Dan Olmsted – Autism’s Dick Tracy

2 Mar

Apparently.

Dan Olmsted, who writes for the Moonie owned UPI recently published another interminable piece in his ongoing series on autism (it isn’t really about autism, its about thiomersal causing autism but what the hell…)

In this one, he reveals the shocking results of his ongoing investigation into the private lives of the first set of Kanner’s patients and tries as hard as he can to draw a parallel between them and mercury. This time he’s struck the mother lode.

Patient Frederick W’s father is now identified as Frederick L. Wellman, a scientist who’s collection of papers ‘fill 18 boxes in the Special Collections Research Center at the North Carolina State University Libraries in Raleigh’.

The first item in the first folder in the first box is dated Spring 1922, when the senior Wellman was working toward his doctorate in plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin…..Wellman collected cabbage seeds infected with a common fungus and dunked some of them in a solution of mercury salts and hot water. “The lots treated with mercuric [chloride] were shaken vigorously at first to get thorough contact with the solution,” he wrote.

And that’s not all.

Case 1 grew up in a town called Forest, Miss., surrounded by logging camps, lumber mills, and a national forest being planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Forest is 50 miles from the Mississippi sawmills where ethyl mercury fungicides were first tested in the United States in 1929 to preserve lumber, a practice that quickly became widespread;

Case 3 was the son of “a professor of forestry in a southern university,” Kanner wrote….In 1936, he assisted in the planting of pine seedlings in the university’s newly acquired Hofmann Forest. His son was born in 1937. Organic mercury fungicides, including an ethyl mercury brand, were often used to prevent “damping off” or fungal contamination of pine seedlings during that era.

All this led Mark Blaxill of Antivax group SafeMinds to comment:

So now we have learned that Frederick Wellman handled ethyl mercury fungicides that were first introduced to the market in 1929 and that his child was Kanner’s patient No. 2….And we know that cases 1 and 3 grew up around the first application of ethyl mercury products. If that’s not a smoking gun, I don’t know what is…

A smoking gun. Impressive.

Except, lets apply a little less gasping credulity and a little more logic.

Fredrick Wellman’s documented use of ethyl mercury was 14 long years before his son was born. Does ethyl mercury have special time travelling properties no one told me about? And how exactly does Wellman Snr being associated with ethyl mercury lead to his son becoming autistic? By that logic every person who ever worked with ethyl mercury should both be autistic themselves and have autistic kids. Did Wellman inject the ethyl mercury into his scrotum?

And what was he doing during the year of his son’s birth? He wasn’t even in the country:

During most of 1936, Wellman was hunting exotic plant diseases in Turkey, Egypt, and Iran.

Case 1 ‘grew up’ (but where was he born?) 50 miles away from ethyl mercury. Everything else in that particular quote is supposition. Case 3’s Dad once planted seedlings that were planted about the same time that some fungicides that might’ve contained ethyl mercury might’ve been used. Thats a sight to may ‘might’ve’s for me.

Sorry, but this to me is not a smoking gun. Its not even a lukewarm barrell.

Another intriguing thing to note was that, in a follow up paper in 1971 Kanner found only two of his original eleven had had what he termed a favourable outcome. Those two were Wellman’s son and ‘case 1’. I’ll apply some Olmsted logic and conclude that the ethyl mercury obviously mitigated the worst of the ravaging effects of the hellish autism.

32 Responses to “Dan Olmsted – Autism’s Dick Tracy”

  1. Jennifer March 2, 2007 at 16:34 #

    For those of you who are interested in reading the original Kanner papers in full (always a good idea), you can find the original paper here and the followup paper here. They both make very interesting reading. What strikes me is how much promise almost all of the children showed. They certainly don’t fit the modern sterotype that all Kanner-autistic children are mute, head-banging feces-smearers.

  2. notmercury March 2, 2007 at 16:48 #

    “Did Wellman inject the ethyl mercury into his scrotum?”

    Ouch!
    I’m sure there is something in Kanner’s notes to support this bollocks of an hypothesis. Where’s Jock Doubleday when you need him?

    Blaxill’s grasping at (fungicide treated) straw.

