Vaccine/Autism/ADHD/Mercury Hoo Ha

On other message boards, people frequently post inflammatory remarks about the risks of vaccines for babies and children, and possible links to autism and ADHD. I’ve always ignored their posts, as most of them sounded like idiots and didn’t give cites.

I happened upon an article that seems to discuss the issue intelligently and at some length, so I wanted to ask the knowledgeable people here if there’s anything to it.

A few passages:

What’s your question? I tried to respond and I realised that I’m not sure what you are asking :).

I’m a believer in biomedical treatment of autism and I’m happy to talk about that (with cites even!). I also think there’s a lot of shonky science around this topic and a lot of desperate parents. However in the autism and biomedical community, there are children who are responding well to the various protocols.

I’m not as convinced about the link between vaccination, mercury and autism. I do think that heavy metals are playing a role for some kids with autism and when you treat that, you see results. I’m not as convinced that these kids are getting the heavy metals from vaccination (especially as we should be seeing a downturn in the number of dx’es now and it’s debatable whether we are). My kids are not vaccinated and they are both on the spectrum. Would they be more severely affected if I had vaccinated? I don’t know.

My younger son has come from being non-verbal at 4, stimming constantly to the point that he can pass as NT some of the time. Put him back on gluten and casein, take away the supplements and digestive enzymes and Autistic Boy is back within hours. My developmental paed who is far from supporting the diet described him as a miracle and said he’s never seen any kid recover as well as K in such a short time. I don’t regret the time or the money we’ve spent on this but I’ve known other parents who have done it and had no change.

I think the OP is asking if the person interviewed is giving accurate facts.

I don’t know the answer so I’ll add my own question: :wink:

There’s significant amounts of metals like Mercury and Aluminum in vaccines? Why?


Research was published this year reporting that autism is the result when the child’s brain doesn’t kill off enough cells. This reduction in size occurs, IIRC, between two and three years of age.

I read about it in Scientific American. I suppose I could try to find which issue, if nobody else can find it. I think it was also reported in Yahoo health news.

It’s also entirely possible that the “autism spectrum” is more than one disorder, and thus there is more than one cause or more than one effective treatment, and that what works with one autistic child won’t work with another.

There have been a couple of large studies done regarding the vaccination/autism link in Europe, and they have all failed to demonstrate any sort of link between the two, other than the fact that the age of some vaccinations coincides with the onset/diagnosis of the disorder. In other words, it’s a coincidence. There are unvaccinated children with severe autism, and vaccinated children with no sign of it.

Parents want an easy answer, and an easy solution. Lack of either can be frustrating.

There’s also the supposed link between autism and food allergies. Well, I dunno… as someone who does have food allergies (but not autism) I can say that when I was diagnosed and my diet altered I suddenly felt a whole lot better, more alert, and became a more pleasent human being because I wasn’t physically miserable anymore. It may be that some of the improvement in autistic children with allergies is due to similar reasons - they feel better and thus become more cooperative, even tempered, etc. - but that doesn’t mean the food allergies caused the autism. It may just mean the unfortunate kid has two problems that need to dealt with.

It’s really unfair to say that parents of kids with autism want easy answers and easy solutions. Really unfair. In fact I feel deeply pissed off at being stigmatised that way. The solution I have found which is working in part for one of my children is neither easy nor a full solution. It’s incredibly hard work but parenting a child with full on autism is much harder work. Every parent i know who has a kid with autism wants answers no matter how hard it is. Trust me living with a kid who is drifting away is the hardest thing in the world.

I certainly think that autism is a multi-factorial issue and that we will discover different causes and solutions the more research that is done. Food intolerances for K play a definite role. The opioid theory is interesting. But at this point in time we simply do not know enough. It’s really frustrating trying to figure what is the best thing to do.

The brain pruning theory is interesting but is it the cause or the effect?

There’s no longer mercury or other heavy metals in vaccines. They were there to act as preservatives.

OK, I’m all over the place with this post. K fell upstairs tonight and we’ve been at the ER for hours. He didn’t need stitches – hallelujah because that would have been GA time but he did have his chin glued and his first vaccination for tetanus. Thimerosal free :wink:

Here is a link to “Autismwatch”, an affiliate of Quackwatch. The site is very new and incomplete.

I hardly see it as a stigma; I’ve a child with two severe incurable illnesses, and I want easy answers and easy solutions too. Failing that, we settle for what we can get, but the parent in me longs for a magic wand to make things better. And some days I feel angry and pissed off and resentful and scared that we don’t have that magic wand. And I’m a practicing doc with a medical scientist background!

