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Spring 2011

No Evidence to Support Link Between Vaccines and Autism, UCLA Geneticist Explains


VS-Spring2011-No Evidence,AutismDespite numerous studies disproving any link between autism and childhood vaccines, Americans are still split in their opinions about the controversy, according to a recent online survey of U.S. adults. Parents who believe vaccines may put their children at risk for autism are less likely to report getting their kids vaccinated, the survey found. But parents have no reason to fear vaccines, says UCLA geneticist Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D., an autism expert.

“Not one reputable study links vaccines to autism,” Dr. Geschwind says. “There have been more than 17 studies conducted to examine this link, many more than have been performed to investigate most other controversial associations, and the relationship is just not there.” Recent news reports indicate that the lead researcher of a controversial 1998 study linking autism to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine used fraudulent research to come to his conclusion.

Avoiding vaccinations out of fear or uncertainty may have unintended consequences, Dr. Geschwind explains. “There is evidence that not vaccinating children leads to loss of population immunity, which can have serious consequences,” he says. Dr. Geschwind points to the recent pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in California as an example. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that can be prevented by the Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine.

“It is very important for parents to follow recommended guidelines regarding childhood vaccinations,” Dr. Geschwind says. “Some parents may think they are protecting their children by not getting them vaccinated, but their actions are potentially harmful.”

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