Yet Another Study Refutes Vaccine-Autism Link

I had to have my son’s pediatrician fill out some medical forms to submit to the school nurse so I left work early and stopped by the pediatric practice. As I was waiting to speak to a receptionist, I noted a poster with a large photo of a toddler’s face and a reminder (in all capital letters) to get your child vaccinated for whooping cough.

Whopping cough or pertussis has been declared an epidemic in California, where eight infants have died this year from the infectious disease. The LA Times notes that, in all eight cases, ‘[d]espite the patients’ multiple visits to clinics and hospitals, doctors typically failed to make a swift, accurate diagnosis.’ The early symptoms of whooping cough in infants are ‘deceptively mild’ and can therefore ‘lull physicians into a false sense of security—see this recent Care2 post by Ann Pietrangelo for a list of the symptoms.

Vaccination rates for children for such highly contagious diseases as whooping cough have declined in the past decade, in no small part due to parents’ fears that vaccines or something in vaccines might be linked to autism. These fears, while understandable, are unfortunate, and increasingly so, as outbreaks of diseases like whooping cough attest to. A recent legal decision in which the family of a child who is alleged to have become autistic following vaccination received a $1.5 million payout has only added to the confusion. As noted on regarding this case, which sparked intense discussion on the internet in 2008:

…….the payment does not acknowledge a vaccine-autism link. The payment was made for a mitochondrial disorder and encephalopathy which fall under a category of so-called “Table” injuries for which parents do not need to show proof that the vaccine aggravated the condition as long as it appeared within a certain amount of time after vaccination. The VICP, which was established in 1988 (US Court of Federal Claims), has made thousands of such payments since its establishment. The same court found no compelling evidence of a link between vaccination and autism in a ruling last year, which was upheld in a federal appeals court on the same day as the Poling payout decision, (27 August 2010, Associated Press).

Indeed, a study published online today in Pediatrics, has found that ‘prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of ASDs.’ For this study, researchers analyzed the medical records 256 children on the autism spectrum and 752 children matched by birth year who did not have autism; interviews were also conducted with the children’s mothers and all the children were members of three health care management organizations in California and Massachusetts. Children who were found to be in the highest 10 percent for thimerosal exposure (either prenatally or between infancy and 20 months) were no more likely to be autistic than the children who were not. 

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More discussion in the comments on the autism blog at and also at Business Week, and go here for an analysis by scientist Emily Willingham—hopefully these will help to lower the confusion and make the point yet again that vaccines don’t cause autism, no they don’t.

And, school being now in session for most children across the US and around the world, please make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date.

Photo by the LeCrones.


W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William C10 months ago

Thank you.

Philip S.
Philip S7 years ago

Autism is a type of encephalopathy.

William S.
William Suydam8 years ago

Way to go, April L! I'm glad to see someone setting the record straight.

jane richmond
jane richmond8 years ago

Vaccinate your children to protect them from disease. Autism is NOT caused by the vaccine. Research needs to be done to find the exact cause. Having children die from preventable diseases is not the answer. Do you prefer Death to a ever so slight chance of Autism.

Thomas N.
Thomas N.8 years ago

Regardless of whether or not it causes Autism. It still can't be good to be injecting young children with diethylmercury or any of those other chemicals listed above

Agnes O.
Agnes O8 years ago

"The DDS data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal during childhood is a primary cause of autism."

That is EXACTLY it. Not the primary cause, but it can make a generally harmless neurodiversity (AS is not a disease) a lot worse. AS people are a lot more receptive to some environmental factors and a lot less to others. a

Carole H.
Carole Hagen8 years ago


criss S.
criss s8 years ago

If vaccines aren't the cause, then what is?
Why isn't there an answer?

Rick K.
Rick K.8 years ago

For those that prefer hard data over hype and emotion, here are some useful references:

California study: "The DDS data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal during childhood is a primary cause of autism."

Independent testing of Wakefield's MMR/autism hypothesis - test failed to support Wakefield's conclusions. Has links to several other supporting studies:

Italian study looking at kids who received different levels of thimerosal, comparing their brain development 10 years later.

Danish study of 440,000 kids who got MMR and 97,000 who didn't. No significant different in autism and ASD rates.

Japanese study to see if switching from MMR to single-dose vaccines affected autism rates. It didn't.

Montreal study of 27,000 children - no link

2010 Detailed study of 250 ASD kids versus 750 controls. No relationship between ethyl mercury exposure and ASD:

Comprehensive list of science-based resources on vaccines and autism: