No, the thimerosal in the flu vaccine does not explain why autism rates did not go down

6 Oct

Surprisingly enough, there are still people promoting the idea that the rise in autism diagnoses observed over the last decades was caused by thimerosal in vaccines. The original argument was this–vaccines were added to the vaccine schedule in the 1990’s and with them the infant exposure to thimerosal increased. Concurrent with this rise in infant thimerosal exposure was a rise in autism diagnoses. Add to this a poorly concocted argument that autism resembles mercury intoxication and you have the basis for the mercury hypothesis.

Thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines over 10 years ago. Thus, if the thimerosal hypothesis were true, reported autism rates should be declining by now. As far back as 2005 David Kirby (whose book “Evidence of Harm” played a major role in promoting the mercury hypothesis) acknowledged this point in a statement

If the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis.

It’s 2013. Autism rates in California have not declined. Not in Special Education. Not in the CDDS roles. And, yes, we are six years past the 2007 deadline that David Kirby gave us.

To be specific, let’s use the same method that David Kirby and others used to claim a thimerosal induced autism epidemic in the 1990’s (namely the California DDS client count–which not a good method, by the way). Autism “rates” have gone up by over 150% since thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines. The age 3-5 bracket had about 4000 children in 2003 and is currently over 10,000.

CDDS 3-5

So we have more kids in California receiving services under the autism label than when thimerosal was in vaccines.

This is but one in a huge list of reasons why the thimerosal hypothesis doesn’t work.

But let’s go back in time a bit. Not so long ago one would hear proposals that we go back to the vaccine schedule of the early 1980’s when, it is claimed, the autism rate was 1 in 10,000. Fewer vaccines, less thimerosal, less autism. So goes the logic.

Generation Rescue, in fact, used to recommend the 1983 schedule as one of their alternative schedules

Turn back the clock
Comment: This is the schedule from 1983. If it worked for kids then, why doesn’t it work for kids now?”

Does it make sense to go back to the 1983 schedule? No. Why? OK a lot of reasons, but let’s focus on the fact that infants were exposed to more thimerosal in the 1980’s than today. Infant vaccines have no or only trace amounts of thimerosal.  So if thimerosal were the (or even a single) primary cause of autism risk, we would see autism rates lower today. To not only 1990’s levels, but to something like 1980’s reported levels. Assuming that the reported rates in the 1980’s were an accurate count of how many autistics there were then (a bad assumption but it’s the one they use).

To recap–Infant thimerosal exposure from vaccines peaked at nearly 200 micrograms in the 1990’s, up from about 100 micrograms in the 1980’s and is now less than 10 micrograms. And autism rates have not declined at all. Much less to 1980’s levels.

Once anyone says this the instant answer is that there is still thimerosal in some influenza vaccines. This, they say, is why autism rates have not declined. (note that thimerosal containing vaccines, including influenza vaccines, are banned in California for infants and pregnant women…and autism “rates” have continued to climb here).  

For completeness sake, let’s consider a kid who gets the maximum exposure to thimerosal from vaccines. I.e. a non California kid.  A kid who turns 6 months (the earliest age they will give a flu vaccine to a kid) during the flu season.  That kid will get 2 vaccines in the first year (6 and 7 months) then another influenza vaccine each year thereafter. Each with 25 micrograms of mercury from thimerosal. How does the thimerosal exposure compare to the 1983 schedule?  Take a look for yourself (exposures in micrograms of mercury from thimerosal):

1983 schedule 2013 schedule
DPT Inluenza
2 months 25
4 months 25
6 months 25 25
7 months 25
Total by 1 year 75 50
18 months 25 25
Total by 2 years 100 75
30 Months 25
Total by 3 years 100 100

So by age 3, the exposures are the same.  Except that the kid of today gets the thimerosal later and more spread out over time.  As an aside–most people who talk about the rise in thimerosal exposure during the 1990’s neglect to point out that the cumulative exposure in the 1980’s was already 100 micrograms. I.e. the “safe” level was significant.

If thimerosal were the driving force behind the rise in autism diagnoses, we should be back to 1983 levels, misrepresented by those claiming an epidemic as 1 in 10,000.  Instead we are at 1-2%.  The “rates” didn’t go down.

By this point the proponents of thimerosal are basically screaming, “you are forgetting the vaccines recommended to pregnant women!” No, I just put that off until now.  Sure, the influenza vaccine is recommended for pregnant women, but as the CDC notes:

Prior to 2009, influenza vaccination levels among pregnant women were generally low (~15%) (5,9).

