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Study With 657,461 Kids Shows No Link Between MMR Vaccine And Autism

Ryan Ford

It's one thing for folks to say that the 1969 moon landing was filmed on a sound stage in Burbank or something. That's just nonsense that's easily disproved. It's another thing entirely to buy into all the anti-vaccination baloney. That hurts people, especially the young and vulnerable.

The anti-vaxx crowd doesn't seem to want to believe the mountain of evidence in favor of vaccination, and it's hard to combat that. But maybe, just maybe, the largest study ever on the subject of vaccines and autism might help?

The stubborn myth that autism and vaccines are somehow linked has been refuted yet again.

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This time the messages comes from the largest study ever done of that supposed link. It reached one resounding conclusion: MMR does not cause autism.

Researchers in Denmark examined data for 657,461 kids born in that country between 1999 and 2010, following them through to August 2013. Throughout that period, 95% of the kids received the MMR vaccine, and 6,517 of the children were diagnosed with autism.

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It's hard to ask for a more thorough study than that.

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The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, noted that there was no overall increase for any of the kids to be diagnosed with autism after receiving the MMR vaccine compared to the kids who didn't get the vaccine.

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There was also no increased risk of developing autism even for kids with other contributing factors such as a sibling with autism.

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As the study's authors summed up, "MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination."

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In fact, the kids who received the MMR vaccine were 7% less likely to develop autism than the unvaccinated kids.

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Which turns that myth very much on its head. The study's lead author, Dr. Anders Hviid, told NPR refuting the myth was indeed on their agenda.

"The idea that vaccines cause autism is still around despite our original and other well-conducted studies," he said. "Parents still encounter these claims on social media, by politicians, by celebrities, etc. We felt that it was time to revisit the link in a larger cohort with more follow-up, which also allowed for more comprehensive analyses of different claims such as the idea that MMR causes autism in susceptible children."

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Other researchers are hopeful that this new study will help parents make the right choice for their kids.

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As Dr. Paul Offit, who directs the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia told CNN, "At this point, you've had 17 previous studies done in seven countries, three different continents, involving hundreds of thousands of children. I think it's fair to say a truth has emerged."

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"I think we're at a tipping point," Dr. Offit continued.

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"I think people need to realize that a choice not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice. It's a choice to take a greater risk, and unfortunately right now, we are experiencing that greater risk."

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The bottom line for Hviid is that "Parents should not skip the vaccine out of fear for autism."

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"The dangers of not vaccinating includes a resurgence of measles which we are seeing signs of today in the form of outbreaks," he told Reuters.

Indeed, Washington has seen a surprising outbreak that may have been fueled in part by misinformation spread on Facebook through geographically targeted ads, according to The Guardian.

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As the authors noted, a 5% reduction in vaccination coverage can triple the number of measles cases in a community.

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So, with the World Health Organization listing vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global threats in 2019, the Danish study couldn't have better timing.

Now here's hoping people take heed.

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