Many studies have examined possible links between vaccination and increased prevalence of autism. This research has paid particular attention to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, vaccines containing thimerosal and the total number of vaccines administered during early childhood or any one doctor’s visit. These studies have not found a link between vaccines and autism.
It remains possible that, in rare cases, immunization may trigger the onset of autism symptoms in a child with an underlying medical or genetic condition. Autism Speaks is funding studies on the underlying biology of autism, including studies to better understand medical and genetic conditions associated with autism. Autism Speaks also funds research on associations between autism and a wide range of nongenetic, or environmental, factors – including vaccination history.
We strongly encourage parents to have their children vaccinated for protection against serious disease. We recognize that some parents still have concerns about vaccines, particularly if they have a child or relative with autism. We urge them to find a health practitioner who will consider their concerns and help them ensure the well-being of their child. Establishing open communication and trust with a physician who understands each child and family is the best strategy for keeping children healthy.
To track and study adverse events associated with vaccines, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have established the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). It provides a nationwide mechanism by which adverse events following immunization can be reported, analyzed and made available. It provides information to parents and guardians, health care providers, vaccine manufacturers, state vaccine programs and other constituencies. A list of publications that used VAERS information to study associations with autism can be found here.