MMR Vaccine not linked to autism ?

Over the past decade, we heard constant debate on whether the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism which started in 1998 when British researcher Andrew Wakefield published studies that suggested the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems and that those GI problems led to autism.  

However, in a recent study reported on 3rd September 2008, MMR vaccine causes neither autism nor gastrointestinal disorders!

The Initial Study
In 1998, British researcher Andrew Wakefield published studies that suggested the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems and that those GI problems led to autism.  In the past, it is believed that the virus used in the vaccine grew in the intestinal tract, leading to inflammation that made the bowel porous. That allowed material to seep from the bowel into the blood affecting the nervous system and causing autism

The Recent Study

In the recent study, O’Leary and the other researchers looked for evidence of the measles vaccine in children’s intestines after they had been vaccinated and sought to determine whether their GI problems and autism symptoms occurred before or after they were vaccinated.  They analyzed samples taken from 38 children with bowel disorders, 25 of whom also had autism. The investigators found only one child in each group had trace amounts of the measles virus in their samples.
The conclusion of the recent study:
“No evidence” linked the vaccine to either autism or GI disorders.
They found no relationship between the timing of the vaccine and children getting GI disorders or autism.

Is that the final Answer?
The recent study said it is  “Conclusive”.   However, another autism advocacy group, the National Autism Association (NAA), said the study is flawed. “This new study does nothing to resolve the controversy whether MMR vaccine has contributed to the autism epidemic,” said a press release from the group.

Wendy Fournier, an NAA spokeswoman, told CNN Thursday that the new study raises more questions than answers and should have looked at more children who developed autism and GI problems after they received the vaccine.

See the full article by NAA on “Wrong children studied. Wrong conclusions reached.”

My Opinion:
Whether MMR vaccines causes autism could only be more conclusive with longer period of study and observations and with larger population sampling.   For now, the debates will go on….

The study is published in the peer-reviewed online journal of the Public Library of Science, PLoS ONE. 

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