Mercury exposure linked to high rate of hospitalization for cerebral palsy
Males in Sarnia, Thunder Bay, Cornwall face five times more risk, researcher says
By MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT
UPDATED AT 10:09 AM EDT Saturday, Jun 12, 2004
Three Ontario communities that have had large industrial releases of mercury have hospitalization rates for cerebral palsy among boys and men that are up to five times higher than the average in the rest of the province, a new research paper shows. Prenatal exposure to mercury compounds has been linked to the development of cerebral palsy in males, causing concern that environmental pollutants may be responsible for the high readings.
The areas with the high rates are along the St. Clair River around Sarnia, at five times the average, Thunder Bay on Lake Superior, at 3.3 times the average and the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall at 2.4 times the average. The three areas have had large mercury discharges from chemical companies. Most of the plants were shut in the 1970s, but the one in Cornwall operated up to the mid-1990s.
The total amount of mercury that leaked into the environment around the three Ontario communities -- at about 600 tonnes, is far larger than the 135 tonnes that caused the massive mercury-poisoning outbreak in Japan around Minimata Bay in the 1960s.
"We have an indication, based on this, that there are communities around the Great Lakes . . . that appear to have effects occurring as a result of these exposures," said Michael Gilbertson, author of the paper, which is to be published in the journal Environmental Research. Cerebral palsy is a crippling birth defect that afflicts about one in 500 children, damaging areas of the brain and leading to impaired body movements. It is not known why male fetuses are more susceptible to mercury exposure.
The paper said two communities along Georgian Bay -- Collingwood and Severn Sound, also had elevated rates of male hospitalizations of up to four times the average. Although these areas did not have industrial mercury discharges, they lie in a region that has high naturally occurring levels of the element in rocks and soil. Mr. Gilbertson, a biologist, compiled the paper based on research he conducted at the International Joint Commission, the U.S.-Canada body that monitors pollution levels on the Great Lakes. He retired from the IJC earlier this year, and the organization has not formally endorsed the paper.
The health data were taken from Health Canada statistics on disease rates around each of the 17 heavily polluted spots on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. Health Canada compiled the statistics in a report it issued in 1999, but has not published more recent data. If mercury exposure caused the elevated rates, it would be of great significance as an indication that the powerful metallic nerve poison has had a health effect on residents of the Great Lakes area. Diet is viewed as the main human exposure route for mercury. Dozens of health advisories warn about eating fresh-water fish in Ontario because the mercury they contain is a hazard, particularly to women of child-bearing age.
Environmental causes of cerebral palsy have not received as much study as other risk factors, such as early-term births and prenatal bacterial infections. Some experts caution that there are limitations to this new study because it is based on only hospitalization data. Nigel Paneth, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Michigan State University, said the majority of children with cerebral palsy are not put in hospital, and the Ontario figures could be skewed by a small number of patients receiving procedures. Cerebral palsy frequently leads to major leg operations.
He said the actual incidence of cerebral palsy by community is not well studied in North America. The hospitalization data showing the excesses among males in the three communities could be the result of other, unknown factors. "If there was some excessive cerebral palsy in some areas, it's still a long way before I'd be convinced that it relates to mercury." Mr. Gilbertson said there should be more research seeking to find out why the hospitalization figures he found among males are so different in the communities that have had high mercury discharges.
He said the rates of male and female hospitalization should be similar, and he could find no other explanations for the trend he observed.
© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Childhood epileptic seizures and cerebral palsy induced by hepatitis B vaccines: Case report
Presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Hyperbaric Oxygenation for Cerebral Palsy and the Brain-Injured Child Boca Raton, Florida July 25-28, 2001
Campbell AW, MD**, Anyanwu E, MS, PhD**, High W, MD, PhD**, Vojdani A. MT, PhD* **
Center for Immune, Environmental & Toxic Disorders 25010 Oakhurst, Suite 200, Spring, Texas 77386;
Tel: 281-364-1013 Fax: 281-364-0492.
