June 27, 2007

Dr. Laidler on Nightline

Last night Nightline did a piece on the Geiers and Lisa Sykes, and interviewed Dr. Laidler, a doctor and autism parent who disparages biomedical treatment for autism.

Two years ago I wrote a critique of an article written by Dr. Laider that was critical of chelation. I submitted it to him and asked for him to comment on it, but I did not hear from him again.

The obnoxiously redundant point of my critique is that there are lots of questions about autism and chelation that the CDC should really look into. This was two years ago and still no studies from the CDC, despite the fact that children are recovering through chelation. However some how Julie Gerberding still believes that she is credible and convincing when she says that "CDC recognizes that parents want answers," adding, "We share their frustration at not having more answers about the causes and possible cure."

Because I had not heard of Dr. Laidler's involvement in the autism debate any more I had not tried to get a response from him, but since he is appearing on Nightline, I am assuming that he is available to comment. If he would like to respond to my critique I would still welcome the discussion.

Reposted from 2005, File under: Things That Call For A CDC Study:

Chelation & Autism
Jul 27, 10:41 AM [2005]
by James R. Laidler, M.D.

Can chelation help autism?

Chelation is a legitimate medical therapy for disorders caused by an excess of certain metals. Copper, iron, mercury, arsenic and lead are all metals that can cause toxicity disorders that are successfully treated by chelation. Since about 1985, when the idea that autism might be caused by mercury poisoning first arose, many practitioners and groups have promoted chelation as a treatment for autism.

Clearly, the first question that must be settled is whether autism is caused by mercury (or other metal) toxicity—if it is not, then there is no point in treating it with chelation. Unfortunately, this question has become one of many “hot topics” in autism, with much heat and emotion obscuring the scientific data. The first step, then, is to look past the emotion and political maneuvering and examine the data.

When it was first proposed, the idea that autism might be due to mercury poisoning showed a good deal of promise. After all, mercury is a well-known neurotoxin and, additionally, was used as a preservative (thimerosal) in the vaccines children received. With a degree of biological plausibility and a known exposure, the next step was to look for epidemiological data.

One of the problems that complicates the search for the causes and cures of autism is the assumption that it is a single disorder and that all cases are caused by the same thing. This is in contrast to a disease like AIDS in which all cases are brought on by the HIV virus.

What is diagnosed as ‘Autism’ is actually likely to be more than one physical syndrome. Because Autism is a DSM diagnosis and based solely on behavioral criteria, the diagnosis does not address the different sets of physical anomaly clusters that researchers are finding when they look at the biology of ‘autistic’ patients.

One research group has recently made a distinction between two types of autistic profiles. One, labeled complex autism and occurring in about 30% of autism cases, presents with smaller head size, greater chance of low IQ, lower rate of siblings with the disorder and seems to have close to a 1:1 ratio of occurrence between boys and girls.

The other, essential autism, presents with larger head size, few structural brain abnormalities and has a ratio of 7:1 boys to girls.

This is a huge confounder to any epidemiological study, even a well designed one, that looks at all cases of diagnosed autism with out differentiating between groups with different phenotypes.

In discussing research into the causes of autism (in this case the genetic cause), one of the researchers commented, “…Studies haven’t found anything because they’re looking at a big heterogeneous group — a mishmash of people with different etiologies,” Takahashi said.”

One could postulate that only the larger head size group displays autistic symptoms because of mercury poisoning, as mercury toxicity does not always present with impaired IQ; and because in vitro thimerosal toxicity studies preformed at the University of Kentucky showed that estrogen has a protective effect against, and testosterone exacerbates the damage of, ethlymercury as a neurotoxin.

In light of this new information it seems that a better question than, “is autism is caused by mercury toxicity” which is the question largely being asked in these epidemiological studies, would be, “are cases of mercury toxicity being misdiagnosed as autism”.

The answer to that question cannot be found in a large epidemiological study.

The authors of the the final IOM report on the thimerosal/autism relationship in 2004 stated themselves that the epidemiological research it was relying on to clear thimerosal as a cause of autism would not pick up on a sub-set of the population that was genetically vulnerable to mercury poisoning.

If that is the case, then how much more so to these studies fail to give us meaningful data if the children who may be mercury poisoned are members of two different subsets being confused with one another?

Unfortunately, well-designed studies take a while to complete and publish.

Well designed studies do take time to complete and publish.

This is further delayed that by the fact that health authorities are neither attempting to complete or publish them. Despite years of parents requests, the public health authorities have not yet begun to design, fund or even discuss studying the effects of thimerosal on developing children, nor the safety and effectiveness of chelation on autistic patients.

[Update: I have heard that there are 2 government funded studies getting underway on the effects of thimerosal. I will try to find them and confirm exactly what they are. Still no govenment funded chelation/autism studies.]

Thimerosal was invented in the 1920’s and it’s only safety test was carried out in 1930 on 22 patients with terminal meningococcal meningitis. Patients were followed for several days until their deaths. No long term health problems were noted in the study because the patients had no long term health.

When the FDA was created, thimerosal was grandfathered in and has never been safety tested it to this day despite the fact that it has been implicated in toxic illness every few years going back to 1947.

I will be repeating this point through out my critique of this paper.

This delay left an information vacuum that a number of people immediately began to fill with assertions that autism definitely was or certainly was not caused by the thimerosal in vaccines. This did not make any progress toward settling the question, but instead polarized the issue before the arrival of any real data.

Lurking in the background, undetected in the tumult, were data that could have pointed the way. At least two countries—Canada and Denmark—had removed thimerosal from their vaccines in the 1990’s (Canada 1994, Denmark 1992) and yet had both experienced rises in autism prevalence similar to those in the US and UK.

The findings in the Denmark study have come under serious criticism. When the data of study was reviewed, it was found that the sampling presented fatal flaws. The low incidence of autism during the use of thimerosal can be attributed to the fact that the database that was used only tracked inpatient cases of autism at the time. At the point in time where thimerosal was removed, the database was expanded to include cases that were diagnosed at a large clinic outside of Copenhagen where 20% of the countries autistic patents were diagnosed. At the point in time where thimerosal was no longer used, but the cases of autism seem to have skyrocketed, the database had expanded further to include all cases of autism, inpatient and outpatient, in the country.

The study is further compromised by the fact that several of the coauthors were employed by the Statens Serums Institut, the government owned vaccine manufacturer who would be held liable if it was indeed found that the use of thimerosal in vaccines contributed to autism.

[Update: Kristjan has pointed out here that the Danish health care system and liability laws are different from ours and no such legal liability exists for the Statens Serums Institut. I still wonder what might motivate these researchers to stand buy this study and not protest its poor use. More on that in the comments here, here and here.]

Finally, even if the study were reliable, applying it to the U.S. population as the IOM has done presents problems. Children in Denmark were administered less than half the amount of thimerosal of US children and it was given over a longer period of time.

Further, American children are subject to an autism rate at least 10 times that of Denmark. It seems to me to be like doing a study of Sickle Cell Anemia in Denmark and applying it to the population of Baltimore. Clearly children here have some other intervening factor that increases the threat, be it genetic, environmental or even the thimerosal dosage.

As for Canada, I have seen this mentioned in several places, but I have never seen the actual study. If you have it or know where I can find it, can you please email me so I can look at it? Thanks in advance.

Update: Shannon from British Columbia reports that there is no Canada study or even any Canada data to be studied. She reports that they don't keep track of autism rates and don't offer services. She also reports that thimerosal removal from vaccines was left up to the provinces and that many are still on the shelves. See her comment in the section below for a more detailed explanation.

Additionally, while the childhood vaccines in the US included three (DTP, HiB, HepB) with thimerosal, in the UK, for the past two decades, only the DTP vaccine contained thimerosal. This meant that, despite having a constant thimerosal exposure for nearly twenty years, children in the UK experienced the same rise in autism prevalence.

In 2003, the first study, from Denmark, showed that the prevalence of autism in that country had risen steeply even though thimerosal had been removed from vaccines in the early 1990’s. This study was greeted by howls of outrage from some that advocated the connection between thimerosal/mercury and autism—the authors were roundly disparaged and their integrity and objectivity were impugned. This did not change the fact that the autism prevalence in Denmark has continued to rise, following the same pattern as autism in the US and the UK.

In September 2004, a study from the UK showed no association between thimerosal exposure and autism . At the same time, a review of ten epidemiological studies of autism and thimerosal found that the few studies that found an association between thimerosal exposure and autism had serious methodological flaws. Chief among these flaws was using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as a source of data.

The chief problem with the VAERS data is that reports can be entered by anyone and are not routinely verified. To demonstrate this, a few years ago I entered a report that an influenza vaccine had turned me into The Hulk. The report was accepted and entered into the database.

