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          "Healing Autism: No Finer a Cause on the Planet"
December 2, 2000

Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
Current Scientific Data Do Not Support Causal Association Between Autism and
the MMR Vaccine

      [From the American Medical Association, Physicians Dedicated to the
Health of America. By L.J Tan, PhD, Senior Scientist.]

    *  CBS "60 Minutes" features story on vaccination and its alleged link
to autism
    *  Scientific data does not support a causal association between
vaccination and autism
    *  Theoretical causes of autism rule out vaccination as a causal factor
    *  British Medical Research Council says NO evidence to Suggest a Causal
Link between MMR and Autism
    *  National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) States That Vaccines Are
Not Causally Associated With Autism
    *  Other Important Resources

      CBS "60 Minutes" Features Story On The MMR Vaccine And Its Alleged
Link To Autism
      The November 12, 2000 episode of CBS "60 Minutes" featured a story on
vaccination and its alleged link to autism. Scientific data does not support
a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Before the measles vaccine was
introduced, there may have been as many as 3-4 million cases of measles a
year, with 500 deaths. With the MMR vaccine, there are now less than 100
cases per year. Immunization is perhaps the most significant public health
story of this century, and the AMA remains committed to maintaining the
major public health benefits of vaccinations. The AMA believes that critical
public health decisions must be made on the basis of well-conducted
scientific research and established scientific fact, and not on anecdotal
case reports.
      In order to ensure the continued high safety standards of vaccination,
the Institute of Medicine, under contract from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is
developing a vaccine safety committee that will review this issue in the
coming months. The CDC itself is conducting another study to further examine
this alleged association of the MMR vaccine with autism, and England's
Medical Research Council is to fund one of the largest studies on the cause
of autism. Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) held a 2 day
meeting on the MMR vaccine and autism in June, but the final report on this
issue is not yet out.
      To better prepare health professionals to address this issue with
their patients, the AMA has designed this web site to discuss how currently
available scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines
cause autism. Immunization providers should be prepared to answer questions
that may arise following the airing of the "60 Minutes" program.

      Scientific Data Does Not Support a Causal Association Between
Vaccination and Autism
      To date, there have been no convincing scientific data that links any
vaccine to autism or any other kind of behavioral disorder. Wakefield and
co-workers published the only evidence that suggests a causal association
between vaccines and autism in the Lancet in 1998. Specifically, based on
data from 12 patients, Wakefield suggested that the measles/mumps/rubella
(MMR) vaccine may have been responsible for bowel problems that may lead to
a decreased absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients, which could have
then resulted in developmental disorders like autism. However, no scientific
analyses were presented to substantiate this claim, and factors such as
referral bias and the small sample size were not considered. Additionally,
the theory that autism in the 12 patients is caused by poor absorption of
nutrients is not supported by the study's own clinical data. At least 4 of
the 12 patients had behavioral problems prior to the onset of symptoms of
inflammatory bowel disease, the supposed mechanism for autism after the MMR
vaccination. Most significantly, a later publication from Wakefield's group
has shown that patients with inflammatory bowel disease were negative for
measles virus indicating that measles virus is not responsible for
inflammatory bowel disease.
      On the other hand, much scientific data exist to show no causal
association between the MMR vaccine and autism. A large study by Taylor and
coworkers also published in the Lancet in 1999 showed that while the number
of autism cases have been increasing in London, the increase was not
associated with the introduction of the MMR vaccine. The study also showed
that in autistic patients, vaccination did not result in earlier expression
of symptoms, and, most significantly, the incidence of autism was the same
in children who received the MMR vaccine when compared to children who did
not receive the vaccine. Thus, there is no causal association between the
MMR vaccine and autism. Additionally, studies also exist to indicate no
causal association between the diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine
and autism and in 1990 the Institute of Medicine has indicated that is no
evidence to demonstrate a causal relation between the DPT vaccine and

      The Theoretical Causes Of Autism Rule Out Vaccination As A Causal
      Autism is a chronic developmental disorder. Its main characteristics
are problems in social interaction, communication, and restrictive and
repetitive interests and activities. The causes of autism are unknown in
most cases. However, recent scientific studies indicate that autism may be a
genetically based disorder that occurs before birth. A working group
convened by the National Institutes of Health concluded in 1995 that autism
is a genetic condition. A recent article in the February 2000 issue of
Scientific American
http://www.sciam.com/2000/0200issue/0200quicksummary.html provides a nice
summary of these theories. This article concludes, "The causes of this
baffling and debilitating behavioral disorder may lie in early embryonic
development, when malfunctioning genes could produce subtle changes in the
structure of the brain stem." Thus, it is extremely unlikely, if not
impossible, that vaccination is a causal factor for autism.
      A recent study
l/science/health/050400hth-children-autism.html has implicated abnormally
high levels of four brain chemicals that help construct the basic
architecture of animal brains as potential markers in the blood of newborn
infants who later develop autism and mental retardation.  Another study
http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/unsm-spt112999.html has potentially
identified a possible gene on chromosome 13 that that may associated with
autism. Both these studies implicate a genetic basis for autism further
refuting the suggestion that vaccination may be a potential cause for

      The British Medical Research Council Concludes that there is NO
evidence to Suggest a Causal Link between MMR and Autism
      On April 3, 2000, an expert group of scientists and doctors, brought
together by the Medical Research Council (MRC) published a report
http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Autism_report.html which concludes that there is no new
evidence to suggest a causal link between MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
vaccination and autism or inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD).
      The group, chaired by Professor Alan McGregor of the GKT School of
Medicine at King's College, London, was set up following an ad hoc meeting
of experts in March 1998 to steer and monitor research into inflammatory
bowel disorders and autism. The group's main conclusions are:
      Between March 1998 and September 1999 there was no new evidence to
suggest a causal link between MMR and IBD/autism (confirming the earlier
view of the ad hoc group)
      Much remains unknown about inflammatory bowel disorders and autism and
more research in these areas is needed

      Other Medical and Advocacy Groups State Support for Universal
Immunization Programs
      On April 6, 2000, nine national nonprofit organizations issued a joint
statement http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/article/2223.html on the
importance of immunization to the prevention of vaccine-preventable
diseases. This statement was submitted to House Committee on Government
Reform in response to the April 6 hearing.
The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) States That Vaccines
Are Not Causally Associated With Autism
      The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) http://www.naar.org/,
the leading national organization dedicated to finding the causes,
prevention, effective treatment and, ultimately, cure of autism, published
in their Fall 1998 newsletter (the NAARRATIVE), an article titled "The ABCs
of MMRs and DTPs: Is there an association between vaccination and autism?"

This article http://www.naar.org/naarative3/MMRautism.html states, "...and
there has been little if any scientific evidence to substantiate an
association between vaccination and autism," and that "The lack of data to
support a connection between vaccine and autism makes sense given the
increasing body of information concerning when the neurobiological
differences associated with autism first occur. The preponderance of
evidence tells us that autism happens to our children before birth, not

      Committee on Government Reform April 6, 2000 Hearing on Autism
      On April 6, 2000, the Committee on Government Reform
http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/index.htm, chaired by Representative
Dan Burton, held a Hearing titled "Autism - Present Challenges, Future
Needs - Why the Increased Rates?" As part of this hearing, the Committee
obtained testimony
http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/index.htm on the
alleged causal association between vaccinations - in particular the
measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine - and autism.

      Other Resources on Autism and Vaccination
      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/ has a developed a new
"Vaccines and Autism" Web site that has many useful resources and up-to-date
information concerning autism, vaccinations, and the importance of
vaccinations to public health.
      National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the NIH
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/autism2.htm   has a web site
dedicated to addressing issues concerning the alleged link between autism
and vaccinations and highlights some recent research.
      The Allied Vaccine Group  http://www.vaccine.org/ has general
information on vaccine safety.
      The American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.aap.org/new/immpublic.htm#mmr has prepared material discussing
the alleged link between MMR vaccine and autism.
      The Institute for Vaccine Safety  http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/ of the
Johns Hopkins University has details on studies demonstrating the lack of
causality between the MMR vaccine and autism.
      The National Network for Immunization Information
http://www.immunizationinfo.org/ provides provide the public, health
professionals, policy makers, and the media with up-to-date, independent and
scientifically valid information related to immunization to help them
understand the issues and to make informed decisions.

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