A study confirmed that receiving measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is not linked to the increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This association also holds true amongst children with an increased risk of ASD. The study, which was published in JAMA’s child health themed issue, involved 95,000 children with older siblings, some of whom were diagnosed with ASD.

A background information in the report claims that although there is no evidence associated with ASD and MMR vaccines, the public continues to link the two due to self-conducted surveys amongst mothers and their knowledge that genetics may play a role. These factors, among many others, have been keeping most mothers from vaccinating their children with MMR vaccine.

Anjali Jain, M.D., of the Lewin Group, Falls Church, Va., and colleagues studied the occurrence of ASD in relation to the status of MMR vaccines in US children with or without siblings with ASD. The 95,727 study subjects were continuously enrolled in a commercial health plan from birth to at least five years of age during 2001-2012. The said participants also had older siblings with health plans from 1997-2012.

The researchers came up with the following findings: 2.01 percent had an older sibling with ASD and 1.04 percent were diagnosed with ASD after the cohort study. Amongst those who were diagnosed, 6.9 percent had siblings with ASD and 0.9 percent had no siblings with the disorder. Furthermore, the MMR vaccination rate for siblings without ASD were significantly lower than those who have siblings with ASD.

"Consistent with studies in other populations, we observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased ASD risk among privately insured children,” the authors wrote. “We also found no evidence that receipt of either 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD among children who had older siblings with ASD. As the prevalence of diagnosed ASD increases, so does the number of children who have siblings diagnosed with ASD.” It is very important to consider this population, as they are believed to be undervaccinated as per observations and previous reports.

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