Streams

The Age of Autism

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill trace the long overlooked history of mercury poisoning. In their book, The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, they write about how mercury has been used in medicine, and why it's one of the earth's most toxic substances. They present their findings about the link between mercury and illness, and investigate how chemical and environmental clues may be overlooked by medical experts.

Guests:

Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted

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Comments [69]

A general pediatrician

(1) We are simply unsure as to whether autism incidence is increasing, but it is distinctly possible; (2) if true, this should be of serious concern but does not inform the question of causation; (3) the authors shuttle between MMR concerns and the mercury issue, which are completely unrelated theories. This harms their credibility. (4) Their assertions notwithstanding, the epidemiological data are compelling and reassuring. (5) Finally, total vaccine mercury exposure has all but disappeared since 1999; sadly, the incidence of autism has not declined. Res ipsa loquitur.

Oct. 06 2010 07:53 PM
Matt from California

Amy,

"The evidence clearly shows the incidence of autism was effectively 0 prior to the 1930s"

Please, cite the source of an incidence study of autism done before 1930. I'd love to see it.

You can find multiple references of

"As for ethyl- versus other forms of mercury, again read the book... the correlation between the symptoms of autism and other mercury-induced conditions is thoroughly discussed. "

So, autism has the symptoms of mercury poisoning (symptoms taken from exposures to mercury other than thimerosal), but mercury poisoning by any method other than thimerosal doesn't cause autism? This is the Blaxill/Olmsted theory and it is nonsense. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is just plain nonsense.

To add to the nonsense, autism doesn't look like mercury poisoning. Talk to toxicologists, not MBA's or ex-journalists and you will find that out.

"The Age of Autism" will stand in history as an epic work of denialism. Time and again Blaxill and Olmsted have been presented with real information and they just throw it away to support their bad premise.

Oct. 06 2010 01:49 PM

Amy from New Jersey: Are you on the pay roll? You obviously have a hidden interest in this book. Your every comment ends with get the book. Did I miss something. Or is this the new bible for autism. Thats alot of faith in 2 guys who have no training or schooling in medicine or autism!

Oct. 06 2010 09:29 AM

Eli from astoria: What a misguided comment. There are also plenty of documented cases of children who got vaccines and died because of them.

Oct. 06 2010 09:24 AM

Matt: I totally agree with your comments. The authors of the book should be sued for their misleading info. I once asked them what made them experts in the field of autism. I was dismissed as someone who hates people who write books. I still have not figured out the connection with their statement. I hate people who jump on a band wagon to make money. Every mention of the book ask for you to run out and buy it for yourself and family. They make many dangerous points of which they have no proof.

Oct. 06 2010 09:19 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

thank you to amy and others who quite rightly brought up the subject of bioaccumulation.

vacccines are only part of a cluster of potential sources of the bioaccumulation of mercury and other toxics, in vitro and otherwise.

until we start looking at the broad spectrum of contributing industries/silos, and start studying the commonalities of identified, vulnerable population members, the industry apologists will "seem" right. they're not, of course, but when medicine itself is so silo'd (across the various professions), this divisive defense by pharma is far more effective, much like our political parties. the claims are polarizing, and it's high time the medical and evnironmental professions start asking more of all industries vis a vis protecting the public from the folly of their product. with the FDA, CDC, pharma and managed care industries so inextricably linked to one another, the level of credibility suffers at the hand of profit (and how much those industries rely upon it).

bigger can of worms than discussed today, but this has to be looked at on the macro level. good science allows for the broadest field of variables.

Oct. 05 2010 11:32 PM
Amy

Matt:
Blaxill and Olmsted thoroughly review potential accounts of autism and other substitute diagnoses (including Downs) prior to the 1930s that would have later been diagnosed as autism, and these don't hold up under analysis of their symptoms or prevalence. When you review the evidence presented in the book, you'll see that the lack of reporting prior to Kanner is a function of the lack of incidence... again, 1 in 100 children were autistic prior to 1930 and no one noticed it or reported on it? The handful of cases born before 1930 and diagnosed after Kanner described the disorder does not account for the epidemic rates we see today. The evidence clearly shows the incidence of autism was effectively 0 prior to the 1930s, and has now reached epidemic proportions (1% of children) in only a 70-year period.
As for ethyl- versus other forms of mercury, again read the book... the correlation between the symptoms of autism and other mercury-induced conditions is thoroughly discussed. Yet autism remains unique from these, just as ethylmercury and its pre- and post-natal exposure is unique from other forms of mercury and their routes and timing of exposure.
I see you may be championing the neurodiversity perspective, and that would explain your discomfort with actually reading the evidence. But why discredit evidence you haven't even looked at (again, all your points are thoroughly considered in the book, including references to the studies you seek). To simply say the authors are wrong without offering supporting data for your assertion sounds like an emotional tantrum, not a rational discussion of the scientific evidence.

Oct. 05 2010 09:59 PM
Matt from California

Amy,

Kanner said it wasn't reported before. That's different from stating that it didn't exist before.
http://neurodiversity.com/library_kanner_1943.html

There may be somewhere else where Kanner may have claimed that it was a new condition. In that case he was wrong.

Langndon Down (of Down Syndrome) described children who would be labeled "autistic" in the 1800's.

There are people who were born before 1930 who lived long enough to get autism diagnoses. Check your state's disability services.

Yes, I am well aware that Blaxill and Olmsted make the strange claim that it wasn't until ethyl mercury in vaccines and in other uses that mercury caused autism.

They don't really have any scientific proof of this. It is just a claim. It is wrong.

Please, if you disagree, explain why ethyl mercury causes autism and no other form of mercury does. You can give the references if you like.

Oct. 05 2010 09:09 PM
Amy

Matt from CA,
Blaxill and Olmsted did not originally posit that autism is new, Leo Kanner did (as you'll see if you ever get to Chapter 6). Kanner's original definition and description of the disorder was based upon 11 children born in the 30s "whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far." As the leading child psychiatrist of his day, he would have seen or read literature that would have suggested the disorder existed prior to his first paper. I would be very interested in seeing the evidence upon which you base your claim that autism is not new, and specifically, anything that suggests this severe and unmistakable condition existed prior to 1930 at the levels we see today: 1% of children. Please include complete references or links to the published literature. Apparently, you are referencing literature that Kanner himself and subsequent autism researchers did not have access to, and I look forward to seeing it!
Also, when you read the book, you'll see that Blaxill and Olmsted discuss at length that the correlation of autism to ethylmercury development and use is not limited to vaccines, but includes agricultural applications as well (especially read about the exposures to fungicides by a cluster of the original Kanner 11).

Oct. 05 2010 08:53 PM
Teresa from Chicago

Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill have written a superb historical account about the roots to autism. Mercury is a big piece of that account. For anyone to dismiss it, with pages upon pages of studies and books, real person interviews, with data, graphs, charts, and photos, well...there becomes a dishonest veil of ulterior motives amongst individuals who must be threatened by the truth of mercury's capable ability to harm. It is shown through the history presented in the book up to the Age of Autism.

It is similar to the days when leaded gasoline was defended by those in that Industry. It is a cowardly and wicked defense of poisons. Thank you for having these guests on and sharing such an important topic about autism.

Oct. 05 2010 08:02 PM
Matt from California

"you'd know the etiology common to the various disease histories covered is the synergistic interaction of metals and microbes, and not that thimerosal causes autism."

I'd know this is something that Blaxill and Olmsted are claiming.

I'd also know that the book starts out with the sentence "We believe that autism was newly discovered in the 1930s for the simple reason that it was new."

They posit that autism is new because thimerosal was invented in the late 1920s and the first people exposed to it were in the 1930's.

They were wrong. They were wrong that autism was new. They were wrong that thimerosal is a cause of autism.

I've read the book. I've read many of the references. Blaxill and Olmsted are wrong.

Oct. 05 2010 07:46 PM
Amy

Also, Matt, if you had read the book, you'd know the etiology common to the various disease histories covered is the synergistic interaction of metals and microbes, and not that thimerosal causes autism.
And note that my previous comments referenced the original published studies (and I provided links to them), and did not reference blogs as my source material.
I suggest you actually read the book discussed here and the hundreds of studies it references, as these authors have done. Your comments thus far demonstrate that you've neither read them nor understood them.

Oct. 05 2010 06:11 PM
Amy from New Jersey

Matt from CA,
I trust a Princeton and Harvard-educated businessman who has actually read hundreds of studies related to vaccines and autism, over a physician who has never read any of the studies. A physician or researcher who has not thoroughly studied this issue is not qualified to comment, any more than an oral surgeon is qualified to recommend chemotherapy treatments to cancer patients.

Oct. 05 2010 05:59 PM

Age of Autism is an incredible book! I will be buying and giving copies to friends and family because I think it is an important topic that all parents should be aware of. Thank you to Dan and Mark, your work is greatly appreciated!

There are some people that would prefer this book NOT be read. They would like parents to remain ingnorant of the facts surrounding mercury, vaccines, medicine and autism. They have a vested interest for the truth NOT to be told. It is to those people that I pledge to buy as many as I can afford and share this knowledge far and wide!

Oct. 05 2010 05:50 PM
Matt from California

I've read the book. The font size and number of references didn't really leave that much of an impression.

The lack of a logical connection between autism and mercury did leave a big impression.

People who have kept up with the Olmsted/Blaxill writing in the past can make honest statements about their lack of support for their ideas. There really isn't that much new in this book when it comes to the autism/mercury story.

Autism is not "new" as Olmsted and Blaxill want us to believe. It is not a "man made" epidemic.

