Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Because killing your child is obviously way better than autism.

The climate in North America concerning vaccines is quickly becoming a rather hostile one due to the masses of "Green Vaccine" supporters out there using pseudoscience, and often, blatent lies, to have vaccines banned. They believe that vaccines contain things like mercury and - yes, Ive actually heard this one - pieces of aborted babies, and claim that this is the cause of a slew of childhood ailments; in particular, they claim that vaccines are directly causing rising rates of autism. Anyone with a rational, critical thinking mind will realize that the "Green Vaccine" movement is a bunch of nonsense....but things may have just got a bit worse.

The leading funder of autism research in the US has just approved a proposal to run a tiral on the use of chelating agents to treat children with autism. Chelating agents are chemicals which are able to sequester metal ions, like magnesium, copper or zinc: they bind to metal and make them easier to excrete. They are used as a treatment for heavy-metal poisoning and often as a component in New Age "detoxifying" schemes. Unfortunately, they can be incredibly dangerous to ingest. Your body needs metal ions for alot of critical enzymes to work. DNA polymerases, the class of enzymes responsible for replicating your DNA, require magnesium to work. It is for this reason we use such agents in molecular biolgy: when we want a reaction to stop, we add a chelating agent like EDTA to keep the enzymes from working any further. Ingesting chelating agents runs the risk of preventing such enzymes from working and can be deadly.

The logic behind the idea is this: mercury in vaccines causes autism in children, so we give them chelating agents to bind up all the mercury and they should get better. Besides the fact that mercury in vaccines causing autism has been repeatedly scientifically discredited, this is a really bad idea. Chelatig agents have been shown before to have little medical benefit outside of heavy-metal poising. One study with rats has shown that chelating agents can lead to cognitive problems. If that weren't bad enough, three years ago, a 5 year old autistic child in Pennsylvania died after having been given a chelating agent injection. And even if autism was caused by high levels of mercury (it isn't, and has never been documented), using chelating agents would be a poor treatment since the cellular damage caused by mercury is permanent, unrepairable damage.

Funding this is a waste of tax-payer money since it's testing a treatment for something that has never been shown to be an actual symptom of mercury toxicity. Such a clinical trial is only pandering to the Green Vaccine people. Of course the director of NIMH, the institution carrying out the trial, denies this, saying the study "came up in the first place because we were getting reports that this was a therapy in broad use and there were very substantial questions about both its efficacy and its safety”.

The trial still has to be approved by an ethics board since it involves children and poses a greater than minimal risk to their health. Hopefully the trial will be denied, but the fact that it was approved for funding speaks volumes about the political clout the Green Vaccine movement has. They need to be hit with some science, and hit hard. Too bad the inpact would be softened by their willful ignorance of the facts.


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Wrong Planet said...

Excellent blog post. We really appreciate it when scientists speak out in support of common sense.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these "green the vaccine" people are not only endangering the lives of everyone by creating a fear of vaccines, but also contribute to a climate that hurts autistic people (like myself) by pushing a view that considers us to be "damaged" when we are not damaged and actually represent a legitimate variation in neurology. See my website which has more than 20,000 members, most of whom are autistic.

C.W.G.K said...

@ Wrong Planet:

Thanks for the comment. It's good to hear someone who's actually affected by the issue weigh in on the subject. You're definately right about the Green Vaccine movement creating a fear of vaccines in parents. If this is allowed to continue then the results could be disasterous. Japan is a perfect example of this: In 1994, a new law was put in place (bowing to pressure from anti-vaccination groups) stating that vaccinations were now optional. Vaccination rates plumeted to as low as 22%, due to parents' fears over the safety of vaccines. This was a terrible move, because Japan is now facing a measles epidemic. As recetly as this past March, 160,000 students were diagnosed with measles, and in 2000, 88 people died from the disease. Compare this to other developed countries, where measles is pretty much eradicated due to mandatory vaccinations in children. If something isnt done about the Green Vaccine movement soon, then we can expect similar - even worse - epidemics to happen in North America.