  3. Tom March 2, 2007 at 18:04 #

    If Mr. Olmstead would like to trade meaningless anecdotes about mercury and Baltimore, MD USA, I have a much better one from the late great Frank Zappa:

    “My Dad was employed as a meteorologist at the Edgewood Arsenal [now part of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds near Baltimore]. They made poison gas there during World War II, so I guess it would have been the meteorologist’s job to figure out which way the wind was blowing when it was time to shoot the stuff off. He used to bring equipment home from the lab for me to play with: beakers, Florence flasks, little Petri dishes full of mercury — blobs of mercury. I used to play with it all the time. The entire floor of my bedroom had this ‘muck’ on it, made out of mercury mixed with dust balls. One of the things I used to like to do was pour the mercury on the floor and hit it with a hammer, so it squirted all over the place. I lived in mercury.” [From the “Real Frank Zappa Book”]

    Now, if one wanted to speculate, Frank Zappa was a loner who lacked social skills. He worked ceaselessly at a couple of mighty prodigious perseverations. Some thought him as mad as a hatter. Maybe he had that supposed mercury autism. If so, I wish I had been so fortunate to have lived in the stuff.

    Tom (not Autism Diva)

  4. Kev March 2, 2007 at 18:28 #

    Welcome along Tom ;o)

  5. Mark Stewart March 2, 2007 at 18:36 #

    Interesting what you can find in an old shoebox. It looks like the old guy was on to something.

  6. mcewen March 2, 2007 at 18:51 #

    I must protest in the strongest possible language – what an outrage!

    We American’s object vociferously to the use of the word ‘scrotum’ in your posting. Small hyperlexic children might inadvertently……….
    [= local dispute]

    Now where is my ‘damping off’ powder for my seedlings?

    Yours, vaguely disgruntled in Tumbridge Wells

  7. Joyce March 2, 2007 at 19:50 #

    Great blog. But can somebody tell me: what is the basis of Olmsted’s obsession with Kanner’s cases as opposed to any other cases that are in the books? Is it because they are among the earliest that were called “autism?” But, even if that is his interest, I don’t quite understand how studying an early case tells you something that studying a later case doesn’t. The idea seems to be that he is preoccupied with trying to find a birth year for the disorder, but intellectually I’m just not getting it — so I hope someone can enlighten me. Seems he even traveled to knock on people’s doors. What did he expect to find if Frederick W. opened the door? And why invade the man’s privacy?

    Olmsted needs what therapists who work on autism call topic elaboration. He needs to get out of this stereotyped and repetitive behavior and use his writing skills and platform in the media to do useful things.

  8. Ms. Clark March 2, 2007 at 20:02 #

    I was trying to figure out if Olmsted and his good friend Mark Blaxill were trying to say that fathers exposed to mercury had damaged DNA which created autistic children. Honestly if Frederick W’s father was out of the country most of the year he was born, one wonders if he’s really Frederick W Jr’s father. OK, that’s not very nice, but really, am I the only one who wondered whether he was also out of the country around the time little Frederick was conceived (possibly in 1935)?

    Mercury was everywhere, and is everywhere. I bet we can draw a nice mercury laden history for both Blaxill and Olmsted, that their fathers were somehow exposed to mercury. They had mercurochrome and merthiolate swabbed on them, most likely. Maybe his fathers exposure to mercury is what damaged Mark Blaxill’s DNA so that he fathered an autistic child?

    None of which implicates thimerosal.

    Tom (Not Autism Diva), nice to meet you. 🙂 Frank Zappa’s daughter recorded a valley girl song, I think this is evidence that the mercury toasted his brain and his DNA pretty well. I have several tins of red ink paste for use with Chinese carved seals (chops). I get it on my hands when I use it. I stamp it on books I use to put my name on them. I have merthiolate and mercurochrome (the real stuff) and I’ve rubbed them on my skin. I put the merthiolate on an open cut, and survived.

    I also played with blobs of mercury when I was a kid. I have an ASD child (grown) and an NT child (grown). So I guess my DNA was only partially toasted. When my father was working around a gold mine (driving a truck), the child he fathered after that was my older brother and he’s not on the spectrum. When I was born my father was a high-school vice-principal and he had been in academia for a while before that. My younger sibling born when my father was a jr. high school teacher is not on the spectrum.

    Olmsted and Blaxill are definitely grasping. Can you imagine them presenting this in court as evidence? It’s hysterical.

  9. Kev March 2, 2007 at 20:11 #

    Hi Joyce, welcome along to you too :o)

    Olmsted is betraying the ultimate in self fulfilling prophecy (Jonathon can give you the latin for this particular fallacy).

