How do mercury emissions affect pregnant mothers, the unborn and toddlers? Do the level of emissions impact autism rates? Does it matter whether a mercury-emitting source is 10 miles away from families versus 20 miles? Is the risk of autism greater for children who live closer to the pollution source?
A newly published study of Texas school district data and industrial mercury-release data, conducted by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, indeed shows a statistically significant link between pounds of industrial release of mercury and increased autism rates. It also shows — for the first time in scientific literature — a statistically significant association between autism risk and distance from the mercury source.
“This is not a definitive study, but just one more that furthers the association between environmental mercury and autism,” said lead author Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D., associate professor of family and community medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. The article is in the journal Health & Place.
Dr. Palmer, Stephen Blanchard, Ph.D., of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and Robert Wood of the UT Health Science Center found that community autism prevalence is reduced by 1 percent to 2 percent with each 10 miles of distance from the pollution source.
“This study was not designed to understand which individuals in the population are at risk due to mercury exposure,” Dr. Palmer said. “However, it does suggest generally that there is greater autism risk closer to the polluting source.”
The study should encourage further investigations designed to determine the multiple routes of mercury exposure. “The effects of persistent, low-dose exposure to mercury pollution, in addition to fish consumption, deserve attention,” Dr. Palmer said. “Ultimately, we will want to know who in the general population is at greatest risk based on genetic susceptibilities such as subtle deficits in the ability to detoxify heavy metals.”
“We suspect low-dose exposures to various environmental toxicants, including mercury, that occur during critical windows of neural development among genetically susceptible children may increase the risk for developmental disorders such as autism,” the authors wrote.
- Mercury-release data examined were from 39 coal-fired power plants and 56 industrial facilities in Texas.
- Autism rates examined were from 1,040 Texas school districts.
- For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by all industrial sources in Texas into the environment in 1998, there was a corresponding 2.6 percent increase in autism rates in the Texas school districts in 2002.
- For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by Texas power plants in 1998, there was a corresponding 3.7 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.
- Autism prevalence diminished 1 percent to 2 percent for every 10 miles from the source.
- Mercury exposure through fish consumption is well documented, but very little is known about exposure routes through air and ground water.
- There is evidence that children and other developing organisms are more susceptible to neurobiological effects of mercury.
“We need to be concerned about global mercury emissions since a substantial proportion of mercury releases are spread around the world by long-range air and ocean currents,” Dr. Palmer said. “Steps for controlling and eliminating mercury pollution on a worldwide basis may be advantageous. This entails greener, non-mercury-polluting technologies.”
13-year old Michelle Cedillo is at the center of a court case pitting thousands of families of children with autism against the medical establishment. While a number of prestigious medical institutions say there is no link between vaccines and autism, the families believe vaccines caused their children’s autism, and have taken their case to court.
Theresa and Mike Cedillo, Michelle’s parents, believe the MMR vaccine, which at the time contained a mercury-based preservative, drastically altered the course of their daughter’s development. Within days of receiving the injection, Michelle suffered from a high fever, persistent vomiting and problems with her digestion — and also stopped speaking and no longer responded to her name.
Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, claims the apparent connection between vaccines and autism is “nothing more than a sad coincidence.”
But families who believe vaccines can trigger autism point to the case of 9-year-old Hannah Poling; the U.S. government conceded that vaccines "significantly aggravated" her underlying illness, predisposing her to symptoms of autism.
The court heard testimony in the Cedillo claim in June of 2007. Testimony in other test cases is scheduled for 2008.
Sources: CNN.com April 2, 2008
The following vaccines still contain 25 mcg of mercury per 0.5 ml:
DT (diphtheria and tetanus) multi-dose vial
Several brands of the 2006/2007 influenza formulas
Meningococcal multi-dose vial
Interestingly, as they’ve removed mercury from most childhood vaccinations, the flu shots still have plenty of it – courtesy of a 2007 Presidential veto against its removal. And guess what? Now the standard recommendation is to vaccinate your child against the flu EVERY YEAR. Come on!
