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Several studies have looked at whether there is a relationship between vaccines and autism. The weight of the evidence indicates that vaccines are not associated with autism.

Groups of experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that MMR vaccine is not responsible for recent increases in the number of children with autism. In 2004, a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that there is no association between autism and MMR vaccine, or vaccines that contain thimerosal as a preservative. There is also no published scientific evidence showing that there is any benefit to separating the combination MMR vaccine into three individual shots.

Timeline of Controversy
In 1998, a study of autistic children raised the question of a connection between MMR vaccine and autism. The 1998 study has a number of limitations. For example, the study was very small, involving only 12 children.

This is too few cases to make any generalizations about the causes of autism. In addition, the researchers suggested that MMR vaccination caused bowel problems in the children, which then led to autism. However, in some of the children studied, symptoms of autism appeared before symptoms of bowel disease.

In 2004, 10 of the 13 authors of the 1998 study retracted the study's interpretation. The authors stated that the data were not able to establish a causal link between MMR vaccine and autism.

Other larger studies have found no relationship between MMR vaccine and autism. For example, researchers in the UK studied the records of 498 children with autism born between 1979 and 1998. They found:

* The percentage of children with autism who received MMR vaccine was the same as the percentage of unaffected children in the region who received MMR vaccine.

* There was no difference in the age of diagnosis of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

* The onset of "regressive" symptoms of autism did not occur within 2, 4, or 6 months of receiving the MMR vaccine.

The above text is from the CDC.

What are Federal Agencies doing related to vaccines and ASDs?

Institue of Medicine Report
In 2000, CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to put together an independent expert committee (the Immunization Safety Review Committee) to review evidence about whether vaccines cause certain health problems and to report their findings and recommendations. The committee studied evidence about 1) the theory that MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine causes autism and 2) the theory that vaccines with the preservative thimerosal cause neurodevelopment disorders, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and speech or language delay. To read the IOM report, click here.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
The NICHD has a website about autism and vaccines, which includes research being done by NIH. You can get more information about autism and autism research related to vaccines by calling the NICHD clearinghouse at 1-800-370-2943.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
The NIAID funds thimerosal research to better understand what happens to thimerosal once it enters the body and how this compares with current knowledge of methyl mercury pathways.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA's website provides a thorough discussion of thimerosal in vaccines, along with frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you find the information you need quickly.

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