Three recent court rulings did not support the notion of a connection between thimerosal and autism. This is good news for vaccine advocates everywhere, who are constantly battling the fear of vaccines in an attempt to achieve improved compliance.
Though thimerosal has been removed from almost all childhood vaccines, autism continues to increase. Unfortunately the fear of vaccines has increased along with it.
The Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (which doesn't contain thimerosal) has been crucial in saving lives around the world. MMR received another victory over the past month when Dr. Wakefield's 1998 study which supposedly showed a connection between the vaccine and gastrointestinal auto-antibodies potentially related to autism, was withdrawn from the British journal Lancet. Wakefield had apparently benefitted financially from his research, and his objectivity and techniques were called into question.
Discrediting Wakefield was crucial to overcoming fear of vaccines, and promoting compliance with the MMR vaccine which must be at least 90% to achieve eradication of measles.
It is understandable that any parent who has experienced a serious illness like autism is looking for the culprit. However, the targeting of vaccines has not only hurt the campaign to stamp out dangerous infectious diseases but it has taken precious resources away from investigating other toxins and triggers in the environment that could be provoking autism. Marc Siegel, MD, is an internist and professor of medicine at New York University and the author of False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear