For Better of For Worse
Things to Know or Do When You’re Up Against a Vaccine Bully

Best of: Autism From a Flu Shot... in 1937?

Mercury-vaccine We first ran this post in November of 2010.  Fall is time for the flu shot push from coast to coast.

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Seventy-three years ago, Elizabeth Peabody Trevett, a pediatrician and pioneer in promoting mass vaccination for infants, gave birth to a boy named John who became the seventh child ever diagnosed with autism. She presumably vaccinated her baby, and perhaps herself while pregnant, with the same shots she administered to her own patients. One of those shots, the newly developed diphtheria toxoid, was the first to contain the ethyl mercury preservative, thimerosal.
Today, pediatricians and public health officials scoff at concerns that thimerosal, still used today in most flu shots recommended for all pregnant women and infants older than 6 months, could cause autism. But after researching our new book, "The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic," we are much less sanguine about such an outcome.
Our conclusion: The facts of Case 7 fit with a common familial background exposure in the first cases to newly commercialized ethyl mercury compounds in agriculture and vaccines. They suggest children, then as now, are at risk from the dangerous and indefensible practice of injecting them with mercury for the stated purpose of protecting their health.
Elizabeth Peabody Trevett graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and won a fellowship to Harvard where she was one of seven pediatricians who pioneered the well-baby visit – at which vaccines are routinely administered. Her son John was born in November 1937. She subsequently divorced her husband, psychiatrist Laurence Trevett, and resumed using her maiden name, Peabody.
A few years later, back in Maryland, she was quoted about the importance of vaccination in an Annapolis newspaper article: “Too many parents, said Dr. Peabody, have the proper shots given and then relax, forgetting that booster shots are needed and that immunization does wear off. Speaking specifically of some of the most prevalent ailments, she stated that a child cannot be vaccinated against smallpox too often and it should be done for the first time when a baby is between three months and one year of age. In the case of diphtheria, booster shots are extremely important.”
Diphtheria was the first mass vaccine to contain thimerosal, starting in the 1930s just as the first autism cases were identified. It would have been widely available at a teaching hospital like Harvard at the time John was born.

Following her passion for public health, Elizabeth Peabody later set up a well-baby clinic in Iraq, again emphasizing the importance of vaccinating thousands of babies, and then joined the Public Health Service in Atlanta as a regional administrator for children’s health programs.
 As flu season kicks into high gear this year in the United States, infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers are among the millions of Americans whom public health officials are urging with unprecedented fervor to get a flu shot. Because most flu shots contain mercury, and because the CDC has declined to express a preference for giving these groups a mercury-free version, this means millions of the most vulnerable among us are getting a significant dose of the dangerous neurotoxin – some at grocery stores and airports and retailers, some without even having to get out of their car. Tracking short-term, localized and mild adverse reactions would seem difficult, and following up on any associations with the onset of chronic or delayed outcomes like autism all but impossible.

