Vaccines don’t cause autism

The fear that vaccines cause autism is not supported by any evidence, concludes a panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine.

The Institute of Medicine, a highly influential adviser of the government on scientific matters, said yesterday there is no credible evidence that either the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal cause autism.

. . . Especially convincing were a Danish study showing no difference in the rate of autism between children who got thimerosal-containing vaccines and those who did not and a British study showing no relationship between the introduction of MMR and autism rates, or between the timing of a vaccination and the onset of autism symptoms.

True believers in a vaccine-autism link are not convinced.

Anti-vaccine hysteria kills children, writes Glenn Reynolds on TCS.

About Joanne


  1. Mad Scientist says:

    What? A scientific study that strongly suggests that the faith of vaccine-induced autism (VIA) is nothing but myth? How dare they slaughter that sacred cow!

    I wonder if the VIA faithful also believe in the flat earth theory, creationism, and that flourinated drinking water is a communist conspiracy.

  2. The other night one of the news programs ran a tease about “The Dangers of Vaccinations?”

    I yelled back at the television (something I find myself doing with increasing frequency; perhaps it’s time to get rid of the beast) “What about the dangers of Diptheria, you idiots?!?” (Also, a book on soil ecology I read pointed out that the number one preventable killer of children in many developing nations is tetanus. And tetanus is a particularly awful way to die. I think because in the U.S., we are blessed NOT to have to bury children who contract diseases like this on a regular basis, is the only reason for the anti-vaccination hype. Stop vaccinating, and when a few thousand children die of whooping cough, or tetanus, or are permanently blinded or deafened as a result of measles, there’ll be a call to start vaccinating again….)

  3. As someone who has seen much of the “evidence” “supporting” this “theory” that vaccines cause autism, I got my children immunized. Removing the mercury from vaccines was a good thing, whether or not autism resulted (and I’m 99.99% sure it didn’t ever result) from its presence. Any excess mercury just has no business in babies’ bloodstreams.

    Those true believers in the false idea will not easily be swayed. There’s just too many correlations between the timing of autism and vaccines for the conspiratorial minded to ignore. And showing that correlation doesn’t equal causation is something that often involves proving a negative.

    The typical reader of Mothering magazine (the place where I read much of the “evidence” over the years) doesn’t want to hear that some things are out of the parents’ control. But autism can be.

  4. If any of your readers is wondering what the fuss is about, some mis-guided people believe that the mercury in infant inoculations is a cause of the increase (some say epidemic) of autism in the developing world. The following two sites are typical:

    The following are some reputable sites countering this view:

  5. Autism’s rise is probably an increase in the range of what is considered autism, not any actual “epidemic”. Before, there was autism and not autism. Now, there are low-level autism, autism-related disorders, different kinds of autism, and so on. Progress in quantifying mental illness often means that less of us are “normal” every day.

    Enjoy your sanity, if you have it. Sooner or later, your diagnosis will come up.

  6. Mark Odell says:

    The Eli Lilly Protection Act

    Is partial reversal of autism possible?

    In reply to….
    Correspondence, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 8 Number 3 Summer 2003:
    Response to Critics on the Adverse Effects of Thimerosal in Childhood Vaccines (PDF, 157 KB)
    (scroll down to page 4)

  7. Walter Wallis says:

    Obviously another group of experts bought out by the Mercury lobby. Of course, our lovely and talented hostess JJ formerly worked for the Mercury, and so we can expect JJMercury to be like CheneyHaliburten.
    Nice try, JJ. Now make your Black Helicopters go away.

  8. Mad Scientist says:

    Mark, I hope your tin-foil hat works well! To date there has been no proof that a link between thimerisol and autism exists. I can direct you to another site that totally debunks this particular myth:

    The basic argument goes like this:

    1) Mercury is bad. Very, very bad!

    2) Mercury is a known neurological toxin.

