Alycia Halladay, PhD, recently posted an essay on the “STAT” website entitled “Let’s Focus on the Real Environmental Factors Linked to Autism.”
Dr. Hallyday made myriad factual errors in her post. Thimerosal was never “exonerated.” Ethylmercury is not harmless. Thimerosal can and DOES accumulate in some people’s brains. Many people, especially boys with a family history of immune disorders cannot efficiently excrete ethyl mercury / Thimerosal. This subset of boys have highly sensitive central nervous systems (Herbert, Deth) poor methylation abilities and suboptimal immune systems. Tragically this subset of children are unusually intelligent (Deth) and are robbed of this gift via Thimerosal induced brain damage. This cohort falls under the umbrella of regressive autism. These are infants and toddlers who reached all milestones on time, but usually ahead of schedule, yet experienced a catastrophic loss of skills and speech after a severe adverse vaccine reaction.
Essentially no one, except a fool, would knowingly and willingly allow their child, especially their infant (pre 2004 all newborns injected w Thimerosal via the pointless and dangerous Hep B vaccine), to be injected Thimerosal. Like many parents, I assumed all the Hg was taken out of vaccines in 2000, big mistake, it wasn’t. As far as Hallyday’s grossly erroneous claim: “there is no evidence Thimerosal is dangerous” please take a peek at the following THIRTY studies. There are about thirty more I could have included, but you get the point.
A final caveat before you read the list. It is about 100x harder to get a study criticizing a vaccine published, than a study claiming Thimerosal is safe, published. The double standard is beyond belief. One might have an “I love Hg!” study rife with financial conflicts of interest, substitution errors, type I and type II errors and even basic arithmetic mistakes but almost any journal will publish it. One might have a study critical of thimersol that is perfection, checked, double checked, case controlled, blinded, extensively footnoted and still maybe one in 20 journals might have the courage to publish it. All of the published peer reviewed research listed below had to meet the the highest possible scientific bar in order to make it to print.
“Autistic child and unaffected sibling exhibit hypersensitivity to Thimerosal, “ Baskin D et al, 2013.
“Prenatal exposure to Thimerosal persistently impairs the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in the rat brain,” Narita, M, et al, 2012.
“Suppression by Thimerosal of ex vivo CD4 T cell response to flu vaccine and induction of apoptosis in primary T cells,” Gourgeon, M, et al, 2014.
“Thimerosal compromises human dendritic cells maturation, IL-2 production and chemokine release,” Loisen, E, et al, 2014.
“Increased susceptibility of ethylmercury induced mitochondrial dysfunction in subset with autism, “James, J., et al, 2015.
“Case control study of mercury burden in children with autism,” Kartinzel, J, et al, 2007.
“Effect of Thimerosal on neurodevelopment of premature rats,” Hui Ying, Du et al, 2013
“Altered antibodies in ASD children related to blood mercury,” Mostafa, G, et al, 2007
“Severity of Autism Associated with toxic metal body burden and red blood cell glutathione levels,” El Dhar et al, 2013.
“Levels of blood mercury and inflammation related neuropeptides are correlated in children with autism.” Al-Ayadhi et al, 2015.
“Blood level of mercury related to diagnosis of autism,” R Hitlan, 2007.
“Role of Mercury in Pathogenesis of autism,” 2002.
“Mercury, lead and zinc in baby teeth of children with autism vs. controls.” Adams, J., et al, 2011.
“Altered urinary porphyrins and mercury exposures as biomarkers for Egyptian children autism,” El Barra, 2010.
“Neurotoxic effects on mouse brain after intermittent neonatal administration of Thimerosal,” Shan Tang, et al, 204.
“Thimerosal in infant rats increases overflow of glutamate- aspartate in prefrontal cortex,” Majewska, M, et al, 2011.
“Thimerosal is a mitochondria toxin in human astrocytes,” Baskin, D, et al, 2011.
“Maternal Thimerosal exposure results in aberrant cerebellar oxidative stress,” Zavacki, A., et al, 2011.