Olmsted and Blaxill are in the way of progress. They aren't much of a road-block as their ideas don't gain much traction outside of the decreasing number of followers of their blog.

Oct. 05 2010 05:09 PM
Maurine Meleck from South Carolina

Thank you Mr. Lopate for the terrific interview. Great interviewer, great interviewees, Thanks Dan and Mark. I cannot give you all enough praise.
People do need to read the book. Once read, at least they will be qualified to make some honest statements.
Maurine Meleck

Oct. 05 2010 04:20 PM
nhokkanen

People: Read the book. It has 29 pages of references in 8 point condensed type. Listening to one interview is inadequate investigation. Learn the backstories.

You are a vaccine consumer. Question this ongoing experiment involving you. Vaccines are not one-size-fits-all. And mercury is toxic in all forms, at extremely low levels. It bioaccumulates, binding to brain and kidney tissues.

Comments here contain the same tired old misconceptions -- well-intentioned or hostile, deceptive or confused. There has NOT been a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study. FOIA documents show that the statistics in the Denmark and UK studies were corrupted.

Vaccines are not 100% effective; the pertussis vaccine is losing its efficacy. Suppressing reporting can harm as much as the disease. Unless consumer field reports are taken, and taken seriously, vaccines cannot be improved.

At your next trip to the doctor's office, would you want your physician to give you an exam, or quote statistics?

Bottom line: Ask your CDC why individuals are not being studied. And ask yourself why you're comfortable letting this epidemic of vaccine injured children continue. No one should be written off as collateral damage in the war on disease.

Oct. 05 2010 04:03 PM
Matt from California

"Getting your information on this issue from mass media publications does not constitute research"

But getting it from people with business degrees and no research experience (like the guy who set up the 14 studies website) does?

A vaccinated/unvaccinated study is not relevant to a discussion of the Blaxill/Omsted book. Their thesis is that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism.

Well, they are wrong. Multiple studies show it. The one Samantha references is but one. One just came out a few weeks ago in Pediatrics.

Thimerosal in vaccines doesn't increase the risk of autism. They can spin stories all they want about the evils of mercury in the 15th century. Doesn't change the facts.

Oct. 05 2010 03:41 PM
Amy from New Jersey

Samantha,
Sorry, you're incorrect. The two studies you refer to are here and I suggest you read them:
http://www.fourteenstudies.org/pdf/HG_2.pdf
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021134
Neither is a study of vaccinated vs. un-vaccinated populations, only a study of different formulations of vaccines (in the first) or MMR-vaccinated versus not MMR-vaccinated (in the second). The first is fatally flawed by changes in ascertainment (see my comment to JP from NJ below).
The second is flawed by ascertainment bias (too many children too young to be diagnosed with autism). See an excellent analysis and critique of that study published here: http://www.jpands.org/vol9no3/stott.pdf

You'll also see that the studies were co-sponsored by the Statens Serum Institute, a state-owned, for-profit vaccine manufacturer, and our own CDC.
Getting your information on this issue from mass media publications does not constitute research. I strongly suggest if you are genuinely interested, that you read the original studies, as today's authors have, and read their well-researched and annotated book, Age of Autism.

Oct. 05 2010 03:12 PM
Beth from NC

I cannot believe the facts that these authors uncovered in the history of the 1st reported autism cluster in Brick Township, NJ.

At first the CDC was uber responsive. So helpful, so open and so forthcoming with information....

....and then silence. And later the transcripts via freedom of information act were obtained on the secretive Simpsonwood meeting. The results of the 1st thimerosal/ethyl mercury exposure studies were presented. The audience was aghast and then the revisionist scientists were brought in to coverup this manmade epidemic.

I agree with Olmsted, this is "the story of a lifetime." I hope more journalists jump on board and expose those who have abused their power.

It's time to put some people in jail.

Clear your good names now before the axe falls. The defense of those shady, numbers-twisting epidemiology studies is crumbling.

I suspect more officials in positions of power will just skip town like the disgraceful vaccine scientist Poul Thorsen who made off with $2 million.

Or maybe the extremely powerful entities are setting him up as the "fall guy."

Time will tell. Keep reporting the facts!

Oct. 05 2010 02:40 PM
Amy from New Jersey

Edward, you are correct with respect to uptake figures. Note, however, that thirmerosal-free flu shots comprise single-digit percentages of the total and vary by year. More importantly, with so many confounding variables, a clearly demarked change in autism incidence may not be seen, and not right away. Confounders include the use of thimerosal-containing flu shots by pregnant women and the increased toxicity of Hg to a developing fetus, the significant increase of environmental Hg during the last ten years, and the possible decrease in autism severity among children diagnosed more recently -- a factor not being sufficiently studied, but according to some front-line physicians that treat thousands of patients with autism, the newly-diagnosed toddlers are less effected than the kids born during the 90's (the peak thimerosal-content years).
I very much appreciate your interest in this subject and strongly recommend reading the book discussed today for a more thorough review and analysis of the issues you've raised.

Oct. 05 2010 02:37 PM
Samantha from Brooklyn

Gayle, from NJ - there has been a study done of children who were vaccinated and those unvaccinated since 1991 in Denmark. They have not found any connection between autism and vaccinations - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003673,00.html

This study was conducted by a country - not a pharmaceutical company...

Oct. 05 2010 02:27 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with gregeb. I'm a almost daily listener to these two shows, because they provide rational, multifaceted information and discussion. But come on! It's one thing to bring these people on your show, but without rebuttal from ANYONE is the medical community?

I was equally upset when the same thing happened last week with that cell phone radiation lady! Is Leonard in the business of scaring people now? What alarmed me even more, as Paul points out, was that not once in this segment was it brought up that a lot more kids have DIED, or because seriously ill in the past few years from diseases we haven't seen for years like measles and whooping cough because their parents were scared away from vaccinations due to all those rubbish science. And not only are those parents putting their own children at risk, but other people's children too, by decreasing the percent of children vaccinated below the critical point to attain herd immunity.

The authors said they wanted to have a reasonable discussion about the negative effects of mercury (I completely agree that in general mercury is not good for you, and should be phased out as soon as possible from vaccines), but they themselves are not presenting rational arguments, they are tweaking faulty science to their favor and scaring a bunch of people in the process.

Oct. 05 2010 02:25 PM
Edward from NJ

Amy,

Based on your time line, all vaccines other than influenza were free of thimerosal by 2004. In spite of the recommendations you mention, flu vaccination rates were only 40% in 2009/2010 which was an unusually high percentage because of heightened awareness with the H1N1 outbreak(1). Some percentage of those shots were single-dose and thimerosal free. Compare that with 90%-plus compliance for standard schedule childhood vaccines(2), and you have to admit that many fewer children are being exposed to mercury via vaccines. Therefore, we should see some drop in autism soon if there is a causal link.

1. http://cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5916a1.htm#tab1
2. http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r100916.htm

Oct. 05 2010 02:09 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

@Amy from New Jersey

I'm sorry you cannot see that the kind of falsehoods, misrepresentations of studies and fallacious arguments which you have garnered from some notorious anti-vaccination crank websites are just adding to the harm done by the dangerous nonsense we have heard from the despicable Blaxill and Olmsted today.

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=451

Again, shame on you WNYC for allowing these plausible but thoroughly “unsavory characters”* a platform to spread their vile propaganda.

* http://www.browndailyherald.com/david-sheffield-11-inviting-ignorance-1.2344663

Oct. 05 2010 01:57 PM
Gayle from New Jersey

To determine whether vaccines are associated with autism, why not do a study that compares vaccinated kids with unvaccinated kids? The study would have to be conducted by independent researchers who are not related to the pharmaceutical industry or the HHS.

Oct. 05 2010 01:46 PM
Amy from New Jersey

Edward from NJ,
the 25mcg of Hg in Hep-B, Hib and DTP was phased on beginning in 2000, and wasn't gone from inventory and fully replaced with non-preserved vaccines until 2004. That same year, flu shots containing 25mcg per the 2-dose series was recommended for infants starting at 6 mos of age, and for pregnant women, for whom the 25mcg of Hg is far more toxic to their developing fetus. In fact, NJ is the only state to include the flu shot as a mandated requirement for infants and children to attend daycare/preschool. http://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/req_imm.shtml
Given the confounding variables above, and the fact that several years elapse between birth and autism diagnosis, it has not been determined what effect the above changes in thimerosal content and timing in vaccines will have on autism rates.

Oct. 05 2010 01:43 PM
FallenAcorn from Long Island

The question is not, at least for me (as the father of an autistic offspring), whether or not vaccines cause Autism. No, no they do not.

THE QUESTION OUGHT TO BE: Do autistics have adverse reactions to vaccines?

Yes, yes they do.

Embrace neurodiversity.

Thank you.

Oct. 05 2010 01:26 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

curious how so many (not all!) naysayers here are from NJ, pharmaceutical capitol of the northeast.

what would be refreshing is a level of study that proposes to identify the cohort of children who should not be submitted to aggressive pediatric vaccine schedules--looking for common genetic or physical markers in the population of children who present with negative symptomology following jab series, for example.

we all know vaccines are not proven to prevent disease--that is akin to saying that one can "cure" cancer. children who have received varicella jabs get chicken pox all the time--let's admit this. equally, there is clearly a cohort of children who will react negatively to vaccinations in the volume introduced in the US (higher than any other western nation). if pharma would like to do good for all, they would admit that this cohort be somehow discovered for their commonalities, and provide parents options for a preventive paradigm (e.g. separate mulitvalent vaccine series, space jabs further apart, opt out of jabs not as vital, like varicella and rotavirus).

admitting that these therapies are not appropriate for 100% of the population would be a good, honest start.

Oct. 05 2010 01:26 PM
Amy from New Jersey

JP: I suggest YOU read that very same Danish study (Madsen et al) -- it's right here: http://www.fourteenstudies.org/pdf/HG_2.pdf.
It purports to show that since autism rates continued to rise after thimerosal was removed from vaccines, there couldn't be a causitive relationship. However, even the authors acknowledge that a major change in ascertainment occurred when outpatient cases were added in 1995 that, in their own words, ."exaggerate the incidence rates, simply because a number of patients attending the child psychiatric treatment system before 1995 were recorded for the first time, and thereby counted as new cases in the incidence rates" and that "...the proportion of outpatient to inpatient activities was about 4 to 6 times as many outpatients as inpatients." (pg 605). So, they only counted 20% of autism cases, then removed thimerosal, then counted 100% of autism cases, then had the gall to suggest that removing thimerosal didn't cause autism rates to fall so it couldn't be causitive. It's fatally flawed at best, clearly fraudulent at worst. If you weren't aware of this flaw, then you've simply been duped. Once again, it helps to read the actual study before you cite it.
Oh, and a co-author of the study, Paul Thorsen, has since been charged with fraud, fogery, and obsconding with $2 Million from the study's sponsor, the US CDC, while conducting this research at Aarhus University. Bet you didn't know about that either:
http://www.rescuepost.com/files/thorsen-aarhus.pdf

Oct. 05 2010 01:19 PM
gregeb

The link between vaccines and autism has been pretty convincingly disproven- so convincingly in fact, that providing these fringe authors with a half hour podium without SIMULTANEOUS debunking is near criminal. This isn't a case of arguing over the true authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls or new parking regulations. People's lives are in danger because many will now avoid vaccination. Plus we are training citizens to substitute anecdote for careful analysis, a mental flaw which will lead to other, even more critical, bad societal decisions.

Brian and Leonard's shows are islands of rationality in a sea of confusion and fear- which is why this show was so disappointing.

My heart goes out to those families (including our close friends) who must deal with autism on a daily basis. They are desperately seeking a root cause, and hoping that their own actions did not lead a healthy child to a more circumscribed life. But if we really want to help cure autism, we need to look for a different boogie man than mercury.

Oct. 05 2010 01:18 PM
Beth from NC

THANK YOU for hosting these authors and allowing them to share their disturbing findings.

The book The Age of Autism is a devastating historical account of the use of mercury in medicine and the use of ethylmercury in commercial products including vaccines

I am appalled and amazed by what they have found - the historical facts will astound and horrify readers. I'm also not surprised by the public health and MD comments here that defend mercury's continued use in medicine. I'm not surprised that people in that line of work will demand these authors be censored and their book banned.

The facts they have uncovered on their long journey of research to write their book need to be openly discussed - and yes, it will be very uncomfortable for those who have vowed to "First do no harm."

Hippocrates is cheering Olmsted and Blaxill on from the grave!

Eventually, those who really truly wish to do no harm will join you in their desire to ban mercury in medicine - especially in the flu shots that are now pushed so heavily on pregnant women and infants.

Oct. 05 2010 01:11 PM
Momoftwins from Richmond,Va

My 8 yr old son has been diagnosed with
mercury poisoning since he was 5 yrs. old.
We were told he was ADHD from a
behavioral doctor and had many tests
done esp. stool, to find his level of
mercury count was 43, out of a normal
range 5-9! He has a MHFR, a single genetic defect which also does not
allow toxins to move out of his body.
We have been using DMSA to move
the metals out for years now and
we are only half way there! Mercury
is the heaviest of all metals & takes the
longest to remove, last from the brain.
I looked back to see when my son was
two months old, 5 lb. preemie, and
the doctors highly recommended he and
his twin brother get the Flu shot along
with his vaccines! If I had only know then
what I have learn now, that his system
was not supported and was not
capable in handing this, I would have
NEVER allowed them to receive the
Flu shot! What seems to be over looked
in all this is that our bodies and our
childrens are not support anymore by
our foods in a nutritional manner. If are
bodies are not supported to begin with
and then are fit with all these toxins,all
kinds of problems accure. My son is
now and has been,since starting school,
on Adderall & Clonidine just to somewhat
cope with the effects this mercury
poisoning is having on his body and his brain! We do not get anymore Flu shots
and plan to let everyone I know to do the
same. Add more Vitamin D3 during the
winter months,starting now and see if
you can keep from getting the flu naturally!
I hope this information will save other
parents from having to go through what
we have gone through and the cost to
remove all this is NOT covered by
insurance! You can always count on
them,RIGHT, what a joke!

