Dr John Briffa is wronger than wrong on vaccines and Hannah Poling

30 May

Media nutritionism is a crowded field, but John Briffa has managed to carve out a niche for himself. And Briffa’s take on vaccines stands out, even among media nutritionists. JDC takes a broader look at Briffa’s take on autism, but I’m going to focus on Briffa’s claim that:

the US Government recently looked at such evidence relating to just one girl (Hannah Poling) and concluded that vaccination had contributed significantly to her autism.

As readers of this blog can probably spot, almost every word of that statement is inaccurate: impressive work, indeed.

Firstly, the US government did not concede that vaccines caused the feature’s of autism that Poling’s father attributes to vaccines. Instead, as Offit notes, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program requires a lower level of proof than civil and criminal courts in the US:

Now, petitioners need merely propose a biologically plausible mechanism by which a vaccine might cause harm — even if their explanation contradicts published studies.

In the Poling case, “the court conceded that the claim was biologically plausible” and therefore a settlement was offered, and the Poling’s accepted. In no way, shape or form is this the same as the US government concluding that vaccines have contributed significantly to Poling’s autism.

Secondly, in Poling’s case the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation apparently concluded that

the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations [Poling] received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder.

Features of autism are not the same thing as autism. It appears that the case was conceded due to the possibility that the vaccines contributed to some of Poling’s autistic traits. The symptoms attributed to vaccines by Poling’s father would not – in themselves – be enough for an autism diagnosis.

As Novella argues, it is therefore worth emphasising that the Poling case

is highly complex and not necessarily representative of any other case and cannot be reasonably used to support the vaccine/autism connection

In other words, even if Briffa’s interpretation of the case were right – it’s not – this would still not provide significant support for those claiming a widespread vaccine/autism connection. Not only is Briffa wrong, but he is also wrong in his interpretation of the results of his wrongness.

Of course, it would only be fair to end by acknowledging what Briffa got right in the above quote. After all, the grammar in that sentence was spot-on and he did spell Hannah’s name right.

29 Responses to “Dr John Briffa is wronger than wrong on vaccines and Hannah Poling”

  1. Schwartz May 31, 2008 at 02:20 #

    I agree that articles should be accurate, so in the interest of accuracy:

    It is indeed ironic that you would use that Dr. Offit article from the NYT as an example of accuracy since it contained two factual errors one of which was actually corrected by the NYT itself. I would not consider him a source of semantic accuracy.

    Interesting also that you use Novella’s argument “is highly complex and not necessarily representative of any other case and cannot be reasonably used to support the vaccine/autism connection”.

    Do you not remember that Novella’s argument was the same one forwarded by Di Mauro which was subsequently reversed by Di Mauro (the actual expert) after Dr. Poling’s response? This initial quote is pretty old and was made as you assert before all the information was made available. Why then quote old opinions especially since Dr. Novella never corrected his own inaccuracies?

  2. Kev May 31, 2008 at 07:34 #

    Just a quick note – this was written by Jon, not me 🙂 I’ve already had email trying to discuss it. Its really better to post it here – and remember to check the author name!

  3. John Briffa May 31, 2008 at 09:19 #

    By you own admission:

    “The Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation concluded:

    the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations [Poling] received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder.”

    Here’s what I wrote about this:

    …the US Government recently conceded (out of court) that a child’s (Hannah Poling) autistic state had been significantly contributed to by vaccines she had as a toddler.

    Are these things so very different? Does it really look that I’ve been so very, very wrong here?

    And on the point of whether Hannah Poling is autistic or just has features of autism, can I ask someone to explain to me why this really matters? I mean, some people might say that what’s really important here is that it has been adjudged that vaccination contributed to this child’s regression into an autistic state (my abbreviation of
    ‘regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder.’).

    Surely that’s more important than whether or not Hannah Poling exhibits symptoms and features consistent with a diagnosis that is defined by arbitrarily defined criteria? Or am I wrong again?

