700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

Apr 20, 2015

In our last post on autism, we discussed why the diagnosis of autism has been on the rise over the past twenty years. During that same time period, researchers also began studying vaccines, because the number of children receiving vaccines was increasing. Here is what the scientific research has found.

Multiple, large-scale scientific studies over the past decade have failed to find any association between the MMR vaccine and autism.

The controversy began in 1998, when Andrew Wakefield and colleagues published a fraudulent research paper, falsely claiming that the MMR vaccine was linked to the development of autism.  After it was found that the study’s data was manipulated and the study was critically flawed, the Lancet medical journal retracted the study in 2010. This means that the paper is not part of scientific record or the medical literature, because it was based on falsified, misrepresented data. Since 2001, numerous studies have shown that children who received vaccines and those who didn’t had no difference in their neurological outcomes.

Thimerosal, a preservative used in trace amounts in some vaccines, has not been found to be associated with autism.

Numerous studies have failed to confirm any association between thimerosal and autism. Since 2008, thimerosal has either been removed completely or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines that are routinely recommended for children who are six years old or younger. A recent meta-analysis also failed to find a relationship between MMR, mercury, thimerosal or vaccines in general.

Children who received vaccines on a delayed immunization schedule showed no difference in neurological outcomes, when compared to children who received vaccines on the immunization schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers studied children 7 to 10 years after they received vaccines, and found that there is no adverse effect on neurological outcomes for children who received recommended vaccines on time during their first year of life, compared to children whose vaccines were delayed or not given at all during infancy. This may reassure parents who are concerned that children are receiving too many vaccines too soon.

Immunizations today are more refined and cause a more specific immune response than those of the past, and the immune response to most childhood infections such as strep throat is stronger than the response to immunizations. Researchers also found no evidence of a relationship between increased exposure to the antibody-stimulating proteins in vaccines and the risk of autism .

The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.

The studies described here are all summarized for the public on the Autism Science Foundation’s website. Those interested are encouraged to review them.

Here at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we strongly support immunizations and urge that all children be fully vaccinated.

We administer timely vaccines to our patients at our Child Development Center, many of whom have autism. I hope you have your children vaccinated too; immunizations save lives.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Daniel Coury, MD
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Daniel L. Coury, MD, is Chief of the Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Psychiatry at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.