Vote_yes By Dan Olmsted

Does the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine cause autism? I vote yes.

Of course, that’s just one man’s opinion – but one who’s spent the last three years listening to parents and enlightened pediatricians and combing through adverse events reports and just generally trying to think for himself.

Right below this post is yet another study seeming to exonerate the MMR. That sure sounds familiar – the CDCAAPFDAIOMETC have already given it multiple clean bills of health. And manufacturer Merck says no studies show any link to autistic regression.

On the right hand side of our home page is a collection of my Age of Autism columns for UPI. The one titled Pox – Part 1 of 7 installments --  sealed the deal for me as far as the MMR is concerned. I’m not going to repeat myself here except to say, there’s every reason to worry about the interaction among live viruses when you stick ‘em in the same shot and inject ‘em into 12-month-old kids. Especially kids whose immune systems are already shot thanks to vaccine mercury and other toxins, thanks to the selfsame CDCAAPFDAIOMETC.

When Merck decided to toss the chickenpox virus into the MMR mix, kids started developing autism in clinical trials; that wasn’t reported to the FDA before the drug was approved because, Merck said, the parents never got around to mentioning that their kids had regressed into autism. A few months after the Pox series appeared, Merck suspended production of that four-in-one vaccine, claiming they’d run low on chickenpox vaccine even as they launched a new shot for shingles that contains gobs of it.

The cluelessly credulous mainstream media did its usual thing – they essentially reprinted the press release about the “vaccine shortage.” Now they have a new study to “report,”  reaffirming the MMR’s safety and reassuring parents.

Never mind that Merck and the pharmaceutical industry are starting to show a pattern and practice that ought to make anyone stop and think before they become stenographers for the drug companies: There’s Vioxx with its $5 billion settlement and suppressed data about the heart attacks that fell just outside the study window, causing the New England Journal of Medicine to complain; and Zetia with its delayed results that showed no protection against heart attacks even as the company convinced millions of doctors and patients to switch from cholesterol-lowering drugs that actually did work; and Eli Lilly with its Zyprexa side effects and the looming possibility of a $1 billion fine and a criminal misdemeanor plea because they tried to get doctors to prescribe it for conditions for which it was not approved. Not very nice. Not very nice at all.

And never mind that the FDA has all but admitted it's so overwhelmed and underfunded it can't reasonably be expected to do its job (the one about making sure drugs, including vaccines, are safe and effective).

The tragedy is that if the people who are supposed to protect our kids had relied less on dubious data produced by “experts” with blatant conflicts of interest, and more on common sense and the evidence of their own senses, the whole autism debacle of the 1990s through today might have been averted.

In an article titled “Adverse Events,” I wrote about some of the early warnings on file with the federal government’s VAERS database.

Here’s a report from 1992, listing Feb. 21 as both "vaccination date" and "adverse event date" for a 1-year-old boy: "Patient received MMR vaccination and experienced fever, autistic behaviors, encephalitic condition, began to tune out; sound sensitivity, hand-flapping, wheel-spinning, nighttime sweats, appetite increase."

The child's diagnoses included autism, encephalopathy (brain swelling), mental retardation, personality disorder and speech disorder.

Another report: Two days after being vaccinated in August 1994 a 1-year-old girl experienced "low fever, much discomfort. Patient lay in bed and cried and moaned; three-four days post-vaccination, rash traveled over patient's body and lasted at least one week. Within six weeks of vaccination patient was observed as losing previously gained language and social skills; diagnosed autistic."

Soon after the article was published I heard from the mother who filed that report, and I wrote a follow-up story (“Case Number 88924”): “The patient so clinically summarized in that report, Mary Jo Silva realized with a start, was her 1-year-old daughter Carmen, who fell ill the same day she got the MMR -- measles-mumps-rubella -- and Hepatitis B vaccinations at age 1.”

That’s bad.  But here's the killer: A 1994 report filed by a California physician citing 10 -- yes, 10 -- children "who received vaccination and (were) diagnosed with autism and encephalopathy." That doctor reported "there are currently 10 cases of autism in children who received DPT/OPV/MMR at 15-18 months."

The real tragedy here is the dates – 1992 to 1994, just as the big wave of new mercury vaccines was crashing into America’s kids. These were but a few of the many, many missed opportunities to do what medical professionals are supposed to do – be alert and suspicious, notice something new and grab hold of it till the truth yells Uncle.

