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Infants' exposure to aluminum from vaccines and breast milk during the first 6 months


The success of vaccination programs in reducing and eliminating infectious diseases has contributed to an ever-increasing number of vaccines given at earlier ages (newborns and infants). Exposure to low levels of environmental toxic substances (including metals) at an early age raises plausible concerns over increasingly lower neuro-cognitive rates. Current immunization schedules with vaccines containing aluminum (as adjuvant) are given to infants, but thimerosal (as preservative) is found mostly in vaccines used in non-industrialized countries. Exclusively, breastfed infants (in Brazil) receiving a full recommended schedule of immunizations showed an exceedingly high exposure of Al (225 to 1750 μg per dose) when compared with estimated levels absorbed from breast milk (2.0 μg). This study does not dispute the safety of vaccines but reinforces the need to study long-term effects of early exposure to neuro-toxic substances on the developing brain. Pragmatic vaccine safety needs to embrace conventional toxicology, addressing especial characteristics of unborn fetuses, neonates and infants exposed to low levels of aluminum, and ethylmercury traditionally considered innocuous to the central nervous system.

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This work was supported by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — UNESCO, Ministério da Saúde do Brasil (SC27824/2005/914BRA2000 Decit PRODOC) and the National Research Council of Brazil-CNPq (PNOPG project-55.0882/01-4; PPG7, project-556985/2005-2).

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Correspondence to José G Dórea.

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Dórea, J., Marques, R. Infants' exposure to aluminum from vaccines and breast milk during the first 6 months. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 20, 598–601 (2010).

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  • aluminum
  • ethylmercury
  • thimerosal
  • breast milk
  • infants
  • adjuvant
  • vaccine

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