Report: No Link Between Vaccines and Autism

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The National Academy of Sciences released a report yesterday concluding that “few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.” The findings, reached by a committee of experts at the Institute of Medicine, concluded that there are 14 adverse reactions to vaccines that are scientifically sound but rare, and include “seizures, inflammation of the brain, and fainting.”

Notably, the IOM also found that “there are no links between immunization and some serious conditions that have raised concerns, including Type 1 diabetes and autism.”

The report is the most recent affirmation by the scientific community that vaccines do not cause autism.  In February 2010, the British journal The Lancet formally retracted a paper by Dr. Andrew Wakefield after “a British medical panel concluded … that Dr. Wakefield had been dishonest, violated basic research ethics rules and showed a ‘callous disregard’ for the suffering of children involved in his research.” Wakefield’s 1998 paper was in large part the catalyst for the current anti-vaccine movement, and many still stand by his findings.

For more on the vaccine debate, view our 2010 film on the subject. We explore the the complex and emotionally charged debate over vaccines’ medical risks versus benefits, and a parent’s right to make choices about his or her child versus a community’s common good. And read our interview excerpt with psychiatrist and epidemiologist Dr. Eric Fombonne, on what’s driving the rise in autism rates.

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