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
• 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
that are characteristic of mercury poisoning.
• 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 multidose 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
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 micrograms (which averages
to about 1 microgram 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 micrograms 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 micrograms to greater than 160 micrograms). A weak association was found with
thimerosal intake and certain neurodevelopmental 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 misdiagnosis 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
• Autism is a medical condition that is treatable through what is commonly called “biomedical
• 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 epidemic.
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
In February 2005 J. B. Handley stated on a TV interview that the notion of autism is mythical since
it is a misdiagnosis 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 emails 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
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.