There has been ongoing controversy surrounding certain vaccines and
their relationship to autism. Some parents have been concerned that vaccines,
specifically the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and preservatives used in
other childhood vaccines, play a role in children developing autism. Some
stopped vaccinating their children altogether because of this concern.
Thimerosal in vaccines
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questioned whether mercury-containing thimerosal (used as a preservative in
vaccines) might cause autism. Today, with the exception of some influenza
vaccines, none of the vaccines used in the United States to protect
preschool-aged children against 12 infectious diseases contain thimerosal as a
preservative. (Influenza vaccine is currently available both with thimerosal as
a preservative and preservative-free.) More importantly, studies have not found
a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.1, 2
Parents also questioned
whether the MMR vaccine-which combines 3 vaccines into 1 injection-causes
autism since symptoms of the disorder often become apparent about the time
children start getting immunized.
In response to this concern,
researchers in Europe, Canada, and the United States looked closely at this
issue. Studies have looked at the timing of the vaccine and the vaccine itself
and have found no link between the vaccines and autism.
the exact cause of this sometimes devastating condition is not known, some
parents will continue to have concerns despite the evidence. In these cases,
parents should be aware of the risks of serious disease in children who are not
vaccinated. In some areas, outbreaks of these dangerous diseases have occurred
in people who have not been immunized.