Autism: Treatment-Chelation of Mercury

We currently have over 500 autistic patients under treatment with DMSA ranging in age from 1 to 24 years old. In general, we do not expect to see any behavioral, language, or social improvements until at least some of the CNS mercury has been removed. As of 1/15/01, we had 85 patients who had finished DMSA alone and had completed at least 4 months of DMSA + lipoic acid. The results of treatment in these patients are presented below:

n = 85 Improvement (%)
Age Number Marked Moderate Slight None
1-5 40 35 39 15 11
6-12 25 4 28 52 16
13-17 16 0 6 68 26
18+ 4 0 0 25 75

Once lipoic acid is added, we usually track mercury excretion via tests of fecal mercury. We have noticed a large dependence of excretion on age of patient with the younger patients excreting much more mercury than the older patients. We think this difference in rapidity of excretion may explain the differences in response between the various age groups. We have 6 patients, all 1 to 2 years of age who are finished with treatment by measurements of urinary and fecal mercury excretion. These 6 patients are “normal” by parent reports and repeat psychological testing. We have no children over the age of 2 who are finished with treatment. The rapidity of excretion seems to decrease markedly with each additional year of age. There are several children, mostly in the younger age groups, who have made remarkable progress to the point of being able to be mainstreamed in school, but who are still have some “oddities” of behavior — none of these children have completed treatment yet. These are very early results, but appear very promising. As more data is gathered, outcomes will be better able to be predicted, including length of treatment as well as ultimate prognosis. 

Amy S. Holmes, M.D.


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