    3) Mercury is in thimerisol, a preservative used in vaccines.

    4) Autism is a neurological disorder.

    5) Therefore thimerisol is to blame.

    6) Since thimerisol is to blame and thimerisol has mercury, then mercury is to blame.

    7) Loop to step #1.

    Studies are concocted to prove this circular argument. There has not been a true control study, and due to ethical considerations, there will never be one. The ethical dilemma is to intentionally withold vaccines from a population of children so as to rule out the active ingredients in the vaccine as a potential cause.

  9. My autistic twin sister and I both received the same vaccines, and I’m perfestly normal. Infact, I make straight A’s. Thanks for pointing out that vaccines don’t cause autism. This myth has probably hurt a lot of kids, and only further upset the parents of autistic kids by making them think it’s their fault their kid’s autistic.

    Thanks from a 12 year old twin

  10. Margaret says:

    What really ticks me off about this whole vaccination discussion is that some parents feel they can “safely” not vaccinate their little darlings because these diseases are so uncommon these days. Well, darn it, they are so uncommon because all the other parents on the block (like me!) got our kids vaccinated!

  11. I’ll be the lone commenter who suspects that multiple vaccines are an negative health issue.

    I believe that childhood vaccines are a co-factor in some manifestations of autism (and spectrum disorders) as well as adult onset autoimmune issues such as lupus, MS, Epstein Barr, etc.

    I’m not anti-vaccine (my kids have delayed, selective vaccines). I’m not a conspiracy driven type. But, I *do* find it interesting that the author of the study mentioned in the link accepted a job at Glaxo while conducting the CDC study.

    I hear parents *knowing* that the MMR permanently changed their child. I believe them.

  12. “I *do* find it interesting that the author of the study mentioned in the link accepted a job at Glaxo while conducting the CDC study.”

    That doesn’t look good. On the other hand, the environmental lab I used to work for was owned by a chemical company that had lots of issues with EPA, mostly due to pre-waste disposal legislation landfills. There was one court case in which a member of the opposing team really drew the environmental VP’s ire – he called him a “goddamn tree hugger” though probably not to his face. After the case was over, he hired him to help manage the company’s environmental liabilities. The chemical company really wasn’t about raping the environment, and they wanted to make sure all i’s were dotted and t’s crossed by having people on their team who truly cared about such things.

  13. Walter Wallis says:

    Scientists in industry are not usually toadies – some that I have known have been ardent advocates for genuine envvironmental concerns and for health and safety measures. A good portion of my responsibilities way back in my industrial engineering days was devoted to environmental health assessment and pollution control. An honest peer review process keeps real science from becoming bumper sticker slogans and hired guns.

  14. Sarah,

    You said: “My autistic twin sister and I both received the same vaccines, and I’m perfestly normal. Infact, I make straight A’s. Thanks for pointing out that vaccines don’t cause autism.”

    Good job on your straight A’s. 🙂 I believe that vaccines and MMR in particular can cause autism in predisposed individuals. It doesn’t cause all forms of autism and it doesn’t cause every case. That’s why I believe vaccines to be a co-factor rather than the direct agent.

  15. Walter Wallis says:

    The other theory is that vaccines keep people alive in spite of defects that otherwise would have killed them. Kinda flouting Darwin.
    Or was it God’s punishment?
    Remember next time you see one of these statistical assaults on low order effects that 98% of all serial killers ate carrots as children.

  16. Mad Scientist says:

    Actually, it’s quite consistent with Darwin. The human race has adapted to the reality of the disease by inventing vaccines to overcome the nasty bugs. Viewed in this light, vaccines are just another type of tool to fight off predators.

  17. Walter Wallis says:

    Damn I like this site!

  18. Another comment……

    I’ve noticed a tendency on both extremes to group vaccines together as either helpful or evil.

    Quite honestly, I think each vaccine needs to be evaluated in terms of risks of vaccine vs. risk of being unvaccinated against that disease.

