Sometimes pseudoscience frustrates me, sometimes it makes me really angry, and sometimes it just makes me really sad.
An article in the May – August edition of The New Zealand “Journal” of Natural Medicine fits under the sad category. It is copied from an online posting called How I Gave My Son Autism, written by “Mountain Mama”.
In this piece, “Mountain Mama” lists all the “unforgiveable” things she did during her pregnancy which “gave” her son autism.
- getting ultrasounds
- drinking coca cola, containing the “highest levels of mercury due to the HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) in it”
- using Lortab/acetaminophen to treat her fibromyalgia
- allowing pitocin to be used to induce labour
- having a C-section
- using antibiotics
- getting her son vaccinated
- giving her son acetaminophen/paracetamol
- giving her son fluoridated water
It is sad reading this list because as far as I am aware there is NO reliable evidence supporting a link between many of these claims and autism.
Also there is no consideration of the risks that some of these practices may have avoided. For example, antibiotics treat potentially life threatening infections, paracetamol treats fever, and C-sections can reduce other risks during pregnancy.
With regards to mercury in HFCS, I would be more concerned with the consumption of too much HFCS than of any mercury being present in it. While mercury has been reported as being detectable at 0.062 parts per million in one sample, there is no evidence that this (very low) amount is consistently present as other coca cola samples have shown no detectable levels.
Some of the evidence gathered by “Mountain Mama” appears to have come from an article called Common Obstetrical Practices and their Link to Autism by Jeanne Ohm, a Doctor of Chiropractic. Others from health websites and government lobby groups.
Just as disturbing is the comments section, which in parts, serves as an echo (and amplification) chamber for ideas about causes of autism, where others point out not to forget about mercury in fillings, Lyme disease or electromagnetic radiation, while others dismiss the idea of autism having a genetic contribution.
It’s depressing to see this sort of guilt and self flagellation based on misinformation.