Vaccines Cleared--Again--in Autism Risk Debate
Since a 1998 article published in the medical journal The Lancet argued that childhood vaccines--specifically the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine--can cause autism spectrum disorders (ASD), debate has crested and fallen, ebbed and flowed. Neither the retraction of the article--partially in 2004 and fully in 2010--nor the failure of any scientist since to replicate author Andrew Wakefield's findings has dissuaded some who still believe that autism may be caused by vaccines. In fact, earlier this year a study came out reporting that parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children--partially or entirely because of the autism fear--are rarely persuaded to change their opinions even in the face of solid scientific evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.
Study after study has been published in the intervening years confirming no link between vaccines and autism. Meanwhile, amid growing numbers of families who do not have their children vaccinated, outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases are on the rise. This year, measles cases have reached a 20-year high, and whooping cough was declared an epidemic in California.
Image: Child getting vaccine, via Shutterstock