Does the MMR vaccine cause autism? A redux.

The LA Times ran an article today about the ongoing controversy over the fear that the MMR vaccine may cause autism.

Because of this fear, there are parents who have chosen not to give their children this life-saving vaccine.

As a result, the Times reports that some in the research and medical community “are worried about” potential outbreaks that could be “fueled by clusters of people who are not vaccinated as a matter of choice, rather than access.”

The “MMR Vaccine causes autism” myth began with a 1998 report published in the very reputable British medical journal, The Lancet, which linked the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism.

What most parents who fear the MMR vaccine because of this report don’t realize is that “while the study’s release provoked an uproar in English newspapers,” ten of the thirteen “original co-authors of the … study signed a retraction of the report’s conclusions in 2004.” 

These 10 authors wrote in their retraction, “We wish to make it clear that in this paper, no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient.”

Indeed, a separate study published in Lancet in 1999 looked at autism cases in Britain before and after the MMR shot was introduced in that country in 1988: There was “no sudden ‘step-up’ of autism … after the introduction of MMR vaccination,” the report said.

Furthermore, the journal itself has retracted the findings.

Even worse, as the LA Times reports, and as I’ve reported in a past blog, the lead author of that study, Andrew Wakefield, M.D., “who has defended his original conclusion, has since been accused of accepting money from representatives of people who believe they were harmed by the MMR vaccine, and has been undergoing a disciplinary hearing by the General Medical Council, which licenses medical doctors in Britain.” 

An investigative journalist in England has reported, “The global scare rested on claims by the parents of only eight children. But most of them were lawyers’ clients – countering assertions that the study was based on routine referrals – and Andrew Wakefield had been funded through an undisclosed deal to help them sue drug companies.”

Still, “a vocal group of parents with autistic children remain committed to the premise.”

Unfortunately, children across the U.S. are now being harmed by their delusion. 

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