Instead, the person who took that report about 10 kids with autism who shared a specific vaccination pattern took a dismissive tone: "Dr. ... is not treating physician and does not possess any original records; unclear whether reporter [the doctor, who was identified and could have been contacted] is suggesting possible causal association."

Well, it’s pretty clear to me – doctor is suggesting causal association.

And so am I. Lest the CDC miss the point again, let's repeat it: Yes, the MMR causes autism.


Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism


Terri Lewis


Following the recommended schedule for vaccination today is extremely risky. It's literally Russian roulette.

If you continue, and your baby gets all 36 shots within a 2-year period (including flu shots) she has a pretty good chance of becoming a statistic:

1% to 2% chance of autism (theoretically much lower for girls, but a higher chance in families with autoimmune problems of any kind)
10% chance of PDD-NOS, ADHD, ADD or some lesser form of brain/immune damage
10% chance of asthma

Additional risks of seizure disorder, diabetes, even death (especially following multiple immunizations in a single visit).

My guess is that you had your doubts three days ago, decided to go ahead anyway (probably under pressure from people who know less than you do) and now you're wondering if you did the right thing.

I can tell you this: Most of us are here because we vaccinated our kids, they were damaged by it, and we had a very hard time getting them better (some have not recovered; not by a long shot).

You can't unvaccinate, but you can wait and inform yourself.

Go to www.generationrescue.com.

Read Dr. Miller's schedule for starters.

E-mail me if you want to talk to someone else, rather just doing it on your own (I'm listed as an Ohio Rescue Angel).

If your pediatrician tells you that people like us are crazy, keep in mind that it isn't his child, and he won't be there to pick up the pieces.

In fact, the way it stands today, nobody but you will do that: insurance doesn't usually cover these kids, and some of them are sick (both mentally and physically) for years, despite their parents tireless, unending effort.

Terri Lewis

P.S. Did I mention food allergies? Seasonal allergies? Whoops--gotta go--just got called to school because my daughter's spring allergies are acting up (beats the asthma attacks she used to have).


Hello, I am new to this website. I really need advise asap please! my daughter just received her 12 month shots, (ckn pox..etc.)on 4-22-08. After just recently researching the negative effects that vaccines have created, I am really stressing out about if it's too late. 'Could her previous vaccs already damaged her immune system without any obvious effects?' Any advise would be truly appreciated. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that my long over due lack of knowledge on this subject may have allowed her to be hurt in any way. Any advise PLEASE!

Josh Day

Here's a personal article I wrote about my family's experience at the pediatrician and what we had planned before we went and ultimately went through. Some strategies and tactics for dealing with possibly hostile "caregivers" at the end.


There are exemptions. Educate yourself about the laws of your state.


Look into exemptions. They exist in all 50 states, although two states allow only medical exemptions. http://insidevaccines/wordpress/ look on right hand side for link to exemptions. Site has lots of other useful information on vaccination, which is why I didn't just give you the direct link to the exemption info. Good luck figuring it all out!

Pam Sossi

My son is coming up for his 5 year check up. He was not diagnosed with autism (though he was tested) but he doesn have a speech/language delay. He's scheduled to receive a Tetanus, MMR, and Varivax (Varicella). If I refuse these vaccinations, won't he be denied entry into school when he begins kindergarten in the fall? Perhaps now that will be 5, is it safer?


Just so you know, my autistic daughter was never breastfed, not even once. She and her NT fraternal twin were both formula fed. I really don't think there is a correlation between feeding methods and ASD, though maybe I'm wrong. I'm a lot more concerned about what goes in via the needle than I am about what goes in through breast or bottle.


Hi Nicole,
Here is a link to some starting info: http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/?p=85 and no, it isn't too late to reconsider the standard vaccine schedule. This page has lots of useful links: http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/?page_id=13/back_to_basics/
Take as much time as you need to research. Once a vaccine goes in you can't take it out again.

Sonja Lopez


It is never too late to stop vaccinating on the current CDC schedule...the sooner the better. I wish I had stopped at 9 months...things may have been so different. You should to go to the Generation Rescue website and look at the safe vaccine schedule (there are three). You are right to refuse the varicella. Your child would be much better off getting the actual chicken pox and having appropriate lifelong immunity. You have every right to choose a safe schedule...please do not let your pediatrician strong arm you into doing something you are not comfortable doing...check out www.generationrescue.org and read up on the safe schedule...maybe print out the articles and bring them with you to your pediatrician. All the best to you and your beautiful baby...keep him safe.