Oct. 05 2010 12:58 PM
Edward from NJ

Amy from New Jersey,
While calling others out for spreading propaganda, you mention "25 mcg of ethylmercury in a vaccine...injected directly into the bloodstream...of an 7 lb. neonate." That hasn't been done for the past 10 years. Some flu shots still do contain mercury, but those *aren't* given to newborns. The original mercury/autism link was premised on accumulated effects of multiple vaccines. That's dead as an argument, so advocates now point to the flu shot. Since many pediatricians do offer a mercury-free flu shot, shouldn't we be seeing some decrease in autism by now?

Oct. 05 2010 12:50 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

thank you for re-introducing a wholesale look at mercury's effects, and possible connection to autism.

i had a nephew who presented with severe physiological distress following his MMR jab at age 2-2 1/2 (he was, prior, quite an engaging, happy baby). he was diagnosed with autism, and for the following year, his parents went through chelation and other physical/emotional therapies, hoping to find some relief for him.

after failing to help him with a number of directions, they engaged a technique named for and developed by a swedish doctor named LOVAAS. this was an intense cognitive/behavioral training which began at 7 full days a week, and reduced over time, requiring my nephew to engage, one-on-one, with a therapist, doing various exercises, sitting at a table. once resistant to any direct communication, my nephew became an egaged, and engaging boy, now surpassing his older brother vis a vis intellectual curiosity and focused behavior in a mainstream school program. he has many friends, and a loving family relationship--no one can believe that this was the same boy who would hit his head against the wall and refuse physical contact of any sort.

i urge anyone with a child that presents with the autistic spectrum to research LOVAAS. my brother-in-law and his wife sacrificed much time and funds to put together a program for their son, but they are among thousands who found it a godsend.

Oct. 05 2010 12:39 PM
Michael from Brooklyn, NY

@Amy from Jersey

Why does NJ have one of the highest rates of autism? Could it be the chemical industries, which could affect either parent? Why does autism affect higher-income parents, who usually delay conception until an advanced age?
Besides, chelation has NOT been proven to eliminate metals, particularly mercury, in children. They are only peddling false hope. The calls for "revision of utiltarianism" are also misguided, at best, and potentially lethal at worst.

Oct. 05 2010 12:39 PM
Amy from New Jersey

Paul and William, for an excellent analysis of your theory that the increased rate of autism is simply diagnostic substitution, I suggest you read: Autism: The Diagnosis, Treatment, & Etiology of the Undeniable Epidemic, by John and Stephen Oller. William, the 25 mcg of ethylmercury in a vaccine (the most toxic form of mercury), injected directly into the bloodstream (versus ingested like fish), into the body of an 7 lb. neonate is MORE than enough to have toxic effects. Mercury at nanomolar levels kills cells. Suggest that you shouldn't work with autistic children when you don't understand their disease. Again, people, study the research as these authors have done, before you spread propaganda.

Oct. 05 2010 12:35 PM
Chris S

I'd just like to acknowledge the recent death of Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas, one of the leaders in autism therapy.

Oct. 05 2010 12:34 PM
JP from NJ

Amy from New Jersey

I suggest you read New England Journal of Medicine’s long term study on the entire birth population (all newborns from all backgrounds with vaccinations and without) of Denmark from 1991 to 1998 that showed there is no link between vaccinations and autism.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021134

Oct. 05 2010 12:34 PM
Chris S

I'd just like to acknowledge the recent death of Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas, one of the leaders in autism therapy.

Oct. 05 2010 12:32 PM
Robert from new york

Leonard..please ask why there has never been a test checking the mercury burden of autistic children...how much mercury they have in their body. This needs to be done with a chelation test and not a blood test.

Oct. 05 2010 12:31 PM
Susan from Queens

I wonder if these authors have looked at the correlation between genetically modified crops and autism. When I look at graphs on the introduction of these crops - particularly corn & soy which are primary ingredients in many baby formulas - they closely mirror the graph for the increas in autism.

I got interested in this because I am an occupational therapist who works with children who have autism. When I learned that lab animals became allergic to things that they had never been allergic to before I started checking on this. So many of the kids I see have allergies to foods.

Oct. 05 2010 12:29 PM
brian

Age of parents at conception a factor?

Oct. 05 2010 12:29 PM
jane from nj

Since mercury has been removed from vacines now, aren't children born in the last few years a sort of control group to show the effects of mercury

Oct. 05 2010 12:28 PM
Natalia from New York, NY

As a pregnant woman, I am carefully watching my fish intake as suggested while balencing the need for Omega 3s. Is there a way to have the suggested flu shot during pregnancy that does not have mercury? How can I ensure that I minimize my babies exposure to mercury in utero and after birth?

Oct. 05 2010 12:28 PM
Jay from Baltimore

I'm a PHD student at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and we now cover this topic in our classes from the perspective of how NOT to explain a public health message. Scientists tried to came down strongly in favor of vaccines to prevent another "global warming debate," but came off as arrogant. This arrogance opened the door for skilled, but unfortunately misguided voices like these guests.

