Common Obstetrical Procedures and Their Link to Autism - Mercury in Pregnancy

Author // Jeanne Ohm, DC

Article Index
Common Obstetrical Procedures and Their Link to Autism
Mercury in Pregnancy
Restricted Maternal Position
Umbilical Cord Clamping
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Mercury in pregnancy

It has been known for a long time, that mercury is a toxic and dangerous substance adversely affecting fetal neurology. According to Web MD, “Mercury is very dangerous to children. Relatively low concentrations keep a child’s brain from developing normally. Kids with mercury-poisoning have problems with thinking, language, memory, motor skills, perception, and behavior.” Richard Weisman, MD, a toxicologist at the University of Miami School of Medicine and director of the Poison Control Center for South Florida tells us, “There is no doubt that mercury is one of the worst [toxins affecting the brain].”

There have been 4 primary sources of mercury exposure to pregnant women: The RHO(D) (Rhogam) shot, the flu shot, dental fillings, and fish. Although warnings of toxic mercury exposure by eating fish has gotten significant media press and acceptance, other forms of mercury exposure to pregnant women and infants has not.

The Rhogam and Flu Shots: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us, “Two groups are most vulnerable to methyl mercury: the fetus and pregnant women.” I can only question, why then, were mercury-laden Rhogam shots ever recommended for women during pregnancy? It wasn’t until 2001 that the FDA issued a voluntary recall of thimerosal from the Rhogam shot. This showed apparent concern for mercury toxicity via vaccine injection in pregnancy. Strangely enough, the very next year, the FDA began recommending flu shots for pregnant women and infants. The flu shot has the highest levels of thimerosal of all vaccines—as much as 25 micrograms of mercury, more than 10 times the safe limit for an infant. Its package insert has this disclaimer, “It is also not known whether influenza virus vaccine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman...” These blatant inconsistencies in our public “health” policies are frightening.

Dental Amalgam Fillings: For years there has been controversy about mercury-laden amalgam fillings and their potential risk. The American Dental Association has been defending their use for years, denying any potential harm from mercury leakage, however numerous studies have determined otherwise. After years of denial and questionable research, it finally took a law suit in 2008 to force the FDA to agree to alert consumers on its website about its potential risks.

It has become a sad state of affairs that the U.S. Government agencies support industry over individuals. It is so important that parents do not allow their practitioners to intimidate them by citing rhetoric and tainted data. Parents must actively seek providers that support and encourage their right to make informed health choices.


The use of Pitocin in labor has been associated with autism. Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, the naturally produced hormone in laboring women. Its use is wrought with side effects; the most common is increased blood pressure in both the mother and child. Pitocin is used for either labor induction or labor enhancement. The use of Pitocin does not, however, duplicate the natural progression of labor. Pitocin-induced labors have longer, harder, and more painful uterine contractions for the mother. More pain for the mother means greater fetal distress.

In either induced or enhanced use of Pitocin, the blood supply, and therefore the oxygen source to the uterus, is greatly reduced. With naturally-paced contractions, there is a time interval between contractions allowing for the baby to be fully oxygenated before the next contraction. In induced or enhanced labor, the contractions are closer together and last for a longer time, thus shortening the interval where the baby receives its oxygen supply. Reduced oxygen to the baby in labor has life-long consequences on the baby’s brain function.

Pitocin makes contractions unbearable, and almost every woman who has been given Pitocin will get an epidural to withstand the unnatural pain it causes. Once again we see how one intervention is the gateway to the next.


The Physicians Desk Reference cautions that “local anesthesia rapidly crosses the placenta...and when used for epidural blocks, anesthesia can cause varying degrees of maternal, fetal and neonatal toxicity.” It continues, “this toxicity can result in the following side effects: hypotension, urinary retention, fecal and urinary incontinence, paralysis of lower extremities, loss of feeling in the limbs, headache, backache, septic meningitis, slowing of labor, increased need for forceps and vacuum deliveries, cranial nerve palsies, allergic reactions, respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.” Many of these side effects result in multiple complications. For example, maternal hypotension causes bradycardia (decreased heart rate) in the fetus. This too decreases fetal oxygen supply resulting in brain dysfunction, fetal distress, and operative deliveries.

Additional side effects of epidurals relating to autism include: longer labors with slower progress, an increased use of Pitocin by more than 3 times, an increased use of forceps by as much 4 to 20 times, altered red blood cells that affect fetal oxygen levels, adverse behavioral effects of the neonate, and increased use of mechanically-assisted deliveries which lead to neurological damage from birth trauma.

Sarah Buckley, MD, cautions, “Epidural drugs can directly cause toxic effects to the fetus and newborn, whose drug levels may be even higher than the mother’s drug levels. It is also important to note that a newborn baby’s ability to process and excrete drugs is much less than an adult’s. Also, drug blood levels may not accurately reflect the baby’s toxic load because drugs may be taken up from the blood and stored in newborn tissues such as brain and liver, from where they are more slowly released.”