Myth...The reason that boys represent 80% - 90% of the epidemic is that autism is an extreme form of the more rigid and scientific male mind.
Testosterone is a synergistic toxin with mercury which means that it enhances the toxicity of mercury in the body while estrogen appears to protect neurons and neuronal fibers from mercury's toxicity. This synergistic toxicity is the reason for the high ratio of males in the epidemic. Arguably the leading scientist on the toxicity of mercury, Boyd Haley, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Chemistry Department, University of Kentucky discusses the issue of testosterone and mercury:
"One of the conundrums of autism is the 4:1 ratio of boys to girls that get the disease. We therefore decided to test the effects of both female and male hormones on the neurotoxicity of thimerosal. The results were eye-opening. For example, 50 nanomolar thimerosal causes less than 5% neuron death within the first three hours incubation and 1 micromolar testosterone causes no significant death within this time frame. However, mix these two together and 100% neuron death was observed at the earliest time point checked. This represents a severe enhancement of thimerosal toxicity."
Myth...Autism is a complex, multi-factorial epidemic. There are many different causes that all work together. Mercury may be one of the factors in creating autism, but saying it is only mercury is way too simplistic.
The symptoms of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders are identical to the symptoms of mercury poisoning. The rapid rise in the number of these disorders corresponds to the dramatic increase in the amount of Thimerosal (49.6% ethylmercury by weight) given in recommended vaccines to children under two years of age. With the addition of two new vaccines in the early 1990s, the amount of ethylmercury increased 246% with most of this increase being given within the first six months of life when an infant's neural, detoxification, and immune systems are all undergoing rapid development. Equally damaging, the vaccines were given much earlier in a child's life, when the capacity to detoxify is still developing. Numerous studies demonstrate again and again the causal link between neurodevelopmental disorders and mercury, regardless of the source of exposure. Finally and most definitively of all is that when mercury is removed from these children via chelation or other means of detoxification, their symptoms resolve.
What has made mercury difficult to identify as the culprit is that mercury toxicity is cumulative and progressive with a delayed onset. Symptoms can take months to appear, long after exposure, making it difficult to see the clear link. It is also exceedingly difficult to test for mercury toxicity in affected children. Mercury poisoning also manifests itself in an astonishing array of symptoms in different people. Differences in manifestations are due to individual biochemistry and genetic susceptibilities, gender, amount of mercury received, age of exposure, form of mercury, and the presence of other synergistic toxins during exposure, to name a few.
Mercury alone is not the cause of all of these symptoms, but it is the spark that sets off a cascade of damage in the body. Mercury progressively kills neurons in the brain and damages the central nervous system leading to a wide range of neurological, cognitive, and sensory dysfunctions. Mercury displaces specific, essential vitamins and minerals, the loss of which go on to create their own damage in the brain, immune, hormonal, and virtually every other system in the body. Mercury impairs the detoxification system allowing all other toxins, which are ubiquitous in our environment, to accumulate and do damage in the body. Mercury damages the gastro-intestinal track creating dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria) and yeast overgrowth. Yeast, itself, is a neuro-toxin and allowed to proliferate, can create tiny holes in the lining of the gastro-intestinal track leading to a condition called Leaky Gut. Molecules of digested food, larger than typical, are able to pass through these holes into the bloodstream where the body recognizes them as foreign invaders and mounts an immune response, triggering food allergies, eczema, and other auto-immune reactions. Untreated food allergies and a damaged gut can lead to chronic ear and other infections. Treating these with antibiotics, as is a typical history with many autistic children, only makes matters worse. Antibiotics exacerbate gut dysbiosis and, like testosterone, are synergistically toxic with mercury. Damage to the gastro-intestinal track, which is the body's first line of immune defense, lowers the immune system.
The symptoms of mercury poisoning are varied and complex. But, the cause is simple and always will be: mercury toxicity. Remove the spark and the body has a chance to balance and heal.