How many nails does it take to secure the MMR/Autism coffin?

Opinion: Twenty-one years ago the most significant piece of medical piffle was published in a prestigious journal under fraudulent pretences.

The now long since retracted article proposed that the MMR vaccine caused autism based of the purported claims of 8 parents. Yes eight (8). Same number of legs on an octopus. Same number of babies delivered by Octomom in one sitting. This wanton deception held the world to ransom, ably assisted by an all too eager unquestioning mass media.

There is a mountain of evidence

High-quality research from multiple quarters quickly confirmed there was absolutely no association between the vaccine and autism, the nails went in the coffin one after another in fairly quick succession with a 2014 meta-analysis (that pools together several studies into an even bigger study) concluding no association. Five of those studies included involved 1,256,407 children.

In addition to the epidemiological studies that refute an association between MMR vaccine and ASD there is a growing understanding about the genetics of autism as well as the development of the autistic brain. Current evidence using brain imaging is showing us how autism begins before birth.

With overwhelming evidence to the contrary, in classic anti-vaccine style, proponents of the fake MMR/autism link shifted the goal posts and began to claim that the vaccine cause autism in a select predisposed group of children. Sigh… And that that none of the studies have addressed that. So…

It is well established that autism has a complex genetic component, with many genes implicated in playing a role. Autism is more likely in siblings. (See Autism is mostly genetic again, and The mutant PRICKLE and the split brain by Grant Jacobs, and The "why vaccines don’t cause autism papers" by Peter Hotez). Anyway, a sibling of an autistic child could be considered at higher risk of autism. Whether or not this predisposes a subgroup of kids to autism after MMR vaccine was first investigated in the US and the findings published in 2015. In that study, 95,727 children who had older siblings were assessed for vaccine status and a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder. The study concluded three things. One, that receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of ASD; two, this was regardless of whether or not a sibling had autism. In other words there was no association, even among kids at higher risk; the third conclusion is that parents with an autistic kid were less likely to vaccinate subsequent children – leaving them more susceptible to disease.

To look into this in even more detail researchers in Denmark have used the incredible data available in that country to see if the MMR vaccine increased the risk of autism in different risk groups of children. The follow-up period of these kids is quite extensive. The oldest children were born in 1999 and the youngest 2010. Follow-up went until 2013. There were a total of 657,461 children included in the analysis and this equated to a total person-years of follow-up of 5,025,754. OF these children, 6,517 children received an autism diagnosis. There was no difference between MMR-vaccinated and MMR-unvaccinated kids. There no association with ‘regressive autism’. Also, having a sibling with autism made no difference.

MMR has nothing to do with Autism. Period.

I think this reasonably puts to bed the notion that MMR might trigger autism in susceptible subgroups of children. The coffin is both nailed and super-glued shut then hermetically sealed.

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris is from the School of Population Health in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

This article reflects the opinion of the author and not the views of the University of Auckland.

Republished with permission from Sciblogs, How many nails does it take to secure the MMR/Autism coffin?, published on Tuesday 5 March, 2019.