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Autism and 9-11: The Connection

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Message Vin LoPresti
What do California condors and autistic children have in common? Quite possibly it’s a need for chemical detoxification. As discussed frequently by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vigorous environmental advocate, there’s little doubt that mercury in the form of thimerosal (ethyl mercury) is “poisoning the brains of children throughout the world.” Kennedy rails against the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for being “criminally negligent” on this issue. Mercury is a neurotoxin, and allowing it to seep into the forming synapses of infant and toddler brains is, or should be, an act of criminal proportions.

This is a fact somewhat separate from the debate about what really “causes autism.” Given the known biotoxic effects of heavy metals like lead and mercury, how can anyone argue, as vaccine manufactures continue to do, that that mercury, at any level, is harmless to developing tissues of children. Yet that autism debate rages on, the most disingenuous of the combatants parking themselves in the absurd, overly simplistic extremes of genetics versus environment. The truth likely lies somewhere in between. Certain children, through their genetic makeups, are likely more sensitive to neurotoxins such as mercury.

In an environment where drugs like Prozac seep into drinking water, and the bodies of all of us bubble with a diversity of toxins, like PCBs and dioxins, who is to say what combination of toxins, thimerosal included, may provoke childhood brain disorders like hyperactivity or autism? From a toxicological point of view, mercury, possibly in combination with other toxins, might act in a direct fashion on the brains of these kids. Or it’s also possible, given what is known about mercury, that it could, drive the immune system into a haywire interaction with its own nervous system and contributing to the neurological damage.

On June 25, the same day that Kennedy made his assertions about the mercury-autism connection on radio, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D, NY) held subcommittee hearings into the health effects of environmental toxicity suffered by 9-11 responders and residents. What many fail to appreciate is that the plethora of illnesses currently afflicting tens of thousands of 9-11 responders offers us a mirror of the health effects related to the accumulating toxicity to which we are all exposed. They come at us, and into us, from our food, air, water and from products and materials we use at home and at work over our lifetimes. Just as the genetic makeups of some children can predispose them to brain/behavioral disorders, when exposed to thimerosal, a number of the 9-11 responders, against a background of a career of the exposures they got while fighting fires, developed lung pathologies-- the notorious WTC cough and chronic lung diseases --and also a host of immunological and neurological symptoms. Their chronic fatigue, loss of memory, inability to concentrate and disruption of sleep may, in a very real sense, parallel the damaged neurology in mercury-exposed children.

Proponents of the thimerosal causation of autism, like Kennedy, argue that a detoxification method called chelation therapy is of great benefit to these children. Detoxification, they claim, is a necessary strategy in a population already polluted by its environment. Kennedy chides the CDC, and the traditional U.S. medical establishment, for refusing to even study chelation. And in like fashion, when nearly 1,000 of the between 40,000 and 70,000 estimated 9-11 responders who say they have suffered health problems due to their World Trade Center toxic exposures have demonstrated benefit from a sauna detoxification procedure, New York City and its traditional medical team at Mt. Sinai Hospital and other WTC treatment centers vigorously ignore the fact that this rehabilitation therapy is actually working. While the ill responders continue to deteriorate and develop rare cancers, like multiple myeloma, almost all of those who received detoxification therapy have returned to relatively normal lives, their mental fogginess allayed, their sleep quality restored, their energy for living reinvigorated.

In general, this correlation bears testament to the growing necessity for toxin cleansing on a planet groaning under the weight of body-stored toxins. As for the condor connection mentioned at the beginning of this article, interestingly, there was no hesitation when isotopic fingerprinting showed that the endangered California condor was suffering from lead poisoning after ingestion of lead-bullet-poisoned carcasses left behind by hunters. Using chelation to remove the lead from the condors’ blood and tissues, wildlife biologists rescued dozens of birds, greatly assisting a captive breeding program that is returning the species to viability.

Future generations will tell us whether we too readily neglected and rejected chelation and other forms of detoxification in favor of traditional medicine, which tends to function within the trade space of putting more chemicals (drugs) into bodies already overflowing with foreign substances. They will tell us whether we were too resistant to a needed a paradigm shift, which would recognize the need to relieve a body of its toxic burden as a more viable path to regaining health rather than trying to relieve symptoms with drug therapy alone.
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VinyL is a molecular biologist who's passion is the philsophical and pragmatic expansion of the US healthcare system away from its insane addiction to physician-lock, reductionistic, simpleminded drug therapy toward a more-global view based on (more...)
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