Decadelong study shows measles vaccine does not cause autism


HOUSTON – A new Denmark study shows the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, even in those who are at risk. The study is the largest of its kind, looking at more than 650,000 children.

Now, Houston medical professionals said this study reaffirms what many medical professionals have been recommending -- getting children vaccinated to stop the spread of measles.

The researchers examined data on 657,461 children who were born from 1999-2010 -- 6,517 of whom were diagnosed with autism during that time. They followed children from age 1 through 2013 and about 95 percent of the children were vaccinated. Despite that, less than 1 percent of the children were diagnosed with autism.

Houston medical professionals are speaking out about the study to help stop the spread of the measles, which has been seen in 11 states in the United States.  

"In 2015 there was one case of measles in Texas, 2016 there was another case, 2017 there was another case, last year we had nine cases of the measles and this year's we're already approaching that now," said Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health Department. "In Harris County, we've confirmed four cases of measles recently and that is really in addition to two additional cases in our region."

"Measles is one of the most infectious diseases that we have," said Dr. Sheldon L. Kaplan, who works with Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine as the chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

Lawmakers are now partnering with the medical community to stop the spread of misinformation. 

"It's my intention to introduce legislation that will ask technology companies to review content as it relates to the issues related to documented science to be sure documented science, books and periodicals are listed prominently," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.

The Denmark study did show there are factors related to autism, but not the MMR vaccination.

"If you have a sibling with autism, then there's a greater risk for that child to develop autism," Kaplan said.

Houstonian parents said the study is science.

"I think the study showed the validity of the vaccination," Houstonian Jamie Johansen said.

While other parents are challenging the defense of vaccines, medical professionals said the published studies are science-based, peer-reviewed and thorough.

"It goes through very critical reviews," Kaplan said.