Last week, yet another study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) further discredited a link previously claimed between the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in children. This time, the funding for the research came from a US-based organisation involved in the anti-vaccination movement. The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, the University of Washington, the Johnson Center for Child Health & Development and other research institutions.
The investigation consisted of a full-size study conducted between 2008 and 2014 with the aim of assessing behavioural and brain changes of 79 baby macaques administered a standard course of childhood vaccines. The results, proving no behavioural changes, confirmed the absence of a link both between the MMR vaccine as well as thimerosal (now removed from most vaccines since the last 1990s) and autism.
The study further adds to the existing body of evidence debunking the myth of the MMR vaccine causing autism. The controversy started back in 1998 after the widely reported publication of a fraudulent research paper authored by Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet medical journal. Mr. Wakefield has now been struck off the UK Medical Register.
Despite a decade worth of research in the area proving to evidence to the link with autism, parents often still refuse to vaccinate their children against MMR. The WHO office for Europe recently reported on how failure to vaccinate against measles comes at a significant cost in health and economic terms for children, their families, as well as societies. The Europe Region is still far from achieving the European Vaccine Action Plan targets, which originally set to eliminate the transmission of measles and rubella by 2015.