Dan Burns, author of Saving Ben, interviewed Dan Olmsted about the new book he co-authored with Mark Blaxill, The Age of Autism Mercury Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic at the Dallas New blog. Here's the beginning of the interview, please pop over to Dan's blog to read and comment on the full post. Dallas News Blog Full Interview
Dan Olmsted, an investigative reporter, left his job as a senior editor for United Press International (UPI) to pursue what he called "the story of the century." After a five-year journey with co-author Mark Blaxill (statistician, business consultant, and father of a child with autism), Olmsted and Blaxill recently released The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic, a devastating account, in Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s words, "that shows how medical and manufacturing interests have mounted an assault on human health for decades and covered their tracks along the way."
I talked to Dan Olmsted about their journey.
Burns: What makes autism the story of the 21st century?
Olmsted: Children are the future. Autism is epidemic among this generation: one child in one hundred, up 50% in less than ten years. While treatable, and sometimes reversible, most kids with autism will grow up to be adults on the autism spectrum. This epidemic is eating away at our society from the inside. It's a national security issue. Outside of a nuclear weapon detonated in a major city, what could be more important?
Burns: How has this been a journey of discovery for you?
Olmsted: The deeper we dug, the bigger the issues. We went to the source material, the eleven sentinel cases in Leo Kanner's 1943 Nervous Child journal article, "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact," and looked at them with fresh eyes. Out jumped several eye poppers, never recognized as relevant that ended up shaping the book: familial exposure to the same toxic substance.
Burns: And those are the clusters you write about in the book. What are they?
First, forestry and plant pathology. Case one is from a small lumber town called Forest. Case two is the son of a plant pathologist. Case three is the son of a forestry professor. Forest, plants, forest. Interesting.
I put that pattern to Mark, who asked, "Could these cases could be driven by exposure to the new organic mercury fungicides used in forestry and agriculture?" Yes, they could. And ethyl mercury, the kind of mercury used in fungicides, is the same kind that was used in vaccinations. That was an unexpected, jaw dropping discovery.
Burns: Any other surprises?
Olmsted: Syphilis. As we poured over the source material, it looked like the worst form of syphilis - neurosyphilis, which results in paralysis, insanity, and death - was caused by the medicine that was used to treat it: mercury.
We went back into those early studies, including the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study from the 1930s, when the U.S. Public Health Service deliberately withheld treatment from black Americans so they could study them as they went insane and died. Those who were not treated with mercury stayed healthier longer and did not go insane. Interesting.
That led us to a third surprise. Sigmund Freud observed that most of the young adults that he treated for hysteria were women whose fathers had syphilis. He didn't know what to make of it. He also observed that nursing was among the most common occupation of hysteria patients.
Today we can make the connection that Freud missed. After treating their syphilitic fathers with mercury rubs, these young adults developed paralysis, seizures, and hallucinations - symptoms now shockingly obvious as signs of mercury poisoning.