A growing number of professionals in the health care field are reporting that a relationship exists between the epidemic in neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and speech or language delay all across the country, and the use of thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative used in childhood vaccines.
Vaccines are the only medicines that Americans are mandated to receive as a condition for attendance in school and day care, and for some types of employment. Parents who receive federal assistance are also required to show proof that their children have been vaccinated.
While the mandate for which vaccines must be included on the vaccine schedule is a state mandate, it is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee that make the recommendations to which the majority of states adhere when determining mandates. The current epidemic actually began in the late 1980s when a large number of new vaccines were added to the schedule.
Each new vaccine contained 25 micrograms of mercury and according to Professor Lynn Adams, of Radford University, who specializes in autism, by 1999, a study determined that the average child received 33 doses of 10 different vaccines by the age 5.
Elected lawmakers first became aware of the problem in 1999, when the House Committee on Government Reform initiated an investigation into the dangers of mercury exposure. An alarm rang early about the exposure of children to thimerosal.
"We all know and accept that mercury is a neurotoxin, and yet the FDA has failed to recall the 50 vaccines that contain Thimerosal, " Burton wrote. "Every day that mercury-containing vaccines remain on the market is another day HHS is putting 8,000 children at risk, " he said.
"I implore you to conduct a full recall of these products, " he wrote. "If the only action ... is a gradual phase out, children will continue to be put at risk every day, " Burton warned. "These vaccines will continue to be injected in children for years to come - putting our nation's most vulnerable population ... at risk for mercury poisoning," he added.
The Reform Committee soon discovered that regulatory agencies were still allowing thimerosal to be used decades after the recognition that it was harmful. The Committee was told that the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA), uses a subjective barometer in determining when a product that has known risks can remain on the market. According to the agency:
"at the heart of all FDA 's product evaluation decisions is a judgment about whether a new product 's benefits to users will outweigh its risks. No regulated product is totally risk-free, so these judgments are important. The FDA will allow a product to present more of a risk when its potential benefit is great --especially for products used to treat serious, life-threatening conditions."
The argument that the known risks of infectious diseases outweighs any potential risk of neurological damage is one that has continuously been used by officials. The FDA claims that any risk from thimerosal is theoretical because no proof of harm exists.
The Committee also discovered that regulatory agencies have never required drug companies to conduct studies on the use of thimerosal. During a June 20, 2002, hearing, Burton questioned officials from the FDA and CDC and said, "You mean to tell me that since 1929, we've been using Thimerosal and the only test that you know of is from 1929, and every one of those people had mennigitis, and they all died?"
In his opening statement at a July 18, 2000, hearing, Burton said: