According to the most recent CDC estimates, one in 166 children in the US suffers from an autistic disorder. Twenty years ago, autism only affected one in 10,000 children.
For years now, studies have shown that exposure to mercury in childhood vaccines, not only causes autism but can also result in immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioral dysfunctions similar to traits associated with autism.
On May 21, 2003, after a three year investigation, "The Mercury in Medicine Report" was released by the House Committee on Government Reform, and stated in part:
“Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is directly related to the autism epidemic. This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding a lack of safety data regarding injected thimerosal and the sharper eyes of infant exposure to this known neurotoxin. The public health agencies’ failure to act is indicative of institutional malfeasance for self protection and misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.”
The Congressional report also said that the CDC, due to its “biases against theories regarding vaccine-induced autism,” had chosen to fund researchers “who also worked for vaccine manufacturers to conduct population-based immunologic studies. . .” and stated:
“The CDC in general and the National Immunization Program are particularly conflicted in their duty to monitor the safety of vaccines, while also charged with the responsibility of purchasing vaccines for resale as well as promoting increased immunization rates.”
The autism epidemic cannot be denied. On February 15, 2005, the GAO, released a Report titled, "Special Education Children With Autism," that revealed the number of children ages 6 through 21 diagnosed with autism receiving special education services has increased more than 500% over the past 10 years.
In a transcript obtained under the FOIA, of a secret meeting attended by officials of the FDA and CDC in 2000, Pediatrician Bill Weil, acknowledged the epidemic, "There are just a host of neurodevelopmental data that would suggest that we've got a serious problem.… The number of kids getting help in special education is growing nationally and state by state at a rate we have not seen before."
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that was developed in the 1930s by Eli Lilly, and has been used regularly in vaccines ever since basically to boost vaccine maker profits by allowing drug companies to package vaccines in large containers instead of a single dose.
However, years ago children only received a small number of vaccines that were injected with period of time in between and one dose at a time. Since 1988, the number of vaccines given to children before the age two has tripled.
Lisa Blakemore-Brown, a psychologist in the UK, has been investigating the vaccine-autism link for years and says the reason the epidemic in autism did not occur sooner is because before the 1990s children "were given single vaccines with single amounts of mercury.”
"But with the introduction of triple vaccines," she explain, "the amount of mercury contained within the preservative was multiplied and the cumulative effects are only just now being discovered by the public."
Once the cumulative amount of thimerosal that children were receiving through injections of 30-some odd vaccines was finally measured in 1999, the FDA discovered that children were receiving more than 100 times the EPA’s safe limit for mercury by 18 months.
Internal documents from the FDA and CDC show public health officials knew about the increased mercy children were receiving at least since 1999. A June 29, 1999, email from FDA scientist, Peter Patriarca to the head of the CDC office on vaccine safety, warned that the FDA was going to be criticized for being "'asleep at the switch' for decades by allowing a potentially hazardous compound to remain in many childhood vaccines and not forcing manufacturers to exclude it from new products."
Mr Patriarca also pointed out that calculating the cumulative dose of mercury in vaccines was not "rocket science" and involved only ninth-grade math. He also noted the questions that agency officials would likely be asked as:
"What took the FDA so long to do the calculations? Why didn't CDC and the advisory bodies do these calculations when they rapidly expanded the childhood immunization schedule?"
An internal company memo that surfaced in a lawsuit against vaccine maker, Merck, proves the company knew infants were being injected with unsafe amounts of thimerosal back in 1991.
The memo says a 6-month-old baby receiving shots on schedule would receive mercury 87 times higher than established safety guidelines:
"If eight doses of Thimerosal-containing vaccine was given in the first six months of life (3 DTP, 2 HIB, and 3 Hepatitis B) the 200 micrograms of mercury given, say to an average size of 12 pounds, would be about 87 times the Swedish daily allowance of 2.3 micrograms for a baby of that size."
On September 8, 2004, Dr William Egan, then acting Director of the FDA's Office of Vaccines Research and Review, told the House Government Reform Committee that prior to the mercury reduction initiative in vaccines, children may have received 187.5 micrograms of mercury by 6 month's age through routine childhood vaccinations.
People often ask why some children become autistic when so many do not. As a neurotoxin, thimerosal, has been linked to the depletion of the protective anti-oxidant, glutathione, which helps rid the body of mercury. People with autism seem to be more susceptible to this effect and most have low levels of glutathione. Therefore, their bodies have difficulty excreting mercury.
A December 2004 report by the independent Environmental Working Group determined that autistic children have less glutathione than normal children. The study, led by Dr Jill James, a professor of biochemistry and pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said a glutathione deficit "may contribute to the development and clinical manifestation of autism."
In 1999, many drug companies claimed they were reducing the amount of thimerosal in vaccines. Some even provided product inserts that claimed that only a trace amount of mercury still existed in the final product. Others even claimed to be producing vaccines that were completely mercury-free.
For instance, a September 1999, press release by vaccine maker Merck declared: "Now, Merck's infant vaccine line is free of all preservatives."
However, On March 8, 2005, the LA Times reported that "Merck & Co continued to supply infant vaccine containing a mercury preservative for two years after declaring that it had eliminated the chemical."
In fact, Merck continued to distribute vaccines containing thimerosal until October 2001, according to a June, 2003 letter from the FDA to Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL), a doctor by calling, in response to an inquiry. Dr Weldon called what Merck did "misleading."
"You had people literally into 2002," he told the Times, "getting shots with mercury, having been told it was all taken out in 1999."
To see if vaccines were indeed thimerosal free, last year the group, Health Advocacy in the Public Interest (HAPI), sent four vials of different vaccines to be tested for mercury content to Doctor's Data, an independent lab, which specializes in heavy metal testing.
The tests found that all four contained mercury, despite the claim by 2 companies that their vaccines were completely mercury-free. According to HAPI, all four vaccines also contained aluminum which greatly increases the toxicity of mercury for causing neuronal death in the brain.
In fact, during further investigation, HAPI discovered that mercury-based thimerosal was still being used during the production process for most vaccines. The drug makers claim that after production, they filter the preservative out of the final vaccines.
However, heavy metal expert, Dr Boyd Haley, PhD, the Chemistry Department Chair at the University of Kentucky, told HAPI that its not possible to remove all of the thimerosal because mercury binds to the antigenic protein in the vaccine and cannot be filtered out completely.
Experts says, a drastic decline in autism will not be seen due to the fact that the drug makers misled the public about when thimerosal was actually eliminated from vaccines. Because the FDA has never ordered a recall of the vaccines previously manufactured and shipped all over the country, many mercury-laced vaccines remained in the inventories of health care facilities and some had an expiration date as late as September, 2005.
In addition, pregnant women and their unborn infants, are still being injected with a full dose of thimerosal in flu vaccines. The CDC has ignored the tremendous amount of scientific evidence documenting the injuries from mercury-laced vaccines and has continued to recommend flu vaccines for all pregnant women and children over 6 months old.
Back in 2002, the research team of David and Mark Geier, released a study based on an analysis of tens of millions of vaccines given to during the 1990s, and presented epidemiologic evidence that demonstrated the association of the increase in thimerosal in vaccines with neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Geier’s analysis of the government's "Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System" database showed statistical increases in the incidence rate of autism, mental retardation, and speech disorders in children receiving thimerosal-containing diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines, when compared with those who received thimerosal-free vaccines.
According to the Geiers, the usual course of DTaP vaccine consists of primary immunizations administered at two, four, and six months, followed up by booster doses at 18 months and five years.
By analyzing the database, the Geiers determined that there were a total of 6575 adverse reaction reports with the DTaP thimerosal-vaccines, compared to only 1516 adverse reaction reports with thimerosal-free vaccines.
In one of their more recent studies in 2005, the Geiers assessed thimerosal exposure in about 110,000 children and found a statistically significant association between exposure to thimerosal and a host of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, tics, attention deficit disorders, and speech and language delays.
The public remains largely unaware of the autism epidemic because people hardly ever see autistic children out in the community. Aside from taking the children to school, parents seldom take them anywhere because of the difficulty of trying to control them outside of a routine environment.
The increasingly number of children with this disorder is forcing public school systems to provide more special education classrooms to meet their needs. Autistics are the fastest-growing segment of special ed students and schools lack the trained professionals with knowledge of how to work with autistic children. The school systems were caught completely unprepared for this epidemic.
Unlike normal children, children with autism do not learn by watching other people and must be taught even the simplest skills such as making eye contact, waiting in line, following directions or how to hold a conversation which often requires one-to-one mentoring.
Skills, behaviors and abilities vary with each child and about half of autistic kids have few or no language skills. Some kids also suffer from other problems that impair learning such as hearing loss or epilepsy and many are not toilet trained.
In a program that serves Minneapolis students, each classroom usually has 6 students and requires one licensed special ed teacher and two special ed assistants. Toddler classrooms are smaller with 4 students and require one licensed special ed teacher and one special ed assistant.