So, from about 2000 to 2009 there wasn’t a big increase (or even a large part of the population) getting influenza vaccines while pregnant, nor were their children getting exposures higher than those in the 1983 schedule.

Take a look at that graph for California administrative autism prevalence again. Between 2002 (after the drawdown of thimerosal in vaccines) and 2012 the autism count doubled. Thimerosal exposure was down. A lot. Below 1990’s “epidemic” levels. Back to the 1983 “worked for kids then” levels. But autism “rates” continue to climb.

The people still pushing the idea that thimerosal is a (or even the) primary cause of autism are not unintelligent. We are talking about college educated people. Ivy league schools. A former journalist, an intellectual property expert and more. There is no math above. It’s all quite simple and straightforward. It uses the exact same logic and methodology they used to promote the idea that mercury causes autism. This is where intellectual honesty and basic integrity should kick in and get people to suck it up, admit their mistakes and start repairing the harm they have caused.

I’m not holding my breath.

By Matt Carey

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28 Responses to “No, the thimerosal in the flu vaccine does not explain why autism rates did not go down”

  1. Dorit Reiss October 6, 2013 at 06:03 #

    Well, they do have all those backup hypotheses. It’s the aluminum, it’s too many, and (not hypothesis) what about that one study of vaccinated v. unvaccinated that hasn’t been done? But I guess letting go of this favorite one is hard.

    • brian October 7, 2013 at 04:46 #

      Age of Autism’s Mark Blaxill wrote years ago that “the rates of autism in California (properly adjusted for birth year and age at time of data collection) have gone steadily upward.” Blaxill continued: “The continued increases in autism rates provide strong evidence against the idea that early thimerosal exposure, and only thimerosal exposure, is causing the increased population rates of autism.”

      It’s really odd to see Age of Autism’s Dan Olmsted and his fellow travelers continue to flog that dead horse long after Blaxill dismounted, but, you know, it’s always the vaccines.

      • Lawrence October 8, 2013 at 10:58 #

        @brian – not odd at all, since AoA will never admit that any of their “theories” are ever incorrect, even when most of their “theories” are counter-intuitive or actually mutually-exclusive….

    • brian October 13, 2013 at 00:59 #

      Can someone fill me in on why Mark Blaxill is no longer affiliated with SafeMinds?

      Blaxill testified last year as a member of the board of that organization, but now he’s gone. Does Blaxill—in contrast to the True Believers—now truly recognize that the apparent increase in the prevalence of ASD is _not_ due to thimerosal-containing vaccines?

      Blaxill has long seemed to be the sharpest among the real tools in the anti-vaccine shed—although he is obviously at least a bit light on the science, unlike his colleagues, it seems that Blaxill might be able to consider that having two vaccinated kids with autism plus a third unvaccinated kid with autism doesn’t do much to implicate vaccines, that even a minimally-competent investigative reporter should have attempted to contact the Clinic for Special Children in an Amish area of Pennsylvania before stupidly declaring that there are no Amish children with ASD, and that continuing increases in the prevalence of ASD in California, Denmark, Iceland, Quebec, and Sweden following dramatic reductions in exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines clearly falsifies his flailing hypothesis.

      Thanks to anti-vaccine extremist Jake Crosby, we now know that Mark Blaxill wrote (in e-mail messages that Blaxill reasonably expected would remain confidential—until Crosby violated that trust) that, “asked to critique [the Geiers’ anti-vaccine] work, I could rip it to shreds” and that the Geiers] are not very good scientists [and] write bad papers (both writing badly and reporting in sloppy fashion” although, perhaps most importantly in Blaxill’s estimation, the Geiers “don’t show nearly as well as Andy Wakefield.”

      As I noted above, Blaxill also clearly recognizes that thimerosal obviously cannot be the driver of any “epidemic” of autism. Blaxill seems to understand that the extreme position that he stridently advocated is just wrong, and that the evidence that seems to support that position can be (and has been) ripped “to shreds.”

      Of course, this can only mean that the True Believers will attack Blaxill, because he dares to question the Truth.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 14, 2013 at 04:16 #

        “Can someone fill me in on why Mark Blaxill is no longer affiliated with SafeMinds?”

        I can’t. Easiest answer is that he was part of SafeMinds for a long time and wanted something new.

