Autism, can it be caused by a mercury-containing vaccine? This is a question that hasn’t been answered very clearly. Therefore, causing parents, of children with autism, to poor their time and money into unproductive pursuits; other parents become afraid to vaccinate their children. So what are the real causes of autism?
First, how does mercury affect the human body? To start off, there are three forms of mercury: methyl mercury, elemental mercury, and other mercury compounds. Methyl mercury is normally absorbed into the body by eating fish and shellfish that contain methyl mercury. The effect of methyl mercury in infants, children and even unborn babies is impaired neurological development. Elemental mercury is only toxic when it’s in vapor form and absorbed through the lungs. The effects of elemental mercury, depends on the amount of exposure. For small amounts, the symptoms are tremors, emotional changes, insomnia, neuromuscular changes, headaches, disturbances in sensations, changes in nerve responses, and performance deficits on tests of cognitive function. At higher exposures symptoms are kidney effects, respiratory failure and death. Other mercury compounds, inorganic and organic, are both absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. High exposure can affect the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, and the kidneys.
Second, what is autism? Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder, characterized by impaired social interaction, social communication and social imagination. (Fernandes, 2010) It is also know as a group of illnesses that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize or form relationships with others as well as the ability to communicate and to use imagination (including fantasy play). (Hirsch, Autism)
There are many forms of autism: Autistic disorder; a disorder that normally affects children 3 years or younger, it effects their social interactions, communication, and imaginative play. This is the form most people think about when thinking about autism. Asperger’s syndrome; this form of autism is lesser form then that of autistic disorder. It doesn’t affect the child’s language skills, but still affects their social skills and limits their imaginative skills. Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), also known as atypical autism; this is a kind of catchall category for children who have some autistic problems but who don’t fit into other categories. (Hirsch, Understanding) Rett syndrome; children with retts, mostly turn out to be girls, tend to start out normally then start to decline. Most begin to decline at an age ranging between 1 and 4. They start to loss their communication and social skills, repetitive hand movements replace purposeful use of the hands. Childhood disintegrative disorder; these children develop normally for at least two years, and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills. (Hirsch, Understanding)
Currently, the cause of autism isn’t clear. Some studies have shown that autism could be caused by genes; others show that autism could be caused by certain drugs or chemicals that the mother comes in contact with during pregnancy. Still other studies are looking at whether autism can be caused by other medical problems or by something in your child’s surroundings. Some parents have suggested that there is a link between childhood vaccines that contain mercury, and autism. This is because parents first noted the signs of autism soon after the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, a mercury derivative. Most cases of autism are noted during the ages of 1 and 2 years, the MMR vaccine is first given to children at 12 to 15 months of age; therefore could be just an unrelated chance occurrence. (Hirsch, Autism)
So does mercury containing vaccines cause autism? According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials have been aware of a link between thimerosal, another mercury derivative, and autism since 2000. In June of 2000, CDC and FDA had a study done by Tom Verstraeten. They wanted proof that a link between thimerosal and neurological disorders was not real. Unfortunately for them, the opposite was true. Verstraeten had looked over the medical records of 100,000 children in the CDC database and discovered that there was a link between thimerosal and neurological disorders. Many cases showed children with symptoms of neurological disorders, such as speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity, and autism, after receiving a thimerosal vaccine. (Klotter, 2006)
Research on this particular subject has lead us to the CDC and the FDA’s study. It looks like the CDC and the FDA found a link between mercury-containing vaccines and autism. The question now is: have they done anything about it?
Fernandes, T. “Autism.” Nursing Standard 0029-6570 (2010): 24. CINAHL Plus with
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Hirsch, David. “Autism Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More.” parenting.
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Hirsch, David. “Understanding Autism – the Basics.” Brain. WebMD.com, 20 Nov. 2009. Web.
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Klotter, Jule. “Thimerosal, vaccines, and autism.(vaccine preservatives thimersoal link with autism )(Report).” Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Alternative Medicine 273 (2006): 28+. Academic OneFile. Web. 6 July 2010.