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NNii Member Testimony

NNii Statement to Congress
[April 4, 2000]

The Honorable Dan Burton
Chairman, House Government Reform Committee
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

RE: House Government Reform Committee's April 6 Hearing on "Autism: Present Challenges, Future Needs — Why the Increased Rates?"

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a statement for the official record of the House Government Reform Committee's April 6 hearing on autism. We wish to comment on one aspect that will be addressed at the hearing: the purported link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

The National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) was established in 1998 to provide the public, health professionals, policy-makers and the media with up-to-date, scientifically valid information related to immunization for the purpose of helping them understand the issues and make informed decisions. An organization of physicians, nurses and other health professionals, NNii serves as the voice of science and medicine on immunization issues.

Because autism is usually diagnosed in children when they are 18 to 30 months old, shortly after children receive many recommended immunizations, some parents may attribute the emerging symptoms of autism to the administration of a vaccine. In fact, the best available science indicates that the development of autism is completely unrelated to use of the MMR or any other vaccine (see references and website resources listed below). Evidence shows that autism results from complex genetic factors and therefore originates prior to birth, not afterward. There has been little, if any, scientific evidence to substantiate an association between vaccination and autism.

We have full sympathy for every child and family burdened by autism and support aggressive research into the causes, prevention and treatment of autism. We also feel it is our obligation to make clear that the current scientific evidence shows that autism is not related to immunizations.

Please feel free to call on us for additional information.

Bruce G. Gellin, M.D., M.P.H.
Executive Director
cc: House Government Reform Committee


  • Bedford H, et al. Autism, inflammatory bowel disease, and MMR vaccine. Lancet. 1998; 351(9106):907; discussion 908-9.
  • Birmingham K, et al. Reactions to MMR immunization scare. Nat Med. 1998; (5 Suppl):478-9.
  • Bower H. New research demolishes link between MMR vaccine and autism. BMJ. 1999; 318(7199):1643.
  • DeStefano F, et al. Autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. J Pediatr. 2000; 136(1):125-6.
  • DeStefano F, et al. Negative association between MMR and autism. Lancet. 1999; 353(9169):1987-8.
  • Evidence to support current policy on MMR vaccination sent to doctors in the United Kingdom. Commun
    Dis Rep CDR Wkly. 1998; 8(14):123,126.
  • Fall in MMR vaccine coverage reported as further evidence of vaccine safety is published. Commun Dis Rep CDR Wkly. 1999; 9(26):227, 230.
  • Fombonne E. Are measles infections or measles immunizations linked to autism? J Autism Dev Disord. 1999; 29(4):349-50.
  • Fombonne E. Inflammatory bowel disease and autism. Lancet. 1998; 351(9107):955.
  • London E, Johnson C (editor). The ABCs of MMRs and DTPs: Is there an association between vaccination and autism? NAARRATIVE. 1998; Number 3, Fall.
  • MMR vaccine is not linked to Crohn's disease or autism. Commun Dis Rep CDR Wkly. 1998; 8(13):113. Peltola H, et al. No evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine-associated inflammatory bowel disease or autism in a 14-year prospective study. Lancet. 1998; 351(9112):1327-8.
  • Roberts R. MMR vaccination and autism 1998. There is no causal link between MMR vaccine and autism. BMJ. 1998; 316(7147):1824
  • Rodier P. The early origins of autism. Scientific American. 2000; 282 (2):56-63.
  • Taylor B, et al. Autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet. 1999; 353 (9169):2026-9.

Websites with Information on MMR and Autism

National Network for Immunization InformationSteering Committee Members (Go to Committee Members Bios)

  • Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., President, Morehouse School of Medicine (Co-Chair)
  • Samuel L. Katz, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Duke University (Co-Chair)
  • Bruce G. Gellin, M.D., M.P.H., Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (Executive Director)
  • Louis Z. Cooper, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University
  • Virginia Burggraf, D.N.S., R.N., C., American Nurses Association
  • Kathryn M. Edwards, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital
  • Edgar K. Marcuse, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center
  • Georges Peter, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Brown University School of Medicine
  • Gregory A. Poland, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Foundation
  • William Schaffner, M.D., Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Patricia Whitley-Williams, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

© Copyright National Network for Immunization Information. The information contained in the National Network for Immunization Information Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your health care provider. There may be variations in treatment that your health care provider may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.