Is a mouthful of mercury safe?

BY SONYA COLBERG scolberg@opubco.com Published: December 12, 2010
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Mercury and vaccines

Tulsa attorney James Love is expected to attend the meeting, along with Haley, who plans to present testimony on mercury in fillings and vaccine. Though Haley doesn't oppose immunizations, he said only mercury can explain the cellular and biochemical abnormalities seen in autistic people. He also said it appears vaccinations accompanied the spike in autism rates.

The 1998 study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield linking mercury with autism led many parents to avoid letting their children take routine vaccinations. But his study of 12 children was discredited this year and retracted by The Lancet medical journal.

In September, Dr. Frank Destefano with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released his study showing babies exposed to high levels of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, were no more likely to develop autism than anyone else and were actually at slightly less risk among children exposed from birth to 20 months. Thimerosal is no longer used in childhood vaccines.

Haley suggests the federal agency caved in to drug manufacturers and should have had clearly unbiased scientists conduct research.

OU Medical Center Dr. Steven Crawford said the evidence is obvious: no correlation between vaccines and neurological problems such as Alzheimer's or autism.

“Absolutely not. Zero. Zilch. None,” he said.

A mysterious death

Darrell Weaver, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs director, said battles with drug dealers over the years pale in comparison to the death a couple of years ago of his 14-year-old daughter, Ashley.

“It's very hard to shake you ... when you've held your daughter's hand as she drew her last breath,” he said.

He places much of the blame for her sudden onset of neurological problems and brain tumor on her last hepatitis B vaccination in September 1999, before the mercury-based preservative was removed.

Crawford said celebrities and people from all walks of life are trying to get answers to why their loved ones have autism or other diseases.

“I feel profoundly sad for these parents and children,” he said. But he said researching already discounted connections of vaccines and amalgams with Alzheimer's and autism is worse than useless.

“It's delayed pursuing other courses that would be more fruitful,” he said.