While there have been many concerns from parents and some researchers about the possibility of a link between vaccines and autism, the medical community has generally dismissed the concerns, noting that some major studies have not found a statistically significant link between the two. A primary concern among those worried about vaccines has been the use of mercury in preparing the vaccines, resulting in the addition of a small amount of mercury into young children receiving some common forms of vaccinations (not all use mercury).
Interestingly, a new study of French children shows a possible link between autism and heavy metals in their bloodstream. As reported in The New Scientist, May 27, 2006, p. 21, Dr. Richard Lathe of Pieta Research of Edinburgh conducted the study of hundreds of French school children, monitoring the amounts of porphyrin proteins in their urine. Porphyrins are precursors of haem, the part of hemoglobin that carries oxygen. When there are unusual levels of heavy metals in the body, they block haem production and cause porphyrins to accumulate. Children with autism had one form of porphyrin at levels 2.6 times as high as normal children. Richard Lathe believes he has found a link between these levels and heavy metals in the body, versus a genetic factor. His group found that by using chelation therapy to remove heavy metals, the porphyrin levels were brought back to normal. It’s unknown whether chelation diminishes the symptoms of autism.
The key point here is that heavy metals may be a factor related to autism. And for those concerned about vaccinations, yes, mercury is one of the more notorious heavy metals – but even if Dr. Lathe’s conclusions are right, that still doesn’t necessarily mean that vaccinations have any link to autism. Further work is needed. And the medical community generally notes that the benefits of vaccination to millions surely outweighs the occasional risk to some. Do your own due diligence on this matter.
FYI, Dr. Lathe has authored a controversial book, Autism, Brain, and Environment (2006, ISBN 1-84310-438-5), suggesting that environmental factors may play a role in autism.