Sick_hamstersBy Mark F. Blaxill

In his best-selling book Evidence of Harm, our Age of Autism colleague David Kirby saved his “final note” for a comment on the global legacy of thimerosal exposure in vaccines. In the book’s closing passage, he wrote:

“If thimerosal is one day proven to be a contributing factor to autism, and if U.S. made vaccines containing the preservative are now being supplied the world over, the scope of this potential tragedy becomes unthinkable.

“The United States, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, is not exactly the most beloved nation on earth. What if the profitable export of our vaunted medical technology has led to the poisoning of hundred of thousands of children? What then?”

As Bush Administration officials have moved with surprising determination to defend the safety both of the current flu vaccine program (which targets expectant mothers with injections of ethyl mercury) and past vaccine program recommendations (which permitted the injection of unintentionally excessive amounts of ethyl mercury in infants), one often overlooked implication of the Administration’s policy has been to make Kirby’s nightmare suggestion a reality. U.S. vaccine manufacturers have continued to ship thimerosal containing vaccine formulations all over the world, in effect offering a defiant double standard of mercury risk for infants from rich countries as compared to poor countries.

One of the countries where thimerosal has been retained in vaccines is Peru. This situation is a consequence of a controversial decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Latin American partner the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to retain thimerosal as a vaccine preservative because of economic considerations. PAHO buys most of its vaccines from the same vaccine manufacturers who sold thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) in the United State. And like the US in the early 1990s, PAHO countries like Peru have recently adopted the Hib and hepatitis B vaccines as part of their recommended childhood immunization programs. Peru also continues to use the thimerosal-containing whole cell DPT vaccine, instead of the safer but more expensive acellular pertussis variety.

The result of these PAHO decisions is that Peruvian children are now exposed to thimerosal in amounts that would be considered in excess of EPA guideline in the U.S. Not surprisingly, some Peruvian scientists have taken issue with this choice and took it upon themselves to investigate the issue. In their words:

“In Peru, the authorities of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) continue using vaccines with high thimerosal content (whose multidose…form is, to date used in some health establishments), noting that it has no side effects. This generated a serious challenge by the public, part of the medical community and a number of non-governmental organizations. This debate requires that begin (sic) to shed light on the investigations and take concrete steps on this issue.”

So these Peruvian researchers published a study, published in the September 2007 edition of the Peruvian medical journal Anales de la Facultad de Medicina but only recently translated into English (for the on-line version of the September 2007 edition, see HERE) in which they examined the effect of thimerosal exposure on infant hamsters. They exposed 45 baby hamsters to three different series of injections, two of which involved no thimerosal exposure and a third that was designed to mimic the weight-adjusted ethyl mercury content of the U.S. childhood immunization program in the 1990s.

The findings were stark. As the three groups of infants matured, the thimerosal-exposed hamsters showed clear signs of developmental injury due to their ethyl mercury exposure, a weight adjusted concentration that added up to less a total dose of less than 1 microgram (an amount many times less than the 187.5 micrograms human infants received). The mercury exposed hamsters showed dramatic developmental differences in terms of body weight, brain weight and heights, with a statistical certainty that there was a toxic effect that exceeded 99.99%.

When the 45 hamsters were sacrificed, the researchers compared the brain tissue of the three groups and again found dramatic differences in the thimerosal-exposed infant hamster brains. Ethyl mercury produced clear injuries in the three types of brain tissue: hippocampus, cerebellum and cerebral cortex. Furthermore, the exposed hamsters showed clear evidence of many different kinds of tissue damage, such as reduced neuron density, increased cell death, impaired myelin development and increased inflammation. These results were also significant with a certainty of greater than 99.99%.

The Peruvian team didn’t mince words. Taking pains to translate their full paper into English (the journal typically publishes English language abstracts, but provides full text only in Spanish), they summarized their findings in unambiguous terms.

“In conclusion, thimerosal exposure, in quantities equivalent to those of human vaccines, reduced the body weight, encephalon weight and height of postnatal hamsters in a significant way; in this way, it produced a lesser development and growth delay. Also, it produced severe neurotoxic effects at encephalon level expressing histopathological alterations at hippocampus, cerebral cortex and cerebellum levels.”

This hamster model doesn’t simply stand alone. Instead it joins a succession of animal studies all of which demonstrate that exposing infant animals to thimerosal produces developmental brain injury. Mady Hornig’s work in mice provided the template for the Peruvian group and their hamster findings provide confirmation for Hornig’s finding of thimerosal toxicity in mice. In her recent presentation at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Laura Hewitson (see the Age of Autism article HERE ) reported on a primate model that showed clear evidence of developmental injury in rhesus macaque monkeys after exposure to thimerosal and a range of vaccine antigens.