    Basically, he decided right at the start this was about ethyl mercury and hence because he thinks that he can’t conceive of autistic people existing in sufficient numbers _before_ the advent of ethyl mercury and therefore he attaches an inordinate amount of significance to anything to do _with_ ethyl mercury because that’s the cause yada yada and around and around we go…

    Outraged – Tunbridge Wells has changed since you left these fair shores. Its now a den of iniquity ;o)

  10. jypsy March 2, 2007 at 20:23 #

    Zappa has a few wild stories online here in “The Real Frank Zappa Book”.

  11. notmercury March 2, 2007 at 20:26 #

    Dweezil and Ahmet aren’t on the spectrum, nor have they ever recorded on the Mercury label.

    And speaking of a mother of an invention, didn’t Olmsted blame hot roofing tar in one of Kanner’s index cases? Maybe that waterside studio fire was no accident after all.

  12. Tom March 2, 2007 at 20:36 #

    To Ms. Clark and the whole Autism Hub,

    It is a real delight to meet you folks. The Hub is such a refreshing chelator to all those mercurial parents 🙂

    Tom

  13. Ms. Clark March 2, 2007 at 22:32 #

    Hi Tom,

    Yeah, the hub is the antidote to the pollution put out there by the mercury moms and dads and their quack friends.

    I wanted to add that my Chinese red ink paste is made from cinnabar. The Cinnabar entry at wikipedia tells about how ancient Romans sentenced prisoners to work in cinnabar mines knowing that it was a way to kill them. The Spanish sent prisoners to work a mine, short term and still killed 30% of the convicts each year. Must be that testosterone thing. Anyway, knowing that cinnabar is toxic didn’t stop the Chinese from using it as medicine, oh, they still use it as medicine. hmmm.

    It all comes down to the dose being the poison.
    —–

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnabar

    bq. Medicinal use

    bq. Although cinnabar is known to be highly toxic,[1] it is nevertheless used (as is arsenic), in powdered form mixed with water, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Although cinnabar is not used in Western medicine, TCM practitioners sometimes prescribe it as part of a medicinal mixture, often on the basis of the concept of “using poison to cure poison.” Used internally, cinnabar is believed to clear away “heat” and tranquilize the mind. It is also used as a tonic to reduce the incidence of heart palpitations, restlessness, and insomnia, and to treat sore throats and cold sores that occur in the mouth and tongue. In addition, cinnabar is applied externally to treat certain skin disorders and infections.[2]

    I think we can assume everyone in China has been thoroughly dosed with mercury, either from their coal burning, their thimerosal use, their red ink paste, or their traditional medicine, which doesn’t seem to value chelation too much.

    Maybe we can get Olmsted to try some traditional Chinese medicine containing cinnabar since it tranquilizes the mind.

  14. Ruth March 3, 2007 at 00:36 #

    I like to collect old medical and pharmacy books. My 1903 pharmacopeia lists many uses for Hg salts, mostly for digestive complaints. The most important use was for curing syphyliis. Pharmacists are warned to give the maximum dose that doesn’t cause “that peculiar cachexia that is mercury poisoning’. Few of our kids look cachexic. Most Rx’s call for more than 187 micrograms.

    I think it interesting that Olmstead mentions the Iraq and Minamata poisonings, but not the follow-up. Is there a measurable increase in autistic prevalence in those regions?

  15. María Luján March 3, 2007 at 12:40 #

    I consider that there is no enough information about the mercury salts.
    For example
    Hg has been mentioned as HgCl2- here is as Hg+2 being +2 the oxidation state.
    Hg metallic is Hg0 (zero)
    MethylHg is MeHg+ and EtHg is EtHg+; that is these entities need something (to be clear) to balance the charge-generally chloride- but not always as we know.
    The something accompanying EtHg can be
    a-Cl and then becomes EtHgCl
    b-Sodium thiosalycilate and then becomes thimerosal
    Some info comparing EtHgCl and MeHgCl

    a-“Interaction of alkylmercuric compounds with sodium selenite. I. Metabolism of ethylmercuric chloride administered alone and in combination with sodium selenite in rats”:http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1568742&blobtype=pdf

    b-“Interaction of alkylmercuric compounds with sodium selenite. II. Metabolism of methylmercuric chloride administered alone and in combination with sodium selenite in rats”:http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1568548&blobtype=pdf

    c-“Interaction of alkylmercuric compounds with sodium selenite. III. Biotransformation, levels of metallothioneinlike proteins and endogenous copper in some tissues of rats exposed to methyl or ethylmercuric chloride with and without sodium selenite”:http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1568568&blobtype=pdf

  16. anonimouse March 3, 2007 at 20:41 #

    Ok, what is the practical application of the above studies with regards to thimerosal in vaccines?

