechanism by which this cytokine influences fetal development in vivo.....Together, these IL-6-mediated effects of MIA on the placenta represent an indirect mechanism by which MIA can alter fetal development."

So IL-6 looks to be the factor that can negatively alter the fetus so why again was the epidemic of 1918  not a time when mothers had children who then developed autism, as IL-6 was implicated back then, too?

It is important to note that vaccination for influenza seems to have its connection:

"But the vaccine itself may stimulate an immune response in the mother that leads to neurodevelopmental disorders in the fetus, some researchers caution.

"Don't get me wrong: nobody wants a pregnant woman to get the flu," says neurobiologist Paul Patterson of the California Institute of Technology, who did much of the pioneering work in this field. "But every year the CDC says that a maternal vaccine for flu is safe and efficacious. The data quoted for those conclusions I don't find all that convincing."

Controversial? You bet, but facts are facts:

Effect of influenza vaccine on markers of inflammation and lipid profile

"Despite wide use of the influenza vaccine, relatively little is known about its effect on the measurement of inflammatory markers.....There was a significant increase in mean IL-6 (P < .01 absolute values, P < .001 normalized values) on day 1 after receiving the influenza vaccine. Inflammatory responses to trivalent influenza virus vaccine among pregnant women.

Inflammatory responses to trivalent influenza virus vaccine among pregnant women

"In the U.S., seasonal trivalent influenza virus vaccine (TIV) is currently universally recommended for all pregnant women. However, data on the maternal inflammatory response to vaccination is lacking and would better delineate the safety and clinical utility of immunization.......Significant increases in CRP were seen at one and two days post-vaccination (ps<05). A similar effect was seen for TNF-α, for which an increase at two days post-vaccination approached statistical significance (p=.06). There was considerable variability in magnitude of response; coefficients of variation for change at two days post-vaccination ranged from 122% to 728%, with the greatest variability in IL-6 responses at this timepoint.......Trivalent influenza virus vaccination elicits a measurable inflammatory response among pregnant women. ......further research is needed to confirm that the mild inflammatory response elicited by vaccination is benign in pregnancy.

How is it possible that research is not looking into this specific issue of immune responses? This from the World Health Organization (WHO) :

"Currently available vaccines have largely been developed empirically, with little or no understanding on how they activate the immune system."

Is it possible that like rubella and the Thimerosal of gamma globulin days causing an increase of profound autism, that influenza and thimerosal have a coupling of toxicity, too? Thimerosal is shown to have profound effects on the immune system and is in many of the influenza vaccines:

When thimerosal, at a concentration as low as 20 parts per billion, alters the fidelity of normal calcium signals, dendritic cells show abnormal secretion of IL-6 cytokine - a potent chemical signal that initiates inflammatory responses.

What to do and whom to believe?

"Obviously, the safe thing to do is to go with the experts, and the experts are the CDC," said Paul Patterson, a professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology and one of the leading researchers into the link between maternal infections and schizophrenia. "However, if it was my wife, I would not [want] her vaccinated."

Patterson said he would try to protect a pregnant family member from the flu by suggesting she keep away from infected people and by enforcing a regimen of regular hand-washing among all family members.

However, he conceded that such measures might not be as effective as flu shots and that women who get the flu because they don't get a flu shot might not only put their future children at increased risk for schizophrenia, but also incur numerous other risks from the illness. Careful prevention techniques, moreover, are unlikely to help pregnant women who have toddlers, because small children tend to bring home endless streams of viral infections.

Insel praised Patterson's research into the connection between infections and schizophrenia, but he warned against rushing to revise flu shot recommendations. "

The other connection here, the more subtle one, is that no matter what the evidence shows, by science, research and educated opinion that vaccines can harm, we are told to vaccinate anyway.

Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.


Frank L Harrison
"How mom's immune system is linked to autism risk"

Above recent study (published Sept. 2013) found that pregnant rats with maternal immune activation in force gave birth to pups suffering significant brain anomalies. Study authors speculated that: "maternal viral infection might increase the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or schizophrenia." In what apparently constitutes a scientific first, authors delineated some specific mechanisms involved in the cited brain damage.

(Note that flu infection and flu vaccines identically act to trigger immune activation)

Theresa 66

Thanks for your posts, Teresa. I'm very interested in the immune system dysfunctions that accompany/ are/ or follow autism.

Anyone have a child that acts better after blood draws ? I don't know if its because its removing rouge auto anti-bodies or sticky blood syndrome, or something else ???

Laura Bono

Finally getting a chance to read this. Thank you for pulling it all together. Excellent research that makes a powerful case not to vaccinate while pregnant (or anytime). But, as you stated in your the article, sadly the powers that be won't be listening. Hopefully, some soon-to-be Moms will.

The Aspie Formally Known as Theodora Trudorn (aka Tiffany)

My thoughts exactly Benedetta! Who cares how many more people like me who have to struggle just to have the normal life everyone else takes for granted, how many children and later adults get hurt as long as they make their money? Greedy Med Tyrants! I'll stick to my Echinecha Wellness tea, which has worked wonders so far, thank you! :D

The Aspie Formally Known as Theodora Trudorn (aka Tiffany)

I'm pretty sure they think the flu causes all of our modern problems, but it's just not true. There is no evidence, REAL evidence to back it up. Sounds like a bunch of conjecture and a game of Pin the symptom on the popular Virus to me. And it's getting really old. I couldn't help but roll my eyes when I read this. At this point they are just grasping at straws. Just as long as it isn't the vaccines, it's a viable canidate. OMG, my mom drank tea while pregnant, the tea did it!!! I could get more intelligent and creative stories out of a five year old! However, I will say, from personal experience, that those on the spectrum usually catch what ever virus that is going around the fastest and it stays with us the longest, that is actually true. And being the head of my own advocacy group, I have at least 20 other Aspies my age who all say the same thing.

