There is no link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) and the development of autism, according to a new, large study out of Denmark.
In the study, researchers followed more than 650,000 children, collecting data from all children born in the country between 1999 and 2010.
The results don't come as a surprise to the Neely family, which has one big question that can't be answered.
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“I’ve gone down all sorts of roads into what could have caused Koji’s autism,” Justine Neely said of her son.
This includes whether or not it was the MMR vaccine that Koji and his older sister Rose, who isn’t autistic, both got.
“I mean you have to wonder when people talk,” Neely said. “But the evidence is just not there.”
The family moved on quickly from the vaccine/autism theory, but not all parents do.
“On a daily basis, I end up having a conversation about vaccines,” said Dr. Ann Neumeyer, with the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The vaccines are typically given around 15 months or 18 months and that’s when autism is often first noticed.”
While Dr. Neumeyer understands why some parents don’t believe studies because of the emotions and timing involved, she says studies show the timing is just coincidence, which is why it's important for parents to look at the data.
In the Danish study, when researchers compared those who received the MMR vaccinations to those who didn't, the numbers showed no link between the vaccine and the development of autism.
For the first time, this study also dug deeper and found no increased risk for autism in children who have a sibling with autism or any link for those who got other childhood vaccinations or during certain time periods after getting the vaccine.
“The more you can learn, the more you can educate people,” Dr. Neumeyer said. “People might start to increase their vaccinations.”
Koji’s parents know the MMR vaccine is keeping their children safe and they are learning to live with their unanswered question.
The American Academy of Pediatrics sent letters to the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Pinterest requesting a meeting to discuss ways to combat the spread of vaccine misinformation online, especially given there have been six outbreaks of measles already this year.