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Dec
17

Why a UN ban on thimerosal in vaccines would be a big mistake

written by Tara Haelle

Hang on tight, friends! This is a long post – but an important one – about several articles published in Pediatrics today that could affect the protection of children everywhere from vaccine-preventable diseases. If you’ve ever had questions about thimerosal in vaccines, this post may address some of those questions as well.

All three Pediatrics articles deal with the same thing: an international treaty drafted by the United Nations Environmental Program‘s Global Mercury Partnership to reduce mercury pollution and environmental mercury exposure across the world. Great! This is an important and valuable initiative – except for one part. As part of the treaty, the UN wants to ban the use of thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, used in vaccines. Not good. The short version for why? This proposed ban threatens millions of children’s lives across the world, including children in the U.S. and in other developed countries. I’ll get to the long version in a moment.

First, the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) have already pushed for the thimerosal ban provision to be removed from the UN treaty. But today’s three AAP articles drive the point home. One of these provides some historical context for why thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines in the U.S. (as recommended by the AAP and the U.S. Public Health Services in 1999) and in other high-income countries. The other two emphasize just how important it is – and how ethically essential it is – that the ban not be included in the UN treaty.

Here’s the back story:
A 1997 US FDA review of the mercury content in products revealed that the amount of thimerosal in childhood vaccines could, possibly theoretically, build up to exceed the EPA’s guidelines (but not the FDA’s guidelines or those of the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry) on safe exposure limits for inorganic mercury, called methylmercury.

Methylmercury is the neurotoxin you hear about when you’re warned not to eat too much fish (especially while pregnant). Back in 1999, scientists knew a lot about methylmercury, but they didn’t know much about ethylmercury, the type in thimerosal. As Dr. Louis Cooper and Dr. Samuel Katz, both involved with the 1999 recommendations, put it, “the absence of clear data for ethyl mercury did not allow any assumption to be made about its safety.”

Meanwhile, debates were raging in Congress about concerns over vaccines and autism, fueled by the now-retracted and thoroughly debunked (pdf) study by Andrew Wakefield linking the MMR vaccine to autism. Parents were scared and confused. Media coverage was exacerbating the impression that public health officials weren’t being forthright about vaccine risks.

So, poof! All thimerosal was pulled from childhood vaccines except the multi-dose flu vaccine, since kids getting that would only get amounts below the EPA guidelines for methylmercury (even though, again, thimerosal is ETHYLmercury).

Now fast forward to today. We know a LOT more about ethylmercury: namely, that it’s not as bad as methylmercury and sails through our bodies a lot more quickly. In fact, methylmercury’s half-life is about seven times that of ethylmercury, which does not build up in the body like methylmercury does.

“There is no credible scientific evidence that the use of thimerosal in vaccines presents any risk to human health,” writes Dr. Katherine King in one of today’s Pediatrics articles. Dozens of studies and a massive review at the Institute of Medicine back this up.

Thimerosal in vaccines is not a problem. But what is a problem is thimerosal’s PR image. Again, from one of today’s AAP articles: “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.”

Basically, they’re saying, yea, we kinda screwed up with conveying that thimerosal really IS safe after all. We wanted to be over-cautious before, and we were, and that was good, but now we’ve sorta dropped the ball on following through in letting you know that YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT with the ethylmercury in thimerosal. As Dr. Walter Orenstein puts it, “Had the evidence that is available now been available in 1999, the policy reducing thimerosal use would likely have not been implemented. Furthermore, in 2008 the World Health Organization endorsed the use of thimerosal in vaccines.”

But apparently, the WHO’s endorsement can’t overcome thimerosal’s PR image problem in the eyes of the UN. And so the UN is short-sightedly and dangerously trying to ban thimerosal in vaccines.

Well, that just means getting rid of it in flu vaccines (many of which don’t even have thimerosal since they’re single-dose), so what’s the big deal anyway? The big deal is that not all countries got rid of thimerosal in their childhood vaccines. Many high-income countries like the U.S. did – because they could afford to be overly cautious.

