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Autism's Theoretical Causes: Mercury and Vaccines--An Editorial

 
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Autism related image Photo: Getty Images

In addition to genetics and metabolism, mercury exposure and vaccines have been implicated as a possible cause of autism. My previous article covered studies about genetic and metabolism causes and this article continues with research regarding vaccines.

Old style DPT vaccines used to contain thimerosal, a 49 percent mercury compound. Some DTaP vaccines still contain small amounts of mercury, according to the CDC Pink Book. Other vaccines, such as Hepatitis B and flu shots contain the full amount of thimerosal.

Some researchers believe that the increasing number of vaccines given at one time to a developing infant are a cause of autism, particularly as the blood/brain barrier is not yet complete.

A study in the Annals of Epidemiology found that newborn boys who had received Hepatitis B vaccine were three times more likely to be diagnosed with an ASD compared with boys who hadn’t had the jab.

"Findings suggest that U.S. male neonates vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine had a 3-fold greater risk of ASD; risk was greatest for non-white boys." (2)

Autism symptoms and mercury poisoning symptoms are virtually identical. The Journal of Immunotoxicology wrote:

"Autistic brains show neurotransmitter irregularities that are virtually identical to those arising from mercury exposure. Due to the extensive parallels between autism and mercury poisoning, the likelihood of a causal relationship is great."

These neurotransmitter irregularities may be the reason why some autistic children have sensory processing disorders. (1)

MMR Vaccine

MMR vaccine is considered a possible cause of autism. In 1998 a gastroenterologist called Andrew Wakefield and his team of clinicians identified 12 children, eight of whom suffered regressive autism and gastrointestinal disease. After publishing this case paper, concluding that it did NOT prove an association with MMR, Dr. Wakefield studied a further 161 children, 91 of whom had bowel disease and a further 70 who did not.

He found measles virus in the guts of 75 of the children with bowel disease and only in five of the healthy children. He called this condition "measles enterocolitis".

Add a Comment87 Comments

(reply to AnnieG)

When I said thousands of studies I meant about vaccines in general, not just autism. Of course I haven't read thousands on autism. I can post some of what I've read on here if you want me to, but I don't think you really do.

Regarding effect of numerous vaccines, here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20010978

http://www.deepdyve.com/lp/ios-press/state-legislations-that-limit-the-use-of-thimerosal-in-vaccines-for-EQpIY2NYDA

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20628439

September 11, 2011 - 4:32am

Prevalence is how much disease there is in the population and incidence is how many new people are getting the disease, so if you had an epidemic you would be looking at incidence, but both of them would go up - they would with autism, anyway, since in many cases it is a life long disability.

No one answered my questions.

September 10, 2011 - 4:59pm
(reply to Joanna Karpasea-Jones)

Thank you, Joanna. Now can you cite quality incidence studies which show a substantial increase in autistic spectrum disorders? The CDC's ADDM studies were not incidence studies, and the California DDS data are not suitable for determining incidence (according to the CDDS).

Do you understand how problematic it is to compare 1980s era prevalence studies of autistic disorder with 2000s era rates of all autistic spectrum disorders?

September 10, 2011 - 7:13pm

Joanna wrote in the article (not later comments)
"He found measles virus in the guts of 75 of the children with bowel disease and only in five of the healthy children".

No. Wakefield's team didn't find measles virus. The techniques Wakefield's team used was fatally flawed in two dimensions: in PCR analysis, they used a primer that wasn't specific for measles, AND they had contamination in the lab.

See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1954854/?tool=pubmed and http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/4/1664.full.pdf+html

Joanna went on to write "It was already widely known that wild measles virus can cause colitis so theoretically a live virus vaccine like MMR could do the same. (3 and 4)"

Citation 3 is a news report about Wakefield's 2002 study Citation 4 is a link to Wakefield's 2002 study. The study was analyzed and found methodologically fatally flawed in the two papers above. So no, it wasn't "widely known", except in Wakefield's heated imagination.

September 10, 2011 - 4:58pm

Joanna, do you know the difference between autism prevalence and autism incidence? Which one is used to determine an epidemic or outbreak?

September 10, 2011 - 3:16pm

It was meant for the other person. What I wanted to know was, where he heard that Wakefield was offered money to prove MMR caused autism and didn't take it, and why in a pro-vaccine study I mentioned, did they exclude people if they'd been vaccinated with MMR less than 6 months before??

And why, if encephalopathy after vaccines is caused by a latent seizure disorder, do we not genetic test everyone for this and for mitochondrial dysfunction?

