No Link Found Between Autism and Measles, Mumps Rubella Vaccine

There has been much public concern regarding MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine since 1998, when measles virus was found in bowel tissue of children with autism. According to the results of over 20 epidemiologic studies, there is no link between the vaccine and autism.

Scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Center for Infection and Immunity, and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Trinity College Dublin, examined bowel tissue from 25 children with autism spectrum disorder, and gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Thirteen children with GI disorders only were included. The researchers performed biopsies to identify the presence of measles virus (MV) RNA. Three separate laboratories were used to analyze the tissue, including the lab that originally reported the link between measles vaccine and autism. The results found the presence of measles virus RNA in one boy with autism, and one without autism.

Co-corresponding author of the study, Mady Hornig, associate professor of Epidemiology and director of translational research in the Center for Infection and Immunity in the Mailman School reports, "Our results are inconsistent with a causal role for MMR vaccine as a trigger or exacerbator of either GI difficulties or autism. The work reported here eliminates the remaining support for the hypothesis that autism with GI complaints is related to MMR vaccine exposure. We found no relationship between the timing of MMR vaccine and the onset of either GI complaints or autism."

In addition, the timing of GI complaints, autism, and measles vaccine was investigated. Five of the 24 subjects had received MMR vaccine before the onset of GI symptoms. They also had GI complaints before the onset of autism.

Corresponding author W. Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Mailman School's Center for Infection and Immunity says, "Over 20 epidemiologic studies have reported no temporal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism, however, no published studies from other research groups have addressed whether measles virus RNA is present in bowel of autistic children with GI disturbances. Here we report results of independent, blinded testing in this particular subgroup for the presence of measles virus RNA in bowel tissues."

The authors write, “This study provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent MV (measles virus) RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure. The study results should help parents when making decisions regarding childhood vaccine programs.

Source: Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study