This Whole Mito Thing (My Final Vent…Hopefully!)

29 Feb

This is a guest blogged piece, originally written by SL. It conains some words of wisdom regarding Mito and autism.

This began on AutismVox when comments began rolling in here over the supposed autism-vaccine case that the Government conceded on. Truth is, it was a mito-vaccine case, and people who feel vaccines caused their child’s autism have no reason to celebrate over this. The government is not declaring that vaccines cause autism, or mito, or anything. While I disagree with the government’s decision on this one, I also see how very different it is from the autism-vaccine cases. For one, this one could actually prove that vaccines MAY have done harm BECAUSE of the mitochondrial disease. I still don’t feel there was a case here, I think this child would have been diagnosed with mito vaccines or not.

Here is my comment I posted on AutismVox:

FYI…vaccines ARE recommended for children with mito!!!! Some are advised to avoid a shot, ONLY if a history of bad reactions exists (which holds true for the general population). My friends whose children have mito ALL vaccinate their children and are mortified by people who opt to not give shots to their kids because of quack science (vaccines=autism). Those un-vaccinated children put my child and my friend’s children at risk for contracting serious diseases. Diseases that most certainly would land a child with mito in the ICU & possibly kill them.

Go here: and read. I will also add, it is HIGHLY unlikely that a child with autism has mito, especially if that child has never been hospitalized, doesn’t have severe health issues, eats on their own, there is no muscle-wasting, vision impairment, heart defects, etc. Read more about mito at & see how autism doesn’t equal mito, and how this case has nada to do with what Kirby is fighting for!

From a “mito mom” on a message board:

“For kids with no history of reaction, no family history of reaction, etc… the general agreement is that vaccines are not only reccomended but htey are more critical, as viruses are so dangerous for kids.”

And, from actual doctors who work with mito patients:

To our understanding – it is not the immunizations themselves that are harmful in mitochondrial disease – but rather the potential for associated fever after the injection, since a fever might precipitate a “metabolic crisis.”

In regards to immunizations and autism, medical authorities on the matter world-wide feel that there is nothing about the vaccines or the mercury in them that cause autism. There may potentially be a subset of children inherently at risk of autism that have their symptoms become more noticeable after any illness – including the fever brought on by immunizations. However, there is no good medical evidence to support such a theory either.

Your son seems to have had both, an allergic reaction (splotches) and regression (autistic behavior) correlating with the time he received the MMR vaccine.

If you have a concern that he will have another allergic reaction to the immunizations, I recommend that your pediatrician consult an allergist, to ensure that such a reaction is avoided. The allergic reaction might have been enough of a ‘catabolic’ reaction to bring out metabolic symptoms in him. For the vast majority of children and adults, the benefits of the vaccines do outweigh their risks – but in case your child is one of a few individuals who is more sensitive to the body’s changes that occur after an immunization – I agree with approaching this matter with caution. In such a case, holding off on a ‘booster’ vaccine until he is older or more developmentally stable, is a reasonable decision. There are no other specific guidelines or precautions that I can provide – except that any post-vaccine fever should be treated, and that he should be kept well-hydrated afterwards.

Answered by: Sumit Parikh, MD


The medical literature has absolutely no articles on immunizations/vaccinations in individuals with mitochondrial disease. In the absence of any studies, there is only clinical experience and opinion. Personally, I know a few cases of severe complications following routine immunizations in children with mitochondrial disease, generally in those who were later diagnosed as such. However, in almost all of these cases the child stopped eating because of feeling ill, and I believe that most of the complications were actually provoked by fasting. Fever may be more common following immunizations in mito kids than in children in general, possibly because abnormal autonomic nervous system responses (dysautonomia) are very common in mito disease. Of course, febrile children are fussy and may not want to eat much. Since immunizations protect against serious diseases that could really cause complications if a mito kid were to get them, and because of my own clinical experience in that over a hundred mito kids safely received immunizations when certain precautions were taken, with my own patients my practice is as follows:

