The heavy metal Mercury has been blamed for numerous medical disorders and one of them is autism. For many years, parents of children with autism have believed that autism and mercury have a strong connection.
Over the years, many isolated studies have been published on mercury and autism. Some studies have examined mercury levels in the blood; others have looked at mercury levels in the hair and in urine. Each of the previous studies has only looked at mercury levels at a static point in time and the few short term studies have produced conflicting results. Moreover, many of these studies were not well controlled, had very patients and the results were poorly analyzed.
One primary reason why mercury has been linked to autism is because of its presence in certain vaccines as a preservative. However, mercury has not always been used in all vaccines and yet autism still continues to occur. A few years ago a large federally funded study showed that there was no relation between mercury in vaccines and autism.
Last week a study in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives presented its remarkable findings. There are no differences in mercury levels between autistic children and children who are growing normally.
Dr. Patricia Mannin Courtney, medical director of the Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said “"This is an excellent study that has addressed a very important question for many families about the role of mercury in autism. It's a very clear study that no differences in mercury were seen. Is it going to put the questions to rest? I think no. It's another important contribution to the large body of knowledge on this topic, but I think it will still be an area of great controversy."