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Study links vaccines containing mercury with autism PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Friday, 10 March 2006 00:00

A 1948 article in the journal Pediatrics opens with, “Inflammatory reactions involving various parts of the nervous system following injections or various sera or vaccines have long been known”. In that paper they discuss 15 instances in children at Boston Children’s Hospital that developed “acute cerebral symptoms within a period of hours after administration of pertussis vaccine.” 

During the same time, the 1940s to the 1950s widespread use of the DTP vaccine (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis – more commonly know as whooping cough) came into use. Analysis of the historical data available shows that the recorded rate of whooping cough slowly fell coinciding with the use of the vaccine. However, using additional historical references from England – which maintained the most accurate historical disease mortality records – shows that before widespread vaccination the death rate from whooping cough had already declined by approximately 98.8 percent from its peak recorded in the 1860s. 

A 1996 article in Pediatrics noted that a large controlled study, the NCES or National Childhood Encephalopathy Study, found that, “a significant association exists between the occurrence of acute neurologic illness and DTP vaccination with the preceding 7 days.” In 1994, an IOM (Institute of Medicine) committee concluded that the, “balance of evidence is consistent with a causal relation between DTP and chronic nervous system dysfunction in children whose serious acute neurological illness occurred within 7 days of DTP vaccination.”

However, a 1991 American Academy of Pediatrics report indicated that severe problems were rare. Although half the children were reported to be “fretful” or have fevers, severe neurological problems were reported to be 1 in 140,000 to 1 in 300,000. Seizures were reported to be 1 in 7,500, persistent screaming as 1 in 100, and unusual, high-pitched cry as 1 in 1,000. 

Thimerosal is a mercury-containing compound that has been used since the 1930s as a preservative in many vaccines. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) website, “Over the past several years, because of an increasing awareness of the theoretical potential for neurotoxicity of even low levels of organomercurials and because of the increased number of thimerosal containing vaccines that had been added to the infant immunization schedule, concerns about the use of thimerosal in vaccines and other products have been raised. Indeed, because of these concerns, the Food and Drug Administration has worked with, and continues to work with, vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines.” 

Autism is a disorder of the brain that impairs communication and social skills. It encompasses a broad range of disorders that may range from mild to severe. Autism, once uncommon, is now more widespread than childhood cancer, diabetes, and Down syndrome. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 1 in 166 children currently have an autistic disorder, and 1 in 6 children have a developmental and/or behavioral disorder. 

A study published in the spring edition of Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, examines the connection between vaccines that contain thimerosal and autism. The authors of the study are David A. Geier, B.A. and Mark R. Geier, M.D., Ph.D. According to the authors the study was thoroughly reviewed prior to publication. “Our manuscript underwent blinded peer-review by three different peer-reviewers including a bio-statistician/epidemiologist prior to its publication.” 

A great deal of debate and controversy has surrounded this one ingredient in particular, thimerosal, as being in part responsible for the huge increase in cases of autism. While many parents of autistic children and activists believe that there is a link between vaccines containing mercury, government and other officials have rejected these claims. In 2004, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) stated that, “the committee concludes that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.” 

But according to the Milford Daily News a confidential CDC (Centers for Disease Control) study in 2000 actually found that children were 2.5 times more likely to develop autism when they receive 62.5 micrograms of mercury from vaccines at 3 months of age. The study was uncovered by an advocacy group under the Freedom of Information Act. “They're on record saying there's no effect from thimerosal, it's completely safe, even though their own internal studies show it's harmful,” said researcher David Geier. 

According to Geier’s study, “exposure to mercury has previously been shown to cause immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioral dysfunctions similar to traits defining or associated with autistic disorders, and with similarities in neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters, and biochemistry.” Also that, “recent research that codes children’s behaviors, and toy play from videotapes of the toddlers’ first and second birthday parties demonstrate that the regression associated with autistic disorders clearly manifests between the ages of 12 and 24 months, concurrent with the exposure to thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines (TCVs).” 

Citing other research the authors note that several studies have examined the effect of thimerosal. One study examined infant monkeys following injection of doses of mercury comparable to the amount that U.S. children received during the 1990s. These researchers established that, “thimerosal crosses the blood-brain barrier and results in appreciable mercury content in tissues including the brain.” Another study examined mice after similarly being exposed to thimerosal and found that, “autistic symptoms in a susceptible mouse strain that included growth delay, reduced locomotion, exaggerated response to novelty, increased brain size, and significant abnormalities in brain architecture affecting areas subserving emotion and cognition.” 

In the late 1980s into the 1990s the CDC expanded the number of TCVs to be given to children. Because of this increase a child could have received as much as 200 micrograms (µg) of mercury during the first six months of life. During the same time epidemic levels of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) including autism were observed that, “cannot be explained by immigration, changed diagnostic criteria, or improved identification.” 

