No. Autism is a condition that affects the brain and makes communicating and interacting with other people more difficult. The cause(s) of autism — also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) — is unknown. However, genetics, differences in brain anatomy, and toxic substances in the environment are thought to contribute to children developing the condition.
So how did the idea that vaccines play a role get started? Much of the blame lies with a study published in 1998 that suggested that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, or infection with the naturally occurring measles virus itself, might cause autism. Since then, numerous scientific studies have shown that there is no link between vaccines — or any of their ingredients — and autism. And the research used in that study was found to be false, the doctor who wrote it lost his medical license, and the medical journal that published it retracted the paper (this means that they believe it never should have been published).
Even with the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, some parents still decide not to have their children vaccinated or to delay vaccinations. But this is extremely risky because vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are still very much around. So if an unvaccinated child gets one of these preventable diseases, other people around that child could get very sick.
Sometimes, kids can have a reaction to a vaccine like a mild fever or rash. But it's clear that the risk of serious reactions to the MMR and other recommended vaccines is small compared with the health risks associated with the often-serious diseases they prevent.
If you have concerns about any vaccine recommended for your child, talk to your doctor. Ask about the benefits and risks of each vaccine and why they're so important for safeguarding your child's health.
Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015
|Autism Speaks Autism Speaks is committed to facilitating research that will uncover the causes of autism, develop effective biomedical treatments, and hasten the discovery of a cure.|
|Autism Research Institute (ARI) The ARI is a nonprofit organization devoted to conducting research on the causes of autism and on methods of preventing, diagnosing, and treating autism and other severe behavioral disorders of childhood. Contact them at: Autism Research Institute|
4182 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116 Fax: (619) 563-6840
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Autism Society of America (ASA) The mission of ASA is to promote lifelong access and opportunities for persons within the autism spectrum and their families.|
|Immunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.|
|CDC: Learn the Signs. Act Early The CDC has launched a campaign to help parents recognize the milestones kids should reach in how they play, learn, speak, and act, between birth and the time they are 5 years old. If parents learn the milestones, they'll be able to spot any developmental problems, and get their kids any help they may need.|
|The History of Vaccines The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.|
|Frequently Asked Questions About Immunizations Immunizations have protected millions of children from potentially deadly diseases. Learn about immunizations and find out exactly what they do - and what they don't.|
|Measles Measles is best known for the skin rash it causes. Although rare, outbreaks can happen. Getting your kids fully vaccinated is the best way to protect them from this disease.|
|Making Sense of Medical News Medical news can be baffling. How do you know what's important, accurate, and relevant to your family's health? There are some simple ways to evaluate what the news means to you.|
|Immunization Schedule Which vaccines does your child need to receive and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.|
|Your Child's Immunizations Immunizations protect your child from potentially fatal diseases. Find out what vaccines your child needs to grow up healthy.|
|Autism Autism affects a child's communication and social skills, behaviors, and ability to learn. There's no cure, but early intervention and treatment can help kids improve skills and achieve their best potential.|
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