Another study is offering evidence that thimerosal doesn't increase children's risk of autism. Indeed, even those exposed highest levels of thimerosal were no more likely to develop autism than infants exposed to only a little thimerosal.
"This study revealed no increased risk of ASD associated with receipt of thimerosal-containing vaccines," the report published in the journal Pediatrics notes. "No increased risk was found for subtypes of ASD, including ASD with regression, and prenatal exposure was not associated with a risk of ASD."
Lead author Frank DeStefano of the CDC emphasized the study's findings in an interview with CNN: "This study adds to the evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines do not increase a child's risk of developing autism."
The study comes as a Georgia family received an "unprecedented" damage award from a federal vaccine injury fund, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Federal officials determined in 2008 that vaccines given to Hannah Poling of Athens, GA, aggravated a rare, pre-existing condition that resulted in a disorder with autism-like symptoms.
The family will receive $1.5 million immediately to cover care during the first year after the judgments, lost future earnings and pain and suffering, the AJC reports. The award includes another $140,000 to cover past expenses incurred by the family, as well as an annuity contract that would cover at least $500,000 in annual expenses to care for and educate Poling. Those familiar with the case say the compensation could total $20 million over the child's lifetime, CBS reports.
"The CDC and other health agencies need to ensure that vaccines are as safe as possible," Lori McIlwain of the National Autism Association in reaction to the award. "The study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations is an important next step."