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Measles Vaccine Doesn't Cause Autism, Study Confirms

Doctors say the measles vaccine should be given to every child able to take it, and a new study gives parents one less reason to resist.

A Danish study involving more than half a million children found that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.

Dr. Allison Bartlett is an associate professor of pediatric diseases at Comer Children’s hospital.

"There is absolutely no evidence at this time that vaccines cause autism," she said. "I find all of these studies very frustrating in that– the need to do them, that means there are resources ... not being spent on working towards actually finding the underlying causes for autism."

The study comes as a number of locations are experiencing measles outbreaks spreading quickly because of high numbers of unvaccinated people.

In Washington, D.C., a Senate panel warned Tuesday of the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement.

The star witness: 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger, a student who received numerous vaccinations against his mother's wishes.

"I think part of the issue is being able to inform people about how to find good information," he said. "With my mother, it wasn’t that she didn’t have the information, but she was manipulated into disbelieving it."

Bartlett says the danger is not just to one unvaccinated child, but to every person that child comes in contact with.

"The protection of the vaccine is in the very high percentage, 98 to 99 percent," she said. "The chance of catching it, if you are in a room with someone and you are exposed to measles and not vaccinated, is about nine out of 10 people will become infected."

The Illinois Department of Public Health said people who were at Midway Airport on Feb. 22 between 9 p.m. and midnight or those in the emergency room at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital from 4-6:15 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 25 may have been exposed.

Health officials warned of potential measles exposure after a passenger who was diagnosed was believed to be infectious while traveling through Midway Airport and seeking treatment at Delnor Hospital last week.

“Of most concern are people who have not been vaccinated,” IDPH said in a statement. “Individuals who think they have been exposed should check with their health care provider about protection through prior vaccination or the need for vaccination.”

Should anyone be infected, they could develop symptoms as late as March 20. Symptoms include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red or watery eyes, health officials said.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should call or email a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department, IDPH warned.

Measles can easily spread through the air if someone coughs of sneezes. People can also get sick if they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.

“Measles is highly contagious,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “However, two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles. We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations, especially if you are traveling to other countries where measles is regularly found.”

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