A LETTER TO DATELINE
Balance is something we’re not always used to seeing from a national media that is overly dependent on advertising revenue from the pharmaceutical industry. Along with the talking heads from the CDC and AAP telling us that we’re so wrong to believe we’re doing any good, however, NBC showed brief snippets of video evidence that recovery may be more than just a pipe dream (including a wonderful shot of Scott Shoemaker and his son who has come so far in so short a time).
Fifteen minutes (actually, a bit less) is too short a time to give a complete picture, but Dateline deserves a lot of credit for telling this story at all. Below is the text of an email my wife and I sent to NBC.
As the parents of an autistic child, we would like to thank NBC for presenting a fair and objective report concerning Dr. Jim Adams’ study of chelation. We are, quite frankly, not used to seeing such balance from the national media, and the staff of Dateline is to be commended for this report.
The possible connection between vaccines and autism is far too complex an issue to be presented in such a limited amount of time, and your failure to mention several key points is therefore understandable. That being said, the following should be noted.
First, although parent-driven advocacy groups are at the spearhead of the political debate, the scientific debate includes physicians and researchers on both sides. That is, the hypothesis of a connection between mercury and/or vaccines and autism has support within the scientific community.
Second, it oversimplifies the issue somewhat to focus on thimerosal as a direct cause. The fact is that ethylmercury not only causes direct neurological damage, but it can also harm immune systems in children to the point that there is an increased susceptibility to other environmental insults, including other heavy metals (such as lead) and even the attenuated live viruses found in vaccines that do not include thimerosal. It could be said that the immune system in these children is overwhelmed.
Third, chelation should not be viewed as a cure-all in itself, but rather as one part of a complete biomedical approach to autism. The decision to chelate can only be made after appropriate testing to ensure that metal toxicity is indeed a problem. Moreover, chelating heavy metals in a child whose immune system is unable to excrete the chelated metal from the body may not do the job. A complete approach takes into account the need for diet, supplementation of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics, and the introduction of glutathione. Additional therapies may also be needed to attempt undoing any permanent damage imposed by the mercury or other heavy metals.
Fourth, our understanding is that Dr. Adams’ study uses only DMSA as a chelator. In fact, there are at least three different chelators (DMSA, DMPS, and EDTA) that are used with various delivery means. Also, many physicians are employing natural chelators in children. What is appropriate for one child may not be appropriate in another, which points to the need for further studies beyond the work Dr. Adams is doing.
As Dr. Adams implied in your report, it is perplexing why nobody has yet conducted the clinical trials so many parents want to see done. A related question is why those who dispute the connection refuse to perform any clinical or biological studies that might shed light on the possible causal connection. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all rely on a handful of flawed epidemiological reports. The primary study on which they rest their case, and the only one they cite that actually looked at populations and exposures in the United States, was termed by its lead author as a “neutral” study, indicating that no conclusions could be drawn and more study was required. Somehow, our medical and scientific leaders have decided that “neutral” really means “negative.”
Finally, your report included a reference to chelation opponents bringing up the death of an autistic child as an argument against the procedure. What was not mentioned was that the tragedy in Pennsylvania occurred not because a child was being chelated, but rather because the wrong chelating agent was used. Instead of injecting the child with Calcium EDTA to chelate heavy metals, the treating physician, for reasons unknown, used Disodium EDTA, an agent designed specifically to chelate calcium. The result was hypocalcemia, which resulted in the loss of a young life. Although there are certainly many lessons to be taken from that incident, those lessons do not include an inherent danger of chelation performed according to appropriate protocols.
Again, we would like to extend our thanks to NBC, the staff of Dateline, and Dr. Jim Adams.
Wade and Sym Rankin