Vaccines and Autism

Vaccines don’t cause autism. In response to concern from the public, this has been studied over and over and over and the result is always the same: there is no association between vaccines and autism (read here for an extensive discussion on the Thoughtscapism blog and here for a discussion of the evidence on The Logic of Science blog).

Anti-vaccine activists consistently shift the goal posts in this “debate”. One day they say the problem is mercury, but evidence shows this to be false. Then they claim it’s the aluminum, but evidence shows this to be false. Eventually, the only thing left to claim is that it’s a giant CDC conspiracy that calls all the evidence question. It’s a pseudoscientific game of whack-a-mole to find evidence that supports their predetermined conclusion (which is exactly the opposite of how science works).

Here are some science- and evidence-based resources about the lack of evidence for a connection between vaccines and autism despite extensive research exploring this hypothesis. We have tried to select a few articles that cover as much ground as possible instead of including every article and every blog post ever written debunking the imagined link.

  • CDC statement on the numerous studies that fail to show an association vaccines and autism.
  • The diagnosis of autism is up since 1990 but the actual prevalence of autism has likely not increased (or at least has not increased at the anywhere close to rate of increase in diagnosis), discussed here and here with references to scientific studies.
  • A recently updated article on the lack of evidence for a link between vaccines and autism from The Skeptical Raptor blog.
  • This guide to the recent Vaxxed documentary debacle provides many links specifically addressing claims made by Andrew Wakefield.
  • More coverage of the Vaxxed documentary: here and here.
  • A running list of coverage of Vaxxed: here.
  • Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit


Taylor LE, Swerdfeger AL, Eslick GD. Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies.Vaccine. 2014 June;32(29):3623–3629.

DeStefano F,  Price CS, and Weintraub ES. Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of AutismThe Journal of Pediatrics. 2013; 163(2): 561-567.

Institute of Medicine. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines
Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice (National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2011).

Schechter R, Grether JK. Continuing increases in autism reported to California’s developmental services system: Mercury in retrograde. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65:19-24.

Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review. Vaccines and Autism Board of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine (National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2004).

Hviid A, Stellfeld M, Wohlfahrt J, Melbye M. Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism[PDF – 145 KB]. JAMA. 2003;290:1763–6.

Madsen KM, Hviid A, Vestergaard M, Schendel D, Wohlfahrt J, et al. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. N Engl J Med. 2002;347 (19):1477–1482.

Ball L, Ball R, Pratt RD.An assessment of thimerosal in childhood vaccines. Pediatrics. 2001;107:1147–1154.

Joint statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Pediatrics. 1999;104:568–9.

Summary of 9 CDC or CDC-affiliated studies showing no association between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.

See the full bibliography of The Logic of Science article linked above for a full list of scientific papers on the topic.