Claim: Vaccines cause autism
Nothing to add, really. The title is the entirety of the claim.
So where does a link between an autism come from? To answer this let's have a look at a study in the Lancet journal from 1998 on February the 28th. The lead researcher is Dr Wakefield and the premise behind this study was to study 12 children and find out whether or not they had an increased risk of autism from the MMR vaccine.
The following is a quote from the findings of that study:
"Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another. All 12 children had intestinal abnormalities, ranging from lymphoid nodular hyperplasia to aphthoid ulceration."
The title of this study is: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children.
Now let's go quickly point out the elephant in the room here in the 12 people is an incredibly tiny sample size and with any study studying whether or not people have reactions to drugs or vaccines or have increased risks of different diseases, 12 people is a miniscule small sample size and can't be taken as reliable in the first place.
The most noteworthy thing about this study however, is not the tiny sample size but that it was retracted from the Lancet journal and is one of the most widely recognised fraudulent papers to be published in a scientific journal
The Lancet retracted the paper and issued the following article:
"Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.
In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record."
The Canadian Medical Association journal published this article about the retraction:
"In fact, as Britain’s General Medical Council ruled in January, the children that Wakefield studied were carefully selected and some of Wakefield’s research was funded by lawyers acting for parents who were involved in lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. The council found Wakefield had acted unethically and had shown “callous disregard” for the children in his study, upon whom invasive tests were performed."
Here is another article. This one from the NHS website describing the timeline and events of the retraction and the paper itself.
"Wakefield failed to declare a number of conflicting interests when submitting the paper for publication. These included the fact that he and several of the children in the study were involved in a lawsuit attempting to show that MMR was linked to autism. "
"Subsequently 11 of its 13 authors also withdrew their support for the research."
The following page is from the General Medical Council hearing on the Wakefield fraud allegations. 95 pages and here are some excerpts from it of the claims levied against him:
"you failed to cause the Legal Aid Board to be informed that investigations represented by the clinicians as being clinically indicated would be covered by NHS funding, caused or permitted the money supplied by the Legal Aid Board to be used for purposes other than those for which you said it was needed and for which it had been granted"
"Your conduct as set out at paragraph 4.a.i. was, dishonest, misleading"
"Your conduct as set out at paragraph 4.a.ii. was a misuse of public funds and was, dishonest, in breach of your duty when managing finances, to ensure that the funds are used for the purpose for which they were intended, in breach of your duty to account for funds you did not need to the donor of those funds"
Here's some extracts from all implicated individuals in the hearing:
"You caused Child 2 to undergo a lumbar puncture without ensuring that he was first assessed by a clinician with the requisite neurological or psychiatric expertise to determine whether such an investigation was clinically indicated"
"You caused Child 3 to undergo a lumbar puncture, without ensuring that he was first assessed by a clinician with the requisite neurological or psychiatric expertise to determine whether such an investigation was clinically indicated, "
"Child 9 underwent a colonoscopy, a barium meal and follow-through, and blood and urine tests. His parents refused to allow him to have a lumbar puncture which he was judged most unlikely to tolerate without sedation[...]On 9 December 1996 Child 9 was readmitted and underwent an MRI scan of his brain, an EEG and a lumbar puncture, all of which were undertaken under general anaesthetic[...]You caused Child 9 to undergo a programme of investigations for research purposes without having Ethics Committee approval for such research"
On the subject of funding
"On or before 5 June 1997 you instructed agents to file with the UK Patent Office a patent application with the short title “Pharmaceutical Composition for Treatment of IBD and RBD”, naming the applicants as the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and Neuroimmuno Therapeutics Research Foundation (“the Patent”)"
"The invention which was the subject of the patent, and of which you were one of the inventors, related to a new vaccine for the elimination of MMR and measles virus and to a pharmaceutical or therapeutic composition for the treatment of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease); particularly Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and regressive behavioural disease (RBD); Your, involvement in the MMR litigation, receipt of funding for part of Project 172-96 from the Legal Aid Board, involvement in the Patent, constituted a disclosable interest which included matters which could legitimately give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest in relation to your role as a co-author of the Lancet paper which you did not disclose to the Editor of The Lancet"
Okay, so from this very first link we can say that the Andrew Wakefield autism study was not only studying an extremely small sample size of 12 children but it had a staggering conflict to funding interest as well as admitted and proved multiple instances of fraud and violation of ethics.
