After releasing a short trailer of an interview with Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood on the topic of vaccinations on Monday, Vaxxed TV posted the full video on its YouTube channel Tuesday morning. In the video, LaHood and his wife Davida share the story of their son Michael, who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months. The LaHoods claim that they noticed a change in their son's behavior after a series of vaccinations, leading them to conclude that "vaccines can and do cause autism."
"With vaccines, you have a kid that was a certain way before and a certain way after," LaHood said in the interview. "That's strong circumstantial evidence. I walk into a house, hear two gunshots, (I) walk in and see someone on the floor dead, and someone walks out the back. Did you see him shoot? No. But there's nobody else in the house."
LaHood said that if this were a criminal case, he would be very comfortable trying the case to prove that vaccines cause autism.
"I seek truth," LaHood said. "I'm a prosecutor for a living. I look for truth. I have to follow the evidence wherever it leads me. I don't have a bias."
Bernard Arulanandam, vice president of research at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has spent years working on vaccines as the co-founder of the Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio. In a phone interview with the Rivard Report, he said LaHood's claims are completely false.
"It's baseless. There is overwhelming evidence that shows no association of any kind that links vaccines with the development of autism," Arulanandam said." The fact is that vaccines protect humans. Antibiotics and vaccines work to extend the human lifespan."
Arulanandam said that people who believe that vaccines cause autism mainly accept anecdotal evidence as fact, and that the few studies that claim such a link have been thoroughly debunked by the rest of the scientific community.
"The case studies out there are overwhelming. Early childhood vaccines benefit childhood development and help them grow into healthy adults," Arulanandam explained.
There is worldwide research taking place to further understand autism, he said, but so far there has been no credible link found connecting autism to vaccines.
"The original paper claiming a link has been totally debunked by the scientific community," Arulanandam said. "Countless numbers of studies have shown no link. Nobody has been able to reproduce the results of that 1998 paper."
Arulanandam is open to a potential panel discussion between members of the San Antonio health community, both those in favor of and those against vaccinations.
In a recent news release from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the City's public health agency cited 10 years of research and reiterated its position that there is no link between vaccines and autism. The release was signed by Metro Health Interim Health Director Vincent Nathan, Dr. Lillian Ringsdorf of the Bexar County Health Authority, and Dr. John Nava of the Bexar County Medical Society.
The doctors stated that while not all the causes of autism are known, there is no credible evidence to link the disorder with vaccines.
"Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)", they stated. "ASD tends to occur more often in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis."
The release concluded by restating that the medical community is virtually in unanimous agreement that there is no link between autism and vaccines, citing studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and others.
"Vaccines are a public health success story," the release stated. "Before the middle of the last century, thousands of people died every year from now-rare diseases like polio, diphtheria, and measles. But these diseases can suddenly return. Vaccinations are not just for protecting ourselves – they also protect the people around us."