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MMR Vaccination and Autism Revisited in 2016

Note:  As always, thank you to Dr. Yazbak - and to Vaccination News for allowing us to excerpt this post.  Please bookmark their site and visit often.

By F Edward Yazbak MD

Many parents have suspected that their previously normal children regressed and were later diagnosed with autism following Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) a joint effort of HHS, the Department of Justice and the US Court of Federal Claims (CFC) has been operational since October 1988 in order to compensate vaccine injured individuals.

The first MMR related autism case was filed with VICP in 2001.

When the number of cases exploded in a short time, the Chief Special Master of the Vaccine Court created the Omnibus Autism Proceeding to adjudicate the expected flood of cases (5,600 by January 2011.)

A PubMed search revealed the listing of multiple publications on MMR vaccination and autism after 1998. Those reports, many by European authors, were mostly published in British medical journals.

Experts from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always denied any causal relationship between the triple live virus vaccine and autistic regression, fearing that any mention of such relationship might lead to lower vaccination rates and the return of measles to the United States, after it had been eradicated.  

F. DeStefano MD, MPH authored or co-authored most of the CDC publications on the subject. In 2001, the year the first MMR –Autism case was filed with VICP, Dr. DeStefano and R T Chen MD published "Autism and measles-mumps-rubella vaccination: controversy laid to rest?”, casually stating that “the weight of the available epidemiological and related evidence does not support a causal association between MMR vaccine, or any other vaccine or vaccine constituent, and autism.”

In 2002,  Dr. DeStefano and W.W. Thompson PhD of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities published an Editorial: “MMR vaccination and autism: is there a link?” in Volume I Issue 2 of Expert Opinion on Drug Safety 

The detailed and well researched publication is certainly worth reading. It listed 32 references but mostly stressed the importance of a particular 1999 publication by Taylor et al (Reference 14) that Drs. DeStefano and Thompson described in the reference table, as “The most scientifically rigorous epidemiological study of a possible association between MMR vaccine and autism. No association was found.”

Under “3- Epidemiological studies of MMR and autism”, DeStefano and Thompson referred again to the Taylor et al Study as “The most scientifically rigorous study to date” and under “5- Causality assessment”, the CDC authors lauded Taylor’s research as “the only population based epidemiological study that has been able to calculate relative risks and no association was found between MMR vaccine and development of autism.”

I certainly respect the right of Drs. DeStefano and Thompson to be impressed by the June 1999 Lancet publication by TaylorFarrington, PetropoulosFavot-MayaudLi and Waight titled “Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association.”

Read the full article at Vaccination News.


Interesting Times

Taylor 1999

"There was a steady increase in cases by year of birth with no sudden "step-up" or change in the trend line after the introduction of MMR vaccination."

Taylor 2013

"Combined, the results in this 20-year population-based UK resource, provide compelling evidence that a major rise in incidence rates of autism, recorded in general practice, occurred in the decade of the 1990s but reached a plateau shortly after 2000 and has remained steady through 2010."

"found that cumulative incidence rates increased some fivefold from an estimate of 6 per 10 000 in boys born in 1988 to 30 per 10 000 in those born in 1993."

"Conclusions Following a fivefold increase in the annual incidence rates of autism during the 1990s in the UK, the incidence and prevalence rates in 8-year-old children reached a plateau in the early 2000s and remained steady through 2010."

Of course the fuzzy logic - "At the same time MMR vaccination was given to over 90% of young children ruling out an association between the vaccine and the dramatic increase in rates.14"

MMR introduced 1988 followed by an immediate 5 fold increase in autism - then after a decade we find a plateau just as would be expected by a environmental exposure working in conjunction with at risk children.

Of course skeptics can point me in another logical and scientifically and biologically plausible answer ?

John Stone


To clarify, the study itself is availble for consultation:

But we are up against the perennial problem that there is no means of cross-checking its data even for professionals.

I also don't think that even the published data rules out the possible influence of MMR - among confounders are increased uptake of measles and pertussis vaccine in the early mid 80s, MMR catch up for older children, accelerated DPT schedule in 1990, addition of HiB in 1992. If you were arguing (which no one did) that MMR was solely responsible for autism, then it is a refutation- otherwise not (a straw man).



Under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK are we able to access the Brent Taylor study. Thanks for all your hard work it is very much appreciated.

Elizabeth Hart

One of my near relatives is a 15 month old boy. When he is 18 months he will be compelled to have the MMRV, (on top of the MMR (plus Hib-MenC) at 12 months).

