Thimerosal update

The Geier and Geier analysis “isn’t even third rate.”

Commenting on the study purporting to show falling rates of autism after the removal of thimerosal from infant vaccines, a reader who understands statistics far better than I do writes:

The statistical analysis in the thimerosal study you linked to isn’t even third rate. Interrupted time series analyses are notoriously unreliable in epidemiological research. But this article takes interrupted time series data and doesn’t even attempt a proper interrupted time series analysis.

The Danish study remains the most important and credible research on this subject.

Every child born in Denmark since 1968 has been given a national ID #, which the researchers could link with medical records. With a national health system, all vaccines were given through a single program, using a single vaccine manufacturer, so there was a relatively little variation in the pre/post thimerosal-removal date.

Moreover, the vaccine program had a standardized 3 dose sequence, an

additional consistency you wouldn’t find in the U.S. This enabled the

researchers to distinguish children who had received 0, 1, 2, or 3

thimerosal-containing doses, all within a narrow period around the

thimerosal-removal date. They found no dose-response relationship.

Others write in with more and more evidence that the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons isn’t to be taken seriously. (See, for example, this editorial from Dr. (!) Grover Norquist.)

All of that said, I’d still like to see a serious analysis of the age-cohort data.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

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