Did your child start staring off 24-hours after MMR? Did they suffer a seizure and a personality change lasting more than a day after vaccination? Then you may be dealing with a case of vaccine-caused encephalopathy.
Encephalopathy is a neurological disorder that results from a brain injury. Symptoms can include confusion, excessive sleepiness, changes in behavior, seizures, and coma. It can be caused by things like vaccines, repeated brain injury from sports like football, viruses, and other infections.
What is encephalopathy?
Encephalopathy is a term for any brain damage resulting in changes in brain function or structure. The hallmark symptom of encephalopathy is an altered mental status.
What are the symptoms of encephalopathy?
Common neurological symptoms of encephalopathy:
- progressive loss of memory and ability to think (cognitive ability),
- changes in personality,
- inability to concentrate,
- sleepiness/lethargy; and
- progressive loss of consciousness.
Other neurological complications may include:
- involuntary twitching of a muscle or group of muscles (myoclonus);
- rapid, involuntary eye movement (nystagmus);
- muscle atrophy and weakness;
- seizures; and
- loss of ability to swallow or speak.
In an example of a case Sadaka Law successfully handled, a child received the MMR vaccine and within 24-hours started staring off and not eating her food. Then the next day she suffered a seizure. This is a classic fact pattern for MMR vaccine-related encephalopathy. The government recognizes this type of vaccine-induced encephalopathy as a “table injury” meaning that vaccine is accepted to cause the injury.
Acute and chronic encephalopathy are two types of encephalopathy
Acute encephalopathy is a rare but serious complication of some vaccines. It is characterized by sudden onset of fever, vomiting, and altered consciousness. There could be a complete recovery within days. Febrile seizures are seizures caused by high fever sometimes caused by a vaccine like MMR or varicella. There are exceptions, but febrile seizures usually do not lead to a seizure disorder or epilepsy.
Chronic encephalopathy is when an altered state of consciousness lasts for longer than a few days and could be permanent.
What causes encephalopathy?
Encephalopathy may be caused by an infection, vaccines, metabolic or mitochondrial dysfunction, brain tumor or increased pressure in the skull, prolonged exposure to toxic elements (including solvents, drugs, radiation, paints, industrial chemicals, and certain metals), chronic progressive trauma like multiple concussions caused by sports, poor nutrition, or lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain.
Some common causes of encephalopathy include:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Brain tumors
Encephalopathy is a rare but serious adverse event that can develop after some vaccines. It is caused by brain inflammation or damage and can lead to seizures, cognitive problems, and even death. While encephalopathy is rare, it’s important to be aware of the risk associated with any vaccine.
Do vaccines cause encephalopathy?
Yes. It is rare, but vaccines cause encephalopathy. Several vaccines have been linked to encephalopathy, including the MMR vaccine and the flu vaccine.
If your child experiences any symptoms of encephalopathy after getting vaccinated, be sure to seek medical attention right away. Encephalopathy is a serious condition, and it requires prompt treatment.
The story of whole-cell pertussis vaccine and encephalopathy
Scientist Maurice Hilleman developed a whole-cell pertussis vaccine to prevent whooping cough in the 1940s. At the time, there was no effective treatment for a disease that could be deadly in children.
As it turns out, pertussis-containing vaccines had some serious side effects. Some children developed encephalopathy after getting the vaccine, a condition that can cause seizures, brain damage, and even death. Modern pertussis vaccines no longer contain whole-cell pertussis, which was an advancement in vaccine safety. They now contain acellular pertussis which is much safer than the old whole-cell-containing vaccines.
MMR and Encephalopathy
The MMR vaccine has been associated with encephalopathy and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program recognizes it as compensable. Sadaka Law has recovered compensation for MMR-caused encephalopathy.
Pertussis-containing vaccines and MMR are two potential causes of vaccine encephalopathy.
Most common vaccines that contain acellular pertussis and MMR:
- Tdap (tetanus, Diptheria, and acellular pertussis)
- Dtap (Diptheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis)
- MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
- MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella)
Vaccine encephalopathy or vaccine autoimmune encephalitis
Encephalitis and encephalopathy are both conditions that affect the brain, but there is a big difference between the two. Read our post on the difference between encephalopathy vs. encephalitis.
Autoimmune encephalitis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can be caused by certain vaccines. The most commonly reported encephalitis-related vaccine is the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. Other encephalitis-related vaccines include the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and the Rotavirus vaccine.
Encephalitis is a rare but serious complication that can occur after vaccination. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that can cause seizures, paralysis, or even death. Symptoms of encephalitis usually begin 1-2 weeks after vaccination and can include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and drowsiness.
How is encephalopathy diagnosed?
Diagnosis begins with a physical examination and a detailed health history, including a review of all medications you or your child are taking. Blood tests, spinal fluid examination, imaging studies, electroencephalograms, and similar diagnostic studies may be used to differentiate the various causes of encephalopathy.
An EEG is a common test used to diagnose encephalopathy. This test measures the electrical activity in your brain. A CT or MRI scan may also be used to get a detailed picture of your brain. These tests can help your doctor determine if you have any structural abnormalities or signs of inflammation.
How do you treat encephalopathy?
There is no specific treatment for encephalopathy. The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms and support vital functions. Treatment may include:
- Intravenous fluids
- Nutritional support
- Medications to control seizures
- Antibiotics or antivirals (if encephalopathy is caused by an infection)
If encephalopathy is caused by a toxin, treatment may involve removing the toxin from your body. Dialysis may be necessary if encephalopathy is caused by kidney failure. If encephalopathy is due to liver failure, a liver transplant may be needed. supportive care measures are often necessary. These measures can help to reduce symptoms and prevent complications.
What are the types of encephalopathy?
Infectious causes of encephalopathy in children:
- Pertussis (whooping cough) infection is a common cause of encephalopathy in infants and young children. Symptoms of encephalopathy after a pertussis infection can include vomiting, extreme tiredness (lethargy), and even seizures.
- Meningitis (a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord)
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
- Herpes simplex virus encephalitis,
Symptoms of encephalopathy in children include irritability, poor feeding, hypotonia or floppy baby syndrome, seizures, and, of course, death. In some cases, encephalopathy may be the first sign of a serious infection.
Witnessing a child suffer from encephalopathy is a scary and life-changing experience. Encephalopathy after the vaccination has been linked to a wide range of serious and deadly conditions. Sadaka Law has the experience to help try to make sense of what is happening and guide you to the compensation your child deserves. Please contact our vaccine injury lawyers at 1-800-810-3457 or via our online contact form for a free legal consultation.