A study published online today in the Journal of Pediatrics finds that the risk for developing autism has no link with a vaccine schedule in the first two years of life. These findings, which are consistent with previous studies, directly contradicts the theory that the number of vaccines a child receives is correlated with the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The study looked at 256 children with ASD and 752 typically developing children, comparing data taken from managed-care groups for each child in the first two years of life. The researchers not only looked at the number of vaccines that each child received, but also the number of antigens they were exposed to, since each vaccine contains different numbers of antigens.
Antigens are components of vaccines which stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. Some have suggested that exposure to a large amount of these antigens too quickly early on in life inhibits proper development in children, leading to disorders such as ASD.
The researchers analyzed the maximum number of antigens each child was exposed to in a single vaccination, as well as each child’s cumulative exposure to antigens until the age of two.
No differences in the amount of antigens the children were exposed to were found across both groups of children. Furthermore, there was no link between the number of vaccines received and the development of ASD.
In addition, there was no correlation between the regressive form of ASD, characterized by a sudden loss in speech and social skills, and the number of vaccines. Regression has been a concern for parents, as skill deficits are typically seen at the same age which a child receives vaccines.
Recent studies have indicated genetics as a possible indicator of the development of autism spectrum disorder, as well as risk factors such as the father’s age. While the fear of parents as a result public furor over vaccines is understandable, opting out of vaccines exposes children to life-threatening, vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis. Delaying or exempting a child from receiving a life-saving vaccine not only endangers the child, but others in their community as well. This study should reassure parents that receiving vaccines in the first two years of life does not increase a child’s risk for developing autism.
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