Scientific Panel Rejects Vaccines as Cause of Autism

WASHINGTON -- A pivotal report issued today by the

Institute of Medicine (IOM) rejects childhood vaccines as a cause of autism.

The findings, based on reviews of current scientific evidence, are a

significant affirmation of vaccine safety, according to the American Academy

of Pediatrics (AAP).

"For most parents, today's report should assure them of the safety of

vaccines," said AAP President Carden Johnston, MD. "There's no doubt we must

find the causes of autism, but we need to target other more promising research

areas. The Academy supports aggressive research into the causes, treatment

and prevention of autism."

The IOM report can be added to numerous other scientific reviews and

studies that came to the same conclusion using the latest data: neither

vaccines, specifically the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, nor

thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that was in some childhood

vaccines, cause autism.

In 1999, the AAP and the U.S. Public Health Service called for vaccine

manufacturers to remove thimerosal from vaccines in response to a desire to

reduce, where possible, the exposure of the population to all sources of heavy

metals including mercury. Although there was never evidence of toxicity from

the use of ethyl mercury-containing thimerosal used as a preservative in some

childhood vaccines, reducing child exposure to mercury in any form was

considered important.

Today, vaccines routinely given to young children are either completely

free of thimerosal or have only trace amounts. The now-routinely recommended

influenza vaccine for healthy children ages 6 months to 23 months, a

population at increased risk of flu-related hospitalization, does contain

smaller amounts of thimerosal but is also available in limited supplies

without thimerosal as a preservative. Manufacturers are working to remove

thimerosal from those flu vaccines containing the preservative.

The AAP recommends infants and children be vaccinated to protect them from

12 vaccine preventable diseases. This year, the AAP began recommending the

flu vaccine for healthy children ages 6 months to 23 months, a population at

increased risk of flu-related hospitalization.

"Parents shouldn't kid themselves. Diseases like measles haven't

disappeared," Johnston said. "They are kept at bay through widespread

vaccination. At any time, an unvaccinated child could contract one of these

dangerous and life-threatening diseases. This report will help parents make

an informed decision to fully immunize their children."

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 57,000 primary

care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical

specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants,

children, adolescents and young adults.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

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