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No Link with Autism
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Photo: Cheryl Casey
In February 2009 there was good news for parents wishing to protect their children from measles. Two different sources confirmed that no link exists between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and an increased risk for autism.

Early in February, the Federal court assigned responsibility for all vaccine-related cases, rejected claims that the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine caused children's autism.

While this is a legal decision it was based upon a review of the best available scientific evidence. The three judges in the court, called special masters, ruled that “. . . numerous medical studies concerning these issues, performed by medical scientists worldwide, have come down strongly against the petitioners' contentions.”

Almost simultaneously, in Britain, newspapers reported that the original study linking MMR to autism was based on badly flawed and possibly fraudulent data.

The issue of whether MMR vaccines cause autism exploded on the medical scene in 1998. An article in Lancet, a highly-respected British medical journal, claimed two-thirds of a random sampling of patients receiving the MMR vaccine had developed symptoms of autism within two weeks of receiving the shot.

Later examination of the study revealed that hospital medical records for the patients differed significantly from what was reported in the paper. The twelve patients cited were not a representative sample – they had been selected by the doctor who wrote the study. Most had exhibited symptoms of autism before receiving the MMR vaccine. Only one developed symptoms afterwards.

It was also later learned that the paper’s primary author received funding from plaintiff lawyers pursuing autism claims against vaccine manufacturers – a connection unreported by the doctor, and unknown to Lancet.

Discredited by Other Research

Lancet recanted the study in February 2004, when it discovered the link between the paper’s author and the law firm. By then it had already been discredited by other research.

As a result of this paper, MMR immunization rates in Britain plunged from 92% before 1998 to under 80% in the middle of this decade. Measles cases soared – from 56 in 1998 to 1348 in 2008. Two children died from complications resulting from measles during that period. All due to parents seeking to avoid a non-existent risk.

While autism is a serious problem, measles is also serious. One out of every 15 children that contract measles develops complications. These can include pneumonia, meningitis, brain damage or blindness.

Autism is a tragedy for which there is not yet a known cause. Measles is preventable and the means by which it can be prevented – the MMR vaccine – is safe. Make sure your children get protected.

Want more information? Here are some links to online sources:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126964.000-mmr-vaccine-not-linked-to-autism-says-us-court.html

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683671.ece

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683687.ece

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001862893_wdig22.html


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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.



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