March 02, 2006

I Don't Believe In Chelation Therapy

On to a serious subject here. I write this as a parent of three children who have been diagnosed with autistic-spectrum related disorders. There has been a lot written about what appears to be an epidemic of Autism these days. Many have speculated as to the specific causes, none have been proven. I personally feel it's a complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors combined with an ever-broadening diagnostic criteria. Hopefully, one day, medical science will figure it out.

One therapy de jour that has become popular (and is very expensive) is called Chelation. This therapy operates under the premise that Autistic-related disorders are caused primarily by the mercury in Thimerosal, a preservative that was used in childhood vaccinations. Those who offer "Chelation" therapy claim that it removes the mercury and - over time - will "cure" the condition.

Look, I understand the pain, anger and frustration that parents of a child with autism feel. I understand it three times over. I have nothing but empathy for these folks who desperately want to do anything they can to find a cure. But having researched this myself, the evidence is overwhelming to me that Chelation is at best a scam and at worst an even greater threat to the child's health. You can find plenty of sources on the internet that debunk the claims about Chelation including sites here and here.

I've avoided this subject because I know there is a lot of hostility out there for those who question it. Politics is one thing, but this is personal. I was always doubtful about Chelation but the best evidence I have against the validity of the Thimerosal claim is one simple fact: The last lot of thimerosal-containing vaccines expired in January 2003. My youngest son, who has been diagnosed with mild "classic" autism, the most severe condition of the three boys, was born in June 2003. If the claims of the Thimerosal crowd are valid, then the incidences of diagnosed autistic-spectrum disorders should now be plummeting. Since this didn't happen in countries like Canada and Denmark who mandated removed of Thimerosal from vaccines back in the 1990's, I'm highly skeptical it will happen in the U.S. now.

What spurred this post was something related to me by Orac at Respectful Insolence. He has written extensively on the subject and he recently came across a story that shows how this Chelation movement has gotten even more bizarre. I urge anyone who has even a passing interest in this topic to read it in full. It's an eye-opener.

Posted by: Gary at 11:30 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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