Throwing Children into Oncoming Traffic: The Truth about Autism

by Kenneth Stoller, MD, FAAP with Anne McElroy Dachel

From the Townsend Letter
October 2007

Online publication only

I have been a practicing pediatrician for over 20 years. I saw my first child with autism in the early 1990s. Before that, I had never seen an autistic child, nor had I seen an autistic child in all my years at school. The boy was four years old, and you could see the frustration in his face as he wanted to speak, but nothing intelligible would come from his mouth except shrieks of anguish. As I studied his tortured face, it was as if there was an old-time telephone switchboard operator inside his head trying to plug in the correct phone cables but not being able to complete the call. This family had known me from an old practice in another city, and they had traveled to see me because they trusted me and were looking for answers that no one seemed to have for them. Yet I too had no answers, and I could see the mom was greatly disappointed. After the family left my office, I poured over a few dusty textbooks and wondered if I had just seen a very rare disorder, a disorder that affected one child in 10,000 children: autism.

I had been involved in pediatrics for a decade by the time I saw this boy, and it wasn't as if I had no experience working with rare disorders. For example, I had been able to identify a boy with Fragile-X syndrome, and his mom ending up starting the Fragile-X support group at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. I had noticed there was a strange upswing in children with attention disorders and impulsivity problems. I wasn't a neurologist, but had studied with one of the finest at UCLA. While I was still a pediatric resident, I spent time in his office where he helped me study the parade of unusual maladies that was starting to afflict children. I considered myself a closet neurologist, because that was what I had really wanted to specialize in – not pediatrics – but during my neurology rotation in medical school I learned some discouraging news. The attending neurologist, whom I greatly admired, had taken me on rounds for the first time, and I watched him brilliantly explain to the family of a stroke patient how he had figured out where in the brain the blood clot had lodged. Then he stood up and walked out of the room, and I asked him what therapy he was going to prescribe for the patient so he could recover from his stroke. "Therapy?" he said. "There is no therapy."

Well, I scratched neurology off my list. Diagnosis was only meaningful if you could offer a treatment, and it seemed neurology had few treatments to offer. My second patient with autism came to me in the mid-1990s, but to my relief, the purpose of the visit was only to treat worms. I dutifully prescribed the medicine for pinworms and went on to my next patient. Later that afternoon, I received a call from the autistic boy's mom who wanted to know what was that medicine I had given her son for pinworms. Her boy was starting to make eye contact, show affection, and communicate with his family. She said it was amazing! I told her I didn't really didn't know what was in the pinworm pill but immediately prescribed enough pills for her son to take every day for a month (normally you only take one or two pills to treat pinworms).

I called up the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the pinworm pill and spoke to one of their technical staff. They told me the pill worked by blocking the transport of molecules of a certain size from crossing cell membranes, so in the case of the hapless pinworms they were unable to absorb the sugars they feed upon in the lower intestines of their victims.

What did that have to do with this boy's newly found improved behavior? Either one of two things were going on: 1) the drug was either blocking a molecule that shouldn't be passing across the gut to the blood, and then the brain and that molecule was having a drug-like effect on the brain; or 2) the drug was blocking a molecule that normally crossed from the gut into the blood; however, in certain children, these molecules had a strange drug-like effect.

I made several calls across the country to find a researcher who might be interested in this serendipitous finding that could be an important clue into this disease, because I had not found any studies or information regarding the involvement of the gut in this disease. Unfortunately, no one I talked to was interested.

Testifying to Congress
In May 2004, I had been invited to testify in front of the Government Reform Committee to discuss new developments in treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. I had been invited because of the work I was doing with hyperbaric oxygen in treating brain-injured children, including fetal alcohol syndrome. In hyperbaric oxygen treatment, oxygen is given under pressure in chambers used to treat scuba divers who get the bends. Several other physicians and I had found that hyperbaric oxygen returned functionality to the brains of affected children.

Sitting next to me was a physician who told the story of how his son become autistic after receiving vaccines and how he discovered his son was retaining toxic heavy metals, specifically mercury. Over the course of a year, this physician had given his son a chemical to pull out the mercury, and his son began speaking again and, in fact, jumped on his dad's lap and addressed the Committee members, having been restored to be a healthy boy without any signs of his autism.

In the 1990s, I had known there was a problem with many vaccines because they contained the preservative thimerosal (50% mercury), and I had discouraged many parents from having their children vaccinated with vaccines containing thimerosal. There is no safe level of mercury, and it didn't make sense to inject the most toxic non-radioactive element on the planet into children. Still I had never made the connection between autism and mercury. (I knew what thimerosal was because while I was in college, my brother had a very bad reaction to the thimerosal that used to be used in contact lens solution.) I was taken aback that something so obvious had not registered with me, but I didn't realize that my physician colleagues and I had been subjected to a disinformation campaign to make us think there was no connection between mercury and autism. It has been known for sometime that mercury was causing autism, but someone has been running interference. The question is, who was running interference?

