By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Eighty years ago today – on Sept. 13, 1931 – a girl known only as Virginia S. was born. She became the oldest child in a landmark medical paper by Leo Kanner titled, “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact,” describing Virginia and 10 other children with a new syndrome that became known as autism.
By happenstance – our publisher picked the date, not us – today is the launch of the paperback edition of our book first published a year ago, “The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic.”
The convergence serves to make the main point in our book – that autism is a new disorder, that it arose within the span of a human lifetime, that it is therefore fundamentally an environmental illness, and that in order to prevent and treat it, medicine needs to understand that and act with urgency.
The past year has taken us around the country – from Minneapolis and Dallas to Visalia and Atlanta – and we have met many people who share our vision of The Age of Autism. One direct result has been the creation of the Canary Party that seeks to end medical corruption and force a reckoning with the root causes of so much chronic illness and developmental disability.
A number of other events this year have helped underline the theme of our book and undercut the paradigm of autism as an untreatable genetic illness– but not without the resistance of a rearguard whose livelihood and reputations depend on clinging to the old model.
Most astonishing, the basis for the claim that autism is mostly genetic crumbled like the Berlin Wall. As one of us wrote in July,
“For over two decades now, so-called 'autism experts' have been claiming that autism is more than 90% caused by genes. The influence of these claims on autism policy and research funding is hard to overstate. But few realize that the basis of these claims hangs on a fragile evidence base: two small twin studies--one from Great Britain, the other from Scandinavia--that reported high rates of concordance for autism among identical twins and no concordance at all among fraternal twins. Last week, the largest and most rigorous twin study ever conducted, the California Autism Twin Study (CATS) reported contradictory new evidence that struck a devastating blow to these claims. The CATS identical twins had lower and the fraternal twins higher concordance rates than past studies, a striking finding that suggests that instead of being highly heritable, the vast majority of autism cases stem from environmental causes.
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of the CATS findings. They mean that everything leading “autism experts” have been saying for decades is wrong. And everything leading autism parent advocates have been saying for years is right.”
Another important development was the publication of a review of studies on whether mercury played a role in autism. The paper came too late to include in our book but certainly affirmed the premise that mercury has by no means been ruled out. We wrote:
“Despite the relentless drumbeat of propaganda from the CDC, public health authorities and the thuggish on-line goons of the medical industry, there’s a funny thing going on. The evidence of a connection between mercury exposure and autism keeps growing.
"Last month, two scientists at the University of Northern Iowa, Catherine DeSoto and Robert Hitlan, published a fascinating review paper. They asked a simple question: what does the published evidence linking autism and mercury really say? To answer that question, they did a simple Pub Med search. They searched for the terms “(Autism AND Mercury) OR (Autism AND Heavy Metals)”. They found 163 articles (a number that has since risen to 174) and reviewed them. According to the authors, 'Of these 163 articles, 58 were research articles with empirical data relevant to the question of a link between autism and one or more toxic heavy metals. Fifteen were offered as evidence against a link between exposure to these metals and autism. In contrast, a sum of 43 papers were supporting a link between autism and exposure to those metals.' In short, 74% of the published studies supported the theory."
We also noted another important study that was published with no fanfare in the mainstream media: A research team in Warsaw led by Dr. Dorota Majewska published the latest findings from their ongoing investigation of the effect of thimerosal administration on newborn rats. In their latest paper, the authors extended their investigation of the potential relationship between thimerosal and the development of opioid receptors in the infant brain. They found that thimerosal at the same concentrations received in human infants had clearly measurable effects on opioid receptor development in the infant rats. They also found that these effects were stronger at higher doses. The effect was found to be persistent, lasting well beyond the initial period of administration. According to the authors, “very likely, it is permanent.”
Another study backed a key chapter in our book. Pink disease, an affliction of infants in the first half of the 20th century caused by mercury in teething powder, was caused by sensitivity to mercury; only one in 500 children were affected. Australian researchers found that among survivors of pink disease, their grandchildren were SIX TIMES more likely to have autism. This suggests an inherited genetic or metabolic vulnerability to mercury – perhaps through an inability to excrete it or special sensitivity to its toxic effects – and helps explain why some children who get mercury-containing shots appear unaffected while others suffer serious harm.
But the steady drumbeat from the medical industry certainly does continue. The day before our book was published, the CDC finally got around to publishing a study that purported to show no link between vaccine mercury and autism – even more than that, the study said, postnatal thimerosal exposure reduced the risk of autism and protected infants against autism. That absurd result only pointed to fatal methodological flaws in the study design.
Meanwhile, the benighted British Medical Journal – house organ for the nation’s medical establishment -- published a series claiming that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s brave and pioneering work on bowel problems in autistic children and its possible relation to the MMR shot – work since confirmed by multiple studies and the tragic eyewitness of thousands of parents – was “an elaborate fraud.” We have investigated this claim and have begun writing about it in depth. Suffice it to say, it is false.
But old paradigms die hard, and our book is just the beginning, not the culmination, of our work. The denial of vaccine damage continues; the unconscionable use of mercury in flu shots for infants and pregnant woman is increasing in the United States, as is the use of mercury-preserved vaccines in other countries; the idea that concerns over vaccines and autism is “discredited” has become a mainstream media mantra.
Our thanks once again to the readers of our book -- and our blog. We are appreciative of the support we have received, mindful of the need to reach a wider audience, and committed to the task for the long run.
As we have said from the start, please buy the book, read the book, and share the evidence.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism. Mark Blaxill is Editor at Large.