Online rumors: Older vaccines still contain mercury, the Amish don't get autism

December 20th, 2010 → 11:02 am @ // 12 Comments

Last week, an old high school friend of mine named Krister Johnson posted about my book on his Facebook wall. The result has been an interesting discussion–one of the first comments was, “Except that the way in which vaccines are given today [i.e. the volume within a small time frame - not to mention the ones that shouldn't be given] is directly related to autism…”

This morning, a friend of Krister’s wrote the following:

most older type vaccines have mercury drivative in them….Amish who dont use vaccinations virtually no autism….

Both of those rumors appear a lot online. I wrote back a lengthy reply,  which I’d like to share with readers here:

“Those are two common beliefs, and certainly they’re repeated a lot online, but neither is true: There has not been any thimerosal (the mercury-based preservative that had been used in vaccines) in ANY childhood vaccines since 2001. Zero. Zip. De nada. There are not any childhood vaccines in production that use thimerosal. In fact, most childhood vaccines never contained thimerosal; the only ones that did were some (but not all) variations of the Hib, TDaP, and hep B vaccines. (It’s worth noting here that the much maligned MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal.)* (There are some variants of the influenza vaccine that have small** amounts of thimerosal — those amounts are smaller than people in America are regularly exposed to, and there are thimerosal-free flu vaccines available.) If thimerosal had been a causal factor in autism, obviously we would have expected autism rates to decline after it was removed from vaccines–and yet the rates have contained to go up.

The CDC has posted many resources about thimerosal and vaccines, including this timeline/FAQ.^

The myth about Amish communities not having autism is another widespread one, and it’s been seized upon by some anti-vaccine activists to support their position.

I understand the fears about vaccines — most of us have not seen children hospitalized with measles or known families whose infants died of whooping cough…and that’s b/c vaccines have been so effective. (It’s part of the catch-22 of vaccines: The more effective they are, the less necessary they seem.) I also understand fears about autism. But I have interviewed families whose children have died. So far this year, 10 infants have died of whooping cough in California.

All of these — the issue of finding accurate medical/scientific information online, the public health issues facing interdependent societies, the need for better communication between doctors and patients — are reasons I wrote my book. This is an incredibly important subject, and one which is so emotional that people can have a hard time talking TO each other instead of AT each other.

That last point is something I’ll be coming back to again and again. Having spent two years talking to people on all sides of this debate, I know that for most part, these people share a common goal — protecting children and improving public health efforts — and everyone would be better served if we could remember this.

* Ital’d comments are points I didn’t make on Facebook.

** In my FB comment I used the word “trace,” which is probably incorrect in this case: That term refers to amounts that are technically too small to measure.

^ Edited for clarity.


Post Categories: Amish & Internet & thimerosal

12 Comments → “Online rumors: Older vaccines still contain mercury, the Amish don't get autism”


  1. Genevieve

    3 years ago

    What are the rates of autism in Amish communities? Anecdotally, they appear to live a lifestyle pretty low in toxins. Their traditional diet would make Natasha Campbell-McBride proud. In fact, at a recent conference where she spoke, attendees were buying up raw dairy and homemade sauerkraut from the local Amish vendors like it was going out of style. If anyone’s making money off alternative treatments for autism, maybe it’s the Amish! :)

    Reply

    • sethmnookin

      3 years ago

      Genevieve — Hi! Also: more on autism rates among the Amish soon; today turned into a perfect storm of a sick wife, a cranky baby, and an overdue deadline…
      s.

      Reply

  2. Genevieve

    3 years ago

    Hi! I hope wife is better, baby is calm, and deadline is getting met.

    I recently read Dr. Sears’s “The Vaccine Book” and Dr. Campbell-McBride’s “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” back to back and of course have more questions than I started with. I’d love to hear more about autism rates in different populations. My feeling is that proper nutrition (pre- and post-natal) can be profoundly protective against so many of these “new” conditions plaguing kids nowadays (I don’t mean diseases like whopping cough, but things like food allergies and ADHD, etc.)

    Reply

    • sethmnookin

      3 years ago

      “I recently read Dr. Sears’s ‘The Vaccine Book’…”
      Suffice it to say that I devote the better part of a chapter of my book to Sears. More soon…I promise.

      Reply

  3. Sullivan

    3 years ago

    A presentation was given at this year’s (2010) IMFAR conference. IMFAR is the International Meeting for Autism Research and is the largest scientific conference on autism.

    A group from the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine presented “Prevalence Rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among the Old Order Amish “. Their results then were “Preliminary data have identified the presence of ASD in the Amish community at a rate of approximately 1 in 271″.

    That number is not far off from the consensus value of about 1 in 100 in the general population. Certainly much more than the internet rumor mill would suggest.

    In their study they appear to have found a number of previously unidentified children. If you don’t look–or you don’t look closely–you don’t find.

    This is the problem with the “Amish Anomaly” idea. The idea predates Dan Olmsted’s entrance into the vaccine discussion. Mr. Olmsted picked up the idea and did a very weak attempt at finding autistics in Lancaster County. If you read his recent book (not that I am recommending it) you will see that his best information currently comes from another blogger. You see, Mr. Olmsted missed or avoided the “Clinic for Special Children” in Lancaster County. Hidden in plain sight. The Clinic has not only identified, but has reported upon autistic Amish.

