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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there a relationship between vaccines and autism?

    Our son (7 years old) is autistic and I have heard rumours that there may be a link between vaccines in autism. What type of research has been conducted and what are the conclusions? What is the general consensus these days?
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    Autism Victoria, trading as Amaze, is a member-based not-for-profit organisation and is the peak body for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in the state of Victoria. View Profile

    The general consensus is that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.

    Dr Andrew Wakefield was the doctor whose 1998 findings started the more recent round of speculation on whether there is a link between autism and vaccinations. His study was published in the Lancet, which is a prestigious medical journal. The journal was strongly criticised and retracted the article in 2004. The British General Medical Council found Dr Wakefield acted unethically in conducting the research on which the paper was based and that he had falsified the results (as well as conducting a lot of invasive tests on the children involved). He was subsequently struck off the register of medical practitioners.

    In terms of the research conducted, once Dr Wakefield made public his findings, a number of large-scale analyses of public health data were conducted to examine whether there was a link between the MMR vaccination and autism. These “population studies” (as they are sometimes called) demonstrated there is no link between children being vaccinated and having autism (which makes sense now that we know Dr Wakefield had falsified his data).

    In spite of these findings, people still hold concerns with regard to vaccinating their children and this is likely to be the reason that the rate of vaccinations in some countries are dropping, resulting in increased rates of these very nasty diseases.

    Autism is a condition with complex genetic antecedents that children are very likely born with. It is not caused by vaccinations.

    For more detail, please read this fact sheet.

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    The Cochrane Collaboration (a not-for-profit collaboration of health and science professionals which assesses the quality of clinical trials) has looked at this.

    Based on clinical trials involving about 1,500,000 subjects, they concluded that "We could assess no significant association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: autism ". 

    This backs up what the post from Amaze says.

    See http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004407/using-the-combined-vaccine-for-protection-of-children-against-measles-mumps-and-rubella for details.




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