Autism Risk Linked To Distance From Power Plants, Other Mercury-releasing Sources
Is the risk of autism greater for children who live closer to the pollution source? (Credit: iStockphoto/Marcin Pawinski)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2008) — 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.”
The new study findings are consistent with a host of other studies that confirm higher amounts of mercury in plants, animals and humans the closer they are to the pollution source. The price on children may be the highest.
“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.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated environmental mercury releases at 158 million tons annually nationwide in the late 1990s, the time period studied by the Texas team. Most exposures were said to come from coal-fired utility plants (33 percent of exposures), municipal/medical waste incinerators (29 percent) and commercial/industrial boilers (18 percent). Cement plants also release mercury.
With the enactment of clean air legislation and other measures, mercury deposition into the environment is decreasing slightly.
Dr. Palmer and his colleagues pointed out the study did not reflect the true community prevalence rates of autism because children younger than school age are not counted in the Texas Education Agency data system. The 1:500 autism rates in the study are lower than the 1:150 autism rates in recent reports of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Furthermore, the authors note that distance was not calculated from individual homes to the pollution source but from central points in school districts that varied widely in area.
Data for environmentally released mercury were from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Toxics Release Inventory. Data for releases by coal-fired power plants came from the same inventory and from the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality. Data for school district autism came from the Texas Education Agency.
Journal reference: Palmer, R.F., et al., Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence. Health & Place (2008), doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2008.02.001.
Adapted from materials provided by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (2008, April 25). Autism Risk Linked To Distance From Power Plants, Other Mercury-releasing Sources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/04/080424120953.htm
The Next Big Autism Bomb: Are 1 in 50 Kids Potentially At Risk?
Posted March 26, 2008 | 09:30 PM (EST)
Read More: Autism, Autism Mitochondria, Autism Thimerosal, Autism Vaccine Mercury, Autism Vaccines, Breaking Living News
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On Tuesday, March 11, a conference call was held between vaccine safety officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several leading experts in vaccine safety research, and executives from America’s Health Insurance Plans, (the HMO trade association) to discuss childhood mitochondrial dysfunction and its potential link to autism and vaccines.
It was a sobering event for all concerned, and it could soon become known as the Conference Call heard ’round the world.
The teleconference was scheduled by a little known CDC agency called the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Network, a consortium of six research centers working on “immunization-associated health risks,” in conjunction with the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office and the health insurance lobby — whose companies cover some 200 million Americans.
The hot topic of the day was mitochondria – the little powerhouses within each cell that convert food and oxygen into energy for use by the body. Recent news events have implicated mitochondria in at least one case of regressive autism, following normal development.
Some researchers on the call reported that mitochondrial dysfunction is probably much more common than the current estimate of 1-in-4,000 people. The potential implications for autism, then, are staggering.
“We need to find out if there is credible evidence, theoretically, to support the idea that childhood mitochondrial dysfunction might regress into autism,” one of the callers reportedly told participants.
“THE CLOCK IS TICKING”
One person on the call (those interviewed for this article asked to remain anonymous) told me that, “the CDC people were informed, in no uncertain terms, that they need to look into this issue immediately, and do something about it.” The clock is ticking, they were told, and if they don’t respond, the information will be made public.
Still, the doctor said, he was enormously impressed by the “seriousness” with which CDC officials treated the possibility of a link between mitochondria, autism and possibly vaccines as well.
In the recent landmark Hannah Poling case, filed in Federal “Vaccine Court,” officials conceded that Hannah’s underlying mitochondrial dysfunction was aggravated by her vaccines, leading to fever and an “immune stimulation that exceeded metabolic reserves.”
But on March 6, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding claimed that Hannah’s case was a rare, virtually one-of-a-kind incident with little, if any relevance to the other 4,900 autism claims currently pending in the court — or to any other case of autism for that matter.(There were conflicting accounts about whether Gerberding was on the call or not).
Since then, however, Dr. Gerberding and other CDC officials were made aware of a Portuguese study, published last October, which reported that 7.2% of children with autism had confirmed mitochondrial disorders. The authors also noted that, “a diversity of associated medical conditions was documented in 20%, with an unexpectedly high rate of mitochondrial respiratory chain disorders.”
“Apparently, the Portuguese study really got their attention,” one of the participants said. “It’s a highly significant finding. And it’s worrisome enough to definitely look into. I think the CDC people know that.”
They also know that some reports estimate the rate of mitochondrial dysfunction in autism to be 20% or more. And the rate among children with the regressive sub-type of autism is likely higher still.
Vaccine safety officials on the March 11 call may have been open to discussing mitochondria and autism, but they were probably highly unprepared for what was to come next.
One doctor reported his findings from a five-year study of children with autism, who also showed clinical markers for impaired cellular energy, due to mild dysfunction of their mitochondria.
The biochemistry of 30 children was studied intensively, and in each case, the results showed the same abnormalities as those found in Hannah Poling, participants said. Each child had moderate elevations or imbalances in the exact same amino acids and liver enzymes as Hannah Poling.
All thirty children also displayed normal, healthy development until about 18-24 months of age, when they quickly regressed into clinically diagnosed autism (and not merely “features of autism”), following some type of unusual trigger, or stress, placed on their immune system.
Researchers explained on the call that some data show that mitochondrial dysfunction can convert into autism “in numbers that make it not a rare occurrence,” one participant told me. They explained this as “a distinct syndrome; not a mixed bag at all. Every kid had mild mitochondria dysfunction and autistic regression.”
Another surprise came when one researcher announced an “inheritance pattern” that linked each case through the genetics of the father: In families where two cousins had autism, the genetic link was always through the father.
This unexpected discovery would clearly implicate nuclear DNA inheritance, and not mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only through the mother.
Gerberding and others had previously insisted that Hannah and her mother, Teri Poling, both had the same single point mutation in their mitochondrial DNA. CDC officials asserted that Hannah had a pre-existing disease, a rare genetic glitch in her mitochondria, that may well have manifested as “features of autism” on its own, perhaps even without an environmental trigger.
“It’s not in the mitochondrial DNA, and it’s not rare,” one participant confirmed. In fact, he said, many people probably carry the nuclear DNA mutation that confers susceptibility to mitochondrial dysfunction, they just don’t know it.
1-in-50 GENETIC RISK?
On the call, speculation on the prevalence of a genetic mutation that could confer mild mitochondrial dysfunction in the general population ranged from about 1-in-400, to a staggering 1-in-50, or 2% of all Americans.
