Kent_legalBeating up the Burglar – The Omnibus Autism Proceeding – Second Set of Hearings (Thimerosal & Autism) – Day Two – May 13, 2008

By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

I’ve often tried to imagine what it must be like to be an attorney bringing one of those frivolous law suits we hear about so often in the news. 

You know, like the burglar who surprises some sleeping homeowner who beats the heck out of him before calling the police, then turns around and sues the homeowner for assault and battery.

The attorney will lamely try to explain she’s trying to vindicate some greater principle, such as “Even if you’re surprised in your bed by an intruder, that doesn’t give you the right to go all Rambo on him.”

In trying to defend mercury in this day of testimony I thought Ms. Renzi of the government had about as much success.

Continued Cross-Examination of Dr. Aposhhian (Witness for families)

Ms. Renzi continued with questions about how methyl mercury exposure can lead to autism and Dr. Aposhian gave good responses.

On the question of why he didn’t have much information about Pink’s Disease (a nerve disorder caused by mercury in baby teething powders which seemed to affect about 1 in 500 users), he replied it was because data was lacking.  The disease disappeared when government regulators took mercury-containing teething powders off the market.  The implication though was that there seemed to be some individuals who suffered from hyper-sensitivity to mercury since only a small percentage of users were affected.

When questioned whether mercury efflux-disorder is recognized in the medical community, Aposhian replied he didn’t know, but that it was recognized by many who treat autism.  He had come to his own belief in mercury efflux disorder through the work of Drs. Holmes, Haley, Bradstreet, and Adams, but cautioned that much is still not fully understood.

In discussing how mercury efflux disorder could cause autism, Dr. Aposhian discussed the possible effects in certain narrow developmental windows, similar to results from thalidomide, and referred to Wilson’s disease, the known copper efflux disorder.

In what was probably her best set of questions, Dr. Aposhian noted he couldn’t show that chelation improved the neurological manifestations of autism.

Redirect Examination of Dr. Aposhian (Witness for the families)

Attorneys for the family brought out that Dr. Aposhian had consulted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for their 2004 report.  Dr. Aposhian then went on to detail what he viewed as flaws with that group.

The IOM group didn’t cite to the Charleston papers on monkeys and mercury exposure from the mid-1990s or discuss ideas of neuro-inflammation in this population.  Additionally, the IOM study group was made up completely of epidemiology and vaccine people.  There were no toxicologists, immunologists, or biochemists in the group.

Direct Examination of Dr. Deth (Witness for the families)

Dr. Deth is a well-respected professor of Pharmacology at Northeastern University.

According to Dr. Deth, inorganic mercury gets trapped in the brain by binding to sulfur or thiol molecules.  The remaining mercury then disrupts sulfur metabolism in the brain as well as other tissues.

He briefly reviewed the importance of methylation, defined as the transfer of carbon atoms.  Methylation turns genes on and off and can be decreased by oxidative stress.

Dr. Deth’s greatest contribution to the field was the discovery that D4 dopamine receptors carried out methylation and that this problem was the genetic risk factor for ADHD, creating a 3-5 times higher risk in those individuals.  This result has been supported by more than 100 subsequent peer-reviewed articles.

Much of the examination consisted of his review of the work of Dr. Jill James, showing that concentrations of thimerosal comparable to that found in vaccines caused a 2/3 reduction in cellular glutathione and more than a 90% reduction in cellular B-12.  Aluminum was also studied, and did not appear to be as potent, although there were significant effects.

Dr. Deth also presented some of his unpublished research using the brain matter of children with autism who had died, which showed evidence of neuro-inflammation.

The sum of various reports seems to show genetic differences which may show themselves in the response to mercury, resulting in decreased methylation.

In discussing how chelation might remove mercury from the brain, Dr. Deth replied it was important to look at the entire body, not simply the brain.

Based on what he has read and his own research, Dr. Deth has come to the “unavoidable conclusion” that thimerosal is a causative factor in autism.

Cross-Examination of Dr. Deth (Witness for families)

Here’s where it gets really difficult for Mr. Matanoski, the government attorney.

In reply to his questions, Dr. Deth says he considers the strongest evidence of the thimerosal-autism theory to be the post-mortem brain tissue autopsies from children with autism, and the work of Dr. Jill James.

Some time was spent discussing why the National Institute of Health (NIH) rejected his study proposal on thimerosal and autism because as they told him “thimerosal doesn’t cause autism”.

Additional time was spent discussing who provides him with research money.  Much of it comes from autism organizations interested in the mercury-autism connection.

Matanoski tried to tie Dr. Deth to the Geiers, but there were no citations to their work in what he’s presented to the court, although he has in some conference presentations.

Deth had once suggested that oxidative stress might be related to childhood obesity, but acknowledges it is simply an unstudied hypothesis at this point.

He believes thimerosal is directly tied to the increase in autism, although he acknowledges those numbers have not decreased with the decrease of thimerosal in vaccines as of yet.

Redirect Examination of Dr. Deth (Witness for families)

Regarding the rejection of his proposal to study thimerosal and autism by the NIH, Mr. Williams read from the CBS News website concerning the recent interview with Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institute of Health.

In the interview Dr. Healy asserted that the thimerosal-autism hypothesis was biologically plausible, especially given some results in animal models, and that government researchers have been “too quick to dismiss the hypothesis” and perform the needed research for “fear of what they might find.”

It was then easy for Dr. Deth to pivot from that information to discuss the similar experience he had with the NIH in regards to his proposal.

Recross Examination of Dr. Deth (Witness for families)

The only issue Mr. Matanoski was able to bring up was that Dr. Deth’s proposal was rejected by fellow academics, not the government directly.  However, he has no idea who specifically rejected his proposal.

Closing Thoughts on this Day of Testimony

What did the defense gain from this day?

There was once a condition called Pink’s Disease caused be the mercury in baby teething powders which affected only about 1 in 500 users.  This is strongly suggestive of a vulnerable population who may not effectively deal with mercury.

The main theory of many people treating autism is “mercury efflux disorder” which has a precedent with something called Wilson’s Disease, which is a known “copper efflux disorder.”

The Institute of Medicine group from 2004 reporting on thimerosal and vaccines had no toxicologists, immunologists, or biochemists, and did not include relevant research.

Dr. Deth, who made one of the most important genetic contributions to understanding ADHD believes from his review and research that thimerosal is linked to autism through a “gene-environment” reaction.

Dr. Deth had his proposal to study thimerosal and autism turned down by the National Institute of Health because as he alleges he was told “thimerosal doesn’t cause autism.”  Then the former head of the NIH goes on television and says that government researchers have been too quick to dismiss the vaccine-autism hypothesis and do the needed research.

Can it get any worse?

Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.


Kelli Ann Davis

"Can it get any worse?"



"Anyone remember Ed, Ed and Eddy (on Nickelodean)?"

Sorry for the error, that should read - "Ed, Edd and Eddy." They used to call the second Edd "Double D."

Too funny

I found this whole Death, Deth, and Deeth thing hilarious. With no offense to anybody, least of all Dr. Deth. Anyone remember Ed, Ed and Eddy (on Nickelodean)?


Regarding Dr. Deth, I believe he pronounces his name "Deeth" with a long "e".

Craig Willoughby

Well said, Kim. Still, there is the whole "ick" factor of dealing with those distasteful people. But hey, this is America (or as the monkey in office says, "Mur-ka") and they have the right to speak their opinion, no matter how ill-informed and naive it is.


Craig, if it weren't for EOHarm, A of A and a few other sites, the ND's would have nothing to talk or write about at all. It's amusing. We report. They scavenge. Whatever.....

Craig Willoughby

Kim, they were talking about your article on For-Profit Offit's conflicts of interest and TheProbe's comment and your rebuttal. You and I were the focus of his entire post. My portion was concerning my comment about wanting the justice system to turn For-Profit over to the parents of the children he injured. He felt that I was threatening For-Profit (rolling my eyes) and that the scumbag ought to hire security. After, of course, they took all of my comments out of context.

I couldn't help myself...I had to post when I saw AutismNewsBeat post a comment to the individual who was clarifying my statement. AutismNewsBeat mentioned that this person wasn't being honest, and I had to tell him to look that up before he speaks about honesty. I know, I shouldn't have posted there.

I feel so dirty now :(

Craig Willoughby

Kim, I honestly don't know. From my friend's email, though, it had to do with your recent article on For-profit Offit. I avoid his site like the plague; hate-mongerers are a waste of my time...


Did Bore-ack spell my name right? ;)

Craig Willoughby

Sonja, I was in no way trying to make fun of Dr. Deth. I was merely commenting on the unfortunate similarity to Dr. Death. I find him to be very knowledgeable and I am more than happy to have him speaking for us.

But, you also mentioned the Orac monster. I just got an email from a friend of mine who told me that myself and Kim Stagliano now have the dubious honor of being quoted over there on his hate-site. I feel so ashamed, now....so defiled. I feel like I should go get in the shower and scrub myself clean ;(

Sonja Grear

I remember reading the OracKnows blog a couple of years back when he weighed in on autism. I noticed that in his poverty of reasons against the mercury-thimerosal link he resorted to making fun of Dr. Deth's name.

I frequently point out now that stooping to such things is an almost sure sign the person has a losing argument.


"There was once a condition called Pink’s Disease caused be the mercury in baby teething powders which affected only about 1 in 500 users."

This is pretty much the official stance, I would guess.

But the 1-in-500 only means that the symptoms, in those babies or children, the symptoms were SO florid, SO extreme -- that the 'medical establishment' was able to recognize the symptoms. HAD to recognize the symptoms.

Taking the current situation as another example, especially from the height of the mercury-laden vaccines -- how many of the 'medical establishment' recognized (or would admit) the many problems being endured by affected children?

Gut problems? Not related.

Attention problems? Not related.

(And FWIW, autism also not related.)

If "pink disease" were the issue today -- how many pediatricians would be scoffing at the very idea?

In order to get a mathematical number to attach to a syndrome or condition, the 'medical establishment' has to buy in. And has to report.

Anyone willing to bet how many doctors, nurses, etc. in the days of 'pink disease' just didn't believe THEY were creating a problem? And therefore the problem didn't exist. Didn't get reported . . .



Oh geeze, to be honest, it never dawned on me. I sat through his presentation and I guess I never sounded out his name in my head. Oh my lord, I hope to God this is the begining of the proof that brings the truth out ... honestly, how they could possibly spin these FACTS ... but nothing would surprise me. I'll say it again and again, it's criminal.

Craig Willoughby

Anyone else notice this? He seems like a really knowledgeable man, and very well versed in our plight, and probably a very nice person, but the poor man! Dr. Deth? Oy!!

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