Manufacturing a controversy about the MMR vaccine

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:

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.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2012. It has been completely revised and updated to include more comprehensive information, to improve readability and to add current research.