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Statement on Autism, Vaccines & Mitochondrial Disease

Mitochondrial Disease Action Committee (MitoAction) Statement on Autism, Vaccines and Mitochondrial Disease

March 21, 2008

The recent headlines concerning the potential links between autism, mitochondrial diseases, and vaccinations are evidence of the need for better understanding about mitochondrial disease. It is conservatively estimated that one in 4000 individuals are affected by mitochondrial disease, although specialists agree that the disease is under-recognized in the general population. The presentations and severity of symptoms of mitochondrial disorders clinically vary and affect both adults and children.

Vaccinations are critical in protecting the health of our children. All children, even those with suspected or known mitochondrial diseases, should receive the recommended vaccinations. The risks of these communicable illnesses outweigh the risk of vaccine-related reactions. Any causal relationship of thimerisol to incidence of autism has been disproven by observing the incidence of autism before and after eliminating this form of mercury from the vaccines. MitoAction encourages parents to talk to their pediatrician about these concerns.

David Holtzman, MD, PhD, a Pediatric Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, notes, "Mitochondrial Disease may present with the clinical features of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Several recent studies have documented biochemical evidence of abnormal mitochondrial functions in at least 30% of children with ASD."

Awareness and attention to mitochondrial disorders will bring greater understanding of the impact of environmental and physiologic stressors on both autism and mitochondrial disease. Further research may explain how autism can be an expression of mitochondrial diseases and could be prevented.



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Cindy_01's picture



Well if autism can be a syptome of Mitochondrial Disorders. Then it wouldn't be caused by any vaccine would it.
Cristy Balcells's picture

Cristy Balcells


It's important to think about what "symptom" means here.  If autism were a "symptom", then it would be marker that one would look for when diagnosing mitochondrial disease.

I don't think that's the case.  Instead, many children with confirmed mitochondrial disease have autistic spectrum features - and which came first, the chicken or the egg, is left to be determined.

Is there a component of mitochondrial function that is related to autism?  Quite possibly.  Could vaccines stress mitochondrial function in some children, creating a tipping point that causes autistic characteristics.  Again, it's possible.


Cristy Balcells RN MSN

Executive Director


nikifrost8's picture



I agree that vaccines for children are very important. It strengthens their immunity at an early age, and also prevents diseases from spreading quickly. Just think how quickly lice spreads in schools. The sooner our kids are vaccinated the better.provillusearth4energygrow taller 4 idiotsmagic of making uphow to stop acnehomemade energy

janets's picture



I think this can be left up to some debate it could be vaccines genetics who knows. We can speculate all we want but no one knows for sure. I met an autistic patient at narconon and unless someone told you they were autistic you wouldnt know since there are so many forms of autism.

peterbk's picture




What's your take on the distinction between?

Mito disorder
Mito disease
mito disfunction/dysfunction

From reading this post, it appears that disorder and disease are used interchangeably, but I'm unsure as to how disfunction plays into the equation.

mikese's picture



My mother teaches at a school where the kids have autism or aspergers.

Deea's picture



I agree,all children, even those with suspected or known mitochondrial diseases, should receive the recommended vaccinations.Thanks for sharing this information ParilotoRezultate LiveClasamente FotbalPariuri Mozzart
Malotravel69's picture



I think i got autism when i was young, but my pareants never notice

JohnMoore's picture



IMHO, there's hardly much awareness about mitochondrial disease ... and in addition to vaccination, focused programs to increase awareness might also be necessary. Just about everyone has heard about autism. But my guess is, less than 1% of people have heard about mitochondrial disease. And hardly anyone would even suspect that there may be a link between the two conditions.


sarah123's picture



I think there are many types of mitochondrial disease, and they can affect different parts of the body: the brain, kidneys, muscles, heart, eyes, ears, and others. Mitochondrial diseases can affect one part of the body or can affect many parts. They can affect those part(s) mildly or very seriously. Not everyone with a mitochondrial disease will show symptoms. However, when discussing the group of mitochondrial diseases that tend to affect children, symptoms usually appear in the toddler and preschool years.
leviandanes's picture



That's why I don't miss my baby's vaccination because I don't want my child to be sick. -