The US medical authorities have been unwilling to contemplate the possibility that vaccinations cause epilepsy because they have a government programme promoting vaccinations, with another studying the causes of epilepsy: "One is not going to try the other," continues Coulter.
"But it's as plain as your nose on your face; vaccines cause neurological disabilities. It's just that nobody wants to admit it, that's all," said Coulter.
Rather than attempting to isolate the cause, doctors commonly prescribe drugs to control the condition, and a lot of people are kept on drugs for a lifetime only because they've had a minor fit during childhood.
Most doctors believe that, until suppressed by drugs, seizures will recur and that drug treatment can affect the course of the disease, reducing the risk that early epilepsy will develop into an intractible disorder.
According to a review paper by EH Reynolds, Consultant Neurologist at the Centre of Epilepsy, Maudsley Hospital, London (BMJ January 21, 1995), several studies show that the more seizures, the worse the prognosis (Epilepsia, 1989; 30: 648), and that patients with single seizures did better, in the medium term, when they got drugs, compared to those who'd been given placebo, or had treatment delayed (Clin Neurol Neurosurg 1992; 94 [Suppl]: S61-3; and Neurology 1993; 432: 478-83).
Anti-convulsants are supposed to work by preventing epileptic fits without affecting the brain. But this is a delicate balancing act. The doctor needs to be highly conversant with the various anti-convulsant drugs, understand how different seizures affect particular patients, regularly monitor the patient to record the seizures and how the drug they've prescribed is behaving inside the patient.
And treatment varies from doctor to doctor. Some feel their patients should take anti-epileptic drugs for the rest of their lives; others feel daily doses can be slowly reduced by steps every few weeks in patients who have remained free from seizures for two years. They may even be taken off drugs altogether.
David Chadwick, Professor of Neurology at the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, presents a strong argument against the early use of drugs in the same January 21 edition of the BMJ and recommends that treatment should be held off. He argues that epilepsy is an umbrella term which refers to a group of disorders, and not a single, homogenous disease. In some clearcut cases of epilepsy, such as benign rolandic epilepsy in children (where seizures affecting the face, throat and arm occur during sleep), there is strong evidence that the seizures stop by themselves by mid-adolescence.
Furthermore, preliminary data suggesting that people are better off getting drugs after early treatment is far from definitive because untreated epileptics are difficult to find.
Studies that are performed suggest that drugs make virtually no difference. "This makes it all the more important that reliable data is obtained," says Peter Rubin, Professor of Therapeutics at Nottingham University (BMJ, January 21, 1995; 310: 178).
None of the thousand patients participating in the Medical Research Council's anti-convulsant withdrawal study group had a fit in two years (The Lancet, May 18, 1991). The study concluded that the chances of remaining seizure free were directly related to the length of time since the last fit. Those with the poorest reaction to drug withdrawal were patients who'd been taking more than one anti-epileptic drug, or had a history of neonatal seizures.