"Debunking the thimerosal myth"

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Registered: 03-25-2003
"Debunking the thimerosal myth"
Tue, 05-13-2003 - 11:30pm
"One of the most difficult challenges faced by vaccines these days is whether exposure to the preservative thimerosal, because it contains a form of mercury known as ethylmercury, can cause neurologic damage or autism.

Thimerosal was regularly used in vaccines until a 1999 recommendation from the AAP and the CDC called for its removal. According to reports at that time, the total mercury a child could be exposed to in the first year of life through thimerosal-containing vaccines exceeded safe levels of mercury exposure by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But the EPA guidelines were intentionally liberal in their estimation of what constitutes dangerous levels of mercury exposure. Furthermore, leading vaccine advocates say, the recommendation to remove thimerosal was based on flawed assumptions, meaning that thimerosal was never dangerous in the first place.

Still, the removal of the preservative from vaccines was sensationalized in the media as a conclusion that thimerosal was in fact dangerous. What started out as a cautionary decision thought to benefit the American public blew up in the face of the public health community.

Vaccine manufacturers are now facing the ramifications of that decision in the form of lawsuits that threaten their ability to stay in business. As well, parents are now frightened by a backlash of misinformation campaigns and some are even scared to have their children immunized."

Entire article here: http://www.idinchildren.com/200304/thim.asp


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Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 05-17-2003 - 5:26pm


This letter was sent by FAX to all the US Senators by

Representative Dan Burton.


November 18, 2002

Dear Colleague:

During the past 24 hours, a number of incorrect statements

have been made about the vaccine provisions in the Homeland

Security Act. The facts are simple. These provisions

severely restrict the legal rights of parents who believe

their children have suffered neurological damage due to

vaccines. The scientific debate remains unresolved. These

provisions do not belong in the Homeland Security Act. I hope

the following points will help separate fact from fiction.

FICTION: Scientists have concluded that there is no causal

connection between mercury-containing thimerosal and

neurological disorders such as autism.

FACT: In 2001, the respected Institute of Medicine concluded

that a connection between thimerosal and autism, while

unproven, is "biologically plausible." The IOM called for

further research, stating, "the evidence is inadequate to

accept or reject a causal relationship between exposure to

thimerosal from vaccines and neurological developmental

disorders of autism, ADHD, and speech and language delays."

FACT: Researchers in the state of California concluded this

year that there is no statistical explanation for the nearly

300% increase in cases of autism in that state. "It is

astounding to see a threefold increase in autism with no

explanation," said Dr. Robert Byrd, an epidemiologist who led

the study. "There's a number of things that need to be

answered. We need to rethink the possible causes of autism."

FACT: An internal HHS document produced to the House

Government Reform Committee during its investigation into

vaccine safety described what it referred to as a "weak

signal" in its data linking thimerosal to neurological


"Preliminary screening of ICD-9 codes for possible neurologic

and renal conditions following exposures to vaccines

containing thimerosal before 3 months of age showed a

statistical association for the overall category of

neurological developmental disorders and for two conditions

within the category, speech delay and attention deficit


FACT: If there were no concerns that scientific research

would demonstrate a connection between thimerosal and autism,

Sections 1714-1717 would not have been tacked onto the

Homeland Security Act in the eleventh hour with no debate.

FICTION: Sections 1714-1717 do not eliminate the rights of

vaccine-injured individuals to sue manufacturers of vaccines

and their components. Proponents of these provisions have

stated that once individuals have gone through the Vaccine

Injury Compensation Program they can still choose to file a

civil law suit.

FACT: For many families who believe their children were

injured by mercury-based thimerosal, these provisions do

eliminate their right to file suits. The Vaccine Injury

Compensation Program has a narrow 3-year statute of

limitations. Because many families were unaware of the

program, they were unable to file a petition on time.

Sections 1714-1717 take away their only remaining legal


FICTION: Thimerosal has now been removed from all childhood

vaccines and is therefore no longer a concern.

FACT: While thimerosal has recently been removed from most

pediatric vaccines used in the United States, it is still used

in the flu vaccine given every year to millions of Americans,

including children as young as six months old.

FACT: The argument that thimerosal has been removed from most

pediatric vaccines is beside the point. Because the FDA was

painfully slow to seek the removal of thimerosal during the

1990's, millions of children across the country were exposed

to this mercury-based preservative at a time when concerns

about its health effects were emerging. The legal rights of

these children should not be curtailed.

Please vote to strip Sections 1714-1717 from the Homeland

Security Act. Fifteen years ago, only 1 in 10,000 children

was autistic. Today that number has skyrocketed to 1 in 250.