But more than 120 middle- and low-income countries – including the developing countries where vaccine-preventable diseases have the highest rates of infection and death – have continued using thimerosal-containing vaccines because the preservative allows them to make cheaper vaccines that withstand less rigorous storage without compromising safety.

Getting rid of thimerosal would mean overhauling vaccine production and storage in those countries, which the WHO estimates would cost more than $300 million for vaccines supplied by UNICEF or the Pan American Health Organization alone. As Dr. King argues, “it is banning thimerosal that would cause an injustice to those living in low- and middle-income countries and relying on these vaccines for effective protection against many harmful infectious diseases.”

Why does this matter to people in the U.S. or in other higher income countries? Because we live in a global world. Vaccines with thimerosal are currently used to immunize about 84 million children across the world every year, saving an estimated 1.4 million lives from vaccine-preventable diseases. That includes lives saved in developed countries, where a future outbreak could potentially be imported from other countries in which a vaccination program may have ceased following a thimerosal ban.

More simply put: If the UN forces the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, then 84 million children risk not getting vaccinated (and/or vaccinated on time) due to delays in vaccine production or due to a shortage of vaccines because of increasing costs. This, in turn, could (and likely would) mean an increase in vaccine-preventable infections, which will, in turn, kill more children worldwide and risk disease carriage to other countries. Like here.

And even if we pretend that any outbreaks in other countries will remain there without reaching our shores (and/or that we simply don’t care about millions of children dying of these diseases elsewhere), a thimerosal ban in vaccines could still be a problem for developed countries. In an emergency, as Dr.  Orenstein and colleagues argue, not being able to manufacture vaccines with thimerosal could endanger lives during an epidemic if it slows down vaccine production. So yes, this is something you should care about.

Dr. Cooper and Dr. Katz – again, both pediatricians who were closely involved in the original 1999 decision to pull thimerosal out of vaccines – sum it up best: “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.”

49 Responses to “Why a UN ban on thimerosal in vaccines would be a big mistake”

  1. Twyla

    Regarding the study:
    Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal
    Environmental Health Perspectives, Aug 2005
    Thomas Burbacher, PhD (University of Washington)

    You link to an article about this study “Elimination of Methylmercury and Ethylmercury from the Body” and overlook the statement in this article that, “The researchers found higher levels of inorganic mercury in the brains and kidneys of the thimerosal treated animals than in the methylmercury-fed animals.”

    For more on this study, see #8 here: http://www.fourteenstudies.org/ourstudies.html

    An excerpt from the study’s conclusions: “A recently published IOM review (IOM 2004) appears to have abandoned the earlier recommendation [of studying mercury and autism] as well as back away from the American Academy of Pediatrics goal [of removing mercury from vaccines]. This approach is difficult to understand, given our current limited knowledge of the toxicokinetics and developmental neurotoxicity of thimerosal, a compound that has been (and will continue to be) injected in millions of newborns and infants.”

    • You link to an article about this study “Elimination of Methylmercury and Ethylmercury from the Body” and overlook the statement in this article that, “The researchers found higher levels of inorganic mercury in the brains and kidneys of the thimerosal treated animals than in the methylmercury-fed animals.”

      Well, you seem to have neglected to mention that overall mercury burden was lower in the brains of the thimerosal monkeys, and never reached anywhere near the amount Burbacher’s previous research indicated was needed for toxicity.

      For more on this study, see #8 here: http://www.fourteenstudies.org/ourstudies.html

      Ah, yes, go to an anonymously penned page from an antivaccine site with pretty sixties deco. That’ll learn ya. Certainly do not look at the dozen or so epidemiologic and other studies that show no long term problems with thimerosal in vaccinations, or look to the medical consensus of experts who agree that thimerosal is a safe, effective preservative.

      An excerpt from the study’s conclusions: “A recently published IOM review (IOM 2004) appears to have abandoned the earlier recommendation [of studying mercury and autism] as well as back away from the American Academy of Pediatrics goal [of removing mercury from vaccines]. This approach is difficult to understand, given our current limited knowledge of the toxicokinetics and developmental neurotoxicity of thimerosal, a compound that has been (and will continue to be) injected in millions of newborns and infants.”

