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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
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