- CAMBRIDGE (U.S. Newswire)
-- A study published this month in the International Journal of Toxicology,
the official journal of the American College of Toxicology, provides the
strongest clinical evidence to date supporting the theory that mercury
exposure is tied to autism.
- The study, co-authored by Mark Blaxill, a director of
Safe Minds, suggests a biological mechanism for the hypothesis first advanced
by Safe Minds that autism is a form of mercury poisoning and that exposure
to the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines has likely caused
neurological damage to thousands of children.
- Blaxill, along with co-investigators Amy Holmes, MD and
Boyd Haley, PhD, assessed mercury exposure levels among 94 autistic children
and 45 normally developing controls. They found higher pre- and postnatal
exposures in the autistic group. Then they took a novel approach to measuring
mercury distribution in the study subjects during infancy: they collected
the first lock of baby hair that had been taken years earlier from each
child to determine its mercury content. In a result that appears surprising
at first, they found that the autistic hair mercury levels were only a
fraction of the controls'.
- "Our findings might seem counter-intuitive,"
says Blaxill, "but if you take into account the higher exposures of
the autistic children, you quickly see that these reduced hair levels suggest
that less mercury was being excreted by these babies. This is because mercury
must be in the blood in order to be taken up by the hair follicle, and
mercury must be in the blood in order to be eliminated from the body. If
it's not in the hair, then it is not in the blood. And if it's not in the
blood to be eliminated, more mercury is retained and available to cause
neurological damage in infants who subsequently develop autism."
- One finding of the study that will be sure to draw attention
is the relatively high levels of mercury in the hair of normal infants.
These levels appear to be a direct result of the number of mercury-containing
amalgam fillings in the mother, as well as the mother's fish consumption,
during pregnancy. Many popular fish species contain high levels of mercury.
These results appear consistent with the notion that mercury levels in
women of child-bearing age are already dangerously high. Thimerosal-containing
infant vaccines can then push vulnerable children over the edge.
- "This study provides the clearest proof we have
seen so far," said Sallie Bernard, executive director of Safe Minds,
"that small differences in mercury exposure and detoxification ability
can drive huge differences in the brain development of small children.
Recent studies sponsored by vaccine health officials that have attempted
to reassure parents about the safety of so-called "low dose"
mercury exposures from vaccines have completely failed to assess individual
sensitivity to this neurotoxin. It only takes one child in 100 to have
reduced excretion capacity and you can have an epidemic of neurological
disease on your hands."
- Safe Minds renews its call for action based on this latest
report. The group calls for the following measures.
- - The NIH must implement and fund the Institute of Medicine's
research recommendations on thimerosal, mercury and neuro-developmental
disorders, including autism.
- - The CDC must be removed from any supervisory role in
vaccine safety research. Such research should be undertaken by independent
researchers without ties to the CDC or to vaccine manufacturers.
- - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should issue
an immediate recall of all thimerosal-containing vaccines. The FDA and
the World Health Organization should require the immediate production of
thimerosal-free formulations and the investments in sterile production
required to make these vaccines safe.
- - The Bush administration should hold a summit on the
autism epidemic and encourage large-scale investigation into the environmental
causes of autism, a public health crisis that dwarfs the threats from infectious
diseases like SARS and the West Nile virus.
- - The CDC should make available its internal data from
vaccine safety records to independent researchers in order to investigate
the likely role of thimerosal in causing neurodevelopmental disorders in
children exposed to thimerosal-containing vaccines.
- -- Safe Minds (Sensible Action For Ending Mercury Induced
Neurological Disorders) is a non-profit parents organization founded to
investigate the continuing risks to infants and children of exposure to
mercury from medical products, including thimerosal in vaccines. Its Web
site is http://www.safeminds.org.
- © 2003 U.S. Newswire