A study of mercury levels in the baby hair of children who were later diagnosed with autism has produced startling results. The babies had far lower levels of mercury in their hair than other infants, leading to speculation that autistic children either do not absorb mercury or, more likely, cannot excrete it.

The results will be seized upon by parents who blame vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal for their children’s autism, some of whom are suing health authorities in the US and Canada. (The MMR vaccine that some accuse of triggering autism, despite a lack of credible evidence, does not contain mercury.)

But while the study’s findings support the theory that some children have a genetic fault that makes them far more susceptible to mercury poisoning, the results certainly do not prove this, or that thimerosal is involved.

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