Skip to comments.Science trumps speculation: MMR not linked to autism
Posted on 04/12/2009 8:19:47 PM PDT by neverdem
A special vaccine court dismissed claims that the vaccine can cause the cognitive disorder.
The pitched debate regarding the purported link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine -- a battle viewed on both sides as critical to shielding the defenseless from harm -- took the encouraging turn for which many physicians were hoping and landed in favor of protecting public health.
At issue was the consideration by a special vaccine court of test cases to determine if certain hypotheses of how vaccines could cause autism were legitimate and, therefore, warranted compensation to the affected parties through the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
On Feb. 12, a panel of U.S. Court of Federal Claims judges, known as special masters, released its findings. The special masters ruled that the vaccines were not to blame. In doing so, they lined up on the side of a massive amount of scientific evidence gathered by diverse and unrelated groups of investigators from all over the world -- including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine -- that failed to find a connection between the vaccine and the disease. They also made clear the petitioners could not receive settlements through the VICP.
The vaccine court was right to reject the idea that the MMR vaccine, combined with the preservative thimerosal, caused the disabling autism that affects these children and their families.
Granted, the families confronting this reality every day are in a heart-wrenching situation. And their search for answers is acutely understandable. But science has long shown their arguments were misguided. The court's ruling will add momentum to efforts to redirect that search in a way that may lead to real progress in uncovering autism's causes, while not letting unfounded myths keep other children from receiving the proven protection from dreaded infectious diseases that vaccines provide.
That sentiment, at least, is the hope emanating from science, public health and organized medicine, including the American Medical Association. The AMA has long advocated the importance of childhood vaccination and worked to dismiss the flawed arguments that vaccines trigger autism. The AMA also urges that more research be done regarding the reported increase in incidence of autism, Asperger's and other pervasive developmental disorders and more training of physicians to enable them to identify these children and to assist families in accessing early intervention services.
It was from a mountain of research that the court's ruling flowed. A key element that makes the vaccine's court decisions so meaningful is the exhaustive nature of the proceedings -- tallying 5,000 pages of transcript and more than 700 pages of post-hearing briefs. The official record contains 939 medical articles, compared with the 10 articles cited in a typical vaccine case. In addition, 50 expert reports were filed, and 28 expert witnesses testified. By contrast, a typical vaccine case presents between two and six experts.
Thus, the court findings add significant weight to the already overwhelming body of evidence. It is important to note that physicians often recoil when judges make determinations about the practice of medicine. In this case, though, the court took on the task of determining causation based on evidence -- an inevitable question raised in light of the VICP -- and ruled with the strongest scientific backing.
This decision will not mark the last time the issue finds its way into a courtroom. The special court is still examining evidence regarding another causation theory that links autism with vaccines containing thimersol.
But many doctors in the trenches can view this development as a timely teaching tool -- and for good reason. It is one more authoritative voice helping to address credibly the tension parents feel about vaccination risks. After all, nearly 10 million doses of the MMR vaccine are distributed every year. At the same time, autism has become every parent's nightmare, and everyone hears the stories that fuel anxiety. But the court's decision, coupled with the scientific record, underscores the fact that vaccines continue to be one of public health's greatest accomplishments -- helping to protect against harm, not cause it.
The print version of this content appeared in the April 13, 2009 issue of American Medical News.
There are no long term double blind studies of vaccines.
Educate before you vaccinate!
Marking for later...
BS. We are living it with our 2 1/2 year old. It isn’t only the MMR by the way. 9 month MMR and was a different kid the next day. 18 month MMR plus flu shot and he was over the edge and onto the Autism spectrum. Unless you walk a mile in our shoes then I suggest you should probably keep all of the “science” nonsense to yourself. There is a lot of money at stake. The issue isn’t public health. As usual, follow the money.
Find another way to preserve the vaccine than using mercury.
There is no reason to be injecting babies with a known nerve toxin.
Not only mercury but aluminum, monkey dna, fetal cells, and so on. It’s some nasty stuff.
Thimerosal (sp?), the mercury containing preservative hasn't been used in more than 5 years in any vaccine.
I’m sorry to hear about your tragic situation. Have you looked into alternative therapies for detox?
Thankfully I researched the vaccine issue in depth before deciding against the shots for my children a few years ago. It was a tough call because of my inlaws’ pediatric background. Thank God we held firm.
Does anyone believe in science here? Anyone?
Autism sets around the same time vaccines are administered. That does not mean the vaccines cause autism. People who neglect to give their children vaccinations are putting their children at risk and should be ashamed of their selfish behavior. I for one am glad we don’t live in a world where children die from measles mumps and rubella and we must thank the vaccine for this.
There have been numerous studies that prove no statistical significant relationship between autism and MMR.
One study below:
“Results Of the 537,303 children in the cohort (representing 2,129,864 person-years), 440,655 (82.0 percent) had received the MMR vaccine. We identified 316 children with a diagnosis of autistic disorder and 422 with a diagnosis of other autistic-spectrum disorders. After adjustment for potential confounders, the relative risk of autistic disorder in the group of vaccinated children, as compared with the unvaccinated group, was 0.92 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.24), and the relative risk of another autistic-spectrum disorder was 0.83 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.65 to 1.07). There was no association between the age at the time of vaccination, the time since vaccination, or the date of vaccination and the development of autistic disorder.”
yes, we are on the right roads to recovery. Thanks for the support.
Ignorant statements. You must be a member of the American Pediatric Society who doesn’t want to get sued. I also suspect that your family has not been affected. Good for you.
According to the FDA it's still in the flu shot. And several other vaccines have reduced amounts or trace amounts of it.
Boiled down, the city of Yokohama stopped vaccinating in 1993 but the autism rates kept rising in the unvaccinated children. Something is increasing the rate of autism, but it isn't vaccines.
“Something is increasing the rate of autism, but it isn’t vaccines.”
It’s not JUST vaccines. I don’t know about Yokohama, but here in the US, non-vaccinating populations such as Amish and to a large degree homeschoolers have much lower (Amish is zero) autism rates.
And it’s not just autism. There are a whole host of serious medical conditions linked to vaccination.
Educate before you vaccinate!
Out of curiosity, what did you try? Chelation? Did you make dietary modifications (eg. low gluten, low dairy)?
My heart goes out to you. I feel like you are right. The main reason no connection will ever be found it that it would probably pretty much bankrupt the drug companies that produce the vaccine and put doctors at risk of malpractice lawsuits.
Yes I believe in science and I firmly believed in vaccinating my children and now my grandchildren.