Is a toxic additive in vaccines responsible for autism and other neurological damage in our children and also a hazard to any of us getting a flu shot this season? There is now more science that's far from settled.
There are a few things on which everyone agrees, like the dangerous toxicity of mercury. Yet, for years, it has been injected into children and adults, as an additive that preserves and sterilizes vaccines.
So vaccine makers can save what we're told may be a dollar a dose by not having to produce the vaccines in sterile conditions, and to extend shelf life. Yet, this additive called Thimerosal could be leading to lasting harm.
Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, from the Centers for Disease Control, maintains, "There are no good scientific data that support any association whatsoever between Thimerosal and autism."
This is what government health officers say when they put on their uniforms and talk to reporters?
But what they say when they take an oath to tell the truth to Congress is a different story.
"We can neither accept nor reject a causal relationship. We don't know one way or the other?"
Studies have shown that a small amount of mercury can destroy or damage living brain neurons in less than 30 minutes, leaving only what scientists call denuded neurofibrils. But even with these studies, the government has only recommended, not ordered, the removal of mercury, and it remains in many serums.
Rep. Dan Burton, of Indiana, told investigative reporters, "But there's none so blind as those that will not see. You just sit there and you keep saying over and over and over again that you think there's not a real danger for having mercury in these vaccines, but you don't know because there's no study that you've put out that I've seen, not one, that says categorically that mercury in vaccines does not cause neurological problems."
So why do doctors still recommend vaccines containing Thimerosal? A large part is because information provided to physicians by vaccine makers, groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, even the FDA which approved them, all cite a few studies like the one in the current Pediatrics journal that claims there is no basis for serious concern.
Mark Blaxill, of SAFE MINDS, told investigators, "?there's conflict of interest. The data is wrong. The methods are flawed and the studies are inconsistent from one to the other."
Mark Blaxill is no scientist, but his Ivy League education has helped him scrutinize the recent studies like the latest one. He has come to agree with another US Congressman, the only doctor in the house, who has expressed serious reservations about the conclusions that Thimerosal is not linked to neurological disorders.
For starters, there was an undisclosed conflict of interest. The author of the study that found no link between Thimerosal and autism now works for a major vaccine maker and lives in Belgium. And Action News has learned that when the author began the research at least 4 years ago, and he worked with the CDC, he had serious concerns. In fact, back in 2000, the author said he was actually stunned when he reviewed the data. As for a link between autism and vaccines, he said, "I thought it is plausible."
And at a conference center in the North Georgia woods, his research was the topic of private, though robust, debate.
Blaxill said, "The transcript [of that debate] says the primary investigator gets up there and says, 'I think it's true. It's Thimerosal.' And then the rest of the people in the meeting are saying, 'Boy, I don't, we don't want this to come out,' or someone will say 'Geeze, I've seen enough that I don't want my grandson to get the Thimerosal vaccine but I don't want to tell the public that they shouldn't take their child,' so there's a double standard inside these private, secret meetings."
Obtained under the federal Freedom of Information act, the transcript of that debate essentially confirms Blaxill's description.
Another scientist at the meeting said, "You can play with this (data) all you want. They are statistically significant."
An email obtained by Action News from the researcher Dr. Thomas Verstraten to colleagues shortly after the meeting stated, "?I feel we should use sound scientific argumentation and not let our standards be dictated by our desire to disprove an unpleasant theory."
Yet when these meetings drew to a close, and the scientists left the conference center in Georgia, the concerns they expressed amongst themselves behind closed doors were not discussed in public.
Dr. Mark Geier told investigators, "Do you know what else? They lied about it. They used an absolute trick and I'll tell you what the trick was and I can show you the data."
A researcher whose work suggests there is a link between Thimerosal in vaccines and neurological disorders says they cooked the books in the latest study. He claims after they confirmed the link in the first two groups they studied in the west, they went east to Massachusetts and used data from a bankrupt HMO to negate the original findings.
Dr. Geier continued, "?every state in the United States had a more than 100% increase in autism. The average increase was 400. In Massachusetts it was 10%."
Dr. Schwartz said, "?there was an extremely important and well done study from Denmark that has been published in peer-reviewed medical literature and shows no association with Thimerosal exposure and outcomes such as autism."
Yet, this other "study" has been scrutinized, too. According to Mark Blaxill, "There's something rotten in Denmark."
Blaxill says the study the CDC likes to cite has been published in three different forms, and a big concern with all of them is that, "They are funded or authored or resourced and influenced by a Danish vaccine manufacturer that makes all of its money on its exports of vaccines."
Blaxill also says that he's carefully tracked all the authors of those Danish studies and found they're all somehow connected and knee-deep in conflicts of interest.
Others have raised additional questions about the registry, which is the Danish database on which the study relied. Lyn Redwood, the parent of an autistic child, told investigative reporters, "?and the older children in that registry were lost. They lost something like 25% of the children['s records] a year out of that registry? [the children are] no longer in it and you can look at the documents that, the analysis of that data, whereas the older kids, and those were the ones that had the Thimerosal exposure, they mysteriously are missing now out of that database."
But the bottom line for Congressman Dan Burton, whose own grandson is autistic as a result of mercury in vaccines, believes that whether or not there is a study to prove a link, they shouldn't continue lacing vaccines with an inadequately tested toxin.
Burton said, "Thimerosal was only tested once on twenty-something people who had meningitis in 1929. All of those people died. They said, 'well, it's not a result of Thimerosal,' so they started using it as a preservative. It has never been tested. I'm not anti-vaccine, but I'm saying that the component parts, such as Thimerosal that has mercury in it, should be taken out because mercury is toxic to the brain and shouldn't be in any vaccine."
There are vaccines without Thimerosal, or just a trace. Using these, according to the Institute of Medicine, would be prudent, especially for young children and pregnant women. This is advice you may not hear from your doctor. Thimerosal-free flu vaccine is also available, but generally you have to specifically request it and it might cost somewhat more.