A group of London doctors have discredited a study that hinted at a possible connection between the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) and Autism published by Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield in 1998.
Dr Wakefield’s published study had triggered a wave of debate and research on the actual cause of the childhood disorder. His conclusions were drawn from the results of tests conducted on 12 children.
It stated that Thimerasol, the mercury-based component once used as a preservative in the vaccine, was a suspected link to autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study drew much criticism from doctors, medical scientists, and greater speculation from the public, especially, parents of children diagnosed with the mental disorder. Now conclusive results have trashed that theory.
Last year, a team of researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London compared the differences in the responses to the MMR jab to see if there were any abnormal responses that could have triggered autism. Tests were carried out on 240 children between age 10 and 12. Three groups-children with autism, those without and children with special educational needs, had their antibody levels increased and their blood samples analysed.
After numerous tests, Dr. David Brown said they found no evidence indicating that MMR caused autism.
The Centers for Disease Control had also disputed Wakefield’s study stating that there was no scientific evidence to support his conjecture and that the MMR vaccine was completely safe. It stressed that the vaccine was developed to protect children from many fatal viral infections including measles-mumps-rubella, commonly known as German measles
Consequently, in-depth experiments by medical experts at the United Kingdom National Health Service, Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences have also established no connection between autism and the MMR vaccine.
In spite of assurances from medical experts that MMR vaccine was no threat to children’s health, the FDA ordered that an alternative to thimerasol, that was mercury and aluminum free, replace the bases. By 2015, thimerasol was eliminated from all vaccines and medicines.
And by 2012, ten of the 13 authors who had helped compile the initial Wakefield study which cited a possible link between thimerasol and autism, released a joint statement withdrawing from its conclusion.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been appearing at various scheduled dates before the General Medical Council on charges relating to the study. The hearing continues.
Each time the debate waned, and a new case surfaced, an irate parent hungry to cast blame pointed at the MMR as the cause. Frankly, no one knows what causes autism and it may not be known for a long time yet.
To date opinions continue to be at odds on the cause of autism and its connection to the MMR vaccine. Although no further study supported the Wakefield theory, some parents continue to refuse to allow their children to take the MMR vaccine placing their health at greater risk. The vaccine given before a child turns two years old, is to combat measles, mumps and rubella.
Autism was first cited as a mental health disorder in the third edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published in 1980. Doctors and health care professionals used it as a guide and followed the five categories listed in this medical “bible,” to diagnose children with the symptoms.
ASD can be diagnosed as autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger syndrome, Rhett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder.