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Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
It has been hypothesized that early exposure to thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in vaccines and immune globulin preparations, is associated with neuropsychological deficits in children.
METHODS
We enrolled 1047 children between the ages of 7 and 10 years and administered standardized tests assessing 42 neuropsychological outcomes. (We did not assess autism-spectrum disorders.) Exposure to mercury from thimerosal was determined from computerized immunization records, medical records, personal immunization records, and parent interviews. Information on potential confounding factors was obtained from the interviews and medical charts. We assessed the association between current neuropsychological performance and exposure to mercury during the prenatal period, the neonatal period (birth to 28 days), and the first 7 months of life.
RESULTS
Among the 42 neuropsychological outcomes, we detected only a few significant associations with exposure to mercury from thimerosal. The detected associations were small and almost equally divided between positive and negative effects. Higher prenatal mercury exposure was associated with better performance on one measure of language and poorer performance on one measure of attention and executive functioning. Increasing levels of mercury exposure from birth to 7 months were associated with better performance on one measure of fine motor coordination and on one measure of attention and executive functioning. Increasing mercury exposure from birth to 28 days was associated with poorer performance on one measure of speech articulation and better performance on one measure of fine motor coordination.
CONCLUSIONS
Our study does not support a causal association between early exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immune globulins and deficits in neuropsychological functioning at the age of 7 to 10 years.

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  • Authors

    Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, Shay DK, Benson P, Hinrichsen VL, Lewis E, Eriksen E, Ray P, Marcy SM, Dunn J, Jackson LA, Lieu TA, Black S, Stewart G, Weintraub ES, Davis RL, DeStefano F, Vaccine Safety Datalink Team

    Source

    The New England journal of medicine 357:13 2007 Sep 27 pg 1281-92

    MeSH

    Child
    Child Development
    Developmental Disabilities
    Environmental Exposure
    Ethylmercury Compounds
    Female
    Humans
    Immunoglobulins
    Infant
    Infant, Newborn
    Intelligence
    Male
    Neuropsychological Tests
    Pregnancy
    Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
    Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
    Regression Analysis
    Thimerosal
    Vaccines

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    17898097