In 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Health and Human Services stated that1 in 150 children have an autistic disorder and 1 in 6 children have a developmental or behavioral disorder. These are staggering statistics that should concern every parent, grandparent, doctor, clinician, and public or government official. This equates to a fourfold increase in just a decade.
Our country is in a crisis. We have ignored the red flags, the calls for concerns from parents and advocates, and we have created a generation of developmentally and behaviorally disabled children. The writing is on the wall, and yet not nearly enough is being done to research the cause and prevent this crisis from continuing or to treat our children who are suffering.
Mercury Overload ?
Still, the Institute of Medicine has ruled that no relationship exists between thimerosal and autism, and that no further studies are needed to look into the possibility of a relationship between thimerosal containing vaccines and autism. Many other studies have concluded there is a possible connection between the TCVs and autism. Why would such a strong statement be made in regards to doing no further research when we know mercury and other metals are toxic. We know mercury was in vaccines, and is still in some, so why would we risk the health of millions of children by not continuing to study the connection between all types of mercury exposure, including thimerosal, and developmental disorders in children.
A Study done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), reported, "a signature metabolic impairment or biomarker in autistic children strongly suggests that these children would be susceptible to the harmful effects of mercury and other toxic chemical exposures. This impairment manifests as a severe imbalance in the ratio of active to inactive glutathione, the body's most important tool for detoxifying and excreting metals."
The EWG concluded â€œthat these new findings significantly strengthen the possibility that mercury could cause or contribute to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, by identifying a metabolic imbalance common to nearly all autistic children that would make these children poorly equipped to mount a defense against a number of neurotoxic compounds, including mercury.â€ In addition, they concluded that these findings raise serious concerns about the studies that have allegedly proven the safety of mercury in vaccines.
Many other reports have also identified the need to research the connection further and show the strong possibility that mercury toxicity may, actually, be burdening many children to the point of causing or worsening a developmental, neurological, or behavioral disorder.
To date, it has been reported that thimerosal (mercury containing preservative) has been removed from childhood vaccines, but that is not entirely a true statement, as thimerosal is still used in some vaccines. What about the thimerosal that is added to some formulations of the influenza (Flu) vaccines that are given to pregnant women, infants and children? Or the women who receive the Rho immune globulin shot during pregnancy or soon after birth, who are Rh negative? Other vaccines, like tetanus, given to older children and adults, contain thimerosal.
And the fact that study after study shows a direct correlation between the number of amalgam fillings a person has and the level of mercury in his/her blood. Heavy metals can be passed onto infants through pregnant mothers and nursing mothers. This results in decreased birth weight, motor function, language, memory and neural transmission.
What studies have shown:
* EWG found 287 chemicals in the umbiblical cord blood, 217 of the chemicals found are neurotoxins.
* The CDC found 8-16% of newborns had high levels of mercury, above 5.87ug/L in their cord blood which is high enough to cause loss of IQ and neurological impairment.
* U.S. EPA found that 630,000 newborns had unsafe levels of mercury in their blood between 1999-2000.
* Study done by Holmes et al, tested hair for mercury levels from baby's first haircut and found the amount of mercury correlated with the number of amalgam fillings of the mother.
Recent studies have confirmed that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have high heavy metal toxicity but are not excreting it. These findings raise serious concerns about children's overall exposure to environmental contaminants. Mercury is of particular concern, however, because of its proven toxicity to the developing brain and nervous system, and documented high exposures from a variety of sources.
The epidemiologic studies used to dismiss a causal relationship between autism and thimerosal have assumed that all children have the same resistance to chemical exposure but they do not take into consideration the heavy metal burden a child can receive as a fetus and a lactating infant.
Mercury has been banned from paint, thermometers, batteries and many other products. Steps are being taken to reduce human exposure to this metal, except in the context of tooth restoration and vaccines, which are put in our bodies.
In 1999 the AAP and PHS made a joint recommendation to remove thimerosal from all vaccines in the U.S., however as you saw above, not all vaccines are free of thimerosal. And in 2004 the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Science moved away from the 1999 recommendation by the AAP to remove thimerosal. The World Health Organization, and many nations, still use thimerosal in childhood vaccines even though studies show that mercury is toxic even in small amounts to the human body, especially to a fetus and child. More research still needs to be done and urgently. The argument that there is not a possible connection to heavy metals causing or worsening developmental and neurological disorders in children cannot stand on two legs. Research from many different studies and groups have shown the dangers of mercury and heavy metals from vaccines, our diet, the environment and amalgam fillings. It is time to take this matter seriously and involve the right people to continue researching, testing and making recommendations to help our children. Do we want our legacy to be the poisoning of the youngest generation?
Metal toxicity can present with very general symptoms, such as nausea and headaches, which often are similar to many other conditions. In some cases no symptoms are present. Because metal toxicity, unless at the extreme levels, can present general symptoms, it can be difficult for a doctor to diagnose metal toxicity without in-depth knowledge of metals and which tests to order.
The Other Metals
There are several metals that are needed and used by our bodies, such as iron and copper, that must be present in the proper amounts for our enzyme systems to work.
However, even metals our bodies need such as iron and copper can be harmful in high levels.
Besides the specific metals our bodies need to function, other heavy metals are known to be toxic, even in small amounts to our bodies. The U.S. Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) lists all hazards found in toxic waste sites. Of those toxic substances listed, four of the most hazardous are the metals: lead (1), mercury (2), arsenic (3), cadmium (6).1
We are exposed to these metals through the environment: from dust and fumes in the air, which is created from coal plants, manufacturing, and gas exhaust (from fuel additives) and in our water, food supply, soil, and dental fillings.
Water with a lower pH can also increase a person's exposure to lead, by creating an environment that allows more lead to leech from plumbing. Also, some vegetables such as root and leafy greens are known to absorb more lead than other vegetables.
And a person that is deficient in certain nutrients, such as: calcium, iron or zinc will absorb more lead.1 This is due to the fact that lead has the ability to mimic those nutrients. Your body will transport lead in place of the iron when the body is deficient in iron.
Too much calcium can inhibit a person from absorbing iron. So limiting or reducing the amount of dairy in one's diet can help you absorb iron, which in turn can help to limit the amount of lead that is transported in iron's place.11
How to Protect Our Children â€“What the Experts Say
In order to get a thorough picture of the relationship of heavy metals to developmental delays and disorders in children, I interviewed four experts in various professional fields for this article to find out what they know about heavy metals and developmental delays, and their role in working with children.
I spoke with Janet Doman, Director of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential and an internationally known child development expert. The Institutes help children with every type of brain injury, such as Autism and learning disabilities, as well as well children.
Ms. Doman explained that many of the children they treat have high levels of heavy metals and problems in the gut, along with the brain injury. For example, children with Autism have very difficult problems in the gut. These children had heavy metal contamination. When The Institutes began using natural ways to detoxify the bodies of these children, they had greater improvements in their language and health, and many allergies improved. Even the children with difficult gut problems had improvements once the heavy metals and toxins were pulled out of their bodies and any problems with parasites and yeast began to get better, once the heavy metals and toxins were removed.
One common concern Ms. Doman expressed was that clinicians couldn't diagnose a problem, such as heavy metal toxicity, with only data point (only testing either blood, urine or hair). This concern was also brought up by Tamara Mariea, a Biochemist and Certified Clinical Nutritionist, who has seen approximately 1,000 individuals in her clinic, Internal Balance, Inc. Instead, it is important to check heavy metal levels by testing porphyrins in urine, as well as using all of the other heavy metals tests available.
Two points, Ms. Mariea brought up that are at the heart of this topic are, "the argument for not looking for heavy metal and toxins in our children does not hold up." We are exposed to massive amounts of heavy metals from our food and water supply, to air, soil, products and mercury fillings. Mariea explains that, ideally, every single child should be tested for heavy metals by using tests available to check heavy metal levels through porphyrin testing (a specific urine test), fecal, hair and urine samples. Most doctors currently test through blood or a standard urine test, but many experts and studies have revealed that it is important to use porphyrin testing to check children (or adults) for heavy metal levels because the test is more accurate for assessing heavy metal levels in the entire body.