There was talk about the urgent need to do mapping studies, and find the locus of this gene. Some of the researchers said they want to test all 30 children for the actual DNA mutation. There was some expectation that they might discover that the mutation goes back generations, so parents and grandparents might be tested as well.
One belief is that a particular mutated gene may have become prevalent over the centuries, because of selective advantage. Mild mitochondrial dysfunction reportedly has been associated with intelligence, because it can increase activity of the brain’s NMDA receptors. A large number of receptors can produce increased intelligence, but it can also increase risk of brain disease, one doctor explained to me. It’s possible that increased receptor activity acts in same way.
But not everyone agrees that mitochondrial dysfunction is a purely inherited affair. Some researchers believe that, while a susceptibility gene for mitochondrial problems certainly exists, some type of environmental trigger, or “adversity,” as one doctor put it, is needed to turn the mutation into a dysfunction.
The medical literature is replete with studies on mitochondrial health and the adverse impact of mercury, aluminum and other toxins. Even AIDS drugs like AZT and prenatal alcohol consumption can damage mitochondria and impact cellular energy.
The mercury-containing vaccine preservative, thimerosal, for example, “can definitely kill cells in vitro through the mitochondria,” one teleconference participant told me. “And some people are beginning to suspect that the dose of hepatitis B vaccine given at birth might be interfering with proper mitochondrial function in certain children.”
While the cause of mitochondrial dysfunction is up for the debate, so too is its potential effect on regressive autism.
All the researchers I spoke with agreed that, in many cases, there was an underlying, asymptomatic mitochondrial dysfunction, aggravated by some other stressful event imposed on the child’s immune system, resulting in autism.
Such “metabolic decomposition” occurs when a child’s system simply “cannot meet the energy demand needed to fight the stress of illness,” one doctor explained.
But what causes the stress? That is a very big question.
Apparently, in only two of the 30 cases, or 6%, could the regression be traced directly and temporally to immunizations, and one of them was Hannah Poling. In the other cases, there was reportedly some type of documented, fever-inducing viral infection that occurred within seven days of the onset of brain injury symptoms.
All 30 of the regressions occurred between one and two years of age, at a time when the still-developing brain is particularly vulnerable to injury.
But if a significant minority of autism cases was caused by mitochondrial dysfunction aggravated by common childhood illnesses, then shouldn’t we see fewer cases today than, say, at the beginning of the 20th Century? And wouldn’t developing countries likewise show far more prevalence of autism than the United States?
Not necessarily, some experts said. They noted that many viral infections are still quite prevalent in modern-day America, and many children still get these types of viral infections about once a month, on average.
If that is the case, then why doesn’t every child with “mito” dysfunction regress into autism? Surely, they must encounter viral infections during their yearlong window of neurological peril.
Again, not necessarily: Some doctors said it would depend on the severity of the dysfunction, the type of virus encountered, and perhaps other factors that are still not understood.
But at least two of the 30 kids with mito deficiencies were pushed over the edge into autism by their vaccines, and some researchers feel the number is probably much higher than that in the larger population.
“Vaccines, in some cases, can cause an unusually heightened immune reaction, fever, and even mild illness,” one participant said. “A normal vaccine reaction in most kids would be very different in a kid with a metabolic disorder. We know it happened to at least two kids in this study, and I’m certain there are many more Hannahs out there.”
One theory currently in circulation about what happened to Hannah and other children like her, is an apparent “triple domino effect.” According to this hypothesis, it takes three steps and two triggers to get to some types of autism, and it goes like this:
STEP ONE: Child is conceived and born healthy, but with an underlying nuclear DNA genetic susceptibility to mitochondrial dysfunction, inherited from dad.
TRIGGER ONE: An early environmental “adversity” occurs in the womb or during the neonatal period, perhaps caused by prenatal exposure to heavy metals, pollutants, pesticides and medicines. Or, it occurs in early infancy, through environmental toxins, thimerosal exposure, or even the Hepatitis B vaccine “birth dose.” This trigger results in:
STEP TWO: Child develops mild, usually asymptomatic mitochondrial dysfunction (though I wonder if the ear infections and eczema so common in these cases might also be symptoms of mito problems).
TRIGGER TWO: Child, now with an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction, suffers over-stimulation of the immune system beyond the capacity of his or her metabolic reserves. This stress is either via a viral febrile infection, or from multiple vaccinations, as in the Poling case. This trigger results in:
STEP THREE: Acute illness, seizures, encephalopathy, developmental regression, autism.
Such a scenario might help explain why autism has increased right along with the addition of more vaccines to the national schedule.
And it might help explain why autism rates are not plummeting now that thimerosal levels have been significantly reduced in most childhood vaccines.
It’s possible that exposures from the flu shot, and residual mercury left over in other vaccines — perhaps in synergistic effect with aluminum used as an “adjuvant” to boost the immune response – might “contribute to the toxic mix that causes childhood mitochondrial dysfunction in the first place,” one of the doctors said.
But like many hypotheses, this one has competition. Some researchers believe that the modern American diet is largely to blame for an increase in the number of children whose underlying mitochondrial dysfunction is “triggered” into autism by febrile infections.
The answer, they hypothesize, is corn.
The American diet has become extraordinarily dependent on corn oil and corn syrup used in processing, these experts contend. They say that corn oil and syrup are inflammatory, whereas fish oil is anti-inflammatory. Could our diet be a factor in making this mutated gene become more pathogenic? It’s a biochemical defect that leads to biochemical disease, supporters of this theory say: The gene itself becomes more of a problem.
This information raises so many questions it makes your head swim.
First and foremost among them: What to do about vaccinating children with known mitochondrial dysfunction?
In many respects, these kids should be first in line for vaccination, to prevent some illnesses that might trigger an autistic regression during the window of vulnerability. On the other hand, with multiple vaccinations, such as the case with Hannah, there is also a risk of overtaxing the immune system, and likewise triggering regression into autism.
What’s needed most urgently, if possible, is a quick, affordable and efficient method of testing children for low cellular energy, perhaps before vaccination even begins.
There was some discussion on the conference call about altering the vaccine schedule in some way, to lower the risk of immune over-stimulation in susceptible children. Certainly, pressure will grow for a change in the schedule – the question is how, when, and if such changes will be made.
Some of the suggestions may not be popular among public health officials. They include:
1) Establishing a maximum number of vaccine antigens to which any child could be exposed on any given day.
