New research debunks the theory that mercury-laced preservative named thimerosal causes autism.
Autism cases continued to increase in California after the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal was eliminated from most childhood vaccines, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
About 1 in 150 children today is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and the cause of the apparent increase is unknown. Some is due to increased diagnosis, most agree, but there also appears to be some genetic or environmental factors leading to an increase.
Some parents have long suspected that mercury which in some forms is a potent neurotoxin may have been attacking baby's brains when administered as an additive in childhood immunizations.
Thimerosal was eliminated from most vaccines by 2001. A 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine cited the lack of data supporting thimerosal as a cause of autism, but recommended that trends in autism diagnoses be observed as exposure to thimerosal decreased.
The study relied on state data about the prevalence of autism in California children between 1995 and 2007. The prevalence of autism increased throughout that time, peaking as far as the data can so far tell in 2006 (figures for 2007 cannot yet be determined).
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