4/03/02 - Autism & Mercury

Parents make sure their children get their immunizations to keep them safe from diseases, but one Heartland mom says the mercury in some shots is the reason her little boy has autism. Until the last few years, some immunizations have had high levels of mercury in them. On a national level there have been numerous civil lawsuits against the makers of these shots, drawing a link between the mercury and autism. Leighanne Collier is one of those people wondering how safe they are. She says immunizations may be to blame for her son's autism.

It's been over a year since 2 and a half year old Ethan Collier's family found out he has autism. His mother, Leighanne Collier says, "He's not developing like a typical child should, like stacking blocks and rings, reading books." Collier thinks the immunizations Ethan got when he was a baby, plays a significant role in why he's autistic. "We know that Ethan received several vaccines that were from multi dose vials that have thimerisol," Collier says. Collier says Ethan's symptoms are similar to those of a person who's been poisoned with mercury. Dr. Lee Armstrong is a pediatric hospitalist at Southeast Hospital. He says mercury was originally put in vaccines so children would avoid getting infections from multi-dose vials. He says mercury in vaccines isn't to blame for autism. "We do know that autism is on the increase, but we don't know why. It may be the pollution in the air, things we're eating or drinking, but what I can tell you is studies show it's not because of immunizations," Dr. Armstrong says.

Now when children go to their local health department or their pediatrician to get vaccines, there won't be thimerisol in the shots, because in the summer of 2000, all thimerisol was removed from child vaccines. Collier says it's just a sign that parents need to be aware of the vaccines their children are getting. "It's one of those things that we thought everyone knew about. It's just up to parents to think about it ." Dr. Armstrong says that immunizations are safe and the most dangerous thing would be to not give your child his or her recommended shots."