The Lancet reports no link between autism and MMR vaccine
A recent report of a possible association between MMR vaccine and autism in the U.K. alarmed many parents, some of whom then refused MMR vaccination of their children. An epidemiological study of this question has just been published (Taylor B et al, Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. The Lancet 1999; 353:2026-29 (June 12). Commentary, page 1987).
The authors analyzed the immunization records of 498 children with autism identified since 1979 in their region of England. MMR immunization was introduced in this region in 1988. Clinical records were examined for the age of initial parental concern or age of documented autistic regression (which occurred in 29%). Between 1979 and 1992, the incidence of autism showed an exponential increase by year of birth, without a sudden "step up" in those born since 1987 (who would have been the first group eligible for vaccine approximately 12 to 18 months following birth). The proportion of children with autism receiving MMR vaccine (about 90 to 95%) was the same as that in the overall child population in the region. There was no significant clustering of the diagnosis of autism or of the age of parental concern during each of the 12 months following MMR vaccine, with the exception of the six month interval. Since the peak age of parental concern was about 18 months, which was within 6 months of MMR vaccination for most toddlers (at age 13 months in this study), this is believed to be an artifact since the period of 6 months following vaccine administration and the age of first parental concern happen to coincide.
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