Azara Blog: Mercury-based vaccines and MMR allegedly not linked to autism

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Date published: 2006/07/05

The BBC says:

Mercury-based vaccines and MMR jabs do not lead to an increased risk of autism, a Canadian study says.

McGill University Health Centre looked at patterns between the development disorder and jabs in 28,000 children, the Pediatrics journal reported.

They found autism rates were higher in children given jabs after thimerosal was eliminated from vaccines and after MMR vaccination coverage decreased.

Experts said research was now needed to explain why autism was more common.

Concerns were raised in the late 1990s that the MMR jab may be linked autism as the three-in-one vaccine was said to overload the immune system.

The 1998 research has since been discredited, but immunisation rates have dropped in recent years.

Meanwhile, thimerosal, traditionally used as a preservative in vaccines, has been gradually phased out of use after being linked to autism.

This has come at a time when autism rates have been rising across the world.

Before the 1980s, one in 2,500 children was diagnosed as autistic, a developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and interacts with others. Now the figure is closer to one in 250.
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, an autism expert at Cambridge University, said research was needed to pin down why there has been a rise in autism.

He said there was many likely factors but an "explanation" was needed.

"There may also be some as yet unidentified environmental factor, but the new study suggests MMR and thimerosal are ruled out."

The first paragraph of the article is misleading, as is made clear in the third paragraph. This study not only found that these alleged factors did not lead to an increased risk, but quite the opposite was true. Of course this is only one study. And the people who promoted these fears in the first place will never back down. So this is not the end of the story. And perhaps one "explanation" as to why so much more autism is diagnosed is because it is now more widely looked for, and a whole industry has built up around it. It's certainly much better for a child to be labelled as "autistic" rather than just "anti-social". And Baron-Cohen himself recently suggested that the "explanation" might be that people who could pass on "autism genes" were more likely to marry these days (which seems not that believable, the way most people meet is not that different these days).

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