Study Dispels Link Between Autism and Measles Vaccine


vaac1.jpgHoping to dispel long-running concerns that autism is linked to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR), researchers now say a new study shows the childhood vaccine does not raise that risk.

“We are certain that there’s no link between autism and the MMR,” Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Mailman School of Public Health Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, said at a Wednesday teleconference.

“We found no evidence that the [gastrointestinal] pathology consistently preceded autism, and we also found that the MMR didn’t consistently precede either autism or GI pathology,” he added.

Not everyone is convinced, however, that the vaccine does not play a role in causing gastrointestinal problems that can precede the onset of autism.

“This study addresses one hypothesis. This study, by itself, does not exonerate the role of all vaccines. There are many biological mechanisms where environmental factors could present in the development of autism,” said Rick Rollens, the father of an autistic son and one of the founding members of the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California, Davis. Rollens was also part of the teleconference.

Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, between 3 million and 4 million Americans contracted the measles each year, and about 400 to 500 people died annually, according to background information provided by the researchers.

In 1998, a small British study linked the presence of measles RNA in the gastrointestinal tract and children who had autism and gastrointestinal (GI) problems, which seemed to confirm what many parents of children with autism had suspected all along — that the vaccine played a role in the development of autism.

To investigate this possible link, researchers from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts General Hospital and Trinity College Dublin in Ireland used tissue biopsies taken from the bowels of children with autism and GI problems and compared them to age-matched control children who had no developmental delays, but were undergoing bowel biopsies for GI disturbances. The control group children also were matched as closely as possible with regard to when they received their MMR vaccine.

The researchers used techniques similar to those used by the British scientists a decade ago. But advances in technology since then make molecular analysis more sensitive now, the study authors said.

The researchers analyzed the bowel tissue to look for the presence of measles virus RNA. One theory held that the measles RNA could grow in the intestinal tract and cause inflammation that would make the bowel more permeable. Once the bowel was more permeable, the virus could enter the circulation system and then travel to the central nervous system, where it might play a role in the development of autism, some theorized.

However, only one child out of the 25 children with autism and one in the control group of 13 children in the new study showed slight levels of measles RNA. According to one of the study’s authors, Dr. Mady Hornig, director of translational research at the Mailman School of Public Health Center for Infection and Immunity, the levels of measles RNA was just above the threshold levels.

The new findings were published online Thursday in the Public Library of Science journal.

“This was a rigorous analysis. We did this in a blinded fashion, and we are persuaded that there is no link,” Lipkin said.

He added that these findings don’t mean that the occasional child won’t have an “idiosyncratic response” to the vaccine. “Nothing is without risk,” he said.

Rollens, however, remains steadfast in his belief that immunization played some role in his son’s autism. “I’m totally convinced the vaccines caused the autism of my son, and we need to have more biological studies on this vaccine and others,” he said.

(Source: HealthDay News / W. Ian Lipkin, M.D., John Snow professor of epidemiology, professor, neurology and pathology, and director, Mailman School of Public Health Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Mady Hornig, M.D., associate professor, epidemiology, and director, translational research, Mailman School of Public Health Center for Infection and Immunity, New York City; Rick Rollens, parent advocate, co-founder, University of California, Davis M.I.N.D. Institute; Sept. 4, 2008, Public Library of Science)


  1. However there is a proven corelation that the increase in people diagnosed with Autism is related to a broadening of the definition, which happens to have occured at the same time as the discovery of vaccines for many childhood diseases. Many people “diagnosed” today would either have been considered hopelessly retarded in previous generations, or on the other hand, would have been considered to be normal albeit with quirky personality traits.

  2. Unfortunately, one can find at least two “experts” that hold to opposing views. There are physicians and medical health practitioners who do hold differently to Dr. Lipkin.

  3. “We found no evidence…” is a cop-out. I didn’t find any evidence either. It depends where you look.

    See no evil, Hear no evil…

    There are billions of dollars in vaccination moneys involved.

  4. #2 Isn’t that true of halacha as well? You judge the medical opinion by the reputation of the research. These are considered ‘gedolim'[ in medicine.

  5. A few decades ago, a child psychologist named Bruno Bettelheim formulated a theory that autism was caused by parents, especially mothers, who did not demonstrate affection towards their children. These so-called “refrigerator mothers”, he said, caused autism by failing to form an emotional connection to their children. For decades this theory was widely believed to be true & parents who were already dealing with the challenges of raising an autistic child also had to deal with being blamed for causing the condition. Now of course we know that’s not the case.

    I wonder how long it will take, & how many children will die due to lack of vaccinations, before this theory is discredited as well?