Embryonic exposure to Thimerosal causes abnormal early development of serotonergic neurons,” Teshiro, Y, et al, 2011.
“Thiol modulated mechanisms of cytotoxicity of Thimerosal and inhibition of DNA topoisomerase,” Hasinoff, B., et al, 2007.
“Porphyrinuria in childhood autistic disorder: Implications for environmental toxicity,” Lathe, R, et al, 2006.
“Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to vaccines containing Thimerosal,” Clarkson, T, et al, 2005.
“Thimerosal induces neuronal cell apoptosis by causing cytochrome c and apoptosis inducing factor release from mitochondria,” Gupta, S., et al, 2005.
“Mitochondrial mediated Thimerosal induced apoptosis in a human neuroblastoma cell line,” Kiningham, K, et al, 2005.
“Thimerosal Neurotoxicity is associated with glutathione depletion: protection with glutathione precursors,” Jernigan, S., et al, 2004.
“Activation of methionine synthase by insulin like growth factor 1 and dopamine: a target for neurodevelopment toxins and Thimerosal,” Deth, R, et al, 2004.
“Thimerosal induces DNA breaks, caspase 3 activation, membrane damage and cell death in human neurons and fibroblasts,” Didenko, V, et al, 2003.
“Biochemical and molecular basis of Thimerosal induced apoptosis in T cells: a major mitochondrial pathway,” Gupta, S, et al, 2002.
“Neuroblastoma cells: cobalamin and GSH dependence and inhibitory effects of neurotoxic metals and Thimerosal,” Deth, R, et al, 2016.
Russia, not a paragon if consumer protection, banned Thimerosal from all vaccines in 1980. Sure, partly because their pharma lobby is small but also in part because it was the right thing to do. My veterinarian scolded me after I told her I discovered my son’s vaccines contained Hg. She literally said to me word for word, “Katie what’s wrong with you? That stuff is poison. Most vet practices been Thimerosal free for 20 years!” The awful irony- my cat never received Thimerosal vaccines, but my son did.
It is shameful that the NIH, CDC and WHO refuse to call for a ban on Thimerosal. But Thimerosal is a lot cheaper than its safer substitutes and pharma runs the show. The symbiotic relationship between pharma and the NIH / CDC has created a revolving door for personnel. You work on vaccines at the NIH? Resign, wait 365 days (only because the law requires it) and take an extremely well paid job at Pfizer doing the same thing you were doing at the NIH, using all your insider knowledge to promote and sell vaccines, and, most importantly, push for more vaccine mandates.
Severe autism did demonstrably decrease after Hg was banned from vaccines in Denmark. The Thorsen study, yes the vaccine/ autism study conducted by a wanted criminal who embezzled a million + $ from the dupes at the CDC, is a joke for more reasons than one. Thorsen “showed” that autism increased after the withdrawal of Hg in vaccines by adding the in patient psychiatric population to the post test numbers. Voila increase! In the pre test Thorsen counted only the out patient ASD population.
Again the ubiquitous double standard. Oh how the Dr. Hallydays of the world wring their hands and bemoan about the “unethical” scientific work of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Yet all are strangely silent regarding the truly criminal behavior of CDC autism research partner Poul Thorsen and his girlfriend/ boss (I am 100% serious) CDC autism “expert” Diana Schendel. CDC supervisor Schendel approved her married boyfriend’s grants, never recusing herself from Thorsen business despite the obvious conflict of interest. You don’t believe me? Want to read scores of love letters via CDC e-mails to and from Thorsen and Schendel? No, these are not private hacked e-mails, but CDC e-mails. This illicit and grossly unprofessional, and just plain gross, relationship was conducted on CDC time and was subsidized with our tax dollars. When it was discovered Thorsen stole much of the CDC money he claimed to have spent on autism research he immediately scrambled back home to Denmark. Guess who was right behind him? Diana Schendel quit her CDC and moved to Denmark with her embezzler boyfriend. Yet, incredibly, the CDC would have us believe that this odious chain of events neither taints Thorsen’s research nor the CDC’s leadership?