Nicole Jacobs

HELP! I'm new to this debate, with a 12-month old about to get shots on 4/10/08. He has already had all vaccines on schedule, and does not seem to have any significant delays or signs of autism. After reading some on this debate, I don't think I want him to get all his shots - at least not the MMR and probably not the varicella. My questions are: 1) are we already too late since he had his previous shots on the AAP schedule? and 2) Which, if any, shots should he get at his 12-month visit in 2 days? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Eden Smith

Thank you for so much great information in one place. I was interested in one writer's question about the possibility of formula having a link to autism because I feel that it is the other way around...that breastfeeding has a possible link to autism. Every autistic child I have ever taught had been breastfed. There is such a push to breastfeed now days, even if nursing mothers are drinkers, smokers, drug-users or on prescription medication. I have a friend who told her OB that she is on Prozac and a smoker and her OB encouraged her to breastfeed anyway. There are so many toxins from our own bodies that seep into breastmilk and our littlest ones just can't handle them. Consider too that most toxins are stored in fat cells and after giving birth when many women begin to lose weight, they are breastfeeding. These toxins surely get into breast milk and into our infants. All the environmental toxins that have built up in our bodies over the years are given to our breastfed infants. Women should not be shamed into breastfeeding, given the line that "breast is best" and formula feed. It would be interesting to see what happens.

patty weaver

Hi...I am a mother of of 13 year old son who has autism. After he received the MMR shot, I noticed a significant change in my son. He stopped talking,interacting, and was in his own world. I believe that the preservative, Thirmisol, caused him to become autistic. I hope that this can come to life and all the families that are afffected by this wil be compensated for what the vaccines I have done to our children, Thank you.

Meaghan Stoops

I share the concern of the connection between vaccines and autism and other neurological disorders. I am a parent of a 12 month old. I have been researching as much as possible the connections between vaccines and autism and other NDs for months. I have found the content on your sight incredibly insightful and in line with my own beliefs.

That being said- I understand that the content that you share on your website is not of medical advice. I am very aware of that. However, my question is not for medical advice, but for advice from someone with experience. If you feel you cannot answer me, then I would be most grateful if you could at least point me in the direction of someone who might be able to. Onto the question:

I have already established for myself that my son will no longer be receiving any combination vaccinations. Nor will he be receiving more than one vaccination per doctor's visit. There are also a number of vaccines that are recommended that I do not want my son to receive (e.g., Hep A). What I would like to know is what is a good interval between vaccinations based upon all of your research and experience. I am still considering allowing my son to be vaccinated against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, for instance. However, I do not want them all at once. I'm trying to figure out how long I should wait after he is vaccinated against Measles, for example, before allowing him to be vaccinated against Mumps. Could you shed any light on this for me?


M.L. Jordan

Parents, stay strong. Every time I take my son to the pediatrician, I am ridiculed and pressured to "catch him up" on the vaccines I have chosen to skip -- Hepatitis B (he doesn't work in a hospital), the MMR (he is not in day care, and it seems safer to wait), and the last two Pertussis parts of the 4-shot DTaP series. I have never allowed the pediatrician to give him multiple shots in one day, or to give him any vaccine containing heavy metals, which means no flu shots. The Pertussis parts of the inoculations (we eventually determined) were making him terribly sick: High fever for a couple of days, then low-grade fever and listlessness. Each injection made him sicker for a longer time, until it just felt too dangerous. Then I found out that the largest amount of total payout from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is for kids who have been killed or maimed by the pertussis vaccine. So, the next time he needed blood taken, I asked them to run a pertussis titer on him, and behold! Even though he was still well within the immunity window from the previous shots, he had Absolutely No Immunity to pertussis. All that sickness and stress and suffering, to no benefit. Apparently, the illnesses he suffered were the result of his little body rejecting the vaccines! Grrrr...

