As the Baltimore Sun reports:
For years, the scientific evidence has been accumulating. The latest, published this week, once again showed that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative long used in childhood vaccines, does not cause the neurological disorders associated with the U.S. autism epidemic.
In fact, scientists at the California Department of Public Health demonstrated that in the years since nearly all thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2001, the rate of autism has continued to rise there. Had thimerosal been the culprit, those numbers should have decreased.
The vaccine scare is a great example of what is wrong with the so-called precautionary principle. As the Sun further reports:
By 1999, some government scientists were concerned that infants might be getting too much mercury. As a precautionary measure, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics asked pharmaceutical companies to remove thimerosal from vaccines.
Still, according to Dr. Paul A. Offit, the infectious diseases chief at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, doctors kept insisting that parents not worry about the safety of vaccines.
But the firestorm came. "Many parents, frightened by a sudden change in policy, reasoned that thimerosal was targeted because it was harmful—and their faith in the vaccine infrastructure was shaken," Offit wrote in a September issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
The precautionary measures were based on a few "entirely flawed" studies. The result: worried parents, unvaccinated kids and more expensive vaccines.
Whole Sun article here.
Here's a link to some of my earlier reporting on the vaccine/autism panic.