MYTH #3: DPT vaccine does not cause brain inflammation and permanent brain damage; specifically Offit states that "Subsequent studies of hundreds of thousands of children showed that the risk of permanent brain damage was the same in children who had not received the vaccine as in those who had."
FACT: Of all the vaccines which have been routinely used by children in the past century, the brain damaging effects of the pertussis (whooping cough) portion of DPT vaccine is among the most well documented in the scientific literature. Created in 1912, the crude pertussis vaccine basically consisted of B. pertussis bacteria killed with heat, preserved with formaldehyde, and injected into children. In the early 1940's, aluminum was added as an adjuvant and later the mercury preservative, thimerosal, was added when pertussis was combined with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines to create DPT. Pertussis vaccine was never studied in large clinical trials before being given to children in the first half of the 20th century or after it was combined into DPT and recommended for mass use by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1947.
The pertussis vaccine's ability to kill was first signaled in 1933 when T. Madsen reported two babies died within minutes of vaccination. In 1947, Matthew Brody gave detailed descriptions of two cases involving brain damage and death after pertussis vaccination. But, it was the 1948 published case study by Byers and Moll that gave the strongest warning that children were suffering brain inflammation within 72 hours of pertussis vaccination and being left with various kinds of brain damage. Forty years later, the prospective UCLA/FDA study published in Pediatrics in 1981 comparing DT and DPT vaccines would find that 1 in 875 DPT shots is followed by either a convulsion or collapse shock episode within 48 hours of vaccination.
Biological mechanisms for pertussis vaccine induced brain damage center on pertussis toxin (PT), one of the most lethal toxins in nature. Pertussis toxin is a known neurotoxin, a reliable inducer of brain inflammation and brain damage, which is why it is used in lab animals to deliberately induce EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis). Pertussis toxin is implicated in brain inflammation caused by pertussis (whooping cough) complications as well as pertussis vaccine complications. Unfortunately, pertussis toxin is also thought to be responsible for stimulating immunity which is why it remains in DPT, DTaP and Tdap vaccines.. Other ingredients in DPT vaccine, which have been associated with neuroimmune dysfunction and may interact synergistically with pertussis toxin to cause shock, brain damage or death are: endotoxin, aluminum, and mercury.
After decades of reports in the medical literature that the pertussis portion of DPT vaccine was causing brain damage in some children, the large, case controlled National Childhood Encephalopathy Study was conducted in Britain and published in 1981. It confirmed a statistically significant association between pertussis vaccine or pertussis-containing vaccines (DPT) and acute brain inflammation leading to permanent brain damage. An NCES reanalysis 10 years later re-confirmed the finding. In 1994, the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, published a report validating the conclusions of NCES, stating that " "the balance of evidence is consistent with a causal relation between DPT and the forms of chronic nervous system dysfunction in the NCES in those children who experience a serious acute neurological illness within 7 days after receiving DPT vaccine."