Does the MMR Vaccine Cause Autism?

Friday, Aug 28, 2009 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (35)

Andrew Wakefield, M.D., was on The Today Show this morning. He’s the doctor who initially found the link between the MMR combo vaccine and autism in 1998.
He says he only suggested spreading out the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella instead of giving it all at once. Meanwhile, the worldwide movement to skip vaccines was born. No study has been able to reproduce Wakefield’s results. The medical community largely believes that the link between autism and vaccines is completely false. Pediatricians are caught in the crossfire, and meanwhile, measles and whooping cough cases in children are on the rise.
On Sunday at 7 p.m., NBC will air a special with Dr. Wakefield called A Dose of Controversy. I’ll definitely watch (DVR), especially if 60 Minutes is a rerun.
Locally, parents have strong opinions on one side or the other, and only a handful of area pediatricians will support a parent who wants to skip or delay vaccinations. I take my kids to one of those doctors, Howard Schlachter, MD, in Essex Fells. I’m not pro- or anti-vaccine as much as I would like to have input on what goes into my kids and when. You can always put those shots in, but you can’t take them out, as Schlachter says. For more info on the side of choice, check out the local Yahoo Group called Fighting Vaccine Mandates in NJ.
How do you feel about this sensitive, hot-button issue?

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35 Comments

  1. POSTED BY 13% Annual Tax Increas  |  August 28, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    There’s no scientific proof linking autism to vaccines, but there is absolute evidence that a mump or rubella outbreak kills and that vaccines eliminate outbreaks.
    Need I say more?
    There are a lot of parents out there who need someone to blame their children’s illness on. Don’t worry, it was not your fault.
    There’s also a fairly large debate over whether there is an overall increase in the number of reported cases of autism or if they have wrapped a whole bunch of mutations of it into the heading.
    I personally would be a hell of a lot more concerned about mercury in HFCS than metal in vaccines.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/11590477/IATP-Mercury-in-HFCS

  2. POSTED BY Mrs. Martta  |  August 28, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

    This is a very controversial issue, as noted, among parents and those in medical community. You didn’t hear about this connection when I was a kid because up until recently, the vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella were given separately instead of as one mega-vaccine. So maybe that has something to with the rise in autism cases. Or maybe the diagnostics for autism have just gotten better. This is a tough one because administered the right way, the vaccines do save lives.
    I don’t have kids but if I did I would opt for the vaccinations but I would see if it was possible to get them vaccinated for the diseases separately or at a later age. I know that children cannot attend public school unless they are vaccinated.
    No simple answer to a complex question.

  3. POSTED BY kyle41181  |  August 28, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

    No creditable proof that Vaccines cause Autism, its sad that people would do not take the advice and research of people who vowed to protect them.
    Not getting a vaccine not only puts your children at risk, but hundreds maybe thousands of others in harms way.

  4. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  August 28, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    My wife and I are holding off on vaccinating our child for several reasons. In no particular order:
    1) While it hasn’t been conclusively proven that there is a link between vaccinating and autism it also hasn’t been proven that there isn’t a correlation.
    2) All of the clinical trials regarding vaccines are run by companies that make vaccines or by government agencies headed by former employees of the same companies/doctors responsible for developing vaccines. That makes it really hard to be impartial.
    3) None of these studies or trials are done with a control group of non-vaccinated people (breaking one of the cardinal rules of the Scientific Method).
    4) Even in the small doses present in the vaccinations, I don’t think injecting a baby with aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde or any of the other preservatives found in vaccines is a good idea.
    5) Squalene.

  5. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    “This is a very controversial issue”
    But it’s not really. Talk about “settled science”.

  6. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  August 28, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

    Talk about “settled science”.
    But, we’re not, really. Show me just one study that conclusively proves that there is no correlation, was conducted with a control group, and was carried out by an impartial body.
    I won’t hold my breath while I wait.

  7. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    “Show me just one study that conclusively proves that there is no correlation,”
    That’s not really the way science works. You don’t conclusively prove the lack of a connection ever. You don’t prove a negative.
    Not proving a non-connection does not imply a connection. It implies absolutely nothing.

