NAAR is partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to co-fund a comprehensive review of medical literature focusing on autism and vaccines.
Recently, the WHO's Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety asked NAAR to consider supporting an effort that examines the issue of whether vaccines are involved with the cause of autism. NAAR's Board of Trustees decided to support the WHO effort with a $25,000 grant after a careful review of the request.
The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is a scientific advisory body established by WHO to provide a reliable and independent scientific assessment of vaccine safety issues. The committee expects to report findings of its review of the current status of autism research pertaining to vaccines exposure for a December 2004 meeting. Specifically, the review aims to determine a specific understanding of the issue prior to reassessing safety aspects of thimerosal-containing
The review is examining a wide range of studies published in medical journals, including those that suggest there is no association between autism and vaccines as well as studies that suggest there may be a link, such as the recent investigation led by Dr. Mady Horning at Columbia University that was published earlier this year in
Dr. Horning's study raised the possibility that certain strains of mice with immune dysfunction may be particularly susceptible to thimerosal.
In addition, NAAR is exploring how it can help the WHO disseminate the findings of the literature review for health care professionals and the general public.
NAAR's co-funding of the WHO literature review is the latest example of the organization's support for research focusing potential environmental risk factors for autism.
In 2004, NAAR awarded a two-year, $120,000 grant to
Double Hit Hypothesis of Autism: Susceptibility and Environmental Exposure to Metals
. Dr. Freedman's
study explores whether a genetic defect related to metal metabolism and metal intoxication during development contributes to persistent cognitive and social impairment. Toxins examined in this investigation include copper and inorganic mercury.
NAAR awarded two grants in 2003 to fund studies that focus on potential environmental risk factors:
The first is a two-year, $120,000 grant to Thomas Cook, Ph.D.,
Placental Metabolism & Fatty Acid Homeostasis in Fetal Imprinting of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
This study examines whether a toxin could interrupt the proper functioning of enzymes in the placenta (via fatty acids) and contribute to the etiology of autism.
The second is a two-year, $118,454 award to Poul Thorsen, M.D., Ph.D., of NANEA at the Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine/Aarhus University in
Exposure to Pharmaceuticals in Pregnancy & Development of Autistic Disorder.
This epidemiology study utilizes