In the last twenty years, there has been a rise in the number of parents of autistic children who have been panic stricken trying to find a "cure". Despite evidence that autism is most likely genetic, these parents are unwilling to accept this, and in the process are neglecting their children by sinking time and money into finding a cure when they should be having their children taught how to cope with their differences in the real world.
One theory being propagated is that all forms of Autism are nothing more than mercury poisoning. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and the Center for Disease Control have dismissed this, but it hasn't stopped the panic stricken parents screaming conspiracy theories. This particularly attacks a financial arrangement (supposed) between pharmaceutical companies and the FDA and the CDC, in order to try to retain a preservative known as thimerosal (AKA thiomersal outside the US) which was used to preserve vaccines. Invented in 1931, the alarmists claim that this ties in with Leo Kanner's paper on Autism in 1943. To add to this, there is also a claim that in or around 1990 the amount of thimerosal was increased, leading to (supposedly) an increase in the diagnosis rate of ASD's. Also, a number of parents are claiming success with the use of chelation, the established treatment for not just mercury poisoning but other heavy metal poisoning as well.
The only way any credence could be given to the thimerosal theory in its early stages would be if all of Leo Kanner's subjects for his 1943 study were 12 years old or younger. For the study to get the attention it got at the time, there is no way it would have been taken seriously unless the ages of the subjects were more widespread. There had to be older subjects in Kanner's study.
Kanner Was Not the First
The assumption is also made that Kanner's work was brand new and unprecedented. Funding for such work was much harder to get in those days, so there had to be pre-existing information. And in this case there was. Schizophrenia. Named in 1908 by Eugene Bleuler, the symptoms at that time were similar to Autism in its basic form. It would have been the variables that attracted Kanner's attention, as well as the fact that Bleuler used the word "Autism" in 1912 - 19 years before the alarmists claimed Autism was born. And even Bleuler had previous work to refer to. In 1893, Emil Kraepelin did a paper on "youth dementia". Again, the symptomatic similarities between this and Autism are stark. There is no doubt that Autism existed in 1893 at least. Then there's the Wild Boy of Aveyron in the late 1700's. Anecotal evidence of "youth dementia" can be traced back as far as 2000 BC in Greece.
Partly because of the similarities between the two, it wasn't unknown as recently as the 1990s for autism to be mis-diagnosed as Schizophrenia.
This changed with first the text revision of the DSM-III and then the introduction of the DSM-IV on the back of the ICD-10. This diagnostic criteria set out to not only separate Autism from Schizophrenia, but also to take into account the work that had done translating the work of Hans Asperger from German to English. This led to a marked improvement in the diagnosing of the spectrum. This is the true reason - in part - for the increase in diagnosed children. Not only that, there were also parents seeking to find excuses for their bad parenting and consequently poorly-behaved children, and pressure was put on psychiatrists and psychologists to diagnose a Spectrum condition as it was prior to the DSM-5.
Vaccines that contain mercury have ethyl mercury. This is the same mercury that is found in our everyday life (including naturally in breast milk) at higher doses than in vaccines.
The mercury that can be especially toxic is methyl mercury. This is the mercury that the recommendations pertain to. It’s the mercury that is caused by us through oxidation and processing that we also encounter in life. Fish ingest the products of methyl mercury which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid it.
This kills the thimerosal argument outright, proving that there is more than one type of mercury, and that they aren't referring to the right one. Pure mercury (AKA Quicksilver) kills. Methyl mercury - whilst not as lethal can also kill, and is partly the reason for the development of chelation. Ethyl mercury - in small doses as indicated - is safe. It is ethyl mercury that is contained in thimerosal. Vaccines in the US apparently used to contain 25 micrograms of thimerosal. It is not known what percentage of the vaccine that is, but as 1 million micrograms equals one gram it would be a lot less than 1 percent.
The Direct Comparison
An article was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, titled "Thiomersal and Autism?" in 2003. This was used by the Facebook page "Refutations to Anti Vax Memes" to create a meme that highlighted the differences between mercury poisoning and Autism. From the meme, here are the comparisons;
- SIGNS OF AUTISM IN CHILDREN
- Increased head size (mercury poisoning causes a decrease in head size)
- Coordinated, repetitive, rhythmic, ritualistic behaviours with stimming and stereotypics (mercury poisoning causes difficulty in coordinating muscles to perform movements or tasks AKA Ataxia)
- Normal vision (mercury poisoning causes constricted visual fields)
- Delayed development of speech (mercury poisoning causes muscles issues preventing the mouth from talking or at least restricting it)
The fact remains that there is enough evidence available to at the very least implant reasonable doubt that thimerosal is in any way connected to Autism. The FDA and the CDC know this, and it's why they rightly ignore the alarmists. That does not in any way provide any proof that the proverbial brown paper bags are being exchanging under the table between the two authorities and the pharmaceutical companies. Or that any US politicians are involved. Conspiracy theories and childish alarmist behavior delays the understanding of all Autism, which is crucial for the long term future of all diagnosed subjects. Children and adults.