The online letters to the editor from the New York Times are HERE.
Below are the ones that talk about mercury including two from Age of Autism contributors, Twyla Ramos and Anne Van Resselaer.
Re “The Doctors Are In. The Jury Is Out.” (Feb. 17):
I was startled by your juxtaposition of the topics of mercury in tuna (it affects adults) and mercury in vaccines (it doesn’t affect babies). But something’s missing. We know that mercury toxically affects all living things. Even if we buy that it has nothing to do with autism spectrum disorders, why wouldn’t it cause neurotoxic damage to babies at least as much as it does to adults? After all, the babies are still developing.
What would that affect look like? How would it manifest?
While I’m willing to not call it autism, what is the name that we can give it? What’s being done to help those children with their unnamed (unacknowledged?) mercury damage?
Don’t you see a disconnect here? I do.
Anne Van Rensselaer
New York, Feb. 19, 2008
As the mother of three children, one of whom has autism, I hope that you will learn more about the vaccine-autism controversy for yourself.
I believe that many intelligent people would draw the same conclusions about vaccine safety that I have if they learned more about the issue beyond what is being reported in the mainstream press and by agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The C.D.C., the F.D.A. and other organizations and agencies have a vested interest in denying problems with vaccines. At the same time as thimerosal has (we hope) been reduced in vaccines, the number of vaccines continues to increase, from 10 in 1983 to 36 in 2008 on the C.D.C.’s schedule. The cumulative effect of so many vaccines has not been studied.
Do we really know what we are doing to the developing immune systems of babies when we give them 36 vaccines, 29 of them by the age of 2?
The door on this controversy is not closing! It is opening wider and wider.
Glendale, Calif., Feb. 19, 2008
I appreciate your comments on the difficult issue of how laymen, including journalists, can evaluate conflicting medical research.
As a writer on health care policy, I am always taking a very opinionated view on policy issues, but I have to work hard to avoid straying into medical issues or evaluation of treatments in which I have no competence.
It is good to see that someone at The New York Times is alert to the importance of this.
Richard E. Ralston
Americans for Free Choice in Medicine
Newport Beach, Calif., Feb. 17, 2008
I am glad that you looked into the important topic of a possible connection between childhood vaccines and the alarming increase in autism among children.
But thimerosal was not “removed from children’s vaccines in 2001.” While levels of mercury were reduced, they were not eliminated from most such vaccines produced after 2001. And those containing the full dose of mercury were never recalled and remained in use, perhaps through 2004 or even later.
Mercury remains in full force in flu vaccines given to infants and pregnant women, so fetuses and infants continue to be exposed to mercury in these shots, in addition to the mercury they breathe and eat.
Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin. The Environmental Protection Agency considers mercury to be toxic and dangerous at levels found now in many fish and in the air in some locations. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has for years widely promoted mercury-containing children’s vaccines and flu shots for youngsters and pregnant women, and continues to do so. One of the agencies has to be wrong.
It cannot be that mercury is harmful in fish and air, but not when injected into human bodies. Why keep using our children as human guinea pigs ?
Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 17, 2008
The writer is the author of books about health and the environment.
It is true that many authorities discount the effects of mercury on incidences of autism, but there are many who concede that the disconnect is not clear.
You state, “Thimerosal, the preservative in question, was removed from children’s vaccines in 2001.” But some vaccines still contain trace amounts of Thimerosal. While some may regard this as insignificant, I would note that there may be no threshold level of exposure to mercury that is absolutely safe.
Robert A. Iadicicco
Oak Bluffs, Mass., Feb. 18, 2008