In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Thimerosal: A Missing Link in Denmark MMR-Autism Study

Posted by seumasach on February 8, 2009

11th June, 2002

Today, the New England Journal of Medicine has published an article which
refutes a link between MMR and autism using epidemiology. This study was
released last week to the major media by the CDC, its major funder along
with NAAR. Since then, the CDC PR machine has been working very hard to spin
the conclusions their own way. Obviously, they want to put an end to any
more discussions and research on vaccines and autism.

However, while the study methodology appears to be good, and there is much
to learn from the informative findings, there are some significant
shortcomings in the conclusions drawn and the study results raise more
questions than they answer and underscore the importance for more research.

For example, one of the most concerning omissions of the study was their
failure to consider the absence of Thimerosal in the other infant vaccines
the children of the Danish study received prior to getting their MMR

Although she did not include it in her article, the reporter from the Dallas
Morning News who interviewed me (article below) was able to confirm that the
mercury based preservative under so much legal fire for triggering autism
was removed from vaccines on the market in Denmark prior to the birthdates
of the children studied.  American children on the other hand, have
potential cumulative mercury exposures at sometimes neurotoxic levels from
prenatal exposures including maternal vaccination and immune globulin
preparations, environmental pollution and infant vaccinations which create a
significantly different set of circumstances when the MMR vaccine, which
does not contain mercury, is administered.

We feel very strongly that it is erroneous for the study’s authors to
conclude that since the children in the Danish study did not show an
increased incidence of autism after MMR vaccine that the same would hold
true for all children.  They have not satisfied the question of the MMR
vaccine’s potential role as a trigger amidst other environmental factors
including previously administered mercury containing vaccines that have been
given to children outside of their population. It is entirely possible, but
not yet studied by the CDC, that a child’s immune response, inhibited by the
elevated mercury levels from thimerosal-containing vaccinations, has less
ability to respond to the measles virus in the MMR vaccine.  This might be
an explanation for the presence of measles virus cultured from the brains
and guts of 80 percent of autistic children. However, we are grateful for
their epidemiological research and hopeful that it will spur the absent and
yet much needed biological mechanism research here in the United States.

Sallie Bernard from Safe Minds ( has prepared an
exceptional press release and comprehensive point by point assessment of the
positives and the negatives of this study.  We support and agree with the
position of Safe Minds on this study.

Additionally, you may want to pick up the November/December issue of
Mothering Magazine ( – it  has a sizeable section devoted
to investigating Thimerosal and neurodevelomental delays.  It includes
articles by some of the other brains behind Safe Minds – Lyn Redwood and Liz
Birt,  articles by mercury expert Dr. Boyd Haley and Autism expert Dr. James
Jeffrey Bradstreet , and an interview with Dr. Stephanie Cave.

Dawn Richardson
Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education (PROVE)


Denmark Study on Autism and MMR Vaccine Shows Need for Biological Research
Courtesy of Sallie Bernard, Safe Minds (

(Cranford, NJ, November 6) The newly released study on autism and the
measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (“A Population Based Study of Measles, Mumps
and Rubella Vaccination and Autism.” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol
347, No 19; Nov 7, 2002: 1477-1483, by Kreesten Meldgaard,et al) is a
welcome addition to autism epidemiology. Unfortunately, the study
conclusions appear overreaching, claiming that this analysis is the final
word on autism and vaccines and implying that more research on the topic is
unnecessary. Safe Minds asserts that other vaccines besides MMR may be
involved in autism, and that only biological research, not epidemiology, can
answer the question of whether the MMR vaccine plays a role in autism.

“It is important to note that the study only focused on the MMR vaccine, and
not vaccines also implicated in autism which contain the mercury
preservative thimerosal,” explains Sallie Bernard, executive director of
Safe Minds.  “The study also failed to investigate whether the MMR vaccine
might be interacting with the thimerosal from other vaccines to increase the
severity of symptoms in children who already have autism. Finally, the study
did not differentiate between regressive autism, which is the type being
linked to MMR vaccine, and the more prevalent early onset autism, which is
the type being linked to thimerosal.”

Safe Minds is an advocacy organization which focuses on the role of mercury
in neurodevelopmental disrorders, including autism. It was founded by
parents of autistic children.  Thimerosal contains 50% ethylmercury and has
been used in most recommended childhood vaccines, including the
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTP), Haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB), and
Hepatitis B (Hep B) vaccines.

Research studies have shown that mercury exposure in utero or during early
postnatal life – the time when thimerosal vaccines are being given – can
cause immune system abnormalities which predispose the child to ongoing
viral infections. It is biologically plausible that this immune disruption
may have allowed the live measles virus component in the MMR vaccine to
persist in susceptible autistic children, making the symptoms of the
disorder worse.  This connection would not be detected through an
epidemiology study like the Denmark one. Nor does the Denmark study have the
power to detect differences in rates of regressive autism between vaccinated
and unvaccinated children, since the number of regressive cases – estimated
to be 10%-20% of all autism cases – would be too small.

“The overreaching conclusion of the study should not obscure other important
findings from this extensive and well planned analysis from Denmark,”
continued Ms. Bernard.  “The authors report an increased prevalence of
autism in that country, and thus it supports other recent studies that are
also showing increases. This rise tells us that an environmental agent is at
work worldwide that is driving this trend. We believe that thimerosal and
environmental mercury – which are worldwide pollutants – are behind the
surge. Also, Denmark has had lower and later exposures to thimerosal in
vaccines, and the report shows that their rate of autism is lower than in
the US, which is also consistent with a thimerosal connection.”

Safe Minds is encouraged that the Centers for Disease Control sponsored such
an extensive study on autism, which shows that this terrible disease is
finally getting the attention of public health officials. Safe Minds looks
forward to increased support for autism research, especially at the
biological level.

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