  17. cole March 4, 2007 at 23:16 #

    Why are you so reluctant to say that perhaps there might be an enviromental factor involved in Autism? I am asking sincerely and read the Baltimore City Paper article and found it compelling. I am not stirring things up, I am really just wanting to know.

  18. Kev March 4, 2007 at 23:21 #

    Where did you get the idea I was reluctant to say there might be an environmental factor involved in autism? There may well be. But environmental factor is not a phrase that’s interchangeable with the phrase ethyl mercury.

  19. Bartholomew Cubbins March 5, 2007 at 01:50 #

    On behalf of Maria, I would recommend that anyone interested in this thimerosal story should look at the first link (page 3 of the pdf which is page 133 of the journal). Please pay particular interest to the last sentence of the first paragraph on that page (“Brain” is the first word).

    Yeah, you read that right.

  20. isles March 5, 2007 at 01:56 #

    Oh, Bart, didn’t you know? Even one molecule of mercury is enough to trigger autism in a mercury-intolerant child.

  21. culvercitycynic March 5, 2007 at 03:30 #

    Read it; thanks much for the tip BC.

  22. Ms Clark March 5, 2007 at 06:42 #

    Less than 1/5 of 1% of the ethylmercuric chloride dosed to the rats remained in their brains after 24 hours? It was the tissue with the least amount of mercury in it? I’m guessing that we can assume that over time the amount of mercury in the rats’ brains would drop below .19%.

    The thing is that the mercury knows how to enter a child’s brain and choke off the normalness section, so that when the kid is chelated then the normalness section of the brain stops being choked off and the kid, like *voila* becomes normal again.

  23. María Luján March 7, 2007 at 00:27 #

    isles
    Thank you to clarify for me the situation to do not participate more here.
    Your misrepresentation of my intention to present some different kind of science speaks volumes.
    Nothing to do with mercury causing autism; IMHO. All to do with biochemistry of EtHgCl…in rats, different from HgCl2 and MeHgCl and from many more.
    “Even one molecule of mercury is enough to trigger autism in a mercury-intolerant child”
    You must talk about atoms of Hg, I think.
    An no Mrs Clark, nothing to do with chelation.
    FYI, thimerosal does not remain as ethylHg but it is quickly release to Hg+2.
    For example
    “The speciation of metals in mammals influences their toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics and therefore human health risk assessment”:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=16393870.

  24. MsClark March 7, 2007 at 01:23 #

    Yes, Maria, I know that the paper had nothing to do with chelation. I was mocking how the mercury parents think that imaginary mercury damage can create only autism (and not other brain based problems) and that chelating the child (or chelation plus ABA or chelation plus magnetic mattress pads, or chelation plus dolphin therapy) will magically make him normal. They have no idea of how the brain works and they have no idea if mercury has anything to do with their child’s problems. They are using fake lab tests to prove that their kids have been “poisoned” and then after many of them use fake chelators they claim their child is becoming normal.

    It’s a whole sick and fake world they are participating in to the harm of their children. I am not placing you in their group.

  25. María Luján March 7, 2007 at 02:35 #

    Mrs Clark
    Thank you for your explanation.

    Honestly, I understand that you are angry- as a group- with the most extreme vision of the biomedical treatment because of several reasons and I agree in the disagreement with several of them.
    What I disagree is that everything that is brought to the table is mocked, discarded at face value and considered in the same ” supposed” line of “an atom of mercury from thimerosal causing autism” and even if the intention is far far away to be understood or presented under this consideration/analysis. This kind of attitude make participation of many people- I am included in the group- almost impossible.
    If every participation is going to be misunderstood, why then to participate? (not that my participation is going to be useful/interesting per se, but perhaps can bring other point of view although I accept that many can be not interested about what I think/read/analyze).

    Things are much more complicated, potentially ambiguous today and really difficult in this autism field research of genetics and environment, IMHO, to be reduced to the “all or nothing” discussion.It is like if the possibility of a true discussion in the blogosphere with the participation of people interested in published science from several fields related to medical problems concomitant to a diagnosis of autism (I consider myself one) is almost null today(whatever the reason).

  26. MsClark March 7, 2007 at 07:58 #

    From what I have seen, usually your posts are treated with respect; they are not mocked. If they have been, show me where they have been mocked recently.

    I think that many of the skeptical bloggers have spent enough hours of their lives looking at papers about heavy metals and found them profoundly uninteresting as far as providing any knowledge about autism, or perhaps about their own autistic children. Push come to shove, we all want to know about stuff that applies to our own children or our own selves, first.

    I have never once heard of a parent here in the states taking an autistic child to a mainstream toxicologist. I believe that even the mercury parents know in their hearts that their children are not “heavy metal toxic” and so they don’t pursue true expertise in the field. They instead chase after the pleasant promises of *quacks* and thieves. There may be a parent who has taken an autistic child to a board certified toxicologist, but if they did it’s highly likely that they found the child was not toxic at all.

    The whole mercury thing here is hysteria. It is hysteria. It is a mental disease of its own. If your child truly had legitimate labs showing heavy metal toxicity, fine then, you have the right to pursue your ideas, but the idea that mercury could cause autism doesn’t apply to the majority of children here, there is no reason on earth to think that they do. The parents here who hold that their chidlren are heavy metal toxic use lying labs to prove it, so what does that say about the hypothesis?

    it’s really not worth looking at any more *for many of us*. Surely you can find people among the mercury parents who are willing to discuss heavy metals with you? Burbacher and Ayoub are supposed to be working together now on something, either one of them would probably talk to you. I don’t think it’s logical to expect us to find the idea of any interest, we’ve looked at it, many times. We’ve found nothing significant, so far.

  27. María Luján March 7, 2007 at 10:38 #

    Hi Mrs Clars

    Well, this is mockery for me
    “Oh, Bart, didn’t you know? Even one molecule of mercury is enough to trigger autism in a mercury-intolerant child”
    but probably it is related to some cultural difference in sense of humour (perhaps).
    OK,I accept your view. Even more, I agree with you in the sense of mercury/HM/Al causing autism in terms of CAUSE ( mainly postnatal). No, they are not CAUSEs of autism for me.
    However, my personal research/reading of current published science in the topic-very much driven by my son´s health- has brought me to a completely different authors to Burbacher or Ayoub or Geiers , but Dr Zalups, Dr Woods, Dr Bridges, Dr Rahmanto,Dr Yokel, dr BAret and so on.
    I have been interested on essential and toxic/essential metals transporters (MCT-1-Pgp, MDR, DMT-1, AminoAcid transporters,transferrin, etc), the role of molecular mimicry in toxicology in general, the BBB transporters, the influence of nutritional/developmental status on this and the role of epigenetics as modulator- very much related to a consequence of genetic expression more than a cause.

    But I surely accept that you can consider this irrelevant.Honestly, I do not think so.

    Time will tell.

    Thank you for your explanation.

  28. anonimouse March 7, 2007 at 18:01 #

    Maria-

    Rather than always asking someone to email you every time the question of whether mercury plays a role in autism is brought up, I would suggest that you succinctly state your position here. And please, do so in a manner which does not require poring through numerous clincal papers or giving someone I do not know well my personal e-mail address.

    Quite simply – how do you think mercury plays a role in neurodevelopmental disorders? What biological processes are involved? And how do you explain the paucity of research showing that exposure to mercury plays a role in such disorders?

  29. María Luján March 8, 2007 at 01:08 #

    Mr Anonimouse

    I never thought that you could be interested, succinctly or not, about my thinking. I usually respect the personal ideas of the blog owner and this is why in general I ask to contact me privately. I think that if the interaction ends in topics that can be not of the blog owner interest, it is not fair for the owner of the blog because it can become off-topic. I have proposed ( and resulted) very interesting discussion or exchange of ideas with Jonathan, Mrs Clark, Bart Cubbins, Prometheus, Orac, K. Chew, E. Wolfond and many many other people around the world-parents, researchers, university professors and doctors in practice in autism- without your kind of answer. I have learnt a lot from different aspects of autism.. For me, I consider important this kind of knowledge of other people ideas and feelings and struggles about autism- not necessarily from blogs or forums but from the exchange by e-mail- and to ignore them is a luxury I can not give myself by many many reasons, the most important of them is my son.
    I have learnt a lot from people in agreement with me. I have learnt a lot from people in disagreement with me.
    Your privilege
    I have found very important an intercultural, international and transcontinental- sometimes- exchange of points of view- about science, sociology or whatever in autism- being a researcher of profession, an university professor in chemistry and the mom of an autistic child. If you consider personal contact by e-mail with these premises a trouble or you are not interested, I am very sorry. For me, beyond agreement or not, it has been a very educative experience in many levels and I appreciate very much the time and the consideration of the people who interacted with me.
    You say
    Quite simple
    How do you think mercury plays a role in neurodevelopmental disorders?
    What biological processes are involved?
    How do you explain the paucity of research showing that exposure to mercury plays a role in such disorders?