  8. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

    Ok, I’ll agree to the first one.
    Still waiting for a single study conducted using a control group or not funded / conducted by biased individuals.

  9. POSTED BY GrilledCheese  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

    There are certainly approved medicines that lead to adverse effects on human development. People should stop blindly accepting today’s modern medicines and start living healthier through proper nutrition and the avoidance of pesticides, chemicals, and other unnatural ingredients.

  10. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:18 pm

    “Still waiting for a single study conducted using a control group or not funded / conducted by biased individuals.”
    Proving a “non-connection” ??? You have a real fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific process. If all those conditions were true and you gave 1000 people 1000 vaccinations and there was no increase in autism it wouldn’t indicate a thing.
    By your logic if you shot 10 people in the head and none of them died as a result then you’ve “shown” there is no connection between bullets in heads and death.
    It is not how science works.

  11. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

    “People should stop blindly accepting today’s modern medicines and start living healthier through proper nutrition and the avoidance of pesticides, chemicals, and other unnatural ingredients.”
    Good luck warding off whooping cough with carrots!

  12. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

    No, ROC… not proving the “non-connection.” Just a study regarding modern vaccination practices… any at all. I don’t care if it has to do with Autism, Gulf War Syndrome, or if you smell roses 15 minutes after getting the injection.
    Any study at all conducted with a control group and by a group not funded/run by vaccine manufacturers or their former (and still heavily lobbied) employees.

  13. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

    the real question is what is the idea that there is a link at all based on?
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683643.ece

  14. POSTED BY MMM  |  August 28, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    GNM,
    To be clear, you are taking a risk of infection with potentially bad consequences to avoid a highly speculative risk of autism.
    Because of vaccinations, there is little memory of harm that measles, mumps, etc. can cause.

  15. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

    “to avoid a highly speculative risk of autism.”
    A risk without evidence I might add.
    I know in GNM’s topsy-turvy “science” you’re supposed to assume the risk is present until no-link can be proven.

  16. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  August 28, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    From ROC’s own article:
    Wendy Fournier, an NAA spokeswoman, (said)that the new study raises more questions than answers and should have looked at more children who developed autism and GI problems after they received the vaccine.
    The linked study also failed to use a control group. So, without looking into the backgrounds of any of the doctor’s involved, I can already state that they ignored a basic tenet of clinical testing.
    I’m not saying that thier results are wrong or that they have anything other than the public’s best interests at heart (being neither a doctor or psychic). But, I can say that they wouldn’t pass a high school science class with their basic testing methodology because it is missing a very basic and important step.
    MMM,
    Yes, we are taking (a very small) risk that our child can catch a disease that can be very dangerous to have (if you live in a third world country). I also said that we are holding off… Just because we thought better of shooting up a 6 month old baby with all that crap at once doesn’t mean we won’t do it (one at a time, not this combo stuff) when he’s a little older.
    We’re also taking a chance that ours won’t be one of the 100 or so US children who die from the flu this winter(That’s 100 out of 75 MILLION children, btw), a chance that he’ll be just fine if/when he catches the chicken pox, and a chance when we go for walks with him in the evening that we won’t be run over by a drunk driver while crossing the street.

  17. POSTED BY Right of Center™  |  August 28, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

    “The linked study also failed to use a control group”
    Where did you surmise this?
    “Wendy Fournier, an NAA spokeswoman,”
    And you were saying about “unbiased” ?
    “But, I can say that they wouldn’t pass a high school science class”
    “Generic Mike” of the “vaccinations are crap” variety (based on what? superstition?) is saying that Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, Director, Center for Infection & Immunity, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University can’t pass a high school science class?
    You’re really a Generic Idiot, Mike.

