Prenatal thimerosal and autism: evidence opposing the mercury hypothesis

An interesting study that I look forward to reading when it becomes available. Due to some weird University-Publisher interaction, I can’t get my hands on this article yet. From the abstract and the news it seems that Rh- mothers who receive Rh immune globulin via vaccine pre-partum did not have any higher incidence of autistic outcomes than the normal population. Good news for Rh- women wanting to have children, but I still have concerns about thimerosal in general.

The authors state in their abstract:

These findings support the consensus that exposure to ethylmercury in thimerosal is not the cause of the increased prevalence of autism. These data are important not only for parents in this country but also for the international health community where thimerosal continues to be used to preserve multi-dose vials which in turn makes vaccines affordable.

I think the authors hastily and unfairly generalized their results in this instance, though I intend to read the document and report more thoroughly when it is available.

A few points to think about.

1.)Vaccinations were given to mothers pre-partum. The concentration of thimerosal to a fetus in a vaccination given to a 135 lb. woman is going to be less than that given to a post-partum baby. I’d have to read the article and wrap my head around the literature to determine the average amount of thimerosal exposure in each case. Most likely, it is a much lower exposure in the prenatal Rh vaccination.

2.)Multiple rounds of multi-dose vials exceeded FDA approved levels of mercury exposure. Period. The authors are comparing apples to oranges here. Any one pre-2001 vaccination did not exceed FDA levels of mercury exposure, but the combination of multiple vaccinations in a short span did exceed FDA approved levels. This report is not the nail in the coffin of the thimerosal hypothesis that the authors suggest.

3.)Johnson and Johnson funded the study. Good science is often funded by private companies, but it should be noted that although the original report cites this funding, the news media do not. I love Johnson and Johnson, and most all pharm companies. Really, they do great work. But these possible conflicts of interest must be highlighted in every study.

In conclusion, Rh- women have some reassurance that Rh vaccination won’t have adverse developmental effects on their baby. For the rest of us concerned about multiple exposures to flu and other vaccines on infants, there is little to gain from this study, despite the smug confidence of the authors.

Pubmed abstract


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