Hannah Poling

You may have heard about Hannah Poling. She's a 9-year-old girl from Athens, Georgia. Her father's a neurologist. Her mother's a nurse and a lawyer. She has two older brothers, wavy red hair, freckles on her nose, and a lopsided smile.

Hannah suffers from autism. She needs one-on-one care all day long, according to her mom.

Her disease is part of a growing trend in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network reported that in 2007 as many as — in 150 8-year-old children are somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Hannah's parents say that she was a healthy, happy, bright toddler until they went to her Well Baby visit when she was 19 months old and she was given five vaccines at once. After the shots she developed a high fever, cried inconsolably, and could no longer walk.

In the three months following the vaccinations, Hannah started exhibiting autistic behavior.

Her father, an American-trained neurologist who had been taught in medical school that vaccines are safe and absolutely necessary, was determined to figure out what had happened to his daughter.

The vaccines Hannah was given either caused or exacerbated a mitochondrial disorder and caused damage in Hannah's brain.

Federal health officials, after reviewing Hannah's case, have agreed that the family is entitled to compensation from a vaccine injury fund.

If you've never questioned the importance of vaccinating your children, if you've never heard about the federal vaccine injury fund that uses tax dollars to pay people who have been injured by vaccines, you might not have read that last sentence very carefully.

Let me write it again: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that Hannah Poling's family must be compensated for the damage done to her by vaccines.

I can't give you many more details because the files in the Poling case have been sealed.

The Polings' lawyers are doing everything they can to get the government to open the files. What information could be in those files that the government does not want made public? Don't we have the right to know as much as we can about things that affect our children's health? What is the government hiding?

When my oldest daughter was born we were told in the hospital to vaccinate her immediately against Hepatitis B, a sexually transmitted disease that can be caught by sharing needles or using the same razor. We didn't think it made sense to vaccinate a newborn against a sexually transmitted disease so we told the doctors we would talk to our pediatrician and decide in a few days.

When we asked the pediatrician for advice she said nonchalantly, "Oh, that vaccine's counter-indicated in newborns now. They've just changed the guidelines""I have a fax on my desk. It's a good thing you didn't do it."

We were baffled. If we had chosen to vaccinate her we would have been devastated by the doctor's words. Two-day-old baby in hand, my husband and I decided to learn as much as possible about each and every vaccine, and research the benefits and the disadvantages thoroughly, before giving any to my child.

Your doctor might dismiss you from his practice. You may be told your "irresponsible behavior" (that is, your choice either not to vaccinate your child, or to vaccinate selectively, or to vaccinate on your own schedule, one vaccine at a time, in order to monitor adverse reactions) will cause a public health outbreak. But you have the right to question why you are being bullied into vaccinating your children, why the government seals a file that may prove that vaccines are linked to autism, why, if vaccines are so safe, we even have a government fund to compensate people harmed by vaccines. You have the right to do your own research and decide for yourself. Don't be like Jon Poling, who is bravely publicizing what happened to his daughter and taking on the establishment that trained him, having to do your research too late.

has a new book just released called "The Baby Bonding Book for Dads: Building a Closer Connection to Your Baby" (co-written with her husband, James di Properzio, with photographs by Christopher Briscoe). Visit the book's blog at: /

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