Breaking news: vaccines don’t cause autism

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Okay, so this isn’t breaking news. It’s something we’ve known for years now. But now there’s a brand new study that’s just been published in Pediatrics that once again demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the ethylmercury-based preservative thimerosal that used to be in vaccines does not cause autism:

Methods: A case-control study was conducted in 3 managed care organizations (MCOs) of 256 children with ASD and 752 controls matched by birth year, gender, and MCO. ASD diagnoses were validated through standardized in-person evaluations. Exposure to thimerosal in vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was determined from electronic immunization registries, medical charts, and parent interviews. Information on potential confounding factors was obtained from the interviews and medical charts. We used conditional logistic regression to assess associations between ASD, AD, and ASD with regression and exposure to ethylmercury during prenatal, birth-to-1 month, birth-to-7-month, and birth-to-20-month periods.

Results: There were no findings of increased risk for any of the 3 ASD outcomes. The adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for ASD associated with a 2-SD increase in ethylmercury exposure were 1.12 (0.83–1.51) for prenatal exposure, 0.88 (0.62–1.26) for exposure from birth to 1 month, 0.60 (0.36–0.99) for exposure from birth to 7 months, and 0.60 (0.32–0.97) for exposure from birth to 20 months.

Conclusions: In our study of MCO members, prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of ASDs.

Of course this will inevitably be dismissed by the anti-vaccine community but it will make it much harder for them to recruit more people. It also reinforces my speculation from earlier this year that we’re seeing the decline of the anti-vaccine movement. Now the true believers will likely hold their views for the rest of their lives. If they haven’t accepted reality by now, there’s little reason to suspect they’ll change later. But now we’re seeing science continually demonstrating again and again how wrong they are in very carefully performed studies, we’re seeing they fail to gain any traction in the courts, and I haven’t seen a mainstream media story that presented them either positively or neutrally in quite awhile. The media has wised up. All they’ve got left is their own fringe websites to maintain the base, but that’s insufficient for them to effect public policy.

Now all this is not to say the movement couldn’t one day gain prominence again, but I think for the immediate future, they’re slowly being relegated to the fringes of society along with the Kennedy conspiracy folk, the 9/11 deniers, and those who think Elvis is still alive.

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One Response to Breaking news: vaccines don’t cause autism

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