At least 10% of parents of young children skip or delay routine vaccinations, often out of concern that children are getting "too many shots, too soon." A new study found that children who receive the full schedule of vaccinations have no increased risk of autism.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, is the latest of more than 20 studies showing no connection between autism and vaccines, given either individually or as part of the standard schedule. This is a very important and reassuring study because it shows definitively that there is no connection between the number of vaccines that children receive in childhood, or the number of vaccines that children receive in one day, and autism. The paper is the first to consider not just the number of vaccines, but a child's total exposure to the substances inside vaccines that trigger an immune response.
Study authors sought to address the fear that multiple vaccines are "overwhelming” children's immune systems, possibly contributing to long-term problems. Twenty years ago, children were vaccinated against nine diseases. Today, they're vaccinated against 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which funded the study.
Although children get more shots today than 20 or 30 years ago, the current vaccines they receive are easier on the immune system than those used in the past. That is because modern vaccines are more sophisticated, using just a few critical particles, called antigens, to stimulate the immune system. These antigens, found on the surfaces of bacteria and viruses, spur the body to make antibodies, which block future infections. For example, an older version of the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, used until the late 1990s, was made using entire, killed bacteria. That vaccine, called DTP, exposed the body to more than 3,000 antigens. The new version, called DtaP, uses only the six antigens critical to producing immunity. Because of these sorts of improvements, fully vaccinated 2-year-olds are exposed to a total of 315 antigens, the study says. That's a drop in the bucket compared with the billions of microbes, from bacteria to yeast, that babies encounter every day.
The new research confirms the findings of a 2010 study in Pediatrics, which compared babies who received all vaccines on time in the first year of life with those who skipped or delayed their shot. That research found no differences in the rate of autism, stuttering, tics or scores on IQ tests.
There are no benefits to delaying vaccines. When you delay your child's vaccines, you put the child at risk for infections that are serious and can be life threatening.
Please take a few minutes to review our Vaccine Policy . We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns with your child's doctor.