Because the reported adverse event was so… unusual, a representative of VAERS contacted me. After a discussion of the VAERS database and its limitations, they asked for my permission to delete the record, which I granted. If I had not agreed, the record would be there still, showing that any claim can become part of the database, no matter how outrageous or improbable.

Since at least 1998 (and possibly earlier), a number of autism advocacy groups have, with all the best intentions, encouraged people to report their autistic children—or autistic children of relatives and friends—to VAERS as injuries from thimerosal-containing vaccines. This has irrevocably tainted the VAERS database with duplicate and spurious reports.

I think that it is clear that the VAERS is a poor source for such studies. The CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink is a much better source, but the CDC has blocked it from being reviewed by independent researches despite the fact that congress has directed it to do so and claims that disallowing such access is a violation of federal law. The one team granted access in 2003 was severely limited in what they could do and thus their research effort, although it found a dramatic link, was completely tainted by the process and seems to me somewhat of a false start.

The CDC claims that they welcome research applications, but at last check they had not accepted any.

Testing for mercury

What, then, about the parents who have tested their children and found their mercury levels high? These children may have a legitimate problem with mercury poisoning…if the testing is valid. While laboratory accuracy—and cost—is an issue with many of the “mail-order” labs, a more serious problem is the manner in which the specimen is collected.

Dr. Laidler seems to be saying that contamination during collection and overnight shipping can skew results, but I don’t feel that he has properly addressed the possible process by which mercury would begin to appear in urine samples that had none at the time of excretion.

Many practitioners who advocate chelation routinely use “provoked” or “stimulated” excretion studies. To do this, they administer a dose of a chelating agent (more about them later) and test the urine a few hours later. This practice will routinely and predictably elevate the urine mercury level to several times the “unprovoked” or “unstimulated” level.

What is not mentioned in this discussion of “provoked” excretion studies, is the context in which the study becomes valuable. The working theory in this case is that some autistic children are actually members of a sub-set with a genetic impairment to excrete heavy metals such as mercury. Straight forward blood, urine and hair tests for mercury that would identify mercury toxicity in typical subjects who have been victims of a large mercury exposure would be useless in identifying mercury toxicity in people who have no ability to excrete mercury.

In order to find out if these types of subjects have mercury in their tissue, it must be stimulated. If it is excreted in the urine after the introduction of a chelating agent, then it was present in the body tissue.

Since the normal values listed on the laboratory report are for “unprovoked” specimens, the results will be much higher than normal and can appear alarming.

“Normal values” seem to mean little in these results. When mercury is excreted during a DMSA challenge, it cannot be taken as a true measure of how much mercury is in the tissues. Like clowns coming out of a car, you don’t know how much is in the body until you count all of it when it comes out.

Several factors complicate a getting a true picture of how much is in the body, one being that DMSA binds to lead more readily than to mercury, so if lead is present, the mercury level may be artificially depressed.

Doctors have reported patients excreting up to three and four hundred times the mercury that the baseline showed on the initial challenge.

The only thing that can be said with much certainty is that if you give a chelating agent, and mercury comes out, then it was in there and treatment should continue until it stops being excreted.

The cost of many of the mail-order labs is also a significant concern. A brief survey of some of the bigger mail-order labs revealed that they charge between $175 and $300 for a “panel” of urine metal tests, including mercury. The local hospital lab charges $35 for a urine mercury test.

Being a parent that has paid $300 for such urine metal tests, I am all for lowering the price. However, if I woulda known then what I know now, that the first time I did such a test on my son I would find mercury and lead, and that the chelation we have done as a result would help my son make the progress that he has made, I would happily sign my car over to the lab that delivered me these results.

But that's just me.

[scarcasm alert]I believe a good way to lower the costs of the test in this free market, would be many labs offering this standardized test, and doctors regularly screening children with ASD, ADHD, verbal and developmental delays, and those who have exhibited symptoms of vaccine injury after thimerosal containing vaccines, for mercury poisoning. That might be something that the government could look into.

In most cases, the other metals included in the “panel” or of little or no use—there is no research or clinical data that connects some of these other metals to any disorder whatsoever.

I need more information from Dr. Laidler on this point. Does “no clinical data” mean that studies have been done and no connection has been found, or that no studies have been done?

