Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism, Science Panel Says

Times Staff Writer

A special panel of the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that vaccines do not cause autism and urged scientists to turn to other avenues of research in an effort to understand the reasons for the increased incidence of the devastating disability.

Several well-designed studies have provided “overwhelming evidence” that neither the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine nor the thimerosal preservatives used in some vaccines are associated with autism, said the committee’s chair, Dr. Marie McCormick of the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Most cases of autism result from events during the prenatal period or shortly after birth,” and those should be the focus of future efforts, she said.


The new report failed to sway parents’ groups that believed vaccination had harmed their children.

Many of the groups charge that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the vaccine industry are covering up evidence of potential harm from the vaccines.

The panel, however, said that 14 large studies have failed to find any links between the MMR vaccine and autism. Another five major studies found no link between thimerosal and the disorder.

Autism is developmental disability caused by a brain abnormality in which children seem isolated from the world around them.