There is no link between the measles vaccination and autism, even in children who are higher risk.
These are the findings of a study published in one of the world’s leading medical journals this week, which deliver a blow to the anti-vaccination movement.
The study compared high-risk children with siblings who already had autism and were more likely to develop the condition themselves, and children that didn’t have autistic siblings.
After looking at almost 100,000 children, researchers found the measles vaccine made no difference to the high-risk group’s chances of developing autism.
In fact, higher-risk children actually reduced their chances of developing autism after receiving the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Vaccination rates are falling below the ‘herd immunity’ rate in many communities around Australia as objection rates double, posing a risk to public health.
Families with children affected by autism were particularly concerned about perceived links between the vaccine and the condition, the study in the Journal of American Medicine claimed.
“Surveys of parents who have children with ASD suggest that many believe the MMR vaccine was a contributing cause,” researchers wrote.
Children with an autistic older sibling had lower vaccination rates than children without autistic siblings – 86 per cent compared to 92 per cent.
In an editorial published in the journal, Seattle Children’s Hospital doctor Bryan H King said the findings of the study were promising.
“Short of arguing that MMR actually reduces the risk of ASD in those who were immunised by age two years, the only conclusion that can be drawn from the study is that there is no signal to suggest a relationship between MMR and the development of autism in children with or without a sibling who has autism,” Dr King wrote.