This mindset has taught these parents to challenge the expertise from the mainstream scientific community.Parents have also been influenced by a large number of online anti-vaccination websites that present themselves as an alternative source for evidence using pseudoscientific claims.For example, although advocates of a thiomersal-autism link consider autism a form of "mercury poisoning," the typical symptoms of mercury toxicity are significantly different from symptoms seen in autism.Likewise, the neuroanatomic and histopathologic features of the brains of patients who have mercury poisoning, both with methylmercury as well as ethylmercury, have significant differences from the brains of people with autism.Following a mandated review of mercury-containing food and drugs in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked vaccine makers to remove thiomersal from vaccines as quickly as possible as a precautionary measure, and it was rapidly phased out of most U. The potential impact of thiomersal on autism has been investigated extensively.
This concern over a vaccine-autism link grew from a confluence of several underlying factors.
These websites use emotional appeals to gather support and frame the controversy as an adversarial dispute between parents and a conspiracy of doctors and scientists.
Advocates for a thiomersal-autism link have also relied on celebrities like model Jenny Mc Carthy and information presented on Don Imus' Imus in the Morning radio show to persuade the public to their cause, instead of relying only on "dry" scientific papers and scientists.
After the FDA Modernization Act of 1997 mandated a review and risk assessment of all mercury-containing food and drugs, vaccine manufacturers responded to FDA requests made in December 1998 and April 1999 to provide detailed information about the thiomersal content of their preparations.
A review of the data showed that while the vaccine schedule for infants did not exceed FDA, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), or WHO guidelines on mercury exposure, it could have exceeded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for the first six months of life, depending on the vaccine formulation and the weight of the infant.
These parents share the viewpoint that autism is not just treatable, but curable through "biomedical" interventions and have been frustrated by the lack of progress from more "mainline" scientists in finding this cure.