Danish Study: MMR Vaccine Does Not Increase Risk for Autism


Health Editor’s Note: In a nationwide cohort study in Denmark (published today, 03/04/2019, by the Annals of Internal Medicine) it was found that there was no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The study evaluated whether the MMR vaccine increased the risk for autism in children and subgroups of children, or in time periods after vaccination.

The study linked information on MMR vaccination, autism diagnoses, other childhood vaccines, sibling history of autism, and autism risk factors in children in the group. There was no increased risk for autism after receiving the MMR vaccination in groups defined by sibling history of autism, autism risk factors, or other vaccinations or during a specified time period after vaccination.

The study strongly supports (through statistical power and addressing the hypothesis of susceptible subgroups and clustering of cases)  that MMR vaccines do not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with autism cases after vaccination.

This large study was paid for by Novo Nordisk Foundation (which has had some controversy regarding insulin products) and Danish Ministry of Health.  I investigated and could not find that the pharmaceutical part of Novo Nordisk produced vaccines, thus there would not be a conflict of interest, such as wanting to profit from increased sales of vaccines.  Novo Nordisk does produce insulin products……Carol

Confirmed: No Link Between Autism and Measles Vaccine, Even for ‘At Risk’ Kids


By Laura Geggel, Associate Editor for Live Science

Children who receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are not at increased risk for autism, and that includes children who are sometimes considered to be in “high risk” groups for the neurodevelopmental disorder, a massive new study finds.

The new study, published today (March 4) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, is one of the largest studies of its kind to date. In it, researchers looked at the records of more than 657,000 children born in Denmark between 1999 and 2010, including about 6,500 who had received an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, interact and behave appropriately with others in social situations.

The study shows, as many before it have time and again, that “[caregivers] shouldn’t choose to not vaccinate because of this punitive association between the MMR [vaccine] and autism,” said study principal investigator Anders Hviid, a senior researcher in the Department of Epidemiology Research at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. “There’s really strong science that there is no association.” [Beyond Vaccines: 5 Things That Might Really Cause Autism]

The idea that the measles component of the MMR vaccine might be linked to autism began with a small, now-retracted 1998 study in the journal The Lancet. That research looked at 12 children with developmental delays, and eight of the kids had autism. It’s since come to light that the lead researcher had several conflicts of interest: He had been paid by a law firm that wanted to sue the vaccine manufacturer, and he had a patent for a “safer” measles vaccine that he had developed before doing the 1998 study, according to a 2011 report in the journal The BMJ.

Since 1998, countless studies have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, including a large 2002 study in The New England Journal of Medicine that Hviid carried out with his colleagues; that research looked at 537,000 children born in Denmark between 1991 and 1998. But after the publication of that study, Hviid heard from concerned parents and so-called anti-vaxxers who questioned whether “susceptible” children might be at risk for autism after receiving the MMR vaccine.

“We saw an opportunity to re-examine the association in the same setting but with new children,” Hviid told Live Science. “We also looked at how we could address some of the criticisms of our original study.”

In the new study, in addition to looking at the big picture (whether the MMR vaccine increases autism risk in all children), the researchers looked at whether the vaccine increased risk in the following groups: boys, girls, children who develop “regressive autism” when they’re older and children whose siblings have autism (the condition is partly genetic, so these children already have a greater risk of developing autism than the general public does).

The scientists also looked at individuals’ birth years, whether other childhood vaccines were received and when, and each child’s autism risk factors based on the child’s disease risk score, the researchers reported in the study.

In the results, none of the subgroups that received the MMR vaccine showed any increased risk for autism, the researchers found. Interestingly, the vaccine was even associated with a slightly lower risk of autism in girls and in children born from 1999 to 2001, the researchers reported.

It’s still unclear what biological mechanisms cause autism. But the study did find which groups were at highest risk for autism: boys, children born more recently (from 2008 to 2010), children who had no early vaccinations and, as mentioned, those who had siblings with autism. Other risk factors included having older parents, a low birthweight, a preterm birth and a mother who smoked during pregnancy. [7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Babies]

The study is a “well-conducted investigation” showing what other studies before it have: that getting the MMR vaccine does not increase a child’s risk of autism, said Kristen Lyall, an assistant professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study.

This research also makes “the important contribution that even among groups with increased susceptibility to autism, MMR vaccination is not associated with autism,” Lyall told Live Science in an email.

In an editorial published alongside the study, Dr. Saad Omer, a professor at the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not involved with the study, said that the need to disprove anti-vaccine ideas comes at a cost. While large epidemiology studies may not cost as much as other types of research, he said, they do divert time that scientists could otherwise spend finding causes and treatments for autism.

“Irrespective of the absolute costs, the opportunity cost of this research should be kept in mind: For example, continuing to evaluate the MMR-autism hypothesis might come at the expense of not pursuing some of the more promising leads” related to autism’s causes and treatments, Omer wrote in the editorial.

