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Katie Weisman of Coalition for SafeMinds Informs IACC of Mercury Dangers in Public Comments

Graphic-mercury-large(Managing Editor's Note: Last month the IACC met - and Katie Weisman presented the following public comments. Read Dan Olmsted's scathing review of the meeting along with follow up from Jake Crosby and Katie Wright.

Good Afternoon Dr. Insel and members of the IACC,

My name is Katie Weisman and I am here today on behalf of SafeMinds.

I am the mother of 14 year-old identical triplet boys, two diagnosed with PDD-NOS and one with autism.  I have been a full-time advocate for 11 ½ years now.  I have run a parent support group for a decade, have fundraised, have started a safety campaign, have done autism awareness training for typical kids, have lobbied for insurance, and have worked on the bill that reauthorized this committee.  More importantly, I have helped three of the best, hardest working young men on the planet learn how to talk and write and read and live in their world happily.  But I am here to tell you that this is all taking too long.  My boys and all the people like them and all the children who are being diagnosed now, today, while we are sitting here, need answers and help now, today.

I am here to tell you why the mercury/autism connection is stronger than it has ever been.   It is time to set politics aside and look at the science.  Anyone who truly cares about individuals with autism simply cannot ignore mercury.  For those who say that the link has been disproven, I say go and actually read the literature – it currently supports a connection by a 2 to 1 margin.  The positive studies rarely make the press. Included with my comments are e-mails, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showing that the CDC omitted data showing that autism rates in Denmark actually dropped in 2001 after they removed thimerosal from their vaccine program.  I have also included Mark Blaxill’s graphic analysis of the early Verstraeten VSD data, also obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showing 7.6 times the relative risk of autism in children who received high thimerosal by one month of age compared to children who received zero thimerosal.  This is important because, later, unvaccinated children were excluded from the study eliminating the zero exposure control group.

I have read most of the autism abstracts in Pubmed for over 4 years now, along with hundreds of studies and have followed the research for over a decade.   I can tell you unequivocally that the number one, best supported, most logical suspect for autism causation is mercury and it is only being ignored because it implicates vaccines.  It will not be the only cause, but it is logical to tackle mercury because exposures are often easy to avoid.  With about 45,000 children a year being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders in the US alone, based on the most current prevalence ratio, I do not believe that anything can be off the table for research.

However, thimerosal is not the only mercury exposure of concern in autism.  Mercury comes from many other sources including fish, other food, dental amalgam, skin-lightening creams, fluorescent bulbs, Santeria rituals, air pollution and even tattoos.  Despite recent emissions controls in developed countries, global mercury pollution is on the rise due to massive growth of industry in countries like India and China. The EPA estimates that 83% of the mercury deposited in the US is from international sources. Any candidate for causation must fit trends of exposure, and cause symptoms that make sense. There are obvious studies like those linking autism rates to mercury in the air or the number of fillings a mother had, but there have been no studies yet of total mercury exposure relative to autism.  Those studies need to be done.


What we do know is that the EPA estimates 1 in 6 women of child-bearing age in the US already has mercury blood levels that put her children at risk because mercury preferentially concentrates in the cord blood at a ratio between 1.8 and 3 times that of the maternal blood.  It is not just methyl mercury that is the problem.  NHANES data shows that inorganic mercury is rising in the blood of women of childbearing age and increases significantly with age.  A Chinese study last year found that cord blood mercury level was negatively correlated with adaptation, language, social and average DQ while the relationship between cord mercury level and motor DQ was not statistically significant (Li et al. 2011).

The single biggest roadblock in autism research is that researchers stay in their silos and do not pay attention to what is happening in other fields.  The geneticists are not talking to the clinicians.  The behaviorists are not talking to the neurologists.  And almost everybody is avoiding the 800 pound gorilla in the room – mercury.  There is currently enough research to write a paper titled, “How the known genetics of autism support mercury causation.”  I read about methylation defects due to MeCP3 in Rett’s and know that Dick Deth has shown that thimerosal completely inhibits methionine synthase – thereby shutting down a primary driver of the methyl cycle.  I read that calcium channel signaling and glutamate receptors are disrupted in autism and CACNA1C is a strong candidate gene and see the extensive literature showing that mercury is a potent disruptor of calcium signaling.

I would like to quote from two studies that have been published in the past week and see if you can make the connections to the autism.  From Ye and colleagues – “A significant change in cell viability was observed after exposure to 0.001% thimerosal for 30 minutes.  DNA single and double strand breaks were significantly increased in a dose-dependent manner with thimerosal exposure.”  The concentration of thimerosal in a typical vaccine is 0.01%, or ten times the amount in this study.

From Sharpe and colleagues, “We find that ethylmercury (in astrocytes) not only inhibits mitochondrial respiration leading to a drop in the steady state membrane potential, but also, concurrent with these phenomena, increases the formation of superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and Fenton/Haber-Weiss generated hydroxyl radical….Additionally, we find a five-fold increase in the levels of oxidant damaged mitochondrial DNA bases and increases in the levels of mtDNA nicks and blunt-ended breaks.”

Gadhia and colleagues published this in May, “Exposure to metals alters gene expression, changes transcription rates or interferes with DNA repair mechanisms. We tested a hypothesis to determine whether in vitro acute metal exposure, with or without recovery, alters epigenetic pathways in mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells.” They found that mercury and arsenic, in particular, not only alter gene expression, but impair the cells ability to repair DNA damage.

We need to stop looking at finding these risk genes as an end unto themselves.  They are simply markers for the biochemical pathways of concern. It is not helpful to generate an endless list of candidate genes.  We need to look at the toxins likely to both cause DNA mutations and trigger epigenetic effects on those pathways.  He and colleagues published a study last week of four members of a Chinese family.  They found 89 de novo copy number variations in the siblings with autism in that single family.  Do we really need to be spending millions of dollars making a phone book of genetic variations that may or may not be relevant or do we need to look at potential causes of those variations?

 There is not a single identified gene that always leads to autism.  For Fragile X full mutations, 67% of males are affected along with only 23% of females. For tuberous sclerosis 43-86% of cases meet criteria for a PDD.   Those lead the pack by a wide margin.  Untreated PKU results in only 5.71% of cases meeting autism criteria. We also need to bear in mind that developing pharmaceuticals to correct genetically caused disregulation is going to take decades and any individual drug is likely to help only a small fraction of those affected.

Getting back to mercury, we have the Shandley/Austin study from last year showing that the grandchildren of survivors of acrodynia have 7 times the rate of ASD of the general population in Australia – 1 in 22.  Acrodynia is a form of mercury poisoning in a genetically susceptible population - which should sound familiar.

The support for mercury causation goes well beyond genetics, though.  We have studies showing that severity of autism is related to inability to excrete mercury in hair (poor detoxification).  We know that porphyrinuria related to heavy metals shows up in children with autism.  Some less obvious connections are as follows:

Mercury accumulates as you age.  (Autism risk increases in older moms and dads.)

Neonatal jaundice is a risk factor for autism. (Mercury is detoxed through the biliary system.)

Low birth weight/prematurity are risk factors for autism. (Mercury toxicity is relative to body weight.)

Mercury causes impaired speech and hearing. (Both are well-documented in autism.)

Mercury causes reduction in visual color discrimination. (This is also documented in autism.)

This is just a sampling of the strength and consistency of the mercury-autism research.  For a good overview at the cellular level, see Garrecht and Austin, 2011.  If we truly mean to improve the lives of those with autism and stop autism’s most devastating effects, we need to stop ignoring the obvious.

Therefore, these are the challenges I have for you:

1) I challenge all of you to actually follow all the autism research so you can see the imbalance, the holes and the connections.  Also, look at the mercury literature and actually read the studies.  Then decide if you are here to make a difference.  If you aren’t let someone else have your seat.  The status quo is not acceptable.

2) I challenge you to hold a conference on autism with a sampling of leading autism researchers and a group of mercury toxicologists to discuss the connections and plan the research that still needs to be done.

3) Create a mechanism to determine the effectiveness of the work you are doing.  Can you show that any of the studies you’ve funded have actually made a difference in the lives of people with autism?  Have new treatments been proven effective?  Have you established best practices for service programs?  Are people with autism protected from abuse in schools?

4) Rebalance the autism portfolio.  The Simons Foundation has the genetics covered and the imaging studies are not helping. There is a glaring vacuum of comparative best practice research past age 5 for all issues related to education, social skills, employment, service provision, staff training and, most importantly, treatment of medical issues. Commit 30% of the IACC research dollars towards environmental causation studies, particularly mercury, and 30% towards actual comparative studies of the best methods for teaching and providing services for people with autism.  The remaining 40% should go towards studies to treat the comorbid seizures, gastrointestinal disease, sleeplessness, allergies, anxiety, depression and sensory problems that so dramatically affect individuals with autism.  Let’s improve the quality of some lives today and let’s try to prevent the severe impacts of autism on individuals in the future.

5) I challenge all of you to visit a school or classroom that educates people with severe autism if you have never done so.  You are here to serve and you must understand who you are serving.

Thank you,

Katie Weisman

Director of Communications and Public Policy
Coalition for SafeMinds

SafeMinds is a non-profit 501c-3 organization whose mission is to restore health and protect future generations by eradicating the devastation of autism and associated health disorders induced by mercury and other toxicants resulting from human activities.


Hugs are better than Hg

Just a reminder that the IACC's chair, Tom Insel has a brother who developed a thimerosal-containing vaccine - HIB. The corrupt IACC was formed to cover up the cause of the autism epidemic and will never be convinced to look into mercury. IACC must be circumvented.

Lisa Colin

As always, Katie - your work is well researched, organized and presented.


As always, the "SCIENCE" that excludes mercury from the Autism disaster comes from population studies or epidemiology.

Study after study after similar study... that compares those who received 27 vaccines compared to those who received 24 vaccines and finding no significant difference in Autism rates...


"Tobacco science" / epidemiology.... finding little difference in cancer rates between 3 pack and 4 pack a day smokers, "proved smoking did not cause cancer" for nearly 70 years....

The CDC uses ONLY similar epidemiology to prove the vaccine program does not cause Autism... they have no real science.... only population studies and statistics of groups that show what they want to see....

As always and forever, the CDC refuses to use an un-vaccinated population as the control group.

Epidemiology, done correctly, can spot a possible medical trend, it cannot be used to "prove or disprove" a medical issue.

Jenny Allan

Julie Penney is right "We really have to hound them to put pressure on the IACC."

I live in Scotland so cannot join your US campaign, but I am active on vaccine and autism issues and have managed to get written questions in Parliament on vaccine issues. Yes Angus Files!! The National Autism Society might just as well be invisible here, for all the use they have been to ours and other families I know. I am shocked to hear they have a Scottish Government assisted funding of £10million p a!!

The following has been previously posted on another thread but persons campaigning for more research into mercury links with autism need to know what research is currently being carried out and who funds it. Matthew Carey wrote a piece on Left Brain Right Brain extolling the IACC research initiatives. This is from my AoA response:-

"In fairness to Mr Carey he DID mention the four projects funded by Safeminds, although he was dismissive about the Safeminds mercury-autism hypothesis:-

An investigation on the potential harmful effects of mercury in the nonhuman primate environmental
Investigating the effect of mercury on ASD, AD and ASD regression
The effect of mercury and neuropeptide triggers on human mast cell release of neurotoxic molecules
Does mercury and neurotension induce mitochondrial DNA release from human mast
cells and contribute to auto-immunity in ASD? (all Safeminds funded)

The other mercury research projects were described as “Gene-environmental” –the ‘environmental’ element appeared to be about general pollution rather than anything injected into the child!!

Analysis of developmental interactions between reelin haploinsufficiency, male sex, and mercury exposure
Etiology of autism risk involving MET gene and the environment (both Autism Speaks funded)”


Great ideas Julie Penny. We need to get this into the hands of the legislators.