        As you note, he acknowledged that thimerosal in vaccines are not the driver of the rise in autism diagnoses (see his statements after the Schecter/Grether paper in 2008).

        SafeMinds is still big on mercury and mercury in vaccines–as well as statements downplaying the need for vaccines like

        “If mercury-free vaccines are unavailable, look at the evidence and decide if the influenza virus is a significant concern for your family

        The Canary Party (Mr. Blaxill’s current effort) has taken a decidedly conspiracy angle. Their “why we fight” topics

        CBS News:
        Merck Created Hit List to “Destroy,” “Neutralize” or “Discredit” Dissenting Doctors
        USA Today:
        Drugmakers have paid $8 billion in fraud fines
        WaPo:
        FDA whistle blowers sue agency over surveillance of personal e-mail
        BluNC:
        CDC Director Gives Green Light to Gardasil then Goes to Work for Merck
        Center for Responsive Politics:
        Pharmaceutical Companies Have Been Among the Biggest Political Spenders
        Scientific American:
        A Medical Madoff: Anesthesiologist Faked Data in 21 Studies
        Daily Show:
        Does the American Cancer Society want you to be healthy?
        LA Times:
        Drug Deaths Now Outnumber Traffic Fatalities in U.S
        Mercury News:
        GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3 billion healthcare fraud settlement
        Fierce Pharma:
        Whistleblowers: Merck hid declining efficacy of MMR shot

        Nothing about autism.

  2. Dave October 6, 2013 at 11:32 #

    I have always thought the argument about vaccines (or anything) causing autism in a single generation was relatively weak. We know now that as many as 30% of the cases of autism can be traced to mutations in multiple sets of genes. Once someone has been born, the odds of a single environmental toxin causing this much change is pretty remote.

    Since minor mutations occur throughout life, the primary suspect for any developmental disorder would be the parents. The research in this area has been particularly hopeless for a variety of reasons, but the most obvious is the nature of DNA mutation: If you are looking for a mutation that led to a child’s autism, you can’t just do a blood test of the parents. If a DNA mutation caused any given autism, it is not likely to show up in the parents’ blood, but in their reproductive system. On the off-chance that it shows in both locations, then the likely suspect becomes the grandparents.

    We have long known that there are a wide variety of things that cause DNA mutation. The most obvious are radiation (including even UV, by the way), virus, metals, and age. But the complete list is shockingly long. Well-done fried foods makes the list, for example. Mutagens work together in complex ways that do not lend themselves to direct observation.

    We know that older parents are more likely to have autistic children, but we cannot say exactly why. The current theory is that hundreds (maybe thousands) of minor genetic mutations accumulate throughout life and gradually impact the DNA of the germline. This theory has gotten support recently in a complex study that linked not only the age at which a man became a father, but also the age at which his father became a father.

    So if metals were really causing the mutations that led to autism, we should be examining the early exposure of ourselves and our parents, rather than our children. More to the point, the “usual suspects” are the metals associated with the production of ROS. Rather than mercury, we should be looking at chromium, iron and nickel. (And rather than giving our children antioxidants, we should have started giving it to our parents 65 years ago.)

    But since we are on the subject of flu vaccines, it is important to remember that virus is an obvious cause of minor genetic mutation. Even if the vaccine caused some genetic mutation, it is just as likely to have prevented a virus that would have caused similar mutation, if not more.

    For those of us who had our first child after the age of 35, we should be thinking not of all the vaccines we had, but of all the times we have been exposed to environmental toxins or oxidizers. How many exposures to nicotine, sunlight, pesticide, iron, nickel, benzene, and PAH did we accumulate in those first 35 years? How about burgers off the grill? Hard to say, but I bet it was a lot more than vaccines.

    This does not mean the vaccine industry should be off the hook. They were still getting mercury out of the Hep B vaccine as late as 2007. Considering that the vaccine is given to infants just a few hours old, it seems like it would be one of the first I would have addressed, rather than one of the last. I realize not everyone here shares my disgust with the Hep B protocol, but if you are making a list of the things the vaccine industry should be held accountable for, certainly the Hep B vaccine is much higher up on my list than the flu.

    Even then, I doubt the Hep B vaccine is to blame for my son’s autism. I blame it for the day-long screaming, the inability to eat, the fever, the diarrhea, the sleeplessness and the rash, but not the autism.