If the methods by which Wakefield detected the measles virus were wrong, then they should be asking him to repeat using different methods or draft in someone who isn't working for vaccine companies to do the studies. Until this is properly looked into for the children's sake (and that's the only reason I even talk about this, for the children's sake) and NOT for the sake of preserving the MV vaccination program, then rates of autism are still going to climb. Many kids with autism are so brain damaged they are in diapers all their life and can't do anything, as someone from autism news, I'm sure you know all that anyway.

September 10, 2011 - 2:33pm
(reply to Joanna Karpasea-Jones)

Joanna wrote,
"If the methods by which Wakefield detected the measles virus were wrong, then they should be asking him to repeat using different methods".

Many, many other studies with thousands of subjects have looked for a link between MMR and autism and have failed to find said link.

Why would anybody fund a study to look for an imaginary connection?

Why waste limited resources for autism research on a failed hypothesis?

The Autism Omnibus Proceedings, which had a very low standard of proof ("50% +a feather") failed to find convincing evidence for MMR + thimerosal, MMR, or thimerosal alone.

There's no causal connection between thimerosal in vaccines and autism. There's no causal connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. There's no causal connection between thimerosal + MMR and autism.

There's no real reason to hypothesize that anything having to do with vaccines is causal in autism.

Joanna's demand for Wakefield's study to be repeated is in effect a demand to rob the slender coffers of autism research. The need is so great -- to mention just a few: are there sound methods of early identification? What are they? What are good avenues for early intervention? What is it about autism that so severely affects receptive and expressive language? What can be done to ameliorate these barriers to communication? What about effective supports for people with autism across the lifetime?

Joanna, please answer why repeating studies for failed hypotheses should have research funding when these other needs are unmet.

September 11, 2011 - 5:56pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Joanna Karpasea-Jones)

"What I wanted to know was, where he heard that Wakefield was offered money to prove MMR caused autism and didn't take it”

See the BMJ. Supported by the UK’s notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws, Wakefield could sue if he believes that he has even the slightest chance of success. In his previous attempt, Wakefield withdrew, and Deer was reimbursed for his legal expenses.

“[W]hy in a pro-vaccine study I mentioned, did they exclude people if they'd been vaccinated with MMR less than 6 months before??”

That was clearly explained in the paper.

“[W]hy, if encephalopathy after vaccines is caused by a latent seizure disorder, do we not genetic test everyone for this and for mitochondrial dysfunction?”

(1) The mutations are rare. (2) The mutations have nothing to do with mitochondrial dysfunction. (3) A costly genetic test would have a very low yield. (4) This has nothing to do with vaccination, and the condition cannot be prevented.

“If the methods by which Wakefield detected the measles virus were wrong, then they should be asking him to repeat using different methods or draft in someone who isn't working for vaccine companies to do the studies.”

The methods Wakefield used have been shown to be “wrong” in that they produced what were clearly and repeatedly false-positive results which could have been shown to be false-positive by more careful work. Wakefield’s student, Dr. Nick Chadwick, testified that the putative measles-positive results from gut biopsies of children with autism were in fact uniformly false positives. Dr. Chadwick was not supported by pharmaceutical companies, but by Wakefield’s grants; moreover, Chadwick was exquisitely dependent on Wakefield, not only for his immediate support but for support for his long-term scientific ambitions. Wakefield was asked to repeat his study, but he declined.

"Until this is properly looked into for the children's sake (and that's the only reason I even talk about this, for the children's sake) and NOT for the sake of preserving the MV vaccination program, then rates of autism are still going to climb."

This has been "properly looked into" and it is clear that Wakefield was wrong. Rates of autism may indeed climb as a result of Wakefield's egregious errors: since MMR vaccination has prevented thousands of cases of ASD over the last decade, declining uptake of MMR courtesy of Wakefield (and with the help of uninformed people like you) should produce more cases of ASD:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/11/340

Strong work. You must be so proud.

September 10, 2011 - 8:15pm

Which questions? Do you mean your reply to anonymous, that starts out with the reference to Phil Plaitt's website, Bad Science? I'm not as well versed on l'affaire Wakefield as others, but I can still tell you are seriously out of your depth on this subject. For instance, you wrote:
"Again, how do they really know that Wakefield detected human DNA with the Crohns study?"
The point is, I believe, that the methods used by Wakefield were unable to differentiate between the two. So we don't know if he was looking at human DNA or not.
BTW, measles is an RNA virus, IIRC.

September 10, 2011 - 12:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Joanna, I sure appreciate the informed repartee on your part here. Clearly "Anonymous" is brainwashed, or part of, the medical establishment or Big Pharma who do not wish to see the truth get out. This is such a controversial issue because it is so dangerous for them, and so important. Keep up your very excellent work!

September 10, 2011 - 12:26am
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