29 Feb 2008

Mercury and autism; What link?!

An Irish anti-vaccination spokesperson has popped up in the letters page of the Irish Independent. He's hoping to cash in on their recent focus on autism to promote his own crank theories:

In respect of the report that certain TDs are demanding special education classes for autistic children, I recall that some years ago, the Irish Independent reported that the National Adult Literacy Agency claimed that more that 400,000 people in this country had some level of difficulty in reading and writing and that the problem is causing an amount of alarm.

Included were an increasing number of brain-damaged autistic children euphemistically classed as "slow learners". Autism is still on the increase worldwide, and nobody is asking why. We should be concerned about prevention and not education and we no longer can ignore the pharmaceutical link to autism and other infant disorders since the dangers of mercury in infant vaccines
have been known for decades. In the US, where vaccination is compulsory, autism is now an epidemic with an increase of 1,354pc and $90bn (€59.4bn) annual health care costs.

In 1976, one in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism. By the year 2004 the figure was an one in 166.

Mercury is extremely dangerous to vulnerable infants. We need to bear in mind that when the Hep B and HiB vaccines were added to the recommended schedule of infant jabs the cumulative amount of mercury to which infants were exposed nearly tripled.

At the 2004 Autism One Conference in Chicago, Jeff Sell, the personal injury trial attorney on behalf of vaccine injury litigants, produced a copy of an email written on June 29, 1999 by a former scientist for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Peter Patriarca, which stated:

"I will raise questions about FDA being 'asleep at the switch' for decades, by allowing a potentially hazardous compound to remain in many infant vaccines, and not forcing vaccine firms to exclude it from new products. I will also raise questions about various advisory bodies' aggressive recommendations for use.

"We must keep in mind that the dose of ethyl mercury was not generated by 'rocket science'; conversion of the percentage of Thimerosal to actual micrograms of mercury involves 9th-grade algebra."


I dashed off a quick comment, working to keep it less than 1000 characters as mandated by their software.

1. Autistic people are neither 'brain damaged' nor necessarily, 'slow learners.'
2. The evidence shows that actual autism rates are not increasing.
3. The diagnostic criteria for autism were widened between 1976 and 2004, meaning more people are eligible for the autism label.
4. The proponents of a vaccine link to autism have no evidence to back this claim. Many large scientific studies have failed to make such a connection. The 'Archives of Disease in Childhood' Feb 2008 paper by Baird et al shows no evidence of an MMR-autism link.
5. Thiomersal is no longer used in childhood vaccines in Ireland, or in the USA. It has never been used in the MMR vaccine.
6. The ethyl mercury in thiomersal, is quickly excreted. (see Paediatrics, Feb 2008)
7. A 9 year old email of questionable veracity is of no relevance to these issues.
8. Mercury poisoning bears no resemblance to autism.
9. More children are getting preventable infectious diseases as vaccination rates decrease. Sadly, some die.

If space had allowed, I'm sure I'm sure I could have come up with more. But perhaps it's best I didn't get the opportunity to express what I really think of Mr Carroll's correspondence. It wouldn't have been too lady-like.


Club 166 said...

Wow! That's a lot of information to cram into 1000 characters.

Well done!


S.L. said...

This line really thrilled me:

"We should be concerned about prevention and not education..."

Geez, sir, a big fat THANKS from my family to yours.

Wonderful reply you wrote, that was awesome! KUDOS!!

Sharon McDaid said...

Thanks Joe. I'll have to write a proper letter when I get back.

SL, that line is horrible. I looked up the writer's name and he appears to have a problem with vaccination more than autism, so I took it to mean that he thinks that no vaccination would itself prevent autism. Poor deluded creature!
He probably doesn't give a hoot about autism except when it serves his anti-vaccination agenda.

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

Trouble is that this hypothesis is like a snake in the grass, for wherever some crank has the ability to put pen to paper, the story will take wings. (that's now a flying snake)

I think that trying to educate people on the lack of causal links to vaccine is like preaching to a voodoo audience that illness is not caused by witchcraft when of course they all know it is.

Trouble is these myths kill.

Manuel said...

hey well done last night.......

Sharon McDaid said...

True Larry, and when I spot this particular flying snake on my turf, I'm going to speak out.

Manual, thanks very much. I was rooting for you in the food/drink category, and I was hoping to meet you but never got the chance. Ah well, maybe another time. If only you look like that photo ;-)

Manuel said...

Cheers Sharon.....Yes I look exactly like my picture......but shorter, balder, and somewhat heavier.......but exactly the same.....

Justin Mason said...

great to see this! I posted about the MMR-autism hysteria on my blog (http://taint.org/) last year, and ran into a few of these crackpots too.