Online Program

Risk Assessment of Aluminum Exposure and Neurotoxicity Due to Infant Vaccinations

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Erin Dunn, BA, MD/MPH Candidate, Medical Education and Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, DO, PhD, MPH, CPH, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Background: Over a billion vaccine doses are given annually, and most are given to healthy infants, children, and adults. It is thus imperative that immunizations be both effective and safe. The use of adjuvants, such as aluminum, in vaccines is widely promoted, as adjuvants stimulate an earlier, stronger, more persistent immunological response.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted to integrate information from epidemiological and toxicological studies to assess the association between exposure to aluminum as an adjuvant in vaccines and the risk for neurotoxicity.

Results: While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not defined a reference dose for aluminum, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) set minimum risk level (MRL) for exposure as 2 mg/kg/day. The ATSDR also restricts the amount of aluminum compounds in vaccines to be no more than 0.85 mg/dose to prevent the possibility of aluminum toxicity-induced adverse effects. While the mechanism of aluminum toxicity is currently unknown, it might be implicated in inhibiting neuronal microtubule formation. Yet, aluminum levels permitted in vaccines are much lower than the maximum daily amount allowed in infants.

Conclusions: The amount of aluminum an infant receives from a year’s worth of vaccines is significantly below the minimum risk level and thus well under potentially toxic levels. While neurotoxicity may be a concern for parents whose infants receive vaccines containing aluminum-adjuvants, the risk of contracting the illnesses the vaccines prevent is of much greater alarm.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss epidemiological and toxicological studies to assess risks associated with adjuvant aluminum use in vaccines.

Keyword(s): Immunizations, Risk Factors/Assesment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a second-year medical student who researches cancer epidemiology and disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.