  3. Science Mom October 6, 2013 at 15:20 #

    This does not mean the vaccine industry should be off the hook. They were still getting mercury out of the Hep B vaccine as late as 2007.

    No Dave, that’s demonstrably false. Nearly 100% of TCVs were gone by 2001 and completely gone during 2002. There wasn’t a single TCV which even had an expiration date as late as 2007.

    Furthermore, nearly half of influenza vaccines are thimerosal-free and partitioned for the use in preganant women and children less than 3 years old. The average uptake for pregnant women is ~12% while in infants/toddlers it was 77% last year which is unusually high. It is simply beyond anything resembling reason that this hypothesis can keep getting flogged by the vaccine-causation groups.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 6, 2013 at 16:30 #

      I hadn’t heard that myth (thimerosal in the HepB until 2007) before. Would someone care to give me a source?

      As ScienceMom points out, it is clearly a false statement. I recall a lecture given by Laura Hewitson (if memory serves, it was posted to FAIR Autism Media) where she discussed the low levels of thimerosal in today’s vaccines and how she had to add thimerosal to simulate the 1990’s vaccine schedule. The levels she found were far below the maximum allowed.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 6, 2013 at 16:44 #

        Just for the record, an instance of the call to return to the 1980s vaccine schedule:

        “MCCARTHY: Go back to 1989 schedule when shots were only 10 and the MMR was on that list. I don’t know what happened in 1990, there was no plague that was killing children that we had to triple the amount of vaccines.”

        From the Larry King show.

    • futuredave5 October 6, 2013 at 18:13 #

      According to the FDA fact sheet, the approval date for thimerosal-free formulation for Engerix B was 1/30/2007. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228

      As with other vaccines, hospitals were allowed to continue using the old formulation as long as the supplies were within the expiration date, (which is 18 months in the U.S.) Moreover, the manufacturer, GSK, did not switch over to the newly approved formula for many months.

      That is how my son, and many others in 2008, ended up receiving vaccines at birth that contained thimersal. This was a surprise to me, because when he had the adverse reaction, we asked for the MSDS on the vaccine, and got the MSDS from the shipment, which was dated 2003. (The MSDS, not the shipment.) The 2003 formulation is the one that linked to autism: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21058170

      … And also to MS: http://www.neurology.org/content/72/10/873.abstract

      But before everyone jumps on me again and accuses me of being Jenny McCarthy, let me reiterate that trace amounts of mercury is not what bothered me about the Hep B vaccine.

      What bothered me is that they gave my son a vaccine within a few hours of birth that he clearly had an adverse reaction to. When we asked why we needed it, it became obvious that they were worried that he would be exposed to individuals in the next month whose Hep B status was unknown.

      Which he would not.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 6, 2013 at 18:45 #

        According to the FDA fact sheet, the approval date for thimerosal-free formulation for Engerix B was 1/30/2007. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228

        Did you read the page? If so, what did you think of the full statement:

        Much progress has been made to date in removing or reducing thimerosal in vaccines. New pediatric formulations of hepatitis B vaccines have been licensed by the FDA, Recombivax-HB (Merck, thimerosal free) in August 1999 and Engerix-B (Glaxo SmithKline, thimerosal free) in January 2007.

        Recombivax-HB was licensed in August 1999. You sort of left that critical piece of information out.

        Are you asserting that the thimerosal free version of HepB from Merck was licensed but never used?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 6, 2013 at 18:54 #

        ” The 2003 formulation is the one that linked to autism: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21058170

        Gallagher and Goodman is interesting only in the question of how it got past the referees. It’s about as poor as study as I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot. They do a bit of sleight of hand but basically compare kids born before thimerosal (when identification rates were lower) to those born after the introduction of thimerosal. Since the kids born in the 1980’s have a lower autism rate, we are supposed to believe it is the HepB vaccine.

        http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/09/17/another-weak-study-proves-vaccines-cause-autism/

        http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/09/16/autism-causation-and-the-hepatitis-b-vaccine-no-link/

      • Science Mom October 6, 2013 at 18:59 #

        According to the FDA fact sheet, the approval date for thimerosal-free formulation for Engerix B was 1/30/2007.

