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Science Panel Finds No Link Between Autism and MMR Vaccine



Robert Davis, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington in Seattle, has recently published a study disputing the link between the MMR vaccine, bowel disease, and autism. He agrees with the IOM report's conclusion.


"In medical training, you have children like this die in your arms from these diseases, and once that happens, you realize that the vaccine actually prevents things that are very, very serious, and you never want to see it again," Davis tells WebMD. He says he worries that adverse publicity about the vaccine will cause parents to avoid it, which is happening right now in Great Britain.


Still, the idea already resonates among concerned parents: could the MMR vaccine -- a prerequisite of virtually all U.S. students to enter school -- pose an autism risk?


And on Capitol Hill, Chairman Dan Burton of the House Committee on Government Reform is planning hearings on the issue Wednesday and Thursday.


Burton (R-Ind.) has a 3-year-old grandson who developed autism shortly after getting an MMR shot, and the Congressman is a critic of U.S. vaccine policy.


"His concern remains. ... He wants to get to the bottom of this issue, because he's seen what's happened in his own family, and because as a chairman of an oversight committee, he wants to ensure the safety of the vaccine," Beth Clay, a committee staff member, tells WebMD.


While the IOM isn't recommending a change in a vaccine policy based on its report, it does say more research is warranted. Experts call for more studies that could identify currently unknown genetic or environmental risk factors that might lead to autism. Today, government-sponsored studies are trying to find out what happens to children who put off getting the MMR shot, as opposed to those who get it as early as possible.

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