New Australian research published in the journal Vaccine has found no evidence for a link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The comprehensive, systematic review was conducted by Associate Professor Guy Eslick, Nepean Clinical School, University of Sydney and included five cohort studies involving more than 1.25 million children and an additional five case-control studies involving more than 9,920 children obtained via systematic searches of international medical databases MEDLINE, PubMed, EBASE and Google Scholar up to April 2014.
The researchers found no statistical evidence to support a relationship between childhood vaccination for the commonly-used vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and the development of autism or ASDs. There has been considerable debate about a possible link between childhood vaccinations and the development of autism and this has had a significant effect in reducing the number of people choosing to vaccinate their infants and children, leading to a reduction in ‘herd’ immunity.
“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 A/Prof Eslick.
“A rising awareness of autism cases and the claimed but not proven link to childhood vaccinations has led to both an increased distrust in the trade between vaccine benefit outweighing potential risks and an opportunity for disease resurgence.
“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.”
“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.”
“Furthermore, our review found the components of the widely-used vaccines (thimerosal or mercury), nor the measles, mumps and rubella combination vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or an autism-spectrum disorder.”
“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.”
To find out more about ‘herd’ immunity and why it is so important, view this interesting animation.