    Whether or not this case provides support for those claiming a wider vaccination/autism connection is a matter of opinion, of course. One thing is for sure, if vaccination has caused Hannah Poling’s problems with ‘regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder’, then this at least raises a question about the safety of vaccination with regard to autism or states which have ‘features of autism’.

  4. Jon May 31, 2008 at 12:12 #

    Schwartz- what the Offit OpEd got wrong was openly corrected, which seems fair enough to me. And it does offer a nice, clear description of standards of proof required in vaccine courts.

    DiMauro reversed his/Novella’s argument? Could you clarify what you mean by this – I’ve never seen DiMauro suggesting that the Poling case has wider applicability in the vaccine/autism debate (though if I’ve missed something, I’d be grateful if you could point this out). Has he changed his mind since this April piece?

  5. Jon May 31, 2008 at 13:31 #

    John- the sentence from your blog quoted at the start of my post was pretty much wrong throughout so – yes – I do see this as significant. This is a sensitive issue, and saying – for example – that the US government concluded that vaccination contributed to Poling’s autism when the government has not published any such conclusion is very unhelpful.

    The distinction between autism and features of autism (not to mention which features of autism one is talking about, and the extent to which they are manifested) clearly does matter: the number and type of autistic features found in a particular case can clearly have a significant impact on autistic people (or people with features of autism) and their families. While diagnostic criteria clearly aren’t grounded in any metaphysical Truth, this does not mean that the distinction between autism and (particular) features of autism is unimportant.

    By the way, you’ve phrased your description of the Poling case differently in different parts of your blog post/comments. Do you see one phrasing as more accurate than another – for example, would you prefer to refer to Poling’s ‘autism’ or ‘autistic state’?

  6. María Luján May 31, 2008 at 19:02 #

    I do think that the analysis may be done different related to autism vs autistic symptoms. I am not interested in a discussion on thimerosal/MMR as causes of ASD because it is not my position on the topic. If you are interested on other view- considering the above-please let me know.
    Kev, I apologize.

  7. Joseph May 31, 2008 at 22:18 #

    And on the point of whether Hannah Poling is autistic or just has features of autism, can I ask someone to explain to me why this really matters?

    I personally don’t think it does. She either meets criteria or does not. (I’m not sure which one it is).

    But you might want to ask Dan Olmsted. He seems to give credit to the notion that some Amish autistic children are not really autistic on the basis that an etiology has been determined in those cases.

  8. Schwartz May 31, 2008 at 22:50 #

    Sorry Kev — the author’s name is very small and light grey… I will try to watch closer.


    The NYT corrected one of Offit’s blatent mistakes. Let’s count the other misleading statements:

    “As part of the program, a group of scientists, doctors and lawyers listed all the health problems that might be linked to vaccines.”

    This is written to imply that every health problem that might have a relationship to vaccines have been included. This is incorrect. They only include cases that have been shown to be caused by vaccines, not “might”. In several cases, the definitions have been significantly narrowed by the VICP, in particular when dealing with Encephalopathy, and some seizure disorders.

    “If, at a trial in a special court, a preponderance of scientific evidence suggested that a vaccine caused one of these problems, a family would be compensated quickly, generously and fairly.”

    The VICP does not require a trial, especially as in this case no trial occured. As for quick, generous and fair, that is completly subjective, and in the case of quick, incorrect. The Polings filed their claim 6 years ago if I recall. Considering the cost of Hannah’s condition quick, generous, and fair don’t apply at all.

    “Without holding a hearing on the matter, the court conceded that the claim was biologically plausible.”

    The court (i.e. special masters) did not conceed anything.

    “The vaccine court should return to the preponderance-of-evidence standard.”

    The vaccine court did not change their evidentiary standard to my knowledge. His complaint is with the program administrators on the government side.

    It should be pretty clear that Offit is pretty loose with his words, and that is the irony here as you hold him up as an example of accuracy.

    Your objection is that Dr. Briffa describes the case as “vaccines contributed to the Girls Autism”, when in reality the “vaccines contribued to the symptoms of Autism” in an Autistic girl. From a weasle legal word perspective, certainly worth pointing out. Smoking gun of scientific inaccuracy… hardly.

    On Dr. Novella:

    After your quoted section he goes on to explain why he feels that her condition is likely attributed to the “rare” genetic mutation that she holds.

    “This makes option 4 very plausible – it would be an incredible coincidence if this child just happened to have a mutation in a gene that was known to cause their exact constellation of neurological signs and symptoms and yet the mutation was not the sole or primary cause of those symptoms.”

    At the time of that article he was quoted saying the same thing in New Scientist (March 08) along with the ever inaccurate Dr. Offit, and the real expert Dr. DiMauro.

    Fast forward almost a month (after a specific response from Dr. Poling — where he points out the same thing he stated in his first press conference) and we find Dr. DiMauro reversing his position on the topic:

    “Salvatore DiMauro, a mitochondria expert at Columbia University, notes that the point mutation mentioned in Poling’s case history–published in the Journal of Child Neurology–would imply that both she and her mother carried the genetic variation in all their tissues. So, he says, “you would expect to see the same results” in both the mother and the daughter. But Poling’s mother, Terry, who is an attorney and a registered nurse, is not autistic.

    That suggests the genetic defect responsible for Poling’s condition is part of her nuclear DNA, which is separate from the mitochondrial variety, says DiMauro.”

    Note that there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate a defect in her nuclear DNA. DiMauro clearly agrees with Dr. Poling that the condition that Novella, DiMauro, and Offit (mtDNA defect) relied on to state that this is a unique case is not likely a factor at all.

    So all of these doctors you are holding up here as examples of scientific accuracy stuck their foot in it when they spoke to the press (and blogged and editorials) after the Poling press conference, despite the all the information being widely available.

    Not exactly good examples to make your point with.

  9. Schwartz May 31, 2008 at 22:53 #


    The second DiMauro quote is from Scientific Amercian, April 22.

  10. Jon June 1, 2008 at 00:32 #

    As to whether the distinction between autism/features of autism matters, I still think that – if people are suggesting that vaccines cause autism or features of it – this distinction is important. If you’re claiming an intervention carries certain risks, it is important to be clear what risks you’re talking about. I can appreciate that – in other contexts – this distinction may be much less important.

    Schwartz- short reply, sorry, as somewhat in haste. The issue isn’t ‘just’ that Briffa said vaccines contributed towards Poling’s autism when – if they contributed to anything – it appears that they would have contributed to some of her features of autism. Briffa also said that the US government concluded that the vaccines had contributed significantly towards Poling’s autism – however, while the case was conceded, the US government have not published any such conclusion.

  11. mike stanton June 1, 2008 at 00:44 #

    Hannah Poling is the child in the case study co-authored by her father. And having read the study I am confused. At 23 months Hannah scored 33 on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale [CARS]. 15 to 30 on CARS equals normal. 33 is mildly autistic. 60 is extreme. Since she started kindergarten Hannah’s CARS scores have all been less than 30 according to her father. So just how autistic is she? A little bit? Borderline? Not at all?Does the case of Hannah Poling have any relevance for the autism community?

  12. Schwartz June 1, 2008 at 06:49 #


    You should note the case study title and introductory statements. Her Autism is not in question. It is true that we don’t get a lot of detail on where in the spectrum she falls.


    I will support that the semantics of the government concession is important to note.

    I also think you need to re-read the concession as it specifically uses the words “conclusion” and “significant” wrt to the role of the vaccines:

    “In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder. ”

    From what I’m reading your only legitimate complaint is the alteration from “features of Autism spectrum disorder” to “autism”. As I stated earlier, your complaint is valid from an accuracy perspective, but it hardly makes Dr. Briffa “wronger than wrong” IMO. Especially since we do know she is autistic, as the case study clearly refers to her as such, as does Dr. Poling.

    Your use of quotes from scientists who themselves made far more inaccurate statements on this very topic (left uncorrected in 2 of 3 cases) is even more confusing.

