Friday, January 30, 2004



A study involving a University of Nebraska researcher should figure in Wedneday’s hearing on whether Nebraska should ban the vaccine additive thimerosol from childhood immunizations and other shots.

The study points to a suspected link between that mercury-containing substance, and developmental disabilities such as autism and attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder.

If it is true that childhood shots containing mercury have contributed to the skyrocketing increase of autism (cases in Nebraska zoomed from 4 to 481 in the past decade), a ban would make sense to protect children’s health.

But if it would also help prevent learning disabilities, it would help reduce the skyrocketing cost of educating children with environmentally-created disabilities such as autism and ADHD.

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (www.ncld.org), learning disabilities in Nebraska rose by 21 percent in the 1990s alone, to 16,299 children in that educational category in the 1999-00 school year. Rising costs of special education are attributed for much of the rise in public education costs.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has said he is looking in to the possibility of joining a class action suit by states against pharmaceutical companies to seek compensation for the extra expenses of educating children who might have been harmed by neurotoxins in vaccines.

He discussed the matter late last year with former Nebraskan Linda Weinmaster of Lawrence, Kan., a national leader in the fight against autism and thimerosol-containing vaccines.

The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee will hear evidence at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 1510 on LB 1158, introduced by Sen. Dave Landis, to prohibit the use of the mercury-containing additive in immunizations.

The research study included N.U. professor Ruma Banerjee among 12 researchers from such schools as Northeastern University, Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University. It was published in Molecular Psychiatry 2004 (http://www.nature.com/mp). The conclusion refers to the “methylation” that heavy metals such as mercury create in the brain, interfering with proper growth and development linked to such disorders as autism and ADHD. The link is not definitive, however, and researchers called for further study.

Dr. Banerjee’s fields include enzymology, homocysteine biology and human metabolic diseases. She was in India and wouldn’t return until mid-February, a call to her office revealed.

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