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No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism

Fombonne and Chakrabarti. Pediatrics

A link has been postulated between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and a form of autism that is a combination of developmental regression and gastrointestinal symptoms that occur shortly after immunization. This hypothesis has involved 3 separate claims: 1) that there is new phenotype of autism involving regression and gastrointestinal symptoms, 2) that this new variant is responsible for the alleged rise of autism rates, and 3) that this phenotype is associated with biological findings suggestive of the persistence of measles infection. We tested the first of these claims. If this new “autistic enterocolitis” syndrome had some validity, then 1 or several of the following 6 predictions should be supported by empirical data: 1) childhood disintegrative disorder has become more frequent, 2) the mean age of first parental concern for autistic children who are exposed to MMR is closer to the mean immunization age than in children who are not exposed to MMR, 3) regression in the development of children with autism has become more common in MMR-vaccinated children, 4) the age of onset for autistic children with regression clusters around the MMR immunization date and is different from that of autistic children without regression, 5) children with regressive autism have distinct symptom and severity profiles, and 6) regressive autism is associated with gastrointestinal symptoms and/or inflammatory bowel disorder.

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