  6. As the parent of an autistic child I am amazed by the comments here, everybody is an expert. I wish I or the real experts I use had asmuch confidence.

    1, No study is ever the final decision. That is why studies are reviewed, repeated and then reviewed again. Only a non scientist would pick one study and assume thats it.

    2, If you think these are just an increase in diagnosed cases, please ask around and you will find many cases in your neighborhood, including group homes you never realized were there. People in the field will quickly tell you there are too many cases to handle and the growth was unprecedented. These arepeople that dealt with all the categories together, they did not deal only with autism and they would be the first to admit the cause was overdiagnosing.

    3, The amount of money spent on this is pitiful. compare it to the war on AIDS and see which is treatable today.

  7. It always amuses me that these studies “vaccines do NO harm” come out about the time when school starts, and children are expected to either get vaccines, get the proper exemptions if parents have objections to vaccines (or else they can’t come to school.)

    Oh, and last week – in the news “major increase in measles”… Same ploy.

    I for one, am not “anti-vaccine” nor “pro-vaccine” – but a parent who researches and asks question before giving each individual vaccine – if to give it at all.

    There’s no way I am going to trust injecting poison and/or deadly diseases into my children if I don’t have all sides to the story. And I’m completely satisfied that the advantanges outweigh the risks.

    Too many times the medical establishment has been proven wrong when approving/guaranteeing that a certain medicine/vaccine/procedure is ABSOLUTELY harmless… and with dire consequences.

    You don’t have to look back too far – just recently there were reports of healthy, active young teen girls “dropping like flies” after receiving the latest new vaccine flavored “HPV”.

    Watching a close relative struggle with 2 normal, vibrant healthy-turned disabled children – almost probably caused by vaccines – makes it easier for me to stop. Look. Listen. Not just “follow” blindly like so many “sheeple”.

    I just daven that I have siyata dishmaya in making those decisions – and that ALL of klal yisroel be healthy and strong – no matter what their decision is regarding giving or not some or all vaccines.

    CharlieHall – short of being a prophet, I cannot imagine how you can know so absolutely, without a shred of a doubt, that any type of autism surely is not linked to vacines.

  8. It would be nice, though, if the vaccines were administered on a different schedule. I’ve had kids be vaccinated for a half dozen conditions at a time, surely a lot to load an under- or newly developed immune system with. B”H they’re all fine but I wouldn’t risk this again.

  9. We cannot properly evaluate the risk vs. benefit if doctors/FDA/AAP/CDC roundly dismiss reactions as vaccine related. Have you ever actually spoken to parents who are convinced a vaccine harmed their children, or do you just accept the glib words of the institutions above? What would you say to the mother of a 3 month old who gazed, focused, lifted her head and smiled- in short, met or exceeded every milestone, and immediately after the DPT shot, fell over in convulsions, high fever, and complete listlessness? And then never snapped out of it? Who, years later, cannot smile, focus, gaze or lift her head, when she could ONE MINUTE before the vaccine? Her doctor said, “coincidence.” After that devastating event, we researched this and found many, many, many children whose reactions to the vaccine were IMMEDIATE and SUDDEN and DRAMATIC after the vaccine – and PERMANENT. And the doctors all say, “coincidence.” I probably wouldn’t be so anti-vaccine if one doctor – someone, somewhere, would ADMIT that this child was permanently neurologically injured from a vaccine. Guess what – I’m still waiting. I read an interview this pediatrician who administered this vaccine gave to a frum newspaper who asserts, “I’ve never had a patient who had an adverse reaction to a vaccine.” Sure – easy to say vaccines win in the risks vs. benefit war – just deny that a reaction exists, and the rest is easy!!!

  10. Let’s think a little bit.

    The Government forces children to get over 30 vaccinations in their early years. Vaccinations are attenuated diseases that are purposely injected directly into the bloodstream, in order to provoke the child’s immune system.

    Because there are so many vaccinations required, the doctors insist on giving 3 and 4, or more at a time (MMR, etc.).

    Isn’t it reasonable to assume that a large percentage of these vaccinated children may have weak immune systems that cannot withstand this onslaught of diseased organisms?

  11. I would also like to add the possibility that routine ultrasounds on babies (not for diagnostic purposes when there are possible problems)are interfering with the nervous system of the growing fetus. Do a google search for Dr. Sarah Buckley and the possible harm of ultrasounds, and other sites that are discussing this issue. You will be surprised at what you will read. (Remember that doctors or clinics who paid good money for these machines need to use them to recoup their investments.)