Mercury  Autism  Mercury levels  Medical study ploys   Looking were it ain't

Scientists with Starving Brains

By J.B. Handley

Jan 2012

Like clockwork, a few times a year, a profoundly asinine study will appear in a scientific journal somewhere ostensibly “further refuting” the hypothesis that vaccines are causing all this autism.

Recently, our minds were subjected to ad nauseum reporting on a study out of the UK-- A Comparison of Urinary Mercury between Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Control Children—professing to do just that.

The study, written by a child psychologist, specifically offered up the following:


Urinary mercury concentrations are used in research exploring mercury exposure. Some theorists have proposed that autism is caused by mercury toxicity. We set out to test whether mercury concentrations in the urine of children with autism were significantly increased or decreased compared to controls or siblings.


Blinded cohort analyses were carried out on the urine of 56 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared to their siblings (n = 42) and a control sample of children without ASD in mainstream (n = 121) and special schools (n = 34).


There were no statistically significant differences in creatinine levels, in uncorrected urinary mercury levels or in levels of mercury corrected for creatinine, whether or not the analysis is controlled for age, gender and amalgam fillings.


This study lends no support for the hypothesis of differences in urinary mercury excretion in children with autism compared to other groups. Some of the results, however, do suggest further research in the area may be warranted to replicate this in a larger group and with clear measurement of potential confounding factors. 

For those of you interested in the laypersons version of this, here it is:

A bunch of kids peed in a cup for 24 hours. Some had autism. Some were siblings of kids with autism. Some were neither. And, they all had their mercury and creatinine levels measured in their urine. The levels were compared, they found no difference, so, obviously, VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM SO PLEASE GET VACCINATED.

Ok, Ok, those final ALL CAPS were mine, the authors didn’t really say that, and I’m just getting a little ahead of myself. But only a little.

As usual, these types of studies, the types that serve to exonerate vaccines, get tons of press.

The Atlantic:

“Today in Research: Study Shows Vaccines Still Don't Cause Autism [this is their headline!]

Vaccines still don't cause autism. Crazy, overbearing parents, listen: vaccines do not cause autism. This recent study just confirms what other studies and doctors have found: zero link between the two. Analyzing samples from autistic children and non-autistic kids, researchers determined no difference in the mercury concentration in their respective urine. Doctors are so fed up with this myth that they've started firing families like you for refusing vaccines. Take this study along with the rest and vaccinate.”

Mother Nature Network:

“Mercury does not cause autism, another study now concludes. The levels of mercury in the urine of children with autism were no higher than urine mercury levels of children without the condition, the study from England found. The discredited idea that the form of mercury, called ethylmercury, sometimes used in vaccines may lead to autism has led to reductions in vaccine rates and increases in cases of preventable diseases, such as measles and mumps, according to the study.”


“Autism Spectrum Disorders are complex conditions with many potential causes (none yet conclusively proven), but the one possible threat studied the most heavily – mercury - has yet another study to say that there is no clear link between the two.”

*         *         *

In seven years as an autism advocate, I have learned two very important things:

1.   Members of the scientific/medical community are willing to lie, confuse, obfuscate, and be otherwise shifty and dishonest with both data and information to confuse the debate about whether or not vaccines cause autism, and will happily take advantage of a misinformed press and under-informed parent population.

2.   The devil is always in the details.

What’s perhaps most remarkable about the aforementioned mercury-autism study is how easy it would be to figure out that the basis upon which both the data and conclusions are based is foolish for one simple reason: urine is an extremely poor and unreliable indicator of mercury levels in the body.

As usual, please do not take my word for it. Here’s Thomas Clarkson, Ph.D., University of Rochester (J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Alumni Professor Emeritus of Environmental Medicine; Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics, and Pharmacology & Physiology, FYI):

