- First quantitative data analysis of vaccination and autism link
- International review was published in medical journal Vaccine
- Fall in vaccination linked to rise in preventable disease outbreaks
THERE is no evidence to link the development of autism with childhood vaccines, research from the University of Sydney has found.
A systematic international review — the first of its kind — was undertaken examining studies from medical databases, including cohort studies with more than 1.25 million children and an additional five case-controlled studies with 9920 children.
The results found there was no statistical data to support a relationship between childhood vaccination for the commonly-used measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccines and the development of autism or autism spectrum disorders.
Associate Professor Guy Eslick from the Sydney Medical School said these vaccines were the ones which had received the most attention by anti-vaccination groups.
“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,” he said.
The data consistently shows the lack of evidence for an association between autism, autism spectrum disorders and childhood vaccinations
“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.”
Prof Eslick said this was 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 in 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,” he said.
There had been no quantitative data analysis of any relationship between autism or autism spectrum disorders and childhood vaccinations to date, Prof Eslick said.
“Our review is the first to do so, and we found no statistical evidence to support this idea,” he said.
“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 increase in parents deciding not to vaccinate their children has substantially decreased ‘herd immunity’ among populations, subsequently increasing the risk of catching potentially more serious infectious diseases, Prof Eslick said.
“The risks incurred by not immunising a child is increasing substantially as the level of immunisation coverage in the population falls,” he said.
“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.”
The results were published in the medical journal Vaccine.