Updated: Aug 23
Childhood vaccinations is a large part of early pediatric practice. Vaccines have been developed to prevent chicken pox, meningitis, mumps, measles, rubella, rubeola, and various other bacterial infections that can cause illnesses in children.
In some cases the vaccines are developed because they decrease the amount of illness the child suffers, as well as the minor side effects such as with chicken pox. The vaccine for chickenpox was developed because a very small population of children develop significant side effects but a large portion of parents must be off of work for at least a week each spring and fall.
On the other hand the MMR vaccine was developed to stop cases of mumps, measles and rubella in their tracks. Mumps are a highly contagious viral illness that is spread by airborne droplets from the respiratory system. It affects specific glands in the body, most often the salivary glands and testicles. Measles is an acute contagious viral illness that causes a significant mortality (death) rate in malnourished children. Rubella is a mild viral illness that produces a rash. It is milder than measles but is severely damaging to an unborn baby when it happens early in pregnancy.
In response to these illnesses that cause a significant number of mortality in children the MMR vaccine was developed. This made a combination shot of what was originally three different vaccinations. Shortly after development case studies were presented that the vaccine was at the root cause of cases of autism in toddlers.
Then in February 1998 The Lancet, a medical journal, published an article that suggested the MMR vaccine could possibly contribute to the development of autism. There was intense media coverage of the article which led to parents around the world refusing the vaccine for their toddlers. Not long afterward, 2004, The Lancet published a retraction by 10 of the original 13 authors.
To date there have been 20 different articles published in peer review journals that refute MMR vaccine autism childhood evidence study while there are only 3 that support it.
In yet another study published in February 2008 in HealthDay News British authors said their study, the largest of its kind, had failed to find a connection between MMR vaccine and autism. This study was a result of a sample of 240 children. (1)
Physicians from the US theorize that parents continue to hold onto the theory that the MMR vaccine will cause autism because it gives the parents something to hold onto that could be altered to prevent future cases of autism. The original theory held that the MMR vaccine altered the intestinal lining which allowed proteins to enter the blood that in turn caused the brain damage. Each research study that has been performed since then hasn't found data to support this evidence.
But the evidence that the MMR vaccine does have an impact on the development of autism in children continues to hold true. Recently Dr. A. Wakefield, one of the original authors of the study published in the 1998 Lancet article, stated that heís identified 170 cases of children with autism, the majority of whose parents had documentation their children had no physical or mental decline prior to the vaccine administration.
The debate continues to rage over the administration of the triple vaccination but the coincidence of increased number of children with autism diagnosed the same year the vaccine was introduced in the US and then again 10 years later in England bolsters the case for vaccine induced mental damage.
Dr. Wakefield has testified before a US Congressional Subcommittee in 2000 on just this subject. His evidence pointed to flaws in the previous 20 research studies that actually did show a correlation between the vaccine and the increased diagnosis of autism but which was discounted by the study authors. One of these studies was also funded by the drug company that manufacturers the MMR vaccine.
For parents who continue to want to prevent the measles, mumps and rubella diseases the option of vaccinating against each disease individually with several months between vaccines is considered safer. The problem appears to be when the three vaccines are combined and not the vaccination of each individually.
(1) HealthDay: Another Study Finds No Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Concerns about Autism
American medical Association: The Relationship Between the MMR Vaccine and Autism
American Academy of Pediatrics: Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence
Duke Health: Does the MMR Vaccine Cause Autism
Clinical Infectious Diseases: Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses