There’s a question that has reverberated through the last two decades. From a terrified shriek in the early 2000s, to an angry murmur in the following ten years, to the growing calumny it is today, the question has been debated high and low, and studied far and wide.
It goes a little like this: do vaccines cause autism?
Now, we know the answer to this question: it is an emphatic no. There have been studies involving literally millions of children that have failed to find any evidence of an autism-vaccine link. Since 1996 when the question was first raised, to today more than two decades later, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of studies dedicated to finding even the tiniest increased rate of autism due to vaccines.
They have found nothing. Zip. Nada. The best evidence we have — and it is very, very good — indicates that vaccines don’t cause autism.
And yet, people are still terrified of a link, to the point that vaccine hesitancy/refusal has become a serious concern for the World Health Organisation and is causing measles to reappear all over the world.
Which brings us to the latest study.
Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism
The newest piece of research is a very large study looking at whether the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism in children in Denmark from 1999 and 2010. Basically, the researchers took Danish children who had the MMR vaccine, and children who didn’t, and compared their risk of later being diagnosed with autism after adjusting for factors like social status and gender.
And when I say “Danish children”, I mean all of them. This study was a spectacular example of what you can do when you have linked data in healthcare — the researchers were able to access the records of every child born in Denmark between 1999 and 2010, which gave them 660,000 people in the study, as well as every single case of autism that was diagnosed in this period.