Qadgop in another thread you asserted that there was no mercury in the flu vaccine. Well, everything I’ve seen makes statements to the contrary. It’s acknowledged that some flu vaccines w/out thimersol are out there & “you should ask”. Yeah, right - when there’s a shortage anyway? I guess you could argue that there’s so little thimersol in all vaccines now (assuming the old ones w/it have been used up) that there’s no longer a risk of cumulative effect. Was that your point, or do we disagree?

Forgot the link:

I like this site because the credentials and studies are referenced and cited so you can look them up yourself.

My mistake. I thought that when the mercury-free flu vaccine was introduced in 2000 or 2001, that the thimerosol was phased out at the same time. I see I was mistaken. [/end hijack]

Yeah, you’re right – if someone hands me that magic wand for my guys I’d be over the moon. I was tired and emotional last night – angry and pissed off and resentful and scared after hours in the ER with a very distressed child.

broomstick something I didn’t address last night about the food intolerance/allergy theory with autism is that it’s not just about taking the food out. The theory is that these children have damaged guts and are not absorbing nutrients so you take out the casein and the gluten, work to heal the gut with probiotics and you also supplement with a lot of vitamins and minerals.

All I know is that my child is doing far better than was predicted. And when he deviates from the diet or we run out of his supplements, he regresses in a way which he doesn’t at other times. I know autism is cyclical and regression is the norm but there is a clear link. It’s working for us, I am deeply grateful and one day I’d like to see good hard science to show which kids need this treatment so that they can get it. Or proof that what I am doing can’t possibly work so we can figure out what it was that did work ;). Because he’s doing wonderfully in ways that are totally unexpected.

The amount of mercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines is quite small and, IIRC, substantially less than the average environmental exposure. This does not mean it’s acceptable to use a mercury compound in any pharmaceutical, but it does probably mean that it is not dangerous to do so. I don’t support the thimerosal-autism link at all, but I also don’t support thimerosal.

Primaflora: When you say ‘treat the [heavy metal toxicity]’, do you mean with chelation therapy? That method is useful in acute heavy metal poisoning but it could not undo damage that had already occurred.

If heavy metal toxicity is an important factor in autism, you’d expect that diagnoses would go down because lead, at least, is far less common than it once was, and probably the same goes for mercury. Instead, we see diagnoses increasing. There is a significant possibility that this is because of increased awareness and broadened definitions of autism. (For example, a child with a learning disability but normal social interaction might be labeled autistic in some areas.)

I personally think that autism is primarily if not wholly genetic. (I can look for some references if they’re desired.) People who claim that a disorder is caused by something for which there might be a conflict of interest – psychological theories, nutritional theories, odd environmental theories – immediately arouse suspicion in my mind. This is particularly true for things like processed foods and vaccines for which there has been enduring resistance. Some people oppose vaccination for non-scientific reasons, then claim to have found scientific justification for their hypothesis. Psychological theories that blame a parent are particularly cruel.

Now, Primaflora, if you’ve found something that works for your son, then there must be a reason for that. It may not be that all the therapies are working, and they may not work for everyone, but I don’t think it’d be coincidence if you consistently observe worsening when the therapies are halted. Hopefully, you can find out what works and why so others might benefit.

And I’ll kick in We give them so much metal early in life, specifically through the hepatitis B vaccine given at birth, that their bodies keep producing metallothionein, which is what helps us to remove metals from the body. After their biochemistry is depleted, they end up with an inability to handle any metal at all.
? I never knew that there was a substance that my body can produce that has a limited amount…I can only produce 1 liter of ummagummathiogiumma in my whole life? What about if I take my vitamins, can’t I produce more ? I understand that fer sake of argument that we produce some sort of enzyme to digest milk, and it gets turned off in some people, but does this metallothionein do that or is this bullpucky?

avrugan the metallothionein theory relates to the hypothesis that autism is a metabolic condition. So while you can produce it, a person with autism cannot and therefore cannot process heavy metals.

Roches I’ve not done chelation with my kid. I did have a hair analysis test done earlier this year which showed low mercury and acceptable levels of everything else. However all the committed chelation zealots told me that this just indicated bad things because it meant he had heavy metals bound in his system. Ooookay so the circular logic goes like this – low levels mean you chelate and high levels mean you chelate. Feh.

There’s a lot of debate over whether there is a true increase in autism or merely better diagnosis. I think it’s a bit of both (and no, I don’t accept your example of a child with LDs who has some autistic features, a child should only be dx’ed when they meet the DSM IV or the ICM (? not sure I’ve got that acronym right).

It’s a really messy field. In some ways it’s a horrible time to be a parent of a child with autism and in some ways it’s really exciting. I wish we had more definitive answers on how to help. there’s some hideous junk science out there – I can’t imagine who would believe that someone playing tones over the phone to their child at great expense could work but then desperation leads to people doing weird things.

Final disclaimer – I honestly don’t know what I think about a lot of what is out there. I do what seems to make sense and what is unlikely to do harm. I know enough other people who have done what I have done and who have had poor results to know that we are chasing needles in haystacks and some of us get lucky.

Well, that’s in no way inconsistent with my experience with food allergies. Left untreated, and the child continually exposed to an allergen, it can cause all sorts of havoc in any child with food allergies. Not to get too gross, but before I was diagnosed I would have weeks of diarrhea, inexplicable bouts of vomiting, I was losing weight despite eating plenty of food even when I wasn’t upchucking, and I was going from one ear infection to another which was affecting my hearing, which was affecting my school work, and I had bronchitis multiple times in a year and surely that wasn’t doing me any good… Untreated, allergies, celiac disease, and food intolerances can cause physical damage to one degree or another.

Identifying my food allergies/intolerences took some time, and even after those foods were eliminated it took some time to heal. I took vitamins and mineral supplements during those periods, and it did me a lot of good. Wow, all of a sudden I could concentrate, I could hear better so I was picking up a lot more of what was going on around me, I had more energy, I wasn’t nearly as cranky, I felt better. I was calmer, less tempermental, a better student… It makes perfect sense to me that if a child is already having problems the physical miseries of food allergies or intolerances would only exacerbate symptoms.

Now… are your child’s problems related to his asthma… or a second problem alongside the autism? It could be that the way he is with a controlled diet is his true baseline, and the allergies were causing more problems on top of that. Or maybe they are connected. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is making your child as healthy as he possibly can be. If that means no more dairy or no more gluten so be it… I’ve had to give up a number of foods, many that I enjoyed, in order to keep my health. It’s a small price to pay for the improvement in my life.

If your child has trouble communicating then maybe he couldn’t tell you that he felt bad… in fact, if he felt bad like that all his life then he didn’t know he could feel different. All he could do was react. Ask my mother how difficult it is to cope with an otherwise normal child with food allergies - or ask my sister, who’s daughter had even more allergy problems than I ever had. Your kid is sick, can’t tell you why or what’s wrong, and you’re tearing your hair out trying to figure out what the hell is going on here… sound famillar? The kid is cranky, wants to be left alone, may not want to be touched (when my skin allergies are acting up I can’t bear to be touched by another human being - it’s horribly, painfully itchy), may develop odd habits or aversions that are seemingly inexplicable… again, does any of that sound famillar? It’s not that autism and allergies are the same thing, or that one is more difficult to deal with than another, it’s just that if you have a kid that is already withdrawing from the world, feeling physically ill and having skin that hurts when it’s touched is only going to make that withdrawal worse. Yes, that makes perfect sense to me, how the one could aggravate the other.

If your child is autistic AND food allergic then he was two problems, either or both of which can have a major, major impact on his life.

I recently read a book by a woman named Temple Grandin, who is something of an authority on autism herself, having developed a few techniques that seem to help some folks with autism.* She claims that autistic people suffer from a much higher incidence of allergies than average, which is interesting, but also points out that some do not suffer from them. She advocates a rather pragmatic approach. In other words, if a diet change seems to help your son by all means go for it, provided he is, in fact, getting all the proper nutrition he needs. If there’s little risk for harm why not? One advantage to being omnivores is that we can eliminate many foods from our diets yet still be able to eat enough variety to get all the nutrition we need. If you can use that trait to help your son then by all means do so!

  • She developed some of these techniques to help herself, in fact - she is a highly functional autistic, but most definitely a full autistic and not someone with Asperger’s.

:dubious: OK, so it isnt present, but that [to me at least] doesnt mean that the body can only produce a finite quantity of the stuff, and once you hit that quantity it turns off…I would more be inclined to believe that the stuff can’t be made because of some other something catalyzing it…like you have had enough heavy metal to kill some small micro gland somewhere controlling it, or the cells stop producing it sort of like islets of langerhans stopping insulin production [frex - it isnt that i have produced my lifetime supply of insulin and am now shit out of luck, my islets are having a bad day because they have a genetic predisposition to crap out under certain circumstances involving pregnancy - it all started in 1981 with a case of gestational diabetes that never went away :frowning: I can manipulate my blood chemistry somewhat with controling my diet because of the way the body metabolizes things like fat, protein and carbs. ]

I have read enough about and know enough people with dietary allergies to fully believe that a combination of brain chemistry with a dietary trigger is perfectly understandable. Who knows what micronutrients may be needed in minute quantities to make the brain chemistry go whacko, or what micronutrient turns a key in a lock somewhere to make the body produce an obscure chemical to make it run smoothly - like melantonin, affects hubby strongly, I might as well pop m&ms for all it does for me=)