Teresa Conrick

Thank you, Katie for a sincere and wise testimony. I also think mercury/thimerosal are very big in the equation. The issue of IACC NOT looking when research shows such strong biological connections is very alarming. Thank you for looking them in the eyes and describing the damage done, how it continues to be done and that children are suffering right now because of it.

Julie Penny

Great testimony Katie. Thank you.

I suggest that all of us mail out three copies of Katie's "Public Comment" she made to the IACC and mail it to each of your two U.S. Senators, and, one to your Congressman. (Include your own note saying you support Katie Weisman's points, and wish that they will pursue that these points be followed through by the IACC on your behalf and that you look forward to recieving an answer from his/her office on this matter.)

For those of you who can afford to do so, and to really GET THEIR ATTENTION, mail them by "Certified Mail" with a "Return Receipt requested."

Don't send it to their Washinton D.C. offices because, with security, the mail takes forever to get to them.

Instead--Mail it to their home district offices. Just go to the the websites of your United States Senators and your Congressperson to get their district office addresses.

Our Congressmen/women are on break from Congress (as are our senators) and doing electioneering and "Town Halls." Perhaps, you grandparents who may have some time can go to one of them and can ask your Congressperson in public to support these points (and other fine points made by the others who made their public comments to the IACC).

We really have to hound them to put pressure on the IACC.

Angus Files

We have the same in the UK with the National Autism Society (NAS) registered as a charity in England and Wales (269425)

and in Scotland (SC039427)

Now when you look up the charities and see the incomes from


They have close on £100,000.00 for Scotland

And for England and Wales the have Income £90,488,000

Now i for one have not seen one penny come our way from the NAS !!where does it go ..Jobs for the Pharma pushers ,no doubt!!


Heidi N

This lady is correct. She read the research and looked for what is really going on instead of just relying on some fluffy media interpretaion. I also found through research that mercury is a dominate contributor to autism, and may be the most likely determiner. But, removing mercury is not restoring our children back to complete normal. So, there is permanent damage to the BBB, nutrient receptors, immune system, etc. Somehow, we are fixing kids, but not restoring them to what they would have been had they never developed autism.

I looked at the American School records, which are open to the public, and did see a decline in special needs children across the board when mercury was temporarily decreased. I say temporarily because the flu shots and such were added which brought levels back up. But, it's not just the vaccine exposure, it's the levels the mother has from her vaccine exposure, dental work, fish consumption, wearing contact lenses that used mercury disinfecting solutions, and other medicinal products like preparation H (used to have it), etc. So, just saying, yes, absolutely mercury is the main culprit, and doing a school comparison of children needing assistive services in school to the vaccine mercury changes was proof enough for me. I didn't finish the paper, but anyone can look up the information themselves. It's so blatant. Also, want to say that many pathogens and toxins only become toxic to the point of causing symptoms if mercury is also present in unhealthy levels. So, you see, the mercury makes the children not only ill from it, but ill from the other pathogen and toxin exposures they have.

My kids are recovered, but still have to take things to support their immune systems, digestion, etc. If we don't stop the alarming increases in auto-immune disorders, we can not sustain the human race. This is a lot more serious that people view it. The fact that nearly half the population gets cancer also is getting ignored. We have allowed toxins to permeate our world, and we are not stopping it soon enough.


I am deeply impressed by this testimony. I wonder if there is a way for the readers of A of A to sign a petition asking that these action points be carried out.

Laura Hayes

Wow, amazing and powerful testimony, Katie. The IACC is yet another example of a sham of autism research guzzling down millions and millions of dollars producing zero benefit for finding the cause of and cure for autism, and zero benefit for those already suffering the devastating effects of "autism" (a misnomer used to exonerate mercury poisoning and vaccine injury). Thank you for this excellent testimony which can now be shared with others, namely parents and grandparents, as the current best way to battle this epidemic is to educate others, one by one, about the dangerous truths being hidden from them by their own government, doctors, the media, and of course, Big Pharma. Job well done, and much appreciated by those of us in the autism trenches.

dan olmsted

katie, thank you for this superb summary and call to action. it feels like a real validation of the work mark and i did for our book and we look forward to working with you to push this issue as hard as we can.

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