By Teresa Conrick
In 1933, Autism was in its infancy -- literally, as the first eleven children, later to be identified by Dr. Leo Kanner, were toddlers or not yet even born. Vivian Murdock, the eldest, born in 1931, was most likely showing signs of the then, rare and bizarre “psychiatric” condition. I call it psychiatric because Kanner, a psychiatrist, declared it a condition brought on by cold-hearted parents, “a frosty atmosphere, with two inapproachable strangers.” He was so wrong. The common denominator for the eight children “found” thus far from those original eleven is mercury and vaccines. Thimerosal, the vaccine mercury, was making its debut in different locations around the United States as a preservative in Diphtheria shots. By age six, Vivian was gone from home and sent to a State Training School for the Feebleminded. She died in a state-run home in 1987, at age 56. Born in Baltimore, she would have been one of the initial six-month-olds to receive infant vaccinations with Thimerosal. For seventy years, we have been witnesses to ever-increasing numbers of children succumbing to the DSM diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
Ironically, in 1933, some other doctors of psychiatry made this enlightening connection :
“(1933), wherein neuropathologist Armando Ferraro and clinical psychiatrist Joseph E. Kilman of the New York Psychiatric Institute wrote the following in Psychiatric Quarterly journal :
‘It is far from our mind to conceive that all mental conditions have the same etiological factor, but we feel justified in recognizing the existence of cases of mental disorders which have as a basic etiological factor a toxic condition arising in the gastrointestinal tract.'
A toxic condition arising in the gastrointestinal tract? That sounds more like the true “atmosphere” of autism.
My own daughter, Megan, diagnosed in 1995 as the epidemic really began its ascent, has had seizures, starting in her teens and then an autoimmune diagnosis a year later. Her autism symptoms began not at birth but gradually appeared after each vaccination, most markedly after her MMR vaccine, when she broke out with a full body rash, fever, lost eye contact and then her words stopped. This is called Regressive Autism but -- what is it? Let’s look at evidence describing it and in doing so, let me share a quote:
“.....we sewed together separate lines of emerging research from multiple branches of medicine.”
And that is what we need to see with autism – so let’s take a look:
”By 1985 the incidence of regressive autism had equalled that from birth. By 1997 both types had increased although the regressive form was now >75% of the total occurrence. This suggests that an acquired condition was overtaking birth defects or purely genetic conditions……In the vast majority of cases, the emergence of autistic indications appears to happen in children who had developed normally[10,13,14], and before three years[15,16.]”
“About one in three children with autism abruptly lose language, social or other developmental skills in their second year of life…..The results come from the synthesis of 85 studies published between 1980 and 2010 that examined regression, and include nearly 30,000 participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.”
“In the largest study of brain development in preschoolers with autism to date, a study by UC Davis MIND Institute researchers has found that 3-year-old boys with regressive autism, but not early onset autism, have larger brains than their healthy counterparts…..The study found that accelerated head growth and brain enlargement was consistently observed only in the subset of children diagnosed with regressive autism.”
“In light of major gaps in understanding of autism, a large case–control investigation of underlying environmental and genetic causes for autism and triggers of regression has been launched……Taken together, the literature suggests a prominent genetic component involving multiple gene loci, but also a likely contribution from both chemical and microbial agents.”
So, a genetic component and, BOTH chemical and microbial agents. Genes….what kind of genes? – Remember the quote – “we sewed together separate lines of emerging research from multiple branches of medicine”:
Genes….Genetics or Something Related
“To evaluate the frequency of autoimmune disorders, as well as various prenatal and postnatal events in autism, we surveyed the families of 61 autistic patients and 46 healthy controls using questionnaires. The mean number of autoimmune disorders was greater in families with autism; 46% had two or more members with autoimmune disorders”
“To demonstrate how dysbiosis of the human microbiome can drive autoimmune disease.....The catastrophic failure of human metabolism observed in autoimmune disease results from a common underlying pathogenesis - the successive accumulation of pathogens into the microbiome over time, and the ability of such pathogens to dysregulate gene transcription, translation, and human metabolic processes. ..We now know that the microbial cells in a human body outnumber human cells by at least a factor of ten. In addition, many species survive by horizontal gene transfer and sharing of community functions. In fact, the bacterial genomes which have been fully sequenced show around 5%-45% of their genes have been acquired through this horizontal gene transfer......
….Eventually, as more pathogens are incorporated into the microbiome and levels of dysbiosis increase, people begin to present with symptoms characteristic of an autoimmune or inflammatory diagnosis......There is increasing evidence that autoimmune diseases run in families due to the sharing of common microbes.... The microbiome a child develops is a direct reflection of those harbored by the mother and close relatives. Microbes are introduced by a multitude of sources including the placenta, sperm,egg, breast milk, and vaginal canal. …. Autoimmune diseases are more likely passed in families due to inheritance of the familial microbiome than inheritance of Mendelian genetic abnormalities.”
We need to sew that into the emerging research for AUTISM. Genes, that is human genes, may not be the driving force in these patients and their families. But what might cause this dysbiosis of the human microbiome?
The Big Piece Mercury Plays In Autism
“Mercury poisoning is an insidious process. In general the symptoms do not appear immediately upon exposure, although they may in especially sensitive individuals or in cases of excessive exposure. The initial preclinical stage is followed by the development of symptoms of mercury poisoning over a period which may last from weeks, months, and years[235–237]. Consequently, mercury given in vaccines to very young children would not be expected to lead to a recognizable disorder, except for subtle signs, before age 6-12 months, and might not emerge for several years.”
