Discovering the causes, treatment of autism

[July 9, 2006]

David Ayoub, MD

This is regarding "Painful questions of blame; Parents, doctors and the disputed link between vaccines and autism" (Perspective, June 25), by Meg McSherry Breslin, a Tribune staff reporter.

I am glad you have decided to take on this controversial topic, but I want to clarify some of the comments the reporter made, particularly about my own involvement, which I think are misleading, particularly regarding my own work.

First, I am no longer "trying to dig up evidence to prove" vaccines cause autism.

There is already abundant evidence, the same conclusion made by a 2003 U.S. Congressional Committee.

This debate is not scientific but is political. I am trying to encourage physicians who have been badly misled by nothing less than spin and propaganda to review the extensive scientific evidence for themselves showing the vaccine-autism link, even though "experts" disagree. I am also lobbying to get mercury removed from vaccines.

The statement indicating "mercury has been phased out of most childhood vaccines" is a gross distortion of the truth. The flu vaccine contains mercury and the number of flu shots given to children has increased dramatically since 2004.

The "passion" that Breslin wrote of that provides my motivation does not come from the fact that this disorder of autism is difficult to manage. Many illnesses are difficult to manage.

The passion comes from the fact that this is a preventable disorder, we are still harming children by injecting them an amount of mercury that some believe is unsafe and the disorder is treatable. Everyone in Breslinís article who denies the link in fact has a conflict of interest or strong bias to not believe it is a vaccine issue.

There are many peer-reviewed papers on the success of treating children through a variety of interventions, mostly dietary and biological supplements aimed at treating measurable biochemical abnormalities. If autism is a psychiatric disorder, then why do children have abnormal laboratories in dozens of tests that evaluate the immune system, biochemical derangements, nutritional deficiencies, infectious agents and toxicological abnormalities, to name a few. Autism is beyond the expertise of psychiatrists and psychologists who can only use behavioral therapy or drugs to treat.

The idea that mercury is associated with a neurodevelopmental disorder is not restricted to parents. There are more than 500 physicians in the U.S. treating children and improvements can be substantial and total reversals are possible.

This is not a wishful-thinking statement coming from a parent but from a physician who has witnessed this happening firsthand.

David Ayoub, MD