Autism has been in the news a lot recently and over the last few years a connection has been suggested between possible causes of Autism and chronic mercury poisoning.

Autism is a multi-factorial neurological disorder and its causes are still unknown.

Some possible factors suggested are genetics and vaccinations containing thimerosal (a mercury containing preservative). However, both these theories fail to address those incidences of Autism where no vaccines were used yet Autism developed. Also, we are seeing a great increase in Autism recently so the genetics theory fails to answer this increase in incidence.

Several books have suggested that a chronic mercury exposure found in dental amalgam fillings may pose an indirect effect on our health.

I recently read an article by DR. Tom McGuire DDS where he states mercury fillings in the mother's teeth before time of conception causes the poisoning/exposure to the unborn fetus. This exposure can be compounded by the exposure of the child to multiple mercury containing vaccinations at an early age. The mother may also ingest mercury contaminated fish during her pregnancy. The suggestion is the route of mercury toxicity transmission is from the mother to the fetus via the placenta and breast milk causing damage to the neurological development-where the fetus has no defense or immune system to ward off the assault.

I had not considered this indirect theory of transmission before reading Dr. McGuire's article as a significant factor. Generally, we tend to easily grasp massive direct exposure to toxic chemicals (such as elemental mercury, radiation, etc) as a more believable /causative relationship in theory but I believe we all would agree exposure of any toxic chemical of any amount to a fetus should be avoided if possible.

I do not think anyone can really measure or tell us how much mercury we receive from our silver fillings nor how much mercury enters the fetus. In addition, trying to measure the short, long term damage it may cause or how much is needed to affect the neurological development of a fetus is equally challenging if not impossible. However, I do think that since we have alternative filling materials such as: composite resins (aka bonding /white fillings) or porcelain or zirconia, why would anyone take the risks of exposing themselves/their offspring to a potentially harmful material such as mercury? The American Dental Association and the FDA in 2010 had differing views on the safety of silver mercury fillings for the first time in history and the FDA placed a warning on mercury fillings as harmful to our health then later retracted it's warning due to pressure from the ADA.

I would suggest a thorough conversation between you and your dentist /doctor before choosing materials you place into your body. Remember, the final decision always lies between you and your health care professional and being well informed about your options is your responsibility and right. I look forward to future research that may shed more light on this subject!

Dr.Tatevossian is a Redlands Dental Expert. He has been a family Redlands dentist for more than 10 years. Among all Dentist in Redlands, he is regarded as the very best!

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