        What you and others fail to understand as well is that that version of Energix-B vaccine only had < 1 microgram of thiomersal left over from the manufacturing process, not the full 25 micrograms in it prior to 1999. The thiomersal-free is just that and that is what the approval date is for. So your son did not receive a TCV in 2008.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 6, 2013 at 19:24 #

        I found notes I made from the video I saw–it was a lecture given to a DAN conference in about 2010. She stated that the HepB vaccine contained 10 parts per billion mercury (as tested). Wasn’t the earlier version something like 25,000ppb mercury? I.e. these are really trace amounts.

        I can’t pull up the video, but according to my notes it was this talk

        http://204.10.79.131/pro_videoflv.asp?flv=baltimore_2010_39_hewiston&h=480&w=640&VID=101

      • futuredave5 October 6, 2013 at 21:41 #

        Matt, I am not asserting that the Thimerosal-free version was licensed but never used, I am just saying that GSK did not switch formulas on the day of approval. They are a big company with a big supply line, and they don’t stop the production line just because a new version is approved.

        As I am sure you know, just because something is approved does not mean it is required. The new formula was more expensive, and required tighter controls, and GSK did not switch formulas until their entire supply chain was prepared for the new formula.

        The interesting point to me is not the rest of the language in the FDA brochure, it is that both you and Science Mom called me a liar. You said that I was making clearly and demonstrably false statements, even though it is you who turned out to be wrong. I dislike this debate tactic. You jump on the side comments that I made, but dismiss the central point without comment.

        I am not saying the scientific studies are on my side, I am just saying that you have an interesting view of “clearly false” that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I even went so far as to emphasize that I do not buy into the hype, I just was tossing out a few well-known examples that I felt like the vaccine industry could have handled better.

        Instead of looking for middle ground, or looking to see if anything I said was reasonable, you launched into your default mode, which seems to be unequivocal defense of the vaccine industry.

        And to do so, you are relying heavily on your personal opinions about what constitutes a good epidemiological study. Which is kind of odd, considering the only studies on your side are also epidemiological. And the studies you are relying on are also deeply flawed. Studies have shown that the mercury in the MMR vaccine does not cause autism in a single generation. You extended this logic to imply that all the other ingredients in all the other vaccines are safe as well. You also imply that the vaccines I received and the vaccines that my father received are unrelated to my son’s autism. This avoids the madness of a multi-generational study, but it flies in the face of logic.

        Since older people tend to have received more vaccines, one of the most obvious links to investigate would be whether those vaccines contain any mutagens that might contribute to autism in the next generation, or the generation after that. Interestingly, this would be an easier study to do than people think. About 16 million men went off to fight in World War II, and the US Army still has vaccination records for many of them. The vaccines were made under a variety of conditions, and some of them were fairly sloppy by today’s standards.

        My son’s vaccines contain hardly any chemicals compared to what my dad got in basic training, but the fact is that the Hep B vaccine was being given within hours of birth, containing 25 micrograms of thimerosal, up until 2002, and various other amounts for at least five years afterward. Smaller amounts? Most likely yes. Did you test each batch? Did you check with GSK to find out when they switched formulas? I certainly did not.

        Have you checked to see what percentage of the population was vaccinated in the two cohorts studied? Since you quoted the studies, I assume you did. When you add the Hep B and the Flu study together, the link between mercury and autism is nearly (but not completely) invalidated. The link between the thimerosal-free Hep B vaccine and autism, on the other hand is not affected at all. The increase in the rate of Hep B coverage continues to track the increase in the rate of autism. Correlation does not prove causation, but it doesn’t exactly disprove it either, does it?

        There are some big gaps in research, and I, for one, would like to see them closed. Even the MMR study that vindicated thimerosal mentioned an increase in tics among autistic children receiving the vaccine. Considering how many autistic children are tic machines, this result is not nothing. It is not as serious as Measles, but it is not something to simply dismiss without comment either.

        The study on autism was only one of the two that I referred to. The other linked the vaccine to MS. This is a potentially much more damaging study, because the other vaccine, which was thimerosal-free at the time, was not linked to MS.

        Since my son does not appear to have MS, I have no dog in that fight, but I would like to see vaccine companies study something else besides the autism link to mercury that has already been disproven.

        I feel as if they are repeating this same story endlessly because they don’t have any other battles they can win. If so, then that is a shame.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 7, 2013 at 00:05 #

        “I am just saying that GSK did not switch formulas on the day of approval”

        OK, let’s make this very simple. There were no thimerosal containing vaccines in use or licensed in 2007. The fact that a company entered the market in 2007 is not evidence that there were

        “They are a big company with a big supply line, and they don’t stop the production line just because a new version is approved.”

