By Tony Bateson
I believe mercury was the cause of my daughter's autism resulting from a DTP shot in January 1964. Claire had a frightening response to the jab and our General Practitioner sent Claire to hospital where she stayed for a week. It was obvious during this time that her condition was serious and although sent home after a week she was not the same child she had been before her shot.
My son twenty months earlier had experienced the very same reaction although not sent to hospital.
Our concerns that Claire had been damaged by the vaccination and her hospital stay were dismissed by doctor after doctor albeit one doctor suggested that it was possible that Claire had suffered a psychological trauma in hospital.
When Claire was six I complained to the Head Teacher at her special school that the school had very poor quality resources and needed to be improved. She agreed and said if you can do something about this I would be delighted as I have tried for years.
After organising a parent group to raise the issue with the authorities I led the development of a new school. Now one of the biggest of its type anywhere, Linden Bridge School, Worcester Park, Surrey, UK, during this process I met dozens of parents of autistic kids.
Later I led another group to develop an adult residential care centre in Gloucestershire, Stroud Court where my daughter now lives, opened in 1983. I met dozens more parents of autistic school leavers.
I had also been a Board Director and Vice Chairman of the National Autistic Society where I met hundreds of parents. During these years I had struggled to see any common trait that would suggest a genetic or familial link that would suggest inherited characteristics were involved in autism.
Except for one thing. I worked on the Board of the NAS for some years in quarterly meetings at its London HQ. The Board was around thirty in number, about ten women and twenty men. Looking at the men I had soon been struck by what I thought was an odd feature. I found myself in company with about six men with similar features to myself. Soft skinned, lightly bearded, unhairy. In my teens, twenties and even thirties I had been acutely aware of my hairless physique and lightly bearded countenance. Playing a lot of sport, being part of a military detachment of two hundred or so and then in a corporate body of the same size I had observed nothing like this where I would say less than one in ten men shared these characteristics.
Or even, except for another thing. On the Board of the NAS there were also five or six men who were diametrically different. They had hair everywhere, no doubt had to shave several times a day and their presence in similar numbers to their unhirsute fellows confused me no end. The other eight or ten in the middle group conformed to a fairly common, average or normal body of men.
In the years after I became alerted to the potential reality of vaccine damage, by Andrew Wakefield's report on his work published in the Mail on Sunday in 1996, I had learned of the use of mercury in vaccines. I started to apply basic enquiry methods to every autism parent I knew or met. I simply asked them whether their autistic child had been vaccinated or not. Mostly I did this in meetings attended by commonly forty to fifty parents but including some meetings with two to three hundred parents attending. With increasing disbelief I realised that there just did not seem to be any to be found.
I wrote to the Minister of Health asking , please advise me of the prevalence of autism in unvaccinated groups of children. Yvette Cooper, the Minister wrote back without answering the question but sending 66 pages of printed data. I read every page and learned something extraordinary. Whereas I had believed that almost all children were vaccinated and this might have really made it very difficult to find unvaccinated autistics as I had found, I learned that potentially ten to twelve percent of children were not vaccinated. Even more, that figures were available going back to 1966. A cursory look at these revealed that it was quite possible that double figure percentage numbers of children had not been vaccinated going back to that time. WIth Britain's annual birth rate of 600,000 upwards this meant that 60,000 a year for forty years, 2.4 millions may not have had paediatric vaccines!
Astonishing then that I could not find even a handful of unvaccinated people who were autistic out of that vast pool. Something fishy was going on here. I had put up a web site, I wrote articles in the national and regional press, I spoke at meetings, I wrote to residential care centres and schools I broadcast on regional radio stations. I visited Arlington, Virginia in November 2002 and aired my failure to a plenary session of the Vaccine Information Conference.
At that conference something extraordinary happened. I sat in on Professor Boyd Haley's gruesome presentation of damage being caused to snail brains by a compound of mercury meeting elevated levels of testosterone and potentiating to a material many times more toxic than either mercury or testosterone alone. The hair on the back of neck became prickly as my mind went back to the hirsute and unhirsute memories of the nineteen eighties and those men in the NAS Board of Directors. Testosterone was involved in this business!
As soon as I returned from the USA I started looking into testosterone. I found Professor Simon Baron-Cohen had observed that 'testosterone flowed through autism families like a river'. But he didn't seem to know of Boyd Haley's work, I told him. Then I learned of something else that might be important Simon Baron-Cohen's colleague John Thomas Manning, research professor, wrote about Fluctuating Asymmetry, a characteristic of all living organisms which in the simplest of terms says that the hormonal balance in organisms will experience significant fluctuation before settling into a stable mix.
That was it then. Boyd Haley had said that mercury coming into contact with elevated testosterone would create the highly toxic chemical that would kill neurons. Myself and my colleagues on the Board of the NAS in our parental mode would have created conditions in our offspring that would need a hormonal balancing act to correct an oversupply or undersupply of testosterone in our children. About this time I also read the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children commenced at Bristol University in 1991 and ongoing. It brought out the amazing fact that the hormonal balance was still in turmoil even through infancy and into the early teens. So there it was, the conditions that could offer up elevated testosterone and presumably other hormones to an incoming shot of mercury could be present at any of the key times for infant vaccines.
Then I read the work of a Canadian University that suggested that zebrafish, a common research animal, displayed all the signs seen in autistic children where mercury was suggested as being the cause of physical damage to the human eye. My own daughter has poor central vision and watches TV through peripheral glances at the screen.
Then I read the Cumbria Study published in Pulse in November/Decembber 2002 (and since seemingly mislaid!). It indicated that of 29,000 school age children those who were vaccinated were significantly more likely to contract several immune system conditions than those who were not vaccinated. It covered asthma, psoriasis, eczema and allergies etc., but did not include autism.
Then an Oxford Professor of neuropharmacology told me that the biggest single anomaly in amniocintesis fluid from mothers of autistic children was elevated levels of testosterone.
So how did the UK Government end the use of Thiomersal (mercury compound) in the UK vaccine schedule? The Government wrote to all General Practices and Medical Centres etc., that DPT vaccines containing Thiomersal were to be withdrawn from use at 31st August 2004 and would be replaced by Thiomersal free vaccines for use from 1st September 2004 after which date no further use of Thiomersal vaccines would be permitted. This letter went out dated 6th August 2004 along with press releases to the national media. There were no accompanying statements to explain this change of policy. Except that the Head of Immunisation in the UK announced 'that a safe vaccine had been made safer'. Less than four weeks notice then on a vexing issue of public policy and no proper explanation either.
But in practice I know that the decision to withdraw this material was taken before April. Uk representatives had attended a conference in the USA in February 2004 where Boyd Haley said 'there is a guy in the UK who says there are no unvaccinated autistic people in Britain'. This was rebutted by a UK speaker who said 'there are too few unvaccinated people in the UK for this claim to hold water '. Yes of course, only two millions! In April I learned that one of the top UK Vaccine Advisors had informed a mother of a patient that Thiomersal was going to be ended. Perhaps two hundred and seventy thousand children were vaccinated with Thiomersal containing vaccines between February and September 2004. Does that mean two thousand autistic kids were diagnosed after receiving these vaccines. We should find out! As it is, it has been impossible to find out what the prevalence of autism is in children born after the end of 2004 when the vaccines they received should have been free of Thiomersal.
I believe Flu shots and potentially other vaccines still contain Thiomersal in the UK. I wrote in 2010 to draw attention to this in the Oxford Times and someone from the same Vaccine Advisory Centre responded to say 'they were entirely safe'.