Ms. Sally Lee
Editor in Chief
375 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Dear Ms. Lee:
The impetus behind the article entitled 'We Cured Our Son's Autism,' in the February 2000 issue of Parents , is entirely understandable. Medical research has not been able to explain how or why autism attacks a child, and offers little hope for a cure. This article gave parents of autistic children hope.
However, the article raised an issue of great concern to us - an alleged link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autistic behavior. It is important for every parent to know that there is no scientific evidence of such a link. The findings of the small British study mentioned in the piece were refuted by a much larger study of 500 children, which concluded that the MMR vaccine and autism are not linked. Nevertheless, because no one wants any child to be harmed by a vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to monitor and evaluate this issue; CDC's data to date shows no link between the vaccine and autism. (For easy reference, I have enclosed a list of publications that provide other studies that confirm there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism).
The MMR vaccine has been preventing life-threatening illnesses and nearly eliminating the spread of measles, mumps or rubella since the FDA introduced it in 1962. Because of the MMR vaccine, the incidence of deaths in the United States caused by measles has decreased from 3,000 a year to almost none. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) caused by mumps virus has fallen from 400 a year to fewer than five, and incidence of birth defects and mental retardation caused by rubella has decreased from 20,000 a year to two. The vaccine community takes any possible side-effect very seriously. After your child receives an immunization, it is important to observe him or her closely for any reactions. Most children who get the MMR vaccine do not have any problems with it; however, there is a slight chance your child may develop a fever, mild rash or swollen glands in the cheek or neck. If any of these reactions should occur, it is usually within 5-12 days after the child has received the vaccine.
As a parent, one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your child's vaccinations is to be well informed. Parents are always encouraged to talk with their physicians about any questions they may have about immunizations so they make immunization decisions based on the best possible information. I am a parent of a two-year old boy, and I, like other parents, want to know what I am doing is best for my child. My wife and I have been Parents subscribers for two years and we value the information the magazine provides, which is another reason why I believe it is so important to make sure that readers get the best information they can.
Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH
The National Network for Immunization Information