The June 10, 2004 Belfast Telegraph reported that scientists link preservatives in child vaccines to autism. The study showed that a mercury-based preservative (thimerosal) used in some childhood vaccines was linked to autism-like damage in the brains of mice. The latest study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, found that mice susceptible to autoimmune disease which were exposed to low doses of ethylmercury showed behavioral and neurological changes in the brain.
The researchers for this study performed at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said that exposure to thimerosal in their animal model affected the behavior of the genetically susceptible mice, caused abnormalities in the brain and increased its size. The team, led by Dr. Mady Hornig, noted that over the past 20 years there had been a "striking increase", at least 10-fold since 1985 - in the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
This recent study come on the heels of another report in which the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stated that there was no link between thimerosal and autism. Barbara Loe Fisher president of the National Vaccine Information Center was quick to criticize the IOM report by saying, "This report is a case of political immunology masquerading as real science. With it, the Institute of Medicine takes a step toward weakening its reputation as an independent body capable of making an objective scientific analysis of complex medical risk issues which are influenced by government policy and industry profits."