Vaccines and autism: new research supports a link

New research supports the hypothesis that vaccines are, in some children, linked to autism. A new study from the US involved injecting baby monkeys with equivalent doses of vaccine, adjusted for size and speed of maturity of the monkeys, that were given to US children between 1994 and 1999. The development of the brains of these monkeys was compared to that of control baby monkeys that were injected only with saline (salt water). The researchers focussed in particular on a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is believed to play a central role in the development of emotions such as fear and social behaviour. The alarming finding is that the amygdala did not develop normally in the baby monkeys that were immunised, but development was normal in the monkeys injected with saline . This supports the possibility that vaccines given in early childhood can, in some susceptible children, trigger autism.
There are some important caveats here. This research focussed on vaccines given routinely in the USA in the 1990s. Most of these contained mercury which has since been removed from most vaccines given to children in developed countries such as the USA and UK. (Alarmingly, mercury-containing vaccines are still used in many of the poorer countries in the world). Also the amount of mercury given in the UK schedule, though still extremely worrying, was significantly less than that in the US schedule. Also it must be remembered that although testing vaccines on monkeys is an important part of vaccine safety, baby monkeys, though sharing many similarities, are not identical to human babies. However, this trial does investigate vaccine use in one important way that is often overlooked in vaccine safety testing: it looked at the total exposure to the complete vaccine schedule and did not concentrate, as most studies do, on the safety of one individual vaccine.
The bottom line is that this study adds important new evidence that, whilst far from proving anything, raises yet more concern about the safety of mercury and the overall vaccine load given to children.

Added 16 July 2010