By: Amy Nasamran, M.A. & Suzi Naguib, Psy.D.                                                                                                           BLOG PDF

Another study has found no evidence of a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and an increased risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Currently, it is recommended that all children in the United States receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, first at 12 to 15 months of age and again at 4 to 6 years of age. Unfortunately, the MMR vaccine has been inaccurately associated with ASD, leading to lower vaccination rates, which can be dangerous and threaten public health. For example, several dozen new cases of measles of have recently been reported in the United States, with the majority occurring among those who have not been vaccinated.

The misconception that the MMR vaccine is related to ASD was sparked by a study published in 1998, which has since been discredited and confirmed as fraudulent. The author of that study, Andrew Wakefield, has since lost his medical license and been banned from practicing medicine due to his dishonesty and unethical practice. However, unfounded fears attributing the cause of ASD to vaccines continue to persist.

Much research over the past decade have demonstrated no connection between the MMR vaccine and ASD. The most recent study to debunk the myth that vaccines cause ASD was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In this study of over 95,000 children in the United States, researchers found no association between the MMR vaccine and ASD. Specifically, these researchers compared the risk of developing ASD between children who had an older sibling with ASD (suggesting an increased genetic risk for ASD) and children without an older sibling with ASD. Results showed no evidence that receiving either one or two doses of the MMR vaccine was associated with an increased risk of developing ASD among either groups of children. In other words, no harmful association between MMR vaccine and ASD was found, even among children who were already at higher risk for ASD.

Even though concerns may persist, it is important to remember that within the research literature vaccines have not been shown to cause autism.

Jain, A., Marshall, J., Buikema, A., Bancroft, T., Kelly, J. P., & Newschaffer, C. J. (2015). Autism occurrence by MMR vaccine status among US children with older siblings with and without autism. Journal of the American Medical Association, 313(15), 1534-1540.