Reference Work Entry

Comprehensive Guide to Autism

pp 1585-1609

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants

  • Lucija TomljenovicAffiliated withFaculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia Email author 
  • , Russell L. BlaylockAffiliated withTheoretical Neurosciences Research, LLC, Belhaven University, Jackson
  • , Christopher A. ShawAffiliated withDepartments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Experimental Medicine, and the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia, Neural Dynamics Research Group

Abstract

Impaired brain function, excessive inflammation, and autoimmune manifestations are common in autism. Aluminum (Al), the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant, is a demonstrated neurotoxin and a strong immune stimulator. Hence, adjuvant Al has the necessary properties to induce neuroimmune disorders. Because peripheral immune stimuli in the postnatal period can compromise brain development and cause permanent neurological impairments, the possibility that such outcomes could also occur with administration of Al vaccine adjuvants needs to be considered. In regard to the risk of adjuvant toxicity in children, the following should be noted: (i) children should not be viewed as “small adults” as their unique physiology makes them more vulnerable to toxic insults; (ii) in adult humans Al adjuvants can cause a variety of serious autoimmune and inflammatory conditions including those affecting the brain, yet children are routinely exposed to much higher amounts of Al from vaccines than adults; (iii) compelling evidence has underscored the tight connection between the development of the immune system and that of the brain. Thus, it appears plausible that disruptions of critical events in immune development may also play a role in the establishment of neurobehavioral disorders; (iv) the same immune system components that play key roles in brain development appear to be targeted for impairment by Al adjuvants. In summary, research data suggests that vaccines containing Al may be a contributing etiological factor in the increasing incidence of autism.