A large study over 650,000 children released on Monday, ensure that there is no link between autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, so definitely does not increase the risk of autism. This study carried out the attempt to reassure growing numbers of vaccination doubters.
“The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism,” the authors write in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “We believe our results offer reassurance and provide reliable data.”
The study’s first author, epidemiologist Anders Hviid of the Staten Serum Institute in Copenhagen, added in an email: “MMR does not cause autism.”
On Friday, Unicef warned measles cases had risen to shocking levels around the world, spreading among unvaccinated children. The World Health Organization has said vaccine hesitancy is one of the 10 biggest global threats to health.
Researchers aimed to specifically address some of the criticisms of the anti-vaccination lobby, such as the suggestion that some groups of children were more vulnerable to autism following MMR vaccination than others. The researchers looked at children with a sibling who has autism and those with increased risk factors for autism, such as older parents.
They also looked at whether there was more autism among children who had received other vaccinations before MMR. Anti-MMR campaigners have also made claims of “clusters” of a regressive form of autism, caused by vaccination, which do not show up in whole population studies.
Saad Omer from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and Inci Yildirim from Emory University’s School of Medicine said the study was worth carrying out, even though it had already been shown there was no link between MMR and autism.
“In an ideal world, vaccine safety research would be conducted only to evaluate scientifically grounded hypotheses, not in response to the conspiracy du jour. In reality, hypotheses propagated by vaccine skeptics can affect public confidence in vaccines,” they wrote.