In the long-running controversy over whether the mercury preservative thimerosal, used for years in childhood vaccines, contributed to the autism epidemic, the latest evidence plays down the risk.
A new study concluded that one mechanism some thought could lead from vaccination to autism was not credible, according to the Washington Post.
The study, like others before it, is unlikely to quiet the controversy.
Many parents have become convinced -- to the chagrin of public health officials -- that vaccinations could do more harm than good.
Meanwhile, the United States Court of Federal Claims is trying to determine whether and how to compensate 4,800 parents who think their children's brains were damaged by the mercury-based preservative. The parents want millions of dollars, arguing that there's no amount of money that can truly compensate for their children's lost ability to communicate and interact socially.
Earlier this year, a special Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation court compensated the parents of a Georgia girl for autism that it determined was caused in part by vaccinations. That trial re-ignited the controversy, in part because the settlement was sealed.
Thimerosal was removed from routine childhood vaccines by 2001, despite a raft of studies that found it was not linked to autism. That hasn't stopped parents, looking at government warnings about the risk of mercury exposure from eating fish during pregnancy and early childhood, from believing the neurotoxin could play a role. There are now approximately 1 in 150 children with an autism spectrum disorder.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been a controversial advocate of the vaccine-autism link. This video shows an MSNBC interview with RFK Jr.
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