WHO evaluation of whether MMR vaccine increases the incidence of autism

In 1998, a researcher claimed that MMR vaccine increases the incidence of autism. Parents expressed their concerns and media reported widely on this statement. Global scientific advice on this issue was needed for professional staff to take informed decision on this issue.

WHO, based on the recommendation of its advisory body the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), commissioned a literature review by an independent researcher of the risk of autism associated with MMR vaccine. The existing studies did not show evidence of an association between the risk of autism or autistic disorders and MMR vaccine.

Based on the extensive review presented, GACVS concluded that no evidence existed of a causal association between MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders. The Committee expressed its belief that the matter would likely be clarified by an improved understanding of the causes of autism.

GACVS also concluded that there was no evidence to support the routine use of monovalent vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella vaccines over the combined vaccine, a strategy which would put children at increased risk of incomplete immunization.

GACVS recommended that there should be no change in current vaccination practices with MMR.