First published 25 June 2012, updated on 2 March 2015.
Here we go again with the trope that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The Daily Mail, a British middle market tabloid, has published an article, MMR: A mother’s victory: The vast majority of doctors say there is no link between the triple jab and autism, but could an Italian court case reignite this controversial debate?, that is attempting to create a controversy out of thin air about the MMR vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella. The article is referring to an insane Italian court ruling which, despite all evidence to the contrary, blamed a child’s autism on the vaccination.
Update–in February 2015, an Italian Court of Appeals overturns the decision by the Provincial Court, so the vaccine denier claim that “Italian courts state that vaccines cause autism” can be dismissed. Mostly.
Because the anti-vaccination lunacy lacks any substantial support for their various tropes about vaccines causing any number of things, including autism, it’s important to be perfectly clear:
- The Cochrane Reviews state that MMR vaccine does not cause autism.
- There is no scientific or medical controversy about this conclusion.
- Medical and scientific experts agree.
- It lead to a public health crisis based on a fraud.
- Well constructed epidemiological studies also showed no link between MMR vaccine and autism in Denmark, England, Japan, Japan, Japan, Poland, and the United States.
- Mr. Andy Wakefield‘s paper alleging a connection between MMR and autism has been retracted by the Lancet.
- Despite claims that Wakefield’s findings were reproduced, not one single peer-reviewed paper ever supported the Wakefield’s claims.
- Numerous studies actually invalidate his claim.
- The Autism Omnibus trials has rejected all three test cases and subsequent appeals claiming that vaccines cause autism.
- In October 2004, a meta review, financed by the European Union, was published in the October 2004 edition of Vaccine and assessed the evidence given in 120 other studies and considered unintended effects of the MMR vaccine. The authors concluded that “exposure to MMR is unlikely to be associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autism or aseptic meningitis.”
- In February 2005, a study compared autism in Japan before and after the 1993 withdrawal of the MMR vaccine and concluded that “MMR vaccination is most unlikely to be a main cause of ASD, that it cannot explain the rise over time in the incidence of ASD (autism spectrum disorder), and that withdrawal of MMR in countries where it is still being used cannot be expected to lead to a reduction in the incidence of ASD.”
- In October 2005, the Cochrane Library published a review of 31 scientific studies, and concluded that, “Exposure to MMR was unlikely to be associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autism or aseptic meningitis.”
- A 2007 review of independent studies, performed after the publication of Wakefield’s fraudulent article, found that evidence did not support a causal association between vaccines and autism.
- A 2009 review of studies on links between vaccines and autism concludes that “twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism. These studies have been performed in several countries by many different investigators who have employed a multitude of epidemiologic and statistical methods.” They also stated that the large size of these studies would have identified even minor correlations, and even then nothing was found.
- Over 115 studies, published in high impact journals, have definitively dismissed any causal or correlative link between vaccines and autism.
Despite this list that completely debunks any link, why on earth would the Italian court decide that the MMR vaccine causes autism? Well, courts are not infallible, so they occasionally make errors. The provincial Italian court of jurisdiction, approximately at the level of a US state district court, can be appealed, which is ongoing. Apparently, the Italian Health Ministry didn’t present the list of information to the courts that I just did above–maybe they thought that the lawsuit didn’t require a lot of effort.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Luca Ventaloro, is a well known Italian anti-vaccine advocate who provides legal advice on how to avoid compulsory vaccinations. The physician used as an “expert witness” by the plaintiffs, Massimo Montinari, has not authored any biomedical research papers on autism, MMR or vaccines; however, he did author the book “Autismo: i vaccini fra le cause della malattia” and sells his own autism “cure” protocol.
Despite the Daily Mail’s efforts to the contrary, a minor Italian court, making a decision without all the facts, does not outweigh the “vast majority” of research that totally disproves any link between MMR vaccines and autism. And trying to make it so by manufacturing a controversy still does not change the evidence, the conclusions, and the science.
The motives of the Daily Mail article, and the author, Sue Reid, is critical to understanding what was written. Apparently, Reid is vaccine denialist of the highest order, along with being an awful medical writer. Bad journalism, along with pushing an anti-vaccine agenda, will never supplant good science.
Once again, MMR vaccines do not cause autism. Wishing it so does not make it so.
Vaccines save lives.
Liberally quoted, borrowed and stolen from: Just the Vax: Sue Reid propagates MMR Manufactuversy in the Daily Mail.