Autism and Vaccines

On a previous version of this page, the allegations contained in a lawsuit brought by Andrew Wakefield were inadvertently mischaracterized as conclusions of the court.  We regret this error. 

Beyond the Autism/Vaccine Hypothesis: What Parents Need to Know about Autism Research

A decade ago most researchers agreed that we needed to study vaccines in relation to autism. We had to reconcile the fact that the number of vaccines children were receiving was increasing, and at the same time, the number of children who were being diagnosed with autism also was on the rise. Fortunately  this was a question that could be studied – and answered – by science. We looked at children who received vaccines and those who didn’t, or who received them on a different, slower schedule. There was no difference in their neurological outcomes.  Multiple studies have been completed which investigated the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination in relation to autism. Researchers have also studied thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, to see if it had any relation to autism. The results of studies are very clear; the data show no relationship between vaccines and autism.  Read the studies themselves below and browse our recommended reading list.

 

Read the Science

Literature Reviews: Autism and Vaccines

On-time Vaccine Receipt in the First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropsychological Outcomes
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/125/6/1134
Pediatrics
Smith, M and Woods, C
June 2010

Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses
http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/596476
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Offit, Paul and Gerber, Jeffrey S.
Feb. 2009

"Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism"
http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3793/4705/20155.aspx
Institute of Medicine
May 2004

Too Many Too Soon?

Addressing Parents' Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant's Immune System?
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/109/1/124
Pediatrics
Offit, Paul A., Quarles, Jessica, et al.
2002

Immunization Safety Review: Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction
http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3793/4705/4432.aspx
Institute of Medicine
February 2002

Cellular Immune Responses in Neonates
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a790107447~db=all~order=page
International Reviews of Immunology
Fadel S, Sarazotti M.
2000

Neonatal and Early Life Vaccinology
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11348697
Vaccine
Siegrist CA.
2001

The Problem with Dr. Bob's Alternative Vaccine Schedule
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/123/1/e164?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=offit&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=date&resourcetype=HWCIT
Pediatrics
Offit, Paul A. and Moser, Charlotte A.
January 2009

Thimerosal and Autism Studies

Neuropsychological performance 10 years after immunization in infancy with thimerosal-containing vaccines.
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/123/2/475?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=neuropsychological+performance&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT
Pediatrics
Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D'Elia L, Chariotti F, Salmaso S.
January 2009

Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California's Developmental Services System
http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/65/1/19
Archives of General Psychiatry
Robert Schechter, MD, MSc and Judith K. Grether, PhD
January 2008

Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/13/1281
New England Journal of Medicine
Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al.
September 2007

Lack of Association Between Rh Status, Rh Immune Globulin in Pregnancy and Autism
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/114264055/ABSTRACT
American Journal of Medical Genetics
Judith H. Miles and T. Nicole Takahashi
May 2007

Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Environmental Health Perspectives
Thomas M. Burbacher, PhD
April 2005

Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Pediatrics
John Heron and Nick Andrews, PhD and Jean Golding, DSc
September 2004

Neurotoxic Effects of Postnatal Thimerosal Are Mouse Strain Dependent
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Molecular Psychiatry
M Hornig, M
June 2004

Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Database
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Pediatrics
Thomas Verstraeten, MD
November 2003

Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Journal of the American Medical Association
Anders Hviid, MSc
October 2003

Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Pediatrics
Kreesten M. Madsen, MD
September 2003

"Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association"
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Paul Stehr-Green, DrPh, MPH
August 2003

Thimerosal and Autism?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Pediatrics
Karen Nelson, MD
March 2003

Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: A descriptive study
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
The Lancet
Michael Pichichero, MD
November 2002

Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and Autism Studies

Remembering How to Fight Measles
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/opinion/remembering-how-to-fight-measl...
New York Times
Paul A. Offit, MD
March 2014

How to Think About the Risk of Autism
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/how-to-think-about-the-...
New York Times
Sam Wang, Ph.D.
March 2014

Lack of Association Between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
PLoS One
Hornig M, Briese T, Buie T, Bauman ML, Lauwers G, et al.
September 2008

Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders
http://adc.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/adc.2007.122937v1?maxtoshow=&HIT...
Archives of Disease in Childhood
Gillian Baird, F.R.C.Paed.
February 2008

Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links With Immunizations
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dop...
Pediatrics
Eric Fombonne, MD
July 2006

MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-Control Study
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
The Lancet
Liam Smeeth, MRCGP
September 11, 2004

Association of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Kumanan Wilson, MD, MSc, FRCP
July 2003

Neurologic Disorders After Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Pediatrics
Annamari Makela, MD
November 2002

No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop...
Pediatrics
Eric Fombonne, FRCPsych
October 2001

Autism and Vaccines in the Media

On January 21st, 2011, Dr. Paul Offit was on The Colbert Report speaking about his new book, "Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All." Click Here to Watch the Interview.

 

What's Next?

If we ask the same questions we’ll get the same answers. We’ve asked the autism vaccine question over two dozen times and each time we get the same response; no relationship.  We need to move on; We need to invest in studying genetics, the brain structures of children with autism, and environmental factors that may be playing a role. 

 

Downloadable Materials

Below are three fact-sheets prepared by physicians at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. They are excellent resources to distribute at events.

 

Below are two tables prepared by the initiative Every Child By Two. These tables summarize the major procedures and conclusions of the most recent studies regarding autism and Thimerosal, as well as autism and the MMR vaccine.