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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Activist moms warn of mercury danger in vaccines

By Amanda Lingerfelt, Rocky Mount Telegram

Two North Carolina mothers will visit the N.C. General Assembly Tuesday in support of a bill that will ban the use of thimerosal in vaccinations.

Amy Carson, founder of Asheville-based Moms Against Mercury, said thimerosal needs to be banned because it is dangerous to children. Her 9-year-old son, Kit, is autistic, and Carson said she believes his autism was caused by mercury poisoning.

"My son was born normal and fine. With each set of vaccines, he got worse," she said. "I didn't notice a lot of things until after his one-year shots. I can look at the videotapes now and see the subtle changes now that I couldn't see then."

Thimerosal is half mercury by weight and is metabolized in the body as ethyl mercury. Thimerosal can be found in numerous vaccines, including the flu vaccine.

Most children are able to break down mercury and release it out of their bodies, but Carson said her son is not capable of doing so. Since he was diagnosed with autism, Kit has been through different kinds of autism therapy, but nothing has worked, she said. When Kit began mercury detoxification through a transdermal patch, the improvement began, she said.

"We've seen incredible improvements since he started mercury detoxification," she said. "By age four, he wasn't talking much. Now, he talks all the time."

Carson is one of many anti-mercury activists across the country. Last week, supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Power of Truth Rally to push for mercury-free vaccinations. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-3rd District, spoke at the rally. Jones is a sponsor of a U.S. House bill that, if passed, would ban the use of thimerosal in vaccinations in the United States.

Jones said he became an advocate for thimerosal removal when he was approached by three women from Goldsboro who had autistic children.

"They came to see me because a few months before the visit, there was language inserted in a omnibus budget bill at the last minute that would prohibit parents from filing suit against Eli Lilly (the manufacturer of Thimerosal)," he said. "I was very upset when I heard that, and told them I would do everything I could."

Jones said it seems like a similar bill banning thimerosal is introduced each year and does not get passed. However, recent media exposure — including a "Rolling Stone" magazine article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. titled "Deadly Immunity" — has raised the public's awareness, and Jones hopes that the bill will pass this year, he said.

Carson, who lives in Asheville, and Angela Medlin of Cary will travel to Raleigh on Tuesday to speak in favor of the bill in front of the health committee. The bill is co-sponsored by N.C. Rep. Bruce Goforth, D-Buncombe, and N.C. Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

Six states — California, Iowa, Missouri, Delaware, Illinois and New York — have already passed similar legislation.

"We're hoping to make North Carolina number seven," Carson said.

Carson said 20 years ago, one in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism. Since the late 1990s when the government required children to receive as many as 22 immunizations before they reach first grade, that number has risen to one autistic child out of 166, she said.

Thimerosal-free vaccinations are available, but many companies continue using the ingredient because it's a preservative and allows vaccines to be packaged in multidose vials, resulting in less production costs, wrote Kennedy in his article.

"The mercury is not an important part in the vaccine. It enables them to mass produce it. That's what it all comes down to — money," Carson said.

Carson said because of the research and her own personal experience, she believes there is a direct link between thimerosal and autism. Jones said he sees a correlation, too. However, officials at public health institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., say they have conducted research that does not support that theory.

"The vast majority of science indicates that there is no relationship between thimerosal in vaccines and autism," said Von Roebuck, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But advocates including Carson and Kennedy say the research is conducted by biased researchers who have conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical companies.

Despite the controversy, Carson said the most important thing is to raise awareness so that parents will stop inoculating their children with a potentially harmful toxin.

"We're not anti-vaccine parents; we're anti-mercury-in-vaccine parents," Carson said. "Ask for all vaccine inserts and read them for yourself. ... I encourage every parent to do so."

Posted by Cy

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