For reasons only known to those bizarre human beings known as anti-vaxxers, there has been ongoing debate over the past few decades as to the benefits and potential detriments of vaccination. If you are an anti-vaxxer, please do not waste your time sending me hate mail, because I will delete it immediately. It is my opinion that vaccinations were the greatest advances in medicine of the last century, having abolished diseases such as smallpox and polio and markedly reduce the risk of serious, life-threatening complications of many other illnesses. There are not too many absolutes in medicine but this is certainly one of them.

In 1998, a British researcher, Dr Andrew Wakefield published a paper suggesting there was a link between vaccination for measles mumps and rubella and the development of autism. Despite the fact that this gentleman falsified his research, and that he has since been discredited and stripped of academic credentials, there are a bunch of extremely gullible people around the world who still believe this nonsense.

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Unfortunately, when a tragedy such as autism occurs, the parents want to blame something other than a combination of genetic and a variety of environmental factors. Because speech and behaviour really starts to manifest around the same time as the MMR vaccine is administered, then the vaccination was the obvious, but not the logical, target.

A recent study from Denmark published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at the Danish population registry with access to data from all children in Denmark. This involved 657,461 children with a 10 year follow up period. During this period 6,517 children were diagnosed with autism.

The results of this study were absolute showing no relationship between the MMR vaccine and the risk for autism. It also showed that vaccination did not trigger autism in susceptible children and also showed that there was no clustering of autism cases in the period after vaccination. Interestingly, there were also no links between other vaccines and autism.

Hopefully, this extremely large study will put to bed any inferences that vaccinations are linked to autism. In the vast majority of cases, vaccination is perfectly safe and prevents children from having the complications of, at times, life-threatening illnesses. Unfortunately, the lunacy perpetrated by anti-vaxxers will continue, despite solid scientific evidence.

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Dr Walker is an expert in the field of preventative cardiology and has published seven books. He gives lectures nationally and internationally.

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