We can’t take human infants and cut up their brains. That’s why scientists use animal models to evaluate the effect of potentially dangerous medical treatments and toxic chemicals. In a consistent set of these models, a wide range of researchers from different labs all over the world, researchers are finding that thimerosal causes injury in infant animals. Despite this dramatic and repeated body of evidence, public health authorities—the CDC, the WHO, the PAHO—persist in exposing the developing human brain to ethyl mercury, one of the most toxic chemicals man has ever invented. These officials consider the interests of their programs—the economics of distribution of vaccines in Peru, the yield of flu vaccine production in the U.S. and the continued targeting of pregnant women and infants for flu shots—to carry greater weight than any countervailing evidence. But by now, the evidence is so indisputable that the question has become a question of moral rather than scientific choices. Why do these officials persist in continuing policies and products that harm children?

The Peruvian researchers are clearly calling their PAHO colleagues to account for their decisions. In the final paragraph of their paper the authors write, in somewhat halting English translation:

“While it is true, it is very difficult to extrapolate these findings to other animal experimentation groups and over human beings, our results, as the multiple scientific evidence recently published about thimerosal, clearly indicates the toxic nature of this substance at the same dose and the same chronology as human immunizations; therefore we suggest the employment of alternative preservatives in vaccines, especially those intended to pregnant women, neonates and small children based in the prevention and precaution principles of all medical interventions.”

Sick mice. Sick hamsters. Sick monkeys. Sick children. The evidence is clear and the policies are devastating a generation of children on a global basis. When will this madness stop?

Mark Blaxill is Editor-at-Large for Age of Autism.



I have read so many articles and studies concerning the issue of mercury and thimerosal in vaccines. Both sides stating their case and the dispute still rages. Will say that personally I am in favor of allowing the choice to the individual and I would be one to choose not to put into my body one of the arguably most dangerous substances you could. Mine or my children's.

Here's what gets me. Nothing beats the precautionary principle...nothing. The most sophisticated arguments that can be devised still cannot defeat the fact that whether or not what we use in vaccines is safe is in question (with studies indicating they do cause harm). So if the question still stands why would we not just take the safe approach and not use them? Never mind the courts actually paying out compensation to vaccine damaged families.

The precautionary approach. That's all you need.


To Mr. T "who has absolutely know ties to kind of vaccine manufacturing" -

You say, "All clinical evidence to this point shows no link between vaccination... and any diagnosis within the autism spectrum of disorders."

That is what people keep saying over and over again, as if by repetition it will become true. Maybe it would help if you wear shiny red shoes and click your heels together while chanting.

Or you could try reading Dr. Bryan Jepson's book "Changing The Course Of Autism - A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians" and learn something new.

Mod #1 for Mr. T.

Dear Mr. T,

Look how wrong you are. "I pity the fooool."

Moderator #1.

Mr. T

Dear moderators,

I know you will not post this, so this message is for you. All clinical evidence to this point shows no link between vaccination (including vaccines with thimerosal) and any diagnosis within the autism spectrum of disorders.

That is a simple fact. I will say that science is definitely not all knowing. But it can only work with the available data. And the data here points toward no link.

Also, for the cynical types, this message is from someone who has absolutely know ties to kind of vaccine manufacturing.

Andrea Brooks

I was born in Chile in 1969. I received a few shots and had the chicken pox, rubella, the measles etc.. they were all considered part of growing up. I remember having to stay in bed for a few days. What wouldn't I give if a few days in bed rest would bring my son back to me. It seems like every day my husband and I are trying to find something new that might help him. We, as most american parents of autistic children, have spent thousands, searched out and spoken to experts, read several books with different theories and recommendations, have him on special diet, supplements, vitamins, listening program, etc etc... I can not imagine what the poor parents in Peru will be able to do to help their little ones as they slip away.

Save the Tomato Injured.

K Fuller Yuba City

They don't use Guinea Pigs because that is what our children are. It is all so sickening. Maybe we will be saved by Science from Peru, I have almost given up on American science.
Those in power know what they have done. Our son has a life sentence, they should get nothing less.

grandma peg

Save The Tomato Injured.. That is, truthfully, a very astute comment... it should be used in every e-mail or letter to the editor comment or letters to national network TV people or our congress people to preface the vaccine injury info from all around the world... and the neglect of the FDA, CDC and WHO, etc. Perhaps that kind of a title will catch their interest more to lead them to read the articles and comments sent to them about vaccines, other than catch their wastebasket when apparant titled articles about vaccines are sent to them. Mary Webster, I hope you don't mind if I start using it for just such purpose. This article has presented more of the 'so very important' facts about USA vaccinnes injuring children however, since it was composed by Mark Blaxill under the cloak of Dan Olmstead, it may not be read at all by those who need to see the actual foreign reported facts. I'd read it and I'd believe it but these names are catch phrases with the close minded people. However, if a commentary sent out by others is titled by something to do with poisoned fruit or veggies, it might have a better chance. Save the Tomato Injured .. it is going to be the new 'catch phrase' for me... if the author approves my using it, that is.

Michael A. Chernoff

Hello Mark, Dan, kim - all of you.

Thank you all for what you do. I know personally that if our children could thank you, they would.

I am a parent pleading my case in vaccine court on behalf of my son. I spoke to the partner of the firm handling our case, he made the comment to me that this is very politically driven and he was concerned.