*waves* Hi everybody! Peek season is over finally and I can read and hang with you again, WAHOO!


"Researchers claim that when the mother's immune system is triggered - for example, when they have an influenza virus - it is possible that the foetus' developing brain could be affected."

Perhaps if these "researchers" traded places with those sweeping the "researchers'" floors we might get better quality research.

Are we really supposed to think Mother Nature never thought a pregnant woman would need her immune system? The average pregnant woman has likely hundreds of viruses in her body. 90% of the time when a pregnant woman, or any of us, gets flu symptoms it is NOT from influenza but some other virus.

The prevention of ALL viral infection is NOT a, dare I say it, stupid flu shot. The answer is to let your passive immune system handle ALL viruses. "Vaccination" trains your immune system to DE-emphasise your passive immune system and emphasise your acquired immune system. THIS perversion of Mother Nature COULD harm a fetus.

Your passive immune system REQUIRES vitamin D to neutralize viruses, bacteria and microbes, fungi and pathogens of all sorts with MINIMUM damage to your body.

"Vaccinate" and you will use your acquired immune system MUCH more than Mother Nature designed us for.

The "flu season" is the season where our vitamin D levels are at their lowest.

Angus Files

Well done Teresa ..I just wondered about this and going by the CDC most births are around August September


That said this is not the time of year for high flu rates...mee thinks?

One statement seems to be larfing at the other ..what more do we expect from our so called Health non Experts..


My father religiously washed his hand to a point of being a bit OCD about it. But with eleven kids bringing home every illness under the sun, he was never ill with the flu or hardly a cold in all my years of growing up under his roof. I would not say he had perfect health either,he smoked until he went cold turkey at age 60 after a heart attack.

John Stone

Important issue Teresa. Of course, Tom Jefferson of Cochrane review has stated that washing your hands is a more effective way of protecting against flu than vaccination.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Jefferson, the world is living in fear of swine flu. And some predict that, by next winter, one-third of the world's population might be infected. Are you personally worried? Are you and your family taking any precautions?

JEFFERSON: I wash my hands very often -- and it's not all because of swine flu. That's probably the most effective precaution there is against all respiratory viruses, and the majority of gastrointestinal viruses and germs as well.

The whole interview from 2009 is a hoot.

Raymond Gallup

Latest autism/vaccine-induced encephalopathy figures from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the US Dept of Education are below with online links:

YEARS 2006 - 2011

Year Under 5 to 64 Increase

2006 84,217
2007 97,455 13,238
2008 112,414 14,959
2009 130,772 18,358
2010 151,260 20,488
2011 173,946 22,686
Online Tables 34 &35 on link above

Yearly increase in the number of children with autism age 6-21 in US Schools Since DSM IV (1994 to present)

Year Students Increase
1994 22,780
1995 28,813 6,033
1996 34,082 5,269
1997 42,487 8,405
1998 53,561 11,074
1999 65,391 11,830
2000 78,717 13,326
2001 97,847 19,130
2002 118,603 20,756
2003 140,920 22,317
2004 166,302 25,382
2005 193,481 27,179
2006 224,415 30,934
2007 258,095 33,680
2008 294,302 36,207
2009 335,199 40,897
2010 369,664 34,465
2011 406,957 37,293

Increase in the number of children with autism Age 3-5
(2000 to present)

Year Students Increase
2000 15,581
2001 17,032 1,451
2002 19,017 1,985
2003 22,724 3,707
2004 25,902 3,178
2005 30,276 4,374
2006 35,071 4,795
2007 39,434 4,363
2008 45,166 5,732
2009 47,602 2,436
2010 49,213 1,611
2011 51,252 2,039

US Department of Education Source:


Jeannette Bishop

I've been wondering for months how much depression and maybe other conditions that get assigned to the realm of psychiatry are essentially caused by artificial or dysregulated immune action. For all we know, some of these bugs we are working hard to keep away actually help keep the immune system working in a healthier (or happier?) way, though it seems to me the substances we use to fight them are the more likely culprits.

Obviously there is no financial incentive within the pharmaceutical industry to look for manmade cause of diabetes, asthma, allergy, schizophrenia, depression, and all, but it seems to me that a few decades back, the medical profession didn't need a double blind placebo controlled study in place to connect some things to harm and decide something needed to be limited in use, especially during pregnancy.

I do wonder at the lack of investigation or at least anecdotal linkage of some of the above conditions as possibly caused sometimes by vaccination by physicians and nurses. It kind of seems like the first place to suspect, once you understand injection can trigger an immune response to the injected substances, that there are biological matching substances/contaminants in vaccines, and also substances intended to provoke a greater than natural immune response to the antigen.

It's particularly disturbing though when some recommend something very publicly that could very likely cause the condition they claim they hope to prevent and most in the profession seem to go along.


They really want to sell those flu shots don't they.
Scare 'em all they can.

My aunt told me this week she just feels so tired all the time.
THen told me she got a flu shot this year.
She has lupus and got the flu shot. She well knows were I stand on all of this.

Why do they tell me they got a vaccine and now they are feeling worse?????

I must be their confesser and after they confess they will start feeling better after they damage their immune systems?

Theresa 66

Sounds a lot like me. There is no proof that HBOT helps
children with autism/ PANDAS, but I'm going to do it anyway!!
If it helps my child, that is all the proof I need. These
disorders need individual consideration.

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