    There is nothing simple in autism, IMO. The intention to present things simple has been very very misleading ( focused ONLY on thimerosal and MMR-Vaccines in general or only genetics).

    I have several problems with your questions, because I disagree with the focus on mercury and mainly mercury in thimerosal as THE CAUSE or the MMR as THE CAUSE.
    This is why I will focus my answer. Let´s go to consider that we know only clues about
    *first the genetics roots of autism in terms of brain structure-minicolumnar structure
    *the levels of neuronal growth factors, such as BDNF
    *the levels of different growth factors first years of life in ASD and how this is very genetically-driven
    *the correlation with different polymorphisms in HLA and adaptive immune system
    *the recent correlations with MET transcription
    *the recent findings about neurexin/neuroligin and mirror neurons
    And so on
    Now, I am going to mention different aspects, related to clues published with differences in autistics in
    -The CNS and the brain
    -The immune system-innate and adaptive- and the answer to immune stressors of viral, bacterian, parasitic, protozoo, other origin
    -the full transport system and the transport ( influx and efflux) of xenobiotics in general
    -The full detox system and the management of xenobiotics
    -The gastrointestinal symptomatology that many children with autism present

    I do not see all this disconnected, such as I do not see human beings as a body disconnected of emotions or the impact of the familiar or social environment in the development or even the sociological ideas about autism. Stress, anxiety, pain, sensorial dysfunction affect us such as biochemical , metabolic imbalances do ; such as immune or xenobiotics do, different for every one. Nobody is a group of clinical tests or a summation of behaviors. Nothing is simple, ASD or not.We are all multifacetic and are affected by myriad of factors during development.

    Therefore, for me, the problem of the management of toxic/essential elements is far far more complicated than thimerosal in vaccines- being this one particular form of one particular stressor of many. It includes Hg, Pb, Cd, As, Al- all sources, several forms including those generated in vivo. It includes also Ca/Mg/Zn as major essential elements but also Se/Mo/Cr/V.
    With these considerations, the transport of toxic elements is very genetically related through the expression of proteins- of different conformations and sizes- that transport different elements, with different speciation in mammals through different processes, from different sources (they are different for example for Hg( as MeHg+; Hg+2; HgCl2; HgCl+, PbOH+)for Al as citrat complexes or other kinds, Cd in different species and so on) to potentially different places ( brain, kidney, liver,etc). Also, the correct management of Ca/Mg/Zn/Na/K involves several ion-channels and different kind of transport processes that involves potential and voltage driven- processes. And for these processes the question of molecular mimicry is evolving more and more like a problem. That is how , because of genetically driven processes that leads to overexpression/subexpression of transporters or the formation of certain complexes in vivo- resembling other that are the original things to transport-, the body can “confuse” and transport to the wrong place with the wrong transporter mimicring some wrong sustance considering that is the true sustrate for this transport. There are several published evidence of this about Hg/Pb and Aluminium, Mn and several others, including Cd and As. Not necessarily this leads to same major problem than in other situations. Even more the major problems related to intoxication ( in kidneys-liver-and so on) has been related to non-altered biochemistry of transport and because the transport is not altered, such as it can be potentially altered in ASD, depending on the individual-or not for me it can not be compared with the situation in ASD. The situation in ASD has not been studied ( transport /excretion of xenobiotics) at the needed molecular level to understand what is happening. We have a lot of anecdotical evidence that it seems almost nobody considers worth to investigate further.. and not all is obtained from commercial labs.
    About the lack of research on mercury, the focusing on thimerosal is a shame, from a mediatic point of view. The discussion for me is not a scientific/medical one; it is a political one and it has shifted to the field of the beliefs, evolving to a kind of religious confrontation where it is the good/evil; black/white; yes/no kind of debate- with the accusation of hunger for money contaminating everything from some people (true or not).
    Not so simple for me.
    How the overall discussion has been conducted for me is wrong.
    Neither YOUR approach or THEIR approach helped a bit to my son. MY (OUR)approach helped him.
    The lack of evidence is related to the ill-definition of the question.
    The question is always presented in the epi
    Does (not) thimerosal cause autism??
    OR
    Does thimerosal cause autoimmunity??
    Does thimerosal cause Th1-Th2 shift??
    Does thimerosal cause mercury accumulation??
    ..
    And the answer is pretended to be given for autism, without looking to the autistic people medical conditions and the autistic biochemistry in the research, the autistic brain and how is affected by development and environment in terms of xenobiotics and infections of all kinds (not MMR causing ) and even what autistic people, adults and teens think on the overall issue at all levels, mainly sociological and political in terms of what imply in their lives autism, day after day.
    IF heavy metals/Al play a role, the serious research for me is to come: now in the field of autism is not present as such- but very few exceptions. IF heavy metals/Al problems in transport and excretion play a role is for me as a consequence of autistic genetics; not as cause of autism. IF heavy metals/Al problems are present, ALSO essential elements can be affected- and there are plenty of clues about this (Ca channels, Mg Defficiencies, Cu/Zn imbalances, etc in some autistics) and the potential role of substitution (Zn by Cd or Hg; Ca by Pb). IF essential and toxic elements transport, input and output in terms of distribution , the role of development and epigenetics and excretion are not researched with high quality; high level science, no kind of true clues are going to be present in the issue.

