Bogus Mercury/Autism Claims Linked to Death

Bogus Mercury/Autism Claims Linked to Death
Controversial treatment to rid body of metals may have killed a child.

By Dan Gainor
August 26, 2005

     The left-wing crusade against mercury appears to have been deadly. ABCs August 26 Good Morning America focused on a controversial autism treatment that may have killed a child.

     According to reporter Lisa Stark, the child went into cardiac arrest during the procedure known as chelation. It is used to remove heavy metals like lead and mercury from the body. Some parents and researchers believe autism is mercury poisoning. Caused partly by a mercury preservative once routinely used in vaccines, she explained. The medical community across the board state that there is no link between mercury and autism, but that hasnt stopped left-wing activists.

     Stark described the childs death: The Pennsylvania boy was receiving the intravenous form of chelation when he went into cardiac arrest. C.P.R. was administered but the boy died at a local hospital. An autopsy was inconclusive. More tests are planned.

     This story was only the latest round behind radical environmentalist claims linking autism to a preservative once used in childrens vaccines. The preservative, called thimerosal, contains mercury and is subject of an international campaign aiming to ban the substance. But the issue isnt about autism. The larger goal is to shut down coal-fired power plants which environmental groups blame for mercury in the environment and which they consider a major cause for global warming.

     The campaign against thimerosal has provided left-wing environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a chance to further his global warming agenda in the national media.

     Kennedy, who CBS labeled an environmental attorney in its July 14 Evening News, has been the moving force behind the wildly criticized claims that thimerosal is a cause of autism. He appeared on the CBS show arguing, The science connecting brain damage with thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming. He even said the government knows about this link and that it was being covered up in some grand conspiracy.

     As the Business & Media Institute has reported previously, Kennedy is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a liberal environmental group that currently has a campaign to combat mercury contamination of the worlds waterways. This group has also had ties to numerous other left-wing environmental groups, including the Ban Mercury Working Group, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. None of the media that interviewed Kennedy even bothered to ask why the Waterkeeper Alliance is suddenly interested in autism.

     Those groups are trying to shut down coal-fired power plants, claiming they release mercury into the environment. However, a quick glance at the NRDC Web site makes clear the real reason. Under the global warming question and answer section, there is the following question: What causes global warming?" The answer: Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution they produce 2.5 billion tons every year.

     Kennedy has received coverage from numerous media outlets, including ABC, CBS, the Raleigh News and Observer and The New York Times. Despite all that coverage, medical experts firmly disagree with Kennedy that there is any threat at all. The ABC story reported that A major study by the prestigious Institute of Medicine found no link between vaccines, mercury, and autism. And there have been no scientific studies showing that chelation helps autistic children.

     The Good Morning America story quoted Dr. Anna Seeger, of Vanderbilt Medical Center, saying the treatment was a bad idea. I think we have to be very careful with treatments that we say work without the scientific evidence, she said.

     In The New York Times story from June 25, 2005, a doctor was quoted as saying the link between thimerosal and autism was voodoo science, which explained why CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, asked Kennedy in the July 14 story, When you first heard about it, did you think it was kind of nutty?

     Attkisson ended that report about the link between thimerosal and autism saying, With the Kennedy name attached, it seems destined to survive for now, only because networks, like hers, continue to lend credence to his bogus claims.

Here is another Business & Media Institute story on this issue: