Autistic children are missing out on life-saving vaccinations, new research suggests.
Only 81.6 per cent of those on the autism spectrum have received all the recommended vaccinations for children aged between four and six years old, a study found.
For those without the developmental disability, 94.1 per cent have had the necessary jabs, including diptheria, polio, and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), the research adds.
Lead author Dr Ousseny Zerbo, from Kaiser Permanente, California, said: ‘These findings suggest that children with autism and their younger siblings may be at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.
‘Vaccine hesitancy or refusal may play a role in children not getting properly vaccinated.’
The decision by parents not to vaccinate their children could be attributed to the disgraced gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield’s discredited theory that the MMR vaccine is linked to bowel disease and autism.
Around 1.1 percent of people in the UK are on the autism spectrum, according to the National Autistic Society.
Autistic children are missing out on life-saving vaccinations, new research suggests (stock)
IS GUT BACTERIA LINKED TO AUTISM?
Gut bacteria may be linked to autism, research suggested in August 2017.
Pathogens in the stomach alter the brain’s development and may increase an individual’s risk of suffering from the disorder, a study implies.
A three-way relationship between the brain, gut and stress hormone cortisol appears to influence how ‘messages’ are communicated in the body, which may result in autistic symptoms, the research adds.
Lead author Austin Mudd, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said: ‘Changes during infancy can have profound effects on brain development, and it is possible that the microbiome – or collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses inhabiting our gut – plays a role in this process.’
The researchers claim further studies are required before this three-way mechanism can be used to determine autism symptoms.
The researchers analysed one-month-old piglets.
Piglets were chosen as their brain and gut development most commonly resembles that of humans, compared to other animals.
The researchers examined the piglets’ faeces to determine if bacteria in their stools influences compounds in their blood and brains.
Results suggest the presence of the bacteria Bacteroides and Clostridium in faeces is associated with higher levels of a substance involved in cell signalling, known as myo-inositol.
The presence of such bacteria was further found to influence levels of the hormones cortisol and serotonin, both of which are determined by gut bacteria.
Younger siblings of autistic children also miss out on jabs
Results further suggest just 89.1 percent of children with autism have been vaccinated against diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough, compared to 96.6 percent of youngsters without the disorder.
Only 84 percent of autistic children are protected against MMR versus 95.9 percent who do not suffer such developmental and behavioural challenges.
The younger siblings of autism sufferers are also missing out, with 6.8 percent receiving fewer vital jabs than their peers.
Dr Nicholas Wood, from Sydney University, who was not involved in the study, added: ‘Parents of autism spectrum disorder kids may be worried; they may still feel that the MMR vaccine led to autism.
‘And that a second dose may cause a regression.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed the vaccine data of 3,729 children with an autism spectrum disorder; 592,907 youngsters without the condition and both of their younger siblings.
Participants were born between 1995 and September 2010, while their younger brothers or sisters were born between 1997 and September 2014.
The findings were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Is Andrew Wakefield’s discredited research to blame for low vaccination rates?
In 1995 the gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet showing children who had been vaccinated against MMR were more likely to have bowel disease and autism.
He speculated that being injected with a ‘dead’ form of the measles virus via vaccination causes disruption to intestinal tissue, leading to both of the disorders.
After a 1998 paper further confirmed this finding, Wakefield said: ‘The risk of this particular syndrome [which he termed autistic enterocolitis] developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.’
At the time, Wakefield had a patent for single MMR vaccines and was therefore accused of having a conflict of interest.
Nonetheless, MMR vaccination rates in the US and UK plummeted, until, in 2004 the then-editor of The Lancet Dr Richard Horton described Wakefield’s research as ‘fundamentally flawed’, adding he was paid by attorneys seeking lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.
The Lancet formally retracted Wakefield’s research paper in 2010.
Three months later, the General Medical Council banned Wakefield from practicing medicine in Britain, stating his research had shown a ‘callous disregard’ for children’s health.
On January 6 2011, The British Medical Journal published a report showing that of the 12 children included in Wakefield’s 1995 study, at most two had autistic symptoms post vaccination, rather than the eight he claimed.
At least two of the children also had developmental delays before they were vaccinated, yet Wakefield’s paper claimed they were all ‘previously normal’.
Further findings revealed none of the children had autism, non-specific colitis or symptoms within days of receiving the MMR vaccine, yet the study claimed six of the participants suffered all three.