        They could produce whatever they wanted. I doubt they wanted to produce an infant vaccine with thimerosal as it wasn’t being used.

        “The interesting point to me is not the rest of the language in the FDA brochure, it is that both you and Science Mom called me a liar. ”

        No. I pointed out where your logic was incorrect. I’ve just done it again. That’s not the same thing as saying you are a liar. You apparently didn’t know that your logic was wrong. Now you’ve been shown that you are wrong. But it appears that you won’t accept the facts. So you will likely continue to make not just demonstrably false statements but demonstrated false statements. That also will not make you a liar, just someone who holds on to opinions in the face of counter evidence.

        I don’t care if you buy into the hype or not. I don’t really care if you accept the facts. I will take the time for now to point out that you are incorrect.

        Either show me an example that a thimerosal containing hepatitis B vaccine was in use in 2007, or give this one up. The “a new vaccine was licensed in 2007 therefore I assume they were selling a thimerosal containing vaccine prior to that” is poor logic and, again, demonstrably false.

        Here’s a warning letter the FDA sent to GSK in 2004. Note the wording: “The Advertising and Promotional Labeling Branch (APLB) in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) has reviewed a “Summary of Recommendations For Adult Immunization” (MUV304R0) (summary) for Engerix-B® [Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombinant)]…”

        Adult immunization. Remember, they could make it and use it in the non infant population.

        If you want to make your case, produce some sort of document that says that Engerix-B was in use *for infants* in the time period you claim.

        “Did you check with GSK to find out when they switched formulas? I certainly did not.”

        But you are claiming you have the knowledge. Either you do or you don’t. Clearly you don’t. And yet you made statements that a thimerosal containing vaccine was in regular use on infants in 2007.

        “Which is kind of odd, considering the only studies on your side are also epidemiological.”

        Seems like you need to do some homework. Consider, for example, Hornig et al.’s paper showing no link between MMR and autism and regression. Or multiple papers showing that autistic kids are not “poor excretors” of thimerosal.

        “There are some big gaps in research, and I, for one, would like to see them closed. Even the MMR study that vindicated thimerosal mentioned an increase in tics among autistic children receiving the vaccine.”

        What MMR study vindicated thimerosal? The MMR does not, has not and can not contain thimerosal.

        You seem to be rambling.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 7, 2013 at 00:53 #

        I apologize for that last statement, but your comment is scattered. Why you pulled M.S. into this, I don’t know. But as there are multiple studies on M.S. and vaccines, perhaps you could check pubmed for some of your questions.

  4. lilady October 6, 2013 at 16:21 #

    My impression about the “mercury done did it” crowd, is that we are witnessing their desperate attempts to prove that Thimerosal was, and remains, the culprit, in the onset of ASDs, in spite of the many published studies that disprove that theory.

    We are just beginning to identify the multiple de novo gene mutations that have been implicated in autism and within a short period of time even more of these mutations will be identified. Many parents who have two or more children diagnosed with ASDs have volunteered to have their children tested, yet the anti-vaccine “mercury done did it” crowd dissuades parents from having genetic tests. Why?

    Why do these same groups encourage parents of newborns to deny their babies Vitamin K shots…which lead to Vitamin K deficiency brain bleeds?

    http://sciencebasedpharmacy.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/anti-vaccinationists-laughing-at-preventable-harms/

  5. Science Mom October 6, 2013 at 23:12 #

    The interesting point to me is not the rest of the language in the FDA brochure, it is that both you and Science Mom called me a liar. You said that I was making clearly and demonstrably false statements, even though it is you who turned out to be wrong.

    I didn’t see where anyone called you a liar or even implied it. I stated that Dave made a demonstrably false statement; of course you don’t know me but if I thought he or you was lying, I would say so. Matt wasn’t wrong nor were you right.

    My son’s vaccines contain hardly any chemicals compared to what my dad got in basic training, but the fact is that the Hep B vaccine was being given within hours of birth, containing 25 micrograms of thimerosal, up until 2002, and various other amounts for at least five years afterward. Smaller amounts? Most likely yes. Did you test each batch? Did you check with GSK to find out when they switched formulas? I certainly did not.

