Posted on Oct 7, 2008 in Chronic Disease, Heavy Metals

The truth behind popular headlines about diabetes.

Science News, November 22, 1997.

Can some vaccinations that children receive put them at increased risk of developing diabetes? Researchers disagree.

According to J. Barthelow Classen, M.D., who heads Classen Immunotherapies Inc. in Baltimore, there has been an “epidemic” of Type 1 diabetes in a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Finland and Sweden, following the widespread introduction of certain vaccinations. For example, the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children under age 5 in Finland rose from 9 cases per 100,000 to 29 per 100,000 following the introduction of a hemophilus influenza B.

“What we’ve been studying most closely has been the hemophilus influenza B vaccine,” Dr. Classen explains. “And we’ve seen consistently a sort of epidemic as that vaccine has come on the market in different countries.”

How might vaccines increase the risk of diabetes? It is generally accepted that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system goes haywire and begins attacking the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Some scientists believe that this attack may be triggered by an infecting virus, such as Coxsackie virus B. When enough beta cells have been destroyed and the remaining beta cells are no longer able to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar in check, the symptoms of diabetes begin to appear.

According to Dr. Classen, in children who might already be in a pre-diabetes state, vaccines may stimulate the immune system in such a way as to upgrade the inflammation of their beta cells and cause diabetes. Dr. Classen believes that a similar process may increase the incidence of other immune-mediated disorders, and that vaccinations may play a role in the epidemic rise of asthma in this country.

Dr. Classen suggests that giving these vaccinations earlier, such as right after birth, might negate this increased risk–and, in fact, might decrease a child’s risk of developing diabetes. “If you give vaccines starting the first month of life, the theory is you stop the initial insult to the islet cells, which occur within the first six weeks of life,” he explains. “Then, if you give booster doses later on, you can’t exacerbate the inflammatory process because there is no inflammatory process–you’ve already stopped it.”

But, cautions Patricia Graves, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, studies that examine the incidence of diabetes after vaccinations are introduced (called “ecological” studies) are not very useful in terms of establishing cause and effect. In other words, just because the introduction of vaccinations and the rise in diabetes coincide, that doesn’t mean one caused the other. In fact, many other factors that have changed over this time period, such as diet and breast-feeding habits, could also account for the rise.

Case-control studies, which look at children who develop diabetes along with children who don’t and compare their immunization histories, are much more valid in terms of showing cause and effect. “None of the case-control studies have come up with any association and, in fact, a couple of them have suggested a protective effect of the measles vaccination,” Dr. Graves points out.

Dr. Graves concludes that although the weight of the evidence suggests that vaccinations do not increase the risk of diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, the issue still warrants further study. For the time being, she doesn’t recommend that parents avoid vaccinating their children to avoid diabetes. “I’ve had both my kids vaccinated,” she hastens to add.


By .-Robert Dinsmoor