By Margaret Hartmann
The researcher who helped popularize the belief that vaccines cause autism has already been discredited several times over, but just to be sure the government had scientists check again. Once again, they found that parents shouldn’t be worried about having kids get their recommended shots, but unsurprisingly, anti-vaccine activists are still insisting that the research is wrong.
The latest analysis was performed by the highly-respected Institute of Medicine, and included a review of the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella, which some still say causes autism. Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, the chairwoman of the panel, told the New York Times, “The M.M.R. vaccine doesn’t cause autism, and the evidence is overwhelming that it doesn’t.” The report found that most children who have adverse reactions to the shots have preexisting conditions that are made more apparent by the vaccine. The study states, “In some metabolically vulnerable children, receiving vaccines may be the largely nonspecific ‘last straw’ that leads these children to reveal their underlying [problems].”
The government requested the review to determine if parents who claim their child became ill from a vaccine should be compensated. Children who develop conditions that scientists believe may be linked to vaccines, such as seizures, inflammation, fainting, allergic reactions, and temporary joint pain, can ask for compensation, but the new analysis confirmed that autism shouldn’t be on the list.
In response to concerns from parents, the government has asked the Institute of Medicine to review vaccine safety a dozen times in the past 25 years. Dr. Clayton said the researchers are very confident in this latest finding:
“We looked at more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles, and we didn’t see many adverse effects caused by vaccines. That’s pretty remarkable.”
The government hopes to convince parents that there’s no reason to be afraid of vaccinations, yet somehow adding one more study to the large body of medical research that says the shots are safe doesn’t seem to be changing many people’s minds. According to Sallie Bernard, president of the anti-vaccination group SafeMinds, the jury is still out on the link between autism and vaccines. She said:
“I think this report says that the science is inadequate, and yet we’re giving more and more vaccines to our kids, and we really don’t know what their safety profile is … I think that’s alarming.”