Today's headlines (my comments follow below.) I am in utter disbelief over this story from the New York Times. Here the Times gives us bold and responsible reporting. Columnist Nicholas Kristof went after an industry that is exposing the unsuspecting public to a deadly chemical and they’re accusing the government of siding with the industry.
This would be a refreshing piece of thorough reporting except for the fact that Nicholas Kristof has a completely different outlook when it comes to the power and influence of the pharmaceutical industry. He doesn’t investigate Big Pharma the way he did Big Chem in this NY Times story from 2010, Do Toxins Cause Autism?
Kristof was willing to concede that plastics might play a role, but not vaccines---that was just a discredited theory.
“Frankly, these are difficult issues for journalists to write about. Evidence is technical, fragmentary and conflicting, and there’s a danger of sensationalizing risks. Publicity about fears that vaccinations cause autism — a theory that has now been discredited — perhaps had the catastrophic consequence of lowering vaccination rates in America.”
There was also a recent Forbes story by Emily Willingham FORBES: ADHD, Fish And Mercury Exposure During Pregnancy -- What's The Connection? October 8, 2012.
Anyone reading this piece gets a confusing message. There’s a link to a study that claims, “’We also found that higher prenatal fish consumption was protective for these behaviors,’ the authors comment.”
Notice the New Bedford study only looked at ADHD, not autism. If you start talking about mercury and autism then you naturally bring up the subject of vaccines. Vaccines aren’t mentioned here and the message is clear, we’re only talking about the fish mercury and only ADHD.
And notice the discussion of mercury in hair levels and children developing ADHD. We’re told that this study was about the bad stuff, methyl-mercury, not the safe stuff, ethyl mercury, described as “a form that’s generally considered low toxicity for the central nervous system.”
And this is all because of this recent study which has a link on the Forbes story, Prenatal mercury exposure may be associated with risk of ADHD-related behaviors. We were also told, “Fish consumption may be associated with lower risk.”
"In this population-based prospective cohort study, hair mercury levels were consistently associated with ADHD-related behaviors, including inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. We also found that higher prenatal fish consumption was protective for these behaviors," the authors comment.”
"Although a single estimate combining these beneficial vs. detrimental effects vis-à-vis fish intake is not possible with these data, these findings are consistent with a growing literature showing risk of mercury exposure and benefits of maternal consumption of fish on fetal brain development and are important for informing dietary recommendations for pregnant women."
In the end, if Forbes isn’t worried and the scientists aren’t really adamant about mercury and damage to the developing brain of a baby, why should we be?