“Urinary excretion is negligible, of the order of 10% or less of total elimination from the body. Methyl mercury undergoes extensive enterohepatic cycling. It is secreted into bile and partly reabsorbed into the portal circulation and thereby returned to the liver. A fraction of the biliary mercury is converted by microflora to inorganic mercury. The latter is reabsorbed only to a small extent. Thus, most of the methyl mercury is eliminated from the body by demethylation and excretion of the inorganic form in the feces… The pattern of urinary excretion also indicates similarities to that with methyl mercury. Matheson et al. do not quote a specific figure for the change in urinary excretion after injection of thimerosal, but the graph published in their article indicates little change. They state that 90% of the total mercury in urine was in the inorganic form. Adult humans exposed to methyl mer- cury excrete little mercury in urine and all in the inorganic form …”
Here’s Dr. Dan Rossignol making a similar point:
“When we are exposed to mercury or lead, whatever is not immediately excreted will circulate in our blood for about a month or so and eventually will be deposited deep in body tissues. Mercury is mainly deposited in the kidney, liver, and brain. Lead is typically deposited in the brain and bone. So if you are poisoned by mercury or lead during a single acute exposure event, and then measure a blood or urinary level several months later, those levels will be essentially zero.”
*         *         *
Did he just say, “essentially zero”? Is it actually possible that a well-funded, published study was done based on a premise that is easily proven false? Is it possible that urine levels are not a reliable indicator of mercury exposure and therefore comparing urine levels of kids with and without autism is a useless exercise?
Yes, it’s very possible.
Well, is anything a reliable indicator of mercury exposure?
Dr. Rossignol continues:
“The analysis of urinary porphyrins promises to provide substantial insight into treating autism. Previous methods to determine body burden of toxic metals relied on a chelator challenge. However, the urine porphyrins test is more effective than a chelator challenge in determining toxic metal body burden because it measures the effects of those metals on the body. Specifically, certain metals, particularly toxic metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic, will inhibit different enzymes of the heme porphyrin pathway and will thus cause different and specific porphyrin patterns (or “profiles”) in the urine, the analysis of which can help determine which metal is involved, and to what degree. The higher the toxic metal exposure and body burden, the higher the porphyrins are elevated in the urine. In humans, urinary porphyrin profiles directly reflect mercury body burden and neurobehavioral deficits.”
Hmmm…I’m no scientist, but I’m thinking I’d like to know more about these porphyrins, which French scientists looked into in 2006:
Porphyrinuria in childhood autistic disorder: Implications for environmental toxicity
"Coproporphyrin levels were elevated in children with autistic disorder relative to control groups...the elevation was significant. These data implicate environmental toxicity in childhood autistic disorder."
I have said all these things so many times, and I will go ahead and say them again:

By 6 months of age most American children receive 19 vaccines through 3 visits to the doctor. It’s worth noting that many kids also receive a birth dose of Hepatitis B, boosting this number to 20 vaccines.

So, of the first 20 shots given to kids, how many have been studied for their relationship to autism? The answer may surprise you: ZERO. That’s right, because only one vaccine, the MMR, has ever been studied for its relationship to autism. The MMR is a vaccine first administered to American children at 13-18 months of age.

But what about the 2, 4, and 6 month well-baby visits where children receive so many vaccines? The truth is they have never been studied or considered, so no one has any idea. This would be like trying to identify the source of a plane crash, suspecting mechanical failure, solely analyzing one of the wings, and then declaring the entire airplane free of culpability. But, that’s exactly what has happened.

Worse, somehow, scientists and the press have decided that mercury, a single ingredient in some vaccines, should serve as a proxy for ALL vaccines and ALL ingredients and that if they can, in many convoluted ways, demonstrate that mercury is somehow safe than by association vaccines should be safe, too. How else, after the UK study above gets published, does the Atlantic conclude:

Study Shows Vaccines Still Don't Cause Autism

Having personally spent the time to critically read every study produced to "prove" vaccines don’t cause autism, I was dumbfounded by their inadequacy. And, comments public officials make about these studies are even more absurd and unsupportable. Consider, from some of the studies, some of the actual questions that were asked (versus the way the press reported it):

Q: Do children with autism and without have different levels of mercury in their urine? [a wholly unreliable way to assess body burden of mercury]

Q: Do children receiving more thimerosal in their vaccines have different neurological outcomes from children receiving less thimerosal in their vaccines?

Q: Are autism rates different for children who received 62.5 mcg or 137.5 mcg of mercury?

Q: Did children who all received DTP vaccine with thimerosal have higher or lower rates of developmental disorders based on when they got the shots?

Q: Do Thimerosal containing vaccines administered to children raise mercury blood levels above safe standards?

Q: Does the use of RhoGam shots during pregnancy have a correlation with autism?

These 6 examples above come from 6 of the most commonly listed studies cited as "proof" that "vaccines do not cause autism." Yet, not one of them comes close to addressing this issue or answering the question we all really care about that goes something like this:

Our children receive 36 vaccines by the time they are five, including 20 by their first birthday. Is the administration of so many vaccines causing autism in certain children?

That question, so important to the health of our children and our nation, has never been asked, so it cannot yet be answered.
And yet, scientists and the press, continue to publish and report on useless studies that insult the intelligence of integrity of both parents and well-meaning professionals alike.
J.B. Handley is Co-Founder of Generation Rescue.