*Immunosciences Lab, Incorporated, Beverly Hills, California. Center for Immune, Environmental & Toxic Disorders 25010 Oakhurst, Suite 200, Spring, Texas 77386; Tel: 281-364-1013 Fax: 281-364-0492.
Abstract Purpose: The causal involvement of adverse hepatitis B vaccines in cerebral palsy and epilepsy, remains controversial. In this study, we report a case report of a 21 month-old white female patient who presented with recurrent seizures and! manifested all characteristic features of cerebral palsy as a result of hepatitis B vaccines.
Methods: neuroimmunologic techniques, family history, and previous medical records were used to evaluate, correlate and ascertain whether cerebral palsy and epilepsy were a consequence of hepatitis B vaccines adverse effects.
Results: Abnormal EEG showed bilateral cerebral hemispheric disturbances with abnormal rhythmic and irregular delta wave activity was present suggesting an underlying cortical rhythms, less evident in the area of involvement. Furthermore, there was 4 Hz, paroxysmal bilaterally synchronous generalized focal theta activity suggesting damage to a non-specific thalmo-cortical region. Also, multiple theta wave discharges were seen independently arising from different regions of the hemispheres suggesting several potentially epileptogenic foci. The immunologic evaluation showed multiple antibody abnormalities including T helper/suppressor ratio and immune complexe! s. Certain abnormal antibodies found in epilepsy (IgG, IgA) were present in all the patients. There was an elevation of Mg2+ ions receptor function probably, as a result of autoimmune dysfunction.
Conclusions: Since there were no known family history of individuals with developmental problems, mental retardation, or seizure disorders, it then meant that her health condition was related to after birth events. Hence, those abnormalities that are associated with neurological dysfunctions, and characteristics that are found in cerebral palsy and epilepsy, are most likely associated with hepatitis B vaccines adverse effects.
Cerebral Palsy: What Is It and What Are Its Causes?
Cerebral Palsy Usually Caused by Infection, Not Oxygen Deprivation
04 Nov 2004
The brain injury that leads to cerebral palsy is more commonly associated with infection than with oxygen deprivation, a theory that conflicts with the "long-held belief" among many obstetricians that lack of oxygen is the main cause of the disorder, according to a study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the New York Times reports.
Dr. Ernest Graham, an assistant professor in the OB/GYN department at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study, and colleagues between 1994 and 2001 examined 150 preterm infants born with periventricular leukomalacia, a specific kind of brain damage that often develops into cerebral palsy. The researchers compared the infants with a control group of 150 premature infants without brain damage born during the same time period, according to the Times.
Oxygen deprivation was no more common in the infants with PVL than in the other premature infants, according to the researchers. In addition, infants delivered by caesarean section or those whose heart rates slowed during labor also were not any more likely than other infants to have PVL.
However, infants who had experienced one or more of 11 types of infections -- including staphylococcus infections or bacteria in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid or throat -- were much more likely to develop PVL than infants who did not have infections, the study says, according to the Times.
The findings have "important implications" for research and clinical practice, according to Graham, the Times reports. Finding ways to prevent and treat infections could have a "huge impact" on cerebral palsy, he added (Bakalar, New York Times, 11/2).
Researchers working on cerebral palsy vaccine http://www.skynews.com.au/health/article.asp?id=166498
Researchers working on cerebral palsy vaccine
Australian researchers are developing a vaccine to prevent one of the most common forms of physical disability. Cerebral Palsy has always been blamed on lack of oxygen at birth but researchers now believe it's caused by the herpes virius, passed on from the mother to the foetus. The virus attacks developing nerve cells in the baby's brain and while most can fight it off but about 1 in 500 have gene mutations which lower their immunity. There is currently no way to prevent disorder but researchers at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Sydney are working on a vaccine which could be given to teenage girls to immunise them against herpes virus. They're also working on how to repair the faulty genes.