Press Release: New Research Finds No Evidence That Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines Affect Behavior or Neuroanatomy in Infant Primates

30 Sep

Below is a press release from the Johnson Center for Child Health and Development (formerly Thoughtful House). The press release discusses a recent study which investigated the safety of vaccine schedules (present and past) using monkeys as test subjects.

The study is a follow on study to a previous series of pilot studies involving some of the same authors. The pilot studies were considered by many to be an indication of evidence that vaccines cause autism and other neurological conditions. This larger study shows no evidence of adverse effects from vaccines.

Here is the press release:

New Research Finds No Evidence That Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines Affect Behavior or Neuroanatomy in Infant Primates

(Austin, Texas) – September 28, 2015 – New research finds no evidence that thimerosal- containing vaccines cause negative behaviors or result in neuropathology in infant primates, according to a study that will be published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In this study, conducted by Dr. Dwight German of the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, and colleagues, infant rhesus macaques received several pediatric vaccines containing thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) in a schedule similar to that given to infants in the 1990s. Other animals received just the measles-mumps- rubella (MMR) vaccine, which does not contain thimerosal, or an expanded vaccine schedule similar to that recommended for US infants today. Control animals received a saline injection.

Regardless of vaccination status, all animals developed normal social behaviors. Cellular analysis of three brain regions, the cerebellum, amygdala and hippocampus (all known to be altered in autism), was similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated animals.

“This comprehensive analysis of social behavior and neuropathology in 12-18 month old rhesus macaques indicated that vaccinated primates were not negatively affected by thimerosal; the same was true for animals receiving an expanded 2008 vaccine schedule, which is similar to that recommended for US infants today” explained Dr. Laura Hewitson of The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, one of the principle investigators working on the study. Hewitson was part of a team of researchers from The Johnson Center; the University of Texas Southwestern; the Center on Human Development and Disability Infant Primate Research Laboratory; the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) at the University of Washington, Seattle WA; and Texas A&M Health Science Center & Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.

According to Hewitson, the study was designed to compare the safety of different vaccination schedules, including the schedule from the 1990s, when thimerosal was used as a preservative in multi-dose vaccine preparations. The data from this study indicate that administration of TCVs and/or the MMR vaccine to rhesus macaques did not result in neuropathological abnormalities,or aberrant behaviors, like those often observed in autism.

Administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines to infant rhesus macaques does not result in autism-like behavior or neuropathology. Bharathi S. Gadad, Wenhao Li, Umar Yazdani, Stephen Grady, Trevor Johnson, Jacob Hammond, Howard Gunn, Britni Curtis, Chris English, Vernon Yutuc, Clayton Ferrier, Gene P. Sackett, C. Nathan Marti, Keith Young, Laura Hewitson and Dwight C. German. PNAS

This article can be downloaded for free here.

This study was supported by The Ted Lindsay Foundation, SafeMinds, National Autism Association, and the Johnson and Vernick families. This work was also supported by WaNPRC Core Grant RR00166 and CHDD Core Grant HD02274.

About The Johnson Center
The mission of The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development is to advance the understanding of childhood development through clinical care, research, and education.

Previous Press Releases
For Immediate Release

By Matt Carey

9 Responses to “Press Release: New Research Finds No Evidence That Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines Affect Behavior or Neuroanatomy in Infant Primates”

  1. brian October 1, 2015 at 02:14 #

    As you’ve indicated, it’s unlikely that anti-vaccine campaigners like Mark Blaxill, Dan Olmsted and the rest of the Age of Autism crew, SafeMinds, the National Autism Association and even Autism Speaks will alert their readers/potential donors to the fact that they were obviously and completely wrong.

    You noted that Blaxill wrote a 4,000-word commentary on an 8,000-word preliminary paper by the author who has now thoroughly debunked her own earlier work–but where is Blaxill now? SafeMinds includes three links to the thoroughly refuted earlier work, but doesn’t mention the two recent studies that they funded which show that that preliminary work was wrong. The National Autism Association continues to call for a vaccinated-unvaccinated study while completely ignoring the result of the vaccinated-unvaccinated study that that organization helped to fund. As you’ve also noted, only the Johnson Center for Child Health and Development (formerly, in Andrew Wakefield’s day, Thoughtful House) acknowledges that the work that they generously supported shows that the work that they earlier supported was flat-out wrong.

