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FDA & CDC Bumbling at the Expense of Mercury-Poisoned Children

May 12, 2003 | P.R.Newswire The Federal Drug and Food Administration and Centers for Disease Control both get a big "F" in protecting children from the hazards of mercury poisoning. The House Government Reform Committee released a report this week that concluded the FDA and CDC failed in their duty to be vigilant as new vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative Thimerosal were approved and added to the immunization schedule.

When the Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (Hib) vaccines were added to the recommended schedule of childhood immunizations in the early 1990's, the cumulative amount of ethylmercury to which children were exposed nearly tripled. Meanwhile during the last decade, autism (symptoms of which are markedly similar to mercury poisoning) in the U.S. has grown to epidemic proportions-some estimates are between 10% and 17% per year.

"This breaks my heart," says Laura Bono, parent of a child originally misdiagnosed with autism and now diagnosed with mercury poisoning. "I followed the law and vaccinated my child thinking the government vaccination program had done all their homework. I found out that my son received 125 micrograms of ethylmercury during his first 16 months. That is 144 times the EPA allowable limit for his average weight during that time. In my opinion, this is criminal."

The Government report states, "The CDC's failure to state a preference for Thimerosal-free vaccines in 2000 and again in 2001 was an abdication of their responsibility. As a result, many children received vaccines containing Thimerosal when Thimerosal-free alternatives were available."

The Committee also found that, "The actions taken by the HHS to remove Thimerosal from vaccines in 1999 were not sufficiently aggressive. As a result, Thimerosal remained in some vaccines for an additional two years." Lori McIlwain parent of a three-year-old with heavy metal toxicity and numerous neurodevelopmental problems said, "This means that my child and thousands of other children continued to be poisoned even after the government knew the risks and the consequences."

Despite the reputation that mercury is an extremely toxic substance, the report states that, "The FDA has never required manufacturers to conduct adequate safety testing on Thimerosal and ethylmercury compounds." A coalition of parents and advocacy groups are outraged that the government could have prevented additional exposure many wonder why lawmakers haven't taken notice. Ironically, FDA has repeatedly warned pregnant women not to eat large amounts of fish so as to avoid toxic mercury, yet it continued to approve vaccines containing increasingly large doses of mercury.

The committee report also suggests there is inadequate research regarding ethylmercury neurotoxicity and nephrotoxicity, and the relationship between autism and the use of mercury-containing vaccines. It states that to-date, "Studies conducted or funded by the CDC that purportedly dispute any correlation between autism and vaccine injury have been of poor design, under- powered, and fatally flawed. The CDC's rush to support and promote such research is reflective of a philosophical conflict in looking fairly at emerging theories and clinical data related to adverse reactions from vaccinations."

Although the report is clearly shocking to the general public, parents with autistic children that were exposed to hazardous levels of mercury through their childhood vaccines aren't surprised at all. "We have followed this controversy for a long time," said Bono. "We knew we had a normal child before vaccinations and now we have a mercury-poisoned child showing all the behavioral signs of autism. At bigger issue now is, 'What is the government going to do about it?'"

Thousands of families like the Bonos were not aware mercury was in the vaccines and missed the three-year statute of limitations to file a claim in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. These families will not receive any compensation to help with their children's medical needs and are prevented under the NVICP law to file a civil claim against the pharmaceutical companies. The parents are angry that their children have been poisoned and now have no civil rights under the current NVICP.

Proposals put forth in the Senate now by Senator Judd Gregg and Senator Bill Frist will further protect vaccine manufacturers and bar recovery for many of these injured children.

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