Let's not be stampeded into cutting off the legal rights of

these children without hearings and a full public debate.


Dan Burton


House Committee on Government Reform


For Immediate Release

December 6, 2002 Contact: Blain Rethmeier/Nick Mutton

(202) 225-5074

Burton Reviews Federal Government Track Record On Vaccines And


Washington, D.C. - Nationwide, as many as 1.5 million

Americans are believed to have some form of autism spectrum

disorder, and Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), Chairman of the

Committee on Government Reform, wants to know what the federal

government is doing about it.

The Committee on Government Reform will hold a hearing

entitled, "Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: Reviewing the

Federal Government's Track Record and Charting a Course for

the Future," on December 10, 2002, in 2154 Rayburn House

Office Building at 1:30 p.m.

In recent years, the number of American children suffering

from autism has skyrocketed. A recent well-published study

funded by the State of California determined the number of

autism cases in the state has tripled in the last 10 years.

Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and

other governmental agencies, autism is growing at a rate of

10-17 percent per year.

Said Burton, "Fifteen years ago, one in every 10,000 children

in America was autistic. Today, one in every 250 children is

autistic. We have an epidemic on our hands. If this trend

continues at a constant rate, the prevalence of autism could

reach 4 million Americans in the next decade."

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically

appears during the first three years of life. A growing number

of parents and scientists believe that there may be a

relationship between autism and childhood vaccines. One

leading suspect is thimerosal, a preservative which was used

for decades to kill bacteria in vaccines and contains ethyl

mercury. It has long been known that over-exposure to mercury

in children can cause serious neurological problems in

developing children.

On November 21, 2002, Chairman Burton wrote to President Bush

urging him to host a White House conference on autism and to

begin a national effort to determine why autism has reached

epidemic proportions in the United States.

The text of the letter follows and for more information on

this autism investigation, please visit the House Government

Reform's website at www.reform.house.gov.

November 21, 2002

The President

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to urge you to host a White House conference on

autism to galvanize a national effort to determine why autism

has reached epidemic proportions in this country.

Fifteen years ago, one in 10,000 children in the United States

was autistic. Today, estimates place that number at one in

250. A recent study funded by the State of California

determined that the number of autistic children in California

has tripled, and that the increase could not be attributed to

better diagnoses or more accurate testing.

This explosive growth in autism has had devastating

consequences for families and communities all across the

country. Families of autistic children face great emotional

and financial hardships as they seek to care for their

children. Local school districts have been overwhelmed

financially and logistically as they attempt to educate these

children with so many special needs. As a nation, we must

develop solutions to help families and communities cope with

these challenges.

We must also try to determine what is causing this outbreak

and how it can be stopped. One possible explanation is the

mercury preservative that was used for years in pediatric

vaccines. It is troubling that at the same time that autism

was skyrocketing, additional vaccines were being added to the

routine vaccination schedule, increasing the cumulative amount

of mercury to which young children were exposed. The Institute

of Medicine called this theory unproven, but "biologically

plausible," and called for much more research. Other factors

may also be behind this increase, and it is entirely possible

that a combination of factors in the environment may be at


At a White House conference, you could bring together the best

minds from across the country to chart a course of scientific

research to uncover the underlying causes of this epidemic.

Right now such research is not being aggressively pursued. You

could also bring together parents of autistic children and

leaders in the fields of education and social services to

begin to address the difficult challenges they face.

Mr. President, you are in a unique position to provide the

leadership that is necessary to organize a national effort to

resolve these problems. Members of the House and Senate would,

without a doubt, work with you to mobilize whatever resources

are necessary to mount such an effort. I urge you to host a

White House conference on autism.

Thank you very much for your leadership, and for your

consideration of this request.


Dan Burton

Member of Congress


Panel One

* David Baskin, M.D., Professor of Neurological Surgery,

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

* Mark Geier, M.D., Ph.D., Genetic Consultants of Maryland,

Bethesda, MD

* Walter Spitzer, M.D. , M.P.H., F.R.C.P.C., Emeritus

Professor of Epidemiology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Panel Two

* Karen Midthun, M.D., Director, Office of Vaccines Research

and Review, Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland

* Stephen Foote, Ph.D., Director, Division of Neuroscience and

Basic Behavioral Science, National Institutes of Mental

Health, Bethesda, MD

* Christopher Portier, Ph.D., Director, Environmental

Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health

Sciences, Bethesda, MD

Staff Contacts:

Beth Clay

Government Reform Committee

Telephone: 226-5867

Fax: 225-5074

E-Mail: beth.clay@mail.house.gov

Pablo Carrillo

Government Reform Committee

Telephone: 225-5074