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Stephanie Messenger began her crusade against vaccination after she tragically lost her young child to an unknown condition. To this day, she states that her child died as a direct result of receiving the triple-antigen vaccine. Stephanie has widely disseminated her story on the internet, and the book Vaccination Roulette which she co-authored, includes her story.

I think it is important to bring up Stephanie’s My Vaccination Story here. Stephanie uses her story in her fight against vaccination and it’s a story that packs a powerful emotional punch. Given that, we all have a duty of care (Stephanie included) to ensure that such a message is accurate before publicising it. Unfortunately, as tragic and heartbreaking as her story is, I think Stephanie is irresponsible in using this to encourage others not to vaccinate their children.

And yes, Stephanie is encouraging others not to vaccinate; it is hard to interpret her opening paragraph any other way:

“So how does a mother feel when her baby is dead from vaccines and all she hears from doctors, the government and media is that vaccines are safe and effective?”
In closing, she ends with this:
“My unvaccinated children are alive and well and my vaccinated child is dead! That’s what I know and live with every day.”

You need to read the more detailed account of the story in Vaccination Roulette to understand why I think Stephanie is being irresponsible. You see, according to Stephanie, she never received a firm diagnosis of her son’s condition. Stephanie made the link to vaccination after noticing an adverse reaction to the triple-antigen, and then seeing the wholly discredited Dr Robert S Mendelsohn on the Phil Donahue show talking about the dangers of vaccination. Stephanie admits in Vaccination Roulette that doctors looking after her son suspected a condition called “Alexander’s Disease”. It is a rare condition and if Stephanie were to research what we know of this disease in 2011 (from medical sources, not wikipedia) and revisited what she went through over 30 years ago in a rational and non-emotional manner, I suspect that she would no longer be able to claim that vaccination was the cause of her son’s tragic death.

Update 18 Dec 2011: I had refrained from including some information in this post, but recent events (a particular book) has made me reconsider.

Stephanie usually includes the following statements when telling her story:

“So how does a mother feel when her baby is dead from vaccines and all she hears from doctors, the government and media is that vaccines are safe and effective?”

“My unvaccinated children are alive and well and my vaccinated child is dead!”

As outlined above, Stephanie has no proof whatsoever that vaccines are responsible for her child’s death. In fact, doctors suspected Alexander’s Disease. If you are thinking of the genetic aspect of this disease, then it is relevant to note that Stephanie admitted in a podcast that her three unvaccinated children did not have the same father as the child that passed away.

Update 16 Feb 2012: The following excerpt is a comment that appeared on Dan’s Journal of Skepticism. The comment was made by someone claiming to be Stephanie Messenger’s sister, Susan:

Dan have just come accross your post on Stephanie Messenger. You are so right about her. I should know. I was once her sister. She did not lose her baby to vaccination, I was there. He had a genetic disease passed on from his father.Her first husband. 1of 3. I stayed out of her life untill she wrote that book and posted it on my facebook. Melanie is actually my daughters name and I have been told that my other daughter Sarah is mentioned as well. I have not read the book but feel most upset as both my girls were immunised with no problems as was her baby. Remember I was there. She has for many years tried to alienate me from other family because she knows that unlike others who let her live this lie and make money from it,she knows I will stand up and tell the real story.

January 21, 2012. sister susan.

I include these excerpts from Vaccination Roulette for some insight into Stephanie’s views on disease:

“… when I hear stories about an epidemic of measles, my first thought is that the drug companies must have too much measles vaccine and it’s about to expire, so they create this fear epidemic and – presto – the vaccine is swooped up. Suddenly the epidemic is over and the vaccine is praised on the front page of the paper. Buried on page 45 is a story about how there is no more measles vaccine in the city. It works every time.”

“Disease is your body’s way of cleansing itself. If the body gets a temperature, it is burning off whatever is in the body and upsetting the balance. Leave it alone, the temperature only goes as high as it needs to, to burn off what it needs to. Two of my children have had febrile seizures from temperatures going up very quickly. It has nothing to do with how high the temperature has gone, but it is the rate at which the temperature rises which causes the seizures. They are over quickly and do not do harm to the child. Diarrhoea and vomiting are the body’s way of cleansing; leave them alone and just offer clean water and a lot of it.”

“We limit dairy products to an occasional bit of cheese and meat is very limited. This has proved to be successful for keeping our family healthy while peers, who are fully vaccinated, have constant ear infections, bronchitis, chest infections etc etc etc, as well as measles, rubella, whooping cough and chicken pox. When peers get these childhood diseases we go visiting in the hope that my children will catch one of the diseases and thereby prime their immune system for later life.”

Stephanie continues to repost her story to various internet forums and encourages others to copy it and pass it around. It is indeed a sad story, and one with a sadder legacy still of encouraging others to risk their own children’s lives, and the lives of others, by not vaccinating.

You may hear Stephanie tell her story on a “Truth News Radio Australia” podcast in May 2010 Your Worst Vaccine Nightmare.

Stephanie touches upon a little of this story in the podcast Your Story Ep 29 : Stephanie. Vaccination, Health Education and Your Responsibility or you may read my transcript of this podcast.

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