Ms. Mariea also explains that a common test is a 12-hour urine excretion test, where a provocator or chelator is used to try and grab metal over a 12 hour period to see if metals are coming out in the urine. She cautions that you need a baseline reading of the heavy metals in the body, and coming out in the urine, so that you know what the child's body is doing.
Three points worth addressing that Ms. Mariea brought up are ways we could work together to correct the toxic burden put on our children and stop the toxic cycle.
1. Raise the vaccination age, starting childhood vaccinations after age 3, when a childâ€™s immune system is fully developed.
Japan went from having a high infant mortality rate for developed nations, which showed that they had more infant deaths than 17 other developed nations, to having the least and moving into the 1# spot of the lowest number of infant mortality rates. The infant mortality rate dropped after Japan pushed all vaccinations for children to be given after they were 2 years old.
2. Test all children born during the next 10 years for heavy metals (using porphyrin testings and others).
3. Educate young adults (men and women) so they can make educated choices to make sure they are not passing heavy metals onto their children passing heavy metals onto their children by consciously detoxifying themselves prior to conception.
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky, a renowned Pediatrician, practicing in his office in Brooklyn New York, talked with me about what he sees in his practice and the way pediatricians handle heavy metal concerns. Dr. Belilovsky explained that the two metals he has to address most often are: iron, a metal that we need for our bodies to work properly and lead.
He often has to talk with parents and their children about limiting or reducing milk and dairy products, because with many of his patients, especially those he sees that came from Mexico or South Asia, they have an iron deficiency that is caused by too much milk consumption.
We discussed the change of allowable amount of lead in a child's blood by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to 10ug/dL, from the previous listed recommendation of 25ug/dL, because experts are realizing the damage lead can do at much lower levels than previously thought.
The CDC also made a recommendation to test all children between 6 months and 5 years of age for lead through a blood lead screening. Dr.Belilovsky said they test every child in their practice for lead. He noted that they do not test for any other heavy metals unless there is reason to suspect exposure to a source, or symptoms. Across the country, most pediatricians are following the same rule of thumb: testing children between 6 mos to 5 years for lead, and other metals if there is a known risk to exposure or symptoms.
What Can We Do About the Heavy Metals and Toxins?
Dr. Belilovsky explained that foods that have a sulfur atom (smell like sulfur/rotten eggs), such as fresh, uncooked garlic and onions, can help to negate heavy metals in our bodies. The heavy metals, whether or not it is removed, will bind to the sulfur atoms from these foods. Other foods that can help you detoxify are: garlic, cilantro, cruciferous vegetables, green tea, watercress, artichoke, burdock, pomegranate.
In an interview with Jon Barron , a researcher, formulator and book author, he spoke to me about the many ways we are exposed to heavy metals, and the need to rid our body of heavy metals and other dangerous toxins regularly.
Jon created a natural oral chelation formula using Cilantro and Chlorella that helps rid the body of heavy metals. It works like this: Cilantro changes the electrical charge of the metals to a neutral state that relaxes the bond of the metal to the body tissue so it can be flushed out. Then the Chlorella helps to pull the heavy metals out of the body by absorbing them and flushing them out of the body.
For those of us without developmental disorders, health problems or diseases, adding fresh foods that are known to help remove or minimize the effects of heavy metals on our bodies, can help us remove some amounts of the heavy metals we accumulate.
*For Children with Developmental Delays, Learning Delays, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, it is recommended that you have your child tested for heavy metals using the Urine Porphyrin Profile Analysis-click for article and resources about this affordable, non-invasive lab test.
*If your child is found to have toxic levels of any heavy metals it is important to work with a professional who understands heavy metals and chelation options. You can remove much of the heavy metals by using chelation.
