A study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found no link between the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
The study looked at insurance claims for 96,000 children born between 2001 and 2007 and found no higher rate of the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in those who had received the MMR vaccine. From the study’s conclusions:
In this large sample of privately insured children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD, regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD.
This is big news, as the fear of vaccines was partially responsible for last year’s measles outbreak in California — where there is a disproportionate number of unvaccinated children. California has a “Personal Belief Exemption” which allows parents to opt out of vaccines easily. Some legislators are thankfully trying to change that.
96,000 subjects is a nice, solid base for a study. Andrew Wakefield, the man behind the fraudulent study that many blame for causing the whole vaccine/autism paranoia studied 12 subjects. Twelve.
Hopefully this new research will put the vaccine fear, at least as it pertains to autism, to rest. Being a parent is terrifying. Taking your child for shots is stressful. You can’t fault a parent for wanting to make the best possible decisions for their child. You can fault them for turning a blind eye to science and putting their children and the public health at risk.
Who knows what made the vaccine paranoia catch on? Certainly the fraudulent study kicked it off. Celebrity mouthpieces like Jenny McCarthy helped it gain some traction. But hopefully one good thing can come from our recent measles outbreak: the knowledge that vaccines work. Measles was considered eliminated in 2000. From the Center for Disease Control:
In 2000, the United States declared that measles was eliminated from this country. This means that the disease is no longer native to the United States.
The United States was able to eliminate measles because it has a highly effective vaccination program and a strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks.
Maybe this study will help us get back there again. No more fear-mongering. Let’s let the scientists do their jobs and we can all take advantage of the biggest medical miracle of the 20th century.