April 6, 2000 - 10:30 a.m. (ET) -- Forwarded message from the AAP
VACCINES ARE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE
Evidence confirms no link between autism and vaccines
Washington, D.C. -- In response to a U.S. House Government Reform Committee
hearing today, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants to reassure parents
that vaccines are the safest way to protect children against potentially
devastating infectious diseases.
"What a tragedy it would be for any child to suffer the consequences of a
disease that could have been prevented by vaccination," AAP President Donald
Cook, M.D., said.
If parents refuse to immunize their children, this country will see a
resurgence of epidemics of these diseases. The measles epidemic of l989-1991
in this country affected more than 55,000 people; 11,000 were hospitalized
and more than 120 died. A major cause of the epidemic was failure to
vaccinate children on time at 12 - 15 months of age.
The congressional hearing is focusing on autism, including an
unsubstantiated link to vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella).
"While I support any effort to discover the reason a child has autism,
current scientific data indicate that vaccines are not the cause," Dr. Cook
Autism manifests itself in the first three years of life, which is the same
time a child is being vaccinated, but timing is the only link. A study in
the British medical journal Lancet found similar autism rates among children
who received the MMR vaccine and those who had not. A report commissioned
by Britain's Medical Research Council and released this week found that
there was no link between MMR and autism or bowel disorders.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports aggressive research into the
causes, treatment and prevention of autism as many questions remain. The
perceived increase in autism cases could be attributed to a number of
factors, and additional study is needed.
Vaccines are developed through rigorous research designed to ensure safe and
effective products. These products are then subjected to another level of
intense scrutiny in order to assure that recommendations about immunization
practices and procedures reflect the best available science. Once approved
for use, there is a robust system of checks and balances that monitors the
safety and efficacy of vaccines.
A child's chance of being harmed by an infectious disease like measles or
mumps is far greater than any risk of being harmed by the vaccine. These
diseases have not been eliminated, only kept at bay through widespread
childhood immunization. Measles, for example, can lead to pneumonia or an
infection of the brain and can cause death. Mumps can cause an infection in
the lining of the brain and death.
To help inform parents about the benefits and risks of vaccines, the
American Academy of Pediatrics has developed brochures that are distributed
by pediatricians. Vaccine information can also be obtained on the AAP web
site: www.aap.org. Parents should also talk to their pediatrician.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 55,000 primary care
pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults.
Editor's Note: A b-roll package containing interviews with parents and
pediatricians about the value of vaccines and images of children who have
contracted infectious diseases, is available by calling Marjorie Tharp or
Sherry Llewellyn at 202/347-8600.