Immunizations are of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century and have been overwhelmingly beneficial to public health. Infants do not have to risk childhood death due to many diseases, including polio, measles, and other life-threatening illnesses. However, there are some risks and side effects that have been associated with vaccine administration, including certain developmental issues.
Federal Compensation for Developmental Delays Caused by Vaccines
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) offers injury payments to patients who suffered severe side effects from vaccinations, including some developmental problems. The federal program has recognized that encephalitis after vaccination can result in a higher incidence of brain disorders, including seizures, behavioral regression, and developmental delays. As a result, children who suffer from a sudden onset of seizures or other neurological symptoms indicative of a brain disorder after vaccination may be compensated by NVICP.
In most cases, these vaccine injuries are linked to high fevers and adverse reactions immediately following vaccination. A healthy child may be immunized and suffer a high fever, which may trigger a seizure or an extended period of lethargy. Each instance of seizure may contribute to the risk of developmental delays, including:
- Behavioral regression
- Autistic spectrum disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Speech or language problems
In cases of behavioral regression, it can be difficult to determine exactly when the injury that caused the reaction occurred. A child may not show signs of mental impairment until he or she misses a developmental milestone, such as the ability to talk. If it is determined that vaccination triggered the reaction, a patient’s family can receive government funds to pay for treatments and learning programs to better cope with the condition.
Some Children at Higher Risk of Vaccine-Related Developmental Problems
The U.S. federal Vaccine Court and various medical journals have all acknowledged the possibility of vaccines acting as triggers of behavioral problems. However, many also recognize that there are a variety of other factors that could trigger these injuries with or without vaccination. For example, small children who absorb environmental toxins (such as secondhand smoke after birth or alcohol while in the womb) may suffer brain damage at the mitochondrial level, causing learning disabilities later in life.
In addition, not all children are equally susceptible to neurodevelopmental injuries. Some people are naturally more at risk of suffering long-lasting damage from vaccine injuries than others, such as:
- Children who were born prematurely (preemies)
- Children with low birth-weight
- Children whose parent(s) have Type 1 diabetes
- Children with a family history of autoimmune disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis or asthma)
- Children who suffer from vitamin D deficiency
- Children with poor immune system response
- Children with low platelet counts
- Children who have previously suffered a moderate or severe illness
- Children conceived during advanced parental age
- Children exposed to heavy metals or endocrine disruptors
Children who received immunizations prior to 2001 may have been at particular risk of injury due to the use of thimerosal – a preservative commonly added to vaccines to prevent spoiling. In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledged the dangers of the preservative, especially its cumulative effect on children receiving multiple immunizations. As of March 2001, all formulations of recommended childhood vaccines administered to children under six years old in the United States do not contain thimerosal. However, children who are vaccinated in other countries may still have received thimerosal-containing vaccinations since the additive is still in use around the world.
If your child is showing signs of developmental delays after vaccination, you may be entitled to compensation through the NVICP. If your claim to NVICP is denied, do not give up hope—you may still be able to get compensation by filing a vaccine injury lawsuit. Fill out our online contact form today to tell us your story and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.