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A positive association found between autism prevalence and childhood vaccination uptake across the U.S. population.
Department of Economics and Finance, Baruch College/City University of New York, New York, New York, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The reason for the rapid rise of autism in the United States that began in the 1990s is a mystery. Although individuals probably have a genetic predisposition to develop autism, researchers suspect that one or more environmental triggers are also needed. One of those triggers might be the battery of vaccinations that young children receive. Using regression analysis and controlling for family income and ethnicity, the relationship between the proportion of children who received the recommended vaccines by age 2 years and the prevalence of autism (AUT) or speech or language impairment (SLI) in each U.S. state from 2001 and 2007 was determined. A positive and statistically significant relationship was found: The higher the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations, the higher was the prevalence of AUT or SLI. A 1% increase in vaccination was associated with an additional 680 children having AUT or SLI. Neither parental behavior nor access to care affected the results, since vaccination proportions were not significantly related (statistically) to any other disability or to the number of pediatricians in a U.S. state. The results suggest that although mercury has been removed from many vaccines, other culprits may link vaccines to autism. Further study into the relationship between vaccines and autism is warranted.
Just as a note, I find it interesting you would cite an article discussing autism and vaccination written by economists. Although regression analysis can indicate a causal link between increased vaccination and autism rates, it does not account for other outside factors - such as the trend toward increased maternal/paternal age or increased population obesity, that occurred simultaneously with increased vaccination rates.