Oct. 05 2010 12:25 PM
Allison from Boston

Seeing some of the negative comments it's easy to see that those posters have not read the book. There is a vast history of the medical community using mercury in medicine and not paying attention to it's devastating effects. It's not just about thimerosal, but it does lead to a better understanding of why and how the use of thimerosal and every other form of mercury in any medical capacity is beyond irresponsible...

Autism is most certainly linked to mercury exposure. Many studies have shown this, the problem is that looking at badly designed epidemiology isn't going to ferret out answers about those individuals who are susceptible to mercury toxicity.

This book is so well written and researched. I urge everyone listening to read it in it's entirety and then make your comments.

Oct. 05 2010 12:25 PM
JP from NJ

What does your guests say about the New England Journal of Medicine’s long term study on the entire birth population (all newborns from all backgrounds with vaccinations and without) of Denmark from 1991 to 1998 that showed there is no link between vaccinations and autism?

Oct. 05 2010 12:24 PM
AB from Manhattan

Sheesh. More hyperbolic pseudo-science in service of an agenda. Appealing to the same mindset that holds true to intelligent design, anti-stem cell research, etc. And yes, Santa Claus does exist. No, he really does.

Oct. 05 2010 12:24 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I don't suppose any of the older accounts of disorders that look like autism were in the children of hatters? They probably brought mercury home on their clothes. Not the same as injection, certainly, but is there any possible evidence?

Oct. 05 2010 12:24 PM

We should all be kind.

Progressives need their respite from science to the same extent as regressives (i.e., conservatives)

Oct. 05 2010 12:23 PM
CL from New York

Given the potentially disastrous public health consequences of a widespread acceptance of the claims in this book, I think it is irresponsible of WNYC not to have a credible scientist on the show to rebut these claims. Leonard is making some attempt to challenge them, but he is not an expert.

Oct. 05 2010 12:23 PM
Pat from babylon

How long has thimerosal been in vaccines? Has it been in vaccines since before 1980? If so, then doesn't that prove it does not cause autism, since autism has only been on the increase since the late 80's? Is there some other change in the vaccine (MMR) that could be the cause? Such as a change in production methods that is correlated with the increase in autism?

Oct. 05 2010 12:21 PM
Shar in Az from AZ

I keep missing the background of the authors: are they journalists, are they science writers, are they scientists, are they medically trained persons?? And I understand that the article written by MD in Britain connecting autism to MMR has been discredited, by that I mean its data was basically falsified.

Another program on the Leonard Lopate show where I think it is past midnight and I have tuned into Coast to Coast.

Oct. 05 2010 12:21 PM
Paul from Ridgewood, NJ

These guys are irresponsible, and just plain wrong.

They say that the assertion of an increase (or the very existence) of autism is "provable" is just plain incorrect.

Even the DSM now brings related disorders under the "umbrella" of autism. This is the true reason that the "incidence" of autism has grown so quickly.

Before there was "autism" it was called everything from retardation to simple quirkiness.

Studies in many countries have repeatedly debunked the mercury-vaccination-autism link.

It is time to stop the baseless assertions that the tiny amount of mercury in vaccines causes autism.

Many of us people with mercury fillings in our teeth, and who played with liquid mercury from broken thermometers - amounting to hundreds of times the dose in vaccines - should be all raving lunatics by now if there was anything to your guests' arguments.

Oct. 05 2010 12:20 PM
Sunshine Hernandez from Bushwick

can your guest please address or explain the relationship between the drug companies making these mercury vaccines and FDA who is approving them as okay, mostly because I think the conversation has alot to do with the fact that like everything else, there are no checks and balances here

Oct. 05 2010 12:20 PM
william from Texas

Confusion and mis-information is the norm, nowadays.
1) mercury is toxic, in medications where it is used as a preservative, there is NOT enough mercury to poison children.
2) the diagnosis of autusim has been expanded to include more pathologies, hence the so-called autusim epidemic is false.
Use some common sense and rational thinking not emotional rflex and knee-jerking. Really thought there were intelligent people in this country!
PS, I work with children afflicted with autusm.

Oct. 05 2010 12:20 PM
Rene from New Jersey

Some vaccines contain aluminum. Is there any consideration of the number of different metals and how they interact?

Oct. 05 2010 12:19 PM
Michael from Brooklyn, NY

The autism-vaccine advocates ignore several factors, e.g., age of partners who conceive the child, occupation of father and mother. Their arguments would revive such diseases as polio, tuberculosis, etc. While I think parents of autistic children do bear a burden, their simplistic "solutions" would cause far more harm than good.