      Burbacher seems to have neglected to mention those studies as well. Given his close ties to the antivaccine site SafeMinds, I am not surprised.

  2. Twyla

    The Lancet study co-authored by Dr. Wakefield had absolutely nothing to do with mercury. It studied gastrointestinal inflammation in a group of children, most of whom were diagnosed with autism, and most of whose parents reported a link between the children’s autism, bowel disease, and the MMR vaccine. The MMR has never contained thimerosal.

  3. Twyla

    THere is a simple alternative: Package shots individually so that preservative-level thimerosal is not needed. More expensive, and more bulky, but better than injecting mercury into millions of children. The cost of merry-induced immunological and neurological disorders is huge.

    Please see this recent congressional hearing on the federal government’s response to autism. Specifically, see what these two congressmen have to say about autism increasing in Africa:

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/309672-1

    01:38:53 Rep. Bill Posey (R-Florida) – mentions the increase in autism in Africa

    01:50:10 Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) says that he chairs the African Global Health and Human Rights Committee Foreign Affairs and African committee, and has worked on the Foreign Affairs committee for many years, and that they have never seen such a prevalence spike in Africa as they have seen during the past 15 years [- during a time of more and more vaccines being distributed in Africa, many of which still contain mercury in the preservative thimerosal.

    • Twyla

      Of course, I meant “mercury-induced” not “merry-induced”.

    • The cost of merry-induced immunological and neurological disorders is huge.

      Since study after study continues to show that vaccines cause no such “merry induced immunological and neurological disorders” the cost is obviously not huge, in fact, it would be nonexistent. The cost and barriers to bringing vaccines to where they need them the most, which is what a thimerosal ban would cause, would be huge, and deadly.

      Please see this recent congressional hearing on the federal government’s response to autism. Specifically, see what these two congressmen have to say about autism increasing in Africa

      I would imagine that dozens, if not hundreds of other changes have occurred in Africa as well that you could say that about. But you don’t suppose that in Africa, like everywhere else, surveillance for autism is increasing, do you? No, because that would not be consistent with the truth that vaccines did it.

  4. Twyla

    For more information on mercury and vaccines, please read these books:
    Evidence of Harm, by David Kirby
    Age of Autism, by Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted

    Also see this web site: http://www.redwineandapplesauce.com/2012/12/17/why-a-un-ban-on-thimerosal-in-vaccines-would-be-a-big-mistake/#comment-910

    And this paper:
    Autism – A Unique Form of Mercury Poisoning
    http://www.safeminds.org/about/documents/SM%20Autism-Mercury%20Paper%20Long%20Version.pdf

  5. Twyla

    To dismiss ethyl mercury as less toxic than methyl mercury is ridiculous. Here are a couple of articles related to the toxicity of ethyl mercury:

    Uncoupling of ATP-mediated Calcium Signaling and Dysregulated IL-6 Secretion in Dendritic Cells by Nanomolar Thimerosal
    http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/6.19.pdf

    Accidental ethyl mercury poisoning with nervous system, skeletal muscle, and myocardium injury
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC490489/
    This study says that, “The clinical, electrophysiological, and toxicological, and in two of the patients the pathological data, showed that this organic mercury compound has a very high toxicity not only for the brain, but also for the spinal motoneurones, peripheral nerves, skeletal muscles, and myocardium.”

    • The fact that thimerosal *can* be toxic in sufficient quantities is not in question (so can, BTW, iron, water, and oxygen). But this doesn’t answer whether it is more or less toxic than methylmercury, and neither do your studies. The real question is whether there is enough in vaccines to be toxic, and your studies don’t answer that either, but plenty of studies do. Which is how we know it isn’t.

      http://www.ecbt.org/vaccinesafety/documents/Recent_Scientific_Studies_on_Thimerosal_and_Autism_1_8_08.pdf

      • Twyla

        The question is not so much whether ethyl mercury is more or less toxic than methyl mercury, but whether ethyl mercury is extremely toxic. The answer is: yes, ethyl mercury is extremely toxic – including to nerve cells and immune system cells.

