Letter to IOM President Fineberg by Judy Converse, MPH, RD, LD - March 17, 2007

Judy Converse MPH, RD, LD
Nutrition Care for Children
1150 Maxwell Avenue
Boulder, CO 80304

Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD
Institute of Medicine
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington DC 20001

March 17, 2007

Dear Dr. Fineberg,

In your broad service and duty for public health, I make the following appeal in earnest hope that it will be considered. I apologize for the length of this letter, which addresses a complex topic.

My area of expertise is child nutrition. I hold graduate and undergraduate degrees in nutrition, a license to practice nutrition (Massachusetts), registration status from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and several years experience working with children.

I took a public health curriculum at the University of Hawaii and was well indoctrinated into the successes of vaccines. The invaluable piece of this education was that few of my classmates were white, or American. Most were credentialed health administrators, physicians sent by their governments in the Pacific Rim, Africa, or Asia to acquire skills for clinical or program decision-making, such as you influence now. Needless to say I felt both dwarfed and privileged to have these extraordinary people as classmates. The problems they faced upon finishing their studies were not in the American experience: Lack of access to clean water; extreme poverty; rampant malnutrition and hunger in children; inadequate housing; excessive infant and child mortality from infectious diseases now rare in the United States.

But here is the problem: As you know, our own infant mortality rate is worse than many of these countries. During my graduate days, this was an embarrassment for our public health officials, and twenty years later, it still is. Although IMR in the United States has dropped from 11.2 deaths per thousand live births in 1983 to 7.0 in 2000, we cannot exactly celebrate because in the same time frame, the US ranking against other developed nations worsened dramatically, from 17th in 1983, to 28th in 2000 in spite of the fact that our health cost per capita has always been highest and still increasing. SIDS is our 3rd most common cause of infant death.

Policy and practice for reducing child morbidity and mortality are often driven by maternal and child nutrition initiatives in the developing world. This link needs attention in the United States. We cannot say that we do not have child nutrition problems – indeed, we now have staggering problems that were unthinkable in the late 1980s, when I was studying health policy and program goals for the year 2000. The dismal outcomes include a tripling of childhood obesity and a 104% increase in juvenile diabetes since 1980. Life-threatening food allergies have doubled and we have seen a six fold increase in the prevalence of allergies in the last decade. Childhood asthma has increased 75% and nutrient deficiencies, not seen in decades in US children are again prevalent.

1 in 10 children carries an attention deficit designation or diagnosis and last but not least, 1 in 150 children has autism.

I rarely heard of autism during my studies, but now I am contacted weekly by other nutrition professionals, not to mention a steady stream of afflicted families, asking me how to provide therapeutic diets for these children. This has quite sadly been my specialization since 1999, or 1996 if you count the time I spent cutting my teeth providing this for my own child. The silver lining here is that therapeutic diets can work very well for these children. True to the science that drives maternal and child health programs for WHO, UNICEF, WIC, School Lunch, or Head Start - children with autism, like any children – require normal nutrition status to grow and develop as typically as possible.

Peer review is growing to corroborate my clinical experience: Children with autism are not usually in normal nutrition status. Though they may grow (and they often do not grow typically), they show multiple signs of nutritional failure and compromise. This is what I fix in my obscure practice, and these children begin to recover. Usually, they also need a skilled gastroenterologist to resolve things like impactions, florid gut inflammation, lymphoid hyperplasia, pancreatic insufficiency, and so on. It is worrisome that pediatric providers skilled with these problems are few and far between.

My experience and training has perched me at a cross roads between vaccination policy and nutrition practice. We need research into the following possibilities, because the answers may dramatically reduce infant and child morbidity and mortality in the United States: Vaccines as we dose them today may create nutritional failure by inflicting early and severe injury to gut tissue and digestive function, by increasing the risk for bilirubin neurotoxicity at birth, by setting off inflammatory responses that consume nutrient stores, or secondarily via brain injuries that impair feeding skill and gut motility.

If vaccines can trigger food allergies in children, this too creates a large and costly burden: Children with food allergies have significantly lower height for age and poor intakes of essential nutrients compared to kids without food allergy; that is, they don’t grow as well as allergy-free peers, can not learn as well when malnourished, and may be sick more often. Additional educational services for these cases will further strain a system already collapsing under the burden of record numbers of children with autism.

