New Study: No Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism
Researchers have debunked the link between the MMR vaccine and autism in a study of more than 95,000 children over an 11-year timespan, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institutes of Health, found “no harmful association between the receipt of the MMR vaccine and the development of an autism spectrum disorder,” according to pediatrician Anjali Jain, who was involved with the work.
The study looked at claim information gleaned from the database of a major health plan. In particular, the researchers looked at youngsters whose older siblings have autism or an autism spectrum disorder, as that gives them a greater genetic risk for autism.
Lingering Beliefs Lead to Outbreaks
Dr. Jain pointed out that, “Although there is a lot of research suggesting that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder, those beliefs continue to persist.” The growing resistance to vaccinations comes at a time when measles outbreaks are on the rise, including a highly publicized outbreak that started at Disneyland in California in December, 2014, and affected almost 150 people. While there were no deaths, 20 percent of those afflicted required hospitalization.
Many parents still remain skeptical and choose not to vaccinate their children because of lingering fears. However, the study at the root of the vaccine/autism link was discredited when it was discovered that the doctor behind it altered medical records. That physician, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, lost his medical license in the backlash.
The exact causes of autism remain a mystery, although there’s likely a genetic link. Environmental factors may play a role, as might things like a child’s brain chemistry or problems in prenatal development. The new study is just the latest in a long string of research that shows the MMR vaccine can be ruled out as a cause.