      • Twyla

        re: “in sufficient quantities”
        Nanomolar quantities are extremely small.

      • The question is not so much whether ethyl mercury is more or less toxic than methyl mercury, but whether ethyl mercury is extremely toxic.

        You are the one who raised the question of “whether “ethyl mercury as less toxic than methyl mercury.” How toxic anything is is based on dosage. Sufficiently small dosages of ethyl mercury are not “extremely” toxic.

        Nanomolar quantities are extremely small.

        Sure, compared to a mole. But not necessarily compared to the amount of a substance that would actually get exposed to that number of cells from a vaccine. Nor is it the same method or duration of exposure, etc.

        A couple hundred nanograms of tetanus toxin can kill an adult. Now that’s what I call extremely toxic.

  6. Twyla

    This paper surveys all the literature the authors could find regarding a possible link between autism and exposure to heavy metals such as mercury.
    “Sorting out the spinning of autism: heavy metals and the question of incidence”
    http://www.ane.pl/pdf/7021.pdf
    They found that the majority of studies support a link between exposure to heavy metals and autism.

    Here is an interview with one of the authors:
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/08/autism-and-heavy-metals-an-interview-with-mary-catherine-desoto-phd.html

  7. Twyla

    Thanks very much for posting this info, even if you disagree. I appreciate that.

    • Twyla

      re: “Thanks very much for posting this info, even if you disagree. I appreciate that.”

      Just to clarify, my comment was directed at Tara, thanking her for posting my comments.

  8. Tara Haelle

    There are several points you have brought up that I hope to address in the coming days. Because of the craziness of the holidays, I cannot give them adequate time at the moment. I have noticed at a glance a number of unreliable sources, such as Safe Minds and Age of Autism, both known for disseminating false information and other misleading information or misinformation related to vaccines. (David Kirby’s book in particular contains too many inaccuracies to count.)

    One quick note regarding my mention of the MMR study by Wakefield – I was not implying that the study was related to thimerosal. You are correct that it was not (and that the MMR did not contain thimerosal). However, the study did fuel much of the concerns over vaccine safety that were being discussed in Congress at the time that health officials were considering whether to keep or remove thimerosal in vaccines. The concurrence of those discussions – largely involving that study – and the thimerosal discussion was what I was referring to. There is no doubt that the confluence of all these events at once played a part in the original decision to remove thimerosal, even though the Wakefield study was not related to it.

    • Twyla

      Vaccine defenders often make the argument that any source which disagrees with them is unreliable and inaccurate. But Age of Autism and SafeMinds do not disseminate false information, misleading information, or misinformation related to vaccines. They are quite careful about accuracy, as is David Kirby. Plus, I actually only linked to AoA for an interview with the author of a study. The author and the study are not affiliated with Age of Autism – she was just interviewed by Age of Autism.

      Yes, this is a very busy season, and I wish you very happy holidays!

  9. John Ammirato

    I don’t have the time to do a point by point criticism of Generation Rescue’s Fourteen Studies propaganda piece but Dr. David Gorski does a good analysis of what is wrong with it. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/welcome-back-my-friends-to-the-show-that-never-ends-part-ii-generation-rescue-attacks-14-studies/

    Twyla as far as the 2 mercury studies you cite the first one was done on mice which means that its findings might not scale up to humans if and when such a study is done. Second, the researchers say that they do not claim that their study links thimerosal to autism. To quote one of the studies researchers “”Our findings do not directly implicate thimerosal as a single causative agent for triggering neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism,” Pessah said. “There is growing evidence that autism is several disorders that we now refer to as just one. There is also growing evidence that some children with autism have unique immune cell composition and responses to antigens. The results of our work provide a framework to test the hypothesis that the genetic background of some individuals may render them especially susceptible to thimerosal.” http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/7973 The second article deals with methly mercury which is not the compound in thimerosal. Ethlymercury is in thimerosal and it is not toxic in the dosages present in vaccines. The body can process out ethylmercury. Methlymercury is toxic and exposure to it should be limited.

    As far as the rising rates of autism in Africa and the rise in vaccinations in Africa, Twyla you are mixing correlation with causation. What is probably happening in Africa is what happened in the US and other developed nations, people became more aware autism and the diagnosis of autism broaden making into a specturm disorder and thereby covering more individuals who would not have been covered under the narrower diagnosis.

    • Twyla

      @John A. -

      Yes, Dr. Pessah says, “Our findings do not directly implicate thimerosal as a single causative agent for triggering neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.” I am not making the argument that thimerosal is the only cause of autism. I think there are multiple factors at work. I do believe that thimerosal can cause autism. Certainly “the genetic background of some individuals may render them especially susceptible to thimerosal”. The study “Uncoupling of ATP-mediated Calcium Signaling and Dysregulated IL-6 Secretion in Dendritic Cells by Nanomolar Thimerosal” does not by itself prove a link between mercury and autism. But it does demonstrate that tiny “nanomolar” amounts of mercury can derange the immune system, confusing the important dendritic cells. And yes, the study was done on mice. That is common. Mice are a lot like us in many ways.

      I posted a study “Accidental ETHYL mercury poisoning with nervous system, skeletal muscle, and myocardium injury.” Ethyl, not methyl.

      “Correlation not causation” is the standard knee-jerk rebuttal to any information linking autism and vaccines. And the statement that third world countries are simply becoming more aware of autism is completely without foundation, simply an empty declaration. There’s no way people (even uneducated people) can fail to notice a child who does not learn to talk, who has narrow perseverative interests and often huge behavioral issues, insomnia, etc. If 1 in 88 children in Africa have always had autism, there would be a word for autism.

      • “Correlation not causation” is the standard knee-jerk rebuttal to any information linking autism and vaccines.

        Well, it is a logical reaction when the claim such as yours is made. Cell phone usage in Africa increased as well. Lots of things have increased, in fact plenty of things things have a tendency to increase over time no matter where you are. The question is whether or not vaccines increase your risk of autism. Dozens of studies say no. This trumps by far your correlation declaration, which is by far a more “empty declaration” than the idea that increased surveillance increases autism diagnoses. The latter is also demonstrated in numerous studies concerning autism.

        You also seem to think that autism is far more homogenous than it is. “A child who does not learn to talk, who has narrow perseverative interests and often huge behavioral issues, insomnia, etc.” does not describe the one in 88 children with autism, even in America. And for that matter, it describes a large number of non-autistic children. The vast differences in how autism prevents is one of the reasons that making a consistent method of diagnosis has been so difficult, and why developing countries may not have historically had a word for it.

        • Twyla

          Lots of things have increased, but most things do not have a number of connections to autism.

          We know that immune system dysregulation is a major factor in autism.

          An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism
          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/immune-disorders-and-autism.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          “studies of postmortem brains and of individuals with autism, as well as epidemiological studies, have supported the correlation between alterations in the immune system and autism spectrum disorder.”
          http://www.caltech.edu/content/caltech-researchers-find-evidence-link-between-immune-irregularities-and-autism

          The Immune System’s Role in the Biology of Autism
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898160/

          Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15546155

        • Twyla

          Of course autism is not homogeneous, but the very mild cases of autism are not such a problem. And no, “a large number of non-autistic children” are not described by the phrase “does not learn to talk, has narrow perseverative interests and often huge behavioral issues, insomnia, etc.”

          • We know that immune system dysregulation is a major factor in autism.

            You’re overstating immensly. We have evidence that people with autism have differences in immune function. But we also know that many genetic disorders have abnormalities in immune function. Down syndrome has abnormalities in immune function, but it’s not caused by “immune system dysregulation” and certainly not vaccines. What we don’t have is evidence of causation of autism due to immune problems. What we DO have are studies that show that vaccines don’t cause autism. I linked to some above. And this is about thimerosal. Are you proposing that thimerosal causes immune system dysregulation? How? This would be a new antivaccine canard to read up on.

            Of course autism is not homogeneous, but the very mild cases of autism are not such a problem.