    Either you think that thiomersal is causal for something or you don’t. Making hay out of something you previously said you didn’t think had anything to do with your son’s ASD is rather confusing. Furthermore, it is disingenuous to say that Engergix-B had full thiomersal in it until 2007 (making the same mistake Dave made) and then implying that it might have simply because we didn’t test it personally. Batches are routinely tested for purity and contamination; it’s safe to say that it had what they say it had in it which was < 1 microgram of thiomersal since 2000 (up to 2007). It wasn't various other amounts either implying that whatever GSK wanted to toss in.

  6. lilady October 6, 2013 at 23:12 #

    @ Future Dave 5: Why are you so fixated on Thimerosal in vaccines? Haven’t you heard that safety studies conducted since the removal of that preservative in multi-dose vials of certain vaccines have thoroughly disproved any link between Thimerosal and the onset of autism…or any other developmental disability or disorder?

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/1/152.full

    “Commentary

    Ban on Thimerosal in Draft Treaty on Mercury: Why the AAP’s Position in 2012 Is So Important

    Louis Z. Cooper, MD, FAAPa and
    Samuel L. Katz, MD, FAAPb

    + Author Affiliations

    aDepartment of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York; and
    bDepartment of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

    KEY WORDS

    thimerosal
    vaccines
    global immunization
    public trust

    Abbreviations:

    AAP —
    American Academy of Pediatrics
    FDA —
    Food and Drug Administration
    TCV —
    thimerosal-containing vaccine
    USPHS —
    US Public Health Service

    A draft treaty under consideration by the United Nations Environmental Program has been prepared to greatly reduce global health hazards from environmental mercury.1 In response to the draft treaty, the World Health Organization urges removal of a provision in the treaty that calls for a ban on thimerosal (which contains ethyl mercury) in vaccines, a position recently endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Public Health Service (USPHS).

    Removal of the ban on thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) represents a significant reversal of the position expressed in an AAP/USPHS joint statement in 1999 that called for elimination of mercury in vaccines and the subsequent actions taken in the United States.2 Understanding the circumstances that led 14 years ago to the 1999 statement and the knowledge accumulated in these subsequent years can reinforce the importance of the 2012 AAP/USPHS position. AAP representatives and other members of national pediatric societies within the International Pediatric Association advocating for deletion of the provision banning TCVs need to know why the elimination of thimerosal was initially called for in 1999 but is no longer indicated.

    This commentary describes the circumstances that led to the 1999 joint statement based on the personal observations at that time of 2 participants in the process: one who then was a member of the AAP Board of Directors (L.Z.C.) and one who is a former chair of both the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the USPHS (S.L.K.). The rationale for the current AAP position is summarized by a commentary entitled “Global Vaccination Recommendations and Thimerosal” presented in this issue of Pediatrics.3

    The 1999 recommendations were written as a prompt response to findings from a broad Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of the mercury content in biological products mandated by the Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997. This review revealed that multiple vaccines used thimerosal (containing ethyl mercury) as a preservative in multidose vials and that the cumulative amount of mercury, when given according to the recommended immunization schedule at the time for young infants, could potentially exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines based on data for elemental, inorganic, or methyl mercury.

    The total amount of ethyl mercury did not exceed that of 2 other US federal guidelines, from the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry and the FDA.4 All 3 guidelines included broad margins of safety. But the absence of clear data for ethyl mercury did not allow any assumption to be made about its safety. Data were not sufficient to explain the pharmacology or toxicology of this product or to compare it with that for the other mercury compounds. Specifically, no studies evaluated the safety or potential harm from the amount of ethyl mercury in the US infant immunization schedule.

    Other factors influenced the timing and detail of the joint recommendations: (1) Recognition that mercury levels might exceed even 1 government guideline was cause for concern. (2) Absent more specific data on the safety of ethyl mercury in the form of thimerosal, prompt public disclosure was warranted to protect public trust. (3) Ongoing hearings of a US congressional committee chaired by a legislator convinced that vaccines had harmed his grandchild were amplified by parents with similar views. (4) These allegations were receiving increasing media attention along with charges that the public health establishment was not fully transparent about the risks of vaccines.

    Once the FDA calculations revealed that even 1 federal guideline was exceeded, the AAP and USPHS were obligated to full public disclosure. With that disclosure, it was important to demonstrate a response that could prevent exceeding the guideline levels and also to continue to protect infants by still ensuring full immunization. The joint statement met those obligations while demonstrating an abundance of caution: putting safety first.

