There has been a raging controversy during the last fewyears about whether the mercury preservative in childhoodvaccines is the cause of autism, which is reaching epidemiclevels in the West. Some insist it is, while others say thatit only seems that way, because autism begins to manifestaround the age that children receive their vaccinations.It’s known to run in families. Autism has been called the”geek disease” and some researchers say it comes from ahaving a brain that is too “male”?that is, too analyticaland not empathetic enough. But none of this is any comfortfor parents who desperately want their kids to be normal.Now additional evidence has been uncovered that shows thatwhile vaccines may not directly cause autism, heavy metalpollution, including the mercury-based preservative invaccines, probably plays a major role in the condition.

Serena Gordon writes in that autistic childrenhave been found to have significantly lower levels of anantioxidant called glutathione, which is the major substancein cells that eliminates environmental toxins. Autisticchildren have about 80% less of this. Lower levels ofglutathione would increase the level of “oxidative stress,”meaning that antioxidants in the body are not able to clearthe body of free radicals, which can also cause cancer.These days, we’re being advised to eat brightly coloredfoods (including chocolate and red wine), which are high inantioxidants. Autistic kids are more sensitive toenvironmental exposure to free radical pollution from heavymetals (such as mercury), and are less able to detox from them.

Pediatrician S. Jill James says that while autism isbelieved to have a genetic basis, there’s an unknownenvironmental trigger that brings it out. This “trigger” hasremained a mystery until recently. James found it bycomparing blood samples from autistic and normal children.However, she says it could be a consequence, rather than acause, of the disorder.

Since autism is a relatively new phenomenon, researchershave long known that it must be caused by something fairlynew in the environment. Some have even suggested it comesfrom using margarine in place of butter. However, it lookslike it can actually be traced to that most modern of allproblems: pollution. Heavy metal pollution comes from carexhausts (the same thing that causes most of our globalwarming), lead-based paint and industrial fumes, amongother things. This is the exact kind of pollution that theBush administration wants to ease controls on with its ClearSkies initiative.

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