In the seemingly endless debate over whether vaccines cause autism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released another study showing that thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative, does not cause childhood developmental problems. The National Autism Association fired back, pointing out that the study included only 1,047 subjects, too few for any meaningful conclusions to be drawn. A more extensive CDC study of thimerosal and autism is due next year.
In an effort to detect autism as early as possible, regardless of its cause, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations for physicians to start screening patients twice: at 18 months and again at 2 years, instead of waiting until the age of 3 or 4. A new AAP screening kit consisting of a CD-ROM of surveillance guidelines, development checklists and record-keeping charts can alert doctors to warning signs.