Vaccines are safe and not the cause of autism, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academies. The panel based its conclusions on the review of more than 1,000 studies on eight vaccines commonly given to children, including those for chickenpox, meningitis, tetanus, and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
The evidence that the MMR vaccine is not to blame for autism is “overwhelming,” Ellen Wright Clayton, the chairwoman of the panel, told The New York Times. The study found that vaccines were very safe, with temporary reactions such as swelling at the injection site or fainting being the most common side effects.
Some serious side effects were linked to vaccines, but occurred very rarely. Among them: those who receive the chicken pox vaccine could later come down with pneumonia or meningitis if their immune systems become compromised by diseases such as cancer, and the MMR vaccine occasionally sets off brain inflammation or seizures, Nature reports. Six of the eight vaccines can also cause allergic reactions. The more serious side effects most commonly occur in children who have underlying immune problems.