Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccine: Does Immunization for MMR Cause Autism?

Rates of autism are on the rise. A January 2003 federal study found that autism was 10 times more common today than it was 10 years ago. No one knows what is causing the increase, although some researchers say it's due in part to widened definitions of the disorder. Another more controversial theory puts the blame on the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. Could MMR be causing autism? Learn more about the MMR-autism connection. Then:

Q: What is the MMR vaccine?

A: MMR is a combination vaccine that protects children from measles, mumps and rubella (also known as German measles). The first dose of the vaccine is usually given to children 12 to 15 months old. The second dose is usually given between four and six years of age. Because signs of autism may appear at around the same time children receive the MMR vaccine, some parents may worry that the vaccine causes autism.

Q: Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?

A: Current scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, or any combination of vaccines, causes the development of autism. The question about a possible link between MMR vaccine and autism has been extensively reviewed by independent groups of experts in the U.S., including the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine. These reviews have concluded that the available epidemiologic evidence does not support a causal link between MMR vaccine and autism.

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