A child who has received the measles vaccine is not at increased risk of developing autism, Danish researchers have announced.
The ten-year study is one of the largest ever carried out on the topic and included every child born in Denmark to Danish mothers between 1999 and 2010. A total of 657,461 children were monitored from one year of age through to the end of 2013. Around 95% – more than 624,000 children – received the MMR vaccine and, of those, approximately 6,500 were diagnosed with autism.
Lead researcher Anders Hviid, senior epidemiologist at the Staten Serum Institute in Copenhagen, said the findings showed no difference in the risk of autism between vaccinated and unvaccinated children. In fact, the results showed that those who had the MMR vaccine were 7% less likely to develop autism than those who didn’t.
Proof against link is overwhelming
However, he added even such overwhelming proof was unlikely to sway committed anti-vaxxer parents.
“I do not think we can convince the so-called anti-vaxxers,” Hviid said. “I am more concerned about the perhaps larger group of parents who encounter anti-vaccine pseudo-science and propaganda on the internet and become concerned and uncertain.”
The study, published on Annals of Internal Medicine, comes amid an increasing number of measles outbreaks in the UK, Europe
“The idea that vaccines cause autism is still around despite our original and other well-conducted studies,” said Hviid. “Parents still encounter these claims on social media, by politicians, by celebrities etc.”
Please vaccinate, parents are urged
He added he hoped the study,
The discredited link between the MMR vaccine and the risk of autism dates back to 1998. In a study published in The Lancet, Andrew Wakefield claimed a handful of children were diagnosed with autism within four weeks of being vaccinated. The research was later discovered to be fraudulent and Wakefield was struck off the medical register by the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC).
However, belief in his flawed theories persisted. Despite numerous stringent studies in the intervening years, anti-vaxxers refuse to accept any findings that debunk the myth that vaccination can cause autism.