Special Education

Another Salvo Against “Eli Stone”

By Christina A. Samuels — January 31, 2008 1 min read

Just in case its position wasn’t clear yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics is promoting a mercury-in-vaccines study in its journal because of the controversy over the ABC drama “Eli Stone.” The show, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern time, features a lawyer who successfully argues that a mercury preservative in a vaccine caused a child’s autism.

The AAP demanded that the “reckless” episode be yanked, but ABC has agreed only to run a disclaimer.

The University of Rochester (N.Y.) study says that babies excrete thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines, much faster than originally thought. Therefore, the study’s authors claim there’s little chance that the chemical can build up and have toxic effects. Thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines given in the United States, but not in Argentina, where the study was conducted. The full study, which will appear in the February issue of Pediatrics, doesn’t appear to be online, but the university has written a press release on it.

Understandably, this issue has stirred up the always-passionate autism activists in the blogosphere. I’m not wading into this fight, but for those who are interested, here’s a blog post by author and journalist David Kirby, who believes there is a link between mercury and autism. And here’s a link by a blogger called “Orac,” who seeks to refute Kirby’s points.

I’d love to hear what readers think of the episode after it airs! Was it worth all the furor? Please come back and share your thoughts.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.