The study, lead by Associate Professor Guy Eslick from the Sydney Medical School, looked to find a statistically significant link between the common childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and the development of autism.
Anti-vaccination groups have long claimed the existence of such a link. They claim that components found in vaccines like mercury and thimerosal can lead to the development of autism. They have also pointed to combining vaccines, as with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as a potential cause.
The negative effects of these claims have been widespread. They have led to a growing distrust of vaccines, and subsequently an increase in the infection rates of vaccine-preventable disease amongst children around Australia and the world.
According to Associate Professor Eslick, parents’ refusal to vaccinate their children has “substantially decreased ‘herd immunity’”, whereby a large population of immunised individuals helps to protect those who have not been vaccinated. This in turn means that the risk of those children catching more serious infectious diseases increases.
Sydney Uni researchers hope that their results will encourage parents to vaccinate their children and to protect them against these preventable diseases.