Dr. Hallyday has been in the field of autism research for 20 years. The fact that she laments the lack of research into environmental factors astonishes me. While at Autism Speaks, Dr. Hallyday assisted in the selection of autism research grants for almost 10 years. Hallyday helped spend over $300 million on autism science. Why did she do so little to push environmental science forward? It is the media’s fault that Autism Speaks has spent less than 10% of it’s science budget on environmental research? The media did not have a seat at Autism Speaks grant selection committees. To make matters even worse, much of the environmental research funded under Hallyday’s watch is meaningless also rans science- old fat moms causing autism.
But let’s take a closer look at the environmental factors Dr. Hallyday does believe are causing autism:
1) Supposedly a massive amount of pregnant women are knowingly taking valporic acid despite the fact it has long been established this is dangerous to fetuses. Right, that’s a really big and really common problem. Absurd, probably less than 1% of ASD causation.
2) OLD MOMS! One would expect better from a female scientist to fall into the “old moms cause autism” trap. Pathetic. Dr. Hertz-Pincho the preeminent autism epidemiologist found that no more than 3-4% of the rise of autism can be attributed to older parents.
3) Air Pollution. There is some truth to this because there are many autism hot spots near coal burning power plants but air pollution is not driving the explosion of autism.
4) Extreme Illness/Infection during pregnancy. Come on. This happens but is rare. The biggest danger to most pregnant women is the Hg containing flu shot. The Hg passes right through the unbiblical cord to baby’s brain. Mothers with vulnerable immune systems often have infants with similar immune systems and it is the babies who are most susceptible to illness /infection post adverse vaccine reaction.
Ask 10 autism moms if their ASD child had a lot of ear, eye or sinus infections as a baby and 6 will say yes. Ask them if their infants had bad vaccine reactions, the same 6 will say yes. We need to study issues THOSE issues, concerns of families living autism, rather the pet interests of academics.
5) FAT MOMS! It is such a banal, hackneyed argument. OK, newsflash, it is not healthy to be obese. Obese people are more likely to have autoimmune issues, hence vulnerability to autism. This issue probably accounts for 2% of autism.
So Dr. Hallyday believes with more research into OLD, FAT, drug taking moms living near coal burning power plants we will uncover the major causes of autism? Come on. That is the best we can do? I hope non ASD parents are reading this and gain some insight in our families’ disgust with much of the autism research community. We don’t want to waste your hard earned taxed dollars, we want research that actually accomplishes something and provides actionable preventative value.
At the end of her post Dr. Hallyday complains that by focusing on vaccines we fail to prioritize or fund “more effective treatments.” I find that comment sadly ironic given the fact Dr. Hallyday had literally 100s of opportunities to champion innovative treatment studies while at AS. Whenever AS Science was presented with a research study on treatment for severe GI pain, they rejected it, whenever AS Science had the opportunity to treat common ASD autoimmune conditions they rejected it, when AS Science had the opportunity to fund work on better and safer diagnosing of ASD/ GI disease they rejected it, when AS Science had the opportunity to help prevent regressive autism they rejected it, when AS Science had the opportunity to research causes and treatment for common and debilitating environmental allergies affecting the ASD population they rejected it......Dr. Hallyday’s advocacy for “more treatment research” is disingenuous.
By all means, we need to invest more money in environmental science research. Dr. Hallyday could start with her own organization. The Autism Science Foundation conducts no environmental research I am aware of. Sorry, no one outside of academia considers the “old, fat moms cause” research worthwhile. The Simons Foundation generously funds millions of dollars of autism research and conducts no environmental science research. Cold Springs Harbor conducts no environmental research and the NIH invests a only a tiny amount of their autism budget on environmental triggers. Rather than blame parents of vaccine injured children for the lack of progress in environmental research I would encourage Dr. Hallyday to advocate for the funding of substantive environmental science at CSH, Simons, the NIH, and naturally, at her own organization as well.
Katie Wright is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.