April 23, 2015

Vaccination KeystrokeMMR vaccine – a recent study carried out on 95,000 children with autism, who have older siblings, found no link between the vaccine and increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The full press release of the study, posted on the Eureka Alert website can be read below.

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Press Release – In a study that included approximately 95,000 children with older siblings, receipt of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), regardless of whether older siblings had ASD, findings that indicate no harmful association between receipt of MMR vaccine and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD, according to a study in the April 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on child health.

Although a substantial body of research over the last 15 years has found no link between the MMR vaccine and ASD, parents and others continue to associate the vaccine with ASD. Surveys of parents who have children with ASD suggest that many believe the MMR vaccine was a contributing cause. This belief, combined with knowing that younger siblings of children with ASD are already at higher genetic risk for ASD compared with the general population, might prompt these parents to avoid vaccinating their younger children, according to background information in the article.

Anjali Jain, M.D., of the Lewin Group, Falls Church, Va., and colleagues examined ASD occurrence by MMR vaccine status in a large sample of U.S. children who have older siblings with and without ASD. The researchers used an administrative claims database associated with a large commercial health plan. Participants included children continuously enrolled in the health plan from birth to at least 5 years of age during 2001-2012 who also had an older sibling continuously enrolled for at least 6 months between 1997 and 2012.

Of the 95,727 children included in the study, 1,929 (2.01 percent) had an older sibling with ASD. Overall, 994 (1.04 percent) children in the cohort had ASD diagnosed during follow-up. Among those who had an older sibling with ASD, 134 (6.9 percent) were diagnosed with ASD, compared with 860 (0.9 percent) diagnosed with ASD among those with siblings without ASD. The MMR vaccination rate (l dose or more) for the children with unaffected siblings (siblings without ASD) was 84 percent (n = 78,564) at 2 years and 92 percent (n = 86,063) at age 5 years. In contrast, the MMR vaccination rates for children with older siblings with ASD were lower (73 percent at age 2 years and 86 percent at age 5 years). Analysis of the data indicated that MMR vaccine receipt was not associated with an increased risk of ASD at any age.

“Consistent with studies in other populations, we observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased ASD risk among privately insured children. We also found no evidence that receipt of either 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD among children who had older siblings with ASD. As the prevalence of diagnosed ASD increases, so does the number of children who have siblings diagnosed with ASD, a group of children who are particularly important as they were undervaccinated in our observations as well as in previous reports,” the authors write.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2015.3077; Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com)

Editor’s Note: This project was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, etc.

Editorial: Promising Forecast for Autism Spectrum Disorders

In an accompanying editorial, Bryan H. King, M.D., M.B.A., of the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, comments on the findings of this study.

“Some parents of children with ASD may have chosen to delay immunization in subsequent children until they were certain any risk had passed. Such behavior, which arguably could enrich the immunization rate in the nonautism subgroup relative to the group that may have been showing early atypical development, might create the impression that MMR vaccine is actually reducing risk for ASD. Indeed, Jain et al report relative risks of less than 1.0. Even so, short of arguing that MMR vaccine actually reduces the risk of ASD in those who were immunized by age 2 years, the only conclusion that can be drawn from the study is that there is no signal to suggest a relationship between MMR and the development of autism in children with or without a sibling who has autism.”

“Taken together, some dozen studies have now shown that the age of onset of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, the severity or course of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, and now the risk of ASD recurrence in families does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children.”

(doi:10.1001/jama.2015.2628; Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com)

Editor’s Note: The author has completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

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Lora Moftah  writing in the International Business Times, states that despite this recent study, concerns about the MMR vaccine are unlikely to diminish.

CC BY-NC-ND by Sanofi Pasteur
CC BY-NC-ND by Sanofi Pasteur

The article addresses the fact that the findings of the study, ‘add compelling evidence to the argument that no link exists between the disorder and the MMR vaccine.’

95,000 children were involved in the study with 2 per cent of them, having an older sibling with autism.

The study found that vaccines had no effect with regards to autism risk, even if the child had an older sibling with autism.

Pediatrician Robert Stephens told.

“In my experience, people who are anti-vaccination are not particularly open to having their minds changed,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think that people in the anti-vaccination community are going to look at this study and suddenly change their minds.”

The study published on April 21, in the Journal of the American Medical Association can be found here http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2275444

Below you can watch a discussion about the study, taken from the Press Release Rocket website

Source: Eureka Alert website: No association found between MMR vaccine and autism, even among children at higher risk http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/tjnj-naf041615.php

Lora Moftahon The International Business Times website: Vaccination Controversy: No Autism, MMR Vaccine Link, New Study Finds

About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

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