Thursday, February 12, 2004

New Insight into the Mercury/Developmental Disability Connection

I've been avidly but quietly following the mercury/autism stories. While we are fortunate in many ways with our child, there are some chronic health issues that keeps us on our toes, the major one being extremely debilitating migraines related to consuming certain things such as preservatives, MSG, nitrates, and such. That's why you'll see us hanging out at the local health food store. Being the prototypical Mothering magazine type of mom, I've also been quite concerned about the ongoing vaccine concerns, first with thimerosal, now with other vaccine components such as fetal bovine serum (trace quantities, I know).

This study is the first I've seen that looks at dysfunctional cellular mechanisms underlying heavy metal poisoning. The results are so hot that publication date was moved up by two months, something that is extremely rare in basic science research. Methylation is one of those basic cellular processes that if it is disrupted or altered in any way, would probably result in something serious, especially in a developing organism. That's because methylation is also one of the many ways gene expression is regulated, meaning if you mess with methylation, you can mess up development. And, apparently, growth factor signaling of one type at least, which in turns affects methylation, is altered by heavy metal exposure, such as mercury.

Industry propaganda will undoubtedly push the negatives of this study. They are easy to list and not so easy to debunk, such as transferability of results created in vitro to an in vivo situation.

Nonetheless, I think this work is extremely significant and will lay the foundations for more targeted research.

More discussion at The Bloviator.

Addendum: And definitely more discussion at Wampum on MMR, (the lack of) mercury, and the presence of live virus in vaccines.