What You May Not Know About Heavy Metals
The silver fillings in your mouth do release mercury vapor, especially when the individual chews, grinds his teeth or drinks hot liquids. Studies have been done to show the ill effects of the use of mercury in your mouth. There is no reason that ANY mercury fillings should still be used today. We know mercury vapor escapes from the fillings and there are affordable, safe alternatives to mercury fillings. Some dentists are still using mercury fillings, and even on young women and children. At the very least consumers need to be educated about the risks of mercury fillings and increased mercury blood levels.
* Mercury vapor is continually released from dental amalgam mercury fillings and absorbed by the lungs. 80% of that vapor is then absorbed by the bloodstream.
* Mercury vapor can affect human fetal development.
* Studies done as far back as the 1970s and 80s showed the correlation between the number of mercury fillings and higher levels of mercury in the blood. A study done in 1981 by Snapp and Peterson notes that 90% of the blood mercury comes from mercury/silver implants.2
* 8.5 tons of mercury is entering our environment through wastewater every year from amalgam bearer excretions. And another 5.7 tons of mercury are sent into our wastewater system by dental clinics, which can be prevents if a amalgam removal device is used.
What to Do Prior to Conception & Pregnancy
If you are a woman of childbearing age or pregnant, it is important to minimize your exposure to mercury or other toxic metals. You can be an active participant in helping to keep your heavy metal levels lower by following these guidelines, which were recommended in several studies.
1. Do not get any new Mercury Amalgam fillings, ask for newer composite resins.
2. Consider having your mercury amalgam fillings removed by a dentist that complies with the standards outlines for mercury amalgam removal by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, well before trying to conceive or wait until after pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is never safe to work on mercury fillings while pregnant or breastfeeding.
3. Do not Get a Flu Shot containing Thimerosal (mercury)
4. Do not Eat ANY Seafood While trying to conceive, during pregnancy or breast feeding.
5. If pregnant or breastfeeding a newborn, inquire about the Rho immune globulin shot given near the end of pregnancy or after birth of child (there now offer the shot without thimerosal)
Many studies have been conducted about heavy metals and their relationship to developmental delays in children. The results of these studies should be a wake up call for our nation. We have burdened our children's bodies and our own for decades, and we need to work together to minimize the heavy metals and toxins in our environment and bodies. We can start by reviewing our practices, regulations, guidelines, industry by-products, cleaners and dietary recommendations. We also need to re-evaluate the use of heavy metals in vaccines and in dental work and consider testing infants and children for heavy metal levels.
For more in-depth information about Neurodevelopmental Delays and Heavy Metal Testing, we suggest:
Resources and Articles
Government site you can search for studies and reports done on health topics at
http://www.pubmed.gov. You should check this out to find the latest studies and results done on Autism and/or Heavy Metals or Mercury and Lead.
Research Article on Autism at Autism.com
Other Sites to Review:
Looking at Possible Relationship between Higher Incidence of Autism to Areas of the Country with more Rain and Snow
The author, Kristin Fitch, is a mother of 3 healthy sons, a business owner and editor. She has no conflicts of interest either professionally or personally. She does not have a child with any known developmental delays or Autism, and she does not work for, with or represent any non-profits, groups or companies pertaining to these topics.
Statements made in this article are for informational purposes only. We encourage readers to go to the links and read the studies and articles provided. We think it is important to talk with your doctor and dentist about the topics in this issue and discuss your questions, opinions and concerns.
Geier David, Geier Mark, Early Downward Trends in
Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal
of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 11 Number 1 Spring 2006
Mercury: Save Your Body from Nature's Deadly Poison
The Blaylock Wellness Report
August 21, 2006 Vol 3, No. 8 p.
IAOMT, Public Comment to the FDA Proposed Classication
of Mixed Encapsulated Dental Amalgams
July 28, 2008 at http://www.iaomt.org/articles/sites/default/files303/FDAcomment.pdf
Hu Howard. Human Health and Heavy Metals Exposure, Life Support: The Environment and Human Health, Michael McCally (ed), 2002 MIT Press
IAOMT, Public Comment to the FDA Proposed Classication
of Mixed Encapsulated Dental Amalgams
July 28, 2008 at http://www.iaomt.org/articles/sites/default/files303/FDAcomment.pdf
The Journal of Neural Transmission
1998: 105: 59-68