Services by speech and language clinicians, occupational therapists, social workers and adapted physical education teachers are also available at each site based on student needs. And the educational services reflect only part of the expense. Other costs include tuition for summer school to help kids retain skills, transportation costs, and psychological and behavioral evaluations.
In 2003, the California National School Board Association reported that the number of autistic students in California had doubled over four years and represented 13% of the state's student population of 20,377, at a cost of up to $60,000 per student.
In July 2005, a San Mateo County California civil grand jury released a report warning that increasing numbers of autistic children and the high cost of their education was causing a significant drain of resources for school districts.
The report said the number of autistics in the San Mateo county had doubled since 2000, to more than 5,000, and the county needed to find cheaper special ed alternatives since federal and state special ed funding had not kept up with spending.
The grand jury pointed to a pilot project at a school in San Bruno, that paired four aides and one teacher with a small class and said it was cheaper than one-on-one mentoring, which could cost $50,000 per student.
In one year, the number of children treated for autism at centers operated by the California Department of Developmental Services increased 13% between 2003 and 2004. Autism now accounts for more than half of the new cases handled at the centers, which treats various developmental disorders, with the vast majority of cases being kids being 13 and younger. The number of autistics treated at the centers rose from 5,000 in 1993, to more than 26,000 in 2005.
And the numbers are the same all across the nation. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services estimates that in 2006, about 25,000 Kentuckians have autism spectrum disorders, an increase from about 1,500 in 1990.
The US Department of Education all total spends about $53 billion a year on grades K-12 education. If the government provides $60,000 per year to educate the currently identified school-age autistics, the tab will run about $7 billion a year, or 13% of its entire budget. And each year the costs will rise as the number of autistics entering the system increases.
On December 10, 2002, Dr David Baskin, a neurosurgeon and Professor of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology at the Baylor College of Medicine, testified at a Congressional Hearing and told the panel that most autistic children will grow up and require lifelong care because they cannot live independently. He described what he referred to as a "horrible" fact and said:
"Over one-half will never speak. Many of them will never be able to look at their parents and tell them they love them. It’s worse than Alzheimer’s Disease. There’s been a tremendous focus on Alzheimer’s Disease, but these children never had a chance to enjoy life before they lost it."
According to Dr David Ayoub, author of the report, “Pregnancy and the Myth of Influenza Vaccination-Is it safe, is it effective, is it necessary?" government officials and vaccine makers are working hard to keep the truth about vaccines causing autism hidden because if they admitted guilt, it would mean they “have taken part in the largest iatrogenic epidemic known to man.”
"The fallout over admission of causality would be unprecedented," Dr Ayoub said.
Dr Mark Geier is probably the most credentialed expert on vaccines in the US. When he was 23, he corrected a genetic disorder in a tissue culture, gaining distinction as one of the founders of genetic engineering, and earning him front-page stories in the New York Times and London Times, and a call from President Richard Nixon.
He holds an MD and a PhD in genetics from George Washington University and spent ten years at the National Institutes of Health. After several more years as a professor at Johns Hopkins University, he opened the genetic laboratory and clinical practice that he co-owns today. He is also a court-certified expert on vaccines. Based on his years of research on autism he makes a statement similar to Dr Ayoub's.
"The current epidemic of autism may well be the greatest iatrogenic epidemic in history. The damage already done to our society is already in the trillions of dollars. The damage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that of the AIDS epidemic pale when compared to the current epidemic of autism."
Eighty percent of autistics are under the age of 17. Soon states will be forced to provide support for an overwhelming number of disabled adults. Many autistics can not be left alone and must be looked after non-stop. If the vaccine makers are not forced to pay for the damage they caused, tax payers will be left to cover the entire expense of daily care and housing as well as life-long medical treatment for this generation of injured children.
As for the reasons why officials within the FDA and CDC keep denying the link between vaccines and autism, according to Congressman Dave Weldon, "If it is eventually determined that an entire generation of kids was essentially poisoned, a class-action suit against the federal government could be on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars, and so there's very good reason for them to try to cover this up."
"And then when they appear as though they are covering it up," he says, "it makes you suspicious that it's all true."
In the book, Evidence of Harm, award-winning author, David Kirby, explains that "the stakes could not be higher. Perhaps billions of dollars in litigation is pending against drug companies involved in vaccine production. The deep pocketed pharmaceutical industry has extended its financial largesse to politicians and scientists around the country, in open pursuit of indemnity against lawsuits and, some charge, in a darker effort to suppress evidence of thimerosal’s toxicity."
"The jury is still out on thimerosal, but deliberations are well under way," Mr Kirby writes. "One side will emerge vindicated, and the other will earn eternal scorn in the medical history books."
(Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America)