An epidemiological analysis of the 'autism as mercury poisoning' hypothesis

Austin, David 2008, An epidemiological analysis of the 'autism as mercury poisoning' hypothesis, International journal of risk and safety in medicine, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 135-142.

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Title An epidemiological analysis of the 'autism as mercury poisoning' hypothesis
Author(s) Austin, DavidORCID iD for Austin, David
Journal name International journal of risk and safety in medicine
Volume number 20
Issue number 3
Start page 135
End page 142
Total pages 8
Publisher IOS Press
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2008
ISSN 0924-6479
Keyword(s) autism
precautionary principle
pink disease
Summary Where direct experimental research into a causal hypothesis of a disease is impossible due to ethical and practical considerations, epidemiological inference is the accepted route to establishing cause. Therefore, to examine the autism as mercury poisoning hypothesis, this paper reviews the existing scientific literature within the context of established epidemiological criteria and finds that the evidence for a causal relationship is compelling. Exposure to mercury (via vaccines and maternal dental amalgam) in utero and during infant years is confirmed; mercury poisoning is known to cause symptoms consistent with autism; animal modeling supports the link and, critically, mercury levels are higher in both the urine and blood of autistic children than in non-autistic peers. Analogous to epidemiological evidence of the smoking–lung cancer relationship, a mercury–autism relationship is confirmed. The precautionary principle demands that health professionals not take an action if there is suspicion that the action may cause severe or lifelong health effects: it does not require certainty. Therefore, given the severity, devastating lifelong impact and extremely high prevalence of autism, it would be negligent to continue to expose pregnant and nursing mothers and infant children to any amount of avoidable mercury.
Language eng
Field of Research 179999 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2008, IOS Press
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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