NIH Study Supports Assertion that Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

April 21, 2015|5:49 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Results from an NIH- and HHS-funded study published in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that there is no link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the study “Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among U.S. Children with Older Siblings With and Without Autism,” researchers examined anonymized data from 96,000 privately-insured children who were born between 2001 and 2007 to see if children who had received the MMR vaccine had higher rates of ASD than children who hadn’t received the vaccine.

The study found no evidence of a relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism incidence. In addition, the authors noted that children whose older siblings had ASD, and who were therefore at higher risk for ASD themselves, were not more likely to develop the illness after receiving the MMR vaccine. This finding was particularly significant to researchers because surveys show that parents of children with autism will sometimes avoid vaccinating younger children out of fear that the vaccine caused the illness. Overall, children who had older siblings with autism (2% of the cohort) were 6.9 percent more likely to have autism than children without older siblings with the illness, but researchers found no correlation with the MMR vaccine.

This is the latest in a series of major studies that debunks claims that vaccines are harmful. However, CDC reports that 162 individuals have been sickened by measles so far in 2015, and legislation was recently introduced in California, the site of the December 2014 Disneyland measles outbreak, to reduce parents’ ability to obtain vaccine exemptions for their children.

For more information, please see these articles in The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.