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Do you believe that mercury in childhood vaccines causes autism? Or that mercury in dental filings causes chronic fatigue syndrome? Or that yeast infections cause fibromyalgia? The vast majority of doctors do not believe that any of these associations exist. All too often, a doctor or other authority comes up with a theory, and actually believes what he proposes, and without any research, support or testing, scares the public by reporting his or her theory.

A study in Pediatrics shows that autism rates in Denmark are not linked to thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that used to be added to some childhood vaccines. The incidence of autism appeared to increase up to 1992, shortly before the mercury containing chemical, thimerosal, was removed from childhood vaccines. However, the apparent increase in the rate of autism continued for several years after mercury was removed from the vaccine. If mercury-containing thimerosal was a cause of autism, the rate of that condition should drop after mercury was removed from vaccines, but it didn't.

Although mercury was never shown to cause autism, or any other condition for that matter, vaccine makers began removing thimerosal from vaccines around 1992. Of course high levels of mercury can damage nerves and have been associated with brain damage in children, but the amount of mercury in childhood vaccines is so small, and the number of exposures through immunizations are so limited, that today, no evidence exists that mercury in vaccines causes any form of damage. The Institute of Medicine reported in 2001 that there was no association has been found between thimerosal and nerve damage in children. In this new study, Danish researchers found the autism rate rose from one child per 10,000 in 1990 to 5 per 10,000 in 1999, seven years after thimerosal was removed from vaccines in Denmark.

Parents of autistic children are always looking for a cause of their children's inability to communicate with other people. Activist Mark Blaxill, director of the Safe Minds, founded by parents of children with autism, responds that it's not surprising that Pediatrics would publish a pro-vaccine study since the journal's core readers -- pediatricians -- administer vaccines. Many parents of autistic children will never be convinced that immunizations did not cause their children's problems.

Pediatrics, September 2003

Checked 8/9/05

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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