I would love for this country to go back to the 1970's/early 1980's schedule for a 5-year period, and see what happens! Everybody stay strong, and fight the powers that be to curtail or space out, or limit your child's vaccinations to what seems safe and suitable to you. It's your child, and it is so true -- if something nasty happens to your kid, the doctor who was pressuring you to accept the vaccines will not be the person coming to your house to give your kid speech therapy. As the mother of a two-year-old, I wrestle with the pressure at each visit, and sometimes during obnoxious "reminder" phone calls. So stay strong, everybody. When I found out that the inoculations making my son sick for 10 days at a time weren't actually getting him any immunity, it got easier to say no. Blessings to all... --Mary Lou (the Mom)

Stephanie Ilkenhans

3 days after my 12 month-old son had his first MMR (along with "the rest of the required by Texas State Law vaccines") he was running a 104 fever. 3 days after that he began vomiting, was listless, had diarrhea and he broke out with a rash all over his body. I took him back to the pediatrician who simply said it was "a virus". Complete denial that his "virus" was a reaction to the immunizations (even though all of the symptoms are listed as "possible reactions" on the package inserts) because his reactions "weren't immediate."(within 24-48 hrs.) At this point, I'm frustrated, confused, and wondering if it's okay to NOT continue with his series until he's at least 2. (I already know how our pediatrician feels about this.--she would disagree) If he stops his series now, will he have to "start from the beginning" when he's 2? I am not 100% POSITIVE that he got sick from his shots...but I'm 100% POSITIVE that it is a possibility.


You should put a "EMAIL THIS" and "PRINT THIS" link on this page so we can send it to our friends and family with concerns.

Terri Lewis


You ask urgently, "Should I give him these shots or wait?"

As one parent to another: wait.

Inform yourself. Find and look at specific information for each shot.

Be prepared to stand up to your doctor. Not all pediatricians take kindly to parents who question them, especially about vaccinations. And even if you really like your doctor, pediatricians tend to be grossly uninformed about the real benefits and risks of the individual shots they give you.

Remember: You are the parent, and this is still America. No one can force you to immunize your child, but they can sure as heck intimidate you, and many of them will.

Look at the vaccination information on www.generationrescue.org. Follow the links. See your alternatives.

In the meantime, to be specific, I would not get any shots at all on March 26th. Delay your appointment, even by a month, until you've had time to absorb the information.

Don't confuse yourself by looking at anything put out by the CDC, the FDA, or any other government agency. They do not care about your child, they only care about vaccinating as many kids as possible, against as many diseases as possible. That's the literal truth, and when pressed, they will often state it. If your baby suffers, they will tell you "it wasn't the shots" no matter what, then they'll hang you out to dry as far as getting that child better again.

And I would skip the pneumo conjugate for sure. (They add new shots all the time; this wasn't even around 6 years ago, when my kids were still getting their shots.)

And, yes, one of my three children got autism, but that's another long story. He's almost better, but it was about a 4-yr. nightmare, and yes, he still has some "issues." We were one of the lucky ones; some kids don't recover completely.

Please write back to let us know what you decide.

Many, many parents are confused today; what you do will encourage others to inform and empower themselves.

Terri Lewis



From a parental standpoint the present schedule presents with a 1 in 6 chance of a neurological disorder and a 1 in 150 chance for autism. Those are not good odds. A child's immune system is not equipped to handle so much at once. I would definitely wait and probably give only the 1970s schedule duly split up into single vaccines and very well spaced out (more than 6 months and possibly upto a year apart). Also read the insert to make sure there is no thimerosal.

Eliminate the useless vaccines that will not kill you or permanently maim your for life like the Hep B and the chickenpox. I am sure there are others. Never ever give a combo vaccine like the DTaP (the pertussis has a terrible record) and never EVER give the MMR as it confuses the immune system (see Dr. Andrew Wakefield's and Dr. Arthur Krigsman's reports on it). Your doc can order single vaccines in a set of 10 from the manufacturer.

Finally, a plain sheet of vaccine adverse effects is not enough, ask your doctor to correlate the vaccine risks to your family's individual medical history. If the pediatrician is unable to do this for whatever reason, I would refuse the shots altogether. Ultimately you are the parent, the child and his future is your responsibility, and YOU have the RIGHT to make that decision. IF your child is struck by autism, the doctor will probably just shrug his shoulders and drop you like a hot potato so it is ultimately upto YOU, the parent, to look out for your family. The risks of over-vaccinating are definitely not worth it.

Linsey Camp

My son is now almost 4 months old and will be going for shots on the 26th of march the shots they will be giving him are DTP-IPV HIb and Pneumo conjugate. I have been reading so much about the autism it is making my head spin. SHOULD I GIVE HIM THESE SHOUTS OR WAIT??????

I will be waiting to give himm the MMR untill after the age of 2 or 3.

Mary Jo Silva

Hi Dan, Carmen's mom here. case # 88924. You are right that Carmen received the MMR/Hep B on the same day. She also received the OPV that day. I don't know if it is acceptable to do MMR & OPV on the same day. Seems at the time (1994) MMR was given 15-18 months. For some reason Carmen received MMR at 12 months. Also seems back then docs were saying autistic regression was typically around 18 months to 2 years. Carmen regressed around 13 - 14 months. Seems there is a pattern there.


I have a question. This is just out of my own curiosity. I am just wondering how many children who have autism were also formula fed babies. I completely understand the vaccination concern. I agree it is valid. I have seen a lot of research on that subject. I have also seen that some batches of formula have had high levels of pesticide and other chemicals found in them. I was just thinking that since autism didn't occur to all of the children who received vaccinations that maybe it was a combination of bad-batch formula or formula in general, and vaccines. No one has even attempted research on that subject, or at least I haven't found even one article. Like I was saying, I'm just curious on your thoughts. I'm sure that you know much more than me. I would just like to know more.


Great article Dan. I have some questions for those who are 'studying' the MMR and still say it is safe. Why don't you study the colon biopsies? Why aren't you looking for vaccine strain measles RNA? Why aren't you studying the CSF for vaccine straine measles RNA? How come it has become a controversy for labs to test for measles RNA? And what does Merck have to say about the vaccine strain measles RNA found in the colon tissue, and CSF of children who regressed into autism following the MMR? Why were children in the MMR drug trials only tested until the 6 week period following vaccination? Is it because then the bowel and neurological events would not be included as adverse events? One last question: Why was there only one child in the study from the UK who had GI problems when the subset of children in question who regress following the MMR vaccination have significant GI problems?

Sandy Gottstein

It just kills me when they say "these studies have significant weaknesses and are far outweighed by epidemiological studies" when the studies they cite are poorly designed, with no control group. In fact, I can't help but believe at this point that they are poorly designed by design. Especially when they continually find inexcusable excuses not to study the never-vaccinated.

Dan Olmsted

Sandy, Thanks for these very useful citations. It reminds me of what Andy Wakefield said after meeting with some of the parents I interviewed in Olympia, Wash., for the Pox series. It's worth repeating his comments which were almost more in sorrow than in anger:

"It's actually heartbreaking, listening to these parents, because you're staring into an abyss," Wakefield said afterwards. "You're listening to stories which reflect the fundamental misconception of vaccine manufacturers of what viruses are and what they do. The whole perception of these people is dangerously naïve."

In contrast to the United States, British health authorities have not recommended chickenpox immunization. But an MMR-chickenpox shot was under discussion there at one point, and Wakefield said he warned its developers that putting four live viruses in one shot was a bad idea.

He says the Olympia cases show why.

"As far as I'm concerned, you are further increasing the likelihood of persistent infection and delayed disease, which they are never looking for and therefore they will never find if it does occur, as it did clearly in a relatively short space of time with some of these children, and it's never ascribed to an adverse reaction to the vaccine."

On its Web site, the CDC says such concerns -- and Wakefield's studies in particular -- are not based on good science.

"Current scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that MMR vaccine, or any combination of vaccines, causes the development of autism, including regressive forms of autism," the CDC says.

"The existing studies that suggest a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism have generated media attention. However, these studies have significant weaknesses and are far outweighed by epidemiological studies ... that have consistently failed to show a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism."

Dr. Jeff Bradstreet, a family practitioner in Florida who treats 3,000 autistic children and has worked with Wakefield, said he believes the risk of autism rises the earlier and closer together that live-virus vaccines are administered. He warned the Institute of Medicine in 2004 that it was ignoring the possibility that younger children are more vulnerable because their immune and neurological systems are immature.

"There's definitely been an association of kids getting MMR at 12 months and crashing (becoming autistic)," Bradstreet said.

Sandy Gottstein

I have mentioned this study elsewhere on "Age of Autism", but I think it bears repeating here. One of the most important studies I have ever seen, which I reported to the IOM in 1993, appeared in Science. It was found that when two 100% harmless herpes viruses were injected into the footpads of mice, the viruses recombined to form a lethal virus that killed 62% of the mice! That's harmless viruses. None of the viruses for which there are vaccines are considered harmless - if they were, there wouldn't (or shouldn't) be a vaccine for them. Now they can preach high and low that the antigens merely "trick" the body and are of little to no consequence, without harmful effects. They can't know that, however, without comparing the vaccinated to the never-vaccinated. But even if they are right about that, it says nothing about the harm that might come from having all these circulating, likely unresolved diseases in the body. (I say unresolved because you don't get the disease and then get over it. Another VERY important study (which I also reported to the IOM in 1993) in Lancet found that people who had measles without rash had serious disease as adults when compared to those who had measles with rash. And might not measles vaccine protection be measles without rash?) And it says even less than nothing about their ability to recombine and form other more dangerous diseases.

