PARENTS – Public health experts and health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC agree that vaccines do not cause autism and that the many, many benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh any other possible side effects or risks.
However, there are still small but vocal groups who believe there’s a link between autism and vaccines.
And amid that conflicting information, some parents might opt not to get their children vaccinated “just to be safe” because they worry about other possible reactions or because of religious or other beliefs.
But if you choose not to vaccinate your child, you are increasing their risk of contracting serious preventable diseases that can lead to complications, hospitalization, and even death, says Dr. Eric Fombonne, M.D., director of the psychiatry division at Montreal Children’s Hospital and a member of the National Institutes of Health advisory board for autism research programs.
For example, after the MMR vaccine was first linked to autism in England, many parents stopped vaccinating their children—and several children died during a measles outbreak in Ireland soon afterward. And in 2019, the CDC confirmed more than 1,200 measles cases in the U.S.—the greatest number of cases since 1992.
“For children under-5 born between 2000 and 2030, we estimate 52 million more deaths would occur over their lifetimes without vaccination against these diseases [influenza type b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, Japanese encephalitis, measles, Neisseria meningitidis, rotavirus, rubella, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and yellow fever].” – eLife Sciences Publications (UK), Jul 13, 2021
No Link Between Thimerosal and Autism
One of the main concerns about thimerosal was its supposed connection to autism. But ever since the mercury was removed from vaccines, experts and researchers have consistently found no link between the two.
Take a 2008 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry, which explored cases of autism in California. If thimerosal really did cause autism, you’d expect cases to decline after it was removed from vaccines in 2001.
However, the opposite result proved true: autism rates continued to rise after mercury in vaccines was eliminated. Scientists and researchers concluded, then, that other factors must cause autism, says Dr. Fombonne, M.D.
Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism—Here’s The Proof
Studies in countries like Canada and Denmark proved similar results—as did nine studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2003 and 2012. Two other prominent organizations, World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine, also found no link between mercury in vaccines and autism.
The Bottom Line
If you have any questions about vaccines and autism or vaccine safety in general, be sure to address them with a health care provider.
A good doctor will listen to your concerns (not belittle them) and help you distinguish myth from fact so you can make the most informed decision for your child’s health.