Maybe Study Number Ten will suffice to reassure the one in four parents who have come to fear vaccinating their babies that doing so will not raise the likelihood of the kids' developing autism. Then again, maybe no number of costly and carefully designed and executed studies will dislodge the fear of vaccines among parents that has taken root in the United States.
But on Tuesday, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics--called Pediatrics--released Study Number Ten anyway. In it, 14 authors tasked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate any link between vaccines containing thimerosal--a mercury-containing preservative--and autism-spectrum disorders found no link whatever.
They found none, whether a baby was exposed to a thimerosal-containing vaccine while in utero or whether he or she was vaccinated with such an agent in the first 20 months of life. In fact--and this is a bit perplexing--they found that babies vaccinated with more thimerosal-containing vaccines between birth and seven months, as well as those who got more such vaccinations between birth and 20 months, were less likely to develop an autism-spectrum disorder than those who did not.
To see the march of evidence discrediting the widely believed link between thimerosol and autism, you can check here. To see the charges by British medical authorities that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who first alleged a thimerosal-autism link, conducted his research dishonestly and irresponsibly, see here. If it doesn't help to know that reputable scientists, physicians and researchers have tried and failed to find a causal--or any--link between thimerosal and autism, it might help to know that even Jenny McCarthy, the actress who has been unswervingly vocal in her belief that vaccines caused her son's autism diagnosis, is no longer so certain.
--Melissa Healy/The Los Angeles Times