News of the Day ... In Perspective03/16/2006
Congress asks for independent research on thimerosal-autism link
After listening to the concerns of parents of autistic children, Congress enacted a provision in the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill urging independent research using the secret government Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) to identify or rule out an association between thimerosal exposure and increasing rates of autism.
The VSD is a CDC-constructed database that follows 7 million immunized children from 1990 to the present.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the CDC are urged to organize a workshop on research possibilities by May 2006.
A bipartisan letter to NIEHS Director David Schwartz states: “If the federal government is going to have a study whose results will be broadly accepted, such a study cannot be led by the CDC.”
The letter also observes: “The exposure of American children from 1990 to 2001 to thimerosal was unique—it was 75 percent greater than their European counterparts who are the focus of the majority of the epidemiological research on this issue upon which the IOM relied.”
Only one study to date has used the VSD. It was based on data collected before thimerosal was removed from most vaccines and failed to explicitly compare outcomes of children who received thimerosal-containing vaccines with those who did not.