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Scientific review affirms no link between vaccines and autism

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A scientific review published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics has expanded upon a 2011 study which reported on the safety of childhood vaccines. That study concluded found insufficient evidence associating vaccines with adverse side effects. The new review investigated all vaccine-related research published since 2011 and expanded the scope of that study by including 11 vaccines: MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, meningococcal, varicella (chickenpox), Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), pneumococcal, rotavirus and inactivated poliovirus vaccines.

The researchers concluded that the MMR vaccine was not associated with the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They did associate the MMR vaccine with higher rates of febrile seizures in infants which can be alarming to caregivers but pediatricians consider them generally harmless. The rate of febrile seizures was about one case per 4,000 applications of the MMR vaccine.

In addition, they found that there was no correlation between vaccines and childhood leukemia. There was a minimal risk associated with the rotavirus vaccine and intussusception. However, this was extremely rare, as the scientists only observed approximately one case out of 100,000 applications of the vaccine.

Our findings support the following Institute of Medicine results: vaccine against hepatitis B is not associated with any long- or short-term adverse events; the MMR vaccine is associated with febrile seizures; MMR vaccine is not associated with autism... Strength of evidence is high that MMR vaccine is not associated with the onset of autism in children; this conclusion supports findings of all previous reviews on the topic. There is also high-strength evidence that MMR, DTaP, Td, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines are not associated with childhood leukemia.

The continuous, evidence-based research behind vaccines provides conclusive proof that there is no link between adverse events, such as autism and childhood leukemia, and vaccines, though the review does point to rare occurrences of side effects. Furthermore, the United States conducts ongoing surveillance of immunization safety through the post-licensure rapid immunization safety monitoring program (PRISM). Overall, these findings should dispel concerns from caregivers and those associated with conditions such as ASD who may have received some misleading information from sources in the media.