Do Vaccinations cause Autism

Many parents have natural concerns when it comes to vaccinating their children or deciding on any medical treatment. This article examines the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and the controversy surrounding it. The focus of this article is to separate the fact from fiction surrounding this life-saving vaccine.

How do Vaccines Work

In very simple terms, the immune system has the ability to remember infections encountered in the past. Once you survive the infection, you will be protected in the future.

Vaccines work by giving you a mild version of a disease, often a version that does not give the child the actual disease. For example, in the case of measles a mild version of the virus is given - which may have minor side-effects such as mild fever. If you then come into contact with measles, you won’t get sick.[1]800px-Healthy_Human_T_CellCredit: Wikimedia CommonsMeasles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) are common infectious conditions that can have serious complications including:

  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • Deafness
  • Death

These conditions can also lead to complications in pregnancy that affect unborn babies and can lead to miscarriage.

Thankfully, since the introduction of the MMR vaccine, its rare for children to develop these conditions.

The MMR Vaccine Controversy

The MMR vaccine, the combined Mumps, Measles and Rubella vaccine, was reportedly linked to Autism and Colitis in 1998, in a single research paper.

The paper was published in an unfortunate series of events:

  1. The journal the paper was published in did not adequately vet the article before it was published.
  2. The fraudster publishing the article was simply publishing a hypotheses, which he had falsely claimed to research.
  3. The media picked up on the story and widely spread it, before the article was retracted as fraudulent.
  4. The media determined that a single “research” paper is compelling evidence of a claim. In fact a body of research is required before jumping to conclusions.

To put this in perspective let me provide some background on how all scientific research should be carried out:

Scientific Research - The Main Stages

There are three main stages in scientific research and development:

  1.  Hypothesis - the scientist develops an idea, also known as a hypothesis. For example, you may see something happening with your patients you wish to investigate further, this is your hypothesis.
  2. Experimentation - usually in a laboratory, to test your idea to determine if you should accept or reject it.
  3. Take the idea into the population and test to see if it works.

Scientific proof is not merely taken from ideas, the ideas must be tested and proved or disproved. Good scientists are ones that can change their mind frequently, based on evidence not on their personal beliefs.

Why am I droning on about scientific method? Well, it is vitally important in the case of the MMR controversy. The author of the single research paper simply published his idea, without actually doing any experimentation to see if this was true.

Let me be clear, the author fraudulently published research claiming a link between MMR and Autism. This has never been proven, despite a huge amount of research into this since the controversy arose.

Since publication the author of the paper has been charged with serious professional misconduct, including dishonesty. [2]

The British Medical Journal describes the article he published as fraudulent.[3]

The author has also had his medical license revoked by the General Medical Council and can no longer practice medicine in the United Kingdom.[4]

Due to widespread belief of this idea at the time and the subsequent dangerous reduction in MMR vaccinations, a number of scientific studies have been undertaken to investigate any link between MMR and Autism. [5]

No Link Has Been Found Between the MMR Vaccine and Autism

No link has been found between the MMR vaccine and Autism by the Centers for Disease Control (USA)[5], the National Health Service (UK)[6], The Institute of Medicine (USA - non-profit organization)[7] and numerous other research bodies and governments worldwide.

The evidence against a link is as strong as the evidence for a link between smoking and cancer. The equivalent of believing that there is a link between MMR and Autism, is the same as believing that smoking is not linked to cancer.

The idea that the MMR vaccine is linked to Autism has resulted in dangerous and wide-spread doubt and the decreased take up of the MMR vaccines has resulted in numerous outbreaks of Measles. e.g. The Swansea measles epidemic 2012-2013, a total of 1,415 measles cases, 664 of which were in Swansea alone. 88 people were hospitalized, the death of a 25 year old man was reported. The majority of those infected were not immunized.

This lack of confidence in the MMR vaccine is a public health concern worldwide, particularly in the UK and Ireland where the controversy was initially reported. This is possibly the most damaging medical hoax of the past 100 years as countless deaths and disabilities have resulted from children not being immunized against the common illnesses.

Hopefully this article will assist you in seeing the facts behind the unfortunate and dangerous myth that the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked to Autism.

This is an emotional issue for a number of people, however the facts must take precedent when you are deciding what is best for your child and not the claims of a discredited and fraudulent former doctor.

If you have any concerns seek the opinion of your family Doctor. Those people are members of your community and likely have children of their own. Do you really believe they are part of a global conspiracy to harm children, as some would lead you to believe?