Lyn Redwood RN, MSN

My son weighed in at close to 9 lbs. He was a happy baby who ate and slept well, smiled, cooed, walked and talked all by one year.  Shortly after his first birthday he experienced multiple infections, lost speech, eye contact, developed a very limited diet and suffered intermittent bouts of bloody diarrhea. He had multiple evaluations he was initially diagnosed with a global receptive and expressive speech delay, an auditory processing disorder and ultimately autism.

I didn’t make a connection between my son’s disability and his vaccines until July of 1999 when I read that a preservative, thimerosal, utilized in some infant vaccines actually contained 49.6% mercury.  I reviewed my son’s vaccine record and found out that all of his early vaccines had contained thimerosal.   Even worse, because my blood type is RH Negative, I had also received Rho(D) immune globulin products at 14 weeks and 28 weeks gestation that contained 130 mcg of thimerosal!  While “acceptable” levels for exposure are published by Federal agencies, mercury is a poison at any level.

My baby boy had received 125 times his allowable exposure on a single day.  His total mercury exposure was 237.5 mcg in his first 18 months.  I wondered if these neurotoxic exposures could account for his regression and autism.  Since he was 5 ½ years old when I found out about his mercury exposures, I didn’t know what his mercury levels had been prenatally and as an infant.  I had almost given up on finding an answer when I came across a lock of hair from his first haircut at 20 months of age.  I sat staring at his beautiful brown locks, knowing I would have to part with them to answer this nagging question.  With little hesitation, I packed them off to the lab. His baby hair had 4.8 ppm mercury. According to the EPA, mercury action levels are 1 ppm or greater and 5 ppm is diagnostic for mercury toxicity.  Since he had never eaten fish or seafood nor had dental amalgams, there was no other plausible source for his mercury levels except thimerosal exposure from his vaccines and the Rho (D) immune globulins.

When I first discovered my son’s mercury toxicity in July of 1999, I spent every free moment investigating the issue. As a nurse and a member of the Board of Health for our county, I felt an urgency to share my findings and concerns about thimerosal with other professionals and our federal agencies.  I did research, I made phone calls, I wrote letters and I went in person to meet with FDA, NIH and CDC officials to voice my concerns, and show data on mercury levels of other children with developmental delays who were also exposed to thimerosal in their vaccines.  All of my efforts fell on deaf ears.

I had done everything right; I ate organic, exercised, and endured caffeine withdrawal headaches the first two weeks of my pregnancy without even taking a Tylenol! I researched the safest car to drive and the best car seat to use, but I didn’t do my homework on vaccines. I had assumed that vaccines would be held to the highest safety standards since they were given to healthy infants. I could not have been more wrong.

When your child suffers a vaccine injury, your doctor will say “It was not the vaccine; it was just a coincidence.” and you will be left alone to pick up the pieces of what once was a healthy, happy child like my son. If you speak out and tell others about what happened to your child you will be labeled “anti-vaccine” and if you tell your story publically, you may receive death threats, as I have.  Talking about improving vaccine safety for our kids should not be taboo.

If I had one “do-over” in my life, (and I have made a lot of mistakes) it would be not following the CDC vaccine schedule and vaccinating my son. But we don’t get do-overs, so we have to get it right the next time. The only thing I can do is pay it forward by telling other parents the facts about our nation’s vaccine program, the conflicts of interest at the CDC, and the lack of solid vaccine safety research, in an effort to provide them with the information that I did not have back in 1994.

This is why I do what I do.  I want to make sure other healthy, happy babies, like my son, are not harmed in the name of the greater good.