2) Permitting the option of separating out the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) live virus combination vaccines into three distinct “monovalent” shots.
3) Not giving the varicella vaccine (chicken pox) on the same day as the MMR injection – the CDC recently withdrew is recommendation for the Pro-Quad MMR+Varicella vaccine because it doubled the risk of seizures.
Another option is to create new “recommendations for administering multiple vaccines to children who have fallen behind in the recommended childhood immunization schedule,” according to the website of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Hannah had missed some shots and her doctor decided to “catch up” with the schedule by administering five shots, containing nine vaccine antigens, at once. But some autism activists have pointed out that giving five shots in one day is not that uncommon.
Moreover, they claim, many children regressed into autism following normal vaccination, when the parents religiously adhered to the official schedule.
According to the Johns Hopkins site, “Additional research is needed to determine if other children with autism, especially those with ‘the regressive form’ of autism, have the same or similar underlying mitochondrial dysfunction disorders.”
It adds that, “the advisory groups who make recommendations regarding vaccines will undoubtedly examine this case carefully and make decisions regarding the potential need for changes.”
That day may come sooner than you think. It was just announced that, on April 11 in Washington, DC, the National Vaccine Program Office at HHS will convene a meeting of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee’s Vaccine Safety Working Group. The Working Group was established to go over the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office draft research agenda, and to, “review the current vaccine safety system.”
The meeting is open to the public, and I have my seat reserved. But I honestly don’t envy the Working Group’s very tricky task at hand.
It remains to be seen how all this plays out. And many important questions still lie ahead.
For example, if mitochondrial dysfunction turns out to be as common as 200-per-10,000, and autism is now at 66 per 10,000, did anything bad happen to any of the other 134-per-10,000 children, apart from autism (i.e., ADD, ADHD, speech delay, etc.)?
Moreover, if 10-20% of autism cases can actually be traced to an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction, then what about the majority of autism cases where this did not come into play?
And, if 20% of autism cases are mito related, and 6% of those cases regressed because of vaccines, that would mean that at least 1% of all autism cases were vaccine related. Some estimates of autism go as high as a million Americans – that would mean 10,000 people with vaccine-triggered autism, and billions of dollars in the cost of lifetime care.
(While we are on the subject, isn’t it time to fund a study of vaccinated and unvaccinated children, to settle this debate once and for all?)
Finally, the goals of the CISA Network, (which convened the teleconference) are rather progressive and far reaching. It remains to be seen how well the Network fulfills its stated mission, which includes:
Conduct research into “the role of individual variation” on vaccine injury;
“Empower individuals to make informed immunization decisions;”
Help policy makers “in the recommendation of exclusion criteria for at-risk individuals,” and;
“Enhance public confidence in sustaining immunization benefits for all populations”
Let’s see how long it takes before Network members hang out the proverbial banner: “Mission Accomplished.”
Why Vaccines aren’t safe
This two and a half hour presentation, is well researched and presented. Are vacccines safe? Find out how they made it & the LIES about all MERCURY Free vacines. At the end a medical doctor discusses how he gave his child a vaccine and it caused him to have severe autism. He vowed never to vaccinate himself or his family ever again after FINDING out the TRUTH!
AUTISM AND THE CHICAGO POLIO EPIDEMIC
September 13, 1952.
That’s the day Polio was declared an epidemic in Chicago. According to the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times at www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org the city declared it so after it surpassed the “critical level classification” of 720 cases by 9 cases, “at which the disease is classified as having assumed epidemic proportions on the basis of 20 infections for each 100,000 of the city’s 3,600,000 population.”
I was prompted to dig this up after a comment made by Dr. Tom Insel of the NIH. He claimed in response to the question as to why Autism has not yet been declared epidemic, that quite simply no one has bothered to look at the incidence rates to figure it out. That stunned me. Logic dictates determining if Autism is epidemic or not will best direct research funds, as genetic disorders and diseases cannot be so. Figuring this out sooner than later is not only fiscally responsible, it is morally responsible.
Before I made that call, however, I needed to get some information straight. Admittedly, I was unclear about the difference between incidence and prevalence rates, as well as what the formal definition of an epidemic is.
I now know that prevalence rates reference how much of the disease is occurring among the population as a whole, versus the incidence rate which looks specifically at birth cohorts to track increases or decreases. In essence, we know that 1 in 150 people now have Autism, but not how many 3 year olds per se across the country do. (This emphasizes the importance of the California data which does tracks incidence of Autism in that state.)
I found out through a quick Wikipedia search, “an epidemic is a classificaion of a disease that appears as new cases in a given human population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is expected based on recent experience (the number of new cases in the population during a specified period of time is called the incidence rate).”
Moreover, “Defining an epidemic can be subjective, depending in part on what is expected. An epidemic may be restricted to one locale (an outbreak), more general (an epidemic), or even global (pandemic). Because it is based on what is expected or thought normal, a few cases of a very rare disease like rabies may be classified as an epidemic, while many cases of a common disease (like the common cold) would not.”
And finally, “Common diseases that occur at a constant but relatively high rate in the population are said to be endemic. An example of an endemic disease is malaria in some parts of Africa in which a large portion of the population is expected to get malaria at some point in their lifetimes.”
Okay, back up.
First, epidemics are declared for diseases only. Is Autism even considered that yet? I know Dr. Jepson’s book Changing the Course of Autism attempts to change the paradigm, but has it? And if not, how can we expect to qualify for epidemic status without first establishing ourselves within that classification?
Second, defining an epidemic is “subjective”? Declaring one is essentially a matter of opinion? Whose, the CDC’s? That’s funny. And that’s not what the information on Polio stated. They had an exact number to reach within a very specific parameter.
Third, according to Dr. Insel, we don’t have the incidence rates across the country to decide if Autism is indeed epidemic. But according to what I’m reading, that’s only part of the problem.
We don’t have the expectancy rate either.
The incidence rate means nothing without first establishing the expectancy rate to compare it. And to my knowledge, correct me if I’m wrong, I have never heard anyone clearly establish what the expected rate of Autism is in the U.S.
Can we logically assume then that our medical authorities believe the current rates of Autism are expected?
I would argue the continued mantra of better diagnosis makes it safe to do so. In fact, even in England where someone actually did study incidence rates over time, that was exactly what they concluded: No epidemic. Better diagnosis.
