News of the Day ... in Perspective2/20/2004
Institute of Medicine airs concerns over mercury in vaccines
On February 9, the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) heard testimony on vaccinations and autism. While epidemiologists said they doubted any connection between the mercury-containing vaccine additive thimerosal, some toxicologists told the panel they were increasingly convinced of the link (NY Times, Feb 10, 2004).
Rep. David Weldon, M.D., (R-FL) accused the CDC of ignoring evidence and blocking researchers’ access to a vaccine data base. H. Vasken Aposhian, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona suggested that autistic children have impaired ability to excrete mercury. Researchers Mark Geier, M.D., and David Geier said they had concluded that “thimerosal is a major contributor to the autism epidemic.”
On the same day, the Wall Street Journal carried a strongly worded editorial about autism and vaccines, accusing a “small coterie of parents” of unleashing a “hornet’s nest of moral intimidation,” and also published a commentary by Dr. Paul Offit. Offit reassured parents that thimerosal does not cause autism, and compared the furor to previous claims made against Bendectin and silicone breast implants.