This situation is plagued with illogic and bad judgment. The very same Public Health Service Peabody worked for -- which now includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – along with the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged manufacturers not to put mercury in childhood vaccines. This was in July 1999, and over the next several years mercury was phased out of those vaccines – except, inexplicably, for flu shots. The government in fact greatly expanded flu shot coverage recommendations so that now all pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants over six months old are targeted for the shots. This earlier exposure to mercury has the effect of offsetting the removal from other vaccines; in fact, it moves the timing of the shots forward to a much more vulnerable point in the development of the infant brain and the immune system. Adjusted for weight, fetuses and infants are still getting a substantial portion of the mercury dose that first caused concern.
The government originally acted to remove mercury because a Congressionally ordered review found that as more and more shots were added to the infant vaccine schedule during the 1990s, the amount of mercury to which a child could be exposed exceeded the EPA guideline for maximum safe mercury exposure. And because mercury is so dangerous to humans and especially infants – it is the second-deadliest element on Earth – and has caused terrible poisonings all around the world, the idea was a sound one based on the precautionary principle and the well-known medical admonition to "First, do no harm."
Precaution has not exactly been in the watchword in the medical industry’s use of mercury. Our book traces its reckless use in medicine and manufacturing for half-a-millennium; doctors treated the skin ravages of syphilis with mercury ointment and vapors after Columbus brought the disease back from the New World in 1494; eventually a much more toxic mercury compound, mercuric chloride, was ingested and injected to try to “cure” syphilis (only the advent of penicillin the 1940s did that). We found a strong pattern of evidence that suggests mercuric chloride interacted with the disease to create the deadliest form of syphilis, called general paralysis of the insane. Doctors never noticed.
So it has gone for centuries. Our research strongly suggests that the first cases of autism among children born in the 1930s were connected with exposure to three newly commercialized ethyl mercury compounds: a seed disinfectant, a lumber treatment, and the vaccine preservative thimerosal. (All three were invented and patented by one man, University of Chicago chemist Morris Kharasch, one of the leaders in the development of organic chemistry.)
What leads us to this conclusion? We were able to identify seven of the 11 children  described in Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Leo Kanner’s landmark 1943 report (John Trevett, disguised as "Herbert B., was Case 7 in this series); Kanner, the dean of child psychiatrists who wrote the first child psychiatry textbook eight years earlier with no mention of autism, said these children’s behavior differed “markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far.” In his report, he used first names and last initials to mask the children’s identities, but we used clues in the detailed family descriptions to find them. The results clearly point to an environmental trigger in these first cases – specifically, ethyl mercury.
 -- Case 2 was the son of a plant pathologist working with fungicides at the federal government’s Beltsville Agriculture Research Center in Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital. His extensive archive shows him working with mercury compounds from the beginning of his career, and contains a pamphlet for the ethyl mercury seed disinfectant Ceresan, a dust that could easily have gotten on his clothes and exposed his pregnant wife or newborn infant. (She had kidney trouble during pregnancy, which can be a sign of mercury poisoning.) The father’s resume shows him working with Ceresan when his son was born.

-- Case 3 was the son of a forestry professor whose research places him in a laboratory where early tests on wood preservation were being conducted with Lignasan, also an ethyl mercury compound.

 -- And Case 7, as we have described, was the pediatrician and vaccine advocate for the Public Health Service. Several others in the first 11 had medical backgrounds that could put them at risk of medicinal mercury exposure.
Today John Trevett lives in a group home in Maryland, where we visited him as we prepared our book. He does not speak, but he appears to understand what is said. He is no trouble and seems well-cared for, but it a sad and eerie end for someone whose parents were both doctors and whose mother was a medical pioneer.
In our book, we describe this ongoing tragedy of overlooked mercury poisoning in depth and detail. Here, it is important to say that the Public Health Service may be just the latest in a parade of distinguished “experts” and esteemed organizations to miss the clues – even a clue that comes at a terrible price from one of their own pioneering pediatricians.
Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill are co-authors of “The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic,” published in September by Thomas Dunne Books.


Jeannette Bishop

I should have said, thank you, again for this important investigative work.

The summary from my point of view: it's known that three parents in the U.S. seminal case report on autism were pioneer users of this ethylmercury compound. One even pioneered vaccines and the well-baby visit.

When this is dismissed as a case of confirmation bias, instead of seen as evidence screaming for immediate cautionary change of course and honest research, I worry about the survivability of the human race.


There are enough adults now, too, that whenever, if ever, a vaccinated vs unvaccinated study re: autism rates are done, that we should be doing a vac/unvac study on adults with cancer. Of course they've practically eliminated already the senior citizen unvaccinated "control" group that could have been had with the push for flu shots in seniors, where Alzheimers has them so addled they may not ever be able to answer a questionnaire.

Is there a chart comparing increases in cancer rates compared to increases in the U.S. vaccine schedules? And how about the various autoimmune diseases? How about comparing children of teachers/doctors/nurses/medical researchers/military personnel to those with parents outside those heavily shot up careers?

Jeannette Bishop

"Speaking specifically of some of the most prevalent ailments, she stated that a child cannot be vaccinated against smallpox too often and it should be done for the first time when a baby is between three months and one year of age. In the case of diphtheria, booster shots are extremely important."

It's hard to read/hear (in AoA's video summary) this quote, assuming it is representative of what she said, and then to look at what happened in her family. I don't know enough to say that mercury/vaccination perhaps in this case tore apart and tortured her family, but I have enough experience with it to strongly suspect it was at least a factor.

