How Aluminum Became the New Thimerosal

Once thimerosal was taken out of vaccines, some doctors were left with a dilemma. What were anxious parents going to worry about now?

Some continued to push myths about thimerosal, but many quickly found a new “toxin” to scare folks about – aluminum.

More than 10 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a position paper stating that “aluminum is now being implicated as interfering with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and in other tissues.”

Lawrence Palevsky, MD on Aluminum: The New Mercury?

Palevsky wasn’t the only doc to try and shift parents’ fears onto aluminum.

He wasn’t even the first to make it sound like the AAP had been warning about aluminum for years and years.

Bob Sears, MD seems to have that honor with his 2008 article in Mothering Magazine, Is Aluminum the New Thimerosal?.

“As a medical doctor, my first instinct was to worry that these aluminum levels far exceed what may be safe for babies. My second instinct was to assume that the issue had been properly researched, and that studies had been done on healthy infants to determine their ability to rapidly excrete aluminum. My third instinct was to search for these studies. So far, I have found none. It’s likely the FDA thinks that the kidneys of healthy infants work well enough to excrete aluminum before it can circulate through the body, accumulate in the brain, and cause toxic effects. However, I can find no references in FDA documents that show that using aluminum in vaccines has been tested and found to be safe.”

Bob Sears, MD

Unlike Dr. Bob, my first instinct when faced with a situation like this is to look to someone with a little more expertise before scaring folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. And do you know what all of those experts say – aluminum salts in vaccines are safe.

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

That’s not surprising, because just about everything Dr. Bob warned about and somehow equated with vaccines, was really about premature neonates and infants getting daily intravenous fluids and IV feeding solutions over prolonged periods of time, especially premature neonates and infants with impaired kidney function. Although aluminum toxicity wasn’t thought to be a common problem, even in these situations, it was thought to be enough of a risk that doctors were warned about it, and TPN fluid was limited to no more than 25 micrograms per liter of aluminum.

And that’s why the AAP had issued their position paper.

Now, would a premature baby getting IVF or an IV feeding solution containing aluminum every day for several weeks or months ever really be thought of as being at the same risk as an infant who gets a few aluminum salt containing vaccines at their well checkups?

No, it is clearly not the same thing.

“We conclude that episodic exposures to vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvant continue to be extremely low risk to infants and that the benefits of using vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant outweigh any theoretical concerns.”

Mitkus et al on Updated aluminum pharmacokinetics following infant exposures through diet and vaccination.

And not surprisingly, the aluminum salts that kids get in vaccines have been shown to be safe.

“Importantly, aluminum has a good safety record in which reported adverse events have been limited to acute local reactions.”

Glanz et al. on Cumulative and episodic vaccine aluminum exposure in a population-based cohort of young children.

Don’t believe the new anti-vaccine propaganda about aluminum and don’t let it scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

“We found no evidence that aluminium salts in vaccines cause any serious or long-lasting adverse events.”

Jefferson et al. on Adverse events after immunisation with aluminium-containing DTP vaccines: systematic review of the evidence.

Vaccines are safe and necessary.

Vaccines with aluminum salts as an adjuvant are safe and necessary.

What to Know About Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines

Aluminum salts in vaccines are safe. Skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines because you have been scared about aluminum isn’t.

More on Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines

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