No. Despite the widespread belief that vaccinations, particularly the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella), have been linked to autism in children, there is no credible scientific evidence to substantiate this link. Much of the confusion stems from a 1998 article by Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in Lancet, the most prestigious medical journal in Great Britain, that such a link existed. As it turned out, Dr. Wakefield had serious conflicts of interest given the fact that his research was funded by lobby groups who wanted to establish some sort of medical basis for suing the drug companies that manufacture vaccines for an alleged link to autism. Dr. Wakefield was also censured for improper, painful and unethical testing practices on children that were used to support his research. Given the fact that extensive studies have been done since 1998 to try to validate this link, no evidence of a connection has been uncovered. In February 2010, Lancet took the unprecedented step of retracting the article. Nonetheless, the urban legend that vaccines “cause” autism persists especially among parents groups, despite the lack of scientific evidence. Probably this stems from a deep-seated cultural skepticism of vaccines, which recently manifested itself this past autumn in a host of unsubstantiated claims and conspiracy theories that the H1N1 “swine flu” vaccine was toxic, untested or even a deliberate deception by drug companies to make money. Despite the discrediting of Dr. Wakefield and his theory, there will probably still continue to be many groups and individuals who continue to assert a vaccination-autism link, flying in the face of accepted scientific theory.
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