MMR vaccine and autism: Still arguing about this?

I was surprised last week to see a number of media reports on the apparent safety of the MMR vaccine and that, no, it doesn’t cause autism after all… Loads of evidence have been gathered over the last decade that conclusively show that MMR has nothing to do with autism whatsoever, yet even nowadays some still argue about this!

Reports were triggered after yet another big survey showed no significant correlation between Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) prevalence in adults and children -thus rendering once again the hypothesis of increasing autism rates false.

The BBC said (in “Autism rates back MMR jab safety“):

The NHS Information Centre found one in every hundred adults living in England has autism, which is identical to the rate in children.

If the vaccine was to blame, autism rates among children should be higher because the MMR has only been available since the early 1990s, the centre says.

while The Times wrote (“National Autistic Society comes off the fence: MMR isn’t linked to autism”):

The National Autistic Society is the most respected organisation in Britain for supporting people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome and their families. Throughout the long-running controversy over the alleged (and discredited) link between the developmental disorder and the MMR vaccine, however, it has chosen to remain neutral.


The NAS, however, is now off the fence. As Mike Stanton, a teacher of autistic children whose adult son has Asperger’s, blogs at Action for Autism, the charity has issued a new statement that makes it much clearer that MMR is not associated with the condition. It includes the telling phrase:

We recognise that the weight of epidemiological evidence indicates that there is no statistically significant link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

As Stanton points out, the NAS could certainly have gone further than this. There is plenty of clinical evidence against the Wakefield hypothesis*), too, and there isn’t any epidemiological evidence to substantiate it — it isn’t just a matter of “the weight of evidence”.

and despite the word play, this is in fact a particularly good move by the National Autistic Society, in efforts to encourage parents to vaccinate properly their children, after all the scaremongering from anti-vaccinationists. Let’s see what (if any) positives such move can bring…

  1. * (in 1998 Andrew Wakefield published the first “credible” paper in Lancet, finding a correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism disorder. His hypothesis failed further scrutiny; could not be independently verified; the paper was retracted as “fatally flawed” by Lancet; ten out of the twelve authors issued an interpretation retraction statement; and his labs were found to be contaminated. Wakefield himself was prosecuted with charges of undisclosed conflict of interest, and improper medical conduct []