Home > Got Questions? > Any link between vaccines and autism? Put this issue to rest once and for all, one way or the other?

Any link between vaccines and autism? Put this issue to rest once and for all, one way or the other?

“Got Questions?” is a new weekly feature on our blog to address the desire for scientific understanding in our community.  We received over 3000 responses when we asked what science questions were on your mind. We answered a few here and the Autism Speaks Science staff will address the other themes we received in this weekly post.

We really wish it were that simple. Several epidemiological studies have explored whether either the MMR vaccine or thimerosol, a preservative previously used in vaccines, are linked to autism, and these studies have not supported a link. However, these studies were not designed to identify effects in a small population of potentially vulnerable children due to rare genetic and/or medical conditions. We are seeking to understand if vulnerable populations exist, and if so, how we identify them early so they can be protected from public health threats in the safest manner possible. For more information please see our vaccine statement and an interview with Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer, about vaccines and autism.

  1. Matt
    December 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    One can say that the MMR vaccine and that thimerosal in vaccines did not cause an autism epidemic. One can say, clearly, from the studies available that the rise in autism prevalence is not due to these causes. Why not include that in this post?

    The Autism Speaks statement says it “These epidemiologic studies provide evidence against the hypothesis that either the MMR vaccine or thimerosal is linked to the increased prevalence of autism. ”


    “So, the answer to the question is that, given what the scientific literature tells us today, there is no evidence that thimerosal or the MMR vaccine cause autism. Evidence does not support the theory that vaccines are causing an autism epidemic”

    Why not say it clearly and simply in this post?

  2. Katie Wright
    December 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Matt until you have taken a perfectly normal toddler to a pediatrician visit so he could be timely vaccinated and then witness your child have febrile seizures hours later you just cannot pass judgement on the reality of averse vaccination responses resulting in autism.

    Mine is an incredibly common story. My son did not have autism and then he did, it is that simple. Like many ASD families we have a history of autoimmune diseases that made my toddler a sitting duck to adverse reactions to multiple vaccines- his body began attacking itself. First we had the febrile seizures, then stiffness in my arms, sudden refusal to breast feed, diarrhea, fevers again….All this happened the day of, the day after, 2 days after…his vaccinations. His body simply could not tolerate such a challenge to his developing immune system.

    Shortly after that his speech started disappearing, he lost his ability to clim stairs, to sleep to control his bowels, etc…

    I think AS’ statement gives the impression that it is a tiny segment of the ASD population who experienced adverse reactions- if only! thereby creating a false sense of safety. We need our immunization schedule to be safe for all children and administered with safety, rather than covenience, as the #1 priority.

  3. Matt
    December 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm


    could you point out where I “passed judgment” on you or anyone? I don’t believe I have. Just like I don’t believe you have passed judgment on me, even though you are making claims about my experiences without any knowledge to base your opinions upon.

    You might want to reread Geraldine’s statement. She doesn’t say there *is* a subgroup, she says that *if* there is a subgroup that group is very small.

  4. Cheryl
    December 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Well said, Katie. I, too, KNOW my son was taken from us by his vaccines. I saw him disappear in direct correlation to the timing of his multiple stabs on his one-year birthday. I followed my doctors’ recommendations for vaccination. I did what I was supposed to do and poisoned my child. I never thought to question those who “knew what was best for my son.” Guess what? I’ll never stop screaming from the mountain tops what happened to my son. That said, all children should be vaccinated. BUT, it should be done on a schedule that is far less aggressive and destructive to thier immune systems. Bottom line: more studies are necessary to detect this very vulnerable population.

  5. Sarah
    December 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I think there is evidence that vulnerable populations do exist. This population needs to be studied more in consultation with mito experts like Dr. Richard Haas, Mitochondrial expert from UC San Diego.

    See this article http://www.mitoaction.org/autism

    Autism and Mitochondrial Disease
    by Dr. Richard Haas, Mitochondrial Expert UC San Diego

    An Excerpt:

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as defined by the revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM IVTR criteria (American Psychiatric Association [2000] Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing) as impairment before the age of 3 in language development and socialization with the development of repetitive behaviors, appears to be increased in incidence and prevalence. Similarly, mitochondrial disorders are increasingly recognized. Although overlap between these disorders is to be expected, accumulating clinical, genetic, and biochemical evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD is more commonly seen than expected. Some patients with ASD phenotypes clearly have genetic-based primary mitochondrial disease. This review will examine the data linking autism and mitochondria.

  6. Sarah
    December 23, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Why do they always cite MMR and thimerosal? Where are the independent studies on the safety of the CDC vaccine schedule? Where are the studies on senstive populations such as kids with a family history of automimmune or neuropsychiatric disoorders (which also immune related) ..these a red flags that the child may have an immune senstivity.

    Why not study the Somali population in Minnesota.. with a 1 in 28 autism rate the MN Somlais are a prime candidate for a study

  7. Robert
    May 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I’m with you Katie

    My wife and I have a 12 year old son that met all of the bench marks up until
    he was about 16 months old … Started crawling, walking with his hands and feet
    so fast that I had a hard time keeping up, running so fast that I
    had a very hard time catching him , talking especially calling his Nana by her name , socially interacting with us and then he started to slip away …

    Now he has gone from being very coordinated to walking with an ungainly walk and with a whole bunch of speech therapy to finally starting to talk in whole sentences after being main streamed since 3rd grade in a small school …

    We’ve battled his digestive, sleep and skin disorders …..

    He received a hep B vaccination the day he was born as a slightly underweight
    boy …

    He also received his regularly scheduled shots along the way…

    We didn’t want him to get his shots until he was older and really didn’t
    see the need for the hep B but our pediatrician talked us into getting
    that shot on the day he was born and the other shots along the way …

    Now we’ll always wonder IF ……..

    If it wasn’t the shots ….

    What caused it?

    Neither my wife or I have any near relatives with autism …

    IF it’s brought on by something in the environment …

    Having relatives that were autistic wouldn’t matter anyways .

    We’ve always suspected it was the vaccines …

    We heard on Fox news that there were some pay outs being made …

    That reaffirms that suspicion !

    • Robert
      May 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      My wife found a study that linked the hep B shot with the onset of autism , SIDS, etc. …


      This could be a poorly researched source or they could be correct …

      I don’t have the expertise to know for sure …

      Either way I just wish that there was viable treatments right now …

      It’s pains me to see my son be autistic although I wouldn’t trade him for the world !

  1. December 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm

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