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
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.”
Morgan Reynold's Ladybug Plate
“I am so excited!!” That was the reaction of Leslie Reynolds of Atlanta when she was the first to see a newly commissioned plate that honors the life of her daughter, Morgan. Morgan bravely battled mitochondrial disease. She passed away in December of 2006. Morgan was 2 and half years old. Artwork for the plate, which features a “Lady Bug”, was designed by Tristan Bramblett , of Clemmons, North Carolina. Tristan is a six year old who is diagnosed with Autism. Tristan’s artistic designs are featured on various products sold by Blue Elephant Creations.
Called “Ladybug Morgan”, the plate was unveiled to the public Saturday, March 8, 2008 at “Mito Madness” held at the Peachtree Club in Atlanta. The event was designed as a fundraiser for the UMDF. Reynolds and her husband Bernard, are co-chairs of the event.
The plate, is one in a series entitled ‘Plates with PurposeTM’. Reynolds became aware of the plates after seeing them in Waldenour, an Atlanta store that is owned by her friend Karen Raymer. She says that Raymer contacted ‘Plates with PurposeTM’ and told them about Morgan’s story. Plates with PurposeTM are handcrafted in Western Pennsylvania. Typically, Plates with PurposeTM proceeds are only donated to Pittsburgh area charities. “When we heard about Morgan’s story and when we found out that the UMDF was based in our home city, we knew we had to move forward with production”, said Mary Irwin-Scott, President of Riverside Designs and Plates with PurposeTM. The plate is going to be offered in clear and red.
The Ladybug Plate, as well as all of their designs is hand cut, colored, bent and shaped to create an original design. The plate is available for purchase at www.plateswithpurpose.com, 15% of the proceeds will be donated back to the UMDF.
Related news articles:
Pittsburgh Tribue Review
Atlanta Journal (pdf)
DC Metro Group Cookbook
The UMDF DC Metro group (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia) is just starting to come together and is in the process of launching a cookbook fundraiser that will be available for sale this summer. The cookbook project team will finalize an online cookbook recipe submission form where you will be able to submit some of your favorite family recipes. For more information, contact any of these team members: Harriet Ulrich, Margaret DeLacy, Shannon DeLacy or Anne Tuccillo.
For instructions for soliciting and submitting recipes, Click Here. To submit a recipe, Click Here.
New Trustees for the UMDF Board
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation Board of Trustees has announced the following appointments to the board.
Howard Zucker, MD, JD
Dr. Zucker received a B.S. degree from McGill University and his M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine at the age of 22. He trained in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, anesthesiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, pediatric critical care medicine and pediatric anesthesiology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and pediatric cardiology at Children's Hospital Boston / Harvard Medical School. He was an Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Medicine, Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Associate Professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Adjunct Associate Professor at Cornell University Medical School, research affiliate at the Center for Space Research at M.I.T. and on the faculty at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Zucker was involved with designing experiments that flew onboard the Space Shuttle Spacelab missions. He received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and his Masters in Law from Columbia Law School where he was a James Kent Scholar. Dr Zucker has served as a White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health & Human Services and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He is board certified in multiple specialties / subspecialties and completed the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative Executive Education program at the Kennedy School of Government / Harvard School of Public Health. Most recently Dr. Zucker was the Assistant Director-General: Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals, at the World Health Organization and Representative of the Director-General for Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Public Health also at the World Health Organization. Dr. Zucker is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Council for Emerging National Security Affairs, was a public health "hi-level expert" for NATO and is listed in Best Doctors in America and Who's Who in the World.
Rob has been involved with the UMDF since his daughter,Carly, 13, was diagnosed in 1999 with a mitochondrial disease. Rob, his wife Jill and the couple’s other daughter, Katie, 10, are all actively involved in the efforts to help find a cure, raise funds and create awareness about mitochondrial disease and the UMDF. Rob was involved in the early stages of the Cleveland Walk-A-Thon and the family golf outing created by his father-in-law, Stan Davis, and Jill Platt. This year, the golf outing will become the Stan Davis Memorial Golf Outing with all the proceeds for years to come to go to the UMDF. Rob is a graduate of Ohio State University. He is the sole Owner and President of Branding Solutions, Inc., an advertising specialty and apparel company located in Cleveland, Ohio. Rob has been active over the years in several not-for-profit organizations helping raise awareness and generate much needed funds on a local and national level. Because of his new position with the board of trustees, the UMDF will secure a new merchandise and fulfillment organization.