In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), together with the US Public Health Service, jointly recommended that thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that contains mercury, should be removed from vaccines. In response,the FDA removed thimerosal, or limited it to trace amounts, in all vaccines except flu shots. Now the AAP has reversed itself and says it wants the mercury left in.
In January, the UN Environmental Program will be working on a global treaty to reduce health hazards by banning certain products and processes that release mercury into…, and thimerosal in vaccines is one of those products under discussion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that thimerosal shou…and should not be banned. They argue that the mercury compound helps control the growth of bacteria and fungi in multi-dose vaccines (though not necessary for single-dose vaccines). In the developing world, multi-dose vaccines are a mainstay because single-dose vials would cost far more and require new networks of cold storage facilities and additional capacity for waste disposal, according to the WHO statement.
In a direct reversal from their previous position, AAP has endorsed WHO’s report. This could shift the FDA’s stance on the issue, and might even bring back thimerosal into other US vaccines.
Nor is this the first time the AAP has done something that strikes us as hard to explain without looking at their donors. The group previously said that boys should receive the HPV vaccine, which is dangerous and offers few benefits for boys relative to the risks; advocated that children receive cholesterol screenings, which could lead to big business for the drug companies selling statin drugs even though statins are the last thing growing bodies need; and recommended sports drinks for kids that are full of sugar and questionable additives, and expensive for consumers but that are very lucrative for the sellers. We worry that all these decisions were influenced, not by the needs of children, but by the funding needs of the organization.
Consider also AAP’s stance on organic food. While recognizing that there are lower pesticide levels and a lower risk of exposure to drug-resistant bacteria in organic food, the AAP is still unsure whether organic food is beneficial! They made the following ridiculous statement about organic milk:
The AAP found no individual health benefit from purchasing organic milk, but emphasizes that all milk should be pasteurized to reduce the risk of bacterial infections. Raw milk increases the risk of serious infection with bacteria including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella.
The truth, of course, is that raw milk bought from a reliable source (not an industrial farm) is usually healthier that pasteurized milk. As we noted last year, the CDC determined thatpasteurized milk products cause nearly twice as many illnesses as raw milk products; moreover, the pasteurization process destroys delicate proteins, enzymes, immune factors, and vitamins, and inhibits mineral availability. The very healthiest milk would therefore beraw, grass-fed—and organic.
Why would AAP take such an illogical position on organic food for children? Many have noted the presence of drug, vaccine, and junk food companies at the AAP’s annual conferences. IRS docs show that AAP received large contributions from drug companies with ties to statins. Is that why the group recommends statins for children?
Is all of this a coincidence? Not likely. We believe such conflicts of interest within the AAP directly affect their recommendations—and this, in turn, harms children, because some pediatricians and other health professionals blindly accept those recommendations. The organization actively solicits sponsorships from industry. And while they list some of their “corporate friends”—Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, Pfizer, Pediatrics Insurance Consultants, Abbott, Mead Johnson, Nestlé—this is not a complete list, nor does it reflect funding across all their program areas.
Action Alert! Contact AAP and ask them to reveal the names of all their donors—particularly the drug companies, vaccine manufacturers, and junk food companies—together with the amount of each contribution and which program area it was for. We’ll also send a copy of your message to the American Medical Association—and Congress. We need to know who is influencing policy that directly affects your children’s health! Please send your message today!