So, I'm moving on from this because it's like beating a dead horse at this point. I thought I would look and see if there's any other evidence on the internet of anything relating to vaccines causing autism. I went on to the National Library of Medicine which is PubMed and I search for MMR autism I looked for anything between 1990 and 2020 searching only for systematic reviews and meta-analysis. Here are the studies which I am confident are of sufficient quality to base my opinion from.
I conducted a search on PubMed for systematic reviews and meta-analysis for "vaccine AND autism". I didn't read studies which didn't look like they looked at both autism and vaccines, as they likely had vaccines or autism in there somewhere but it wasn't the focus. The time frame chosen was 1990 to 2020 giving a 30 year span of research. In the interest of being fair, I examined every instance I could find of any vaccinations causing or being linked to autism.
From the American Journal of Pediatrics is a study titled: Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization of US Children: A Systematic Review.
Their inclusion criteria starting off is pretty great.
"We included studies that used active surveillance and had a control mechanism; eligible designs were controlled trials, cohorts comparing a vaccinated with nonvaccinated group, case–control studies, self-controlled case series, and observational studies that used regression to control for confounders and test multiple relationships simultaneously (multivariate risk factor analyses)"
They also outlined their exclusion criteria.
"we excluded studies of vaccine formulations never used or no longer available in the United States"
Onto the results. They studied multiple papers studying multiple vaccines. I will only pull out sections linked to autism.
"We identified 1 study published after the IOM 2011 search: Gallagher and Goodman (2010)20 conducted a secondary analysis of National Health Interview Survey data on 7074 boys born before 1999. Vaccination status and health outcomes were reported by parents. Results were significant for the risk of autism in children who received their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine during the first month of life (OR 3.00, 95% CI 1.11–8.13), compared with those who received the vaccination after the first month of life or not at all."
So a single study found a significant risk of autism if vaccinated for hepatitas b in the first month of life. I continued reading:
"It is unclear why the authors selected “first month of life” as the only vaccination time period studied, without presenting analyses for other time periods or comparing “ever vaccinated” with “never vaccinated.” Because of high risk of bias and low quality, this study presents insufficient evidence that hepatitis B vaccine is associated with autism."
This highlights the importance of scrutinising studies. If you were to look at the study in question you could make a case for vaccines causing autism. It's not until you sit down, thoroughly read it, and examine any flaws that you find some studies have higher risk of bias, and lower quality control than others.
If you're interested in being fair, unbiased, and being accurate, then you can't be twisting poor-quality studies to fit how you want things to be. An additional note here is that the above study is self-reported by parents which also presents a huge potential for reporting bias.
Remember from earlier in the page that the study cited as proof that vaccines cause autism studied 12 selected children.
"They found the evidence “favors rejection” of a causal relationship between MMR and autism"
"In a case–control study of 189 young adults with autism spectrum disorder and 224 controls, found that childhood receipt of MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased rate of new-onset autism"
"Our findings may allay some patient, caregiver, and health care provider concerns. Strength of evidence is high that MMR vaccine is not associated with the onset of autism in children; this conclusion supports findings of all previous reviews on the topic."
So from this study they found no reason to think that vaccines were associated with new-onset autism. The quality of this review compared to the Wakefield study is astronomically higher.
From a study found on Science Direct from Vaccine Volume 21 titled: Unintended events following immunization with MMR: a systematic review.
Starting off with their inclusion criteria:
"We considered for inclusion comparative prospective or retrospective studies on healthy individuals aged up to 15 years, carried out or published during the period 1969–2003."
So this gives us our time period of 34 years of research. Continuing on they explain further their inclusion criteria.
"As well as randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (CCTs), we considered for inclusion studies of case-control, case-crossover, cohort, ecological, time-series and case-only designs, pro-vided both index and comparator groups and their exposure were clearly identifiable"
So that's a wide variety of studies, and the inclusion criteria looks to be pretty solid. Next they explain how quality control was addressed.
