An assessment of the impact of thimerosal on childhood neurodevelopmental disorders

Pediatr Rehabil. 2003 Apr-Jun;6(2):97-102. doi: 10.1080/1363849031000139315.


The prevalence of autism in the US has risen from 1 in approximately 2500 in the mid-1980s to 1 in approximately 300 children in the mid-1990s. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether mercury from thimerosal in childhood vaccines contributed to neurodevelopmental disorders. Neurodevelopmental disorder dose-response curves for increasing mercury doses of thimerosal in childhood vaccines were determined based upon examination of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database and the 2001 US' Department of Education Report. The instantaneous dosage of mercury children received in comparison to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s maximum permissible dose for the oral ingestion of methylmercury was also determined. The dose-response curves showed increases in odds ratios of neurodevelopmental disorders from both the VAERS and US Department of Education data closely linearly correlated with increasing doses of mercury from thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines and that for overall odds ratios statistical significance was achieved. Similar slopes and linear regression coefficients for autism odds ratios in VAERS and the US Department of Education data help to mutually validate each other. Controls employed in the VAERS and US Department of Education data showed minimal biases. The evidence presented here shows that the occurrence of neurodevelopmental disorders following thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines does not appear to be coincidental.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / chemically induced
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / chemically induced*
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Odds Ratio
  • Personality Disorders / chemically induced
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / adverse effects*
  • Speech Disorders / chemically induced
  • Thimerosal / adverse effects*
  • United States


  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis Vaccines
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
  • Thimerosal