Neonate Exposure to Thimerosal Mercury from Hepatitis B Vaccines

Universidade de Brasília, DF, Brazil.
American Journal of Perinatology (Impact Factor: 1.91). 04/2009; 26(7):523-7. DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1215431
Source: PubMed


Infant exposure to ethylmercury (EtHg) has not only increased but is starting earlier as a result of the current immunization schedule that uses thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs). Although vaccination schedule varies considerably between countries, infants in less-developed countries continue to be exposed to EtHg derived from more affordable TCVs. We studied the exposure of newborns to EtHg from hepatitis B vaccines; hospital records (21,685) were summarized for the years 2001 to 2005 regarding date of birth, vaccination date, and birth weight. Most of the vaccinations occurred in the first 24 hours postdelivery; over the 5 years, there was an increase in vaccinations within hours of birth (same day), from 7.4% (2001) to 87.8% (2005). Nearly 94.6% of infants are now being vaccinated within the first 24 hours. Range of mercury exposure spread from 4.2 to 21.1 microg mercury/kg body weight for those receiving TCVs with the highest thimerosal concentration; these exposure levels are conservative for 2% of children receiving vaccines within 2 to 3 postnatal days, when they are still going through physiological postnatal weight loss. Because of the particular timing (transitioning from in utero to ex utero metabolism) and specific aspects of exposure (i.e., parenteral mode, bypassing gastroenteric barriers) and dose (related to vaccine manufacturer and with variation in birth weight), this study reveals critical issues that can modulate toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of organomercurials in neonates.

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