January 01, 2004

a mercurial jeremiad

Mercury is a focus of my life, or at least it has been for the last six months. My Son has had mild developmental issues his entire life that most people would call Attention Deficit Disorder or hyperactivity. Clinically, they call it Sensory Integration Dysfunction and I won’t bore you with the details. Imagine the alarm as a parent though, being told that your child has a disorder that is grouped with what they call Autism Spectrum Disorders.

All the calm words about how mild his symptoms were did not do much for me.

After a year’s worth of occupational and speech therapy which had been a great help, but not a total solution, at the urging of some other parents we finally went to see an Allergist who specializes in such things. Testing revealed that my Son had high levels of mercury. We were pretty skeptical of the mercury chelation regimen and the special diet, but after some extensive research, we took the plunge.

The near immediate results left us dumbfounded.

The great news is that my Son has made radical progress in recent months and we will soon have him in not just a normal program, but if we can find a place we can afford, a gifted program. (This is my blog so I can do a little parental bragging.)

Imagine my horror when I read a recent column by Molly Ivins describing an attempted rollback of mercury emission regulation. Molly says it as well as it can be said, so I won’t repeat how tremendously stupid this is. You can find a little more background here.

Of course I would not be as attuned to this matter if it were not for my son, but facts are still facts. I don’t want to state numbers without doing research, but there are a bunch of children irreparably harmed by mercury. Yet we worry more about naked butts on NYPD Blue.

Something is tremendously wrong with that.

I’m betting that if this were a Gore administration wanting to roll back pornography regulation, this would be the lead story for a least a couple of weeks. And the mantra would be “remember the children!”.

The government has recently published studies proclaiming thimerosal (the mercury containing preservative used in vaccines) as safe as well. And there is no doubt the experts are right: it probably isn’t a problem for the majority of kids. But that doesn’t do much for the children who, like my son, have immune systems that do not adequately deal with mercury.

The insidious part of this one is that there are tons of studies by credible experts that show that mercury levels are directly tied to autism and autism spectrum disorders, yet the government and industry continues to tell us that injecting mercury compounds into our kids is not a problem. And maybe it would be worth the risk if not for the simple fact that thimerosal-free vaccines are available. In fact, if I understand correctly, thimerosal containing vaccines have been partially outlawed at this point, but there are still many vaccines that contain thimerosal being administered by doctors. At the risk of over-reaching, I won’t hesitate to tell you that a parent armed with this information is an idiot to just accept even a small potential of mercury poisoning.

But then, you don’t get a choice about the mercury dumped by industry.

It isn’t much consolation to me to know that the children and grandchildren of the rich and powerful will be equally affected by the toxins in our world. I just can’t be as indifferent to the plight of children of the rich and powerful as they are to mine. I suppose I am weak in that way.

God help us all.

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