But if that is true, then that means that as the prevalence rate of Autism continues to rise, we submit to the idea that year after year after year the amount of people with Autism has remained constant throughout the world, regardless of time, geography, or ethnicity…and that year after year after year, we continue to misdiagnosis it or flat out manage to ignore it. Essentially, no matter what the prevalence rate becomes, it always was that way, we just didn’t realize it. (And yet, in 1943, it was so bizarre, so rare, and so unheard of, that one of the leading psychiatrists in the world didn’t know what it was, had never seen it in his lifetime prior, and had to make up a name for it.)
I’m preaching to the choir here, I know. My point is this:
In 2007, our medical authorities still don’t know if Autism is a disease.
They still don’t know how much Autism is expected in our society at any given time.
They still don’t know if we actually have a real increase in incidence or not, and they have no idea what it’s due to if there is. And worse, they apparently have no plans to find out any of these answers any time soon.
And yet, 55 years ago, they knew to the EXACT number on an EXACT day in one city of the country that it took to qualify a life-altering disease as an epidemic. A disease, mind-you, that was affecting at best every 1 in 5000 people.
In the time it took me to write this, 3 more children have been diagnosed with Autism.
I beg our collective Autism communities to prioritize our efforts and hold our medical authorities responsible for this atrocious display of ignorance.
Autism in now not only a national shame, it is truly a medical disgrace.
Julie Obradovic is a High School Spanish teacher in the suburbs of Chicago where she lives with her husband and 3 beautiful children, one of whom is recovered from Autism. She is a member of the NAA, a Rescue Angel, and founder of the Southwest Suburban Biomedical Support Group. Last year she threw the First Annual Evening for ACE, a benefit that raised several thousand dollars for the Autism Center for Enlightenment, Dr. Anju Usman’s not-for-profit organization.
Testing for Optimal Wellness
Four Tests Lay the Foundation for An Effective Supplement Regimen
Individuals who want to make a stronger commitment to enhancing their health in 2008 as well as newcomers to the healthy aging supplement field, can dramatically improve the success of their regimen by first taking a series of tests. Beginning a supplement regimen without taking the tests mentioned below is a little like trying to navigate the streets of an unfamiliar city without a road map. I always tell my patients “Tests Don’t Guess.”
In this article, I will explain the different testing options available and how individuals can use the results to either build a new supplement program or refine an existing supplement regimen to enhance overall health.
Organic Acid Testing
One of the most underutilized tests, organic acid testing is a crucial step in determining exactly which vitamins and minerals a person’s body needs. Perhaps the reason why this test has been underutilized is simply because its relevance to personal health is not understood. Yet, it is one of the easiest ways to determine which supplements are right for each individual. It truly takes the guesswork out of creating the foundation for a personal customized supplement program. I tell my patients it provides a glimpse of their “own biochemical thumbprint.” Anyone who asks the questions “Where do I begin?” or “Now that I’m taking the basic supplements, what other nutrients do I need to improve my overall health?” will find the answers they’re looking for in the results of the organic acid testing.
We are all unique biochemical creatures. Therefore, each of us has different supplement needs. Some individuals may be deficient in vitamin E while others need extra coenzyme Q10, regardless of apparent cardiac issues or concerns. Everyone has inherent strengths and weaknesses within their personal biochemistry that determines how much of a particular nutrient—or even if that particular nutrient—will be of benefit to their bodies. Organic acid testing can help pinpoint the vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies present in each patient. The lack of proper nutritional sufficiency relative to your own “biochemical individuality” will play a pivotal role when it comes to expressing genetic strengths or weaknesses.
Organic acid tests are important for both those seeking to fine tune or increase a supplement program’s effectiveness and anyone beginning a supplement regimen. The clinical benefits seen when the body’s unique needs are addressed can be the difference between modest clinical results versus a significant metamorphosis.
Organic acids are key compounds of many biochemical pathways. Organic acid testing provides critical insights into the functioning of the Krebs cycle in the mitochondria. The Krebs cycle is comprised of nine organic acids and eight enzymes and is the main way that all dietary fuel sources—including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—are metabolized (Figure 1). Because the Krebs cycle provides the energy required for the body to function, any disruption in its flow can be disastrous to health.
Abnormal organic acid metabolism, therefore, can indicate that an individual is deficient in a number of nutrients or is simply not using those nutrients effectively.
Supplementation of specific vitamins and nutrients can help balance altered and imbalanced metabolic pathways, but it’s impossible to know which nutrients to give which patients unless an organic acid test is completed
Organic acid tests can now be done in the convenience of your home. Easily collected urine samples are sent to an internationally recognized and nationally certified laboratory. By taking this test, you can have a better understanding of your own unique health needs.1-5
Salivary Hormone Testing
Another important way to get serious about building a supplement regimen tailored to an individual’s own needs is salivary hormone testing.
There are several ways to test hormones (saliva, serum and urine), but the state-of-the-art testing is through saliva. This is because it measures only the active portions of hormones and it is these portions that determine how a patient feels.
The five hormones monitored through saliva testing are testosterone, progesterone, estrogen (estradiol), cortisol and DHEA. As we age, levels of these hormones often become imbalanced. Using a saliva test as a blueprint for proper supplementation with these hormones can make a dramatic difference in patients’ health.
Testosterone is important for both men and women. In males, the decline in testosterone commonly referred to as andropause often begins in the early 30s and eventually hits a crescendo when symptoms are unmistakable in the 50s and 60s. A progressive decline in testosterone in men starting at age 30 is well documented with a free testosterone decline of 1 percent per year. After age 60, 25 percent of men are clinically overtly hypogonadal (low in testosterone). Overt testosterone deficiency occurs in about 24 percent of men aged 50-60 years and 40 percent in men aged 60-80.6 Yet, subclinically, low testosterone levels are likely prevalent in nearly double these very conservative estimates. Furthermore, SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) increases with age, binding up more free testosterone.
Low testosterone levels in men are linked to low energy, decreased libido, decreased concentration, insomnia, night sweats, depression, infertility and, surprisingly, even hot flashes.
Balanced testosterone levels are important in females as well, with lower than normal levels associated with a reduced sex drive.7 Testosterone is considered the “desire hormone” due to its ability to enhance libido. Women, however, often tend to have an excess of prolactin, the “anti-desire” hormone.8 In addition, with age, and especially after menopause, testosterone levels in women decline.7
Salivary hormone tests also are used to measure levels of estradiol, one of the main forms of estrogen found in the female body. Levels of this hormone drop dramatically during perimenopause and menopause and its deficiency is associated with vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and the many other symptoms of menopause. It is also thought that when estrogen levels plummet during menopause, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. Excessively high estrogen levels, on the other hand, have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
In males, estrogen levels are important to monitor since testosterone often can be converted into excess amounts of estrogen. Estrogen also tends to decrease testosterone production, creating a vicious circle.