Why the persistent insistence on injecting mercury into our children?
But there is hope…
Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are actors and parents actively involved in autism-related causes. McCarthy is the author of the book "Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism."
Actress Jenny McCarthy believes that vaccines could have contributed to her son’s autism.
(CNN) — In light of the recent Hannah Poling decision, in which the federal court conceded that vaccines could have contributed to her autism, we think the tide is finally turning in the direction of parents like us who have been shouting concerns from our rooftops for years.
Autism is a debilitating disorder, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is suffered by 1 in 150 kids, making it more common than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.
Recently, England and Ireland reported that autism is affecting one in 58 individuals.
Is it any wonder that autism has become many new parents’ No. 1 fear?
We’ve met some of the most amazing moms and dads who are forging their own path to prevention and recovery. When our son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism we were lucky enough to benefit from their knowledge and experience. Evan has been healed to a great extent by many breakthroughs that, while perhaps not scientifically proven, have definitely helped Evan and many other children who are recovering from autism. Parents vs. scientists: Watch the latest test case »
There are some who wonder what we mean when we say "recovering" from autism. They confuse the word recover with cure. While you may not be able to cure an injury caused in a terrible car accident, you can recover; you can regain many skills that you once lost. In the case of autism, we think there are treatments that often bring about such healing, so that the observable symptoms of the condition no longer exist. Even though we may no longer see any symptoms of autism, we can’t say a child is "cured" because we do not know what they would have been like had they never been injured.
We believe what helped Evan recover was starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet, vitamin supplementation, detox of metals, and anti-fungals for yeast overgrowth that plagued his intestines. Once Evan’s neurological function was recovered through these medical treatments, speech therapy and applied behavior analysis helped him quickly learn the skills he could not learn while he was frozen in autism. After we implemented these therapies for one year, the state re-evaluated Evan for further services. They spent five minutes with Evan and said, "What happened? We’ve never seen a recovery like this." Watch Jenny McCarthy talk about her son’s autism »
Evan is now 5 years old and what might surprise a lot of you is that we’ve never been contacted by a single member of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or any other health authority to evaluate and understand how Evan recovered from autism. When Evan meets doctors and neurologists, to this day they tell us he was misdiagnosed — that he never had autism to begin with. It’s as if they are wired to believe that children can’t recover from autism. Watch CDC chief on vaccines, autism »
So where’s the cavalry? Where are all the doctors beating down our door to take a closer look at Evan? We think we know why they haven’t arrived. Most of the parents we’ve met who have recovered their child from autism as we did (and we have met many) blame vaccines for their child’s autism.
We think our health authorities don’t want to open this can of worms, so they don’t even look or listen. While there is strong debate on this topic, many parents of recovered children will tell you they didn’t treat their child for autism; they treated them for vaccine injury. Read about latest fight over vaccines and autism
Many people aren’t aware that in the 1980s our children received only 10 vaccines by age 5, whereas today they are given 36 immunizations, most of them by age 2. With billions of pharmaceutical dollars, could it be possible that the vaccine program is becoming more of a profit engine then a means of prevention?
We believe autism is an environmental illness. Vaccines are not the only environmental trigger, but we do think they play a major role. If we are going to solve this problem and finally start to reverse the rate of autism, we need to consider changing the vaccine schedule, reducing the number of shots given and removing certain ingredients that could be toxic to some children.
We take into account that some children have reactions to medicines like penicillin, for example, yet when it comes to vaccines we are operating as if our kids have a universal tolerance for them. We are acting like ONE SIZE FITS ALL. That is, at the very least, a huge improbability.
Even if the CDC is not convinced of a link between vaccines and autism, changing the vaccine schedule should be seriously considered as a precautionary measure. (If you would like to see some ideas for alternative schedules, check out http://generationrescue.org.)
We wish to state, very clearly, that we are not against all vaccines, but we do believe there is strong evidence to suggest that some of the ingredients may be hazardous and that our children are being given too many, too soon!
By Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey