ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — The debate over vaccines and autism arrived on Capitol Hill this week -- as an Ohio teenager explained to Congress why he defied his mother's wishes and got vaccinated once he turned 18.
Back here at home, a local pediatrician says there's no reason to fear the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine will lead to autism.
That's based in part on a new Danish study that is the latest to confirm there is no correlation between autism and the MMR vaccine.
"Multiple studies done both in the United States and in other countries have shown that if you look at a bunch of kids who got the vaccine and those who didn't, you see the same rates of autism," said SLU Care pediatrician Dr. Joshua Arthur at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. "The Danish study looked at groups of children who might be at higher risk of developing autism and showed that even in that autism-susceptible population, getting the MMR vaccine did not increase the incidence of autism."
Some people still believe vaccines can be linked to autism even though the author of a study that first suggested that twenty years ago has been discredited.
"Many families find personal anecdotes and compelling narratives more convincing than what may seem like abstract medical data for children that they don't know," said Dr. Arthur. "I think that not only social media but also personal stories from other acquaintances can make families worried about vaccines even in the absence of scientific data."
So what does he tell the parents of his patients?
"I would say the vast majority of parents are parents that I've known for awhile and trust me," said Dr. Arthur. "What I tell them is that I've been doing this job for a long time and I've analyzed the data and I believe that vaccines are best for their child and that they are safe and for most parents, that's all they need to know."
For other parents, Dr. Arthur says, he needs to get a little more detail oriented. But the message remains the same. "Vaccines are safe," said Dr. Arthur.
On Tuesday, an Ohio high school senior -- 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger -- testified before a Senate committee hearing in Washington DC. He recently defied his mother's wishes to get vaccinated as soon as he turned 18. Lindenberger told lawmakers misinformation from social media is at the root of the anti-vaccine movement.
According to the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy is one of the top ten threats to global health this year.