Biased that vaccine injuries exist only as extremely rare, severe anaphylactic events, and lacking skill to recognize nutrition failures in children, pediatricians are least equipped to help the burgeoning generation of sick children they are arguably creating. I have observed hundreds of children who present with the same nutrition problems again and again, and whose pediatricians were none the wiser. I had never encountered problems like these in my training. I do believe these children are vaccine injured. The injuries are physically pervasive, affecting immune function, neurological signs, digestion, and absorption, such that these children do not develop in normal nutrition status. Their brains do not get to develop typically. The pattern of physical and developmental demise is the same again and again relative to exposure to vaccines.

Having followed this issue for many years, I am aware of the evidence set forth to refute the claim that vaccines are injurious on a staggering scale, or causing autism. Many argue that these studies are massaged to cover the horrible possibility. None of it has changed my mind, just as I am likely not opening yours right now. We can agree to disagree, but there is no refuting the status of child health in the United States today. For the first time in US history, children are more vaccinated - and sicker - than ever before. On balance, the diseases our children have are no longer infectious, but chronic and incurable. Is this a good swap? Is it better to get wild type chicken pox, or to be autistic for life? What do I tell the parents of the three year old boy who entered my practice last week with a case of shingles that quickly followed Varicella vaccination, and a new PDD diagnosis? Should I boldly presume this is only temporal - again?

Our infants die more often than those in less developed locales the world over. This plus our humiliating mudslide of poor child health has taken place under the IOM’s blessing for more, more, and more pediatric vaccines – mercury containing ones no less. Clearly, at this point, vaccination is not making our children healthier.

Is it scientifically reasonable to deny any link, or to believe that all these vaccinations are truly benign? Massachusetts has a program called REACH to eradicate over-use of antibiotics. Is it possible to over-use vaccines? Should I suggest this to the mother whose five year old autistic son – a Make-A-Wish Foundation recipient – was referred to me to resolve growth failure? He received first MMR at 12 months, and another dose, mistakenly, at 15 months, rather than at age 4. The second dose nearly killed him; he never recovered developmentally. His digestive and immune systems were addled to the core and he had only months to live. Where will it be noted, for IOM’s awareness, that this child’s death was caused by over-vaccination, or that health care resources across Boston’s finest hospitals were wasted in a vain attempt to repair what a single, redundant, ill-timed dose of MMR had done? If hundreds of children like this cross my remote threshold, how many other thousands upon thousands of them exist nationwide? Comparing measles mortality to this case seems frivolous and pointless. Healthy children in good nutrition status typically survived measles prior to vaccine availability. I acknowledge the rate of complication and death for wild type measles in healthy US children; I do not acknowledge that this exceeds morbidity and mortality now caused by over-using this and other vaccines.

I must highlight here one of the new problems demonstrated in our most recent NHANES data: Poor vitamin A status in an alarming number of US children despite no changes in food supply. This occurred concomitantly with introduction of MMR vaccination and increase in vaccines/child. As you know, measles infection depletes vitamin A stores, and this is a nutrient with documented efficacy, prophylactically and therapeutically, against measles infection. Is overuse of viral vaccines like MMR related to vitamin A depletion in US children? Children with poor vitamin A status have elevated risk overall for infection, as well as more complications with infection. This is where realities of child nutrition clash with vaccine policy, and no one seems to be paying attention.

There are many, many inadequately studied facets of vaccine effects, yet we see our IOM agreeable to adding more and more vaccine doses to children. Mercury is but one concern. The fact that individuals vary with respect to kinetics for its excretion should be just as acceptable to your peers as it is that individuals vary with rates for metabolizing any drug or excreting any toxin. Fifty years ago, we knew that pregnant women who experience certain viral exposures could produce children with autism. Why is it so challenging then to grasp that multiple neonatal or early infant viral exposures via vaccination could trigger the same outcome?

A link between multiple live viral exposures and increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease was reported over a decade ago in certain population subgroups. The findings that multiple vaccine-sourced viral exposures delivered in quick succession, such as is done today in infants and toddlers, may trigger inflammatory bowel disease with subsequent developmental injury must be explored, not ignored.

My appeal is made on behalf of the hundreds of children and families I have had the privilege to serve in my obscure corner. I should not have this job – I do believe I would be out of work were it not for current immunization policy and practice. Please reconvene the Immunization Safety Review Committee with impartial experts free of allegiance to pharmaceutical companies, who have no fear of the scientific process no matter what it reveals, and who can accurately review independent data on vaccines, autism spectrum diagnoses, bowel disease, allergy, diabetes, asthma, SIDS, and child nutrition status.

On balance, vaccines may now cause more death, disease, and disability than they prevent in US children. Reform is urgently needed. I encourage the Vaccine Safety Committee to consider, without bias or fear, the careful research efforts your colleagues are making to truthfully resolve this tragic controversy.


Judy Converse, MPH, RD, LD