  18. POSTED BY Kristen Kemp  |  August 28, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

    GNM, I agree with you. It’s very common in Europe to start vaccines after age 2. Here, we shoot up a baby the day he’s born…

  19. POSTED BY tudlow  |  August 28, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

    I find it disappointing that Baristenet even runs this story. It’s not unsettled, it’s not controversial, but it is bad journalism and irresponsible for NBC to even give this story, as well as Wakefield, any airtime at all. Stop feeding the fear and hysteria!
    Study after study AFTER STUDY have disproved Wakefield’s dubious conclusion from a study on EIGHT children that he published in Lancet. In fact, Lancet retracted the article. I would look at Wakefield’s affiliations (a personal injury lawyer funded his study….hmmmm) before deciding not to believe the well-respected authors of the studies that debunk this crap.
    A control group that doesn’t receive vaccines for potentially fatal and debilitating diseases? Great idea! Let’s do another Tuskegee syphilis trial, why not! I can tell you from the outset that the experimental group and the control group would not be matched on IQ and mental stability alone–I have to question the intellectual functioning of any parent that decides not to vaccinate their child and we all know that at least some proportion of IQ is attributed to genetics.
    Mike, you might want to brush up on your understanding of epidemiology and the scientific method before going against the expertise of hundreds of individuals that have studied and worked for years in science and medicine.
    I’m sorry, but people who buy into this pseudo-science are right up there with the young earth creationists with their inability to accept fact.
    Depressing and infuriating. And very harmful.

  20. POSTED BY royal_jelly  |  August 28, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

    This is Mrs. Martta. Once again, Moveable Type is giving me grief and won’t allow me to sign in under my usual username…grrrr!
    At any rate, to clear up the confusion, when I said it was a controversial issue, I meant among parents. If you speak with 10 parents, you get 5 who plan to vaccinate their kids, 3 who will not, and 2 who are undecided or need more information.

  21. POSTED BY 13% Annual Tax Increas  |  August 28, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

    Some of us act on the best factual information that is available. Others are willing to put their children at great risk based on rumor.
    Yes, it’s true that the only study ever proving a link between autism and diabetes was funded fully by an injury lawyer.
    Believe what you will, but my kid is much less likely to die from the mumps than Mike’s kid. That is a fact.

  22. POSTED BY walleroo  |  August 28, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

    I’m sorry, but people who buy into this pseudo-science are right up there with the young earth creationists with their inability to accept fact.
    Ouch! That sure is an unflattering comparison.

  23. POSTED BY tudlow  |  August 28, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

    Yeah, maybe a little far-reaching there…maybe a comparison to people who think that Obama’s birth certificate is a fake is more appropriate? Nah, um, maybe a comparison to people who think that giving your child fluoride vitamins lowers their IQ? No, really, that was harsh I admit. It’s really just a case of fear trumping logic…happens all the time.

  24. POSTED BY walleroo  |  August 29, 2009 @ 1:56 am

    I’m not saying the comparison isn’t appropriate. Only that it must be a blow to an educated liberal’s idea of himself that he can rightfully be put in the same category as evolution deniers.
    How this item can be framed in the headline as a question is beyond me. “Wakefield [is] the doctor who initially found the link between the MMR combo vaccine and autism in 1998.” But THERE IS NO LINK. His finding is not reproducible, therefore it is false. There’s no crossfire to be caught in. The medical community doesn’t “largely believe the link” to be false, they know it is false because there’s proof; in study after study, MMR has no measurable effect on autism.
    You were doing fine, tudlow. Keep up the good work.

  25. POSTED BY walleroo  |  August 29, 2009 @ 2:20 am

    In the interests of responsible citizen journallism, I’d like to perform some citizen editing of the original iteam to make it a bit more, uh, shall we say, athletic in its prose? Here goes:
    Relax: The MMR Vaccine Has Nothing to do with Autism
    Friday, August 28, 2009
    Andrew Wakefield, M.D., was on The Today Show this morning. He’s the doctor who initially found what he claimed was a link between the MMR combo vaccine and autism in 1998, but which was subsequently proved to be bogus.
    He says he only suggested spreading out the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella instead of giving it all at once. Meanwhile, a group of well meaning but dangerously ignorant housewives formed a worldwide movement to skip vaccines. No study has been able to reproduce Wakefield’s results. The medical community recognizes no link between MMR and autism. Pediatricians, though, sometimes have to deal with patients who stubbornly believe conspiracy theories about evil doctors in thrall to the vaccine companies.
    On Sunday at 7 p.m., NBC will air a special with Dr. Wakefield called A Dose of Controversy. I’ll definitely avoid this one, unless the NBC interviewer plans to excoriate him for holding these ridiculous beliefs just to play to the autism mob, in which case I would watch just to see him taken down.
    Locally, parents have strong opinions on one side or the other, largely because they don’t understand the overwhelming evidence against a link. However, a handful of area pediatricians are willing to pander to the anti-vaccine types to help their struggling practices. I take my kids to one of those doctors, Howard Schlachter, MD, in Essex Fells. I’m not pro- or anti-vaccine as much as I would like to have input on what goes into my kids and when, even though I know next to nothing about these issues. You can always put those shots in, unless, of course, it’s too late and your baby already has the disease, but you can’t take them out, as Schlachter says. For more info on the side of choice against reason, check out the local Yahoo Group called Fighting Vaccine Mandates in NJ. If you feel otherwise, check out the Yahoo group Fighting Diseases with Vaccines.
    How do you feel about this sensitive, hot-button issue? Don’t read up on the issue, that would only dampen the natural passion you have for it. Don’t think, use your feelings! Go on instinct!

