There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism according to a new report published in the journal Pediatrics. Vaccines, according to the authors of the report are “one of the greatest public-health achievements of the 20th century for their role in eradicating smallpox and controlling polio, measles, rubella and other infectious diseases in the United States.”
Despite the evidence that vaccines help protect children, some parents opt to not have their child vaccinated, believing that vaccines cause more harm than good. The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine has been blamed for causing autism in a report by Dr. Wakefield in 1998. This information was enough to create a large debate on the safety of vaccinations. Parents and anti-vaccine activists reported cases of children developing autism shortly after receiving the vaccine.
In 2010, the study linking the vaccination to autism was retracted because it did not hold up to scientific scrutiny. When the study was investigated, it was found that Dr. Wakefield altered the medical histories of the participants and noted the link between autism and the MMR vaccine after receiving monetary compensation to work on a lawsuit to sue the vaccine manufacturer. The publication that first published Dr. Wakefield’s study, The Lancet, retracted the study. Dr. Wakefield was stripped of his medical license. The study was found to be fraudulent and without basis.
Even so, many parents had already made up their mind, deciding to skip the vaccinations and take their chances that their child would not become ill feeling it was safer than the possibility of autism. Having the study retracted may have changed some minds, but there are still parents who believe that vaccines cause autism and choose to not vaccinate their children. Time Magazine reports that in 2010 California had the highest rate of whooping cough since 1947. While the choice to not vaccinate children was not directly attributed to the epidemic, researchers did find a cluster of unvaccinated children played a role in the outbreak.
The newest report reviewed a multitude of previous studies and determined that, while there are rare side effects, vaccines are safe for children. Some of the results of the research include:
- There is a link between the MMR vaccine and fever-triggered seizures. The seizures do not cause long-term damage but can be frightening for parents.
- Flu shots can also cause fever-triggered seizures, however, children who receive a pneumococcal vaccine on the same day as receiving the flu shot are more at risk of having a seizure.
- Some vaccines against rotavirus rarely cause bowel blockage.
The researchers did not find any evidence to support a connection between the MMR vaccine, or any vaccine, with autism.
The researchers want doctors and parents to come away understanding that vaccines are safe. They hope that the information from the many studies reviewed will help put parents’ mind at ease and that doctors will have more information to discuss the benefits and safety of vaccines with parents.
Published On: July 02, 2014