Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Mercury in Vaccines, and Elsewhere

Today's NYT reports on testimony yesterday before a federal panel evaluating whether a link exists between thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in routine childhood vaccines, and rising rates of autism. The epidemiological witnesses tended to discount any connection; the toxicologists seemed readier to perceive one. Among other reasons for investigating the link, the issue recurrently arises in proceedings under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Meanwhile, however, another article in today's Times indicates that if mercury is the cause of increased autism rates, thimerosal from vaccines may not be the only source. The EPA is now estimating that one child in six is at risk for developmental disorders from intra-uterine mercury exposure -- double its previous estimates.
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.