Another questionable practice is the use of fecal mercury levels. The mercury in feces is a combination of ingested mercury (minus the amount that was absorbed) and any mercury excreted into the feces (usually in the bile)—there is no way to truly know how much mercury is being excreted without knowing the amount ingested and the amount absorbed. One thing that is certain, however, is that the fecal mercury level will be higher than the actual amount of excreted mercury, because of the mercury in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

I don’t know any families who have relied on fecal mercury levels in order to make a decision on whether or not to chelate, nor have I read of doctors relying on them. It seems an inaccurate measure of mercury toxicity for all the reasons you mention. Can anyone point me towards a source that recommends relying on it so I can further look into this?

This brings us (at long last) to chelation.

Chelation—what it is and how it works

Chelation works by using a compound has a stronger attraction (affinity) for mercury than the tissues of the body. Since mercury has a very strong affinity for sulfur, all the effective mercury-chelating agents contain sulfur. This does not mean that any sulfur-containing molecule can act as a chelator, since body tissues also have sulfur-containing components, which are what the mercury binds to. An effective chelator needs to have a higher affinity than body tissues.

This simple fact eliminates some of the compounds that are being touted as chelating agents for mercury. Glutathione, for instance, which has a sulfur-containing amino acid, is not sufficiently greater in its affinity for mercury than the body tissues to be an effective chelator.

The role that glutathione may play in autism is still emerging. Just a few months ago a study was released that found that 80% of autistic test subjects had some degree of glutathione depletion. After reading this I began supplementing over the counter oral l-glutathione and his speech began to progress more rapidly. He went from taking several minutes to put together a simple three word sentence, to spontaneous three and four word sentences in the matter of two months, and a week ago he began pointing things out to me (with his finger), saying, “look, look. Rain”.

I am genuinely interested to know specifics about exactly what it is doing and why such a weak chelator would be so helpful to him. I am looking forward to the question being studied further by federal health authorities.

Another widely used chelating agent, EDTA, not only has little affinity for mercury, but is also not absorbed when taken orally—it must be given intravenously.

There is now a product call Detoxamin that is EDTA in suppository form. Is this well absorbed form? Just curious.

The two agents that are most effective for chelating mercury are 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) and 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonate (DMPS)
. DMSA has been widely used in the US—primarily for lead poisoning—and has a good safety record.

I am grateful to Dr. Laidler for pointing out that DMSA has a good safety record and is the standard treatment for lead poisoning. I have read many poorly researched reports that claim that all chelation is dangerous and it is quite frustrating.

DMPS has a long history of use in the Soviet Union, but has more toxicity problems. DMPS is popular with some practitioners because it causes a very large rise in mercury excretion, primarily by prompt clearance of kidney mercury stores, making it very useful for “provoked” mercury testing.

DMPS is not approved by the USFDA for any purpose, primarily because it offers no medical advantages over DMSA and is more toxic. Both can be given by mouth, but only DMPS is available in an intravenous form. Given that there is little or no difference in their effectiveness, a practitioner who wants to use DMPS should be viewed with suspicion.

In my experience, this is becoming more generally agreed upon in the autism community, although there are some doctors that have used EDTA and DMPS. I think that the trend seems to be coming back around to the use of DMSA.

The sulfur-containing groups in DMSA (there are two) are mercaptans, relatives of the odorant that is put in natural gas to make it smell bad. In short, it stinks. This can be a problem not only for the child who has to take it, but also for the entire family, as urine that contains DMSA will also have a foul, sulfurous smell. While some manufacturers claim to have overcome the smell “issue”, if the urine doesn’t smell foul, there is no DMSA being excreted and, therefore, no chelation happening.

While it is true that a sulfur odor does present itself, it has never occurred to me that it was a ‘problem’ or even something that a parent might take into account when deciding whether or not to chelate a child with mercury poisoning. Changing diapers more often or airing out the bathroom is little price to pay for a chance to get back your healthy, thriving child.

I did read about one family whose son carried an incredibly strong, unpleasant odor at all times during the first 6 weeks of his chelation. They lived with all the windows open and joked about all the stinky toxins that he was shedding.

They seemed really happy to have his odor problem replace their little boy’s autistic symptoms.

One preparation that deserves comment is transdermal DMSA (or DMPS)—a cream or ointment that is rubbed onto the skin, presumably to chelate mercury. Both DMSA and DMPS are highly water-soluble and do not dissolve well in fat or oil, which means that they most likely won’t be absorbed through intact skin. It is interesting to note that none of the individuals or corporations selling this preparation has—to my knowledge—performed the simple test necessary to prove that it is absorbed. In the absence of this simple bit of data, it must be assumed that it is not absorbed.

