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Government backs safety of thiomersal vaccines

The Government has reiterated its advice over the safety of vaccines containing thiomersal after scrutinising results from two major trials.

The studies, which looked at the safety of thiomersal-containing vaccines in more than 100,000 children, found no evidence linking neuro-

developmental disorders to exposure to thiomersal at levels used in UK vaccines.

A study funded by the World Health Organisation and the Public Health Laboratory Service used data from the General Practice Research Database while another funded by the Department of Health used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood.

Professor Alasdair Breckenridge, chair of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, said: 'The balance of benefits and risks of thiomersal-containing vaccines remains overwhelmingly positive.

'These new studies reinforce CSM advice that there is no evidence of neurological adverse effects caused by thiomersal in vaccines.'

The mercury content of thiomersal prompted concerns it might affect brain development when given in vaccines.

Whole-cell DTP, single diphtheria and tetanus and some influenza and hepatitis B vaccines are the only vaccines in widespread use in the UK containing thiomersal.

The committee, at its last meeting, said vaccine manufacturers were actively looking at eliminating or reducing

levels of thiomersal in vaccines, but while the changes were under way there was 'no reason' to change current immunisation practice.

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