    Of course, we can’t read the new concession because the government refuses to agree to full disclosure…

  13. Kev June 1, 2008 at 08:28 #

    But as we also know Schwartz, there is no concession that Hannah Poling’s autism diagnosis was occassioned by the vaccines she recieved. Neither is there any evidence to suggest that is so. In that respect, I would say that _anyone_ who is saying that vaccines caused her autism is wronger than wrong.

  14. Kev June 1, 2008 at 08:36 #

    And on the point of whether Hannah Poling is autistic or just has features of autism, can I ask someone to explain to me why this really matters?

    John – to be diagnosed as autistic you must fulfill the designated criteria.

    Does she? Yes (with Mike’s caveats).

    However, does the documented medical evidence suggest it was the vaccines that caused her autism?

    No, it doesn’t.

    What I personally believe is that she was (still is?) autistic. I also believe she was damaged by her vaccines. I also believe that it was _not the vaccines_ that casued her autism.

    I believe that based on the medical and scientific evidence presented. Please read the entry I link to in this comment for full details.

  15. María Luján June 1, 2008 at 12:38 #

    Hi Jon
    Well, there are several aspects of what you point that I do not understand
    on Hannah´s case, honestly. and I hope that you have the patience to read
    Now , how many children with some of these medical conditions may have
    “autistic features” but not ASD, such as AN HIV positive child had autistic
    features but not ASD and encephalitis at 31 y or 14 y may generate autistic
    features but not ASD with your line of thinking? BTW, HIV and AZT may
    generate mitochondrial dysfunction and it is widely published. Or the
    diagnostic is being proposed much more narrow that it is thought to be or a
    spining in circles is being done, going to the center of the circle and
    doing it more and more little.
    I will explain my confusion. I want to share these reflections with, not
    against , therefore please consider this way.

    Regressive autism is ASD IF there is an unknown-undetected mito dysfunction-
    or other- going on previous to vaccines that after the vaccines is
    aggravated and therefore IF detected and diagnosed the mito/other condition
    ASD is not? Even more mito conditions can be adquired in time, not only
    maternally inhereted following the published literature.
    What are we going to discover previous to vaccines that is going to narrow
    further the criteria of what autism is- even if fullfiling the requirements
    of the DSMIV if AFTER the vaccines the medical condition is detected and the
    mechanism is more clear than today? What the future brings?

    Are we going to a situation to discuss what ASD is not –considering the
    previous medical situations that made prone the regression after vaccines-
    being mitochondrial or other source- IF a previous medical condition is
    detected after the vaccines that can be aggravated by vaccines at the time
    of vaccination? The DSMIV is the diagnostic tool; if the child shows the
    behaviors listed it is in the ASD spectrum- even if he/she does not meet ALL
    the criteria.

