The great portal/blog Left Brain / Right Brain has a lengthy post on current research dealing with potential causes of autism. The post offers links to multiple peer-reviewed studies underway on the familiar suspects, ranging from mercury to the age of parents.
Of course, no amount of research will influence the zealots, but I can at least suggest reading the actual studies underway:
- GENE-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTIONS IN AN AUTISM BIRTH COHORT
- AUTISM IN A FISH EATING POPULATION (a study of a population exposed to high levels of mercury)
- NEUROIMMUNOTOXICOLOGY OF MERCURY
- GENETIC SUSCEPTIBILITY TO MERCURY-INDUCED IMMUNE DYSFUNCTION IN AUTISM & ASD
Again, I can only suggest reading and following the research. Many of the early findings demonstrate what we already know: mercury and other toxins are dangerous. What the findings do not, at least not yet, demonstrate is that mercury or other heavy metals are the primary cause of autism.
Mercury exposure in adults does cause neurological damage. This is generally not genetic in nature, but is serious neurological damage affecting the brain and central nervous system. When we find genetic markers, that is a different form of damage. Birth defects can be caused by toxins, without a doubt.
It is unlikely we will locate a single cause for the genetic damage associated with some types of autism. I do not believe mercury will be a major factor, but data are needed. I also hope people understand that genetic damage cannot be caused by a vaccine -- genetic damage occurs before birth. This does not mean the mother or father wasn't exposed to toxins or other factors causing damage to DNA passed on to a fetus.
My point is that we should follow serious research. It is underway and should help eliminate some theories. Research can only disprove the null, it cannot prove with complete certainty anything. Again, that's very difficult to explain, so I won't try in this posting.
I'm hoping the research projects exclude a great many theories so we can move ahead.