Immunizations act like common viral infections in that they can cause a child to have fever, nausea, poor appetite, and/or malaise (generally feeling bad). At these times, pay extra attention that your child is getting adequate calories. Fruit juices are one option to get quick calories in a child who is eating poorly. Fever increases energy demand, and should be treated with the proper amount of acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.). Seek prompt medical attention for continued vomiting, inability to take almost any calories for over 24 hours, and especially for lethargy (excessive tiredness) or an otherwise altered behavior (including excessive fussiness, confusion, etc.). Occasionally, IV fluid with D10 (10% sugar) may need to be given.

Any mito kid with a severe immunization reaction in the past should probably avoid immunizations altogether.

Answered by: Richard G. Boles, MD

To read the questions for the answers, please go here.

I’m going to just let it all go now, after I say these next few things. And, hopefully this will be the last time I post on this. This has got me so angered because of what mito is versus what autism is.

Mito kills many children each year.

A friend of mine lost her daughter at the age of 2. That is not autism. Trust me, anti-vax parents, you do not want mito. And, should it come out your child does indeed have mito, you’ll wish you had gotten those vaccines.

I do feel Kirby perhaps brought to the attention of many one important thing: that in some cases, autistic symptoms can be attributed to a genetic, metabolic, or mitochondrial disorder. So, if you have an autistic child, it is worthwhile to do some screening for that. With regard to mitochondrial disease, I would only recommend testing IF a child had autism accompanied with feeding difficulties, hypotonia, movement disorders, organ defects, lactic acidosis, elevated liver enzymes, multiple hospitalizations, etc. If my child had autism that began with a true regression, I would more than likely look into mito as well. More advice, seek out the top doctors in the field. We had to hop on an airplane for our daughter’s testing. It was all very expensive also, even with insurance coverage. Also, keep in mind that testing for mito includes having your child be sedated while getting a skin & muscle biopsy, a spinal tap, catheter for urine sample, as well as blood drawn. There is also substantial pre-op workup as well. This is not something to be taken lightly.

Lastly, I might add, with hesitation, something about these parents who are now jumping at the bits about mitochondrial disease. Hope beyond hope that your child does NOT have it. If your child has never been hospitalized, has never had surgery, is able to walk, doesn’t need a tube in order to receive nutrition, be grateful. The injury you feel your child received–autism–from a vaccine, and I don’t mean to be rude, pales in comparison to what most families who battle mitochondrial disease have to contend with.

I am so glad my child’s results for mito came back negative. The period of testing & waiting was a nightmare, I was so scared. I wouldn’t wish mito on my worst enemy. I pray that a real treament for mito is found SOON. My child has autism, and she also has a long list of other diagnoses and medical issues. She was born with heart and kidney (requiring surgery) defects, shd has a feeding tube with which she gets most of her liquid intake through, she has had various GI problems, many neurological issues, as well as breathing problems, the list goes on. The first 1-2 years of her life was filled with doctors visits, tests, and procedures. We have boxes, BOXES for her medical records. She’s been hospitalized for rotavirus, RSV, and surgeries. She ended up in the PICU following one surgery. She has had 2 PICC lines. She’s had MRSA four times.

I have incredible discontent for people who do not vaccinate their children. I read a mom’s comment one time about when her children had one of those diseases (she doesn’t vaccinate her kids), and how it was no big deal. Okay, maybe for your kid–but not for mine. My child, along with thousands of other special-needs kids would most likely be hospitalized, and be at far greater risk than her child. Kids like mine typically catch more germs when they are in a hospital. During an illness, things can literally be touch & go. My daughter has already contracted chicken pox (thankfully, she had receive the vaccine, so it was fairly mild, although she did have seizures during the illness), I cringe knowing the number of kids she is in contact with who are not vaccinated grows each day.

