by David Kirby
Posted: March 18, 2011 05:46 PM
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to study autism as a possible clinical outcome of immunization, as part of its newly adopted 5-year research agenda for vaccine safety, the agency said on its website.
The CDC will also study mitochondrial dysfunction and the potential risk for post-vaccine “neurological deterioration,” and convene an expert panel on the feasibility of studying health outcomes such as autism among vaccinated and unvaccinated children.
The CDC plan adopts recommendations approved by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee of the US Department of Health and Human Services. It also comes one month after the federal government’s leading autism body, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), signaled a shift in research priorities toward environmental triggers for autism, which the IACC said could include toxins, biological agents and “adverse events following immunization.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunization Safety Office Scientific Agenda indentified the need to research “Neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD)” as a possible clinical outcome of vaccination.
The plan also seeks to deternine if the mercury-based preservative thimerosal is associated with increased risk for “clinically important tics or Tourette syndrome.” The CDC cited one study (Thompson, NEJM, 2007), which “found that increasing exposure to mercury from birth to age 7 months was associated with motor and phonic tics in boys,” and added that “an association between exposure to thimerosal and tics was found in two earlier studies (Andrews, Pediatrics, 2004; Verstraeten, Pediatrics, 2003).”
And, noting that the IACC federal autism panel “suggested several studies including vaccinated versus unvaccinated children to determine if there are differences in health outcomes,” the CDC said it will convene an “external expert committee to offer guidance on the feasibility of conducting such studies and additional studies related to the immunization schedule, including studies that may indicate if multiple vaccinations increase risk for immune system disorders.”
Meanwhile, the IACC has signaled a shift in research priorities into the causes of autism, moving away from genetic studies in favor of investigating the interaction between genes and environmental factors, which it said could include toxins, biological agents and vaccines.
The IACC, among other things, helps direct millions of federal dollars into autism research. Until now, the IACC’s updated strategic plan noted, “the majority of this funding (was) directed toward the identification of genetic risk factors (with) less funding and attention toward environmental research.”
A number of environmental factors are now being researched, the IACC said, adding that, “Recent studies suggest that factors such as parental age and exposure to infections, toxins, and other biological agents may confer environmental risk. These findings require further investigation.”