    The priority to “first, do no harm” guides all USPHS and AAP recommendations. Given the complexity of the science involved in making guidelines, the polarity between vaccine advocates and those believing their children have been harmed, the media’s attraction to controversy, and, in retrospect, inadequate follow-up education about the issues to clinicians and the general public, it is not surprising that the steps taken left misunderstanding and anxiety in the United States and concerns in the global public health community.

    Since 1999, studies to better understand the pharmacology and toxicology of ethyl mercury have documented the profound differences between ethyl and methyl mercury. In addition, efforts to find evidence of harm to children from TCVs, used globally for >60 years, have failed to reveal any such damage. This is in sharp contrast to experience involving methyl mercury, a documented serious neurotoxin.

    Had the AAP (and, we suspect, the USPHS) known what research has revealed in the intervening 14 years, it is inconceivable to us that these organizations would have made the joint statement of July 7, 1999. The World Health Organization recommendation to delete the ban on thimerosal must be heeded or it will cause tremendous damage to current programs to protect all children from death and disability caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.”

    Super Dave 5, You state:

    “Studies have shown that the mercury in the MMR vaccine does not cause autism in a single generation. You extended this logic to imply that all the other ingredients in all the other vaccines are safe as well. You also imply that the vaccines I received and the vaccines that my father received are unrelated to my son’s autism. This avoids the madness of a multi-generational study, but it flies in the face of logic.”

    And…

    “There are some big gaps in research, and I, for one, would like to see them closed. Even the MMR study that vindicated thimerosal mentioned an increase in tics among autistic children receiving the vaccine. Considering how many autistic children are tic machines, this result is not nothing. It is not as serious as Measles, but it is not something to simply dismiss without comment either.”

    Would you care to provide us with any scientific paper/Measles Vaccines Product Inserts (single antigen or combined M-M-R vaccines), where Thimerosal is listed as a preservative/ingredient?

    I, for one, am sick and tired of wasting more money and more resources on more studies to disprove any links between vaccines, the ingredients in vaccines, the combination of vaccines, the timing and spacing of vaccines and the totally disproven link to the onset of ASDS.

  7. Jean Ghantous October 7, 2013 at 22:11 #

    I don’t see anyone discussing the Danish study which is THE major study used by the CDC to refute the thimerisol/autism link? Apparently those findings were grossly manipulated.

    http://capwiz.com/a-champ/issues/alert/?alertid=62950526&MC_plugin=6441

    • Science Mom October 8, 2013 at 03:48 #

      What should that study be discussed now? We’ve gone over it ad nauseum. Just because some witless hacks don’t know how to read a study or differentiate between various study designs or even know what an author’s role in a study was, doesn’t mean their brain droppings are worth debating. Apparently your “source” is wrong.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 8, 2013 at 05:43 #

      Use the search box and type in Denmark.

      Nice spam for a-champ, though. They seem to be getting more shrill.

      Did you read your own link? Doesn’t seem like it, since they are discussing MMR, not thimerosal. I guess the facts aren’t important. The message, “vaccines are bad, there’s a conspiracy” is what counts?

      • lilady October 8, 2013 at 22:00 #

        Nice touch that Jean Ghantous posted under her own name. She’s a frequent poster at the TMR blog…heavily into biomedical stuff such as yeast, biofilms and “bugs” (?)

        Thanks for posting Jean.

    • Chris October 8, 2013 at 05:44 #

      It is only an eleven year old study, and Thorsen was a minor author.

      It has been discussed too much given that it was only one in more than a dozen studies. The main fact is that thimerosal has not been shown to cause autism. Get over it and move on.

      • Chris October 8, 2013 at 05:46 #

        And crud! I missed that it was on the MMR, which never contained thimerosal. Sorry about that.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 8, 2013 at 05:50 #

        Just a random chance I decided to follow the link. We have a variant of John with the last initial G sending using this site to advertise a-champ. My guess that guy is about as likely as Ann Dachel to actually come back and particate in the discussion.

        These press releases just show the scientific discussion ended years ago. These are recruitment messages. “Please don’t abandon us. Please be enamored with conspiracy theories and join us. We can’t offer facts and we stopped caring that it’s obvious”.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. No, the thimerosal in the flu vaccine does not explain why autism rates did … – Left Brain Right Brain | Disability News | Disability Today - October 6, 2013

    […] No, the thimerosal in the flu vaccine does not explain why autism rates did … – Left Brain Right B… […]

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