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September 27, 2007

Vaccines Vindicated - Again.

The vaccine industry has been under siege in recent years, haunted by accusations that a mercury-based preservative (thimerosal) used in childhood vaccines may have contributed to rising rates of autism and other developmental disorders.

There seems to be no evidence (beyond the theoretical) supporting the accusation. Study after study (both in the U.S. and abroad) has failed to find any link between thimerosal and autism, although that has not stemmed a rising tide of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.

Today, the CDC released yet another study, reinforcing previous findings:

Federal researchers said they found no link between a vaccine preservative containing mercury and mental acuity and behavioral problems in children immunized in the 1990s -- findings that aren't likely to end parental fear that mercury has caused childhood disorders.

The study of 1,107 children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explored whether a correlation existed between the amount of thimerosal exposure before birth or in the first seven months of life and performance on 42 tests measuring verbal, motor and intellectual acuity. The study didn't find that those exposed to thimerosal consistently suffered in tests measuring word recall, hyperactivity, stuttering, intelligence or other areas. The study is to be published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

The study didn't try to see whether thimerosal was linked to autism, a highly charged issue that will be the focus of another research project by the CDC to be released next year, officials said.

Anne Schuchat, an assistant surgeon general with the CDC, called the results of the new study "very reassuring for parents" whose children were immunized in the 1990s. The government asked manufacturers to remove thimerosal from vaccines in 1999, after the public bombarded federal offices with complaints.

Saying that the CDC study isn't "likely to end parental fear" is a monumental understatement. Very little is actually known about the underlying disease mechanisms of autism, and until more is known thimerosal - and pharmaceutical companies - are a convenient scapegoat for a trial bar that preys on parents' fears and frustrations.

Posted by Paul Howard at September 27, 2007 11:47 AM


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