Why are autism rates rising? Science says it's got absolutely nothing to do with vaccines.

In news that will not surprise anyone who trusts medical advice over ‘expert’ opinion: science has once again definitively proven that there is no correlation between vaccination rates and increased autism diagnoses in children.

Yes, despite what the anti-vaxxers will tell you.

Every piece of credible medical research points to vaccination preventing illnesses in children rather than causing some. And yet, the anti-vaccination lobby has maintained its stance on spreading lies, fear and misinformation. Top of their list? The myth that more parents ‘exposing’ their children to vaccinations has caused autism levels in the population to rise– a claim that has absolutely no basis in fact.

Vaccinations and autism are not correlated.

This week, another study has concluded that the apparent ‘rise’ in autism rates is a too-long perpetuated myth. Rather than more children being on the autism spectrum than ever before, more of them are simply now receiving a diagnosis, JAMA Pediatrics has found.

Researchers behind the study found that almost two thirds of the increase in Danish children with autism over the last decade is due to how autism is now diagnosed and tracked– NOT because there are more of them than before. This has dispelled the common anti-vaccination rhetoric that autism rates in the mid 1990s only increased because more chose to vaccinate their children. 

The data examined the health records of over half a million children born between 1980 and 1991, until they either had an autism diagnosis or reached the study end date in December 2011. It showed that yes, the number of children diagnosed with autism has increased since the mid 90s. Not because more of those children were vaccinated, but because what fell under the autism spectrum shifted then too.

There has never been a link and will never be a link between vaccines and autism.


In 1994 the psychiatric diagnoses for autism changed in Denmark so autism became a spectrum of disorders, with a greater range of symptoms included under its umbrella. Unsurprisingly, researchers found significantly more children were diagnosed with autism from 1995 onwards, and that 60% of the increase could be attributed to these criteria changes regarding what constituted autism.

What makes this study strong is its size, with well over 600,000 children born over a decade included, and the use of the national health registry for the data. It again discredits the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield that told parents that childhood vaccinations could cause children to become autistic. (Yes, the same ‘researcher’ that used only 12 British children in his study, some of who it later came out did not even have autism and some of who were recruited from an anti-vaccine lobby group. Sigh).

“This study is important because it shows a large part of the increase has nothing to do with the environment, but rather administrative decisions,” says study author Stefan Hansen of Aarhus University in Denmark.

Dr Rachel Dunlop previously wrote for Mamamia:

“There is no solid scientific evidence for a link between vaccines and autism. And believe me, science has been looking for well over 14 years. The theory that vaccines cause autism was first suggested by Andrew Wakefield in 1998. Since then, Wakefield’s paper has been discredited and withdrawn from The Lancet and Wakefield has lost his medical licence for showing “callous disregard” for children’s welfare. Since 1998 there have been countless large and comprehensive studies looking for a link between vaccines and autism, but the evidence keeps coming up negative”.

So, there you have it, anti-vaxxers. Science has told us so. Again. There has never been a link and will never be a link between vaccines and autism.

We don’t want to say we told you so when it comes to this whole vaccinations do not cause autism thing… except that we kind of did. Here, and here, and here and here.

Because there is no ‘debate’. There is only scientific fact.

This is a gallery of common myths about vaccines being harmful and why they’re wrong. It includes some good arguments to use when you’re faced with anti-vaccination rhetoric.

For more, try:

Click here for a harrowing and heartbreaking look at what whooping cough is REALLY like.

Click here if you’d like to know what it’s like to grow up unvaccinated.

Click here to see an example of how quickly dangerous and vaccine-preventable diseases can spread once the majority of the population is not being vaccinated.

Please share this post with friends and family who believe in science and support vaccinations to keep our community safe.