Discovery: The Autism Vaccine

One of the most jaw-dropping discoveries I made while researching "The Autism Vaccine" took place in Austria. I was initially intrigued by the autism story when I realized that the first time aluminum had been used in a pediatric vaccine was less than a year before Donald Triplett—the first child ever officially diagnosed with autism—was born. Knowing that recent scientific study has pointed towards elevated levels of aluminum in the brains of children with autism, I began to research when this new ingredient was first added.

The story of WHY it was added is fascinating, but WHEN it was added—1932—is really important. Before that year, you will only find a rare mention of a few kids here and there resembling the modern diagnosis of autism. It was extremely rare before 1932—so rare that even the most prominent child psychiatrist in the country had never seen any children with it. In 1932, the decision was made to add aluminum to a vaccine because it seemed to make it work better. Within a year or two, accounts of parents noticing aloneness in their children or obsession with repetitive patterns and behaviors began to appear.

In Baltimore, a famous child psychiatrist named Leo Kanner began to see children—mostly boys—show up in his clinic with a strange set of behaviors he had never seen before. This coincidence in time was enough to make me want to understand if there was a possible relationship between the addition of aluminum in 1932 and the sudden appearance of children with autism.

I explored this lead for quite a while and became convinced they were related. It seemed unlikely that the one country in the world that made this change would begin to see autism within a year after having done so. What I realized later was that the United States wasn’t the only country to make this change. There was another, and in fact, like the United States, they were struggling with a massive outbreak of diphtheria and had begun to launch nationwide campaigns to have every child in the country immunized—with the new aluminum-containing vaccine.

The United States was using a very nasty type of aluminum called potassium aluminum sulfate, sometimes called potash. Scientists in Denmark had experimented with something different—aluminum hydroxide and noticed that this type of aluminum caused fewer granulomas, or nodules than the American’s potassium aluminum sulfate. In Austria, they noticed this difference, and in their national campaign to immunize their children against diphtheria, they added aluminum hydroxide to their vaccines.

If you don’t know the story, there was another child psychiatrist in Austria who began to see young patients show up at his clinic—their parents confused as to what had happened to their previously healthy children. Hans Asperger was at a loss to explain what was causing these children to experience strange neurological symptoms. He saw over 200 children—every one of them boys, and they closely resembled the children Leo Kanner had seen in Baltimore.

It should strike anyone as remarkable that the two countries which launched nationwide diphtheria immunization campaigns in the 1930s using a new aluminum-containing shot were the very two countries where autism was first noticed and documented. Other countries may have employed the new ingredient in their diphtheria vaccine, but from what I can tell, no one was running nationwide campaigns like the United States and Austria.

This was simply too much for me to accept as coincidence: Two countries began running nationwide immunization campaigns for their children, with a new vaccine that contained aluminum, and within a year or so, those same two countries began to see the appearance of a new neurological disorder that would later be called autism. The United States and Austria—the two countries where the case reports first describing autism appeared. Coincidence? You decide.

There was another component of autism—something I’ve never heard anyone else mention—that began to really confuse those who were studying it. What was it? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Or maybe I’ll talk it about in an email tomorrow. Either way, you really should get the book—it’s a fascinating look into the history surrounding the vaccine which first caused autism.

Many thanks for reading along!