Vaccines and autism: Next question, please!

As an autism researcher, there is one question that everyone asks when I tell them what I do for a living: “Do vaccines cause autism?” No, they don’t. Please pass that along.

The fact that this is often the first and most salient connection with autism is alarming. Numerous epidemiological investigations around the globe have focused on this question for the past 20 years. They have consistently failed to find a link between vaccines and autism.

syringe-photoIn fact, the most recent report of this nature was published in March and examined records from more than 600,000 children. Again, there was no increased likelihood for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) following the MMR vaccination, even among groups at higher risk for developing ASD because of an older sibling’s diagnosis.

How and why does this theory about an autism-vaccine connection persist? My own research suggests that parents of children with ASD are among those most likely to endorse vaccines as a cause for autism. And while we have come far in the identification of genetic factors implicated in ASD (more than 1000 genes are now associated with ASD, 87 of which are considered high-ranking autism risk genes), a cause is not identified in the majority of affected individuals, yet.

This leaves room for parents to draw their own conclusions, and for many, the timing of vaccines and onset of ASD symptoms is just too coincidental.

Unfortunately, when parents blame vaccines for a child’s ASD, that child and his or her younger siblings are significantly more likely to be undervaccinated or unvaccinated compared to children without ASD. This places them at greater risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases.

With Houston being among the top “hot spots” at risk for vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, there is increased vulnerability for our undervaccinated youth with ASD and their families.

As a means of protecting all individuals who are at greater risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, let’s focus on the fact that vaccines do not cause autism during this World Autism Awareness month. Join me in supporting The Immunization Partnership and their mission to eradicate diseases through immunization. And let’s see if we can shift the focus on autism to a new question. Next, please!

Additional Resources

Learn about the Kochel Lab for Clinical Autism Research.

See autism clinical trials at Baylor.

Five myths and truths about autism

-By Robin Kochel, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics-psychology at Baylor College of Medicine

2 thoughts on “Vaccines and autism: Next question, please!

  • My parents are antivax… please help!

    I’m seeking advice from anyone familiar with the science regarding vaccines that can point me in the right direction. Im 15 and my parents have been anti vaccination my entire life. I feel like science is the only way I’ll be able to reach them but I’ve been trying for years and its not working.

    I found some studies done by the center for disease control that seemed really good. Back then President Obama tweeted about the studies and they were the same studies used to help stop people from being able to sue because they think a vaccine injured their child. But later the lead author of one of the studies, Dr William Thompson, made a public statement saying that he and his coauthors found a 300% increase in autism linked to the MMR vaccine and omitted the data from their final report. I thought this had to be fake and even my parents didn’t believe it but we were shocked to learn that he did go on record making the statement publicly and was also subpoenaed to federal court and handed over 1000+ pages of his teams research to congress who are investigating. Parents 1, science 0

    I found two other cases involving scientists from the vaccine manufacturer Merck claiming they manipulated data and committed fraud. I realize anyone can claim anything and file a lawsuit and it doesn’t make it true and these cases would probably be thrown out pretty fast. That was in 2010 and two different judges ruled there’s enough evidence to proceed. When you look at the court filings Merck is delaying and stalling which doesn’t make sense to me at all. If the science clearly shows vaccines are safe and effective. Why isn’t Merck easily winning these cases or getting them thrown out? Parents 2, science 0.

    My parents did not become anti vaccination because of Jenny McCarthy or some debunked Andrew Wakefield study from the 90’s. My dad is an epidemiologists and my mom is a professor so they’re educated and rational people willing to listen and also willing to be wrong but so far I can’t find a single study that doesn’t have a pharmaceutical company listed in the conflict of interest section of the research. What I found is over 100 studies showing a link between vaccines and autism. Not on some conspiracy website, I found them at Boston Children’s Hospital, Horizon Molecular Medicine at Georgia State University, University of British Columbia, City College of New York, Columbia University, Stony Brook University Medical Center, University of Northern Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Al Azhar University of Cairo, Kinki University in Japan, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Poland, Department of Child Health Care, Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in China, Utah State University and many more, ALL claiming they’ve found links to vaccines and autism. Parents 103, science 0

    Please share any research or information you think would help and if you disagree with the studies I mentioned or disagree with the scientists who are testifying in court please give specifics as to why they wrong.



    • Hi Toe,

      Thanks for reading Momentum. If you are interested in learning more about autism research at Baylor, feel free to check out the Kochel Lab website.



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