Monday, March 15, 2010
Investigations: Vaccine-Autism Debunker Disappears Amid Fraud Probe
A leading scientist involved in debunking links between mercury-laced vaccines and autism has disappeared in the midst of an investigation of whether he forged documents to steal $2 million, the Huffington Post and other media report here and here.
Dr. Poul Thorsen's work was used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and reporters to say that mercury in vaccines is safe for children. Thorsen relied on data from Denmark that showed reported autism rates shot up after mercury was banned in vaccines, according to the reports. Thorsen's conclusions have been widely disputed because Denmark had at the same time improved reporting of autism, and an autism clinic had opened in Copenhagen.
Mercury was phased out of many vaccines after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found in 1999 that many children were receiving excessive doses of mercury. But it is still present as a preservative in many flu vaccines given to children. A 2008 study in the journal Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry found that boys who were given a vaccine with thimerosal, a form of mercury, were nine times more likely to have developmental problems than unvaccinated boys.