A large US study, involving, nearly 100,000 children, is the latest to demonstrate no link between receipt of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the development of autism.
The study that included around 95,000 children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders, regardless of whether older siblings had the learning disability.
“We observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased autism spectrum disorder risk”
The findings indicate no harmful association between receipt of MMR vaccine and autism, including among children already at higher risk of the condition, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Although a substantial body of research over the last 15 years has found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, some parents have continued to perceive an association, noted the study authors.
For example, a fall in MMR uptake contributed to an outbreak of measles in Wales during 2013.
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Of the 95,727 children included in the US study, 1% were diagnosed with autism during follow-up.
Among those who had an older sibling with autism, 7% were diagnosed with it, compared with less than 1% among those with siblings without the condition.
The MMR vaccination rate – one dose or more – for the children with siblings without autism was 84% at two years and 92% at age 5 years.
In contrast, the MMR vaccination rates for children with older siblings with autism were lower – 73% at the age of two years and 86% at the age of five.
Analysis of the data indicated that MMR vaccine receipt was not associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder at any age.
The researchers said: “Consistent with studies in other populations, we observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased autism spectrum disorder risk.
“We also found no evidence that receipt of either one or two doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder among children who had older siblings with autism spectrum disorder,” they added.
In 2010, The Lancet retracted the 1998 research paper that triggered concerns over a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism, noting that parts of it were incorrect.
Andrew Wakefield, the discredited medical researcher at the centre of the MMR scare, was struck off by the General Medical Council in the same year.