Minnesota Somalis Have World's Highest Rate of Autism - MMR Vaccine Link?This winter, Minneapolis area health officials reported 76 measles cases among Somali-Americans. Mainstream media outlets, most recently, John Oliver in a 28 minute rant, vilified Somali-Americans for low vaccine rates and blamed Andrew Wakefield, MD and the so-called “anti-vaccine movement” for misleading Somalis about vaccine safety. Like most other journalists, Oliver never explained the story behind this story; the children of Minneapolis’s Somalis suffer the highest known rate of severe autism in the world—one in 32, according to University of Minnesota researchers. Many Somalis believe that their children’s injuries are related to vaccines. “My perfectly healthy son started having seizures within minutes after his 18-month vaccines,” Abdulkadir Osman Hassan told me in June “and the seizures have never stopped.” Hassan’s boy, now 14, is severely autistic. “I quickly determined I was not alone.” Somali parents had already started a support group and were sharing with each other the terrible reactions their children were having to vaccines. “We don’t have a word for autism in the Somali language,” explains Hassan, who has an Associate’s Degree in Childhood Development. “We never saw it in our country. We never heard of it. The adults in our community don’t have it, only our children.” Hassan immersed himself in the science trying to understand what had happened to his son. “We researched vaccine safety long before we knew there was an ‘anti-vaccine movement’. I read the scholarly studies and I read 14 books and I cried every time I finished a book because it’s exactly what happened to us.” Hassan complains that, despite a decade of pleading from his community, public health officials have refused to investigate the high occurrence of autism in their community or to explain whether Somalis have increased susceptibility to neurodevelopmental injuries from vaccines.
Minnesota Somalis Have World's Highest Rate of Autism - MMR Vaccine Link?
While vaccination per se is the apparent trigger for the neurodevelopmental harms observed, the probable underlying causal factor is the level of vitamin D deficiency in Somali children before they are vaccinated.
In general, those who study orthomolecular medicine think that the minimum level for 25-hydroxy vitamin D, the circulating form of vitamin D, in the blood should be 55 micrograms (mcg) per milliliter (mL) of blood and not the current allopathic level of 30 mcg/mL (the "minimum" needed to prevent rickets) IF one wants to have a level of vitamin D sufficient to maintain a healthy immune system.
Given the preceding reality, the Somalis, a people who traditionally lived near the equator and had highly pigmented skin to protect them from overexposure to the sun produce much lower levels of vitamin D for a given period of exposure to the sun than "Caucasians" whose pale skins let them produce vitamin D in their skins with a much lower level of sun exposure, transplanted to Minnesota, where the intensity of the sun and length of period in the day when the skin can naturally produce vitamin D are significant reduced than they are in Somalia, the Somalis tend to be seriously deficient in their levels of circulating vitamin 25-hydroxy vitamin D needed for healthy immune function and, therefore, more susceptible to the risk of damage after any vaccine is administered to their developing children.
To decrease their children's risk to neurodevelopmental harm, their parents should ensure that they maintain sufficient circulating 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels before considering having children and that the females maintain these levels throughout pregnancy and while nursing for the period of time that was traditional in Somalia before modern society reduced that period or, in the USA, they bought into the current "six months" recommendation (personally, a period of 3-plus years seems to be "natural" and sufficient to provide the nursing child's immune system the support it needs until the child's immune system becomes functional mature.
Thus, dietary supplementation with vitamin D-3 taken with probiotics to attain and maintain a circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D level near 100 mcg/mL as well as appropriate dietary supplementation with other vitamins (e.g., bolus doses of vitamin A given to African children before vaccination with a measles-virus-containing vaccine and bolus doses of vitamin C given to Australian Aborigines before DTP vaccination) and nutrients needed for immune health should be considered by Somalis before even considering the vaccination of their children.
In addition, because the human immune system does not become functionally mature until a developing child is 24 developmental months of age, all vaccination should probably be postponed until the child is 30 months of age to be certain that his or her immune system is FUNCTIONALLY mature.
Hopefully, these insights will help Somalis and others who have highly pigmented skin that reduces the skin's ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D to understand some factors that may critically influence their children's risks of neurodevelopmental harm following any vaccination.