The risk of autism is not increased by 'too many vaccines too soon'

March 29, 2013

Although scientific evidence suggests that vaccines do not cause autism, approximately one-third of parents continue to express concern that they do; nearly 1 in 10 parents refuse or delay vaccinations because they believe it is safer than following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) schedule. A primary concern is the number of vaccines administered, both on a single day and cumulatively over the first 2 years of life. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers concluded that there is no association between receiving "too many vaccines too soon" and autism.

Dr. Frank DeStefano and colleagues from the and Abt Associates, Inc. analyzed data from 256 children with (ASD) and 752 children without ASD (born from 1994-1999) from 3 managed care organizations. They looked at each child's cumulative exposure to antigens, the substances in vaccines that cause the body's immune system to produce to fight disease, and the maximum number of antigens each child received in a single day of vaccination.

The researchers determined the total antigen numbers by adding the number of different antigens in all vaccines each child received in one day, as well as all vaccines each child received up to 2 years of age. The authors found that the total antigens from vaccines received by age 2 years, or the maximum number received on a single day, was the same between children with and without ASD. Furthermore, when comparing antigen numbers, no relationship was found when they evaluated the sub-categories of autistic disorder and ASD with regression.

Although the current routine childhood contains more vaccines than the schedule in the late 1990s, the maximum number of antigens that a child could be exposed to by 2 years of age in 2013 is 315, compared with several thousand in the late 1990s. Because different types of vaccines contain varying amounts of antigens, this research acknowledged that merely counting the number of vaccines received does not adequately account for how different vaccines and combinations stimulate the immune system. For example, the older whole cell pertussis vaccine causes the production of about 3000 different antibodies, whereas the newer acellular pertussis vaccine causes the production of 6 or fewer different antibodies.

An infant's immune system is capable of responding to a large amount of immunologic stimuli and, from time of birth, infants are exposed to hundreds of viruses and countless antigens outside of vaccination. According to the authors, "The possibility that immunological stimulation from vaccines during the first 1 or 2 years of life could be related to the development of is not well-supported by what is known about the neurobiology of ASDs." In 2004, a comprehensive review by the Institute of Medicine concluded that there is not a causal relationship between certain vaccine types and autism, and this study supports that conclusion.

Explore further: Research describes advantages of new vaccine adjuvant

More information: "Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism," by Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, Cristofer S. Price, ScM, and Eric S. Weintraub, MPH, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics , DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001

Related Stories

Research describes advantages of new vaccine adjuvant

December 12, 2011

New research from the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Leadbetter at the Trudeau Institute may lead to a whole new class of vaccines. Dr. Leadbetter's lab has discovered new properties of a potential vaccine adjuvant that suggest ...

Vaccine and autism debate masks real problem

August 22, 2012

The bitter debate over whether vaccines cause autism is masking real problems with the modern inoculation schedule and encouraging a growing number of parents to refuse recommended vaccines for their children, argues a Michigan ...

Recommended for you

Youth dance classes score low in physical activity

May 18, 2015

For parents who send their kids to dance classes to get some exercise, a new study from researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests most youth dance classes provide only limited amounts ...

Roller coaster rides trigger pediatric stroke

December 11, 2014

Riding a couple roller coasters at an amusement park appears to have triggered an unusual stroke in a 4-year-old boy, according to a report in the journal Pediatric Neurology.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dawn_S
1 / 5 (1) Apr 01, 2013
As a former statistician, I can unequivocally agree with Mark Twain when I say, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

I KNOW what happened to my daughter.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.