  26. POSTED BY tudlow  |  August 29, 2009 @ 8:48 am

    walleroo -
    That was the finest post I have ever read on this site–brilliant work, simply brilliant. It brought me a sense of calm while also making me gleefully giggle.

  27. POSTED BY montclairmum  |  August 29, 2009 @ 10:24 am

    Well, as a physician, Baristakids has certainly lost this reader. It is the height of irresponsibility to present this as a question anymore (ie, Does the MMR cause Autism?) All reputable medical establishments have weighed in on this one (American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Imunization Practices, Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, Institute of Medicine)and all have concluded that the answer is a resounding NO! You have to be a pretty committed conspiracy theorist to think that ALL the physicians/epidemiologists in these groups have been bought by Big Pharma, especially when pharmaceutical companies don’t even make much money from vaccines anyway (with the exceptions of Guardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine, and Menactra, the meningitis vaccine, neither of which is givn to infants). Much of the antivaccine lobby (not parents who, wanting the best for their kids, get swept up in this nonsense) is funded by trial lawyers and others who hope to cash in on potential lawsuits. Wakefield’s findings have never been duplicated, his license to practice medicine was revoked, and the Lancet, which published the original article, has retracted it (as have the other authors). Vaccines have become the ultimate scapegoat, and when the anti-vaccine lobby has one theory disproved (eg, mercury was removed from vaccines in 2001, yet cases of autism continue to rise, so the mercury-autism link can no longer be blamed) they look for another “evil ingredient.” The reason YOUNG children need to be vaccinated is that THEY are most susceptible to the most severe consequences of vaccine preventable diseases. Eg, if an adult gets pertussis (whooping cough) they’ll have a bad cold. If a 2 month old gets it, they can die (and I’ve seen more than one baby spend weeks in the hospital with the disease). There is a reason why doctors support giving these vaccines as outlined by the AAP — not because we have any financial interest in it, not because we want to create autistic children, but because WE are the ones who have seen first hand the results of these potentially devasting diseases. I know people can learn a lot on the internet, but there is something about going to medical school and spending years seeing patients that gives us a unique perspective on the importance of vaccines.

  28. POSTED BY tudlow  |  August 29, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

    montclairmum, that was well said without being insulting. The more I think about this story, the more disappointed and angrier I feel toward BaristaKids for presenting this topic in the way that they did. This is not an “opinion piece” re: the best places to entertain your children in the area and why should anybody trust the opinion of an individual that does not have the education and credentials to go against medical consensus. How incredibly irresponsible.
    Your perspective as a physician should not be viewed as “unique”–but rather well-informed and accurate, although I recognize that you were likely being facetious.
    I am amazed that everyone does not see the brilliance and beauty of vaccines. Instead of trying to mitigate the damages and control cell death as the technology of medicine attempts to do with many diseases today (save for those that can be quickly treated with an antibiotic), a vaccine prevents it from happening in the first place at a very low cost with little to no serious adverse effects. Vaccines are one of medicine’s greatest innovations. And no GMN, I do not work nor am I affiliated in any way with a pharmaceutical company. Talk about paranoia, whew.