    Until now, the clues are from other fields than autism.

    I am waiting for this published science, beyond my anecdotical evidence…
    and this is why this is the only answer I can give you.
    Sincerely
    María Luján

  30. Prometheus March 8, 2007 at 07:48 #

    The idea that autism (a very loosely defined cluster of signs and symptoms) could be caused by environmental factors cannot be refuted. Not because it is inarguably true, but because it cannot be refuted.

    Autism currently has no objective diagnostic test. Even the best-designed and “validated” behavioral tests rely on the judgement of the observer/tester. Additionally, they are “validated” by having their results verified by the subjective judgement of an expert.

    In other words, you cannot definitively say that someone has, or does not have, autism. Or even what autism is.

    Now, if you are going to claim that some environmental factor (i.e. an environmental “exposure”) can cause autism in a small subset of autistic people, there is no way I (or anyone else) can “prove” you wrong.

    But which environmental exposure? And how much does it take to cause autism? And what is the mechanism by which it causes autism?

    Those who wish to argue – perhaps for the sake of argument itself – that some “toxic” exposure can cause autism should at least have the intellectual honesty to state which toxin they propose. It is mere sophistry to argue that “something” might cause autism.

    Anything that is not impossible is possible.

    And listing studies that connect mercury (for example) to neural damage and dysfunction are intriguing and thought-provoking, but do not show that mercury can cause autism. The same goes for aluminium, formaldehyde, or anything else you care to mention.

    It’s not fair, but the people asserting a causative agent for autism are the ones who need to show the connection. Showing that the connection is possible is not – sad to say – the same as showing that it occurs. Showing that mercury can cause neurological disorders is not the same as showing that it can cause autism.

    Prometheus

  31. anonimouse March 8, 2007 at 22:03 #

    Maria,

    I asked you for a succinct answer. You didn’t provide one.

    What you are suggesting is that environmental stressors may play a role in genetically susceptible children. I understand that.

    You are also suggesting that there are biochemical differences in autistic children than neurotypical children. I understand that, too.

    What you have not done, in any cogent way, is illustrate to me that either genetic suspectibilities OR biochemical differences are significantly influenced by one’s external environment, nor have you been able to identify which parts of the environment may play a role.

    Sadly, what you’re doing is not inherently different than what the “scientists” in the mercury militia are doing. You’re taking studies with minimal connection to each other and patching them together to try to make an argument that environmental factors (you mention heavy metals specifically) play a role in autism. You may be doing it with different studies and research and it’s a somewhat more coherent argument overall, but it’s still the same tact.

    But what I fail to see in any meaningful way is a scientific case that says that a certain exposure or exposures plays a role in autism. I think you do that by quantifying exposure to a certain environmental factor (or set of environmental factors) in a broad population and determining if one’s risk of autism is increased by being exposed.

    (You know, like an epidemiological study – the same studies the mercury parents dismiss on an almost daily basis.)

    Maria, I think that some of what you’re saying MAY have some merit in the abstract, but it’s still very much loose and hypothetical. I believe the best approach to determining whether there’s an environmental factor (or factors) in autism is to do sound epidemiological research, and then determine the biological processes – and perhaps treatments – that would derive from those after you’ve determined what those risk factors may be.

  32. María Luján March 8, 2007 at 22:28 #

    Hi anonimouse
    You say
    I asked you for a succinct answer. You didn’t provide one.
    Your opinion. There is no easy way to explain complicated proposals. Please go to a high level biochemistry book and you will see.Nothing is simple in autism. To present simple is for me a lack of respect or consideration.

    You say
    What you are suggesting is that environmental stressors may play a role in genetically susceptible children. I understand that.
    You are also suggesting that there are biochemical differences in autistic children than neurotypical children. I understand that, too.
    What you have not done, in any cogent way, is illustrate to me that either genetic suspectibilities OR biochemical differences are significantly influenced by one’s external environment, nor have you been able to identify which parts of the environment may play a role.

    BECAUSE you did not ask ( or want or it is interested to) any kind of background in scientific studies I can present to support the proposal. You asked to NOT posting studies and I did not.Why I am going to present you ALL the details and sutilities of what My thinking is if you are not interested?
    You consider this. Because you are not interested to give the proposal a try of further explanation/analysis, you conclude what you are preconceptually predisposed to do. I can not change- and it is not my intention to do it; only to present you PART- a short version indeed- of a very much wide and complete IDEA YOU are not interested to study further. Again your privilege,
    You say
    Sadly, what you’re doing is not inherently different than what the “scientists” in the mercury militia are doing. You’re taking studies with minimal connection to each other and patching them together to try to make an argument that environmental factors (you mention heavy metals specifically) play a role in autism. You may be doing it with different studies and research and it’s a somewhat more coherent argument overall, but it’s still the same tact.
    No,I am not.
    1- I am not saying that this is the truth; I am saying that this should be enough studied. I did not say THAT plays a role; YOU SAY IT. I am saying that THIS ASPECT SHOULD BE CORRECTLY ADDRESSED, not as a cause.Again, I live an anecdotical evidence – and I know of first hand several- to say that there is merit in the topic as a consequence.
    2- I can support ENOUGH what I am thinking in terms of a coherent proposal. you asked me to DO NOT post.
    3- I am not considering this a way to TREAT an autistic boy , other than mine and based on his clinical data
    4- No conspiracy, no evil intentions in nobody for me. Simply, lack of enough knowledge/studies/ about autistic biochemistry/metabolism and individuality.
    Evolution of science and the slow progress of science.
    5- In the 5 pages of proposal of studies I sent to the NIHM I included all the possible fields related to Autism. To consider that I am very narrow focused in my thinking is not fair to me. BUT at this point, if you want to catalogue me this way- I complain because it is not true, but I can do nothing.
    6- At this point,if you want to think this way about me, I only can say you YOU ARE WRONG.
    You say
    But what I fail to see in any meaningful way is a scientific case that says that a certain exposure or exposures plays a role in autism. I think you do that by quantifying exposure to a certain environmental factor (or set of environmental factors) in a broad population and determining if one’s risk of autism is increased by being exposed.

    No. Asbestos is an excellent example about how external problems to the medical/scientific situation can produce problems in epi.

    You say
    Maria, I think that some of what you’re saying MAY have some merit in the abstract, but it’s still very much loose and hypothetical. I believe the best approach to determining whether there’s an environmental factor (or factors) in autism is to do sound epidemiological research, and then determine the biological processes – and perhaps treatments – that would derive from those after you’ve determined what those risk factors may be

    IF the epidemiological studies take into account the nature of the medical condition- such as genetic epidemiology can do becuase of the strong links with genetics- your proposal can have merit. BUT
    Are you sure that a strong genetic medical condition can be studied with epi considering the effect that epigenetics, nutrition, infections and exposures of all kind can have at an individual level?
    Are you sure that to analyze autism as an infectious disease is adequate?

    I disagree. I do think that the epi has limited value because of the need of strong tools to analyze at a population level very individualized conditions, specially if they are under an umbrella so wide as ASD.

    If you see, I have included you specifically that I want more research in this topic.
    Loose and hypothetical? Are you interested about SOME published science and explanation on the topic?I have several links to present, but if you are not interested… how can I show you that what you think is not so and how I am interested very much on the molecular level of the issue?
    🙂

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