Advocates for Children's Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning (A-CHAMP), is a United States political activism group, founded in 2005, that campaigns on behalf of children who they believe have been injured by mercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines, or by other compounds. Its stated mission is "To be a strong and unified voice for children with neurodevelopmental and communication disorders so that each child may be provided the support necessary to live a full and productive life." Its initial activities have been directed toward increasing public acceptance of a causal link between thimerosol and neurodevelopmental disorders, and to make it easier to obtaining financial compensation for those who think they have been injured by thimerosol.
A-CHAMP contends that a growing body of scientific research shows that environmental exposure to neurotoxins, in particular mercury, may be contributing to the rapid rise in disorders such as Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD's) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A-CHAMP also focuses on issues relating to obtaining fair health insurance coverage for children, and ensuring that government programs for the education and lifetime care of disabled individuals are adequately funded.
The organization is non-partisan with the intent of representing the diversity of the political spectrum in helping to protect the human rights, civil rights and legal rights of children who may have been injured by vaccines.
In addition to educating the public and media about its agenda, which includes empowering parents while escalating the debate over issues related to thimerosal and the MMR vaccine, A-CHAMP engages in focused legislative advocacy in state legislatures and Congress. A-CHAMP provides parent advocates, whose numbers have swelled with the increase in the numbers of children affected by neurodevelopmental disabilities, with a unified political voice.
A-CHAMP opposed legislative efforts to limit the legal liability of vaccine manufacturers, such as the "Vaccine Accessibility for Children and Seniors Act of 2005", contending that this would deny children and other victims of vaccine injury access to the court system.
High profile campaigns
A-CHAMP is among a number of parent advocacy groups which joined together to hold a march and rally in Washington, D.C., on July 20, 2005, in an event billed as "The Power of Truth March/Rally". Other groups involved include Moms Against Mercury, Dads Against Mercury, the National Autism Association, Safe Minds, Generation Rescue, NoMercury, Unlocking Autism, and Educate Before You Vaccinate.
See Thimerosal for a discussion of the current state of the Thimerosal controversy.
The predominant criticism of organizations such as A-CHAMP stems from the debate over the scientific studies related to thimerosal containing vaccines. Critics argue that the scientific evidence argues against a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism. It should be noted, however, that A-CHAMP advocates for children on many issues besides this issue, including work to obtain fair health insurance coverage for affected children and working to build adequate supports for lifetime care of those children who are disabled and cannot care for themselves.
There are several major studies, often quoted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), that have not supported causality. On May 17, 2004, the IOM published a report titled "Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism," which concluded, in part, that "The body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. The committee also concludes that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. The committee further finds that potential biological mechanisms for vaccine-induced autism that have been generated to date are "theoretical only." However, there has been some controversy over the IOM decision.   In particular, the principal author of the U.S. epidemiological study on which the IOM relied has stated that the study is "neutral" and cannot be relied upon to disprove an association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and disorders such as autism. In addition, and most significantly, a 2005 report of a separate IOM committee criticized the way the CDC handled the database on which this U.S. study relied. There also exist serious questions about the way European epidemiological studies have been conducted.
- Controversies in autism
- Sociological and cultural aspects of autism
- David Kirby
- Generation Rescue
- A-CHAMP.org - 'A-CHAMP Political Action: "By Parents, for our Children"', (homepage)
- Mothering.com - 'Fighting for Matthew: A Parent's Activism', Liz Birt, Mothering (November/December, 2002)
- NYTimes.com - 'On Autism's Cause, It's Parents vs. Research', Gardiner Harris, Anahad O'Connor, New York Times (front page; June 25, 2005)
- NYTimes.com - 'Autism Special Section: Updated news, multimedia and resources related to autism', Gardiner Harris, Anahad O'Connor, Sandra Blakeslee, John O'neil, Katie Zezima, Jane Gross, Amy Harmon, Emma Daly, New York Times (June 25, 2005)
- Salon.com - 'Deadly Immunity: When a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data -- and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic', Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Salon.com (June 16, 2005)
- ThePowerHour.com - 'A-CHAMP (Advocates for Children's Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning) Action Alert'