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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

More Research Discredits Link Between Autism and Measles Vaccine

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Although the diagnosis usually is made shortly after the vaccine is administered, trained experts frequently can make the diagnosis at a much earlier age, Paul Offit, MD, chief of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, tells WebMD.

Although the California study does not address why that state is suffering from a rise in autism cases, the findings can still be generalized because this study duplicated the results of similar studies conducted elsewhere, such as in the U.K., Dales says.

"All of these studies have found the same results. So it sounds like these results can be generalized," he tells WebMD.

The California study, though, is unlikely to convince all the critics of the vaccine, some of whom believe that U.S. health authorities have decided to ignore this connection because of the vaccine's perceived benefits.

The CDC maintains that the MMR vaccine is of significant benefit. In just one decade, the agency says, the MMR vaccine has managed to reduce the number of measles cases from more than 27,000 a year to a mere 100 a year. During that time frame, the number of reported deaths also has decreased from more than 50 a year to none, the agency says.

Still, the view that these benefits do not justify ignoring the possible connection between the vaccine and autism has engendered some powerful allies. Among those is U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, (R-Indiana), whose grandson is autistic.

Last April, Burton held an emotionally charged congressional hearing that some insiders believe fueled the IOM investigation. The IOM often consults members of Congress on medical issues.

The IOM has denied this connection. The level of concern simply has made it imperative that the IOM address this issue, Kathleen Stratton, PhD, who co-chairs the IOM committee, told an industry group last year.

The IOM vaccine committee investigating the MMR-autism connection will meet once more this year, and over the course of the next three years, address eight other vaccine-related safety concerns. The National Institutes of Health and CDC are jointly funding the entire project.

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