A previous study by Wakefield and colleagues claimed that the measles virus (introduced in the body by the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine) could lead to the development of autism. Although the Wakefield study is highly controversial and criticized for unethical research practices, it has led to widespread fear about the safety of vaccines and an increase in the number of parents who opt not to vaccinate their children. However, results of a recent study by Mrozek-Budzyn and colleagues suggests that the link between MMR vaccine and autism is unfounded.
These researchers examined autism diagnosis and vaccination histories (vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, vaccinated with a single measles vaccine, or not vaccinated) in 288 children, 96 with autism and 192 healthy controls. Results demonstrated that autism risk was not greater in the vaccinated children compared to the children who were not vaccinated. These results provide some evidence against the link between the measles virus and autism.
Wakefield, A., Murch, S., Anthony, A. et al. (1998). Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet, 351, 637– 641.