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Study: Really For Reals, There Is No Link Between Autism and Vaccines

... even among the highest risk groups.
April 21, 2015, 8:43pm
​Image: ​Pixabay

In a study involving 95,000 children, researchers were unable to find a correlation between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the MMR vaccine, even among kids with an older sibling that had ASD.

This represents the highest risk group for developing autism—a genetic link—yet even here, the vaccine had no influence.

The new research, led by the Lewin Group's Anjali Jain, is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).


So, here are the numbers. Of the 95,727 children studied, 1,929 (2.01 percent) had an older sibling with ASD.‎ Meanwhile, 994 of those 95,727 kids wound up with an ASD diagnosis. Among those with an older sibling having ASD, 6.9 percent wound up with ASD themselves, while, of those participants without an older sibling with ASD, the number dropped to .9 percent. Of those without an older sibling with ASD, the MMR vaccination rate was 92 percent by age 5 (84 percent at age 2), while those with an ASD-diagnosed sibling, the rate fell to 86 percent (73 percent at age 2). There was no MMR/ASD connection among any age group.

We observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased ASD risk among privately insured children.

"Consistent with studies in other populations, we observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased ASD risk among privately insured children," the study notes. "We also found no evidence that receipt of either 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD among children who had older siblings with ASD. As the prevalence of diagnosed ASD increases, so does the number of children who have siblings diagnosed with ASD, a group of children who are particularly important as they were undervaccinated in our observations as well as in previous reports."

To some, this conclusion will be all but trivial: vaccines are just a given for the human herd and why are we even debating this? But the anti-vax movement persists, and it's widely accepted that recent outbreaks of once-eradicated or nearly eradicated diseases, like the measles, can be placed at its feet. The anti-vaccination movement is a movement mostly of the relatively young and, particularly, well-educated and liberal-minded (California!).

A Pew Research study in February found that while a hardly overwhelming majority of Americans think vaccines should be mandatory, the center of resistance (those who think vaccines should be up to parents) is heavily tilted to those under 30. In other words, conspiratorial distrust re: vaccines lingers like a measles scar, and research like this matters.

Once again: There is no link between vaccines and autism. For a quick (further) sampling of the body of research behind this conclusion, see this 2011 report by in the Institute of Medicine, this analysis of the actual antigens within vaccines and their effects by the CDC, nine further CDC studies finding, "no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and ASD, as well as no link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and ASD in children," and then myriad further damning results courtesy of Let Me Google That For You.

In an accompanying JAMA editorial, Bryan H. King, of the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital, sums it up: "Taken together, some dozen studies have now shown that the age of onset of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, the severity or course of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, and now the risk of ASD recurrence in families does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children." So, surely, this will finally be enough to put the anti-vax crowd at ease.