The authors hypothesized that since thimerosal has been removed from many vaccines that this decrease in thimerosal exposure should be accompanied with a decrease in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. “Assuming a 3- to 4- year lag time between birth and diagnosis of an ND, the peak followed by a decline in NDs would be expected to occur around 2002 if thimerosal had a significant impact on NDs.” 

Using the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) and CDDS (California Department of Developmental Services) databases, the independent researchers analyzed reports of childhood NDs, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives. 

From the data the authors determine that, “overall, it appears that the increasing and subsequent decreasing trends in the rates of NDs, observed in both the VAERS and CDDS databases, correlate with temporal periods when the cumulative amount of mercury in the childhood immunization schedule expanded and later contracted.” Continuing the authors note that, “the consistency of the effects observed for the spectrum of NDs, including autism and speech disorders, and the agreement between the observations from two separate databases, support the conclusion that the effect is real and not a chance observation.” 

Critics charge that the VAERS database cannot be used to draw any conclusions about autism because anyone – including doctors, patients, or lawyers – can submit reports to it. According to Milford Daily News, Glen Nowak, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the VAERS data “in and of itself is not a strong signal.” 

Responding to that criticism, the authors state that the VAERS is an epidemiological database that was established by an act of the United States Congress and set-up by the CDC to track adverse events reported following vaccination and is jointly maintained by the CDC and FDA. The VAERS has a total of approximately 200,000 adverse event reports that have been reported following more than 1 billion doses of vaccines administered in the United States. This probably makes the VAERS the largest database of adverse vaccine reactions in the world. 

Adverse vaccine reactions are by law required to be reported to VAERS with a VAERS group that specifically analyzes and has published numerous peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies based upon examination of the VAERS database. The CDC has made official vaccine policy recommendations based upon epidemiological assessments of the VAERS. For example, the withdrawal of the rotavirus vaccine back in 1999 following numerous reports of intussussception following rotavirus vaccine to the VAERS database. 

“It appears that the US CDC can analyze and publish epidemiological assessments of the VAERS database, but when independent researchers such as us, publish conclusions based upon epidemiological assessments of the VAERS database, that the CDC does not agree with, than according to the US CDC the VAERS becomes an unacceptable database to draw epidemiological conclusions from.” 

“In quickly examining those who claim to dispute our results and others that have reported an association between Thimerosal and autism, they claim to not understand why autism increased in the US during the 1990s (as Thimerosal was increased in US vaccines), they claim to not understand why autism decreased in the US during the early 2000s (as Thimerosal was decreased in US vaccines), they claim to not understand why when comparing children that received additional doses of mercury from Thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccine in comparison to Thimerosal-free DTaP vaccine those children that received Thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccines were at increased risk of developing autism, and they claim to not understand numerous recent clinical, biochemical, genetic, molecular, etc. studies that support the ability of Thimerosal from vaccines administered in the US to occasion autism.” 

“Based upon the fact that all the previous observations have one simple and transparent explanation, namely that Thimerosal was causing autism in the US, and those who purported dispute the link have no cohesive explanation for the phenomena observed, one must seriously considered that Thimerosal was a cause of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in the US.” 

The authors conclude their paper with, “From the data presented here and other emerging data, it appears clear that additional research should be undertaken concerning the effects of mercury exposure, particularly from TCVs.” 

According to wikipedia.org, “Mark R. Geier, MD, PhD, is a medical doctor based in Silver Spring, Maryland, who also holds a doctorate in genetics and is board-certified in medical genetics and forensic medicine. He was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for ten years, and previously was a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He has studied vaccines for more than 30 years and has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers on vaccine safety, efficacy, contamination and policy. He has authored over 90 publications and has made several presentations to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the adverse effects of vaccinations. He and his son, David Geier, are the only independent researchers ever to have been permitted to study the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) database of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).” 

US health agencies have uniformly rejected the conclusions of the Geiers' studies, and one of the Geiers' articles was the subject of heavy criticism by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Geier says public health officials are “just trying to cover it up.” On the other hand, “Mercury in Medicine Taking Unnecessary Risks”, a report prepared by the staff of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness, House Committee on Government Reform, Chaired by Dan Burton, was published in the Congressional Record in May, 2003, stated: 

“However, the Committee upon a thorough review of the scientific literature and internal documents from government and industry did find evidence that thimerosal did pose a risk. Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is likely related to the autism epidemic. This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding the lack of safety data regarding injected thimerosal and the sharp rise of infant exposure to this known neurotoxin. Our public health agencies’ failure to act is indicative of institutional malfeasance for self-protection and misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.”


Source: Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:21