By: Jie Zhang and John J. Wheeler
The prevalence of autism has increased approximately four times in children in nearly one decade (California Health and Human Services Agency, 2003). It has been reported that explanations such as immigration, shifts in the interpretation of diagnostic criteria, improved identification, or diagnostic accuracies cannot explain the observed increase (Geier & Geier, 2005). One potential cause that has alarmed many has been the presence of thimersol, the mercury-based preservative found among immunizations. Although many refute this, concern has been leveled by many families and professionals concerning the potential impact of mercury poisoning as a causal factor. Researchers have proposed that autism may be in part caused by mercury, because there was cumulative mercury exposure through dental amalgam, fish consumption, environment pollution, and additionally, through increased thimerosal-containing vaccines for both mothers and newborns (Mutter, Naumann, Schneider, Walach, & Haley, 2005). The purpose of this study is to review the information from studies concerning the relationship between mercury exposure and autism.