And there will be some, with at best only tobacco science urging them on in their youthful (sometimes not so youthful) confidence, who will emphatically state, and perhaps believe which I guess is supposed to make it honest, that the exposures deliberately made in healthcare do not harm, at least not to this extent, while they are surrounded daily by evidence that harm is being done somehow from sources still unrecognized and the research is absolutely inadequate for such confidence (I know, it's all in the genes and we'll find those genes someday!).

At the same time, many of the same seem so convinced that it is only correlation or wishful thinking, "just looking for something to blame" driving opposing viewpoints. Wishful thinking is what got me to the point of having not just correlation, but multiple correlations, the re-challenge effect Dr. Wakefield often describes, in my daughter's regressions, nevermind the body of research that implicates immune function in autism. And the only positive thing about all the pain that comes with recognizing how unsafe our "healthcare" likely has been, at least for some like my family, is that I'm sure, as it involves myself centrally in the blame, that I'm not just latching onto something comforting.

So seeing Dr. Peabody's rather absolute statements about this medical procedure, I want to ask if she ever questioned, in her mind at least though it seems unlikely, the safety of what she promoted. It's also disturbing to me to learn that she pioneered "well-baby" visits possibly establishing standards of baby health and development based largely on vaccinated infants. It seems the whole medical practice of the well-baby visit--I don't necessarily have the impression that the well-baby visit became widely accepted for most of U.S. parents at the time, but--may have developed with little experience, little observation of the unvaccinated control group we keep begging the medical profession to observe.

Carolyn Flannery

I have recently watched a relative go through a cancer diagnosis and it hit me:
Standard American Medicine thinks it is perfectly acceptable ACROSS THE BOARD that some "cures" cause harm. And they apparently have no drive to minimize that harm. Nor the curiosity to even figure out WHY this harm occurs to some, and for whom a treatment is appropriate. The reason that this could happen with vaccination is the reason chemo and radiation are proscribed so readily to as many cancers as they can 'justify", even when for some, they, too, are unnecessary and can cause harm (after a lumpectomy with clean margins, the cancer may well be controlled but the "standard of care" is radiation)--and by the way, they make money on that--so radiation or chemo is pushed to everyone, with very few doctors trying to figure out if it's best for THIS patient with THIS picture) . Medicine quailty control and hospital ratings are statistics driven --"our hospital vaccinated 99%" --"we had a 70% compliance rate for radiation after diagnosis X"--"20% had a C-section" rather than results driven "our unvaccinated infants don't get autism" "our patients 10 year outcomes for people with XYZ picture who don't get radiation are better that for people with XYZ picture who do" "Avoiding C-section was a mistake on Patient X because of Y" . .And there is this amazing peer pressure in medicine to conform that is worse than anything I ever saw in high school. Our whole system is corrupt. And it's based on short term 'fixes' . And the lack of actually looking for answers in the data is appalling. And the tendency to throw OUT outliers instead of STUDY outliers to see what can be learned is tragic. And this is why we are swimming up a waterfall.

cia parker

You are right, Bob. And on par with giving mercury-containing flu shots to pregnant women and babies (as well as older people, who might be expected to know better at this late date), was resuming using mercury-containing Hep-B vaccines after a congressional hearing in May 1999 found them to be so dangerous that they should never be used. Hospitals put a voluntary moratorium on their use which only lasted a few months before they decided to go ahead and us up existing stores. Why not, since they had and have zero liability for ensuing permanent damage? And so, even after I had said I didn't want my baby to get it as I had read it often caused autism, they gave it to her in secret, at midnight, the day she was born, without asking permission, and it caused four days and nights of endless screaming, vaccine-induced encephalitis, and she was later diagnosed with autism. That being said, all vaccines can still cause encephalitis and brain damage, with or without mercury, the mercury just adds a horrifying dimension all its own.

Bob Moffitt

It is one thing to cause serious unintended consequences when "good intentions go horribly awry" .. but .. continuing to ignore the serious consequences that have resulted as a result of those proven false "good intentions" .. is nothing less than criminal.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)