Autism Study of the Month: Ancestors that had mercury poisoning increases risk of Autism

Mercury

Ancestry of Pink Disease (Infantile Acrodynia) Identified as a Risk Factor for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source –¬†http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15287394.2011.590097?journalCode=uteh20

Abstract

Pink disease (infantile acrodynia) was especially prevalent in the first half of the 20th century. Primarily attributed to exposure to mercury (Hg) commonly found in teething powders, the condition was developed by approximately 1 in 500 exposed children. The differential risk factor was identified as an idiosyncratic sensitivity to Hg. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have also been postulated to be produced by Hg. Analogous to the pink disease experience, Hg exposure is widespread yet only a fraction of exposed children develop an ASD, suggesting sensitivity to Hg may also be present in children with an ASD. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that individuals with a known hypersensitivity to Hg (pink disease survivors) may be more likely to have descendants with an ASD. Five hundred and twenty-two participants who had previously been diagnosed with pink disease completed a survey on the health outcomes of their descendants. The prevalence rates of ASD and a variety of other clinical conditions diagnosed in childhood (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome, and Down syndrome) were compared to well-established general population prevalence rates. The results showed the prevalence rate of ASD among the grandchildren of pink disease survivors (1 in 25) to be significantly higher than the comparable general population prevalence rate (1 in 160). The results support the hypothesis that Hg sensitivity may be a heritable/genetic risk factor for ASD.

PR Release from Source

You can read here: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/chancellery/mediacentre/media-centre/news/2011/08/australian-research-finds-autism-risk-

Translation

Essentially what they are saying is that they found 522 people that were diagnosed with “Pink Desease” or mercury poisoning a long time ago and then checked out their grandchildren.

What they found was that 1 in 25 of those children were on the Autism Spectrum… which is a mighty big leap from the 1 in 160 children currently estimated in Australia.

The idea is that those 522 people must have had a greater weakness to mercury to be poisoned by it when other children were not… which, genetically, could mean that their children and even grandchildren would also have a greater weakness to it.

Thus, being exposed to it in seafood, dental fillings or preservatives in some vaccines may trigger a response in those children, including Autism.

My Opinion

This is simply my opinion of the story, stop reading if you do not want opinions and are happy just having read the details of the original study itself.

1. Aside from mercury poisoning symptoms having nothing in common with Autism symptoms, one would have to wonder how many, if any, of those 522 grandparents are Autistic.

2. The study makes no mention of verifying any of the original 522 people’s claims of having mercury poisoning. Being so long ago, it’s entirely possible they were misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. There was also no mention of verifying the grandchild’s Autism diagnoses either.

3. The rates, while still higher, resemble the rates found in the Korea total population study. A comparison of a control group vs comparing numbers of children being diagnosed on a regular basis is likely to be radically different for multiple reasons, including parents not recognizing the signs in their children, inappropriate facilities/services and so on.

4. If true, this would indicate that Autism is still largely genetic and is triggered by a toxin, such as mercury. Meaning that Autism could simply be onset since birth or “awoken” by introduction of some outside toxin, such as mercury.

I’ve long held the belief that Autism is not a “one cause, one cure, one story” disorder… that the reason it eludes scientists so much is that there is no one answer.

Do I believe that this study is the answer to it all? No. But it could lead to further answers. It certainly has a better chance than some other recent stories, like this one.

I have my doubts about this one as a lot of wholes were left open in terms of verifying data, it’s collection methods and what the numbers really mean.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some real validity to it’s findings.

As I find more information, more insights, I’ll continue to update this article.

 

“Autism Study of the Month”
The purpose of the Autism Study of the Month series is to provide unpolluted (by the media) information about the studies released at least once a month in the study of possible Autism causes or risks.
You will find links to the actual studies, get to read the “abstract” of the study and, when possible, get the PR release from the source.
When it comes to science, let’s leave the media out of it.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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2 Responses to Autism Study of the Month: Ancestors that had mercury poisoning increases risk of Autism

  1. Angel G August 9, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    My husband and I were having a conversation awhile ago about studies and causes. We talked about the ‘what if’s’.

    When we were children, we played with toys that would now be recalled. We ate food that we now know is not healthy. We had lead paint on our walls. The list goes on.

    When our parents were children, they also played with toys, ate food and were surrounded by items that would now be considered harmful.

    What if all that ‘stuff’ somehow changed our genetic code just enough to cause issues in our children.

    We are not scientists or doctors and we are happy to leave the research in their hands. But until we know for sure, we’ll always be playing the ‘what if’ game.

    This study is interesting. I hope it’s one step closer to finding out what happened to our children – not just with autism, but with all disorders that seem to be multiplying dramatically with each generation.

    Your “study of the month” is an excellent idea!

  2. Lizzy Collins September 18, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    My mother had Pink disease as a baby and had a subsequently rather miserable and unhealthy life. I believe that one of my older sisters may have been on the autism spectrum (not diagnosed, just seen as difficult and backward back in the 1950s) and one of my sons is autistic and intellectually disabled, as well as suffering from coeliac disease. He also had terrible seizures as a young child as well as asthma, although he grew out of both, thankfully. I would be very interested to know if my son’s problems could be linked to my mother’s illness. Or could it just be linked to my teeth which in many cases have been filled with amalgam fillings more than once each. I don’t believe it is due to his vaccinations, as I am certain he was born this way. No matter what I will always love him, but it would be nice to understand where the health problems came from.

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