    I disagree with both the choice to avoid all vaccines until the end of time as well as to get each vaccine on the recommended schedule. But I support a person’s right to chose either of those. 😉 The problem with that “right” in the US is that full disclosure does not occur in most cases.

    In spite of the hype referenced here, most people still don’t know there are reasons to consider an alternative to the recommended vaccine schedule.

  19. Mad Scientist says:

    In some places, you cannot attend public school without proof of vaccination. That is a public policy debate that has been held; vaccines won. That obviates full disclosure.

  20. The LA Times today ( reported
    that Columbia University researchers report that
    thimerisol *IS* positively linked with autism
    in gene-susceptible mice.

    So that’s it folks. Don’t believe otherwise.

    For my own kids, I split the MMR into 3 shots,
    I spaced them out by months and I made sure I
    got shots with no thimerisol.


  21. How do you explain vaccine strain RNA measles strain vaccine origin viruses in the gut and brain of autistic children?

    How do you explain the reasoning behind mixing the most toxic element *(s) on the earth in vaccines and explain it is too small a dose, when in fact, it exceeds EPA standards of safe by dose, age and weight?

    How do you explain how mercury can skew TH2 and produce in essence an allergic and inadequate antiviral response?

    How do you explain how live viruses and mercury cripple the propensive immunological ability to deal with viral vaccines?

    And, how do you explain to the third world countries, that we are giving them the thimerosol shots? Gee, no wonder they don’t trust us, and hate us.

    How do you explain away the risk of having ALZ from flu shots, which was reported by Dr Hugh Fudenburg the 13th most quoted immunologist in the world that it may increase it by a factor of 10 times? *(also see how ALZ and Autism are invariably connected)

    How do explain or talk down to a parent that their child doesn’t matter, but we must be good citizens anyways, and sacrifice the few for the many?

    How do you explain to parents that relevance of vaccinations are only for the strong familial histories of no autoimmune propensity, MHC alleles, C4B anulles aside, you are not asked this question, yet, this makes your child a sitting duck?

    What does the biological code of ethics reveal? Who should be vaccinated? All, or some?

    Is it relevant to have Vit A sufficiency during vaccinations? Tell me why they squirt it in African children, but not ours, who are routinely Vit A deficient?

    Tell me why our family members who took Polio Vaccines have the SV-40 virus simean monkey virus in our blood?

    How do you explain to a parent, that it is perfectly normal to get MMR DPT and other vaccines in one visit, yet, if you were to contract that at one time naturally, would you survive or come out unscathed?

    Every vaccine induces fevers, yet we are told to give antipyretics ( ), gee I wonder why? To seal the deal?

    Excuse me to think there is not an agenda, get rid of the useless world suckers and eaters, and make sure “certain people” survive. WAG THE DOG.

    I trusted, and got two autistic kids out of it, and a family full of sick people, even my mother dying from stealth virus. So, if you think they are harmless, aske me why I think your out of your minds.

    If you can answer this, good luck, becuase when you do, the whole paridigm is shot out of the park. If NIH wants to survey this new alarm of 1/166 children with autism, and a 5000% increase in ADD, me thinks they are scared shitless that we are on to them, they are creating the new disease epidemic of neurologically collapsed children.

  22. safteyfirst says:

