AoA: Autism is NOT Mercury Poisoning

I have, believe it or not, a relatively high threshold for differences of opinions. Really. Quit laughing. I do. I don't think folks have to agree with me on everything. I respect my friends who have faith; I don't care what one's politics are, and I'll even put on my gameface when it comes to sports, although nothing holds a candle to sumo. I have friends who are heavy into the woo, who believe in ghosts, who think homeopathy and reiki are real. I wouldn't dream of berating them or giving them hell on any of this stuff. Really. I told you to quit laughing.

Look, I'm smart enough to know myself well enough to know to never, ever facebook friend certain people who are favorite fodder for blog posts (Mercola, Lanza, Ullman, Gordon, Wakefield, etc), and I even take a minute before accepting friendship offers on facebook because if they are into the woo and I friend them, sigh, I won't go snarky on them EVER. I'll be endlessly loyal even though I don't really know them in the real world and may not even interact with them much on facebook. I know, it's weird, but I take facebook friending seriously.  Sometimes, I think some folks are testing me, and upon occasion, I'm even led to wonder if there is a god with a delightful sense of humor when I see what some of the folks who offer friendship to me on facebook are into.

I hate it when I have to comment on AoA. I really do. I want to ignore them because, well, it's so hard to find something positive to say about them way too much of the time. Heck, I don't even look at them most days now; that way I don't feel like I have to respond to them. But come on, there's a level of outright flat out ignorance that I find beyond offensive. I get that not everyone's gonna dig into databases like I will. I get that. I do. I get that there are a whole lot of people a lot smarter than me out there, too, who know boatloads more than I do. I get that we generally do the best we can and that when we know better, we do better. What I cannot tolerate, what makes me pretty heated, is willful ignorance. Especially willful ignorance like Stagliano displays today at AoA:

How many times and in how many ways does it have to be stated, shown, proven that autism looks absolutely nothing like mercury poisoning? How impossibly ignorant can a person be? It's shameful. 

The question of whether autism and mercury poisoning look the same has been examined and answered. The answer is no. I know, I know, there are technicolor websites out there by folks who've created elaborate tables that demonstrate the similarities between autism, Alzheimer's, and mercury poisoning. 

Nelson and Bauman (2003) look at one of these tables and the allegations that autism is mercury poisoning caused by the thimerosal in pediatric vaccines.

Mercury poisoning:

"In mercury poisoning, the characteristic motor findings are ataxia and dysarthria (Table 1).5,6 These signs, along with tremor, muscle pains, and weakness, are noted on relatively high-dose exposure, acute or chronic."


"In contrast, in autism, the only common motor manifestations are repetitive behaviors (stereotypies) such as flapping, circling, or rocking. Persons with Asperger syndrome may be clumsy, and hypotonia has been noted in some infants with autism; the frequency of clumsiness and hypotonia in autism spectrum disorders is not established."

Mercury poisoning:

"The most characteristic sensory finding of mercury poisoning is a highly specific bilateral constriction of visual fields. With lesser exposure there may be compromise of contrast sensitivity. In addition, there may be paresthesias or, in infants, erythema and pain in hands and feet because of peripheral neuropathy." (endnotes removed for clarity)


"In autism, decreased responsiveness to pain is sometimes observed along with hypersensitivity to other sensory stimuli, including hyperacusis. The “sensory defensiveness” of autism seems to reflect altered sensory processing within the brain rather than peripheral nerve involvement."

The CDC also offers information regarding mercury poisoning symptoms:

"Repeated or continuous exposure to elemental mercury can result in accumulation of mercury in the body and permanent damage to the nervous system and kidneys. Classic symptoms of poisoning include neuropsychiatric effects, renal impairment, and oropharyngeal inflammation. The neuropsychiatric effects include tremor, anxiety, emotional lability, forgetfulness, insomnia, anorexia, erethism (abnormal irritation, sensitivity, or excitement), fatigue, and cognitive and motor dysfunction. 
Although less common, neuromuscular changes (weakness, muscle atrophy, and muscle twitching) and polyneuropathy (paresthesias, stocking-glove sensory loss, hyperactive tendon reflexes, slowed sensory and motor nerve conduction velocities) have also been reported.
A delayed idiosyncratic non-allergic hypersensitivity to mercury called acrodynia (pink disease) is sometimes seen in children chronically exposed to mercury vapor; in some cases, it occurs when exposure lasts for only a few days. Symptoms include irritability, sleeplessness, sweating, severe leg cramps, and a painful peeling rash.
Chronic exposure may be more serious for children because of their potential longer latency period."

Nelson and Bauman conclude: "Mercury poisoning and autism both affect the central nervous system but the specific sites of involvement in brain and the brain cell types affected are different in the two disorders as evidenced clinically and by neuropathology. Mercury also injures the peripheral nervous system and other organs that are not affected in autism. Nonspecific symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irrational fears may occur both in mercury poisoning and in children with autism, but overall the clinical picture of mercurism—from any known form, dose, duration, or age of exposure—does not mimic that of autism. No case history has been encountered in which the differential diagnosis of these 2 disorders was a problem."

There is absolutely no excuse for willful, deliberate, intentional ignorance. None whatsoever.


Chris said...

Say thank you to AMC.

AoA continues to show it is all about the vaccines, and not about the autism.

kathleen said...


farmwifetwo said...


Mercury poisoning is Pink's Disease... it is not autism.

I have never opened the AoA site and never will... truth is you can tell people, you can tell them often and they still won't believe you so what's the point. Besides when they add a visit by the internal medicine Dr to your pre-op appt next Friday... bp's doing loops again... I don't need the stress either.

KWombles said...

Chris, I did; thanks for the link.

Kathleen, ayuh, a sigh and a yup.

FW2, thanks for the link. I'm glad you've managed to avoid the AoA site; it's a wise decision. :-) I hope everything is well for you, that whatever's requiring surgery is nothing serious. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

kathy said...

Thank you, I just shared this. I know this is an old post but I hope you see this.