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The Sciences

Antivax: new evidence shows (again) no link to autism


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Oh, another blow -- among a flurry of them -- to people who think vaccines are linked with autism. Some people were claiming that measles vaccines were linked to incidence of autism. The claim was that the (killed weakened) measles viruses in the vaccines were getting into the childrens' bowels. The intestines would then react to the virus, lowering vitamin and other nutrient absorption, which in turn could give rise to development disorders including autism. Measle virus RNA was found in the bowels of children with autism, and there was speculation of a link, though tenuous. The media, of course, ran with this story. However, a new study shows that the measles virus RNA found in the children with autism (who also had gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances) has nothing to do with the onset of autism spectrum disorder:

The temporal order of onset of GI episodes and autism relative to timing of MMR [Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine] administration was examined. We found no differences between case and control groups in the presence of MV [measles virus] RNA in ileum and cecum. Results were consistent across the three laboratory sites. GI symptom and autism onset were unrelated to MMR timing.

In other words, the vaccines had nothing to do with the autism. As the researchers say themselves, "This study provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent MV RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure." So this is yet another piece of evidence that autism is not caused by vaccines. This, of course, won't stop the antivaxxers in their campaign to bring back measles, pertussis, and other horrors that have been kept under control by vaccines for decades. Their antiscientific views are having a real effect, as we've already seen, with outbreaks popping up around the country. But as I have seen in the comments of my previous posts on this topic, they are immune to logic. Against that, they are well inoculated. Tip o' the syringe to, yes, my mom for telling me about this study. Pretty cool.

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