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Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy Paperback – February 21, 2006
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Avoiding hyperbole while writing about a possible medical catastrophe is no easy task, but David Kirby has created a fine balance of investigative and personal detail in Evidence of Harm. Combining stories from the parents of autistic children with reports, speeches and studies from researchers, pediatricians and government officials, he creates a picture that is as terrifying as anything dreamed up by Hitchcock.
The topic at hand is determining whether high levels of organic mercury present in an inexpensive preservative used in vaccinations can cause either autism or autism-like symptoms. Kirby's in a delicate position, searching for the truth between frantic parents (he focuses on the founders of political action group Safe Mind) and the self-protective pharmaceutical industry (the author thanks the nameless person who placed a pro-Eli Lilly litigation rider into the Homeland Security Act of 2002). He's also honest enough of a reporter to admit to the temptation of deciding mercury is the culprit behind a range of disorders, even in light of some inconclusive test results. The ultimate truth isn't clear, and Kirby is direct about each of the reasons his sources have for their biased opinions.
While some of the straight research reports will likely to go over the head of anyone not well versed in the terminology, the book is never dull--there is a continual urgency in the material that resists pedantry. However undecided the experts, readers will likely land firmly in one angry camp or the other. Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The first serious journalistic account of a highly controversial topic, Kirby's book addresses the front-page question: has a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal, commonly used in children's vaccines, caused a national epidemic of juvenile autism? Following the development of the debate through the eyes of a handful of impassioned parents who formed the political action group, Safe Minds, Kirby, an experienced writer for the New York Times, crafts an engrossing David and Goliath story from this controversy, one in which the giant is an amalgamation of big government bureaucrats and corporate pharmaceutical lobbyists. Whether the association between thimerosal and autism is real remains to be seen, as Kirby points out. The evidence, presented here in excruciating detail but clouded by the parents' editorializing, is inconclusive but suggestive. Readers inclined to believe the parents' case will be convinced that there has been a big conspiracy; readers inclined to be skeptical will likely view the parents as self-serving proselytizers who spin each piece of evidence to suit their forgone conclusions. Walking the middle line, Kirby acknowledges that "each side accuses the other of being irrational, overzealous, blind to evidence they find inconvenient, and subject to professional, financial, or emotional conflicts of interest that cloud their judgment." And though Kirby clearly sympathizes with the parents' tragic experience of autism in their families and their inherent desire for justice, and though he occasionally demonstrates a lack of understanding about the politics of scientific publication and the wording of scientific articles, his book remains one of the most thoroughly researched accounts of the thimerosal controversy thus far. This is the book for medical professionals and concerned parents to read. It's accessible in its handling of medical topics and compelling in its recounting of the parents' fight to advance their agenda in the face of both political and scientific roadblocks.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I actually don't understand how people who don't have a vested interest in this issue cannot at least accept that it is credible that thimerasol could be the environmental trigger that is causing autism in our kids (not in all cases, but in many of the 1 in 166). After all, mercury is a known neuro-toxin and thimerasol is nearly 50% organic ethylmercury (which is even more toxic that methylmercury because of its ability to bind itself at the cellular level). How can anyone think that putting a known neuro-toxin in amounts up to 100 times the levels deemed safe for full grown adults into infants with immature immune systems can be safe? And then repeating this several times in the first two years of a childs life. Also, is it a coincidence that the symptons of autism are the same for mercury poisoning? I would love to see someone from the CDC, FDA or NIH inject themselves with the equivalent amount of thimerasol that were given to our children (based on weight and taking into account the immature immunity systems that our kids had when they were injected immediately after birth). I bet you that even if offered a million dollars, that no one would do it because they know they're wrong (or at the very least aren't sure that they're right), but yet thimerasol is still safe to be in some vaccines that kids get.
Whether or not you believe thimerasol is the culprit, it is obvious that the government is trying to cover it up. The government has 2 conflicts of interest when it comes to this issue. One is obviously the money our representatives are getting from big pharma and the other is to protect the vaccine policy of this country. It would be ignorant of us to discount these major conflicts of interests. By the way, many people don't realize this, but this is also a foreign policy issue. We are now exporting many of our vaccines overseas to Third World countries. If you think the rest of the world hates us now, what do you think they will think of us when the truth comes out and they realize that we've exported autism to undeveloped countries. Anyway, I've gotten way too political here, all I can say is buy this book and buy one for your pediatrician and tell your friends that are pregnant or have young children to buy this book. As another poster noted, this book does read like a Grisham novel, but unfortunately it's true.
I will end this by quoting an interaction which is in Kirby's book. A well known pediatrician just gave a speech on the safety of vaccines and thimerasol. A father of an autistic child approached him and said "You know something, doctor? If it turns out that you are right, then I will personally come down to your office and apologize to you with every fiber of my being. But if it turns out that you are wrong, then you are going to hell". Well I think this story is going to end with alot of people going to hell and they will deserve it!!!
While it is true that Kirby paints a very sympathetic picture of those affected by autism, it is also clear from my reading of the book that those in a position to respond to many of the allegations raised were not interested in participating in an open evaluation of this issue. And then, why should they, when the CDC, IOM and FDA have already discounted the evidence that would suggest a link between mercury and autism.
Contrary to what some of this book's detractors would have you believe, Kirby does not suggest that any of the opponents of mercury are opposed to vaccines in general. The book makes it clear that the critics just want their vaccines to be safe, which means removing what can only be considered a neurotoxin from the vaccines. It should be remembered that mercury does not contribute to the efficacy of any vaccine, but only helps the manufacturer extend the shelf life of its product.
Kirby lays out some damning evidence, including the fact that only one repudiated study by Lilly was done in 1930 on the safety of thimerosal, and all the people in the study died of the disease being treated so that researchers could not point to any proof of safety. From that point forward, the question should have been where is the proof that thimerosal is safe, not where is the proof that it is not? Also unanswered by the critics of the autism-mercury connection is the question of what is causing the autism epidemic if not mercury?
Kirby's book raised this and many other critical questions, and is a must read for anyone affected by autism. Unfortunately, the main stream media has to date demonstrated very little interest in this book, so that the only people likely to hear about it or read it are those who have been affected or know someone who has been affected.
Kirby does an excellent job of outlining the issues in this controversy, and also proposed treatment methods for those who believe that their child has been poisoned and could benefit from removing mercury from his/her system. I strongly recommend it.