I told him that if we lose, we are prepared to fight to whatever manner it takes - it will never be over, until we are satisfied. I explained to him that I have lived my life already and I have personally taken up the Autism cause 7-years ago and have made this my life's endeavor. Nothing is going to stop me and the many parents who know that happened, and are on my side and feel the same.

To be honest, I want to see them go to prison. I personally don’t care about their careers; they have been grossly negligent and have lost the public’s confidence. The doctors, officials, etc., are lying and the truth is/will come out completely. Keep up our endeavor and we will win.

Again, thank you and Godspeed,
Michael A. Chernoff, For Alexander and So Many Others


It amazes me that in an election year neither political party is using autism as an issue.
I wonder what autism related skeletons might come out of the closet under the next McCain or Obama administration?

Teresa Conrick

"But by now, the evidence is so indisputable that the question has become a question of moral rather than scientific choices. Why do these officials persist in continuing policies and products that harm children?"

All so true. Money figures in here too but we all know that at the end of the day, whatever was saved by using thimerosal will be spent 100X over in injured children and the huge societal repercussions that come as a result. In 2006, ethical was the #1 word looked up on the internet as people didn't know what it sad is that? I would guess that moral is on that list too.

Angela S.

And we wonder why other countries hate us.

Media Scholar

Speaking of the Bush White House, this was interesting....

October 10, 2005
Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced the Bill S. 1828, "Influenza Vaccine Security Act". Over $200 million would be dispersed for increased vaccine production, education and vaccination rates. One of the main aspects of the Bill is to increase vaccination rates with a particular focus on CDC-defined priority populations including infants, children and pregnant women. The legislation makes no recommendation to have Thimerosal-free flu vaccines.


It seems so simple - scientists do a study comparing hamsters with and without thimerosal - yet the CDC, FDA etc. won't do this. As Dr. Healy said, they are too afraid of what they might find out.

And where are the journalists?!? Will this study get any coverage? Our vaccine program is like a totalitarian dictator -- unassailable, no questions allowed to be publicized.

I'm with you, Kelli Ann -- this situation is just unbelievable.

The repercussions for our and other country's kids, families, anbd social services agencies are incredible -- and on top of that, there will be repercussions for our nation's international relationships and reputation as well.

And yet these issues continue to be invisible to almost all except for those directly affected.

Thank you so much, Mark and AoA for providing publicity and information which will surely have an affect - hopefully sooner rather than later.

Kelli Ann Davis

"Ethyl mercury produced clear injuries in the three types of brain tissue: hippocampus, cerebellum and cerebral cortex. Furthermore, the exposed hamsters showed clear evidence of many different kinds of tissue damage, such as reduced neuron density, increased cell death, impaired myelin development and increased inflammation."

I seriously cannot handle reading what happened to my son's brain -- I really can't.

And then to read that children with severe autism get *shocked* when they *misbehave* (banging their heads against floors, walls) at some state-of-the-art school in MA is just about all I can take.

*THESE CHILDREN ARE IN OBVIOUS PAIN* and the inflammation of these hamster's brain tissue proves that!!!! Is it any wonder that they are banging their heads to try and get rid of the pain????

It almost makes me want to give up on humanity -- the complete cruelty demonstrated towards our children!

I agree Mark. When is the maddness going to stop?

For me, it won't be soon enough.

I need a serious break from all of it. My heart just can't handle this anymore.


I spoke with a Doctor from Poland last year who had originally been a general practitioner. This Doctor has transitioned to treating only autistic patients and had, at the time, about 2,000 patients. I asked what the incidence of autism was in Poland and she said in some poorer areas (presumably with poorer nutrition and general health) it's as high as 1 in 65. I asked when this started and she "after we started getting your [the US'] vaccines".

Eventually enough people will listen and we can stop this insanity.

Full Study

Lenny Schafer of SARNET has the full article available at:

Strength in numbers

"The result of these PAHO decisions is that Peruvian children are now exposed to thimerosal in amounts that would be considered in excess of EPA guideline in the U.S. Not surprisingly, some Peruvian scientists have taken issue with this choice and took it upon themselves to investigate the issue."

Does this mean that there *are* Peruvian scientists that (unlike American scientists) have not been bought by Big Pharma. Oops, slipped out of Big Pharma's net. Apparently only the BIG fish are caught, its the little ones that escape that are troublesome.

Here's a truth none can deny - if you are fat you are clumsy, if you are small you are agile. Here's to the many smaller scientists the world over who can indeed do their own math. Yes, possibly even in Greenland!

Craig Willoughby

Mark, excellent article! I don't know if parents here can thank you enough for all that you do. Kim is included in this, too. You guys are awesome, and keep up the fight!

Mary Webster

Thank you, Mark. Where can we find the English version of the full study?

Tanner's Dad

I watched a tv show last night where the host was just screaming at the CDC and FDA over the Tomato deal. He said that he wondered how the government could conceal such information... If he only knew what our children are going through...


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