Progesterone is another important hormone to have tested. During premenopause and menopause, the drop in progesterone levels is associated with estrogen dominance. Even before premenopause a progesterone deficiency can cause PMS, breast tenderness, and a host of other symptoms. Furthermore, groundbreaking work by Dr. John Lee noted that prostate problems in men can be associated with low progesterone levels.9
Cortisol and DHEA are important because of their role in adrenal health. Cortisol levels that are too low or too high can be a sign that a patient is suffering from adrenal exhaustion, a common cause of fatigue, weight gain and many other health problems. Imbalanced DHEA levels also can be a sign of exhausted adrenals. Like many other hormones, DHEA, which is associated with skin elasticity, well being, and cardiovascular health, drops dramatically with age. In some cases, however, individuals with impaired adrenals can produce excessive amounts.
Salivary testing can help a patient determine which hormonal supplements are needed to counteract any detected imbalances. Progesterone cream can be used in both females and males who test low for this important hormone. BioDIM® and Extension Resveratrol can be used in males who are converting testosterone into excess estrogen. Adaptogens and special cortisol-lowering herbs known as Relora® and Sensoril™ can be used in individuals with adrenal dysfunction while DHEA supplementation can be used to replenish the body’s low supplies of this hormone. Women who have lower than normal testosterone levels can use DHEA to raise testosterone levels, since women very efficiently convert DHEA to testosterone. Many males with low testosterone find it helpful to either increase their levels pharmaceutically or use a combination of the botanicals Eurycoma longifolia jack extract, stinging nettle, and Luteolin. Finally, women with low estrogen levels can seek out bio-identical hormone replacement (BHRT).
Retesting after initiating a hormonal support regimen ensures that individuals have achieved the proper hormonal balance and that excess estrogen levels are not created as a result of therapy.
Food Allergy Testing
Clinically, one of the most important tools I use to unearth hidden factors affecting patients’ health is Food Allergy Testing. This approach ensures that individuals can understand how their daily diet may be harming their health.
Food allergens can be broken down into two categories: immediate and delayed. It is the delayed or hidden food allergens that silently erode away ones health, frequently going undetected since the response is not immediate but rather delayed up to 72 hours, long after the offending food(s) were ingested. Thus, identifying and controlling food sensitivities is essential.
Hippocrates “The Father of Western Medicine” stated in 400 BC, “May Food be your Medicine and Medicine be your Food.” The problem that I discover with my patients is that even supposedly healthy foods such as garlic, broccoli, grapes, and fish can be sources of extremely detrimental health signs and symptoms.
ELISA immunoassay testing for delayed food allergies helps identify delayed IgG immunoglobulin allergens. This technology is used worldwide and has now been applied to home test kits that can identify 96 different food reactions ranging from dairy, wheat, corn, fish, vegetables, fruits, sugar cane, numerous nuts, eggs and other commonly consumed foods. A simple fingerstick done at home, much like that done by diabetics, makes gaining insight into ones own personal delayed food allergies both affordable and convenient. Once collected, the sample is sent from the home to a CLIA (nationally licensed) laboratory. Within a couple of weeks, results are sent back directly to the patient’s home. These results indicate low, moderate or high reactions to different foods.
The food allergy test will help individuals avoid the foods they are allergic to and will produce dramatic results in improving overall health. After understanding ones food sensitivities, Digestive Enzymes, a good probiotic supplement that includes Lactobacillus GG and Lectin Lock™ can be added to a supplement regimen to compensate for those times when people are exposed to their most common food allergens.
Anyone who is on immunosuppressant drugs, such as corticosteroids, should be aware that these drugs can alter the results of food allergy testing.
Iodine Sufficiency Test
Thyroid disorders are becoming almost epidemic in this country. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common disorders I see in my patients, who often don’t realize that their weight gain, moodiness, thinning hair and other symptoms are caused by hypothyroidism.
Noted iodine expert Dr. Guy Abraham has established a link between iodine deficiency and both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Because so many dietary components—such as the bromide found in bread and baked goods and fluoride in drinking water—compete with iodine absorption, iodine deficiency has become all too common.10
A user-friendly, oral loading test can detect iodine deficiencies. Testing involves collecting urine immediately upon arising in the morning to use in what’s called a spot test. Then, 50 mg. of potassium iodide and iodine (included in the test kit) is ingested. Urine is collected throughout the day until the first urine of the next morning. The samples, including the baseline spot test, are shipped to the lab.
If the body has sufficient iodine, at least 90 percent will be excreted in the urine. In iodine deficiency, however, the body will hold on to some of the iodine to compensate for the deficiency. The more iodine that remains in the body, the more a person is iodine deficient and needs to begin supplementation.
If the tests indicate an iodine deficiency, patients often begin supplementing with iodine, such as found in Iodoral®, a combination of iodide and iodine. Testing should be repeated every three to four months to monitor proper iodine doses. Working closely with your personal healthcare provider is always an important part of refining your health program.
Organic acid, salivary hormone, food allergy, and iodine sufficiency testing are the best way to build a supplement program that is specific for an individual’s needs. In my practice, I have noted dramatic improvement in the overall quality of my patients’ health after they have begun a supplement regimen based on these tests. Not using this important tool is like stumbling around in the dark when all one needs to do is turn on the flashlight that’s already in his or her hand. For individuals who want to get serious about overall wellness in 2008, taking each of these tests is a crucial step toward good health.
1. Fu X, Iga M, Kimura M, Yamaguchi S. Simplified screening for organic academia using GC/MS and dried urine filter paper: a study on neonatal mass screening. Early Human Development. 2000;58:41-55.
2. Fu X, Kimura A, Iga M, Yamaguchi S. Gas chromatographicmass spectrometric screening for organic acidemias using dried filter paper: determination of alpha-ketoacids. J Chromatography B Biomed Science Applications. 2001;758:87-94.
3. Greter J, Jacobson C. Urinary organic acids: isolation and quantification for routine metabolic screening. Clin. Chem. 1987;33:473-480.
4. Sweetman L. Organic acid analysis. Techniques in diagnostic human biochemical genetics. A laboratory manual. Wiley- Liss, New York, 1991.
5. Tanaka K, et al. Gas chromatographic method of analysis for urinary organic acids. I. retention indices of 155 metabolically important compounds. Clin. Chem. 1980;26:1839-1846.
6. Morgentaler A, Bruning CO 3rd, DeWolf WC. Occult prostate cancer in men with low serum testosterone levels. JAMA. 1996 Dec 18;276(23):1904-1906.
7. Kingsberg S, Shifren J, Wekselman K, Rodenberg C, Koochaki P, Derogatis L. Evaluation of the clinical relevance of benefits associated with transdermal testosterone treatment in postmenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. J Sex Med. 2007 Jul;4(4 Pt 1):1001-8.
8. Hirch E. [Libido disorders] [Article in French]. Rev Med Brux. 2007 Sep;28(4):368-73.
9. Lee, J. Prostate disease and hormones. The John R. Lee, M.D. Medical Letter Feb. 2002.
10. Abraham G. Iodine: The Universal Nutrient. Vitamin Research News. October 2005.
Selective immunodeficiency, exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics, and consumption of sugars, individually or in combination, can stimulate an overgrowth of intestinal yeast or bacteria, normally present in much lower quantities. Once any abnormalities are detected there are a variety of treatment options. Improvements that have been reported to us during and after treatment include better eye contact, improved language, less self-abusive behavior, less hyperactivity, better sleeping habits and less stimming. These organisms and their metabolites can produce or exacerbate symptoms in many conditions.
The organic acid test evaluates all of the well-defined inborn errors of metabolism that can be detected with this technology (called GC/MS) such as PKU, maple-syrup urine disease, and many others. In addition, we check for many other abnormalities such as vitamin deficiencies and abnormal metabolism of catecholamines, dopamine, and serotonin. We currently quantitate 65 substances, but also evaluate other substances that are not quantitated. Some of the other biochemical abnormalities common in autism include elevated uracil and elevated glutaric acid.
- Yeast metabolites
- Bacteria metabolites
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Antioxidant deficiencies
- Inborn errors of metabolism
- Amino acid abnormalities
- Fatty acid abnormalities
- Exposure to solvent toxins
- Deficiencies of B vitamins or vitamin C
- Indications of diabetic conditions
- Krebs cycle metabolites
- Clostridia overgrowth
- 65 important compounds
In which conditions is the test useful?
|AD(H)D||Chronic Fatigue Syndrome||Endometriosis|
The test kit is free; please see our price list for current processing charges including courier charges (for US residents) and a full report, along with professional consultation concerning test results.
Depending on test results, suggestions can include:
- Diet modification
- Diet supplementation, primarily with nutrients which increase the quantity of beneficial bacteria (e.g. lactobaccilli) in the GI tract
- Oral antifungal or antibacterial (anaerobic) medications
- Vitamins and Antioxidants
- Reduction of exposure to toxic chemicals
- Measures 65 important compounds for overall health
- Focuses on detecting yeast and bacteria byproducts that have been implicated in many disorders
- Requires a first morning urine sample only
- Consultation on results is included with each test from The Great Plains Laboratory
- Test with the experts – The Great Plains Laboratory holds one patent (*) on this test and two others pending.
* Certain uses of the compounds arabinose, citramalic, tartaric, 3-oxoglutaric, carboxycitric, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid, and 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-3-hydroxypropionic acid in their application to autism in the organic acid test and microbial organic acid test are protected by USA patent 5,686,311 granted November 11, 1997.
What is the organic acid test for, and how can it help?
In Dr. Shaw’s work, he noticed that people with autism and other conditions (such as attention deficit disorder and fibromyalgia) frequently had overgrowths of yeast and bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, due to a high-sugar diet and antibiotic overuse. This led Dr. Shaw, now Director of The Great Plains laboratory, to devise a urine test to detect such disorders–an organic acid test which measures nearly 70 different biochemical compounds.
Both children and adults who have taken the test and sought appropriate treatments have enjoyed marked improvements in condition as a result.
Do I have to obtain a physician’s approval to get the urine sample tested?
Yes. A medical practitioner who is licensed to order urine testing in your state must approve the test order. Regulations vary from state to state so an approved medical practitioner could be a medical doctor (MD), osteopath (DO), nurse practitioner, chiropractor (DC) or naturopath (ND).
Why should I get the organic acid test? Why don’t I just start the antifungal treatment?
Some children with autism don’t have the yeast problem, but have an overgrowth of the Clostridia. Treating these children with an antifungal could make the bacteria problem even worse. Also, if your child has the yeast problem, it will likely require major changes in diet (for the child and the family) along with drug therapy for six months or longer. It will be very difficult to make this type of commitment if you are nor even sure if your child has the yeast problem.
Also, your child could have a yeast overgrowth with a drug-resistant yeast and if you don’t do the testing beforehand, it would be difficult to know what was happening. If the problem is severe, the yeast die-off reaction may be more severe and you may want to take additional steps to control the yeast before using antifungals. Additionally, it may be very difficult to get your doctor’s cooperation for the prescriptions and insurance reimbursement if there is no evidence that the yeast problem even exists.
How often should I get my child retested?
As a general rule, every three months is satisfactory. However, retesting should be done sooner if the child does not respond favorably by the end of one month of antifungal therapy, since the yeast or bacteria might be resistant to the drugs used for treatment.
My child is currently taking antibiotics now. Should I wait until after antibiotics treatment until I get tested?
An assumption is frequently made that if the child has a significant yeast overgrowth of the intestine while on antibiotics, the yeast overgrowth will disappear when the antibiotics are stopped.
However, this is not necessarily the case and the yeast overgrowth may even become worse–especially if the person is on a high-sugar, high carbohydrate diet. There is no evidence that the yeast overgrowth will spontaneously disappear. Furthermore, the yeast overgrowth may be suppressing the immune system, preventing your child from recovering from the infection.
The sooner the yeast problem is controlled, the sooner the vicious cycle of antibiotics and frequent infections will be broken.
Will drugs or nutritional supplements interfere in the organic acid test?
No, there is no interference from any known drug or supplement. However, if antifungal supplements or drugs are taken before the test, you will probably get a lower value for the yeast byproducts. We advise you to get the test first so that you will know what the starting point is.
I already had the urine organic acid test done earlier by another lab. Can’t I get the information from the earlier test?
No. No other laboratory routinely analyzes the same compounds as this laboratory. Most test for the inborn errors of metabolism and nothing more.
