Sci­en­tists Link Mercury-​based Preser­v­a­tive in Child­hood Vac­cines to Autism

The June 10, 2004 Belfast Tele­graph reported that sci­en­tists link preser­v­a­tives in child vac­cines to autism. The study showed that a mercury-​based preser­v­a­tive (thimerosal) used in some child­hood vac­cines was linked to autism-​like dam­age in the brains of mice. The lat­est study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Mol­e­c­u­lar Psy­chi­a­try, found that mice sus­cep­ti­ble to autoim­mune dis­ease which were exposed to low doses of eth­yl­mer­cury showed behav­ioral and neu­ro­log­i­cal changes in the brain.

The researchers for this study per­formed at the Mail­man School of Pub­lic Health at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity, said that expo­sure to thimerosal in their ani­mal model affected the behav­ior of the genet­i­cally sus­cep­ti­ble mice, caused abnor­mal­i­ties in the brain and increased its size. The team, led by Dr. Mady Hornig, noted that over the past 20 years there had been a “strik­ing increase”, at least 10-​fold since 1985 — in the num­ber of chil­dren diag­nosed with autism spec­trum disorders.

This recent study come on the heels of another report in which the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine (IOM) stated that there was no link between thimerosal and autism. Bar­bara Loe Fisher pres­i­dent of the National Vac­cine Infor­ma­tion cen­tre was quick to crit­i­cize the IOM report by say­ing, “This report is a case of polit­i­cal immunol­ogy mas­querad­ing as real sci­ence. With it, the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine takes a step toward weak­en­ing its rep­u­ta­tion as an inde­pen­dent body capa­ble of mak­ing an objec­tive sci­en­tific analy­sis of com­plex med­ical risk issues which are influ­enced by gov­ern­ment pol­icy and indus­try profits.”

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