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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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The Latest on Autism

The Link Between Childhood Vaccines and Autism continued...

A report debunking the link between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism spectrum disorder showed no significant increase in autism cases after doctors began using the MMR vaccine in 1988. It also showed that children in the study showed signs of autism spectrum disorder at the same ages, regardless of when they were vaccinated. Finally, the study found that by age 2, vaccination coverage among children with autism was nearly equal to that for children of the same age who did not have autism.

Parents have also questioned whether mercury-containing thimerosal (used as a preservative in vaccines) might cause autism. Today, with the exception of some influenza vaccines, vaccines used in the United States to protect preschool-aged children contain reduced or no thimerosal as a preservative. (Influenza vaccine is currently available both with thimerosal as a preservative and preservative-free.) According to the CDC, there is no convincing scientific evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. More importantly, studies have not found a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. In fact, a multi-nation study showed an increase in autism over a period of ten years after thimerosal was removed from vaccines.

Because the exact cause of autism is not known, parents may 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.

Understanding the Ruling on Autism-Like Symptoms and Vaccines

In a recent controversy, a Georgia girl was entitled to compensation after developing autism-like symptoms after she received five childhood vaccines in 2000. But what does this decision mean to your child and to other children?

It's important to note that the government has not said that childhood vaccines actually cause autism. Rather, the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation (DVIC) at the Department of Health and Human Services agreed there is a possibility that the vaccines aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder in this young girl. The mitochondrial disorder manifested as a regressive neurological disease with some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. There is a small relationship between mitochondrial disorders and autism, which is now being actively researched.

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