Thimerosal from vaccines causes tics.  You start a campaign and make that your manta.”----Dr. William Thompson

Our Story So Far: Both MMR & Mercury-Laced Vaccines Cause Autism - AGE OF AUTISM  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tried very hard internally to cover up this link.  In 2009, Dr. Thompson completed a study with Dr. John Barile on this very subject.

Accordingly, they found a relationship between levels of thimerosal exposure in infants between 0 and 7 months of age and motor and phonic tics, specifically in boys.

 An association was also seen in girls exposed to thimerosal prenatally.  The original manuscript put forward internally in the CDC by Barile and Thompson stated the following regarding thimerosal and tics:

“In light of these findings, the researchers conclude that greater exposure to thimerosal from vaccines is potentially associated with an increased risk for the presence of tics in boys between the ages of seven to ten.”


“The study also found that for girls, higher prenatal exposure to thimerosal was associated with higher tic counts during the assessment period…”

However, when this publication was submitted for clearance through the CDC’s clearance process, the entire manuscript was rejected due to these admissions that thimerosal exposure causes tics.  In fact, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the time, Dr. Ed Trevathan, in an April 25, 2009 email, recommended that the manuscript not be published.

 Instead, top CDC officials recruited an additional author, Dr. Jonathan Mink, a tic expert from University of Rochester Medical Center who was paid by the CDC to state as the paper’s primary conclusion instead,

“This finding [regarding tics] should be interpreted with caution due to limitations in the measurement of tics and the limited biological plausibility regarding a causal relationship.”

This is despite the fact that three earlier CDC publications (Verstraeten et al. 2003, Andrews et al. 2004 and Thompson et al. 2007) had also reported an association between thimerosal exposure early in life and tics.  Thompson himself reported that he was under tremendous pressure to absolve thimerosal at all costs and run and rerun the analyses to remove the association between thimerosal exposure and tics.

Consequently, when the severely compromised manuscript was submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine for consideration for publication, it was soundly rejected with the following comments from the peer reviewers:

Reviewer 1: In this paper, the authors seem to be hoping for and wanting to demonstrate lack of relationships. When a relationship does emerge, the authors essentially downplay it, even though…a) The authors argue for how strong the dataset is earlier in the paper and b) the authors explain why SEM is superior to alternative analytic techniques.

Reviewer 2: The authors’ conclusion that “thimerosal is not a major causal agent for tic disorders (p. 13),” is not in accordance with their own data. That is, it is not reasonable, on the one hand, to argue that the use of SEM reduces the probability of Type I error, and then, on the other hand, to ignore the one significant, positive finding because of “the lack of biological plausibility of such a relationship.”

Reviewer 3: In general, the arguments presented on page 13 that findings on the tic outcome variable were not seen as sufficiently persuasive to completely dismiss those findings.  Only one citation is provided.  Further, in the absence of complete heritability, evidence of heritability does not (as the authors seem to suggest), rule out gene-by-environment interactions or even direct environmental effects...If the authors are to convince skeptical professionals, parents, or public policy-makers of their point, they would be well-advised to address the purported mechanisms of effect that have been proposed.

The manuscript was then submitted to and rejected by the Journal of the American Medical Association before it was finally picked up by the Journal of Pediatrics Psychology and was published in 2012.

In 2009, the CDC also commissioned a study in Italy by Dr. Alberto Tozzi, of Bambino Gesu` Hospital, Rome, Italy, in part to counter the many other CDC publications that report a relationship between thimerosal and tics.  Within the publication released from this study, which appeared in the journal Pediatrics, it was stated,

“We failed to observe any association with tics, in contrast to the findings of some observational studies.”

Although the CDC has gone on to herald this study as “proof” that thimerosal does not cause tics, independent reevaluation of the data in the Italian study show statistically significant relationships between thimerosal exposure and both motor and phonic tics for all children and girls and a statistically significant relationship between thimerosal exposure and phonic tics for boys.  Thompson himself has expressed extreme doubt regarding the veracity of the Tozzi et al. study’s claims and encouraged Dr. Brian Hooker to have the data reanalyzed.  This reanalysis makes clear, the study authors’ data is counter to their own claims that thimerosal does not cause tics.  

With this revelation, now all 5 CDC studies that considered tics as a consequence to thimerosal exposure show strong, statistically significant relationships despite CDC’s current claims that,

“There is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site.”

It should be noted that the presence of tics is four times more prevalent in children with autism than in the general population.  Thus, Dr. Thompson himself has argued that,

“There is a biological plausibility right now to say that thimerosal causes autism-like features.”

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism