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Curtis B.,Infant Primate Research Laboratory | Liberato N.,Infant Primate Research Laboratory | Rulien M.,Infant Primate Research Laboratory | Morrisroe K.,Infant Primate Research Laboratory | And 11 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2015

Background: In the 1990s, the mercury-based preservative thimerosal was used in most pediatric vaccines. Although there are currently only two thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) recommended for pediatric use, parental perceptions that vaccines pose safety concerns are affecting vaccination rates, particularly in light of the much expanded and more complex schedule in place today. oBjectives: The objective of this study was to examine the safety of pediatric vaccine schedules in a non-human primate model. Methods: We administered vaccines to six groups of infant male rhesus macaques (n = 12–16/ group) using a standardized thimerosal dose where appropriate. Study groups included the recommended 1990s Pediatric vaccine schedule, an accelerated 1990s Primate schedule with or without the measles–mumps–rubella (MMR) vaccine, the MMR vaccine only, and the expanded 2008 schedule. We administered saline injections to age-matched control animals (n = 16). Infant development was assessed from birth to 12 months of age by examining the acquisition of neonatal reflexes, the development of object concept permanence (OCP), computerized tests of discrimination learning, and infant social behavior. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance, multi level modeling, and survival analyses, where appropriate. results: We observed no group differences in the acquisition of OCP. During discrimination learning, animals receiving TCVs had improved performance on reversal testing, although some of these same animals showed poorer performance in subsequent learning-set testing. Analysis of social and non social behaviors identified few instances of negative behaviors across the entire infancy period. Although some group differences in specific behaviors were reported at 2 months of age, by 12 months all infants, irrespective of vaccination status, had developed the typical repertoire of macaque behaviors. conclusions: This comprehensive 5-year case–control study, which closely examined the effects of pediatric vaccines on early primate development, provided no consistent evidence of neuro -developmental deficits or aberrant behavior in vaccinated animals. © 2015, Public Health Services, US Dept of Health and Human Services. All rights reserved.


PubMed | University of Washington, Infant Primate Research Laboratory, Independent Consultant, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Texas A&M University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2015

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder. Some anecdotal reports suggest that ASD is related to exposure to ethyl mercury, in the form of the vaccine preservative, thimerosal, and/or receiving the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. Using infant rhesus macaques receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) following the recommended pediatric vaccine schedules from the 1990s and 2008, we examined behavior, and neuropathology in three brain regions found to exhibit neuropathology in postmortem ASD brains. No neuronal cellular or protein changes in the cerebellum, hippocampus, or amygdala were observed in animals following the 1990s or 2008 vaccine schedules. Analysis of social behavior in juvenile animals indicated that there were no significant differences in negative behaviors between animals in the control and experimental groups. These data indicate that administration of TCVs and/or the MMR vaccine to rhesus macaques does not result in neuropathological abnormalities, or aberrant behaviors, like those observed in ASD.


PubMed | Infant Primate Research Laboratory
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Environmental health perspectives | Year: 2015

In the 1990s, the mercury-based preservative thimerosal was used in most pediatric vaccines. Although there are currently only two thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) recommended for pediatric use, parental perceptions that vaccines pose safety concerns are affecting vaccination rates, particularly in light of the much expanded and more complex schedule in place today.The objective of this study was to examine the safety of pediatric vaccine schedules in a non-human primate model.We administered vaccines to six groups of infant male rhesus macaques (n = 12-16/group) using a standardized thimerosal dose where appropriate. Study groups included the recommended 1990s Pediatric vaccine schedule, an accelerated 1990s Primate schedule with or without the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the MMR vaccine only, and the expanded 2008 schedule. We administered saline injections to age-matched control animals (n = 16). Infant development was assessed from birth to 12 months of age by examining the acquisition of neonatal reflexes, the development of object concept permanence (OCP), computerized tests of discrimination learning, and infant social behavior. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance, multilevel modeling, and survival analyses, where appropriate.We observed no group differences in the acquisition of OCP. During discrimination learning, animals receiving TCVs had improved performance on reversal testing, although some of these same animals showed poorer performance in subsequent learning-set testing. Analysis of social and nonsocial behaviors identified few instances of negative behaviors across the entire infancy period. Although some group differences in specific behaviors were reported at 2 months of age, by 12 months all infants, irrespective of vaccination status, had developed the typical repertoire of macaque behaviors.This comprehensive 5-year case-control study, which closely examined the effects of pediatric vaccines on early primate development, provided no consistent evidence of neurodevelopmental deficits or aberrant behavior in vaccinated animals.

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