He will also be compelled to have another dose of the defective diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccine, (on top of the three already given in the first 12 months, along with all the other vaxes and revaxes).

Like many parents, his parents are likely to do as they are told by their doctor, with the coercion of the No Jab, No Pay law enacted by the Australian Federal Government.

In regards to the MMR, I have been arguing since June 2012 that parents should be offered the option of an antibody titre test (i.e. a blood test) before the second dose of live MMR vaccine, but nobody has supported me on this, neither pro-vax, nor 'pro-choice'. So the upshot is millions and millions of children around the world continue to be forced to have the arbitrary second shot of live MMR vaccine.

I have raised this matter with a previous Australian health minster, Tanya Plibersek; with the previous chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, Terry Nolan; with the world's foremost vaccine promoter, Paul Offit; with the president of the US National Vaccine Information Centre, Barbara Loe Fisher; with Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the US Dept of Health and Human Services; with joint Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty; with the previous President of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton; with the former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott; with the former Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson; with the chair of the NHMRC ethics committee, Ian Olver; with former CEO of the NHMRC, Warwick Anderson; and others. (My webpage re MMR correspondence provides links to many of my detailed letters: )

I wonder if this lack of properly informing people of their options before vaccination could be described as negligence?

Certainly it is frustrating to me that nobody has taken action on this over the nearly four years I have attempted to raise this matter.

While I will persevere, it looks like it will be too late for my young relative, he'll no doubt get the MMRV and dtap at 18 months, fingers crossed there are no adverse reactions.

Gary Ogden

There are few greater examples of the production and use of pseudoscience to prop up policy than that of the CDC. One of my favorite moments in 2015 (the year of infamy here in California) was RFK, Jr. publically calling Frank DeStefano a criminal, and inviting him to sue for defamation, knowing full-well that truth is an absolute defense against defamation. DeStefano's five months of silence are telling.


Meanwhile, I love how the research on autophagy continues to impress. Here's one about a newly found mechanism that may underlie how virus contribute to cancer, and we all understand the overlap between immune system disfunction in cancer, and immune system disfunction in autism. I can think of a few other chronic illnesses that could eventually benefit from such forward-pressing information.

John Stone

Yes, they had many issues: the PHLS was closely tied to the pharmaceutical industry and the help of manufacturers is acknowledged in some. I believe Taylor himself was coopted to the JCVI at the time of the later papers (several published in ADC) and so had responsibility for policy, a fact which was not disclosed.

Ed Yazbak

Thank you John

I wish The Cochrane Review had remained as critical and strict as it used to be in 2005 and earlier.

All of Taylor's articles had issues. I believe that some were only published because they were anti- Wakefield.

What we saw in the last few years seemed more of a lynching than an honest scientific debate.

At one time, some of Andy's opponents seemed to be coming out of the woodwork

John Stone


Thank you for returning to this.

It is interesting to note what the Cochrane Review of MMR safety said about some of these papers in 2005:

“The study demonstrates the difficulties of drawing inferences in the absence of a non-exposed population or a clearly defined causal hypothesis”. (Re: Taylor 1999)

"The follow up of diagnostic records ends one year (31 Dec 1999) after the last day of admission to the cohort. Because of the length of time from birth to diagnosis, it becomes increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohort could have a diagnosis"(Re: Madsen 2002)

“The conclusion, however, implied bias in the enrollment of cases which may not be representative of the rest of the autistic population of the city of Atlanta, USA where the study was set.” (Re: DeStefano 2004)

One could only conclude that if "the design and reporting in safety studies is inadequate" as Cochrane stated then these were very inadequate indeed. The twist of course was that Cochrane advised that the policy should continue despite this failure. Meanwhile, the so-called "plain language summary" which didn't seem to be based on the main review at all stated:

"Low risk of bias evidence did not support a causal association with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or autism."

In fact none of these studies was rated by the main review as being of "low risk of bias" and it is not clear which studies are being cited (they definitely weren't in the review). The evidence of negligence is there before your very eyes and then whisked away.

As to the Taylor paper, there is much about it which is questionable: not least how they accessed the data in the first place. But GP records - which perhaps should have been confidential - would be a very inadequate way of gathering systematic data. How could you for instance verify the absence of an event based on the fact that it was not reported? Mostly, I suspect that GPs routinely take adverse vaccine events for granted and don't bother to write them down (just one example). Taylor et al were simply able apparently to access data and claim that it supported their views as vaccine schedule proponents, without it ever having to be subject to scrutiny.

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