Lipoic acid—a sulfur-containing fatty acid—has also been touted as a chelating agent, although its effectiveness has not been well studied. It has the advantage of being considered a “natural” substance, but the few studies that have examined it have found it less effective than DMSA . It is fat-soluble and can potentially cross the skin, but this has not been tested. Its fat-solubility may (or may not) allow it to penetrate the brain tissue better, but this has also not been demonstrated.

Many doctors use this in conjunction with or following DMSA chelation because of its presumed ability to better penetrate into the brain. We have found adding ALA to our son’s chelation accelerated his progress.

Dr. Laidler again notes that ALA has not been tested. I would like to note that parents have been requesting chelation studies be conducted or funded by the national health authorities to no avail.

A number of naturopathic remedies claim to remove mercury and heavy metals, but this claim is often based on the parent plant’s ability to remove mercury from the environment. As a result, these naturopathic remedies may themselves have a high degree of mercury contamination. At any rate, none of the naturopathic “chelating agents” have been tested to support their claims. In the final evaluation, only DMSA offers the combination of safety and effectiveness that would warrant its use. DMPS is a close second, limited only by higher toxicity.

Safety of chelation

Common less serious side effects of DMSA include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Skin rashes have also been reported—these are often erroneously referred to as “mercury rashes” and attributed to the removal of mercury. Regrettably, the same rashes are seen in people who have no mercury toxicity and are merely due to a drug reaction. A rare and unpredictable reaction (and potentially lethal, if not treated promptly) is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a severe drug reaction that presents with lesions on the skin and in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.

My son, like many autistic children with intestinal yeast, can have an increase in hyperactivity while on oral DMSA, so rounds of chelation are spaced out so that a healthy gut can be maintained. Such breaks in chelation also allow for mineral supplementation to assure that the body is not stripped of necessary nutrients during chelation.

No significant adverse drug interactions have been reported with DMSA, but most of the children who received DMSA for lead poisoning were not taking other medications—and most of this experience predates many of the medications used
for autism. Increased zinc and copper excretion has been noticed in animal studies, but this is apparently easily corrected by moderate zinc supplementation. Copper supplementation is generally not needed.

The more serious side effects of DMSA are primarily bone marrow suppression and liver injury. In the thousands of children who received DMSA for lead poisoning, somewhere between 1% and 3% developed either elevated liver enzymes (a sign of liver cell injury), low white blood cell and/or platelet counts (a sign of bone marrow suppression) or both. In all cases, these abnormalities resolved after DMSA was stopped. However, these children were being monitored with frequent blood tests and received treatment for less than three months.

There is a danger that long-term use of DMSA without close monitoring could lead to irreversible bone marrow or liver damage. This has not yet been reported, but is a compelling reason to limit the duration of DMSA therapy and to have blood tests done every one to three months. The safety of DMSA—taken for less than six months—is well-established, but this safety has not been demonstrated over the long-term.

DMSA is available only by prescription and should only be administered under a doctor’s care for just such reasons. Unfortunately, so few doctors are treating autistic patients, for what is ultimately a medical disorder, there are just not enough good doctors to go around.

[UPDATE: Apparently you can get DMSA with out a perscription, which seems odd to me. IMO it should be only used under a doctors care.]

Also... long term studies of chelation should be undertaken by the CDC... but you knew I was going to say that.

Finally, there are as many dosing schedules for DMSA as there are practitioners who make claims about it. As perhaps a ridiculous extreme, one practitioner has asserted that DMSA must be given every two to three hours around the clock! This person also insists that failure to follow this schedule will result in more mercury being deposited in the brain. Fortunately, this is absolutely wrong! Doses as infrequent as once a week have been effective at removing mercury and lead, although at a much slower rate than the recommended dosing schedule of three times a day.

Until the mercury/autism connection is properly studied and the results are treated with honesty and transparency, chelation for children diagnosed with autism will remain to be part science, part guesswork. Yet another reason that the health authorities should do its due diligence and investigate chelation as a treatment for autism related mercury poisoning.


[1] Is autism due to mercury?

There is no convincing data supporting a link between mercury or thimerosal and autism. This is not to say that mercury and thimerosal cannot cause autism, just that there is no data to support the connection.