    Therefore – with the line of thinking -before the knowledge of the previous
    medical conditions, it was ASD; After the testing and detection, it is not;
    it was the previously unknown undetected medical condition that vaccine
    aggravated- but NEVER triggered autism., the vaccines worsened the previous
    medical condition that generated autistic features but not ASD-based on the
    DSMIV as the diagnostic tool- and excluding all the published literature on
    CMPs to the diagnosis- that are erodating the uselness of the DSMIV based on
    behaviors only more and more?But the Dr in charge considered ASD as the
    diagnostic in the Hannah´s case..
    What if we never properly test about the potential underlying medical
    problem- the medical condition remains without treatment and a diagnosis of
    autism is given with the needed support to the autistic features (
    educational/therapies) but the medical condition(s) worsening and untreated;
    BUT if we properly test and other thing arises then it is not autism and no
    educational/therapies available because it is no longer ASD- and it is the
    same person with the same sensorial/language/communicational problems that
    were used to the diagnosis of ASD under the DSMIV-but potentially it may
    receive- or not – the adequate treatment of the CMPs and for the ASD- that
    no longer qualify with this line of thinking.
    Imagine an autistic teen/adult tested for a mitochondrial dysfunction and
    being positive- not disorder but dysfunction- and linked this to regressions
    due to drugs/medicationms-after years of being diagnosed under the
    DSMIV-adverse reactions to medications are common in some subgroup of
    autistics. Therefore it would not be longer autistic-even when fits all the
    DSMIV because of the detection of a CMPs to the diagnosis linked to
    regresssion? What about his/her needed services in terms of support and
    accomodation for autistic needs?
    Do not understand the reasoning. I remember long discussions about CMPs not
    being ASD but ASD- years ago-is what the DSMIV stablishes and now the ASD
    is not but the CMP is the explanation here to the regression and nothing to
    do with the autism- even when autistic features are present under the DSMIV
    and autistic regression was present? The difference between PDDNOS and
    autism has then sense-because of the lack of all the criteria for ASD-but a
    PDD was present? However, the expert considered adequate the diagnosis of
    What is needed-IMHO- is to explore seriously the possibility of
    mitochondrial dysfunction role in regressions and other CMPs to the
    diagnosis of ASD- and the role of triggers such as
    vaccines/antibiotics/others – and how they affect the symtptomatology in
    behavior /other used to diagnose Autism under the DSMIV. OR we have to
    seriously analyze if the DSMIV is not labeling as ASD what is some medical
    conditins looking as ASD but being something different than it was thought
    the DSMIV to . BUT even if it is something different, matching for ASD
    criteria, is ASD, at least whereas we still have the DSMIV as diagnostic
    criteria. And vaccine as trigger.of autistic regression in this case.
    It is like if you know the cause or trigger and it is not genetics pure it
    is not autism because there could be an environmentally detected mechanism?
    If it was rubella prenatally induced it was not genetic but it is ASD? If
    it was encephalitis produced it is not ASD? Or we have prenatal rubella
    cause ASD through (we do not know yet the mechanism)……, encephalitis caused
    ASD through (we do not know yet)…and in this case the mechanism or process
    has been detected- including the potential (epi)genetic root: Such as I am
    trying to clarify myself in this case- and I agree with Schwartz- is
    Vaccine- triggered ( or caused) ASD through mitochondrial aggravated
    dysfunction-genetically or epigenetically modulated
    The trigger—cause – was the vaccine and the mechanism was the mitochondrial
    dysfunction –perhaps epigenetically- or genetically- related-and the final
    result was autistic regression and autism. There is a confussion – such as I
    see it-between the role of trigger and why the mechanism became operative
    with it- and if the mechanism would be operative without the trigger..There
    are pure genetic mechanisms where the triggers are mainly endogenous- the
    lack of certain protein(s) and the consequences in cascade_ but what about
    when the trigger is external and there is an underlying predisposition to
    adverse reactions to xenobiotics- including vaccines?What when both kind of
    conditions are present at once- triggered endogenously and exogenously?what
    if there are more than one external trigger and several mechanisms of
    different problems acting at once with different genetic problems at once,
    working in time and in accumulation? How many components then the spectrum
    will have?
    My question is related to how autism is a secondary diagnosis to other
    diagnosis. For example there are Down children with autism, -Sotos syndrome
    with significant autistic features-22q deletion syndrome with significant
    autistic features-cerebral palsy with significant autistic features and many
    other medical conditions where there is a clear genetic mutation present-
    Angelman, fragile X, etc- besides the ASD diagnosis and there has been
    published Autistic symptoms in Pb poisoning. Therefore there could be one
    genetic component- “pure” plus an environmental/genetic component (related
    to the ASD). Because of the character of unknown in terms of causes of ASD,
    the primary diagnosis is from the other condition but this would be related
    to what we do not know more than what we know. Here, the environmental
    component was detected/confirmed as trigger-cause, therefore why it seems so
    easy to dismiss the causality in terms of the above consideration?
    If the future brigns that there are mitochondrial dysfunction and immune
    immaturities from birth in autistic children that are affected by
    xenobiotics (vaccines or others, in accumulation), therefore we will have
    immune dysfunction with autistic features and mitochondrial dysfunction with
    autistic features or viral encephalitis that produced autistic features-
    especially if enviornmental triggers detected but not ASD?

