No Link Found Between Autism, Vaccines
The use in vaccines of a preservative that contains mercury is not responsible for the development of autism in children, according to a study published in Pediatrics, Bloomberg/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
The study, which was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, examined autism rates among 27,749 children in 55 schools in Montreal from 1987 to 1998.
According to lead researcher Eric Fombonne, director of Pediatric Psychiatry at Montreal Children's Hospitals, findings show that autism rates rose steadily among children who had been vaccinated as infants even though the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal was not added to the shots during the last two years examined.
Thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1996 when manufacturers combined five inoculations, including polio, which is inactivated by the preservative, Bloomberg/Democrat-Gazette reports.
Fombonne said, "If you look at the rates of autism in the study, there is a smooth linear increase in the prevalence from the group born in 1987 to when the study finishes with children born in 1998." He added that the rates of disorders "among children born in an era where there was no exposure to thimerosal is significantly higher than in the years before, when there was high exposure. That's really a convincing argument that there is no relationship between the two."
David Ayoub, medical director of the Foundation for Autism Information and Research, said children might have been exposed to mercury from other shots, such as hepatitis or flu vaccinations, that contained the preservative after 1996. He added, "This is just another heavily biased study by an author with a long track record of financial ties to the drug industry, and whose previous views on the epidemiology of autism have been discredited" (Fay Cortez, Bloomberg/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/6).