Scientists, Physicians & Health Care ProfessionalsThe UMDF Scientific and Medical Advisory Board Statement on the Connection Between Mitochondrial Disease and Autism
The UMDF Scientific and Medical Advisory Board Statement on the Connection Between Mitochondrial Disease and Autism

Federal authorities for the first time conceded that there is a connection between a child’s autistic symptoms and the vaccines she received as an infant.  Medical evaluators at the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that the child had been injured by the vaccines and recommended that her family be compensated for the injuries.   The panel stated that the child had an underlying mitochondrial disease that was aggravated by the vaccines, causing the autistic like symptoms.

The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, in collaboration with our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board stated “There are no scientific studies documenting that childhood vaccinations cause mitochondrial diseases or worsen mitochondrial disease symptoms. In the absence of scientific evidence, the UMDF cannot confirm any association between mitochondrial diseases and vaccines.”

Because of the focused attention on mitochondrial disease from this story, Charles A. Mohan, Jr., Executive Director and CEO, was a much sought after person for comment on the issue.   Mohan reiterated the SMAB statement, but added that there is very little in the way of any federally funded research into mitochondrial diseases. “Mitochondrial diseases are as prevalent as childhood leukemia, however the National Institutes of Health devotes only $11 million a year to research into mitochondrial disorders and only about one-third of that is earmarked for primary mitochondrial disease research.  Many scientists believe unmasking the causes of mitochondrial disease may lead to possible cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer,” Mohan said.

Mohan said everyone should encourage Congress and the NIH to make research into mitochondrial disorders a high priority.  “Under funding research for mitochondrial disease is a  tragedy for many thousands of children and adults. An increase at the NIH level could reveal one of the mysterious missing links around autism and many other diseases.”  

To read any of the news articles in which the UMDF was used as a resource on this story, please click on any of the links below.  Check back, as the UMDF will continue to post information from our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board about vaccines and mitochondrial diseases.

Additional Helpful Links:
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Disease
eMedicine - Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Links to Related Media:
Chuck Mohan Interview on NPR Morning Edition on 03/07/08  ( click on ‘Listen Now’)
Baltimore Sun Article
Associated Press
Web MD
Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Sentinel – Carlisle, Pennsylvania
TIME - Case Study: Autism and Vaccines

Released on April 11, 2008:

The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation released the following statement from its executive director and CEO, Chuck Mohan, in light of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee’s (NVAC) meeting of its Vaccine Safety Working Group and recent published reports of possible links between mitochondrial disorders and autism.

“Recent published reports about the potential links between mitochondrial disorders and autism demonstrate the urgent need for more research into mitochondrial disease, a devastating and often fatal illness.

“Mitochondrial dysfunction has also been implicated in Alzheimer’s Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, heart disease and diabetes.

“Mitochondrial disease is not rare. Researchers estimate that every 15 minutes a child is born with mitochondrial disease or will be diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by the age of 10. Most affected children do not live beyond their teenage years.

“The National Institutes of Health currently spends about $11.8 million on research into mitochondrial-related research – with only about one third of that earmarked for primary mitochondrial disease research. That is less than 1/1000 of one percent of NIH’s $29B annual budget. That is why the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation supports the effort by the National Institutes of Health to place mitochondrial disease research on an NIH roadmap.

“Mitochondrial disease deprives the body of energy making it difficult to function properly. It can affect any organ of the body and at any age. The brain may be impaired, vision may be dim, muscles may twitch or may be too weak to allow the body to walk or write, the heart may be weakened, and the ability to eat and digest food can be compromised.

“Finding the cause of and cure for mitochondrial disease would not only alleviate the suffering of families around the world, it would also unlock the door to a world of scientific knowledge and could help lead the way to possible treatments for many other diseases.”

Date Created: 4/29/2008