And now we know…

22 Jun

I had a snarky version of this all planned out and then realized this is too important to risk burrying it in my own strange humor.

The CDC has had two big studies on thimerosal in vaccines ongoing as a part of their response to the 2001 IOM report. One of these came out last year, looking at neurological disorders except for autism. In the post on that study, by Thompson et al., Isles noted:

A CDC study released yesterday found no evidence to support “a causal association between early exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immune globulins and deficits in neuropsychological functioning at the age of 7 to 10 years

But what of the sister study? The one on autism? It is expected this year, but we have yet to hear about it…until now. A hat tip is in order to David Kirby, who unearthed this document. Mr. Kirby selectively quoted it, made a few mistakes and reposted a corrected version here.

OK, now it’s my turn to selectively quote. I’ll admit upfront, I make mistakes, maybe this is one…but I don’t think so. When I read Mr. Kirby’s original blog post Friday evening, I had to read the CDC document. And when I did, I noticed that it basically tips CDC’s hand as to the results of the thimerosal/autism study.

The document is a report by CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding entitled:


It mentions the followup study to the Thompson study:

Another VSD study that builds upon the 2003 thimerosal screening study and was recommended by the IOM in 2001 is the VSD thimerosal and autism study. This case-control study is being conducted at three MCOs in which children with autism are being evaluated by certified specialists using standardized diagnostic assessments. Medical records and interviews with the parents of both the cases and their matched controls will be used to verify vaccination histories and information on other potential confounding factors. This study is in progress and the expected date of publication is September 2008.

I am not a very patient person, I don’t want to wait until September. I really don’t want to wait until September and find out at the end of the month that the paper was delayed for some reason. Well, as far as the conclusions go, we don’t have to wait.

Based on what Dr. Gerberding write, we now know that the study is done and submitted to a journal. CDC, and likely other parts of the government, know the results. So, how is CDC responding? Dr. Gerberding tells us:

In 2004, the IOM performed a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence regarding thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism newly available since its initial review in 2001. In its 2004 report, the IOM concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism,” and further stated

While the [IOM Immunization Safety Review] committee strongly supports targeted research that focuses on better understanding the disease of autism, from a public health perspective the committee does not consider a significant investment in studies of the theoretical vaccine-autism connection to be useful at this time.

Although CDC concurs with the 2004 IOM findings, CDC is committed to completing its research undertaken in this area. CDC is currently completing the vaccine safety studies it undertook in response to the 2001 IOM report.

OK, so, with the data from their new study in hand, the CDC still agree with the 2004 IOM report. Further, they will continue the ongoing studies, but no mention is made of new studies to look specifically at thimerosal and/or mercury and autism.

Now, I realize that there are people out there who think that the CDC might sit on data and not react. But, let’s face it, the only result of the thimerosal/autism study that makes any sense given the actions at CDC is this:

Thimerosal Didn’t Cause an Epidemic of Autism

Based on the reaction from the CDC, there is no evidence of any increased risk for autism from thimerosal.

Yep, I’ve gone out on a limb on this. But I contend it is a pretty sturdy limb. Not like the feeble limb of thimerosal causation that got us to this point in the first place. That concept (it should no longer be graced with the title ‘hypothesis’) was based on methods that would have to take a few steps up the quality ladder to reach the level of the Verstraeten study that Mr. Kirby’s blog post is attempting to bash.

Thimerosal Didn’t Cause an Epidemic of Autism

Sorry, it just looks so good I had do it again.

10 Responses to “And now we know…”

  1. Ms. Clark June 22, 2008 at 07:47 #

    Hey, Sullivan. Have you heard? “Thimerosal Didn’t Cause an Epidemic of Autism.”

    Also, I think it’s quite safe to say:

    Thimerosal containing vaccines didn’t cause an autism epidemic.

    And, I wonder how much longer the SAFE MINDS troika will feel like they can confidently show their faces in public? I mean, if I were Sally/Sallie I’d be thinking about changing my name (or would that be, “changing my name again”?)

    I guess we should expect a press release out of Nixa, Missouri, any time now… (tick, tick, tick, tick). No doubt it will cast aspersions on Dr. Gerberding’s hair…. I mean, character.

  2. Phil June 22, 2008 at 13:15 #

    Here’s a news flash;

    “Thiomersal Didn’t Cause an Epidemic of Autism.”

    Now you two have got me doing it! Notwithstanding me using the non-American spelling!

    Expect something from the J.McCarthy press train as well (not to mention a rant from Londonderry, New Hampshire! Oh sorry!)

  3. Joseph June 22, 2008 at 14:59 #

    I thought the thimerosal hypothesis was dead back in 2006. I still think it basically is. But you have to understand, there are people out there who don’t care about data and methodology at all; they only care about gut feeling.

  4. Sullivan June 22, 2008 at 15:45 #


    I think it has been dead for some time. To abuse the analogy–for a while they tried mouth to mouth, then CPR, then some sort of Frankenstein-like revival. I think it has moved on to seance mode.

  5. Sullivan June 22, 2008 at 15:48 #


    while I bolded those statements, the real statement here is even more broad:

    “Based on the reaction from the CDC, there is no evidence of any increased risk for autism from thimerosal.”

  6. Sullivan June 22, 2008 at 16:09 #

    It is worth noting that Orac not only discussed Mr. Kirby’s post directly ( here) but also has done a nice before/after comparison here.

  7. isles June 23, 2008 at 13:25 #

    One has to wonder what’s next for the disgraced former journalists who have been reduced to acting as mouthpieces for the mercury militia. I think even the National Enquirer might be embarrassed to have them on staff.

  8. Ralph July 3, 2008 at 18:21 #



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