    Again, it is ASD as primary diagnosis because we do know almost nothing-
    even from concomitant genetic or adquired problems- and it isn´t ASD when we
    do know?

    Therefore if in the future we detect more CMPS that explain the autistic
    symptomatology, there will be no more ASD but ………….. with autistic features?
    But to assign the result to the mechanism (mito disorder) without the
    exogenous trigger should need an endogenous one- and the knowledge about
    mito dysfunction and interactions with xenobiotics/infections/vaccines say
    that this is not the case for this particular case.
    Vaccine- triggered or caused /aggravated ASD through….. genetically or
    epigenetically modulated? And even what we have as the general situation for
    some different subgroups may be
    (unknown)………….. triggered or caused/aggravated ASD through….. genetically or
    /epigenetically modulated? Being multiple the triggers and/or the
    geneticalpepigenetical components?
    That is the environmental plus genetic/epigenetic situation going on to be
    clarified slowly?
    Such as I see it, ASD is going to be the behavioral aspect of several other
    medical conditions-multiple if/when the underlying mechanisms are going to
    be discovered?
    Being multiple the triggers and/or the geneticalpepigenetical components?
    All people researching about how autism is generated. The genes tell you
    what protein can be encoded wrongly in terms of amount of function but not
    the mechanism- coupled with other mechanisms. If these mechanisms also are
    affected by environment What is the situation in terms of diagnosis?
    Therefore in the future would be
    Environmental unknown triggered ASD through the mechanism coupled between
    this and that genetically linked to XXXXX genes? and therefore would be
    Mechanistic this and that Medical problem with autistic features?? and What
    if if ALSO pure genetic conditions have medical CMPS that are affected by
    xenobiotics ( in Rett there are mitochodrial dysfunction in brain, for
    example).How to discriminate what is genetically linked/epigenetically
    modulated/mtDNA-nDNA mutated in vivo/environmental?
    You know I feel that even the doctors/researchers feel that they are wrong
    partially because of the unknown therefore probably we will be wrong one way
    or other. I would say that my interpretation of the partial evidence
    available is different in the point of autistic features vs autistic .
    The father of the girl told that the child´s mom has a mt DNA disorder- but
    not autism- but the girld has ASD-For him, this is part of the reason why he
    thinks it is not genetic-even when mtDNA-nDNA intearactions are a field of
    continuous research.

  16. María Luján June 1, 2008 at 12:54 #

    sorry, at the last sentence I included a mistake ; it is mtDNA point mutation instead of mtDNA disorder

  17. Jon June 1, 2008 at 18:13 #

    Schwartz- the concession (not to mention the paragraph you quote) is clear that “DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria”. This is not the same as concluding that vaccines caused Poling’s autism or features of autism: it is a conclusion that the required level of proof had been provided.

    One might also argue whether it’s appropriate to refer to DVIC as ‘the government’, though I appreciate that others may not share my interest in what constitutes a government…

  18. Schwartz June 1, 2008 at 18:40 #


    Statuatory criteria means achieving a certain level of scientific and medical evidence. It is still evidence and it is scientific. Therefore, the government concluded based on scientific evidence — that meets the bar for statuatory criteria — that the vaccines significantly contributed to her condition which resulted in symptoms of Autism. The part about statuatory criteria doesn’t really change the meaning at all. It just defines a more specific line on the scientific evidence spectrum.

    Do you still think your quotes from the other doctors are credible?


    I think Maria is saying the same thing: If the vaccines significantly contributed to her health condition which resulted in symptoms of Autism, then it also significantly contributed to at least part of her Autism because by definition, her Autism is a collection of those very same symptoms.

  19. John Briffa June 1, 2008 at 19:20 #

    How about this:

    You reword the sentence that you object to in a way that is acceptable to you, and if I find it acceptable, I’ll add it as a correction? In principle, is this acceptable to you?

    This may require a bit of negotiation, but maybe we can come to an agreement both of us are comfortable with.