To say that there is "no data to support the connection" is not correct. There is a great deal of data, but the data is not conclusive. It consists of in vetro studies, primate and rodent studies, case studies and small population studies.

Many authors and investigators can still make the point, as Dr. Laidler does, that there is “no convincing data” because the health authorities charged with funding and disseminating such studies (on the scale that people are 'convinced' by) are not doing their job.

Chelation remains one of the most promising medical treatments for what is commonly diagnosed as ‘autism’, yet the government chooses to spend money instead on long term genetic research that will be of no benefit to children who were diagnosed with autism today.

The first large scale research project into chelation for those with autism is just getting underway at the University of Arizona. It is being funded by anonymous private donors.

[2] Mercury testing.

Mercury testing, especially if done with a mail-order lab, can be both misleading and overly expensive. If you truly suspect mercury poisoning, spend $35 for a urine mercury test at your local clinic or hospital—don’t spend up to $300 to get information of questionable accuracy and minimal utility.

I don't think that Dr. Laidler has made his case that the information you get for your $300 is "of questionable accuracy and minimal utility". It was mighty accurate and useful to us.

[3] Chelating agents.

Many of the remedies promoted to remove mercury and other heavy metals are either not effective, not safe or both. Of the available chelating agents for mercury, DMSA offers the best safety and the best effectiveness.

[4] Safety.

Despite its impressive safety record, DMSA is not without side effects. Long-term treatment with DMSA has not been studied (insert comment about how the government should study this-ed) and may result in serious problems. Close medical monitoring is strongly recommended if you decide to use
DMSA therapy on your child.

* * *

1. Is it not also true that even in the legitimate use of chelation for lead poisoning, there is no expectation of reversing whatever neurological damage has already occurred? I would think this would be another strike against the credibility of chelation for autism.
— Lisa Randall Jul 27, 03:37 PM

It is true that there are no guarantees that getting the mercury out of your child will cure their autistic symptoms, just as there is no guarantee that chemotherapy will cure cancer. Most parents faced with either situation are likely to give their child the chance at recovery even if the odds are not 100%. I do know of two children who did not respond to chelation therapy. Neither child was harmed by it and neither of their mothers regret trying it.

We have no guarantee that tomorrow, the last drop of Hg won't tumble out of our boy and his wonderful progress will come to an end. If it does, we will make yet another one of those course corrections that parents of special kids have to make. But at least we will know that we got him as healthy as we could.

2. The studies that have looked at removal of lead by chelation (that Autism Diva has looked at on pubmed) showed no improvement in IQ or behavior, (or both?)

Brain damage in general is not seen as reversible.

This makes logical sense. But this has not been my experience.

My son called me mommy until he regressed at 18 months in the fall of 2003. In June of 2004 I gave him 300mg of DMSA for his chelation challenge to see if he had mercury toxicity. He was given the dose around 8am and about 6 hours later he called me ‘Mommy’ for the first time in almost a year.

I was in my bedroom cleaning, and he came in and started pulling on my hand. I was trying to finish my task before I went with him to see what he wanted, so I was looking away from him. I thought I heard him say ‘mommy’ so I looked down, and instead of pulling my hand toward the door and looking toward where he wanted me to go, he was looking at my face and called me ‘Mommy’ three more times. I was completely stunned.

At that point I expected that his tests would come back positive for mercury, and they did. There was no question after that whether or not we would try chelation on him.

To respond to Autism Diva’s very good point, I no idea as to why DMSA would have an effect like this if his mercury has caused brain damage. It makes no sense that my son would improve that drastically in 6 hours.

I would REALLY like the federal government to clear this up for Autism Diva and me. They could... oh I don't know... do a study or something?

Some of the autism/mercury parents think their kids got toxified while in the womb from a rhogam shot that had thimerosal in it.

There’s no evidence for that...

Again I must repeat my mantra. There is no evidence that Rhogam plays a role in the development of autism because it has never been studied.

A year ago Lyn Redwood, the head of Safe Minds, was invited personally by Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC, to submit a wish list of research proposals to her. Among the requested research was a study to see if Rhogam could be involved with the development of autism. I spoke with Lyn last week and she said that neither the CDC nor Dr. Gerberding has never responded to the list that they asked be submitted to them.

