Thimerosal information
January 2 2017

Exposure to thimerosal, a mercury-containing chemical previously used as a preservative in vaccines, does not seem to increase the risk of autism according to lead author Dr. Judith Miles, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Although studies have shown little or no evidence of an association, thimerosal was removed from all routine childhood vaccines in the U.S. in 2002. The present study involved a telephone survey of 214 mothers of 230 children with autism or a related disorder. Exposure to thimerosal -containing Rh immune globulin, a vaccine administered to some women to avoid pregnancy complications, was compared between this group and the general population. The researchers found that autistic children were no more likely than unaffected children to have been exposed to Rh immune globulin. American Journal of Medical Genetics, May 16th online issue, 2007.

Thimerosal is a mercuric derivative of thiosalicylic acid that goes by many names. It has been used as a disinfectant (eg, Merthiolate) and as a preservative in some vaccines, cosmetics, tattoo inks, eye drops, and contact lens solutions. It remains one of the least likely chemicals to cause contact allergy and for this reason has been removed from many standard screening series. Positive patch-test reactions (demonstrating sensitization) may still be seen (especially in older children); however, these reactions are not clinically relevant and are expected to be fewer, reflecting changes in current vaccine formulations.

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