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JAMA. 2003 Oct 1;290(13):1763-6.

Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism.

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  • 1Danish Epidemiology Science Centre, Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark. aii@ssi.dk

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Mercuric compounds are nephrotoxic and neurotoxic at high doses. Thimerosal, a preservative used widely in vaccine formulations, contains ethylmercury. Thus it has been suggested that childhood vaccination with thimerosal-containing vaccine could be causally related to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether vaccination with a thimerosal-containing vaccine is associated with development of autism.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

Population-based cohort study of all children born in Denmark from January 1, 1990, until December 31, 1996 (N = 467 450) comparing children vaccinated with a thimerosal-containing vaccine with children vaccinated with a thimerosal-free formulation of the same vaccine.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Rate ratio (RR) for autism and other autistic-spectrum disorders, including trend with dose of ethylmercury.

RESULTS:

During 2 986 654 person-years, we identified 440 autism cases and 787 cases of other autistic-spectrum disorders. The risk of autism and other autistic-spectrum disorders did not differ significantly between children vaccinated with thimerosal-containing vaccine and children vaccinated with thimerosal-free vaccine (RR, 0.85 [95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60-1.20] for autism; RR, 1.12 [95% CI, 0.88-1.43] for other autistic-spectrum disorders). Furthermore, we found no evidence of a dose-response association (increase in RR per 25 microg of ethylmercury, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.90-1.06] for autism and 1.03 [95% CI, 0.98-1.09] for other autistic-spectrum disorders).

CONCLUSION:

The results do not support a causal relationship between childhood vaccination with thimerosal-containing vaccines and development of autistic-spectrum disorders.

Comment in

PMID:
14519711
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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