            Um, how much of a “problem” autistic people are (and please believe me that I am rather sickened to have repeated that) beside the point of what we were talking about. You claimed “There’s no way people (even uneducated people) can fail to notice [these characteristics]. If 1 in 88 children in Africa have always had autism, there would be a word for autism.” You are clearly indicating here that these are characteristic of autism that has an incidence of roughly 1 in 88 in the US. But you are mistaken, as autism varies from so profoundly disabled that it may be misdiagnosed as something else, or so mildly disabling that those “uneducated people” wouldn’t recognize it. And probably wouldn’t put the two together under the same name.

            And no, “a large number of non-autistic children” are not described by the phrase “does not learn to talk, has narrow perseverative interests and often huge behavioral issues, insomnia, etc.”

            More than you probably realize.

            https://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/2011/autism-traits-common-among-healthy-people

          • Twyla

            Yes, Covrac, “autism traits common in healthy people”. I’ve got some aspie tendencies myself. But I am able to go grocery shopping, drive a car, cross the street safely, care for my children, speak in complete sentences, and not have seizures. Many kids today have a severe level of impairment and will not be able to live independently as adults. Many are non-verbal, have major behavioral issues, insomnia, seizures, and more. To talk about undiagnosed people who have some autie/aspie tendencies is just an attempt to cloud the issue – the serious problems of people with full-blown autism, which has become much more common than before.

          • “Many are non-verbal, have major behavioral issues, insomnia, seizures, and more.”

            What I disagree with, Twyla, is your attempt to imply that 1 in 88 children have those symptoms, therefore autism would have been obvious in Africa histoically. that is not the case. I am not attempting to cloud the issue, nor minimize the difficulties on the more profoundly disabling end of the spectrum. I am pointing out the flaw in your assertion. Those symptoms do not describe 1 in 88, and they do describe some people without autism. Autism is a tricky diagnosis for the most part. We are trying to get a handle on proper diagnosis in the US. Is it any surprise that developing countries don’t have a handle on it either?

  10. Twyla

    Summary of Supportive Science Regarding Thimerosal Removal Updated December 2012
    http://www.safeminds.org/research/docs/Thimerosal%20Science%20Summary%20Dec%202012.pdf

    VACCINES AND AUTISM – WHAT DO EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STUDIES REALLY TELL US?
    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/vaccines-and-autism-epidemiology-rebuttal.pdf

  11. Twyla

    From the last two pages of the 2005 book “Evidence of Harm” by David Kirby -

    “Finally, while it’s true that mercury has been phased out from most pediatric vaccines given in the United States, this is hardly the case with countries overseas.

    “…Since then [1999,] American-made vaccines have been exported to nations throughout the developing world.

    “Most of these vaccines contain thimerosal…

    “Autism has rarely been reported outside of industrialized countries, at least until recent years. A good example is China, where companies such as Merck and GlasoSmithKline have begun an aggressive pediatric marketing campaign, selling millions of dollars in vaccines to the communist government, including pediatric hepatitis-B, DTP, Hib, MMR, and others. On August 11, 2004, the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, reported that the number of children suffering with autism in that country had suddenly and unexpectedly skyrocketed. In a few short years, the number of reported cases had jumped from nearly nothing to some 1.8 million children in 2004. One researcher ‘estimated the that number of Chinese children with autism was growing at an annual rate of 20 percent, even higher than the world average of 14 percent,’ the news agency reported. [The level of mercury from coal-burning power plants has also increased tremendously in China – TR]

    “Other increases in autism cases are currently being reported in such far-flung countries as Indonesia, Argentina, India, and Nigeria, though improved medical attention may be part of the reason.

    “If thimerosal is one day proven to be a contributing factor to autism, and if U.S.-made vaccines containing the preservative are now being supplied to infants the world over, the scope of this potential tragedy becomes almost unthinkable.

    “The United States, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, is not exactly the most beloved nation on earth. What if the profitable export of our much vaunted medical technology has led to the poisoning of hundred of thousands of children? What then?”

