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Kansas, 1974

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Thimerosal Autism Non-connection

Cross posted at Say Anything: Reader blogs.

I wonder how this news is going to go over. Autism Vox reports:
Thimerosal Exposure Declines, Autism Rates Increase

Exposure to thimerosal, a preservative that contains ethylmercury, during childhood is not a primary cause of autism.

This is the conclusion of a study published in the January Archives of General Psychiatry (Vol. 65, no. 1) by Robert Schechter, MD, MSc, Immunization Branch and California Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Research and Epidemiology, and Judith K. Grether, PhD, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, of the California Department of Public Health, Richmond. Schechter’s and Grether’s article is entitled Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System: Mercury in Retrograde. By studying time trends in the Archives of General Psychiatry (Vol. 65, no. 1) by Robert Schechter, MD, MSc, Immunization Branch and California Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Research and Epidemiology, and Judith K. Grether, PhD, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, of the California Department of Public Health, Richmond. Schechter and Grether’s article is entitled Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System: Mercury in Retrograde. By studying time trends in the prevalence by age and birth cohort of autistic children who were enrolled in the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) from January 1, 1995 through March 31, 2007, the authors found that

“the estimated prevalence of autism for children at each year of age from 3 to 12 years increased throughout the study period”

and that

“the DDS data do not show any recent decrease in autism in California despite the exclusion of more than trace levels of thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines [my emphasis]. The DDS data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal during childhood is a primary cause of autism [my emphasis].


The rest of the post is full of information for anyone interested in this new development.

6 comments:

  1. To state that removing Thimersol has done nothing to lower the autism rate based on data from the California State Development Department is misleading and flawed. How many children born from 1995 to the present were never properly diagnosed by their pediatricians so were never referred to the department of developmental services and are therefore not in the database? Pediatricians did not start accurately diagnosing Autism until recently. What if the number of cases of children born is far greater than the number actually diagnosed and referred? That would mean there is a possibility that the numbers have come down since Thimersol was withdrawn in 2001.

    My son was born in September 1995. I thought he was "normal". In 2003 a neuro-pyschologist diagnosed my son with High Functioning Autism. He was never referred to the regional center and it is not in their database. How many more children are out there like my son?

    Perhaps a researcher would be smart enough to look at the data of the Department of Education regarding the number of special ed students with autism or autistic-like symptoms. You might find a more accurate picture of how many children born from 1995 to 2001 have autism versus after 2001. But, keep in mind, this number will be deflated as well since school psychologists avoid diagnosing autism like the plague due to budget concerns for educating special ed students.

    Colleen Eaton
    Tustin, CA

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  2. "To state that removing Thimersol has done nothing to lower the autism rate based on data from the California State Development Department is misleading and flawed."

    How so?

    How many children born from 1995 to the present were never properly diagnosed by their pediatricians so were never referred to the department of developmental services and are therefore not in the database?

    How does that affect the conclusion of this study? A significant number of the cohort you speak of were never exposed to thimerosal.

    What if the number of cases of children born is far greater than the number actually diagnosed and referred? That would mean there is a possibility that the numbers have come down since Thimersol was withdrawn in 2001.

    How does, there might be some children who are undiagnosed lead to there might have been a drop in diagnosis?

    As to the rest of your comment I'll repost the response to your comment from Autism Vox:

    @Colleen, Schechter and Grether note that there may well be more autistic children “out there” than indicated in the DDS numbers which, as you note, only includes those children “referred to the department of developmental services.” They state:

    "The proportion of all children with autism who are served by the DDS may have been affected by program budget constraints, administrative guidelines, and trends toward diagnosis at younger ages. In 2003, California state law aligned its definition of “substantial disability” with the federal definition of significant functional limitations in 3 or more areas of major life activity. This alignment may have restricted eligibility for services and therefore new admissions at some regional centers after August 2003. Had this redefinition not occurred, the increase in prevalence in children with autism reported by the DDS after 2004, when thimerosal exposure has beenlower, might have been even greater. [my emphasis]"

    Regarding special education data, research by Professor Paul Shattuck has found that as autism rates have risen, the prevalence of mental retardation and learning disabilities have declined by roughly the same amount in the special-education data. (See also this post; Shattuck’s article is “Diagnostic substitution and changing autism prevalence,” Pediatrics 2006, 118 (1): e139-e150.)

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  3. Just found your place from your husband's site. I have a 5 year old with autism. I will be looking forward to reading your thoughts.

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  4. I'm in a seminar class on autism right now. . . so of course this caught my eye.

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  5. Just one problem. The thimerosal WASN’T REMOVED from childhood vaccines. Even though the Department of Health and Human Services and vaccine makers said, eight long years ago, that thimerosal should and would be removed, the government and vaccine makers, with the main stream media complicit in between prescription drug ads on the 'news', continue to poison Americans through flu vaccines which are now advised for pregnant women and children. I spent a few weeks trying to find out the level of thimerosal content in flu vaccines. (the vast majority of them have toxic levels). Like to read about the kind of low-life scum that’re profiting from the poisoning of American children?

    http://www.wideopenwest.com/~r_nemeth/clinic_timeline.htm

    I suppose there will always be plenty of ‘humans’ willing to apologize for genocide.

    Robin Nemeth

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  6. Like to read about the kind of low-life scum that’re profiting from the poisoning of American children?

    I suppose there will always be plenty of ‘humans’ willing to apologize for genocide.


    While you are free to believe what you wish about vaccines, even in the face of clear evidence that your belief is false, I find your rhetoric quite distasteful. If it was meant to convince me that your belief is correct then you failed. Completely failed. I am no more receptive to your belief than I was before your comment.

    It may make you feel better to malign those who make vaccines and those who acknowledge that vaccines, and other medical technologies, have brought us out of the bloody tooth and claw stage of human development and saved millions of lives but it reflects very poorly on you.

    Just thought I would share that with you since you were so kind as to share your thoughts with me.

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