There is no known cause or cure, and that's why many parents are desperate to try whatever therapy is out there.
Researchers think both genetic and environmental factors play a role in the cause of autism. In search for answers parents try
medications, special diets, nutritional supplements and alternative treatments. There's no scientific evidence that chelation
therapy is an effective autism treatment.
Chelating drugs, which bind to lead and other metals in the blood, are increasingly being used for the treatment of autism in
children. Chelation therapy is a process involving the use of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body. For
example the most common forms of heavy metal intoxication, are those involving lead, arsenic or mercury.
Nonprofit organizations are united by their belief that many childhood neurological disorders, such as autism, Asperger's
syndrome, ADHD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder and other developmental delays, are the effects of a primary
diagnosis of mercury poisoning and related complications. Their views are controversial, and most medical professionals view
the evidence of a link as dubious.
In recent years, some doctors and parents have recommended chelation therapy as a potential treatment for autism.
Supporters believe that autism is caused by mercury exposure, such as from childhood vaccines. Chelation therapy
supposedly removes mercury from the body, which cures autism. But extensive studies have revealed no evidence of a link
between mercury exposure and autism. In addition, chelation therapy is not approved as an autism treatment and can be
associated with serious side effects, including liver and kidney damage that can result in death.
There is no cure for autism. As a result, unproven alternative therapies are often suggested to parents who frustrated by the
lack of effective medical treatment for autism and are desperate to find something that will help their children. However, in
clinical studies, these alternative therapies are usually found to be ineffective and sometimes harmful. Talk to your child’s
doctor before starting any alternative autism treatment.
A few physicians have been promoting the idea that the mercury content of vaccines is a cause of autism and that autistic
children should undergo chelation therapy to be detoxified. Lawsuits have been filed, and several attorneys are advertising on
the Internet for more clients. The situation arose because until recently, certain vaccines contained thimerosal, a mercury-
containing preservative that is no longer used in most of the vaccines now recommended for children. However, there are
several reasons why concerns about the use of thimerosal in vaccines are misguided.
• The amounts of mercury involved were very small.
• No link between mercury and autism has been proven. If the thimerosal in vaccines caused mercury poisoning, the
symptoms would affect all parts of the nervous system.
• Autistic children do not have the movement disorders and peripheral nerve damage that are characteristic of mercury
• There is no scientific evidence or logical reason to believe that autism has a toxic cause.
Thimerosal has been used as preservative in biologics and vaccines since the 1930s because it prevents bacterial and fungal
contamination, particularly in multi-dose containers. In 1999, an FDA review noted that with the increased number of
vaccines then recommended for infants, the total amount of mercury in vaccines containing thimerosal might exceed the
levels recommended by other federal agencies. The mercury limits imposed by these agencies have a wide margin of safety;
and there was no information suggesting that any infant had been harmed. However, to be precise, the U.S. Public Health
Service (PHS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked doctors to minimize exposure to thimerosal-containing
vaccines and manufacturers to remove thimerosal from vaccines as soon as possible.
By mid 2000, thimerosal-free vaccines against hepatitis B and bacterial meningitis were widely available. A combination
vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus is also available today without thimerosal. Measles/mumps/rubella (MMR),
chickenpox, inactivated polio, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have never contained thimerosal. Thus, except for some
influenza vaccine, none of the vaccines now used to protect preschool children against 12 infectious diseases contain
thimerosal as a preservative. Certain flu vaccines and tetanus-diphtheria vaccines (Td) given to children age 7 and older still
contain thimerosal as a preservative.
Before the recent reductions, the maximum cumulative exposure to mercury via routine childhood vaccinations during the first
six months of life could have been 187.5 micro grams (which averages to about 1 micro gram per day). With the newly
formulated vaccines, the maximum cumulative exposure during the first six months of life should now total no more than 3
micro grams of mercury. No studies have shown that either the old or the new amounts have any toxic effect.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compared the incidence of autism with the amount of thimerosal
received from vaccines. Preliminary results indicated no change in autism rates relative to the amount of thimerosal a child
received during the first six months of life (from 0 micro grams to greater than 160 micro grams). A weak association was
found with thimerosal intake and certain neuron developmental disorders (such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in
one study, but was not found in a subsequent study. Additional studies are planned, but it is unlikely that any significant
association will be found. No harmful effects have been reported from thimerosal at doses used in vaccines, except for minor
reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site.
Chelation Therapy Treatment:
One organization Generation Rescue claims to “share the truth with parents about the cause of their child’s developmental
disabilities so they can focus on treatment”. They claim that autism and other developmental issues are all misdiagnoses for
mercury poisoning and blame Thimerosal, a vaccine preservative, as the primary source of the poisoning. They further claim
that biomedical intervention (treating the medical symptoms of a diagnosed child) can cure these various ailments. These
views are not shared by most medical professionals, and as such many of its claims are controversial.
• Autism is a medical condition that is treatable through what is commonly called “biomedical treatment”.
• Children who have received biomedical treatment are recovering from autism, with some losing their diagnosis altogether.
• The primary source of mercury poisoning came from a vaccine preservative known as thimerosal, which is made from
mercury, and which tripled in the amount given to children between 1988 and 2000, which matches the alleged autism
In May, 2005, over 150 parents, led by Lisa and JB Handley, launched the organization, a non-profit, California based,
international support group dedicated to treating autistic spectrum and other neurological disorders, which the group contends
result from poisoning by heavy metals, particularly thimerosal containing vaccines.
The group has collected scientific papers, opinion pieces, and journalistic reports to substantiate their case, all of which are
presented on their website. The science cited by Generation Rescue is poorly regarded by mainstream medicine. None of the
science presented on the Generation Rescue website offers scientifically verifiable evidence of causation. They advocate the
use of biomedical intervention and other autism therapies to help reverse autistic symptoms. Some mistakenly characterize the
group as focused only on chelation therapy. In fact, Generation Rescue promotes dietary change and supplementation, toxin
reduction, and many different forms of detoxification.
In February 2005 J. B. Handley stated on a TV interview that the notion of autism is mythical since it is a misdiagnoses for
mercury poisoning. He also claimed that autism did not exist before thimerosal was put in vaccines, and that chelation therapy
can cure autism in two years or less. His son is still autistic and still undergoing chelation therapy three years later.
PutChildrenFirst.org believes that the Centers for Disease Control covered up the role that vaccines have played in the alleged
autism epidemic. The website includes several email's from CDC and FDA employees obtained through a Freedom of
Information Act lawsuit.
The treatment is approved in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only where there is evidence of heavy
metal contamination. The procedure has been accepted as low risk as a treatment for adult patients with a range of medical
conditions. There is no evidence for the use of chelation therapy in autism.
Some people believe that autism can be linked to a mercury-containing preservative once commonly used in childhood
vaccines, and these people sometimes advocate chelation therapy, which causes heavy metals to leave the body through urine.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved chelation only for acute heavy-metal poisoning that is confirmed by blood
tests. Critics call the treatment risky and say there isn’t enough evidence to link autism to mercury or lead toxicity.
An autistic boy died after receiving an unproven treatment that some people believe may cure the neurological and
developmental disorder, officials said. Abubakar Tariq Nadama, 5, had received his third treatment of chelation therapy at a
doctor’s office before going into cardiac arrest. The staff at the Dr.’s office performed CPR on the boy, but he was later
pronounced dead in a hospital. More tests would be needed to determine the cause of death. The boy’s mother said she didn’t
blame the therapy, but was waiting for test results.
Despite strong evidence to the contrary, many parents believe their children's autism is caused by mercury from thimerosal, a
vaccine preservative. A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report specifically rejects this theory. That report also finds no
evidence that chelation helps autism. However, many parents treat their children's autism with chelation therapies.
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