Our Peer-Reviewed Publications
Following is a list of articles written by SafeMind’s board members published in peer-reviewed journals.
Abstract: Autism is a syndrome characterized by impairments in social relatedness and communication, repetitive behaviors, abnormal movements, and sensory dysfunction. Recent epidemiological studies suggest that autism may affect 1 in 150 US children. Exposure to mercury can cause immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioral dysfunctions similar to traits defining or associated with autism, and the similarities extend to neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters, and biochemistry. Thimerosal, a preservative added to many vaccines, has become a major source
of mercury in children who, within their first two years, may have received a quantity of mercury that exceeds safety guidelines. A review of medical literature and US government data suggests that: (i) many cases of idiopathic autism
are induced by early mercury exposure from thimerosal; (ii) this type of autism represents an unrecognized mercurial syndrome; and (iii) genetic and non-genetic factors establish a predisposition whereby thimerosal’s adverse effects
occur only in some children.
The role of mercury in the pathogenesis of autism.
Bernard S, Enayati A, Roger H, Binstock T, Redwood L. , Mol Psychiatry. 2001;7:S42-S43
Predicted mercury concentration in hair from infant immunizations: Cause for concern.
Redwood L, Bernard S, Brown D. , Neurotoxicology. 2001; 22(5): 691-697
Abstract: Mercury (Hg) is considered one of the worlds most toxic metals. Current thinking suggests that exposure to mercury occurs primarily from seafood contamination and rare catastrophic events. Recently, another common source of exposure has been identified. Thimerosal (TMS), a preservative found in many infant vaccines, contains 49.6% ethyl mercury (EtHg) by weight and typically contributes 25 microg of EtHg per dose of infant vaccine. As part of an ongoing review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 1999 that infants who received multiple TMS-preserved vaccines may have been exposed to cumulative Hg in excess of Federal safety guidelines. According to the centers for disease control (CDC) recommended immunization schedule, infants may have been exposed to 12.5 microg Hg at birth, 62.5 microg EtHg at 2 months, 50 microg EtHg at 4 months, 62.5 microg EtHg at 6 months, and 50 microg EtHg at approximately 18 months, for a total of 237.5 microg EtHg during the first 18 months of life, if all TMS-containing vaccines were administered. Neurobehavioral alterations, especially to the more susceptible fetus and infant, are known to occur after relatively low dose exposures to organic mercury compounds. In effort, to further elucidate the levels of ethyl mercury resulting from exposure to vaccinal TMS, we estimated hair Hg concentrations expected to result from the recommended CDC schedule utilizing a one compartment pharmacokinetic model. This model was developed to predict hair concentrations from acute exposure to methymercury (MeHg) in fish. Modeled hair Hg concentrations in infants exposed to vaccinal TMS are in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety guidelines of 1 ppm for up to 365 days, with several peak concentrations within this period. More sensitive individuals and those with additional sources of exposure would have higher Hg concentrations. Given that exposure to low levels of mercury during critical stages of development has been associated with neurological disorders in children, including ADD, learning difficulties, and speech delays, the predicted hair Hg concentration resulting from childhood immunizations is cause for concern. Based on these findings, the impact which vaccinal mercury has had on the health of American children warrants further investigation.
Any changes in prevalence of autism must be determined.
Blaxill, MF , BMJ. 2002;324:296
Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children.
Holmes AS, Blaxill MF, Haley BE, Int J Toxic. 2003;22(4):277-285
Abstract: Reported rates of autism have increased sharply in the United States and the United Kingdom. One possible factor underlying these increases is increased exposure to mercury through thimerosal-containing vaccines, but vaccine exposures need to be valuated in the context of cumulative exposures during gestation and early infancy. Differential rates of postnatal mercury elimination may explain why similar gestational and infant exposures produce variable neurological effects. First baby haircut samples were obtained from 94 children diagnosed with autism using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM IV) criteria and 45 age- and gender-matched controls. Information on diet, dental amalgam fillings, vaccine history, Rho D immunoglobulin administration, and autism symptom severity was collected through a maternal survey questionnaire and clinical observation. Hair mercury levels in the autistic group were 0.47 ppm versus 3.63 ppm in controls, a significant difference. The mothers in the autistic group had significantly higher levels of mercury exposure through Rho D immunoglobulin injections and amalgam fillings than control mothers.Within the autistic group, hair mercury levels varied significantly across mildly, moderately, and severely autistic children, with mean group levels of 0.79, 0.46, and 0.21 ppm, respectively. Hair mercury levels among controls were significantly correlated with the number of the mothers’ amalgam fillings and their fish consumption as well as exposure to mercury through childhood vaccines, correlations that were absent in the autistic group. Hair excretion patterns among autistic infants were significantly reduced relative to control. These data cast doubt on the efficacy of traditional hair analysis as a measure of total mercury exposure in a subset of the population. In light of the biological plausibility of mercury’s role in neurodevelopmental disorders, the present study provides further insight into one possible mechanism by which early mercury exposures could increase the risk of autism.
On Croen et al (2002), the changing prevalence of autism in California.
Blaxill MF, Baskin DS, Spitzer WO, J Aut Devel Disord. 2003;33(2):223-226
Thimerosal and autism? A plausible hypothesis that should not be dismissed.
Blaxill MF, Redwood L, Bernard S., Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(5):788-94.
Abstract: The autism–mercury hypothesis first described by Bernard et al. has generated much interest and controversy. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the connection between mercury-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. They concluded that the hypothesis was biologically plausible but that there was insufficient evidence to accept or reject a causal connection and recommended a comprehensive research program. Without citing new experimental evidence, a number of observers have offered opinions on the subject, some of which reject the IOM’s conclusions. In a recent review, Nelson and Bauman argue that a link between the preservative thimerosal, the source of the mercury in childhood vaccines, is improbable. In their defense of thimerosal, these authors take a narrow view of the original hypothesis, provide no new evidence, and rely on selective citations and flawed reasoning. We provide evidence here to refute the Nelson and Bauman critique and to defend the
Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism.
Bernard S., JAMA. 2004 Jan 14;291(2):180.
Concerns continue over mercury and autism.
Blaxill MF, Am J Prev Med. 2004 Jan;26(1):91; reply 91-2
What’s going on? The question of time trends in autism.
Blaxill MF. , Public Health Rep. 2004 Nov-Dec;119(6):536-51
Abstract: Increases in the reported prevalence of autism and autistic spectrum disorders in recent years have fueled concern over possible environmental causes. The author reviews the available survey literature and finds evidence of large increases in prevalence in both the United States and the United Kingdom that cannot be explained by changes in diagnostic criteria or improvements in case ascertainment. Incomplete ascertainment of autism cases in young child populations is the largest source of predictable bias in prevalence surveys; however, this bias has, if anything,worked against the detection of an upward trend in recent surveys. Comparison of autism rates by year of birth for specific geographies provides the strongest basis for trend assessment. Such comparisons show large recent increases in rates of autism and autistic spectrum disorders in both the U.S. and the U.K. Reported rates of autism in the United States increased from 3 per 10,000 children in the 1970s to 30 per 10,000 children in the 1990s, a 10-fold increase. In the United Kingdom, autism rates rose from 10 per 10,000 in the 1980s to roughly 30 per 10,000 in the 1990s. Reported rates for the full spectrum of autistic disorders rose from the 5 to 10 per 10,000 range to the 50 to 80 per 10,000 range in the two countries. A precautionary approach suggests that the rising incidence of autism should be a matter of urgent public concern.
Vaccine Safety & Autism: the System Is Broke, Let’s Fix It.
Bernard S., Health Advocacy Bulletin. Sarah Lawrence College. Fall 2004; 2(1): 8-10