That’s a big claim, I know. You may have seen claims to the contrary, particularly that there are many, as many as 100 or more, studies proving autism is caused by vaccines. Perhaps you have read the claims made by the producers of the film Vaxxed that all the research done on vaccines and autism is based on the one CDC study for which Dr William Thompson claimed the study protocol was not followed. You may have read that Andy Wakefield was exonerated and his study claims replicated. You may think that all vaccine science is paid for by pharmaceutical companies and that vaccine inserts state vaccines cause autism.
That is all wrong. All lies or mistruths.
Let’s to through those claims one at a time.
- There are more than 100 studies proving vaccine cause autism
- All autism/vaccine research is based on the CDC/Whistleblower study
- Andy Wakefield was exonerated of claims against him and his research has been replicated many times.
- All vaccine science is paid for by pharmaceutical companies so it cannot be trusted.
- Vaccines inserts state vaccine cause autism, so that is proof they do.
So, let’s debunk!
There are more than 100 studies proving vaccines cause autism
This claim comes via a woman named Ginger Taylor who has compiled a large list of studies she thinks prove that vaccines cause autism. Most of the list is mere suggestions of possible connections and/or theories that mercury or aluminum in vaccines are connected to autism. Ginger is not a scientist but numerous scientists have looked at her list and found it wanting. In fact, nothing on her list really proves vaccines cause autism. Liz Ditz has taken the time to take the full list and link each study with writings on said study which go over exactly what each really means. Other bloggers, such as The Logic of Science and Doc Bastard have similarly gone through each list and debunked the claims.
Now, please, do not take my word for it. Read the three blogs I linked above and think for yourself about what they write for each claim. You will see that it is clear no research supports vaccines cause autism.
All autism/vaccine research is based on the CDC/Whistleblower study
This is a claim often cited by the producers of the antivax film, Vaxxed. It is repeated often lately in vaccine debates. The study in question is the 2004 study Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan atlanta. That study is cited in a few other studies but it is not referenced in all autism research and certainly it is far farfetched to claim that all autism research is based on this study. You can see on the link to the study that it is only referenced in 6 other studies.
Here is a list of 107 studies showing no link between vaccines and autism. It is actually difficult to gain access to full studies if you do not subscribe to the journal, but I was able to find a few of these in full text, to check their references.
These did not reference the 2004 study:
- DeStefano F., Price CS., Weintraub, ES. Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism. Journal of Pediatrics. 2013 Aug;163(2):561-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Mar 30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23545349
- Fombonne, E., & Chakrabarti, S. (2001). No evidence for a new variant of measles-mumps-rubella–induced autism. Pediatrics, 108(4), e58-e58. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11581466
- Hensley, E. Briars, L. Closer look at autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Journal of American Pharmacist’s Association. 2003. 2010 Nov-Dec;50(6):736-41. doi: 10.1331/JAPhA.2010.10004. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071320
- Honda, H., Shimizu, Y., & Rutter, M. (2005). No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 46(6), doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01425.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15877763
I got about halfway through the list, with all the studies for which I was able to find full links NOT using the 2004 De Stefano/Williams study in the basis for their claims. I don’t feel the need to go through the entire list.
Vaxxed is wrong.
Andy Wakefield was exonerated of claims against him and his research has been replicated many times.
The case of Andrew Wakefield is complicated. Describing it would take more blog space than I am willing to get. If you want to read the full story, Brian Deer’s website is your place to read. One of the most common claims from his supporters is that because one of the other doctors involved in his 1999 study, Dr John Walker-Smith, was exonerated of claims against him, then that must mean Andy Wakefield was also exonerated of all charges. But, that is simply untrue. Dr Walker-Smith removed his name from the original paper, after it was retracted. After a lengthy court case, the charges against him were quashed because it was obvious he was duped and led astray by Wakefield. Thus, Walker-Smith was exonerated because the misdeeds were really all Wakefield’s. You can read a full summary of those claims, including links to facts, at Skeptical Raptor.
As for Wakefield’s original 1999 study being replicated, that is false. If you see someone making that claim, simply ask them for the link to the study replicating his findings. How could they replicate findings for a study that was prepared in such an unethical and fraudulent manner? He performed medical procedures on children unnecessarily. He took money from an attorney to purposely find a link between vaccines and autism. He paid children, at a birthday party, for taking their blood. If you find any study where anything like that has been undertaken, you need to report those scientists to the editors of the journal which printed their study for they are equally unethical and fraudulent as Wakefield. That being said, there are simply no studies replicating Wakefield’s findings.
All vaccine science is paid for by pharmaceutical companies so it cannot be trusted
From the list above:
- Funded by a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and by subcontracts from AHIP to Abt Associates, Inc http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23545349
- No indication of funding outside author’s institution http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11581466
- No indication of funding outside author’s institution http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071320
- No indication of funding outside author’s institution http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15877763
Other studies not funded by pharmaceutical companies:
And you can find a great deal of vaccine/autism research at the Autism Science Foundation. Most all of it has nothing to do with pharmaceutical companies.
It is irrational to claim that all immunization science is funded by pharmaceutical companies. Who makes those claims? People who make a living trying to get you to mistrust immunization science, like natural health bloggers, chiropractors, naturopaths, and homeopaths. Think for yourself.
Vaccines inserts state vaccine cause autism, so that is proof they do.
Try reading package inserts for yourself. You will find that none of them say autism is caused by vaccines. There was an older insert that mentioned autism as a possible adverse event, but adverse events are not the same as side effects. Adverse events happen in a time period during a clinical trial. They have not been proven caused by vaccines. Side effects have proof behind them.
For more information on inserts and how to read them, Skeptical Raptor has a very handy guide.
For actual vaccine side effects, read the Pink Book.
Thanks for reading and remember to think for yourself!