"Two reviewers separately assessed themethodological quality of the included studies. Study design-specific quality assessment tools were used, empirically validated where possible, to assessthe methodology of the studies."
So far off to a fantastic start. They also use bias check models to assess the likelihood of bias and study reliability but I left those quotes out. Here is the final list of 22 studies that met their criteria.
"Five RCTs, one CCT, nine cohort studies, two case-control studies, three time-series, one ecological and one self-controlled case series were included in the review."
This review addresses adverse events and not specifically autism so a lot of this isn't relevant to the claim that vaccines cause autism. Here's the first of the two studies which address autism specifically.
"The study by Madsen et al. reports no increased risk of autism or other autistic spectrum disorders between vaccinated and unvaccinated children"
Secondly, here's the other study which specifically addresses autism.
"The single included self-controlled case series study assessed clustering of cases of autism by post-exposure periods in a cohort of 498 (293 confirmed cases) children. The authors report a significant increase of onset of parental concern at 6 months post-vaccination. The authors plausibly argue that this may be due to multiple testing caused by an unclear causal hypothesis and conclude that the evidence does not support an association with autism"
Before moving on, it's worth remembering that this study said that parents had an increased concern of autism, not that autism increased. Keep this in mind when the study a little bit above this used parent-reported data to claim that vaccines caused autism.
In the JAMA journal in a systematic review titled Association of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine.
Let's start with their sourcing.
"We conducted a search of English and non-English language articles in the following databases: CINAHL (1982-February 2003), PsychINFO (1872-January 2003), MEDLINE (1966-Jan 2, 2003), PreMedline (end of January 2003), TOXLINE (1966-Jan 2003), Biological Abstracts (1990-December 2002), EMBASE (1982–Week 6, 2003), The Cochrane Library (to the fourth quarter of 2002), and HealthSTAR (1975-December 2002)."
So there's our starting location. From 1966 - 2003 in 9 locations across more than one language. That's a pretty wide search. Next comes their inclusion criteria:
"To be included in our final review a manuscript had to (1) report the results of an original epidemiological study, (2) describe a systematic method of identifying a sample (eg, analysis of ASD registry), (3) describe methods by which the diagnosis of ASD was established, and (4) attempt to determine if an association existed between MMR vaccination and ASD"
"A final total of 12 articles were found to meet our inclusion criteria and were included in this systematic review."
So there's our final number. Across 9 locations spanning 37 years, 12 studies met the inclusion criteria. This gives you an idea of why substance is more important than gathering numbers of studies. Quality and relevance matters.
"Only 1 study examined the rates of ASD in MMR vaccinated and not vaccinated individuals in the same period.22 This study, a retrospective cohort of children in Denmark, identified no statistically significant differences in rates of autism or ASD between these 2 populations in adjusted and nonadjusted analyses"
This study was performed on over 140 000 people, which is slightly more than the 12 hand-picked in the fraudulent Wakefield study.
"These analyses were conducted in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United States. Of these, 4 studies conducted time-series analyses, none of which identified an obvious association between an increase in ASD or variant ASD and equivalent increase in the MMR vaccine coverage."
"One of the remaining 2 studies looked at the numbers of cases of ASD before and after MMR vaccination programs were introduced and did not find an increase in ASD rates in the period of MMR vaccination.12 The other study compared rates of developmental regression in a sample of autistic children before the MMR vaccine was introduced and after it was introduced and found no significant differences."
So more studies showing no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals relating to autism and it's development.
"The hypothesis in these studies was that if the MMR vaccine caused ASD, populations exposed to the vaccine should develop ASD at a different age than populations who were not exposed to the vaccine. These studies, however, found no differences in the mean age at the time of diagnosis of ASD."
More important information. If you vaccinated people with a vaccine that caused autism, you would expect them to develop autism at different times than populations who hadn't been vaccinated. This doesn't seem to be the case.
"One study did not identify any cases of ASD in 1.8 million individuals who had received MMR vaccinations.13 A Finnish study found no evidence of a clustering of hospitalizations for autism after children had received the MMR vaccine.23 A Danish study of a population cohort who had received the MMR vaccine found no association between development of ASD and interval since vaccination.22"
The author addressed the potential for reporting bias in the 1.8 million study, but the other studies all found no association between hospitalisations post-inocculation and autism.
"The studies included in this review examined the hypotheses put forth by Wakefield et al.1 None of the studies we examined provided evidence of an association between ASD and the MMR vaccine."
"We identified only 1 study that conducted a (retrospective) cohort analysis of rates of autism and ASD in children who received the MMR vaccine and those who did not.22 This study, the highest validity evidence available on the existence of an association, found no difference in the rates of autism or ASD in these 2 populations. This study had sufficient power and was adjusted for some potential confounding variables."
"These results suggest that the initial temporal association between the MMR vaccine and ASD observed by Wakefield et al1 was likely a chance association owing to the fact that the initial presentation of ASD is often around the time of the MMR vaccine."
"Given the current evidence, if a variant form of ASD exists that is associated with the MMR vaccine, it is sufficiently rare so as not to be identified by the current epidemiological studies."
So that's a third systematic review in a row which wasn't hand-picked which shows no evidence of the MMR vaccine causing autism. These reviews have ensured the highest quality studies get examined by controlling for bias and specificity. They include studies based on set criteria and narrow down the list of papers to a dozen or so into a refined list of quality controlled papers.
This next one comes from the Cochrane library. This review is titled: Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella in children.
This is from their 2019 publication. Before I even read through this, I looked on their about page.
"We do not accept commercial or conflicted funding. This is vital for us to generate authoritative and reliable information, working freely, unconstrained by commercial and financial interests."
Nice. On with the content. Let's start with the scope of the search:
"We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCTs), prospective and retrospective cohort studies (PCS/RCS), case‐control studies (CCS), interrupted time‐series (ITS) studies, case cross‐over (CCO) studies, case‐only ecological method (COEM) studies, self‐controlled case series (SCCS) studies, person‐time cohort (PTC) studies, and case‐coverage design/screening methods (CCD/SM)"
That's a fair few types of study. They searched for studies from 1966 to 2019. They searched 3 databases and 2 trial registers. Who had to be the subject of the study?
"Healthy children aged up to 15 years, or adults who received MMR or MMRV/MMR+V vaccination between 0 and 15 years of age. [...] Studies where most participants received vaccination when aged 16 years or older were excluded."
OK, so it's in children only. Finally, let's look at the inclusion criteria:
"Vaccination with any combined MMR or MMRV/MMR+V vaccine given in any dose, preparation, or time schedule compared with no intervention or placebo."
So that's good. Only allowing studies which allow for controls in some manner is going to be good for quality control. They also assessed studies for potential bias and classified each study by the source of funding.
"We used the five GRADE considerations (study limitations, consistency of effect, imprecision, indirectness, and publication bias) to assess the quality of a body of evidence as it relates to the studies that contributed data to the meta‐analyses for the prespecified outcomes"
"We had planned to perform a sensitivity analysis on results by applying fixed‐effect and random‐effects models to assess the impact of heterogeneity on our results. We performed a sensitivity analysis by excluding studies at high risk of bias to assess the robustness of our conclusions."
This review is the most specific and in-depth paper I've read to date. It's extremely thorough.
"We included a total of 74 new studies, plus 12 studies from our previous update, for a total of 86 new included studies for this 2019 update. This review includes a total of 138 studies"
"Thirteen studies investigated the hypothesised link between MMR vaccination and autism spectrum disorders"
So there's our range. This paper goes very indepth on the MMR vaccine with a scope far beyond simply looking at autism which is why we're not reviewing 100 papers. Let's get on with some results.
"The meta‐analysis did not provide evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and autism spectrum disorder in all children (rr 0.93, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.01). The meta‐analysis did not provide evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and autism spectrum disorders amongst low‐risk children"
"The meta‐analysis did not provide evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and autism spectrum disorders in children vaccinated at any age (18 months to 15 years)"
"The meta‐analysis did not provide evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and autism spectrum disorders if the vaccine was administered before 18 months (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.75 to 1.11) or after 18 months (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.61 to 1.05)."
