Monday, March 22, 2010

MMR Vaccine does not cause Autism

The Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine which was introduced in the 70's has resulted in the dramatic decrease in what used to be the very common childhood diseases of Measles, Mumps and Rubella. I even remember having Measles and Mumps as a child myself, but nowadays you don't see kids with these conditions in the clinic.

Over the past decade, there has been concerns about a possible link between the MMR vaccine and Autism. This was the result of a paper published in 1998 in the British Journal "The Lancet" It has since been shown that the whole thing was a sham. Here is the excerpt from Wikipaedia:

Claims of a connection between the vaccine and autism were raised in a 1998 paper in the respected British medical journal The Lancet.[3] It was later discovered that Andrew Wakefield, the paper's lead author, had received major funding from British trial lawyers seeking evidence against vaccine manufacturers.[4] Ten of the paper's twelve coauthors retracted its interpretation of an association between MMR vaccine and autism.[5] It was also discovered that Wakefield had previously filed for a patent on a rival vaccine using technology that lacked scientific credibility, and that Wakefield knew but did not publish test results that contradicted his theory by showing that no measles virus was found in the children tested.[6] In 2009, The Sunday Times reported that Wakefield had manipulated patient data and misreported results in his 1998 paper, creating the appearance of a link with autism.[7] A special court convened in the United States to review claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ruled on February 12, 2009 that parents of autistic children are not entitled to compensation in their contention that certain vaccines caused autism in their children.[8][9] The Lancet fully retracted the 1998 paper on February 2, 2010.[10]

Following the 1998 publication, there has been many large epidemiological studies conducted to look into the safety of the MMR vaccine. All of these studies concluded that the MMR vaccine was safe. I recently read one of the papers published by the Cochrane Collaboration in 2008. This paper reviewed all the previous studies conducted on the safety of the MMR vaccine and concluded that there was no link between MMR and Autism. The following the summary of the paper:

I hope this short post will give parents a better understanding of issues behind the MMR/Autism link. I think there is very good evidence to show that the MMR vaccine is safe and benefits far outweigh the risk. At this point in time, there is no reason to believe that giving the MMR vaccine will cause the child to develop Autism.

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