Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 949–960 | Cite as

Mercury-associated diagnoses among children diagnosed with pervasive development disorders

  • David A. Geier
  • Janet K. Kern
  • Lisa K. Sykes
  • Mark R. Geier
Original Article


Nelson and Bauman (Pediatrics 111:674–679, 2003) previously hypothesized that pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) was not associated with mercury (Hg) exposure because the medical conditions associated with Hg exposure were not associated with PDD. A hypothesis-testing longitudinal case-control study evaluated the frequency of medically diagnosed conditions previously associated with Hg poisoning, including: epilepsy, dysarthria, failure to thrive, cerebral palsy, or contact dermatitis and other eczema among children preceding their eventual PDD diagnosis (cases) compared to controls. A retrospective examination of medical records within the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) was undertaken. Cases diagnosed with PDD (n = 534) were born from 1991 to 2000 and continuously enrolled until their PDD diagnosis. Controls (n = 26,367) were born from 1991 to 1993 and continuously enrolled from birth for 7.22 years. Within the first 5 years of life, cases compared to controls were significantly (p < 0.0001) more likely to be assigned a diagnosis of contact dermatitis and other eczema (odds ratio (OR) = 2.033), dysarthria (OR = 23.992), epilepsy (OR = 5.351), failure to thrive (OR = 25.3), and cerebral palsy (OR = 4.464). Similar results were observed when the data were separated by gender. Overall, the results of the present study and recently published studies provide direct evidence supporting a link in twelve of twelve categories (100%) of Hg poisoning associated symptoms as defined by Nelson and Bauman (Pediatrics 111:674–679, 2003) and symptoms observed in those with a PDD diagnosis. The results of this study support the biological plausibility of Hg poisoning to induce PDD diagnoses and rejection of the Nelson and Bauman (Pediatrics 111:674–679, 2003) hypothesis because those with a PDD diagnosis have an increased frequency of conditions previously associated with Hg poisoning.


Asperger’s disorder Autism Autistic disorder Mercury Pervasive developmental disorder 



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Institutional Review Board


International Classification of Disease, 9th revision


Kaiser Permanente North-West


Kaiser Permanente Northern California


odds ratio


pervasive developmental disorders




Vaccine Safety Datalink


Author’s contribution

David Geier: Mr. Geier conceptualized and designed the study, carried out the initial analyses, drafted the initial manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. Janet Kern: Dr. Kern critically reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. Lisa Sykes: Ms. Sykes critically reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. Mark Geier: Dr. Geier conceptualized and designed the study, drafted the initial manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

There are no competing financial interests. The authors were previously involved in vaccine/biologic litigation. Dr. Mark Geier, Mr. David Geier, and Dr. Janet Kern have been involved as consultants and expert witnesses for petitioners in the no-fault National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and have also been consultants and expert witness for plaintiffs in civil litigation. They are not involved in any current cases, have not been involved in any cases for several years, and have no plans to be involved in any future cases. Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier are directors of the Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., and CoMeD, Inc. Lisa Sykes is the President of CoMeD, Inc. No other authors have a management or directorship position at the Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., or CoMeD, Inc.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute of Chronic Illnesses, IncSilver SpringUSA
  2. 2.CoMeD, IncSilver SpringUSA
  3. 3.CONEM US Autism Research GroupAllenUSA

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