Dan Olmsted

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Dan Olmsted (died January 23, 2017) was a journalist and former senior editor for United Press International (UPI), a news agency of the Unification Church company News World Communications. Olmsted wrote a series of reports suggesting a link between vaccination and autism, a hypothesis which has been disproven.[1] His columns on health and medicine appeared regularly in The Washington Times and were syndicated nationally from UPI's Washington D.C. bureau. He owned and edited the Age of Autism website, a site he described as the "Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic", where writers question the safety of vaccines. Olmsted wrote an article in 2002, along with reporter Mark Benjamin, which drew links between the drug Lariam given to military personnel and mental health disorders in soldiers. In 2013, the FDA issued its most serious "boxed" warning for that drug, warning that Lariam's serious psychiatric side effects may be permanent for some.[2]

He co-wrote four books with Mark Blaxill, co-founder of Age of Autism. The last, Denial: How Refusing to Face the Facts about Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families, and Our Future was released posthumously in 2017.[3]

The Age of Autism[edit]

From 2005 to July 2007, Olmsted wrote about his investigative findings concerning the apparent global epidemic of autism in a series of columns titled The Age of Autism. Though some scientific research suggests that autism is a primarily genetic disorder and that reported increases are mainly due to changes in diagnostic practices, Olmsted, claimed that the increases are due to mercury poisoning, particularly from vaccines, and that the genetics is mostly secondary.[4] Though Olmsted continued to make this claim, thimerosal, the mercury-containing preservative blamed by Olmsted, was removed from most vaccines as a precaution beginning in the late 1990s,[5] with no effect on autism diagnosis rates.[6][7][8]

Congressional action[edit]

Citing Olmsted's reports, on March 30, 2006, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) announced that she would be drafting legislation calling for scientific studies investigating thiomersal and autism, additional to the many already conducted.[9] The bill was introduced in the U. S. House of Representatives in April 2006. Maloney made the announcement at a National Press Club press conference in Washington, D.C., along with Olmsted and David Kirby.[10][11]


Scientific studies have found no credible evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines and the MMR vaccine cause autism, and the MMR vaccine controversy is largely seen as the result of an "elaborate fraud" by British researcher Andrew Wakefield.[12][13] In a critical assessment by the Columbia Journalism Review of the thimerosal controversy, Olmsted's reporting on unvaccinated populations has been characterized as "misguided" by two anonymous reporters. Both sources "believed that Olmsted has made up his mind on the question and is reporting the facts that support his conclusions".[14] In 2011 Brian Dunning listed the Age of Autism website as #2 on his "Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites" list.[15]


Olmsted died on January 23, 2017, from an overdose of prescription medication, according to his spouse Mark Milett.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism". US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  2. ^ "UPI Investigates: Lariam and suicide". UPI. Retrieved 2017-10-05.
  3. ^ Blaxill, Mark; Olmsted, Dan (2017-07-25). Denial: How Refusing to Face the Facts about Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families, and Our Future. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN 9781510716957.
  4. ^ Dan Olmsted (2007-07-18). "The Age of Autism: the last word". UPI. Archived from the original on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
  5. ^ "Thimerosal in vaccines: frequently asked questions (FAQs)". Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
  6. ^ DeStefano F (2007). "Vaccines and autism: evidence does not support a causal association". Clin Pharmacol Ther. 82 (6): 756–59. doi:10.1038/sj.clpt.6100407. PMID 17928818. S2CID 12872702.
  7. ^ Doja A, Roberts W (2006). "Immunizations and autism: a review of the literature". Can J Neurol Sci. 33 (4): 341–46. doi:10.1017/s031716710000528x. PMID 17168158.
  8. ^ Immunization Safety Review Committee, Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine (2004). Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. ISBN 0-309-09237-X.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Carolyn Maloney (US congress page) – "New, Thorough Study of Possible Mercury-Autism Link Proposed By Rep. Maloney". PDF draft of legislation Archived 2006-06-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ 'UPI Autism story prompts bill' (March 30, 2006)
  11. ^ Offit PA (2007). "Thimerosal and vaccines – is a cautionary tale". N Engl J Med. 357 (13): 1278–79. doi:10.1056/NEJMp078187. PMID 17898096.
  12. ^ Doja A, Roberts W (2006). "Immunizations and autism: a review of the literature". Can J Neurol Sci. 33 (4): 341–46. doi:10.1017/s031716710000528x. PMID 17168158.
  13. ^ Godlee F, Smith J, Marcovitch H (2011). "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was said to be fraudulent despite other researchers airing similar views". BMJ. 342: c7452. doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452. PMID 21209060. S2CID 43640126.
  14. ^ "Drug Test," Daniel Schulman, Columbia Journalism Review, 2005, from "Adventures in Autism" blog (exact CJR issue unclear)
  15. ^ Dunning, Brian (November 8, 2011). "Skeptoid #283: Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites". Skeptoid. Retrieved October 23, 2020. 2. Age of Autism
  16. ^ "Notable deaths in the Washington area". The Washington Post. 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2017-03-14.

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