MMR vaccine and autism is back in the news

A researcher in my backyard has stoked the MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine/autism link embers. I have to say, this really brings up more questions than answers.

I’ve never really believed there was a link between the MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine and autism, but I have to ask if what is going on here is not such a link, then what are they finding? This subject keeps coming up every few years, and I really have to wonder why it hasn’t died down? I find it just as hard to believe that researchers would single out MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine for an autism link with absolutely no basis whatsoever as I do that there is any link to begin with.


6 Responses

  1. What you need to know is that the emerging hypothesis is that the MMR is problematic for children with impaired immune systems. Once thimerosal-containing vaccines damage susceptible immune cells, the MMR can create chronic viral issues that may partially be responsible for autistic symptoms. Now, that’s a gross oversimplification of what many believe may be happening, but the idea is that there may be a combined impact of the MMR (which is a live-virus vaccine without thimerosal) and thimerosal-containing vaccines.

  2. Ok, that’s starting to make a little more sense. So does this suggest that some autistic symptoms are really coping mechanisms?

  3. From what most autistic adults tell us, “stimming” behaviors wuld certainly fit that category, but I’m not sure we could classify other symptoms that way.

  4. I saw this story earlier in the week but just didn’t have time to blog it. In general, it would seem that toxic build-up could lead to just about anything — to autism, or any other chronic condition. It would scientifically plausible, though I may be totally simplifying it to become inaccurate.

    John, you make a good point about how things like MMR and mercury just keeping rearing their head in connection with autism. The old, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” thing?

  5. Wade – thanks for patiently answering my ignorant questions. My experience with autism itself is limited to old information from a developmental disabilities class a long time ago (and probably out of date) and two people I know a little bit.

    Patrick – the smoke/fire possibility is exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe not a direct connection, but, as I said before, more questions than answers.

    I’ve noticed the Autism Hub is saying this report does not link autism and MMR vax, and Kristina Chew apparently quotes Dr. Walker as saying that such a link would be very difficult to prove. (I’ll agree with that, especially since a large enough scale controlled study to show any reasonable difference would be highly unethical to run.) At the same time, in the face of a hard-to-prove link, given that vaccines and neurological challenges seem to pop up rather frequently, I applaud the people who are asking the hard questions.

  6. John,

    After incompletely answering your question about coping mechanisms, I kept thinking about it. In wroking on a post about the recent Autism One Conference, I came upon a note I made during Dr. Martha Herbert’s lecture, in which she specifically pointed to inflammation and oxidative stress as being means by which the body copes after environmental input. Given the role many researchers believe thopse two processes play in the development of autism, one can say that autistic symptoms may not be coping mechanisms in themselves, but are the result of coping mechanisms.

    Incidentally, for anyone interested in looking at autism as the mixed result of genetics and environment, I highly recommend Dr. Herbert’s paper, “Autism: A Brain Disorder, or a Disorder That Affects the Brain?” A pdf of the paper is available at:

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