Claims that the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) may be linked to autism have been debunked by a Danish study.
The research, conducted by research institute SSI, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, is the second study to dismiss the persistent claims over the vaccine, Ritzau reports.
“Our study is significantly larger than the last one, and we have used more methods of analysis. In all cases, we have concluded that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism,” SSI senior researcher Anders Hviid, who led the study in partnership with Professor Mads Melbye, said.
The claim that MMR vaccines could increase children’s risk of developing autism has existed for 20 years, but researchers in the Danish study said it could be rejected entirely.
“Autism is equally prevalent amongst the children who had received the MMR vaccine and the total of 31,619 children who were not vaccinated. We must therefore conclude that the MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism,” Hviid said.
A total of 657,461 children born between 1999 and 2010 took part in the study, and were monitored from the age of 1 until August 2013. Researchers also drew upon information from several databases, including the Danish Vaccinations Registry (Det Danske Vaccinationsregister) and a record of autism diagnoses.
That means a sample size larger by 100,000 than the previous study, which is from 2002.
Assertions that there was a connection between autism and the MMR vaccine led to an increase in parents choosing not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles during the 2000s.
“But we can see that there are now more cases of measles in Europe and the United States, and that is because of opposition to the vaccine,” Hviid said.
Vaccination against measles has since 1987 been part of the Danish health service’s programme of vaccines for children.
The percentage of vaccinated children in Denmark was under 90 percent during the 2000s, but has increased to just over 90 percent since 2012.