Study exonerates childhood vaccine

A nationwide study in Denmark provides strong evidence that a childhood vaccine once blamed for some cases of autism plays no role in the development of that neurological disorder.

Researchers used data on all children born alive in Denmark between 1991 and 1998 to see whether being vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) could be a factor in whether a child subsequently develops autism. Of 537,303 children in the study, 82 percent received the three-in-one MMR vaccine. The rates of autism among vaccinated and unvaccinated children–both less than 0.6 case per 1,000–were statistically equivalent, Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen of the Danish Epidemiology Science Center in rhus and her colleagues report in the Nov. 7 New England Journal of Medicine.

That finding, which backs up smaller recent studies, may allay lingering concerns about the safety of the MMR vaccine (SN: 8/18/01, p. 110: Vaccine Verity). Measles alone kills nearly 1 million people each year in countries where the MMR vaccine isn’t widely used.


If you have a comment on this article that you would like considered for publication in Science News, please send it to

More Stories from Science News on Health & Medicine