Study: Full schedule of vaccines doesn't increase risk of autism

Published On: Mar 29 2013 02:00:11 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 29 2013 02:00:46 PM EDT
Flu Shot
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

At least 10 percent of parents of young children skip or delay routine vaccinations, often out of concern that kids are getting too many shots too soon.

But a new study finds that children who receive the full schedule of vaccinations have no increased risk of autism.

"Experts say if you are skeptical about that research, you should delay vaccination schedule," said Arian Williams, a mother of two.

Williams shares a similar belief like many parents -- that too many vaccinations for their child could lead to autism. But the new information from Journal of Pediatrics shows that's not true.

It's the latest of more than 20 studies showing no connection between autism and vaccines.

Researchers compared babies who received all vaccines on time in the first year of life with babies who skipped or delayed their shot. They found no neuropsychological differences.

Twenty years ago, children were vaccinated against nine different diseases. Now, they're vaccinated against 14. But doctors say the higher number shouldn't scare parents, and they should look at the positive side of vaccinations.

"These illnesses have almost been vaccinated out of existence out of their lifetime, so they just aren't aware of how devastating some of these illnesses can be," said Jerry Bridgham, chief medical officer of Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Myths about autism and vaccines persist partly because researchers don't know a definitive cause of autism. But research has come a long way in the last decade.

It increasingly suggests many of the underlying changes that cause autism take place before birth.

Doubts about vaccines have led to low vaccination rates in some communities, which have fueled flare-ups of once-forgotten diseases, such as whooping cough, measles and mumps.

"People forget that vaccines over the last few decades have really cut down dramatically on the number of what used to be called usual childhood diseases," Bridgham said.

Even though research does not show a connection between autism and vaccines, some parents still have fears.

"The best thing to do is to use a delayed vaccinations schedule," Williams said. "So that's what I've done for both of my kids."

Though some parents may never believe vaccines are safe, the new study may reassure many others, causing future parents to have more confidence in vaccinating their children on time.