Suit: Fillings Caused Child’s Autism

[By Erica Werner Associated Press.]

The parents of an autistic 6-year-old sued the American Dental Association on Wednesday, alleging mercury in the mother’s nine dental fillings caused her son’s autism.

The lawsuit, for unspecified damages, alleges the toxic element was transmitted to Daniel Galeano through his mother’s fillings. Autism is a developmental disability caused by a neurological disorder.

ADA chief counsel Peter Sfikas said the lawsuit was without merit or scientific basis. The ADA says mercury in fillings is chemically bound with metals including silver, copper and tin into a “hard, stable and safe substance.”

Also named as defendants are the California Dental Association and more than 20 corporations that deal in materials used to produce amalgam fillings, which are about 50 percent mercury by weight. The lawsuit accuses them of fraud, negligence and illegal and deceptive business practices.

CDA officials said they wanted to review the lawsuit before responding. Daniel, who lives in Burbank with his mother Kathy, 37, and his father Fernando, has severe autism with symptoms including impaired social and communication skills, the complaint says.

Mercury is a highly toxic, naturally occurring element that has been associated with human neurological, reproductive and immune problems.

Lawsuits have been filed against drug companies alleging links between autism and vaccines containing mercury, but Wednesday’s complaint is believed to be the first to allege a connection between autism and amalgam fillings, attorneys and scientists familiar with such litigation say. “I don’t know that it’s proven, but it’s credible, very credible,”said Boyd Haley, chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky and an expert on mercury toxicity. “Mercury is one of the most neurotoxic compounds known to man.”

Haley said some studies show people with amalgam fillings have four to five times as much mercury in their blood and urine as people without such fillings.

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press.

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