I have an HMO and they have to send the test to a certain lab. Is that OK?
No. No other laboratory routinely analyzes the same compounds as this laboratory (including Labcorp, SmithKline, or Mayo Medical laboratories).
If you do not specify our laboratory, your child’s urine will be sent to one of the large reference labs which cannot accurately evaluate your child’s condition. Most test for the inborn errors of metabolism and that’s all.
Are there any other reasons that I should choose the Great Plains Lab to do the organic acid testing?
Dr. William Shaw, Director of the Great Plains Laboratory, is a recognized expert in the identification of practical, biomedical treatments for autism (as well as many other disorders). His work and the testing procedure that he developed have helped many children and adults with autism and other conditions see dramatic improvements and experience an enhanced quality of life–all based on seeking appropriate therapies using the information gained from the test.
Dr. Shaw has also authored many books and provided other materials to help you better understand the medical treatments and how to use this information to help people with autism and other conditions.
BLOOD LEVELS OF MERCURY ARE RELATED TO DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM –
(House of Representatives – December 11, 2007)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Burton) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Madam Speaker, it’s late at night here in the Capitol, and most of my colleagues are in their offices or have gone home. But I want to talk about an issue that’s very, very important that we’ve been talking about now for the last 8 years.
I was chairman of the Government Reform Committee for 6 years, and during that time, my grandson became autistic; and we checked to find out what was the cause, trying to find out, because my daughter and her husband were just extremely upset about it, as we were as grandparents. And we found that he had received nine shots in one day, seven of which had a product called themarasol, a preservative, in it. And the themarasol was 50 percent ethylmercury. And so I decided to have hearings to try to find out if the ethylmercury in those vaccines had anything to do with the autistic problem my grandson had. And we found, by having many, many hearings over a 4-year period, we found that scientists from all over the world and leading doctors and educators here that work with autistic children, that the mercury in the vaccines did contribute to the autistic epidemic that we had.
We used to have one in 10,000 children that were diagnosed as being autistic. One in 10,000. Today the Centers for Disease Control will tell you it’s one out of 150. It’s an absolute epidemic in this country. And we have been fighting and fighting and fighting to make sure that those families who have been damaged and those children who have been damaged by autism get some kind of compensation. And that’s why, and I think in 1986 we passed what was called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund, and it took some of the money from the pharmaceutical companies when they sold their vaccine products to put into this fund to take care of people who are damaged by vaccines. And one of the reasons we did that was because of the issue of autism, although at that time I didn’t know much about it.
In any event, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund has about $3 billion in it, and the people who’s children have been adversely affected by mercury and have autism have not been able to get anything out of that. They have to go through a process and see a special master, and he has to judge whether or not the information that he has and the information they have lead them to believe that the mercury in the vaccines caused autism. And so far the special masters have not been able to ascertain, according to them, that the mercury in the vaccines does cause autism.
Well, last week, 2 years ago, let’s see, 4 years ago there was a report, 2004, that said that there was definitely no connection between the mercury and the vaccinations and the children getting autism. Well, this past November, just last month, two doctors, Dr. Catherine DeSoto and Dr. Robert T. Hitlan, both very renowned doctors across this country, they have Ph.D.s in medicine, they wrote an article in the Journal of Child Neurology. And you can’t discount this. What they’re saying is fact. I want to read to you the summary of what they said. They said: “The question of what is leading to the apparent increase in autism is of great importance. Like the link between aspirin and heart attack, even a small effect can have a major health implication. If there is any link between autism and mercury, it is absolutely crucial that the first reports of the question are not falsely stated and that no link occurs.”
Now, get this: “We have reanalyzed the data set forth originally reported in 2004 and have found that the original P value was in error and that a significant relation does exist between the blood levels of mercury and diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, the hair sample analysis results offer some support for the idea that persons with autism may be less efficient and more variable at eliminating mercury from the blood.”
The fact of the matter is the mercury in the vaccines causes autism. It’s not the only cause of autism. But now we have scientific evidence by two leading doctors in the Journal of Child Neurology that says without doubt, the mercury in the vaccines does cause autism, is a major contributing factor.
Well, I’ve written, contacted Congressman Kucinich, who’s chairman of the subcommittee that deals with this in the Capitol, and I’ve also contacted the special masters that decide these cases and have urged them to re-evaluate all of these cases where people who have autistic children have found that the mercury in the vaccines may have been a major cause.
Now we know that it is a cause of autism, and those people who have suffered, and those kids who have suffered need to be compensated out of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund.
So I’d like to say to my colleagues, I hope you will join me in making sure that the information I just read gets out to everybody. These kids are going to live to be 50, 60, 70 years old, and unless there’s some help for them, they’re going to be a real burden on the taxpayers and on society. We have an obligation to make sure they’re taken care of.
I hope all of my colleagues will read this statement tonight and help us to change the attitude of our health agencies and the special masters dealing with this problem.
In November 2007, the well-respected scientific journal, the Journal of Child Neurology, published an article authored by Drs. M. Catherine DeSoto and Robert T. Hiltlan (PhDs), detailing their findings on the relationship between mercury and autism spectrum disorders. The article was entitled “Blood Levels of Mercury are Related to Diagnosis of Autism: A Reanalysis of an Important Data Set.”
To summarize the article, Drs. DeSoto and Hiltlan reanalyzed a data set the subject of a 2004 study that found no relationship between mercury and autism. By reexamining the data set, Drs. DeSoto and Hiltlan determined that the conclusions of the 2004 study were wrong,
and that a relation does exist between the blood levels of mercury and diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.
As Drs. DeSoto and Hiltlan noted in their article, there has been a marked increase in the diagnosis of autism in this country over the last 20 years. In fact we have gone from an autism rate of 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150. So, answering the question of what is (and is not) a possible contributing cause of autism is crucial, not only to the millions of American families currently affected by autism but to future generations.
We simply cannot dismiss or downplay scientific research, which has the potential to unlock the mysteries surrounding what is causing our Nation’s autism crisis. We owe it
to the thousands of families living with autism to follow the science wherever it may lead.
That’s why in late November, I wrote to the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, Representative Dennis Kucinich; and the Special Masters assigned to the Congressionally-created Office of Vaccine Program within the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alerting them to the findings in Drs. DeSoto and Hiltlan’s latest research.
Specifically, I asked the Special Masters to take Drs. DeSoto and Hiltlan’s latest findings into consideration as they carry out their mandate of managing and adjudicating childhood vaccine claims. I asked Chairman Kucinich to hold a hearing on the environmental risks of mercury in childhood vaccines before the 110th Congress ends.
Given the high stakes involved, scientific reports discussing a connection between blood mercury levels and autism deserve serious consideration and review by the medical and scientific community.
During my tenure as Chairman of the House Committee on Government and Reform, I spent 6 years researching and hearing testimony from the autism advocacy and scientific communities about the autism epidemic sweeping our country. Over and over again, questions of causation, namely the use of thimerosal–the mercury-based vaccine preservative–in childhood vaccines were raised.
Here’s what I learned:
A number of credible national and international scientists testified before the Committee that mercury in vaccines is a contributing factor in developing neurological disorders, including, but not limited to, modest declines in intelligent quotient, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. And the body of evidence to support that conclusion gets larger everyday.
Experience tells us that, as with any other epidemic, while there may be underlying genetic susceptibilities, there usually is also some type of environmental trigger as well–be it exposure to a virus, fungus, heavy metal, or pollutant. There has never, to the best of my knowledge, been a purely genetic epidemic.
Genetics alone cannot explain how we went from 1 in 10,000 children with autism spectrum disorders 20 years ago to 1 in 150 today. The increase happened far too quickly for a genetic shift.
As mercury is a known bio-accumulative neurotoxin, it is biologically plausible that it is a contributing factor to our Nation’s autism epidemic.
Autism has no cure, and while it is a life-changing condition, it is not a life-threatening disease. This means that the autistic children of today will be the autistic adults and autistic seniors, 20, 30, 50, even 70 years from now. Our Nation is ill prepared to deal with the complex educational, financial, housing, and health care challenges posed by a generation of autistic individuals.
My only grandson is autistic, so this is an issue that is very close to my heart; and for the last several years I have fought hard to raise awareness of this disease, and increase research into the causes of autism, as well as new treatments for those suffering with autism.
As a Nation, I believe, we have a collective responsibility to do everything we can to not only stop the further spread of this disease but to help the millions of children, adults and families afflicted with it.
Although a connection to Autism from Vaccines has been dismissed repeatedly in the current media(no surprise), scientific studies that are based on biological processes show a significant link. CDC epidemiological studies also show a strong link of Thimerosal to ADD, Learning Disabilities, Speech Delay and Autism.
It is apparent that critical medical decisions for an entire
generation of American children are being made by small committees
whose members have incestuous ties with agencies
that stand to gain power, or manufacturers that stand to
gain enormous profits, from the policy that is made.
Jane Orient, M.D.
Posted March 1, 2006 | 12:09 AM (EST)
Correspondence newly obtained under the Freedom of Information Act raises troubling new questions about CDC’s role in the Thimerosal scandal. Thimerosal is the mercury-based vaccine preservative that has been linked to epidemics of neurological disorders, including autism, in American children born after 1989.
Responding to scientific studies linking dangerous levels of mercury to a range of health disorders, the CDC in July 1999 recommended that the nation’s vaccine makers eliminate Thimerosal as a preservative, “as soon as possible.”
But the newly released documents show that behind the scenes CDC was quietly discouraging Thimerosal’s removal. In a July 1999 letter, vaccine producer SmithKline Beecham tells CDC that it is ready to produce non-Thimerosal DTP (Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis) vaccines immediately and has sufficient inventories to supply the entire U.S. market during the remainder of 1999 and the first half of 2000, by which time other vaccine manufacturers would have their Thimerosal-free DTP vaccines on line.
Thimerosal-laden DTP vaccines containing 25 micrograms of mercury apiece were then being administered to American infants at two months, four months and six months — far exceeding EPA’s recommended safe level for mercury. Had CDC accepted SmithKline’s offer, it could have immediately reduced the mercury exposures to vaccinated six-month-old children by 40%.
However, in November, CDC mysteriously sent a letter back rejecting SmithKline’s offer. Then, on July 14, 2000 CDC published a deceptive press release promising to require that all vaccines be Thimerosal-free as soon as “adequate supplies are available.” This was a full 12 months after the agency had denied SmithKline’s proposal.
“If CDC were basing its decision on safety alone, it would have taken SmithKline up on its offer. That’s a no-brainer,” said a federal health official who requested anonymity. “So there were other considerations beside safety that were guiding their decision making.”
Among these “other considerations” were CDC’s important concerns for the preservation of the vaccine program, a bureaucratic impulse for self-preservation, and protecting the economic interests of its vaccine industry friends.
“Immediate withdrawal would send a strong message; ‘We messed up!'” the health official told me. “And I don’t think they wanted to send that message to parents, the public or those considering legal action.”
“There was also concern,” says the federal official, “that an immediate withdrawal might discredit the international vaccine programs for which CDC is an important partner.” The World Health Organization has urged CDC against the banning of Thimerosal in U.S. vaccines since that prohibition might discredit WHO’s third world inoculation programs. WHO, with U.S. funding, is now injecting children in developing countries with the same amounts of Thimerosal we were giving American kids at their highest exposures, but in a shorter time period. In May 2001, WHO committed to “develop a strong advocacy campaign to support the ongoing use of Thimerosal.”
But CDC insiders argue that CDC’s primary concern was the economic impacts on its pharmaceutical industry partners. “The big consideration was cost,” says the federal health official. “A lot of CDC’s friends in the vaccine industry had stockpiled Thimerosal-based vaccines. If they couldn’t sell them the costs would total in the tens of millions of dollars.”
On July 14, 2000 CDC promised to complete the transition to Thimerosal-free vaccines for children by first quarter 2001. But, probably for the reasons stated above, its commitment sometimes seems half-hearted. CDC continues to promote the use of Thimerosal in vaccines. The agency continues to send its top spokesman Roger Bernier around the country to testify before state legislatures to derail state efforts to ban Thimerosal in vaccines. Last week Bernier was testifying against a proposed Thimerosal ban in Maryland.
CDC continues to exert muscular efforts to derail studies of American cohorts — the Amish, Christian Scientists, and home-schooled children — who were not exposed to Thimerosal vaccines. Preliminary studies of these groups indicate very low levels of the neurological disorders, including autism, that have been associated with Thimerosal in vaccinated populations.
It’s time for the CDC to come clean with the American public. Its tactics of deception and obfuscation are jeopardizing the credibility of the entire vaccine program, and therefore posing an enormous danger to public health.
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