Autism: It is not About Mercury

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog about the work of Andrew Wakefield. Although some viewers answered kindly with information meant to rebuke me, the visceral response from others has been quite violent. Besides serious physical threats, there are abusive remarks and other nonsensical comments. Some of the readers have gone over previous blogs now finding new evidence for my “deranged” way of thinking. One comment, for example, came from a reader who appropriately named himself “Smarter than You”. His comment was as follows: “Wow, this is how you draw your conclusion that mercury is not involved in Autism? Looks like you did about 5 minutes of google research here pal. Very shortly you are going to wake up and realize that you shouldn’t talk about something when you don’t even have the most basic understanding of either Autism or Mercury. I can’t wait to finally educate people like you”. Actually, I am a Board Certified Neurologist who did training in Neuropathology at Johns Hopkins. I served as a Medical Examiner in both Washington, DC and Maryland. I recently came back from being one of the opening plenary speakers at the annual American Association of Neuropathologists. I think that my education has extended over 5 minutes of internet search. However, you can judge the criticized blog by yourselves.

Cortical Chauvinism

I believe that parents, such as Bernie Rimland, have promoted our modern understanding of autism.  Indeed, I have learned more about the clinical aspects of autism by reading autobiographical accounts than by reading medical textbooks. It is therefore unsurprising that throughout the years when diverging opinions regarding autism have erupted between physicians and parents, it is the latter’s point of view that has carried the day. It stands to reason that nowadays when a controversy arises I try to understand both sides of the argument before making an informed decision. In the present blog, I will risk wasting everybody’s time in discussing a subject that has been repeatedly broached in the literature and offer my own take on the role that mercury may (or may not) have on the genesis of autism from the perspective of a neurologist and neuropathologist.  I won’t cover the MMR controversy because I have not…

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4 responses to “Autism: It is not About Mercury

  1. I think autism is a bad diagnostic for most of the cases. Most of the numbers are really encephalopathies caused by many things, among them mercury, but it can be done by viruses and infections like Lyme or other infectious diseases causes like PANDAS/PANS.
    It is incredible to me that after treating this infections, many of the called “autistic symptoms” go away or improve. I have seen it with my own son. It is really sad that conventional medicine denies and treat these conditions as what they are : infectious diseases
    Even Dr Montagnier, the Nobel Prize of Medicine for the HIV/AIDS discovery is saying that..that behind most of the autistic epidemic there are infections like Lyme

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    • You are quite correct in that there are seemingly many etiologies that are funneled to provide the same behavioral phenotype that characterizes autism. This has been the object of many articles and even some books like “The Autisms” and “Rethinking Autism”. Also, some of these etiologies include viral agents (like congenital cytomegalovirus). Also, as you are suggesting there seems to be mounting evidence of some type of immune dysfunction in the condition. Thank you for the comments.

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  2. In regards to the congenital cytomegalovirus, could it be the cause of brain tumors as well? I remember reading the high correlation between fathers with nystagmus and an offspring with autism …of course it is really an offspring with Sensory Integration problems due to the virus.

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    • The presence of cytomegalovirus has been seen in patients with brain tumors (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3429578/). Patients with autism whose mothers had taken thalidomide during pregnancy manifested eye movemenet abnormalities (Duane syndrome) that was used to time when during pregnancy the insult causing autism could have occured. Also Mel Kaplan has an article about the increase prevalence of strabismus in autism. Thanks for your comment.

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