NEWS: Vaccines are not associated with autism

Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies

(Not an EpiVax publication)

Highlights

• Five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children and five case-control studies involving 9920 children were included in this analysis.
• There was no relationship between vaccination and autism (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.06).
• There was no relationship between vaccination and ASD (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.68 to 1.20).
• There was no relationship between vaccination and MMR (OR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.70 to 1.01).
• There was no relationship between vaccination and thimerosal (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.77 to 1.31).
• There was no relationship between vaccination and mercury (Hg) (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.93 to 1.07).
• Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

Abstract

There has been enormous debate regarding the possibility of a link between childhood vaccinations and the subsequent development of autism. This has in recent times become a major public health issue with vaccine preventable diseases increasing in the community due to the fear of a ‘link’ between vaccinations and autism. We performed a meta-analysis to summarise available evidence from case-control and cohort studies on this topic (MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar up to April, 2014). Eligible studies assessed the relationship between vaccine administration and the subsequent development of autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Two reviewers extracted data on study characteristics, methods, and outcomes. Disagreement was resolved by consensus with another author. Five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9920 children were included in this analysis. The cohort data revealed no relationship between vaccination and autism (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.06) or ASD (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.68 to 1.20), or MMR (OR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.70 to 1.01), or thimerosal (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.77 to 1.31), or mercury (Hg) (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.93 to 1.07). Similarly the case-control data found no evidence for increased risk of developing autism or ASD following MMR, Hg, or thimerosal exposure when grouped by condition (OR: 0.90, 95% CI: 0.83 to 0.98; p = 0.02) or grouped by exposure type (OR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.76 to 0.95; p = 0.01). Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

Keywords
Vaccine; Vaccination; Immunisation; Autism; Autism spectrum disorder; Thimerosal; Mercury
Corresponding author contact information
Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 2 47 341 373; fax: +61 2 47 343 432.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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