  20. Sullivan June 1, 2008 at 19:45 #


    the required level of proof was reached that Hannah Poling suffered an encephalopathy, resulting in permanent injury. That is the qualifying injury, not autism or ‘features of autism’. Autism or ‘features of autism’ are to be compensated as a result of the injury, just as the seizure disorder is. What the level of proof needed to include these (autism and seizures) is a lot more vague than the already vague level of proof required for an injury.

    That stated, this case does not set a new precedent. Autism has been compensated as a part of vaccine injury in the past. Consider the the Suel case (and others discussed on neurodiversity.com).

    In terms of the Omnibus and any other civil litigation, this case does not advance the idea of vaccine injury causing autism

    A civil case would be argued in front of a jury, so this would be less clear. In the Omnnibus, judged (Special Masters) are deciding, so it will be much more difficult for the lawyers to confuse the issue.

  21. Schwartz June 2, 2008 at 04:28 #


    I’m assuming that they include the resulting damage (from the encephalopathy) to help determine compensation?

  22. Kev June 2, 2008 at 07:36 #

    Schwartz/Maria – (assuming you are saying what Schwartz and I think you are Maria) – I don’t agree that ‘features of autism’ necessarily contribute to autism in every given situation. I think the chances are Hannah being ‘given’ certain ‘features of autism’ via her vaccines and then spontaneously developing the missing ones to dovetail together are very, very low.

    To me it seems much more logical that she already _had_ autism (lets bear in mind that the Cedillo’s swore up and down Michelle was regressive when she clearly wasn’t) and the vaccines she received caused encephalopathy – QED some of the symptoms appeared to be repeated.

    Lets also not forget that despite certain writers claims there is no such things as ‘autistic encephalopathy’ in the medical literature. except when written by certain well known autism/vaccine researchers.

  23. Sullivan June 2, 2008 at 07:40 #

    I’m assuming that they include the resulting damage (from the encephalopathy) to help determine compensation?

    Yes and no. Pain and sufferint is capped at $250,000. It is likely the same regardless. Anything above that is based on need or, as I recall, lost wages of the injured. If the family can argue autism-specific costs that should be covered, those would be included in the compensation.

    Those calculations can get rather detailed. For example, I believe it was in the Suel case, they included some figure (down to the penny) for a cart the child used for recreation/play. They figured a lifetime of the cart, and, thus, how many times it would have to be replaced.

    It will be based on demonstrated and predicted needs. I don’t know if they reimburse for expenses already incurred (I would assume so). If so, it would be interesting to see if they ask for reimbursement for, say, the chelation therapy they performed. Since this was a therapy supposedly to treat autism, they could argue it. Since it is not a treatment for autism, HHS could very easily argue against it.

  24. John Briffa June 2, 2008 at 18:26 #


    Can you get back to me on my suggestion above?

    Also, before you posted, can you confirm whether or not you’d seen my blog post from the same day?

  25. Jon June 2, 2008 at 23:41 #

    Thanks for the comments.

    John – apologies for the slow replay. Quite rushed work-wise at the moment…will have a think about this and then get back to you. Which post did you have in mind?

  26. John Briffa June 2, 2008 at 23:54 #


    What I was referring to was my blogpost from the same day as this blogpost i.e. of 30th May.

    As in this:

  27. Jon June 3, 2008 at 15:56 #

    John – thanks for clarifying. Yes, I linked that post from the start of mine.

  28. Jon June 4, 2008 at 12:32 #

    John- how does the below sound as a more accurate description of the Poling case?

    In 2005 the VICP ruled that if a petitioner were able to propose a biologically plausible mechanism by which a vaccine might contribute to harm, as well as a logical sequence of cause and effect, then an award should be granted. Hannah Poling’s parents believed that vaccines had triggered her encephalopathy. Going by the case made out to them, the VICP accepted that the petitioners in the Poling case had a biologically plausible basis for arguing that vaccines might have aggravated Hannah’s underlying mitochondrial disorder as well as a logical series of events. An award was therefore granted in this case. The fact that encephalopathy (unlike autism) is listed in the VICP Vaccine Injury Table would also have made it easier for the Polings to present a successful case.


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