The first international review of its kind saw more than 1.25 million children take part in five cohort studies, with an extra 9,920 participate in five case-controlled studies.
The results for both studies concluded that there was no link between widely used childhood vaccines for measles, rubella, tetanus, mumps, diphtheria and whooping cough, and the development of autism or autism spectrum disorders.
“A rising awareness of autism cases and the claimed but not proven link to childhood vaccinations has led to both an increased distrust in the trade between vaccine benefit outweighing potential risks and an opportunity for disease resurgence,” said Guy Eslick, the Sydney Medical School’s associate professor.
“This has in recent times become a major public health issue with vaccine-preventable diseases rapidly increasing in the community due to the fear of a ‘link’ between vaccinations and autism.”
The professor added that the decision against vaccinating for such preventable diseases need to be “properly evaluated.”
There had been no previous quantitative data analysis of the relationship between autism, autism spectrum disorders and childhood vaccinations, making the University of Sydney review the first of its kind.
“Furthermore, our review found the components of the widely-used vaccines (thimerosal or mercury), nor the measles, mumps and rubella combination vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or an autism-spectrum disorder,” Eslick said.
The results are well timed, with Eslick cautioning that the a rise in parents deciding against immunising the children has decreased ‘herd immunity’ among populations, thereby increasing the risk of catching more serious diseases.