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  1. Carol, when a study is made to understand the advrse effects of a drug or vaccine, this should be made comparing a group of persons that receive the drug/vaccine with another group that does not take the drug/vaccine. The latter is named control group. Now, it is correct that the study has compared MMR-vaccinated with MMR-unvaccinated persons, where the latter group would represent the control group. My point is another. In Denmark, children have high rates of vaccinations so that those that are MMR-unvaccinated (the so-called control group) have most likely been vaccinated for many other vaccines other than that the MMR vaccine. So, the MMR-unvaccinated is not a genuine control group as it contains persons that anyway bear a high burden of other vaccinations along with their side effects. Therefore, in the so-called control group, the adverse effects of vaccinations are also present and these make statistically comparable the incidence of adverse effects observed in the MMR-vaccinated and MMR-unvaccinated groups. I repeat it, the control group is also represented by vaccinated persons with other kind of vaccines. So, I would like to see a study where MMR-vaccinated persons are compared with a group that has received no vaccination of any kind nor adjuvants of any sort. This would be a genuine comparison and here the many adverse effects of vaccinations will become visible, and I suppose alarming. Otherwise clinical studies are just tricks to mask the adverse events and to fool people. The statistics in this study might be ok, but the choice of groups is wrong and purposedly steered towards the result of hiding adverse events associated with vaccinations. Is it clear my point? This same Danish study states “A general criticism of observational vaccine effect studies is that they do not include a completely unvaccinated group of children (23).”

  2. Yea, I had a few comments that suddenly disappeared as well. No profanity or violations of rules. The comments were well researched & true. Something’s possibly up with someone intercepting routing @ WordPress censoring ? Seems to be an obvious war on truth.

  3. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons denounces mandatory vaccines, citing “no rigorous safety studies”

    Statement on Federal Vaccine Mandates

    “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) strongly opposes federal interference in medical decisions, including mandated vaccines. After being fully informed of the risks and benefits of a medical procedure, patients have the right to reject or accept that procedure. The regulation of medical practice is a state function, not a federal one. Governmental preemption of patients’ or parents’ decisions about accepting drugs or other medical interventions is a serious intrusion into individual liberty, autonomy, and parental decisions about child-rearing.”

  4. Did the study compared MMR-vaccinated subjects with completely unvaccinated subjects? It seems not! They compared only with subjected that had no MMR vaccination, but they could have had other kind of vaccinations. Keep in mind that we are talking of Denmark, where, if children are not vaccinated for MMR, they indeed might have been vaccinated for a multiplicity of other vaccines, and these, already increase the risk of diseases, including autism. So what we are talking about? Please provide a study where comparison is made with completely unvaccinated subjects, and then it will make more sense. This study is like analyzing youngsters that eat 2 pizzas every day and concluding that pizza does not contribute to obesity because the comparison showed that also those that do not eat pizza have same obesity. But it turns out that the latter eat a pound of pasta every day. Is it clear the trick of some “scientific” studies?

    • Fatima, Here is a section of the study that clearly addresses comparing non-vaccinated children. “Comparing MMR-vaccinated with MMR-unvaccinated children yielded a fully adjusted aHR of 0.93 (95% CI, 0.85 to 1.02). The test for homogeneity of aHRs in the age intervals 1 to 3, 3 to 5, 5 to 7, 7 to 10, and more than 10 years of age yielded a P value of 0.138. Crude cumulative incidences of autism in MMR-vaccinated and MMR-unvaccinated children are presented in Figure 2. Ending follow-up at 5, 7, and 10 years of age produced similar aHRs (0.97 [CI, 0.81 to 1.15], 0.96 [CI, 0.84 to 1.09], and 0.97 [CI, 0.87 to 1.07], respectively). Ending follow-up at 3 years of age yielded a slightly lower aHR (0.73 [CI, 0.53 to 1.00]).” There is more information but not enough space to place it here. Look at the study that is in the article.

  5. This comment is not a criticism of this study which appears to be very good. The subjects of probabilty and statistics can be very useful if correctly applied and interpreted. If incorrectly interpreted can lead to poor or even dangerous decisions. For example the only events which are certain to happen have probability of exactly 1. Those events which are absolutely prohibited have probability zero. All other events are possible and have probabilities between zero and one. Always keep this point in mind: Just because an event has low probability does not mean it can’t happen. Just because an event has high probability does not mean it will happen. Likely events fail all the time while unlikely events happen every day. It is one thing to risk a little money on a lottery ticket which has very little chance of success, all you lose is the cost of the ticket. But if you bet you would not drive off the side of a dangerous mountain road and lost, you could lose your life. The subject of statistics has been given many names. Here is one: “The best way to tell a lie is with statistics”. Or as the great writer Mark Twain said, “There are lies, ….lies, and statistics”. The point is read the statement above carefully. It states the risk for autism does not increase. Risk means a probability of happening. There is a non zero chance of happening. Otherwise the risk would be exactly zero. So there is a gray area where the unpleasant result might happen. It just doesn’t increase according to the study. Always keep these points in mind when reading statistical analyses like this or any other. Again unlikely events happen every day; people win the lottery every day although you may not be the winner!

  6. wjabbe, Yes, that should have been March, although I would not mind to be in April already. Snow every day, today with wind chills of minus 20, more snow, yet another winter storm watch, etc.

    • I have lived in Georgia over 50 years having grown up near Pasadena, California. We had one freak snow in 1949 there but no freezing winters. In 1966-1967 I spent the year at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor working under Professor Marc Ross. One day that winter the thermometer read minus 20 degrees as I walked to campus. That is very very cold. This is why my parents , who were from Minnesota, left for warmer areas and ended up in a small town near Pasadena. Georgia has some cold winters but nothing like Michigan and Minnesota.

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