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Friday, October 07, 2005

Could Thimerosal Be Worse Than We Thought?

by Dr. Yazbak, a pediatrician who now devotes his time to the research of autoimmune regressive autism and vaccine injury.

Could Thimerosal Be Worse Than We Thought?

By Red Flags Columnist, F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP

In “Trust me: I have the statistics to prove it,“ (1) I described the findings published on July 29, 2005 in the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the title “National, State, and Urban Area Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19-35 Months — United States, 2004.” (2)

It was evident that the CDC took great pride in the achievements of its National Immunization Program (NIP) and particularly in the results of a 2004 vaccination survey, which showed that the 80.9 percent vaccination coverage for the 4:3:1:3:3 series of children aged 19-35 months had exceeded the Healthy People 2010 goal.

That particular vaccination series consists of >4 doses of DT (diphtheria-tetanus) or DTaP; >3 doses of poliovirus vaccine; >1 dose of any measles-containing vaccine, usually MMR (measles, mumps, rubella); >3 doses of Hib (Haemophilus influenzae B) vaccine; and >3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine.

As I described, the results of the survey were much publicized by the media — unlike the findings of a study published within a few days, which no one, including myself, heard about. That second and very important study by E. T. Luman, L. E. Barker et al, “Timeliness of childhood immunizations: a state-specific analysis,” was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health (p. 1367 -74). The lead author and two of her co-authors are employed by the NIP/CDC and are, therefore, unlikely to report inaccurate shortcomings of vaccination programs. (3)

The implications of their paper are critical. If injected mercury is one of the many causes of autism,as I believe, then what the Luman study suggests is that the neurological damage from ethyl mercury is even greater than anyone suspected.

Let me explain.

The recommended U.S. 2005 Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule clearly illustrates the fact that the CDC not only recommends vaccinations but also specifies when those vaccinations should be administered.

see full size version here (4)

As its name implies, the mandated “Schedule” is essentially that — a schedule. The CDC recommends that vaccinations be administered at specific times as demonstrated by the stripes in color and by its statement under the chart.

Many older parents and physicians would remember the days when series of vaccinations were actually repeated because one “shot” was missed or too much time had elapsed between doses.

It is, therefore, at least surprising — if not outright shocking — to find out that after careful review and examination of the timeliness of vaccine administration among children aged 24 to 35 months for each state of the United States and the District of Columbia, Luman and associates concluded that:

Receipt of all vaccinations as recommended ranged from 2 percent (Mississippi) to 26 percent (Massachusetts), with western states having less timeliness than eastern states.”

At 25.5 percent, Massachusetts was the only state with a vaccination rate above 20 percent for the 4:3:1:3:3 series.

Five states had vaccination rates exceeding 15 percent: Connecticut (19.7),Rhode Island (19.2), Maryland (18.5), Delaware (17.3) and South Carolina (17.2).

In 22 states, vaccination rates on schedule were under 10 percent.

The findings above are derived from information obtained through the 2000-2002 National Immunization Survey (NIS). It is unlikely that the rates significantly improved by the 2004 survey. An important point to be made is that if vaccination timeliness has been improving, then the thimerosal discussion that follows is even more pertinent.

The CDC publishes state-specific vaccination coverage rates yearly to assist state health departments in assessing their vaccination programs and the level of disease susceptibility in their state. The surveys from which the rates are derived are usually conducted when the children are 19 to 35 months of age, and simply indicate whether the child did or did not get all the required vaccinations — not if he or she received them on the recommended time schedule. Included children could have received some vaccines before they were due or others, months after they were supposed to be given. In both situations, according to the CDC, such vaccination practices were sub-optimal.

A national study revealed that in 2002, 73 percent of children in the U.S. received their “4:3:1:3:3 series” by age 19 to 35 months but only 13 percent received all their vaccinations at the recommended ages.

For higher accuracy, Luman and associates analyzed the schedule in days, rather than in weeks or months. They concede, for example, that because they interpreted the recommendation concerning the age of two months as equating to an age range of 59 through 91 days, they may have actually slightly overestimated the number of children who were vaccinated at the recommended ages.

The authors also evaluated a more “lenient” timeliness estimate based on minimum ages at which doses are considered valid and minimum acceptable intervals between doses of vaccines administered in multiple doses. That more lenient definition of acceptable timeliness for the 4:3:1:3:3 series produced higher estimates, ranging from 12 percent in Mississippi to 39 percent in Massachusetts.

Percentage-wise, more children were vaccinated according to the schedule if fewer doses of the antigen were required. The percentage of children receiving the one-dose MMR on time varied from 64 percent in Montana to 84 percent in Hawaii. On the other hand, for DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, four doses) the range was 17 percent in Mississippi to 43 percent in Massachusetts. And for HIB (three doses), it went from 11 percent in Mississippi to 45 percent in Massachusetts.

The range for all three poliovirus vaccine doses went from 38 percent in Alaska to 58 percent in Rhode Island. For all three hepatitis B vaccine doses, it varied from 49 percent in Vermont to 82 percent in Rhode Island.

Some 24 percent of children in Massachusetts, versus 65 percent of those in Mississippi, had missed at least one dose in the 4:3:1:3:3 series by the age of 24 months. The range of children under two, who received at least one vaccine dose late, varied from a low of 50 percent in Massachusetts to 73 percent in New Jersey. When it came to one invalidly early dose, the range varied from a low of 5 percent in Alabama to a high of 14 percent in D.C.

This important study by Luman did not receive the attention it deserved for reasons unknown. Maybe someone thought that its timing — shortly after the recent victory celebration — was wrong, or decided, erroneously, that its results were not so relevant after all.

But it certainly seems strange that the CDC, though aware of what this comprehensive study was likely to reveal, approved and funded it only to “bury” its results.

For those of us interested in the vaccine-autism and specifically the thimerosal– autism connection, this “quiet” study is very relevant and quite alarming.

There has been intense concern regarding the spectacular increase in autism rates after the introduction of the HIB vaccination mandate in the late ‘80s and that of the hepatitis B vaccination in the early ‘90s. Parents of affected children were specifically alarmed about the vaccines administered at the age of two months when the infant was likely to receive 62.5µg of (ethyl) mercury within a few minutes (DTP/DTAP: 25µg, HIB 25µg and Hep B 12.5µg) and about the total mercury loads of 187.5µg over the first six months of life.

As I said above, if injected mercury is one of the many causes of autism,as I believe, then the Luman study suggests that the neurological damage from ethyl mercury is even greater than anyone suspected. That’s because most babies who developed autism had actually received fewer vaccines and less mercury during the first six months of life than previously calculated.

Similarly, if the MMR vaccine is responsible for autistic regression in a certain percentage of affected children, as mounting evidence seems to indicate, then it would be reasonable to expect that there would have been more cases of regressive autism if all infants in the U.S. received their MMR vaccination immediately after their first birthday. Preliminary results from my study of Australian women, who received rubella and MMR boosters as adults, suggest that their children, who did not receive the MMR vaccination or received it at the age of five, were much less likely to regress than their counterparts in the U.S., who were vaccinated just after their first birthday.

In other words, if thousands of infants developed autism, when they had not received their vaccinations on time, would more have been affected if they had been obsessively vaccinated on schedule?

Is it possible that parents who carefully had their genetically-predisposed infants vaccinated on schedule increased their likelihood to develop autism?

* * *

Prematurely-born infants are smaller and more delicate than full-term newborns, yet the recommendation has been and still is “that preterm infants less than 37 weeks gestation and infants of low birth weight (<>(5)

Obviously, many smaller pre-term infants weigh much less than 2,500 g (grams) or 5.5 lb. (pounds) at birth. They are classified as being of very low birth weight (under 1,500 g or 3.3 lb.) and of extremely low birth weight (under 1,000 g or 2.2 lb.). Even infants born at 25 weeks gestation and weighing 500 g (1.1 lb.) are now surviving in increasing numbers. Most of these infants still weigh less than average at six months of age.

Prior to 1999, many preterm infants, some very small, received their first battery of thimerosal-containing vaccines at the chronological age of two months and actual gestational age of a few days, while they were still in the nursery. Because of their small weight, they obviously absorbed proportionately more ethyl mercury than a baby who weighed nine pounds at birth. More importantly, because of their prematurity and its associated debilitation and complications, these infants required more doctors’ visits and, in all likelihood, received their subsequent vaccinations and the complete increment of 178.5 µg of mercury by the age of six months and exactly on schedule — while the majority of full-term healthy children did not, as clearly demonstrated by Luman.

* * *

In the U.K., the vaccination schedule for DTP — the vaccine that contained mercury — was changed a few years ago from 3, 5 and 10 months to 2, 3 and 4 months in order to assure better compliance.

In the United States, pediatric vaccinations are recommended at 2, 4 and 6 months of age to achieve optimal immunity.

On Feb. 9, 2004, the Institute of Medicine’s Immunization Safety Review Committee decided that thimerosal did not cause regressive autism. One of the arguments used to support that decision was that thimerosal could not possibly be a factor because autism had increased in both the U.S. and the U.K. in similar fashion, while the amount of mercury administered to British infants was only 75µg during the first crucial six months of life, compared to the 187.5µg that babies in the U.S. routinely received.

The Luman study now invalidates that argument because, in fact, most babies in the U.K. are likely to have received the 75µg of mercury in just 60 days (from age 60 to age 120 days) while U.S. children may not have been given — as we have now learned— all their vaccines and their total quota of 187.5µg of mercuryin 180 days. Even if all vaccinations had been administered on time, the average daily mercury burden of American babies would still be less than the 1.25µg of mercury that an infant in the U.K. averaged from age two to four months.

Another more global aspect of the situation is slowly becoming apparent and disturbing.

While the United States, Britain, the rest of the Western World and the Far East are moving away from mercury in vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccine manufacturers are sending tons of vaccines with thimerosal to Africa, where an accelerated schedule of pediatric vaccinations is recommended. Infants in those poor countries will be receiving, for the foreseeable future, vaccines containing 187.5 µg of mercury by the age of 14 weeks. Since the 1930s, no other infants, anywhere in the world, have ever received 187.5µg of ethyl mercury in 98 days.

Though no one knows how susceptible African babies are to mercury, it seems illogical — if not immoral — to administer vaccines to them that we do not dare use anymore and that will expose them to larger amounts of thimerosal in the first 100 days of their lives than ever permitted in the rest of the world.

* * *


Thimerosal in vaccines may have been more toxic than previously estimated.

The timeliness of pediatric vaccinations in the United States was not discussed at the Institute of Medicine’s Immunization Safety Review Committee meeting of Feb. 9, 2004.

A reliable, recently released CDC study has now exposed this serious omission and suggested that an important confounder in the thimerosal-autism controversy was never considered.

* * *


  1. http://www.redflagsdaily.com/yazbak/2005_aug17.php
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5429a1.htm
  3. Luman ET, Barker LE, McCauley MM, Drews-Botsch C. Timeliness of childhood immunizations: a state-specific analysis. Am J Public Health. 2005 Aug; 95(8): 1367-74.
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/nip/recs/child-schedule.PDF
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book — 2003 (p. 66)

Posted by Becca

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