In February 2007, the watchdog agency on America's health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made the official announcement that a breathtaking one in 150 kids is autistic in the US. If you go to the CDC website on autism (, you will see lots of pictures of smiling happy children with autism, and we'd be told that autism spectrum disorders are "a group of developmental disabilities defined by significant impairments in social interaction and communication and the presence of unusual behaviors and interests." You won't be told that, for many parents, autism is a nightmare from which they never wake up. "Significant impairments" can mean that a child is violent and self-abusive, non-verbal, and physically sick. You won't be told that this is a medical disease in which most autistic children have significant inflammation in both gut and brain including colitis, super-infections, and severe food allergies.

Even though autism affects one in 90 boys (four boys affected for every girl) in the US, the CDC can't seem to tell us exactly why. The CDC states, "We still don't know a lot about the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Scientists think that both genes and the environment play a role, and there might be many causes that lead to ASDs." The site also doesn't mention that only one in 10,000 children in the 1970s and one in 2,500 in the 1980s were autistic.

The CDC site also doesn't tell us about a secret meeting that was held in June of 2000 in which over 50 individuals from the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Academy of Pediatrics, and many representatives from pharmaceutical interests discussed data from the CDC Vaccine Data Sets showing that the increase in mercury exposure from the stepped-up vaccine schedule in the 1990s caused an 11-fold increase in neurobehavioral disorders ( What you will see on the CDC website is "Several studies have looked at whether there is a relationship between vaccines and autism. The weight of the evidence indicates that vaccines are not associated with autism."

Evidence? Someone at the CDC was "cooking the books," and what they told the public was not what they knew to be the case. You see, the CDC was put in the untenable position of helping to develop vaccines, mandate the vaccines, promote the vaccines, pay for their administration, and be responsible for their safety: ye olde fox watching the henhouse scenario with the inevitable untoward result. There will always be a problem with vaccine safety until this responsibility is moved out of the CDC. Today, the CDC and its vaccine public-relation front group's answer to any criticism is that those who are critical of any part of the vaccine program are motivated solely by a desire to destroy the vaccine program.

The truth is that the CDC has been very effective in laying the foundation to destroy the vaccine program all by themselves, and their double-speak is analogous to someone saying you can't be against war and support the troops at the same time – you're either for us or against us, etc. It is actually illegal for a federal agency to propagandize the American public, but that is exactly what the vaccine division of the CDC does. It has used the tactic of generating fear, and it has earned billions of dollars for this agency. Once the public loses trust in public health programs, it can take many years to regain that trust. I am reminded of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments that are still a cause of distrust of public health programs amongst black Americans.

Losing the Public Trust
The cover-up at the CDC surrounding the mercury preservative found in so many vaccines (up until about 2003) has had very serious and far-reaching implications. The children whose lives were forever changed by being injected with thimerosal preservative were giving us a global "heads-up." They were showing us that the background level of mercury pollution has increased to the point that it is beginning to take its toll on the human species, but the CDC turned its head away from this crisis because it conflicted with what the agency was promoting in the vaccine program.

As I said before, mercury is the deadliest non-radioactive element on Earth, and thousands of tons are spewed into the environment every year. With each coal-fire power plant that comes on line, we are one step closer to exterminating human life on this planet. However, mercury is politically protected because of its connection with the fossil-fuel industry, dentistry (amalgam dental filings), and vaccines. Thimerosal is still in the flu vaccine for children over the age of three, and those children are receiving as much as half the dose of mercury that the child in the 1990s received. Thimerosal was not removed from vaccine in 1999. That was when the promise was made, but promises weren't kept. Thimerosal is also in the meningitis vaccine.

Lower IQ levels linked to mercury exposure in the womb cost the US $8.7 billion a year in lost-earnings potential according to a study done by the Mount Sinai Center for Children's Health and the Environment ( If it were publicly acknowledged that mercury pollution was the trigger for the autism epidemic, this number would be in the trillions of dollars. One in six children is born to mothers with dangerous levels of mercury in their blood – perhaps the same one in six that the CDC admits have a neurobehavioral disorder.

Our regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have been taken over by the very industries they were mandated to regulate. The revolving door between industry and top-level appointees at these regulatory agencies has eliminated many of the normal safeguards we have relied on for our protection. There is no disputing the numbers. Last month, the Tonawanda News in New York reported that "cases of autism in the state jumped from fewer than 2,000 in 1992 to 9,500 in 2003." Even worse was the number of affected children in New York schools in 2005-2006, according to the Department of Education. New York's autism total had increased to 12,257.

Maybe what we really need to be made aware of is what the eventual cost of autism will be to the US. The Autism Society of America tells us that autism is growing by ten percent to 17% a year. They also say that it currently costs $90 billion a year, and that number is projected to increase to $200-400 billion annually in ten more years. A Harvard study out last year put the cost of lifetime support conservatively at $3.2 million per individual.

April was Autism Awareness month, but why are we only asking for awareness and not for answers? This is a glaring omission when we're talking about so many affected children. Awareness, treatment, and identification are critical but so is preventing autism.
If we were talking about children going blind, think how obscene the following would sound:

The number of children diagnosed with blindness is rapidly increasing.
According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
nearly one in every 150 US children is blind. These numbers are startling,
and this disability is affecting more and more families. Twenty years
ago, blindness was a very rare case. Today, blindness is becoming a
frightening statistic in every community. April is Blindness Awareness
Month, and I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to learn more
about this disability…

It would be absurd to relate this information about blindness without giving any explanation about what was causing it. Everyone would be demanding answers, and I dare say there would be protests in the streets to say the least.

The CDC and Autism
CDC director Julie Gerberding announced the new autism rate of one in every 150 children with a flourish. She said that while there are more kids being diagnosed with autism, it doesn't mean autism is necessarily on the rise. No one in the press seemed concerned that the CDC has been counting kids with autism for years and still can't tell us if there are actually more of them. After all, it's just "better diagnosing by doctors" and "better statistics by the Centers for Disease Control." And now we learn that the Autism Genome Project (AGP) recently uncovered evidence shows that autism is caused by "genetic flaws." Common sense would tell us that pushing children onto a busy street, observing that some of them were injured, and then looking for a genetic reason why some of them were hit defies credulity. No other disease in history has been subjected to the spin that has been put on autism.

Dr. Ezra Susser, chairman of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York indicated that he believed the new genetic findings would help scientists to understand how "the environment might lead to autism by causing genetic changes."

Susser said, "It shows us that we need to think about many environmental factors that might influence autism."

The new genetic findings on autism got a lot of coverage from major news outlets, and reports made it look like we were on the cutting edge of a major autism breakthrough. But let's do a reality check here, genes don't just spontaneously and randomly mutate all by themselves. There has to be an environmental agent affecting these genes.

Some will have you believe that autism is some medical mystery that's always been around, one that we just have managed to get a handle on. So, show me the 30-year-olds with autism, the 40-year-olds with autism, and the 50-year-olds with autism. Guess what? They aren't there for the most part. The explosion in the number of children with autism is real, but most of the scientific community has ignored this. Let's face it: they have been encouraged to ignore it, and anyone getting close to the truth finds that they get their NIH research grants pulled.

That's right…science is being manipulated, so that a big lie can stay alive, and those culpable can remain unaccountable.

It seems the scientific world isn't concerned that more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and pediatric cancer combined. News stories about autistic kids are now beginning to reveal the duplicity of CDC officials. These reports clearly show that this isn't something we have all the time in the world to theorize and ponder about.

All the experts searching diligently for those elusive genetic mutations seem blissfully unaware of the impact of autism on our schools and the impending disaster, as these autistic children become autistic adults. Anyone looking at the graphs and charts based on Department of Education statistics showing the soaring autism numbers has got to be worried. The dramatic increase in children in our schools disabled with autism is a scary preview of the impact they will have on the Social Security System in the next five to ten years. Michael Ganz's Harvard study last year conservatively put the lifetime care cost for one autistic individual at $3.2 million. Robert Krakow from Lifespire gives us estimates that put the lifespan cost at $10.125 million per autistic individual. This figure is based on an annual rate for each person of $225,000 with a life expectancy of 66 years. It doesn't include the cost for the period up to age 21.

One of the many questions we need to ask ourselves is if the very integrity of the biosphere on this planet is in jeopardy unless there is an immediate curtailment of manmade mercury pollution. Coal miners don't look at a dead canary and blow it off or say they have just "gotten better at diagnosing dead canaries," or "that dead canary just had a genetic defect so pay no heed." Yet that is exactly analogous to the situation we find ourselves. We continue to pollute the planet and ourselves (there is no separation), yet the very governmental agency that would normally be taking the lead in sounding this five-alarm alert has been compromised and remains less than silent. Mercury pollution should be considered a global crime against humanity and against mammalian life on this planet, and there should be zero tolerance.

If you want to know why more isn't being done for autistic children, why there has been a strange cover-up of the facts, then simply follow the mercury and those that benefit from its use.

Kenneth Stoller, MD, FAAP is medical director of the Hyperbaric Medical Center of New Mexico ( and the Hyperbaric Oxygen Clinic of Sacramento ( He is President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Association. He can be reached at

Anne McElroy Dachel of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin is a member of Advocates for Children's Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning (A-CHAMP) and the National Autism Association (NAA). She can be reached at


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September 19, 2007