Oct. 05 2010 12:19 PM
aviva Goldstein from Brooklyn, NY

Please invite Dr. Paul Offit or any of the many other very reputable and thoughtful scientists to describe the many the peer-reviewed and reproducible research that demonstrates no evidence of a link between thimerasol and autism. Further, as the number of cases of autism rise, the number of diagnoses of general mental retardation fall.

Oct. 05 2010 12:18 PM
Georgie from Ann Arbor

You say that autism has increased worldwide, but not all countries have the same vaccine schedule as the US - how do you explain that. Also, what do you think of the very strong link recently reported between fertility treatments and autism? It seems to me that a lot of autistic children are from families from higher income groups - the same groups that can afford fertility treatments.

Oct. 05 2010 12:17 PM

The "plague" of autism begins circa 1940?

Fine.

Is that the same time human ingestion of mercury for medical purposes began?

Oct. 05 2010 12:16 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Good grief! I really wanted to believe WNYC would not sink quite this low but I suspected that it might.

Shame on you.

Oct. 05 2010 12:16 PM
Robert from New York

The fact that people have commented in favor of vaccines show that there is a huge impetus NOT to find the problem to autism. The testing done to make associations with thimerasol to autism have been lacking at best. The BIG question that has not been tested is to measure the burden of mercury in autistic children. To my knowledge this has not been done. The correct way to do this is with a provoking agent to pull mercury out of the tissues which is where it goes. This is comonly known as a chelation test. It does not stay in the blood which is the typical test. The body moves mercury into the tissues where it can do less harm.
There is evidence that children who have been detoxed from mercury do get better...but the doctors who do this will not talk about it..because they are afraid of losing their licenses...it happpens.
Why did Sweden ban mercury from everything in their country...what do they know that we don't know?
If anyone wants to learn about mercury poisoning I recommend getting a chelation test...a blood test only shows recent exposure. The chelation test is done all over Europe and is starting to be used here.

Oct. 05 2010 12:14 PM
Amy from New Jersey

eli, you haven't read, seen or heard enough, and you obviously haven't read the book being discussed. Autism is an epidemic, and there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic.
Read the book, Age of Autism.

Oct. 05 2010 12:10 PM
Amy from New Jersey

Paul and Allen, suggest you actually read the book, Age of Autism, before you spout outdated dogma. Also suggest you actually read the studies that you claim refute the vaccine-autism connection to see how seriously flawed they are. Here's an easy link to them if you can't be bothered looking for them (which you obviously can't... much easier to just spout dogma than actually research the issue).
www.fourteenstudies.com
Until you've thoroughly studied the research on both sides of the issue (as these authors have done), you're not qualified to offer any comment -- and that includes you, Allen. Your title holds no weight unless you've actually immersed yourself in the research.

Oct. 05 2010 12:03 PM
eli from astoria

from everything i have read, seen, and heard there is NO hard evidence that vaccines cause autism. there is more mercury in tuna fish than the average vaccine. in addition to this....correlation does not equal causation.

just because the first symptoms of autism sometimes become apparent at around the same young age as many vaccines are administered does NOT mean the vaccine causes autism. The most logical conclusion based on the evidence so far is that autism has a genetic basis rather than a vaccine basis (imho). there are also quite a few autistic children who were never vaccinated.

there HAVE been documented cases of children whose parents refused to get them vaccinated have contracted deadly diseases (that a vaccine would have prevented) and spread it to classmates.....with very negative consequences.

Oct. 05 2010 11:55 AM
Alan Weller, MD from New Jersey

I am the Associate Director of General Pediatrics of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School-UMDNJ in New Brunswick New Jersey and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and I am sending this email because of concerns regarding your upcoming segment titled the Age of Autism.

Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics are very concerned about the health and well being of all children. As part of our public health mission and the protection of all children we recommend that all children receive vaccinations against vaccine preventable childhood diseases. These vaccinations have saved countless lives.

The safety of childhood vaccinations has been clearly demonstrated.

There is absolutely no association or causal relationship between vaccinations and autism (including MMR). This has been demonstrated in peer reviewed study after study.

In addition, the use of the preservative Thimerosal has never been associated with the development of autism. Currently, no vaccines used by Pediatricians in the United States contain Thimerosal with the only exception being multi-dose vials of influenza vaccination. Individual dose vials of influenza vaccination do not contain Thimerosal.

Autism needs to be further studied in order to determine the causes and develop more effective treatment strategies. Thimerosal and vaccinations are not associated nor are they causative of Autism and this false belief consumes resources that otherwise could be dedicated to the study of Autism.

Oct. 05 2010 11:19 AM
Paul

It is irresponsible to continue attempting to link vaccinations to autism; studies have refuted any possible link, while people refusing to vaccinate their children out of this false fear has led to a resurgence of whooping cough in multiple states.

If the number of vaccinations falls below a threshold, we will see these diseases -- which most people think are eradicated -- staging a resurgence in our population.

Oct. 05 2010 11:08 AM

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