    The Amish have no religious restriction against vaccination. Some communities have avoided vaccination, but a major effort has been successful in the past 20 years to increase vaccination rates amongst the Amish–another factoid that Mr. Olmsted could have discovered with a simple phone call or a quick stop at the Clinic.

    It saddens me that Mr. Olmsted has still not distanced himself from his mistakes. He had ample time to include information from the Hussman Institute, or to actually contact the Clinic for Special Children before sending his book to press. He didn’t invent the idea of the lack of Autism amongst the Amish, but Mr. Olmsted carries the blame more than anyone for promoting the idea.

    Reply

  4. Latoya Bridges

    3 years ago

    What are the rates of autism in Amish communities? Anecdotally, they appear to live a lifestyle pretty low in toxins. Their traditional diet would make Natasha Campbell-McBride proud. In fact, at a recent conference where she spoke, attendees were buying up raw dairy and homemade sauerkraut from the local Amish vendors like it was going out of style. If anyone’s making money off alternative treatments for autism, maybe it’s the Amish! :)

    Reply

  5. AutismNewsBeat

    3 years ago

    I wrote about The Amish Anomaly here:

    http://autism-news-beat.com/archives/29

    Mr. Olmsted has a stubborn resistance to walk back his absurd claims about the Amish and vaccines. His answer thus far has been “I’m not talking about it anymore.” Naturally, that won’t stop the rest of us from exposing his nonsense.

    Reply

  6. Catherina

    3 years ago

    Genevieve,

    Bob Sears, despite all the research he claims to have done over the past 13 years or so pulls vaccination recommendations out of thin air. Nothing of what he writes is supported by the literature and the man would not recognise good or bad science if you rolled it up and whacked him with it (believe me, I have tried). The man is a public health threat. I am waiting for the day where the parents of child injured through one of his recommendations will sue him for the ignorant nonsense he spews.

    Reply

  7. John Best

    3 years ago

    Could you possibly be ignorant enough to truly believe that all of the mercury is gone from vaccines? I think Harvard teaches people better reading comprehension than that.
    The flu shot still contains the full 25 mcg’s of thimerosal. All you have to do is check with the CDC site to verify this. In 2009, when they advised pregnant women to receive three flu shots, they were giving one pound fetuses 48 times the dose of mercury that they used to receive with the HepB shot through the mother. That’s in the USA. The rest of the world, aside from a few wealthy countries, still receives the full dose of mercury in all of the shots.
    Comparing the flu shot to the HepB shot is important. The key to causing autism is to shoot the mercury into the victims before they have a blood brain barrier that can keep it out of the brain. We saw the largest increase in autism in 1994 among three year olds, three years after the HepB shot was introduced. In 1993, autism was zero in NH and MS and started skyrocketing in 1994. I know you like to use fallacious arguments of false analogies to try to swipe this aside so you have to look at some other facts if you want to be truthful, something I know you aren’t doing here. Nobody could possinly be that stupid, especially with a degree from Harvard.
    I’m going to stop here because I suspect a liar like you will just delete this. However, I’ll check back to see if you want to have your head handed to you because neither you nor any member of the medical profession can avoid looking like a total jackass if you choose to argue this topic with me.

    Reply

  8. John Best

    3 years ago

    Congratulations on not deleting my comment. That leaves open the possibility that you could have been duped into writing the nonsense you write and you might not be a dishonest slug in the employ of the Rothschild family and their associates. If that’s the case, maybe I’ll be able to teach you the truth and you can recant the garbage you’ve spouted on CNN and other places.

    Take a look at this http://hatingautism.blogspot.com/2008/10/harvard-finds-cause-of-alzheimers.html?zx=e3b0d542d51b39cf and see if you can understand the dishonesty prevalent in the medical industry. If it’s not immediately obvious to you, please ask questions and we can begin your education.

    Nobody on any major network will ever mention the APO proteins as related to autism because they know this will alert the general public to the truth. Parents like me have proven the validity of this information because we used Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) to remove the mercury from our kids’ brains and we watched our kids improve. AS you probably know from becoming an expert on autism, ALA is the only substance on Earth that can transport mercury through the blood brain barrier and out of the body.

    I know that the drug industry’s response to this is always to ask for studies. Well, those studies don’t exist but if you could use your influence with CNN and their owners, the Rothschilds to fund that study, I’d be happy to do it and give you the results. Other bogus studies on chelation were funded but they were designed to fail by virtue of the fact that they did not use ALA. Are you honest enough to address this?

    Reply

  9. Thomas

    3 years ago

    John

    While Big Pharma would love it if years of expensive chelation therapy cured autism, the evidence shows that it doesn’t. If you google “john best autism” you’ll find a fellow (coincidentally with your name) who reports that his son is still severely impaired in spite of years of chelation. So while you may have seen an improvement, he certainly did not.

    Reply
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