  29. POSTED BY walleroo  |  August 29, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

    One thing: I did not mean to impugn Dr. Schlachter’s reputation in the above post. For all I know, he’s a fine doctor who simply chooses to be compassionate towards parents who have qualms about vaccines.

  30. POSTED BY nosy_girl  |  August 29, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

    thank you montclairmum. i knew from the title of this post that BaristaKids had lost me as a reader as well. what a joke.

  31. POSTED BY Amandala  |  August 29, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

    Why does everyone keep assuming that taking a vaccine removes your risk of infection with that particular disease? It just doesn’t. Not at all.
    Children today, in NJ, are REQUIRED to take more than four times the number of vaccines than were required just 25 years ago. Where’s the corresponding increase in the health of children now? Do you really think that children now are FOUR TIMES healthier or four times safer than they were in the 1980s?
    If you think that measles, mumps, rubella, and now CHICKEN POX (!) are such big killers, and that administering something like over 40 doses of 15 different vaccines by age 2 is a cure-all for this… do a search of the VAERS database and read the hundreds and hundreds of pages describing 2 to 4 month old babies who died horribly under nearly the same circumstances within a few days of being injected with several of those vaccines.

  32. POSTED BY Amandala  |  August 29, 2009 @ 10:15 pm

    It’s not irresponsible to ask whether something you’re injecting your child with is safe. It’s irresponsible not to make sure something IS safe before injecting your child with it.
    And it’s irresponsible NOT to ask if these things are even effective in the first place:
    http://www.cababstractsplus.org/abstracts/Abstract.aspx?AcNo=20043027601
    http://accedasadcuriam.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/pertussis-outbreak-in-new-jersey-vaccinated-are-apparently-not-protected/
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000359.htm
    Sorry, but vaccines:
    1) have not been proven fully or consistently effective
    2) can and often do have serious, permanent side effects
    3) are filled with toxic ingredients
    4) are being pushed at every level by people with serious conflicts of interest
    I don’t need Jenny McCarthy, or even any of the large number of doctors (yes, there are) who think that vaccines are often bad medicine, to make me think that when you take the fact that policy is being made here by people who stand to profit from it and combine that with a reading of the additives and “adjuvants” used in any vaccine it is a bad product that I have the right to refuse.

  33. POSTED BY walleroo  |  August 30, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

    Vaccines do have side effects, sometimes lethal. This is not a shocking fact the industrial-medical complex is trying to hide, it’s just the risk of taking vaccines. It is to be balanced against the risk of not taking vaccines. None of us is immunized against smallpox anymore because the evil, profit-making medical establishment (god bless’em!) eradicated the disease. They did it with vaccines. If you’re wondering why some African nations are still struggling with diseases we rid ourselves of long ago, like polio, it’s in large part because many people have been told silly things about vaccines (“they make you sterile!”) and leaders have irresponsibly pandered to those fears.
    There’s nothing natural about vaccines — they are pure artifice. But before you get too cozy with the natural alternatives, remember that nature can be a nasty bee-yatch. For instance, swine flu at the moment is fairly mild–no more deadly than seasonal flu (though that’s deadly enough). But because H1N1 is a new virus, the population has zero immunity to it. Unchecked, swine flu will spread through the classrooms like wildfire, perhaps killing many more people than seasonal flu simply because more people will get sick. And flu viruses are changeable. The mortality rate could be different in December, or February, or April. To acquiesce because (thank goodness) it appears now to be mild would be folly.
    A mother has every right to decide not to subject her child to the risk of taking a vaccine. That does not make it a morally good choice. She is effectively freeloading off her neighbors who take the vaccines and keep the incidence of a disease lower than it would otherwise be. If enough people did so–and it would only take 5 percent–they would greatly increase the risk to themselves and to the population at large.
    The profit motive is a perennial bugaboo, but it doesn’t really apply here. There’s not a lot of money to be made in vaccines. On the other side, the anti-vaccine crowd is chock full of hucksters and fakers who play on people’s fears and make a ton of dough on books, speaking fees and snake oil.
    One more thing: the assertion that efficacy of vaccines has not been proven is just asinine. They’re an imperfect weapon against disease, they don’t work 100 percent of the time, but that’s not a reason to stop using them. Guns don’t always kill, but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective.

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