I am a Rhogam mom and was surprised that this had not been looked at yet. I am waiting for the CDC and the FDA to go ahead and do this very necessary safety study on an injection that that they have already approved on pregnant women.

but besides that, they think that they can chelate the kid NOW and affect proposed damage do when the brain was developing? They obviously have no clue about brain development and probably have never looked into Fetal Alchohol Syndrome. There’s nothing that undoes that, but the kid can learn to use what he has to the best possible extent.
— Autism Diva Jul 27, 03:46 PM

Autism Diva will get no argument from me (except for the part where she suggests that as the parent of an autistic child I am clueless about brain development).

Why did my son respond so quickly?

I think that the government should study it and find out.

3. Because there’s no way of knowing how much improvement in a child’s behavior and abilities is the result of natural developmental processes, the only accurate way to test chelation would be to perform double-blind studies with autistic adults.

If you’re interested in an unscientific anecdote, I had all of my amalgam fillings removed 10 years ago and took chelation supplements for a few weeks. It was my dad’s idea; he is a major health faddist, antivax, supplements out the wazoo, toxic fumes in the woodwork, you get the idea.

I noticed some improvement in my sense of smell after having the amalgams taken out, but the main benefit was just the nice new pretty composite fillings.

I’m still just as autistic as ever.

So is my dad…
— Bonnie Ventura Jul 28, 09:38 AM

As in Bonnie's case, the anecdotal evidence I have seen seems to suggest the older you are, the less effective chelation is on autistic symptoms. The best results seem to be for children under five and progress seems to really slow down as children age.

I have read several stories though from people who have tried it on their teenagers and even on adults and some progress has been made.

Say it with me:

Sounds like something that the government should study.


Grace 77x7 said...

Ginger, I think this was the first writing of yours that I came across on the net and I loved it because you were writing exactly what I had been wanting to yell with frustration from the rooftops: If the anti-antimercury people are so desirous of putting an end to this so called "urban legend", then why the heck don't they DO A CREDIBLE STUDY? (With the obvious caveats such as don't let the drug co's or anyone associated with them near it, keep all the info and methods open & aboveboard so that everyone can look at it rather than doling out only pre-screened specially selected pieces, etc)

I actually believe that was also about the first time that I stumbled across this article http://www.autism-watch.org/about/bio2.shtml from Dr. Laidler. What particularly struck me about this piece was that he rails against the anecdotal treatments being used on kids with autism while using his own anecdotal experiences to try to prove them false - what incredible irony!

Anne McElroy Dachel said...

As I listened to ABC Nightline I realized that the science doesn't matter to ABC News. Mercury isn't even an issue to ABC News. The controversy focused on personalities. The Geiers are presented as the maverick researchers siding with the litigious, irrational parents against the medical community and federal health officials. They have their own brand of crazy theories and medicine. The courts and the Institute of Medicine have failed to recognize their expertise. ABC Nightline didn't think that reporting on their research findings was important, yet ABC felt it was critical to tell us that the Geiers love tennis.

Mark and David Geier seem to be the only two scientists on our side and ABC now has raised enough questions about their competence. There was no mention of the growing number of other well-credentialed scientists from leading universities whose work has shown the deadly and damaging effects of thimerosal.

We are not told that autism is a plague in the U.S. affecting vastly more children than polio did in the 1950s and that officials pretend it just isn't happening.

ABC isn't concerned that the only thing Dr. Gerberding can say with any certainty about autism is that vaccines don't cause the disorder.

ABC News and other outlets will never acknowledge one critical point: We're not talking about pure science here. Lots of people like Dr. Gerberding and the federal health agencies have everything at stake in this debate. What if, through complete oversight failure, we've exposed a generation of children to a deadly element with devastating results? That's never brought up in these pieces "covering" the autism controversy.

Lisa Sykes got to make one truly important comment: "A fact is a fact....my son was exposed to toxic levels of mercury....and he's toxic. A fact is a fact."

Googlybear said...


Thank you for a nice and thorough commentary. I am so tired of the mainstream medical community looking for any possible reason to discount metal toxicity theory and chelation.

Towards the end, there was a comment from a woman named Bonnie who is autistic and said she did chelation for a few weeks after her amalgams were removed, and had no results. A few weeks of DMSA (at an unknown dosing schedule) would not likely have a noticeable effect on an adult or even most children. It has to be done longer than that. Then there is the age factor. Though I am going to note, that my 10 year old is having very good results and pulls with IV CaEDTA and DMPS. The results were also immediate, with amazed comments from her teacher and speech therapist coming days after her first treatment (thought they were not told what was affecting the change). So it is possible for older children to gain benefits from chelation.

