MMR Vaccine & Autism


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of related brain-based disorders that affect a child's behavior, social, and communication skills. Approximately 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with an ASD. ASDs are lifelong conditions with no known cure. However, children with ASD can progress developmentally and learn new skills. Some children may improve so much that they no longer meet the criteria for ASD, although milder symptoms may often persist.


Because the MMR vaccine is first given at age 12-15 months, and the first signs of autism often appear at 15-18 months of age, concerns have been raised about a possible link between the vaccine and the development of autism. Studies conducted in the US and Europe have found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. Over the years, the Institute of Medicine and the AAP have organized several panels of independent scientists – all concluded that there is no association between MMR and autism. Learn more about autism here.


How the Claim Started

Andrew Wakefield's study in The Lancet in 1998 began the concern about MMR and autism. Since the study was published, 10 of the 13 authors have retracted the findings. In 2010, The Lancet retracted the study, citing ethical misconduct on the part of Wakefield. Journalist Brian Deer has written several articles published in the British Medical Journal, describing the ways that Wakefield's study was in accurate.

Autism Omnibus

Three rulings related to autism and vaccine injury compensation cases were issued on February 12, 2009, by the Special Masters of the US Court of Federal Claims. The rulings were part of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding, created by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to handle the large volume of claims (over 4,900) that vaccines induce autism. In three separate rulings, each of the Special Masters ruled that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, whether administered alone or in conjunction with thimerosal-containing vaccines, was not a causal factor in the development of autism or autism spectrum disorders. For more information, visit the official Omnibus Web site. (Exit Site)


For More Information


Research Studies

  • AAP Listing of Studies Examining MMR Vaccine and Autism (PDF 98KB)
  • Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Review. May 2004.

  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Report From the New Challenges in Childhood Immunizations Conference Convened in Oak Brook, Illinois, June 12-13, 2000. Halsey et al. Pediatrics. 2001;107 (5): e84

  • Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study Hornig M et al., PLoS ONE 2008, 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140

  • Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders Baird G et al., Archives of Disease in Childhood 2008; 93(10):832-7

  • MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative Results Presented from Japan Uchiyama T et al. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2007; 37(2):210-7

  • No Evidence of Persisting Measles Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder D'Souza Y et al. Pediatrics 2006; 118(4):1664-75

  • Immunizations and Autism: A Review of the Literature Doja A, Roberts W. The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 2006; 33(4):341-6


Last Updated: 4/29/2014

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