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Experts re-examine autism, vaccine debate


Experts re-examine autism, vaccine debate

AN independent scientific panel weighing a possible link between autism and the mercury preservative in childhood vaccines heard suggestions on Monday that the source of the heavy metal could be fish.

The Institute of Medicine panel heard the results from more than a dozen studies on thimerosal, the preservative found in some vaccines.

When it last met in 2001, it decided there was no evidence that vaccines caused autism but it also noted little research had been done. “Clearly, there’s far more information addressing this issue,” said panel chair Dr. Marie McCormick, a professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Autism is a mysterious disorder whose symptoms range from a lack of social skills to a profound and crippling inability to relate to others. Because it is usually diagnosed during the toddler years when children receive many of the 18 or so early childhood shots, some advocacy groups believe vaccines are to blame. Many parents told the panel they were anti-thimerosal, not anti-vaccine.

“Its use should be considered historic,” said Lyn Redwood, president of the advocacy group Safe Minds whose youngest son is autistic. “Why take the risk when you don’t have to?” Scientists say it is possible that if it got into the brain, thimerosal could cause brain damage. —Reuters

Source: Dayly Times (pk)

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