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No Link between Vaccines and Autism

The first systematic international review of childhood vaccinations has found no evidence of a link to the development of autism.

The review, published in Vaccine, examined five cohort studies involving more than 1.25 million children, as well as five case-control studies involving more than 9920 children obtained via systematic searches of several international medical databases.

Both the cohort and case-control studies revealed no statistical data to support a relationship between the development of autism and childhood vaccination for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. “There has been enormous debate regarding the possibility of a link between these commonly used and safe childhood vaccinations and the supposed development of autism,” said senior author A/Prof Guy Eslick of the Sydney Medical School.

“This has in recent times become a major public health issue, with vaccine-preventable diseases rapidly increasing in the community due to the fear of a ‘link’ between vaccinations and autism. This is especially concerning given the fact that there have been 11 measles outbreaks in the US since 2000, and NSW also saw a spike in measles infections from early 2012 to late 2012,” Eslick said.

“Vaccine-preventable diseases clearly still hold a presence in modern-day society, and the decision to opt out of vaccination schedules needed to be urgently and properly evaluated. The increase in parents deciding not to vaccinate their children has substantially decreased ‘herd immunity’ among populations, subsequently increasing the risk of catching potentially more serious infectious diseases. Thus the risks incurred by not immunising a child is increasing substantially as the level of immunisation coverage in the population falls.

“The data consistently shows the lack of evidence for an association between autism, autism spectrum disorders and childhood vaccinations, regardless of whether the intervention was through combination vaccines (MMR) or one of its components, providing no reason to avoid immunisation on these grounds.”