The abstracts for the two studies follow:
1: Science. 1986 Nov 7;234(4777):746-8. Links
Two avirulent herpes simplex viruses generate lethal recombinants in vivo.Javier RT, Sedarati F, Stevens JG.
While it is widely appreciated that infection with a virulent virus can produce disease in an animal, the ability of a mixture of avirulent viruses to produce disease by means of complementation or recombination in vivo has not been established. In this study, two weakly neuroinvasive herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) strains were simultaneously inoculated onto the footpads of mice. Many (62%) of the animals that received a 1:1 mixture of the viruses died, whereas the animals that received a similar or 100-fold higher dose of each agent alone survived. Of fourteen viruses isolated from the brains of ten mice that died after receiving the mixture of the two weakly neuroinvasive viruses, eleven were recombinants; three of these recombinants were lethal when reapplied to the footpads of mice. These results show that two avirulent HSV-1 variants may interact in vivo to produce virulent recombinants and a lethal infection. They also suggest that different genetic lesions account for the weakly neuroinvasive character of the HSV-1 strains ANG and KOS after footpad inoculation.

PMID: 3022376 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

1: Lancet. 1985 Jan 5;1(8419):1-5.Links
Measles virus infection without rash in childhood is related to disease in adult life.Rønne T.
The presence of measles specific antibodies is usually taken as evidence of typical measles in the past; in the present study it was regarded as evidence of infection with measles virus, but not necessarily of the common disease accompanied by a typical rash. The association between a negative history of measles in childhood and certain diseases later in life was investigated by a historical prospective method, based on school health records combined with self-reporting in adulthood, and tests for specific IgG measles antibody. There was evidence of association between a negative history of measles, exposure in early life (possibly injection of immune serum globulin after exposure), and development of immunoreactive diseases, sebaceous skin diseases, degenerative diseases of bone and cartilage, and certain tumours. It is suggested that the presence of measles virus specific antibodies at the time of acute infection interferes with development of specific cytolytic reactions, and enables intracellular measles virus to survive the acute infection. If this hypothesis is verified, use of immune serum globulin after measles exposure has to be of immune serum globulin after measles exposure has to be reconsidered.

PMID: 2856946 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Kelli Ann Davis

It hurt to read this article.

It’s hard to face the “what if’s” when it comes to thinking about the past and what could have been with my son -- a tragedy.

But, it would be even harder if I had to face the “what ifs” as another child joined our ranks and I had done nothing to help sound the alarm -- a double tragedy.

Jane Johnson

I was very pleased to see Dr. Hewitt's letter published in the Guardian--finally acknowledgment that the new MMR study isn't particularly relevant to the Wakefield study:

"Questions of science and conscience"

Your leader (February 5) appeals to Popper's hallmark of scientific validity, that a theory stands until overtaken by a new theory that better addresses the relevant facts. In Dr Andrew Wakefield's case the relevant facts were measles in the gut of autistic children, but rarely in control children. Recent epidemiological studies that failed to find a link between MMR and autism, when comparing for example the prevalence of autism among vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations, were not looking at biological data, but at a different set of facts to Wakefield.

The new study you report finds no link when comparing peripheral blood samples of 98 autistic and 142 non-autistic children. But how can Popper's test of validity apply if the study looks at blood and not bowel samples? All sides agree on the importance of settling the issue of an association between MMR and autism. But in the 10 years since Wakefield's first paper, new science has failed to address the facts found. Instead we have three conflicting types of theory: epidemiological, biological blood and biological bowel (not to mention genetics).
There has been much talk of Wakefield's discredited research, but on Popper's test his findings stand until overthrown by studies that invalidate them, such as replication studies that negate or support the presence of measles virus in the gut of autistic children. It is too early to assert that fears about MMR safety are groundless. Attempts to foreclose further scientific research could not be further from the spirit of openness in scientific inquiry that Popper also encouraged.

Dr Martin Hewitt


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