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Keep thimerosal in vaccines, pediatricians urge

Posted by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 7:45 AM
  • 6 Replies

 

Keep thimerosal in vaccines, pediatricians urge

A mercury-containing preservative should not be banned as an ingredient in vaccines, U.S. pediatricians said Monday, in a move that may be controversial.

In its statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed calls from a World Health Organization (WHO) committee that the preservative, thimerosal, not be considered a hazardous source of mercury that could be banned by the United Nations.

Back in 1999, a concern that kids receiving multiple shots containing thimerosal might get too much mercury - and develop autism or other neurodevelopmental problems as a result - led the AAP to call for its removal, despite the lack of hard evidence at the time.

 

"It was absolutely a matter of precaution because of the absence of more information," said Dr. Louis Cooper, from Columbia University in New York, who was on the organization's board of directors at the time.

"Subsequently an awful lot of effort has been put into trying to sort out whether thimerosal causes any harm to kids, and the bottom line is basically, it doesn't look as if it does," Cooper, who wrote a commentary published with the AAP's statement, told Reuters Health.

In a 2004 safety review, for example, the independent U.S. Institute of Medicine concluded there was no evidence thimerosal-containing vaccines could cause autism. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to the same conclusion in 2010.

With the exception of some types of flu shots, the compound is not used in vaccines in the United States, which are distributed in single-dose vials.

And nobody is arguing that should change, according to Dr. Walter Orenstein, a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and a researcher at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta.

But in countries with fewer resources - where many children still die of vaccine-preventable diseases - it's cheaper and easier to use multi-dose vials of vaccines against diphtheria and tetanus, for example.

Thimerosal prevents the rest of a multi-dose vial from getting contaminated with bacteria or fungi each time a dose is used.

Researchers estimated it could cost anywhere from two to five times as much to manufacture vaccines for developing countries without thimerosal, and both transporting vaccines and keeping them refrigerated would be much harder as well.

"If we had to take the thimerosal out of those multi-dose vials, we're having a hard time completing the task of getting every kid immunized now, that would add a tremendous burden," Cooper said - and more children would probably die as a result.

"Children who can now be protected from these life-threatening diseases could become vulnerable," Orenstein told Reuters Health.

The new statement is published in the AAP's journal Pediatrics.

Thimerosal contains a type of mercury called ethyl mercury. Toxic effects have been tied to its cousin, methyl mercury, which stays in the body for much longer.

Earlier this year, the WHO said replacing thimerosal with an alternative preservative could affect vaccine safety and might cause some vaccines to become unavailable.

Mercury, however, is still on the list of global health hazards to be banned in a draft treaty from the United Nations Environment Program - which would mean a ban on thimerosal.

Reducing mercury exposure "is a wonderful thing," Orenstein said.

However, "We need this exception because thimerosal is so vital for protecting children."

He said keeping thimerosal in vaccines is essential mostly for humanitarian reasons - although preventing childhood diseases in the developing world could also help the U.S. because other countries can serve as reservoirs for illness.

"For American parents, this is more looking at the world and our role and responsibility in protecting the children of the world than it is a direct impact," Orenstein said.

by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 7:45 AM
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lancet98
by Gold Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 7:51 AM

Nothing has linked vaccines to autism.  There was even a study in Britain in which parents changed their kid's medical history to show an onset of autism symptoms directly after vaccination; they changed the medical histories after being told that vaccine companies might have to pay compensation.

Since Americans are convinced the preservative is dangerous, it will probably continue to stay out of vaccines.   Belief is a powerful thing, and trumps facts.

yourspecialkid
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:33 AM
1 mom liked this

 I think the autism aspect is irrelevant to begin with.  Mercury is poisonous...why on earth we purposely dose our kids with it when we don't have too?

 

krysstizzle
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:41 AM
2 moms liked this

If they're soooo concerned with protecting children, why the hell don't they figure out some way to get vaccines with no mercury in it to developing countries? It's poison, plain and simple.

There are ways they'll never want to look at, like reduced prices for poor countries. Pharmaceutical companies are most definitely not hurting in the money area. Vaccines don't make a lot of money for them to begin with, but vaccines are never a company's only source of income. 

EireLass
by Ruby Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:35 AM
1 mom liked this

Why aren't people demanding single dose injections to begin with?

JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:37 AM
2 moms liked this

They advise pregnant women to stay aay from foods that have a high Mercury content YET they encourage pumping your children with vaccines FULL of this stuff and they want to administer those vaccines sometimes three, four at a time.............

No one is going to convince me that there isn't an negative affect resulting from vaccinations.

JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:38 AM

You hit it on the head----- it's about MONEY. Always and will always be.

Quoting krysstizzle:

If they're soooo concerned with protecting children, why the hell don't they figure out some way to get vaccines with no mercury in it to developing countries? It's poison, plain and simple.

There are ways they'll never want to look at, like reduced prices for poor countries. Pharmaceutical companies are most definitely not hurting in the money area. Vaccines don't make a lot of money for them to begin with, but vaccines are never a company's only source of income. 


....I am only responsible for what I say,NOT for what you understand.....
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