Each time my daughter gets sick, even with the “common cold,” our reality is waking up every 2-3 hours to give her medicine and push fluids through her feeding tube, as well as monitor her for seizure activity, all of this to keep her out of the hospital. Often, her colds require breathing treatments as well. For her protection, and again with an end-goal of keeping her out of hospitals, our doctor prefers we call to receive medical advice (& even prescriptions) or in the event we have to come in, they immediately put us in a room. Her specialists whose offices are inside of a children’s hospital ensure her follow-up appointments are not during the winter (flu season) months. We’ve been lucky that with each year, her overall health improves. I’m so thankful for her doctors who have been proactive and helped her overcome such odds.

To see her, you may not even realize how hard she’s had to fight. But I remember, I will never forget the truly heart-wrenching times. I’ve said it before, the “worst” day with autism is the brightest most wonderful day compared to 5 seconds in the PICU with your child.

I truly hope that all these parents who are now chatting on and on (and in a sick way, getting excited) about mito realize how lucky they are. If they’ve not been touched personally by a disease like mito, or if their child has never been in the intensive care unit, or if other than autism, their child is pretty healthy, they have no idea. For the majority of them, they have no clue what it’s truly like to see their child suffer.

7 Responses to “This Whole Mito Thing (My Final Vent…Hopefully!)”

  1. bones February 29, 2008 at 16:07 #

    Vey nice piece. Unfortunately, the cynic in me believes this is only the begining of the mito-ppd issue.

    In fact, it’s only a matter of days (weeks maybe) until Geier runs w/ this and fabricates a study “conclusively demonstrating” that autism is, in fact, mito-ppd.

    …he’ll have to have an estate sale in order to unload all that lupron.

  2. Brian February 29, 2008 at 20:55 #

    In the previous (unfounded) vaccine scare, over the whole cell DTP, there was the similar phenomenon of vaccine-associated fever (and occasionally febrile convulsions ((and you need to know what they are before holding forth on them)) bringing neurological symptoms forward that were likely going to happen anyway.

    Great play was made of these, by Dr Geier and others.

    In fact, when they were making up the MMR scare, they didn’t know that viral vaccines kick in to a different schedule to whole-cell bacterial shots, such as pertussis, and were dumb enough to give the DTP temporal link.

    The claimants were saying stuff like: “I remember that Johnny had his MMR, and that night he had fits, and I took him to the doctor, who said this was normal…”


  3. Kassiane February 29, 2008 at 22:49 #

    Well written, thank you for smacking this down hard before all those kids are subjected to muscle biopsies and allllllltheaminoaaaaaacids.

    Best of luck to your child. I hope that things get easier for her. Medical illnesses bite the big one.

  4. mayfly March 1, 2008 at 02:17 #

    I too want to thank you. The Zimmerman article mentioned a much higher frequency in the presence/lack of a certain chemical, I cannot remember which one. The article did say that the results might have been skewed by the collection methods, venipuncture vs biopsy.

    That difference did make me wonder If my daughter should be tested However upon reading of the other symptoms in the article, it seemed highly unlikely.

    Reading this I see how foolish that was.

  5. isles March 1, 2008 at 05:50 #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. The mercury zealots should be ashamed of themselves if they are yapping about hoping their children have mitochondrial disorders just so they can have the possibility of a lawsuit payout.

  6. Moi March 1, 2008 at 06:18 #

    Apparently the “mito cocktail” has been frequently given to autistic kids in the DAN protocol for a while.

    I don’t think they are ready to abandon the mercury hypothesis at all. They usually like to combine all the wacky possibilities – MMR, mito, anything, as long as the vaccines are involved.

  7. Sara Neal March 5, 2008 at 01:19 #

    I’m a mom of two kids with mito and autism. You don’t want mito…trust me. I also have it, and ultimately it probably will not end well for all of us.

    There are many insults that can aggravate and “activate” mito disease. I certainly think it’s possible that’s what happened in this case and probably in my son’s case. But, ultimately this is going to be a very small percentage of the kids with autism.

    My only thought with this is that maybe it will get more attention to mito and research for us.

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