What’s really causing microcephaly in Brazil? It might not be the Zika virus after all


In late December the Brazilian government took the unusual and unprecedented step of warning Brazilian women of childbearing age not to get pregnant.

Other countries, including El Salvador, quickly followed suit. Days later, America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning to pregnant women, urging them to avoid visiting 14 countries in total.

Why all the worry?

Because health officials noticed an alarming spike in babies born with unusually small heads, a condition called microcephaly.

When a new, devastating, and unexplained medical condition suddenly appears in large numbers like the microcephaly cases in Brazil, the first question any thinking person should ask is why?

The answer we’ve been given is Zika, a mosquito-borne viral infection that usually causes nothing more than mild self-resolving symptoms, including a rash and low-grade fever.

The reason that Zika is a possible suspect is because six infants (yes, only six) out of 270 confirmed cases of babies with microcephaly and brain damage were found to have Zika.

“Some babies with microcephaly have been reported among mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant,” the CDC explains. “Researchers are studying the possible link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly.”

It is possible that Zika is causing microcephaly, but the evidence suggests that it is highly unlikely. If Zika is actually implicated in these microcephaly cases, its presence is only part of the story. A benign viral infection does not suddenly become virulent with no other explanation.

So if it’s not the Zika virus, what is it?

What’s causing the sharp increase in brain damaged newborns in Brazil?

At this point it is anybody’s guess.

But I have my suspicions.

One theory that you may have read about in the alternative media is that the microcephaly is linked to pertussis vaccination. Starting in 2014, about ten months before microcephaly hit the headlines, Brazil began an aggressive health campaign to vaccinate every pregnant woman against pertussis, urging women to get the Tdap vaccine. Not only does this vaccine contain a large amount of aluminum, which is a known neurotoxin.  The FDA clearly states that injected aluminum has been shown to cause cause central nervous system damage if injected into infants at doses higher than 4 to 5 micrograms [a microgram is one millionth of a gram] per kilogram of weight per day. If that weren’t enough to give any thinking person pause about the risk to the unborn child of injecting aluminum into the mom, the safety of giving Tdap has never been tested on pregnant women.

While poisoning the unborn child with aluminum is unconscionable, in the United States we have been vaccinating pregnant women against pertussis since 2013 and have not seen a corresponding spike in severe microcephaly cases, so aluminum in vaccines alone is probably not the culprit.

I’ve started to wonder if perhaps the aluminum in the Tdap vaccine plus exposure to other environmental toxins—the mercury-based preservative thimerosal (still found in multi-dose flu vaccines in the United States and in vaccines used globally) and/or pesticides—could be causing so much immune system damage that a harmless virus like Zika becomes a trigger for microcephaly and brain damage?

A group of doctors in Argentina have just publicly announced that they believe the epidemic of microcephaly in Brazil is being caused by exposure to a chemical larvicide, Pyriproxyfen, which was injected in Brazil’s water supply in 2014 to kill mosquito larvae.

Microcephaly occurs in about 2 – 12 babies out of 10,000 in the Uniited States (source). Severe microcephaly, like that being seen in Brazil, was virtually unheard of until this past December.

When I was training to be a doctor in the 1980s we saw cases of severe microcephaly, cased by congenital rubella syndrome, CRS. Babies with CRS usually have eye problems, heart issues, and devastating neurological issues. I held a newborn in my arms who had a severely deformed and tiny head, CRS. Congenital rubella is a condition that can occur when a woman gets rubella while pregnant, especially if the infection occurs in early pregnancy.

Congenital rubella can also occur when a newly pregnant woman or a woman about to get pregnant is given the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). The CDC warns that the MMR vaccine, “should not be administered to women known to be pregnant. Because a risk to the fetus from administration of these live virus vaccines cannot be excluded for theoretical reasons, women should be counseled to avoid becoming pregnant for 28 days after vaccination with measles or mumps vaccines or MMR or other rubella-containing vaccines” (Source).

There was a catch-up MMR vaccine program in some of the areas of Brazil where they are seeing high numbers of infants with microcephaly (Source in Portuguese). Women of childbearing age were given this vaccine. Perhaps it is the MMR vaccine, not the Zika virus, that is the real culprit?

My solution to stop microcephaly:

Stop the Tdap vaccination of pregnant women: the risks of this vaccine to a developing fetus outweigh the benefits.

Stop giving the MMR to women of childbearing age: this triple-live-virus vaccine is known to cause microcephaly and may be the real cause of the Brazilian epidemic.

Stop spraying toxic chemicals on plants and in the water: pesticides and other toxins in the environment are a known cause of birth defects, including brain damage.

Severe microcephaly epidemic? Over!

It’s important not to jump to conclusions. It’s important to keep an open mind. But I call on government officials in Brazil and the World Health Organization, as well as independent scientists, health researchers, and concerned doctors, to investigate whether three vaccines—MMR, Tdap, influenza—given just before or during pregnancy (especially in the first trimester when the developing fetus is most vulnerable), in combination with other toxic exposures, are the cause of microcephaly in Brazil.

So what’s actually happening on the ground?

Pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms are in a fast and furious race to develop another vaccine … against the Zika virus.

Dr. Paul


PaulThomasDr. Paul Thomas, M.D. is an award-winning Dartmouth-trained pediatrician with nearly 30 years of experience in pediatrics. His practice, Integrative Pediatrics, serves some 11,000 children in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-author, with Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., of the forthcoming book, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul’s Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health—from Pregnancy through Your Child’s Teen Years (Ballantine 2016). Follow Dr. Paul on Facebook and watch his videos on YouTube, where he has over 87,000 subscribers.


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