Jewish World Review Sept. 7, 2004 / 21 Elul 5764

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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Sad child disease: Speaking out so that they can speak | The medical, scientific and political rifles are loaded and the shots will soon be heard in Sacramento and around the nation. Hopefully the winners will be all our children and grandchildren. The issue, which has drawn nationwide attention, is the bitter strife over possible risks from the chemical thimerosal which is about half ethyl mercury, in our vaccines given to children and pregnant women.

The California State Assembly on August 26 voted to eliminate the mercury-based preservative from vaccines and sent the measure to the governor's office, where its prognosis is uncertain. The vote was 48 to 21 in favor of the bill which earlier in the week passed the state Senate, 22 to 13, despite opposition from leading vaccine maker Aventis Pasteur Inc.

We applaud the California legislature. We think they got it right in spite of clashing evidence, studies and emotions.

A spokesman said Schwarzenegger had not taken a position on the bill. We urge him to sign it. The bill would bar pregnant women and children under 3 years old from getting vaccines with more than trace levels of thimerosal after July 2006.

During the 1990s, millions of infants and toddlers were exposed to mercury above federal guidelines because of a rising number of routine shots in which thimerosal was a common ingredient used to prevent bacterial contamination. Since 1999, the chemical has been reduced to trace levels in most pediatric vaccines. Vaccine makers and many health officials say there is no proof of a causal link between thimerosal and autism. To which we add that there is no definitive proof there isn't!

The audience listened with enthralled attention to a talk about one mad cow from Canada, which caused an investigation costing millions of dollars, observed Dr. Boyd Haley at the July 2004 meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.

But the major disaster, he said, is the one that is happening to our children. Psychiatrists call it attention deficit disorder, autism, autism spectrum disorder, or pervasive development disorder. He calls it mad child disease and thinks that its various forms represent different levels of mercury toxicity.

Dr. Haley, chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky, blamed the medical and dental professions, for not speaking out. Every quantitative study has shown that the largest contributor to the mercury body burden in Americans is dental amalgams. The level is increased ten-fold by brushing and another ten-fold by placing the amalgam in a cup of hot coffee, Haley stated.

In a position statement released in October 2002, the American Dental Association "ADA) asserted that "the process by which amalgam is made renders the bound mercury component stable." The FDA reaffirmed the safety of dental amalgam in March 2002; however, it has never tested or funded a test of an amalgam filling to determine whether it releases mercury, according to Dr. Haley.

In a July 2002 press release, the ADA admitted that a "minute" amount of mercury "may be released" by "vigorous chewing and grinding," but "there is no scientific evidence that this negligible amount results in adverse health effects."

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Babies don't have fillings, but their mothers do. The more amalgams, the higher the mercury level in the hair of normal infants. But unexpectedly, autistic children have low levels of mercury in their hair, and the more severe the autism, the lower the level tends to be, even if mother has many fillings.

The mercury that is not found in the hair or the blood is retained in the tissues, Dr. Haley explains; some individuals cannot excrete it properly. Autistic children have more mercury in their baby teeth and unload much more mercury than normals when challenged with a mercury chelating agent.

Thimerosal was removed from vaccines for cats and dogs in 1992, but thimerosal-free hepatitis B vaccine was not available for babies until 2000.

The epidemic of these child diseases started at the same time as the mandated vaccine program in 1982-1985, Dr. Haley notes. The first case of autism, for a time a uniquely American disease, was described in 1941. Thimerosal had been patented in 1928 and was added to various American drugs in the 1930s.

The male:female ratio is about 4:1 in all of these child diseases, suggesting that the cause is probably the same toxic vector. It happens that boys are much more susceptible to mercury toxicity than girls because testosterone potentiates toxicity while estrogen is protective.

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., founder of the Autism Research Institute, said that 4% of American boys are autistic. He predicts a serious shortage of technically trained men and suggests that fully vaccinated children could lose 15 to 20 IQ points and have blunted emotions and behavioral problems.

On the other hand, The Institute of Medicine has called for an end to research on a connection between mercury and neurodevelopment disorders, and for channeling funds into "more productive" avenues. Officials, however, are unable to state their hypothesis to explain the epidemic of mad child disease, Dr. Haley said.

On June 4, 2004, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel forwarded to Congress hundreds of disclosures from private citizens alleging public health concerns about thimerosal in childhood vaccines.

It is alleged that:

1. Vaccines containing 25 mcg of mercury per dose and carrying an expiration date of 2005 continue to be produced and administered.

2. Some data sets showing a relationship between thimerosal and neurologic disorders no longer exist.

3. Independent researchers have arbitrarily been denied access to CDC data bases.

It is also alleged that the CDC and the FDA colluded with pharmaceutical companies at a conference in Norcross, Ga., in June 2000 to prevent release of a study showing a statistical correlation between thimerosal exposure and autism, attention deficit disorder, and speech and language delays.

Instead of releasing the data presented at the conference, the author of the study, Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, later published a different version of the study in the November 2003 issue of Pediatrics, which did not show a statistical correlation. No explanation has been provided for this discrepancy.

And so the conflict continues.

We urge Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the California legislation and set a higher standard for the country. Since the dose makes the poison why not error on the safe side.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.


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