April 9, 2006

CDC is "Disapointed" with USA Today Ad

For Immediate Release
April 6, 2006 Contact:
Division of Media Relations
CDC Statement regarding autism-related advertisement in USA Today

We know that autism is a heart-wrenching situation for many families and many children and it presents special challenges that we would certainly want to prevent and do anything we could to avoid. When it comes to the nation’s immunization recommendations, the CDC and Public Health Service are always guided by one overriding goal and interest—all our recommendations are designed to protect the health and well being of all children.

We are very disappointed in an advertisement that appears in today’s edition of USA Today. The advertisement completely mischaracterizes the efforts of CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and others to protect the health and well being of the nation’s children. CDC has sponsored multiple public meetings and scientific reviews, we’ve involved numerous outside organizations and experts in our research and recommendations, and we’ve made continued investments in research designed to discover factors which may place children at risk for developing autism. Importantly, if levels of thimerosal found in vaccines, including influenza vaccines, were associated with harm, CDC, the Public Health Service, and the nation’s physicians (e.g., the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and American Academy of Family Physicians) would not recommend their use.

We’ve made substantial progress in removing thimerosal from vaccines – and have done so without placing infants and children at risk for potentially serious vaccine preventable diseases. As we continue in our efforts to further reduce the use of thimerosal in vaccines, we must also ensure, particularly in the case of influenza, that our efforts do not create serious undesirable outcomes, such as vaccine shortages that would place people, including children, at risk. History has shown that disruptions in vaccine supplies can render the population more vulnerable to diseases we know we can prevent.

We don't know, unfortunately, for children with autism what caused it, nor do we have sound, scientifically valid information on effective treatments. That's a fact. We just simply don't have answers to the cause of this disorder or the disorders that fall into the autism spectrum. We don't have a complete picture of the scope of the problem. We're just learning about the subtleties that can be early signs of autism, we're learning about the importance of early detection, and we're learning about the importance of early treatment, but we have a long way to go before we really understand the scope and magnitude of this problem in our country and what the trends really mean.

As we're looking for answers related to the causes and effective treatments for autism, we have to also be careful not to base our health recommendations on unproven hypotheses or fear. We have to base our decisions on the best available science that we have in front of us, and today the best available science indicates to us that vaccines save lives, and that's a very, very important message for all of us to remember.

For more information about autism, immunizations, or thimerosal, we encourage you to visit the CDC website: www.cdc.gov

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