  12. Twyla

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/11/out-of-africa-a.html

    “Amidst the furor over autism in America, some very simple facts are getting lost in the rhetorical fog of medical denial, corporate self-dealing and civic irresponsibility. They’re worth repeating. Autism was once very rare in the United States and required ‘discovering’ by Leo Kanner among a small group of children born in the 1930s. When researchers first measured American autism rates, they were lower than surveys coming from other parts of the developed world, sometimes less than 1 in 10,000. Today, it’s nearly impossible to find an American who doesn’t know a family touched by autism and rates are over 1 in 100 in some areas of the country. It doesn’t take a genius to derive a short list of broad-based environmental exposures that have changed rapidly enough to give us some pretty good ideas about causation…”

    Regarding Africa:

    “1) Autism has always been rare in Africa, with low rates that have surprised researchers.

    “2) Most autism in Africa occurred in elite families with access to Western health services.

    “3) Among Africans who migrate to Western countries, autism rates are remarkably high. These immigrants face unusual risks of over vaccination.”

    In this 2008 article, Mark Blaxill goes on to talk about how little autism was found in Africa in the past, but much higher rates are occurring among African immigrants exposed to our vaccine schedule, and increasing rates in Africa especially among what one researcher 30 years ago Victor Lotter called “elite families”, i.e. “any child who had been born abroad [Britain, Europe or North America], or had lived for any period abroad, or whose parent(s) had lived for any period abroad, or whose father had a non-manual job.”

    “Infantile autism”, wrote Victor Sanua in a 1984 paper that reviewed the evidence of autism in Africa, “appears to be an illness of Western Civilization, and appears in countries of high technology, where the nuclear family dominates.”

    Well, now we are sharing our risk factors with Africa, and according to some of our congressman at the recent autism, rates of autism in Africa are increasing. What a big Mystery, just a Coincidence, we are constantly told. But it’s not such a mystery. The reason is obvious. This is not simple. Vaccines fight disease but have unintended consequences which need to be better understood instead of being swept under the denialism rug.

    • John Ammirato

      The reason autism had become more prevelent is probably based on more awareness and the fact that the diagnosis for autism has increased. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10803-012-1566-0. Africans who get access to western medicine or who move to the West are getting better medical care from doctors who are aware of ASD. Therefore, these medical providers are going to be likely to diagnosis ASD because they know what to look for. If anything the fact that boys are much more likely to be autistic than girls strongly points in the direction that it has a genetic cause over an environmental cause.

      • Twyla

        As described in Mark Blaxill’s article which I inked to above, Victor Lotter traveled extensively in Africa and found hardly any autism. And, again, while “nerdism” may be overlooked, severe autism is obvious.

        Boys are also more likely to suffer more serious effects of mercury exposure as well, based on historical accounts.

        • “As described in Mark Blaxill’s article which I inked to above, Victor Lotter traveled extensively in Africa and found hardly any autism.”

          Ah, yes, this sounds like a wholly unbiased method to look for autism, completely comparable to the screening efforts in the developed world.

        • John Ammirato

          When Lotter did his study it was the 1970′s when the definition of autism was quite different than what it is today. So you can’t really use that to say there was hardly any autism in Africa. There was autism but it was diagnosed as something else, if it was even diagnosed. Further the Utah study I cited earlier shows that the more current definition of autism has the effect of increasing the cases on the intellectual disability end of the spectrum.

    • John Ammirato

      The Japanese study was a rat study, not a human study. Furthermore it used 3 female rats and their litters, the problem with this is that the rat/mice litters are very homogenous dna wise so if there could be genetic reason for the findings, however, the researchers failed to control for it. This is a better study in regards, to early esposure to thimerosal http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa071434

  13. [...] Last year, the UN was about to approve a treaty to reduce mercury pollution and environmental mercury exposure across the world, with a huge inconvenient – it’d ban thimerosal in vaccines. [...]

  14. [...] [This post appeared previously at Red Wine and Apple Sauce.] [...]

  15. [...] ethylmercury and used to prevent bacterial contamination of the vaccine container. Ethylmercury, as I’ve discussed before, is processed differently by the body than methylmercury, the neurotoxin that can build up [...]

  16. […] egg protein, antibiotics, formaldehyde, MSG and ethylmercury derived from thimerosal exist in some (but not all) vaccines in such tiny quantities that even […]

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