The rate of epilepsy among children and the elderly has been skyrocketing, with 1 in 20 children under five now suffering from the seizure condition in the United States. More and more parents say that vaccines triggered their children's seizure disorders. The government maintains that while vaccines can trigger febrile (fever related) seizures, the many cases of epilepsy that begin immediately following infant vaccination are merely coincidental or were bound to occur eventually.
Epilepsy is a disorder in which a person has recurring, unprompted seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Doctors diagnosis epilepsy when a person has two or more seizures that are more than a day apart and the seizures are not brought on by causes that can be prevented, such as a having a high fever or low blood sugar. Approximately 1 in 100 adults now has epilepsy in the United States, while 1 in 20 children under five years old are now believed to have the disorder.
There are over 40 different types of seizures. Some involve convulsions, such as tonic clonic or grand mal seizures. Others do not involve obvious convulsions, such as absence seizures. Epilepsy can look very different from patient to patient.
Epilepsy can be caused by many factors. Some genes are responsible for epilepsy and can be passed down by parents. Epilepsy can also result from factors that influence brain development before birth. Complications during birth can also lead to epilepsy, such as when the brain is deprived of oxygen or intracranial bleeding, which sometimes occurs in babies born prematurely. Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis (swelling of the brain) can also lead to epilepsy, as can brain tumors, strokes and severe head injuries.
There is a higher incidence of epilepsy in children with autism spectrum disorders, although scientists do not know why. One study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation reported:
We hypothesize that brain mast cell activation due to allergic, environmental and/or stress triggers could lead to focal disruption of the blood-brain barrier and neuro-inflammation, thus contributing to the development of seizures.
Approximately 70% of cases have no known cause, but more and more parents are asking if vaccines could be to blame.
The CDC acknowledges that vaccines do increase the rates of febrile seizures (seizures caused by a very high fever) but are quick to dismiss the idea that vaccines are related to the skyrocketing rate of seizures conditions in young children. Despite this, many parents report that their children's seizures began immediately after vaccination.
The Epilepsy Foundation's community forum has many comments from parents who believe vaccines caused their children's autism.
One parent wrote in:
My daughter had her first seizure about 12 hours after her mmr shot at 12 months. When I contacted the administering gp we were told it was a normal reaction to the vaccination febrile seizure, and it will not happen again. from then on she started having myoclonic seizures where her eyes would roll for a split second. when i mentioned this to the GP they said, those will go away with time. Instead of going away they have increased in length and frequency.
Another parent reported:
My son had his 1st seizure IN THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE 1-2 minutes after receiving two vaccinations. The seizures continued from that day forward.
Another parent wrote:
My son is now 6 years old and has been having seizures since he had his first vaccine at 2 months of age. He had his first seizure about 36 hrs after his needle. He did not have any fever, actually has never had a febrile seizure ever, but has had a multitude of others.
Another parent reported:
I just wanted you to know that I agree with you. My son Carter was a healthy baby until his 4 month old shots the night of his shots he started with his first of many seizures. He is now diagnosed with epilepsy and still having seizures. What is unbelievable to me is the doctors don't even acknowledge it was the vaccines.
Another mother said:
My daughter started having seizures within 48 hours of her 6 month shots and I still can't get any doctor to listen to that. She has myoclonic seizures and one of the rare side effects of DTaP is absence or jerking seizures.
Yet another parent wrote:
My son started with his first seizure activity the morning after his 6 month shots, one being DTAP. He was diagnosed at 8 months with a seizure disorder and put on meds.
One grandmother wrote:
My grandson and his mother lives with me and my husband and when he received the 1st series of dTap shots he had his first seizure at 4 months within 12 hours after receiving the shot... We spent 4 days in the hospital where 5 different doctors couldn't agree on why he suffered a seizure... I used to wonder why my grandkids were getting so many vaccinations shots at such a young age when my generation didn't nor did my parents! My grandson suffered another seizure after my daughter was pressured to continue his vaccination shots (I wasn't there to provide support in her decision not to vaccinate him anymore) at 6 months. Still the doctors wouldn't admit it was the vaccination shots. After his 2nd seizure I wouldn't allow my grandson to be vaccinated anymore but I believe the damage is done.
One member of the armed forces wrote in:
I am a soldier in the U.S. Army and I did not start having seizures until I had vaccinations to go over seas... It was my first seizure ever and now they have gotten worse.
Another soldier wrote:
My name is Joe and my wife and I were also in the Army. She began having seizures days after deployment vaccines as well.
Another adult with epilepsy added:
I'm a seizure patient I've had them since I was 6yrs old. I'm now 31 and I recently just got a tetanus shot and since then I've been having twitches all over my body.
Parents repeatedly report that doctors dismiss the idea that vaccines were at play. One wrote:
My son has been having neurological problems, seizures, movements that doctors aren't sure what to call, etc. since last May. He was a healthy 18 mos. old little boy and then 11 days after his checkup (vaccines) he vomited and had a 1+ hour seizure. We lived in the hospital for over 50 days on and off with different doctors looking at different things. He has had genetic tests including a muscle biopsy and everything was normal. Different people, family members and friends have mentioned the possibility of this being caused by vaccines. All of his doctors dismiss that right away. My son has several developmental setbacks. He no longer sits up or stands or uses his hands.
My son started having seizures right after his 6 month vaccines. He had two febrile seizures and then one that last 68 minutes long in the ER at Children's. Not one doctor asked about his vaccines. To this day, not one doctor has acknowledged it could his vaccines... He has had 9 in the past month.
Another parent said:
I know how scary, confusing, devastating it can be and when children like yours and mine have a seizure after a vaccination and then all doctors involved refuse to even discuss a possible connection, it is an outrage.
These are just a few of the stories from parents and individuals who report seizure conditions that began within hours or days of vaccinations. Indeed, there are 26 pages of results for separate discussions about vaccines triggering epilepsy on the Epilepsy Foundation's forums. One parent reported that her children were not vaccinated and still had epilepsy, but many parents reported that the seizures began almost immediately after infant vaccines.
Recently, scientists have begun to acknowledge the rate of seizure conditions that begin immediately following infant and childhood vaccinations. However, some are now saying that these children would have developed epilepsy anyway, and the vaccines were merely the triggering events.
Researchers in one study published in the Lancet found that children with the neurological disorder Dravet syndrome often had their first seizures within a day of vaccination, and that infants who had seizures immediately after vaccination tended to develop the disorder earlier. These researchers argued that although more children with this genetic disorder developed seizures immediately after vaccination, it ultimately didn't affect their eventual outcomes with the disease. They wrote:
Vaccination might trigger earlier onset of Dravet syndrome in children who, because of an SCN1A mutation, are destined to develop the disease. However, vaccination should not be withheld from children with SCN1A mutations because we found no evidence that vaccinations before or after disease onset affect outcome.
However, the two groups that the researchers studied were both groups of vaccinated children with Dravet syndrome. There were simply children with the disorder who had their first seizures in "close proximity" to vaccines (within 24 hours of vaccination) and those who had their first seizures two days or longer after vaccination. They were unable to find any children with Dravet syndrome who had not been vaccinated to use in the study. They noted:
Our study design and absence of a control group of patients with Dravet syndrome who did not have DTP vaccinations precluded us from examining a gene-environment interaction.
The researchers did not find anything telling in this fact, and still concluded that there was "no rational basis" for avoiding vaccination.
If you believe your child developed epilepsy as a result of vaccination, it's important to report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). In addition, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program provides compensation for medical expenses to families who can prove that their children were disabled or died as a result of vaccinations. Seizures are included in the table of injuries that they will consider for compensation if they are part of an "acute condition" that manifested in specific ways and within the allowed time frame. Parents require medical documentation of the vaccine injury and must pay a $400 fee to apply. A lawyer is recommended, as well. In addition, you must file within 3 years after the first symptom of the vaccine injury or within 2 years of a death (and within 4 years after the start of the first symptom of the vaccine injury that resulted in the death).
At this point, there are many questions about what is leading to the rise in childhood epilepsy and what parents can do to prevent it. Epilepsy Research UK reported that the prevalence of epilepsy is expected to continue to increase significantly between 2012 and 2022 in seven "markets," including the United States. Indeed, the groups who seem to be taking a special interest in the rising rates of epilepsy around the world seem to be pharmaceutical companies making note of "growth opportunities."