Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Autism and Vaccines

Font Size

Topic Overview

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. There have been a lot of false claims in the news. But thorough studies have found no link between vaccines and autism.1 A lot of research has been and is being done to find out the cause of autism. Go to www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/seed.html to follow a very large study about the risks for autism and other developmental disabilities.

Because 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.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free children’s preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

Thimerosal in vaccines

Some parents have questioned whether mercury-containing thimerosal (used as a preservative in vaccines) might cause autism. Today, with the exception of some influenza vaccines, childhood vaccines used in the United States contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts. (Influenza vaccine is available both with thimerosal as a preservative and preservative-free.) More importantly, studies have not found a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.2, 3

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a list of all vaccines that are given to children and how much, if any, thimerosal the vaccines contain. To view the list, go to www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228.

Vaccine combinations

Some 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.4

It's risky if you don't vaccinate your child. Immunizations are important for many reasons. Lots of research has already been done, and research continues to show that vaccines are safe.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
highlighted areas of the brain
How well do you know yours?
oatmeal and eggs
The best and worst for you.
dog begging at table
Foods your dog should never eat.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
mature woman with serious expression
What do you know?
chlamydia
Pictures and facts.
Healthy Snack
13 delicious options.
Take your medication
Separate fact from fiction.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
woman clutching at stomach
Do you know what's causing yours?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.