"The meta‐analysis did not provide evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and autism spectrum disorders if the vaccine was administered before 36 months"
"The results showed no evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and autism spectrum disorder diagnosis or regression (autism spectrum disorder diagnosis < 12 months: rr 0.94, 95% CI 0.60 to 1.47; autism spectrum disorder diagnosis < 24 months: rr 1.09, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.52; regression < 2 months: rr 0.92, 95% CI 0.38 to 2.21; regression < 4 months: rr 1.00, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.95; and regression < 6 months: rr 0.85, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.60)."
There is far far more on this paper I haven't read, but we're only interested in autism for the sake of this page. Before we move on, let's just take a look at their final conclusions:
"Based on the included studies, the meta‐analysis does not provide evidence supporting an association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: encephalitis or encephalopathy (3 studies, around 500,000 children), autism spectrum disorders (13 studies, around 2 million children)"
"Of the 138 included studies, we classified 36% as at low risk of bias with reliable results; 42% as at unclear risk of bias due to a problematic aspect of the study (generally selection bias), but the results remain sufficiently reliable"
"Of the 87 studies on MMR/MMRV safety, 65 were funded by public or government institutions, 9 by the pharmaceutical industry, and 10 studies were funded in part by industry and in part by government or public institutions."
And finally, it wouldn't be complete without addressing the Wakefield study:
"The Wakefield 1998 study which links MMR vaccination with autism has been fully retracted (Editors of the Lancet 2010), as Wakefield was found guilty of ethical, medical, and scientific misconduct in the publication of the paper. Many other authors have shown that the Wakefield data were fraudulent (Flaherty 2011). A formal retraction of the interpretation that there was a causal link between MMR vaccine and autism was issued in 2004 by 10 of the 12 original co‐authors (Murch 2004)."
That's four in a row which explicitly state that the MMR vaccine doesn't cause autism.
I found more links, but the full text wasn't available or there were no references to check. I'd like to finish this section with one final study. This one from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of America with a study titled: Administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines toinfant rhesus macaques does not result in autism-likebehavior or neuropathology.
This one is special because it was partially funded by SafeMinds which is a website who pushes the notion that vaccines cause autism by way of thimerosal buildup. This has been addressed within the previous systematic reviews and meta-analysis on this page.
What they did in this study was study 79 monkeys. They broke them down into 6 groups. One was a control arm who received no vaccine, and the other 5 were variations of vaccines which were:
-The 1999 regimen
-The 1999 regimen accelerated fourfold
-All thimerosal containing vaccines (TVC) without the MMR jab
-The 2008 regimen
They studied the monkeys' behaviour between months 12 and 18. First they recap on what the prior research states, some of which I've already shown above.
"Using infant rhesus macaques receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) following the recommended pediatricvaccine schedules from the 1990s and 2008, we examined behavior, and neuropathology in three brain regions found to exhibit neuropathology in postmortem ASD brains. No neuronal cellularor protein changes in the cerebellum, hippocampus, or amygdala were observed in animals following the 1990s or 2008 vaccine schedules. Analysis of social behavior in juvenile animals indicated that there were no significant differences in negative behaviors between animals in the control and experimental groups. These data indicate that administration of TCVs and/or the MMR vaccine to rhesus macaques does not resultin neuropathological abnormalities, or aberrant behaviors, like those observed in ASD."
"Results from an Institute of Medicine (IOM) review on the safety of childhood vaccines found that there was not sufficient evidence to render an opinion on the relationship between exposure to TCVs or the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and developmental disorders in children (IOM 2001) (6). The IOM review did, however, note the possibility of such a relationship and recommended further studies be conducted. A more recent second review of TCVs and autism (IOM 2004) (7) came to the same conclusion reached earlier: that there was no epidemiological data to support a relationship between TCVs and childhood developmental disorders."
They go on to explain the observed behaviour of all groups of monkeys during the study period for evidence of altered behaviour which would be atrributed to autism.
"there were no significant differences in any behavior measured between the control and experimental groups after 6 mo of social living"
They also examined their brains for irregularities which would show evidence of autism. It's one thing to say the monkeys didn't exhibit autistic behavioural traits in the study period, but it's another thing to disect and examine their brains for a more physical evidence-based analysis. They measured changes in cell size and looked for markers of autism spectrum disorder. Some things they studied:
-The Dentate gyrus area
I'm just going to pull out sections and let them speak for themselves.
"The neuroanatomical analyses were first performed in brains from the 1990s Primate and 2008 groups, as animals in these groups received the highest amount of EtHg exposure(1990s Primate) or the most extensive vaccine exposure (2008). Because no neuronal differences were found in either of these vaccine groups compared with the control group, no additional vaccine groups were fully studied"
"No difference in cell number, density, or cerebellar hemisphere volume was observedin the 1990s Primate and 2008 groups compared with the Control group. We also examined Purkinje cell number in some of the animals in the TCV and MMR groups, and they were similar to that of the Control group"
"There were no differences in the protein levels in the 1990s Primate or 2008 groups compared with the Control group(n=8/group). Because different regions of the cerebellum were used for the protein assays, it was important to ensure that the results reflect“whole cerebellum differences.”Therefore, we measured levels of the four proteins in five different cerebell arregions and found that all of the regions had similar levels of these proteins"
"The volume of the amygdala was not significantly different in animals receiving either the 1990s Primate (n=12) or 2008 (n=8) vaccination schedules compared with the Controls (n=16). In these same animals, we measured the volume and number of neurons in the lateral nucleus of theamygdala, and there was no difference among the three groups. Finally, the cell size in the lateral nucleus was not"
"Using double cortin immunostaining, we counted the number of these neurons in five rostral-caudal sections/brain in the Controls and animals from the 1990s Primate group. There was no difference in the total number of cells per brain between the two groups"
"No behavioral changes were observed in thevaccinated animals, nor were there neuropathological changes inthe cerebellum, hippocampus, or amygdala. This study does not support the hypothesis that thimerosal-containing vaccines and/or the MMR vaccine play a role in the etiology of autism."
"we did not find neuropathological or behavioral abnormalities in animals receiving TCVs. Neurobehavioral assessments followed very detailed protocols that have been used at the primate facility for more than three decades"
"Our data strongly support the conclusion that childhood TCVs do not produce ASD-like neuropathology or behavioral changes in the nonhuman primate."
Morover, the study itself has some decent and robust bias prevention and quality control measures.
"In the present study all cell number and cell size measurements were made with the person doing the measurements blind as to the experimental condition of the animal. In addition, at least two different people made the measurements to be certain of the validity of the data."
"Scoring was conducted by a blinded social tester in 5-min focal periods using a coding system of mutually exclusive and exhaustive behaviors (26). All testers were trained for 3–4 mo using the following protocol. "
Here's a page in IFLScience explaining this further, and the same in NewsWeek. Wakefield released a second study on autism and vaccines. However, his track record is abysmal at best and proven to be wholly unreliable. I have no interest in reading it. You can read a critique of his second study on the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's website.
From examining PubMed's list of systematic reviews and meta-analysis on the specific subject of vaccines containing thimerosal and in particular the MMR vaccine, I narrowed down the study list to 4 by eliminating pages which were unfinished, didn't contain references, or were criticised by readers for being flawed. To be totally clear: every single review I found that I eliminated from this list also said there was no link between vaccines and autism. I excluded them as they didn't meet my standard of evidence.
I also looked at a study partially funded by SafeMinds which is a group claiming that thimerosal does cause ASD in children.
From the evidence presented, after controlling for quality and eliminating papers exhibiting bias, poor design, missing data, and lack of controls, it's clear to me that the link between MMR and by extention thimerosal in vaccines is unfounded. The wakefield study was a catastrophic failure of science and he was found guilty of fraud, misappropriation of funds, conflicted interest, flawed study design, and violation of ethics.
It's sad to me that such blatant and obvious misconduct and corruption of science has been used by people ultra-critical of science as a method of proof that he was right, and that he was silenced for speaking the truth. It's sad and ironic to me that his misconduct has probably lead to many people not being vaccinated, which has likely cost an unknown number of lives.
The claim that the MMR vaccine or thimerisol-containing vaccines cause autism is categorically almost certainly false.