    Even if they cannot bring themselves to apologize, Blaxill et al. at least owe their duped followers something like this:

  2. Roger Kulp October 1, 2015 at 19:02 #

    SafeMinds plans to fund studies like this in perpetuity.They are only looking for new ways to do the same studies over and over again.I think most of us realize this by now.Their goal is to dupe any individual or nonprofit they can into putting up the money for their pointless and costly exercises in insanity.They are not going to put out any publicity that might jeopardize their cash flow.

  3. ARo October 1, 2015 at 19:15 #

    Sallie Bernard, president of SafeMinds, is also on the board of Autism Speaks. Perhaps this has something to do with the recent retraction of the “vaccines don’t cause autism” statement on their website.

  4. brian October 2, 2015 at 17:22 #

    J.B. Handley recently responded to the research that dramatically contradicts his position; he wrote, “Knowing the published science as well as I do….”

    “[A] recent study by Hewitson, is being touted as “proof” vaccines do not cause autism, despite the fact that the sample size was small and that the results seem to contradict a preliminary study done by the same team.”

    Yes, Handley criticizes a five-year study for having a small sample size, and then approvingly cites the pilot study (with a much smaller sample size) despite the authors explicit statement: “These data are in contrast to our previous pilot study…. This discrepancy is most likely due to the larger number of animals in the present study providing more accurate estimates.”

    That illustrates the problem with “knowing the published science as well” as Handley does.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 2, 2015 at 19:21 #

      Handley thinks he knows the published science?

      JB Handley is so convinced of his own ability that he makes himself the perfect target for charlatans. He just doesn’t seem to accept the fact that he can and has been fooled. He got suckered by Rashid Buttar and the fake “trans dermal” chelation scam. He now thinks that Kerri Rivera and the others with the “parasite protocol” are right.

      He’s the ultimate dream for the charlatans. Not only was he willing to spend his wealth on their fake cures, he spent a ton of money promoting them. Absolutely free advertising for them under the guise of “Generation Rescue”.

      And, the man can’t keep his word. He made such a stink when I pointed out that he likely wouldn’t keep his word (in regards to not talking about Paul Offit again), but I was right and he just has no integrity.

      While I’m pointing out what a massive fool the guy is–he spent tons of his own money on attorneys in a failed lawsuit against Paul Offit and Offit’s publisher. The publisher undoubtedly had insurance so after a small deductible, it didn’t cost anything but time. And what did Handley get out of it? He got the ability to spend another $10k in a donation (Offit and the publisher also donated $10k) to UCLA and–get this–the book passage that Handley was upset about was edited to make him look even worse. And did Handley slow Offit down? Not at all, Offit wrote another book and was even more critical about Handley. And do people actually remember his big lawsuit? Apparently not–someone emailed me a Natural News article where they got the facts wrong on the lawsuit.

      The guy just keeps losing. But he’s “angry” so he’s keeping his public persona up.

      What a loser. And all because he can’t accept his own limitations.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) October 2, 2015 at 20:34 #

      thank you for that! Very glad to see Newsweek pick this up.

      Very interesting how SafeMinds wants to fudge the data for themselves. Given the previous SafeMinds “researchers” and their papers, I have no doubt that fudging, cherry picking and worse would be involved.

      • brian October 3, 2015 at 01:32 #

        Given the previous SafeMinds “researchers” and their papers, I have no doubt that fudging, cherry picking and worse would be involved.

        Yes, “knowing the published science as well as I do,” it’s clear that if you slice and dice the data, just by chance alone somethingwill seem to be significant.


  1. Newsweek: Anti-Vaxxers Accidentally Fund a Study Showing No Link Between Autism and Vaccines | Left Brain Right Brain - October 3, 2015

    […] has an article up at Newsweek about the recent vaccine study–the one discussed in the press release here. The title of the article pulls no punches: Anti-Vaxxers Accidentally Fund a Study Showing No Link […]

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