Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dear Moms Against Mercury,

After driving past your rally this morning, I started composing a snarky blog post in my head. One about how not to agitate for causes in which you believe. One in which I revealed the best-kept secret in the universe to you, which is this:

A protest incorporating homemade signs, screaming moms, children by a busy street, closed traffic lanes during rush hour, a man in an old-timey prison suit (think O Brother, Where Art Thou), pictures of children who once were not diagnosed with autism, then were diagnosed, references to that bastion of even-handed scientific debate, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and balloons (can't forget the balloons!) is still probably not going to convince the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that you are a serious group who is interested in getting to the truth about mercury and autism.

Okay, maybe I still needed to get a little snark out. I just looked at the MAM website, though, and the thing is, there are some heartbroken moms out there. It is impossible not to feel deeply for parents who have watched their children develop autism.

The part I don't understand, though, is why these parents cling so fervently to vaccines as the cause. There is good research out there that gives a fairly clear message: there isn't a demonstrable relationship between mercury in vaccines and autism. If I was a parent with an autistic child, I'd be working like hell to find out what factors truly could be associated with autism, and I'm pretty sure I'd be equally irritated with parents who were wasting time and resources chasing down a hypothesis that has been pretty thoroughly debunked.

So, Moms Against Mercury, I guess my advice to you is this. Take that fervor and put it towards something that might be useful. Forty protesters outside the CDC, clinging to shady research by Mark and David Geier, are simply not going to change immunization recommendations, nor should they. Agitate for good science, science which explores possible factors in autism in a controlled, objective way. Then, recognize that science when it knocks you upside the head. You'll be doing your kids a much bigger favor that way.

1 comment:

Heraldblog said...

Bravo, well said! Our kids need acceptance and understanding, not smelly creams and needles.