No link between measles vaccine and autism

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

There is no believable research by any doctors, scientists or universities anywhere to show that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine causes the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). One study published in 1998 that claimed such a link, conducted by a doctor in England, was found to be utterly fraudulent, retracted by the journal that published it, and the doctor was prohibited from practicing medicine again. A study published in April 2015 again found no link between the vaccine and autism. Given the benefits of the measles vaccine, parents have no excuse to not vaccinate their child from these preventable diseases.

The study, led by Dr. Anjali Jain at healthcare consulting firm The Lewin Group in the US, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the health outcomes of nearly 1,00,000 children who were enrolled in a private medical insurance plan. The data also indicated whether a child had an older sibling with ASD, which would put the younger sibling at higher risk of developing ASD. The results showed no increase in risk for ASD of children who received the MMR vaccine in either group.

“Even for children who are high-risk, the vaccine does not play a role,” said Jain. “We don’t know what does [cause autism] unfortunately, but it’s not the MMR vaccine.”

Jain’s analysis showed that the rate of immunization was lower among children who had an older sibling with ASD, indicating that the parents probably thought that there was a link between the measles vaccine and the disorder. Other surveys have also indicated that some parents of children with ASD believe the vaccine was the cause. This study provides more evidence that such beliefs have no real basis.

The unfortunate harm caused by one false report is taking years to undo. With more such studies as Jain’s in other population groups, hopefully the doubts can finally be put to rest.

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