Managing Editor's Note: Mike Wagnitz submitted this letter to Pediatrics. They declined to run it, as it their right. We decided to run it. As is our right. Dr. Offit is pushing harder than a mother delivering triplets to convince moms and dads that anyone who speaks in favor of vaccine safety is wrong. Including Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatric voice of reason whom we have been happy to welcome to Age of Autism. You can read his post, Smart Vaccine Decisions for Families with Autism (HERE). Sorry, Dr. Offit. No sale.
A Shot of Reality
By Michael Wagnitz, B.S.
As a chemist with 27 years of experience evaluating material for heavy metals, I find it unfortunate that the journal Pediatrics has allowed Dr. Paul Offit to repeat misinformation regarding the use of neurotoxic metals in vaccines. He scolds Dr. Bob Sears for not giving the proper scientific credit to the paper, "Weight of Evidence Against Thimerosal Causing Neuropsychological Deficits" (1), published in the NEJM. Let's take a look at the quality of this paper starting with the impartiality of the authors:
Dr. Thompson - the lead investigator - is a former employee of Merck.
Dr. Marcy has received consulting fees from Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and MedImmune.
Dr. Jackson received grant money from Wyeth, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis. He received lecture fees from Sanofi Pasteur and consulting fees from Wyeth and Abbott. Currently, he is a consultant to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
Dr. Lieu is a consultant to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Dr. Black receives consulting fees from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Merck, and grant support from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Merck, and Novartis.
Dr. Davis receives consulting fees from Merck and grant support from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.
(The above information was included in the fine print of the published article)
The article states that any child with a preexisting neurological condition was eliminated from the study. Isn't this what the study was supposed to examine, whether thimerosal causes neurological damage? These preexisting conditions included encephalitis and meningitis. The possibility that thimerosal might cause these conditions was eliminated from consideration.
Children were eliminated for other reasons from the study. One group excluded was children whose birth weight was under 2,500 grams, or 5.5 pounds. The number of babies eliminated because of this was not reported. Babies of this weight are not rare and they are not excluded from any vaccine. In fact, in a study published last year in Pediatrics, it was shown that low weight babies had a much higher rate of autism (2). In the end, only about 30% of the original study participants remained. The authors seemed to weed out anyone who didn't fit their desired conclusion. Offit says (and I quote), "It is hard to imagine a better conceived, better designed study on the subtle effects of mercury poisoning". No Offit, it's hard to imagine a better conceived and better designed study to obfuscate the issue concerning the safety of thimerosal.
Offit tells us how aluminum in babies formula and breast milk dwarfs the amount in vaccines. What he doesn't explain is that aluminum is only dangerous once it's in the bloodstream. Aluminum is not absorbed through the gut. It is 100% absorbed through vaccination. He ignores the paper published in 2007 linking aluminum in vaccines to Gulf War Syndrome (3) . If it can harm healthy, adult, combat ready soldiers, at a lower dose per body weight, what is it doing to newborns?
Here is one subject Offit never touches; multi-dose vaccine vials, including current versions of the flu, tetanus and meningococcal vaccines, contain 50,000 ug/l of Hg, a level 250 times higher than what the EPA classifies as hazardous waste (4). All these vaccines are recommended for children. Primates exposed to injected ethylmercury from vaccines, as opposed to equal doses of ingested methylmercury, end up with twice as much Hg++ deposited in the brain (5). This form remains permanently trapped and has been identified as the primary toxic agent in degenerative brain diseases (6). State of the art research has shown us that autism is a degenerative brain disease (7).
Parents understand the difference between truthful information from honest, caring professionals like Dr. Bob Sears and the aggressive, bullying tactics that Offit and others are trying to sell them. The cat is out of the bag and it's not going back in.
(1) Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al. Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years. N Engl J Med. 2007;357 (13):1281 –1292
(2) Limperopoulos C, Bassan H, Sullivan NR, et al. Positive Screening for Autism in Ex-preterm Infants: Prevalence and Risk Factors Pediatrics 2008; 121: 758-765
(3) Petrik MS, Wong MC, Tabata RC, Garry RF, Shaw CA. Aluminum [vaccine] adjuvant linked to gulf war illness induces motor neuron death in mice. Neuromolecular Med. 2007;9(1):83-100.
(5) Burbacher T, Shen D, Liberato N, Grant K, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. 2005. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:1015-1021
(6) Charleston J, Body R, Bolender R, Mottet N, Vahter M, Burbacher T 1996. Changes in the number of astrocytes and microglia in the thalamus of the monkey Macaca fascicularis following long-term subclinical methylmercury exposure. Neurotoxicology 17:127-138
(7) Vargus DL, Nascimbene C, Krishnan C, Zimmerman AW, Pardo Ca. 2005 Neuroglial activation and neuroinflamation in the brain of patients with autism. Annals of Neurology 57:67-81.
Conflict of Interest: Father of a vaccine injured child