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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Local Mom To Protest Use Of Mercury In Vaccines

Oak Park Woman Says Thimerasol May Have Made Her Son Autistic

Mary Ann Childers
CBS2 Chicago

(CBS) More than 70 autism advocacy groups are converging on Capitol Hill to publicize what they’re calling an autism epidemic.

As Medical Editor Mary Ann Childers reports, one demonstrator is a mother of three from Oak Park who has a very personal reason for making the trip.

Six-year-old Charlie Blakely is autistic. His mother is convinced it’s because of a mercury-based preservative called Thimerasol in childhood vaccines.

“We want to be able to protect our children from disease, but we're not going to inject our children with mercury in order to do that,” said Christina Blakely.

Autism rates have been climbing since the late 1980s. Although repeated studies have found no definitive Thimerasol link, there’s been concern because of how often young children receive shots. In an earlier interview, one expert explained why.

"I think the Centers for Disease Control said that if you administer large number of vaccines to a child over a short period of time, you can build up mercury in the brain to levels which are potentially hazardous," said Daniel Hryhorczuk of the UIC School of Public Health.

As a precaution, Thimerasol was phased out of use in children’s vaccines starting in 1999, but it still appears in trace amounts and in some boosters and flu vaccines. That angers Christina.

“The only thing that mercury does, Thimerasol does in vaccines, is it makes it cheaper for pharmaceutical companies to manufacture it,” she said.

Christina says that babies who got all their shots in the early 90s were likely exposed to levels of mercury well beyond those considered safe by the EPA.

Several bills now before Congress would ban Thimerasol in vaccines. Several states, including Illinois, have already passed similar legislation.

But there’s only one way a parent can really know what’s in a vaccine.

“The only way you can know for sure is by checking the insert that comes along with the vaccine,” Christina said. “In the end, it's worth that little bit of discomfort with your doctor to make sure your child is not getting a Thimerasol-contained vaccine.”

The Washington rally is timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Organizers say they will call on doctors to treat autism like a medical illness, not just psychiatric. They also want a congressional investigation into mercury in vaccines.

(© MMV, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Posted by Becca

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