Vaccines don’t cause autism. We know that. We’ve known it for a while. There has never been a shred of evidence that they do. There have been studies done that conclusively show they do not.
Now a new study has come out showing that there is zero increase in the risk of autism in children who are given the MMR vaccine, even in those who are already at high risk for autism. This refutes the claim made by some that vaccines contribute to autism or are a factor that exacerbates it.
Via CBS News:
Will latest study on vaccines and autism change minds?
Yet another study finds no evidence that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine raises the risk of autism — even among children who are at increased genetic risk.
Experts said the findings, reported in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, should be reassuring to parents, particularly those who already have a child with autism.
The theory that MMR vaccination raises the risk of autism has its roots in a small study done in 1998 — one that was later found to be fraudulent. Since then, numerous international studies have found no evidence that vaccines help trigger autism.
Still, some parents remain worried. And those who already have a child with autism seem even more concerned.
“Research has shown that parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders are more likely to delay vaccinating their younger children,” said Dr. Bryan King, an autism researcher at the University of Washington, in Seattle.
“Basically, they wait until the developmental dust has settled, and it looks like their child will be unaffected (by autism),” said King, who wrote an editorial published with the study.
But delaying recommended vaccinations puts children at risk of potentially serious infections, said Dr. Anjali Jain, the study leader and a researcher at the Lewin Group, a healthcare consulting firm in Falls Church, Va.
It’s known that genes make certain children more vulnerable to autism — that’s why kids with an affected older sibling are at higher-than-average risk. But environmental factors also have to play a role, experts believe.
One theory, King said, is that it takes a “triple hit” — genes, plus an environmental trigger that strikes during a particular time window in brain development.
But based on years of research, the MMR vaccine is not that trigger, according to health experts. “Every study that’s looked at this, through every strategy they’ve used, has found no signal,” King said.
The increase in autism is most likely the result of increased screening and a broadening of the diagnostic criteria for the condition.
This study may put some pressure on certain groups, such as Generation Rescue or Autism Speaks, who are trying to put a legitimate face on the lies they tell, even despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Sadly, it is unlikely to do much for the average anti-vaxxer. Such individuals are not interested in science and not persuaded by data. If they were, this would have been over a long time ago.
It may also help in convincing those who are sitting on the fence or who are generally ignorant of the issue and are facing the decision of whether or not to vaccinate their first child. In such circumstances, every chance to get such information in the general media should be seen as a victory.
The topic of why otherwise intelligent people subscribe to discredited ideas like vaccines causing autism is another discussion onto itself. It involves a complex mix of cognitive dissonance, being heavily invested in something, persecution complexes, and a near-religious conviction in the idea. Thus, this will not change any minds that have already been made up.