“On average, for each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 43% increase in the rate of special education services and a 61% increase in the rate of autism”
“Population risks associated with persistent low-level mercury exposure have recently begun to be of concern and current reports implicate environmental mercury as a potential contributor in the etiology of various developmental and neurodegenerative diseases including autism and Alzheimer's disease…..The relative risk of autism is greater in the geographic areas of higher levels of ambient mercury.”
“In rodent models exposure to inorganic and organic mercury has a range of immunotoxic effects, functionally associated with decreased cell-mediated immunity and the induction of autoimmunity”
HHS and NIH Report The Dangers Of Mercury – Is This Autism?
- “This presentation will describe the mechanisms of action and potential relationships of environmental mercury contamination to infectious diseases”
- “Continuing intentional use of mercury and its compounds as medicines…..”
- “Effects on the human immune response to infectious agents at these increased mercury levels are not well established. However, other adverse health effects associated with mercury related immunotoxicity have been confirmed.”
- “Immunotoxic effects of mercury have been observed in animals at some of the lowest dose to effect ratios yet described (0.04μg/kg body weight).”
And here’s where it gets even more interesting as we look at autism:
- “In addition to its well-known neurotoxicity, mercury is a potent immunomodulator that can impair the body’s response to infectious agents such as parasites.”
- “Mercury may reduce the immune response to diseases in exposed populations.”
- “Mercury contamination in an environment favors selection and proliferation of resident bacteria that are resistant to mercury’s toxicity. Bacteria that are sensitive to mercury and antibiotics can rapidly acquire resistance from resistant bacteria by plasmid transfer…”
What can that mean? Mercury can kill, maim, or can make fighting infections much harder and actually help some microbes become more powerful. Can we see that in autism?
“Our study is the first to report a correlation between biomarkers (ANA and ANoA) and mercury exposure in humans. In addition, co-exposures to mercury and infectious diseases, including malaria, may set the stage for eliciting discernible alterations in immune function…”
Mercury can also interact with bacteria in the environment to cause the very dangerous methylmercury and now….that same process has been seen in the gut of humans:
“We showed for the first time that many different types of bacteria are able to produce this potent neurotoxin,” Elias said. “The newly identified microbes include methane-producing organisms that live in rice paddies, anaerobic wastewater treatment plants, northern peat lands and possibly within our bodies……..Elias and colleagues are testing a bacterium from the human intestine that they predict will also methylate mercury.”
“In this study, we conducted experiments to examine the oxidation and methylation of dissolved elemental mercury [Hg(0)] by the anaerobic bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans…… The results of this work demonstrate a previously unrecognized pathway in the mercury cycle, whereby anaerobic bacteria produce MeHg when provided with dissolved Hg(0) as their sole Hg source.”
And guess what has been found in the GI tract of autism patients?
“Desulfovibrio species are potentially important in regressive autism.”
“Additional evidence for impaired heavy metal excretion in individuals with ASDs is that urine samples taken from those with ASDs studied had significantly less amounts of mercury than controls… Desulfovibrio was of special note, because even though it represented a very small proportion of the total bacterial population (less than 0.3%), its proportion was 10 times higher in individuals with ASDs versus healthy controls.
….. In a study on Desulfovibrio desulfuricans conducted in two anaerobic bioreactors (chemostats) with 14 common intestinal bacteria species, it was found that Desulfovibrio could cause significant changes in the bacterial ecosystem…. From the chemostat study, it seems likely that elevated growth of Desulfovibrio could cause compositional changes in at least Bifidobacterium that could lead to autism pathogenesis…..”
The picture becomes clearer that mercury and microbes have a horrific synergy in autism.
What About Vaccines In That Picture?
“Indeed, in the USA, the number of reported AEFI [Adverse Events Following Immunization] (registered by the vaccine adverse event reporting system-VAERS) exceeded the incidence of most preventable childhood diseases combined …..New experimental research designed to model low-dose exposure relevant to vaccines has established proof-of-concept that Thimerosal-Hg has the potential to produce nonclinical effects in the central nervous system  not contemplated by AEFI [Adverse Events Following Immunization].”
The following quotes from- What is regressive autism and why does it occur? Is it the consequence of multi-systemic dysfunction affecting the elimination of heavy metals and the ability to regulate neural temperature?
” The development of normal immune function appears to cease in the second year and is linked to the schedule of vaccines and/or the MMR vaccine[18,19]. “Furthermore enhanced susceptibility to virus infection by vaccines is documented. This could enable tougher strains to flourish…… Vaccines are not entirely safe. The currently used vaccines are merely less unsafe than previous vaccines[109,110] e.g.
“The Urabe strain of mumps vaccine in the MMR vaccine was replaced by the Jeryl Lynn mumps strain in response to reports from Japan linking the Urabe strain used, in the MMR vaccine, with high levels of meningoencephalitis.”
“The Pluserix-MMR and Immramax-MMR vaccines were withdrawn because of reports of mild transient meningitis. The withdrawal of the smallpox vaccination led to a reduction in the incidence of TB.”
“The MMR vaccine has been linked to autism, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease[142,143] and other serious chronic stomach problems, epilepsy, brain damage including meningitis[145,146], cerebral palsy, pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus[148–150], encephalopathy, encephalitis[151,152], hearing and vision problems, arthritis, behavioural and learning problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, Guillain-Barre syndrome, idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), leukaemia, multiple sclerosis, and death.”
“Different strengths of vaccine carry risks which affect age groups or sexes differently.”
“In brain tissue, IFN-ã [ IFN-gamma] is both necessary and sufficient to clear MV.[Measles Virus]"
Back to Megan and the thousands like her. Is regression in autism the immune system in a constant battle? Pathogenic infections take over – mercury insult, and then the dominoes fall? Following the trail of research and connecting it, the picture is no longer of a developmental disability but a monumental, manmade, medical tragedy for too many.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.