Anonymous said...

Jim Laidler incorrectly commented on a "practitioner" who advises chelator dosing every 2-3 hours. He refers to chemist Andrew Hall Cutler, PhD, PE, who actually promotes dosing every 3-4 hours. Note some of Cutler's exchanges on and with Laidler on the Yahoo Autism-Mercury listserv.

I wonder whether Dr. Laidler may have chelated his children using an unsafe dosage protocol. Cutler is careful to incorporate the child's weight, nutrient loss, chelator half life and other factors.

Regarding "Autism Devo," comparing kids with an ever-increasing body burden of mercury to those permanently damaged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a very poor analogy. Children with FAS aren't given more alcohol throughout infancy; their exposure stops.

I can understand the assertion that curing mercury poisoning may not cure all of the child's autisic symptoms, but that's no reason to NOT remove the mercury. As long as that toxic heavy metal remains in body tissues, it will interfere with normal function and cause a lifetime of chronic disease.

Anonymous said...

It appears that you have done extensive research on the subject. Both my children worked summers at a special needs camp and on a hunch when talking with my kids I started looking into the possible link between copper water piping and Autism. They were upset that their camp was unable to take the number of kids applying for their summer camp.

My company at the time was the only firm applying an epoxy lining inside of failing copper water piping here in Southern California. We were aware that our customers were receiving copper through their drinking water. (We see first hand the inside of their pipes) In order for copper piping to have longevity it goes through the process of cupric solvency. Which simply means the copper dissolves when the water first comes in contact with the inside of the piping mixes with the minerals in the water and forms cupric oxide. The cupric oxide process continues for the live of the pipe washing out and reforming until the pipe eventually dissolves completely. The copper enter the drinking water system as the cupric oxide is washed away.

We started using copper in 1962 in California
Cases of Autism were 1/40,000 per year since the mid 50's

By early 1970's almost every home being built used copper. Cases of Autism rose to 1/10,000 and in the mid 1970's a new phenomenon started where 75% of children that became autistic were born normal and developed autism around 18 months of age.

In 1991 the EPA changed the water chemistry as part of the Safe Water Act. Cases of Autism rose to 1/1,000 we believe that is what is causing major copper failures.

As of 2006 there is over 55 billion feet of copper water piping in the Cases of Autism rose to 1/150 US. That is an increase from zero copper to 55 billion in 45 years. California is the leading state for Autism and the only state that still primarily uses copper piping.

As you know high levels of copper are report in children with Autism and this apparent direct correlation between the use of copper and the rise in Autism may be a 45 year coincidence.

Unknown said...

Laidler has had a very interesting history.

For those of you that did not see the ABC Nightnight - he was the MD
that was used by ABC to say that treatment methods do not work - and
did not work on his kids .

Well here is the bizarre history of Laidler

He was the author of the first mercury chelation protocol for DAN

He attended the first mercury thinktank and was selected to write the
protocol by the group. He went on a series of lectures promoting the
use of chelation because of the toxic level of mercury in children.

Yes you are reading this right. HUH!!!!! WHAT....

He was very convincing in explaining the dangers of mercury and the
connection to autism. He spoke about this at conferences

Meanwhile his children were getting better with medical treatment.

He was able to access a large treating hospital in Oregon for more
than $50,000 for medical services from his children and coded the
reports with gastro problems that resulted in insured benefits. He has
never denied that these were real problems that needed attention.

He and his wife widely reported publically major benefits that their
children received from generous help from other parents with diet and

He was also head of OHSU pain center and a practicing MD.

He applied to be a doc in a new children's clinic to treat children
with autism with an emphasis on chelation.

So.... what happened???? ????
Why is he playing for the other team?


Why did he suddenly leave OHSU as head of the pain center?
Why didn't he join the autism clinic and never return a call as to why?
Why did he enroll in Portland State as a student in biology?
Why did he never practice medicine again?
What happened to have him turn against parents that helped him
Why did he open up a web site and receives donations to criticize the
very parents that supported him

Was it just about that his kids were able to eat waffles and enjoy
macaroni and cheese????

No one has answers.

It would not be fair to circulate rumors about why since no one really
has the time and effort to find out. They are just rumors.

My guess is that ABC did not ask any hard questions as to his past.

My guess is that Laidler will not answer any.

It may remain more of a mystery than the cause of autism.

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