    I think the one major issue EVERYONE with any background in research (even merely taking one college class) needs to understand about thie issue is and the understanding of preponderance of no finding of evidence is NOT the same thing as a proof of that there is a definitive evidence of safety. The reasearch reports EVERYONE has reported have ONLY stated is there is no DIRECT LINK on the PROPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE (which means more than 50%) that Mercury is THE cause of Autism or other developmental disorders. This statment- which you learn in your first year of law school and/or upon knowledge of basic hypotheitcal testing is in NO WAY PROOF that there is no link to the “trigger” theory of neruological effects of thinerisol… SO to educate- not only is the scientific community hanging its hat on mere a mere negation of enough evidence to prove that there is a direct cause by more ten 50% (so mathematically- nothing has shown 50% one way or the other the effects of mercury in babies to trigger autism- but that the evidence used/given to researchers (which is in no way exhaustive) has only proven that no one has proven a case for causation which ONLY meets the legal standard of NOT GUILTY NOT of INNOCENT) this is not even measured on the limits of beyond a resaonable doubt such as for criminal conviction, it just means the evidence (which many have shown has been collected primarily by companies funded by Eli Lily and Pasteur- vaccine manufacturers) is not good enough to prove more than not prove that you they are not guilty… in leyamns terms this means anywhere from 10-45% probability of them being innocent. This is for same reason mathematically that no one can claim complete cause. Basically, what I am concerned with is the rheotric and financial backing of these industies are skewing the basic langauge and evidence they themselves use to say things ARE SAFE!! There is not proof of innocence = no proof of safety. That being said what also needs to be understood is tha parents who have been so scarred by the trauma of a lost friend in their child, of lost hopes, lost dreams, and most importantly the great financial bruden on the family and the community just so these individuals can even enjoy a day at the beach, some day learn what is like to love a mate, enjoy playing with a toy, or just know what it is like to hang out with friends…. this is not too much to ask from anyone. Stop, listen to what they are telling you… “Look what I saw happen to my kid, I DO NOT want you to have to live through what I did.” THey are not requesting a BAN on vaccines, they only want what is out into their babies and yours to be as safe as possible. The fact is- for those of you who have misconceptions- autism is on the rise in epidemic proportion- yes there is a better undestanding and diagnosis, but the ressearch that has been done on the numbers has shown statistically that increase in awareness and parameters for diagnosis are not the primary cause for the ratio to population increase… there truly are more and more individuals per 100 getting Autism. This is evident most in part by the school systems- they have been serving children for decades- and those who have been there attest to the fact that NO matter what parameters you are using, whether you speak of high functioning, low functioning, or Asperger’s Syndrome, the numbers they are seeing now are following the National trend, and that these numbers/ratios NEVER existed and are mulitplying exponentially. They saw kids like this before (autism has been around since before 1950’s) and no matter what name you want to give them these kids did not exist….SOMETHING IS HAPPENING and for the love of fellow human beings with rights, liberties and feelings, we all should want to find out why. ANd learn and judge with an educated and informed mind…this is what the media does not give us ad I am sure everyone here (left or right, democrat or republican) can agree they media is not and never has been fair and balanced but titled towards agendas. The biggest here is the protection of the commuinty through misinformtion. Its ok to tell us what the numbers really mean and then let us know what to watch out for to be safe— there is not harm nor foul in expecting the health communties to verify safety and PROTECT THE HEALTH of ALL. There is fear by the same industry of eating too much tuna for fear of mercury toxicity, yet nothing to bolster the injections to infants?? FACT- parents of these children want all children to be safe. They want mercury out of vaccines.
    FACT- it can easily be done with slight more cost to the companies that manufacture them (in other countries in Europe, like France and DENMARK- they do not allow thimerisol in their vaccines for safety protection– and Pasteur, the same company who makes our thimerisol shots- makes their thimerisol free. Why not us??? Answer $$$$$$$$$$$
    FACT- there are thimerisol free and single dose shot options that parents have more and more fought the companies to make that are sold at a higher price to those who want to vaccinate their kids on the safe side…but the companies charge them 20x the normal price and they must buy them in bulk??? WHy not allow the “people”to make an informed choice and err on the safe side of those they have been entrusted to protect?? THese children are our canaries in a coal mine, it is our job before we see more families shattered and stretched to find out what is happening in oue environment.
    AND STOP Demonizing and calling these parents crazy… usually… they are the ones who make the true efforts to find out the facts I have dileanated above… to protect YOUR children of today and tommorrow.