Immunizations, Autism, and Family Health

Autism may change the way parents choose immunizations for their other children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There has been a lot of controversy about immunizations possibly causing autism. Even though science doesn’t support this, some parents are still worried. A recent study found that parents who have a child with autism may be making risky choices for their other children.

In the study, more than half of children who had an older sibling with autism did not get their immunizations on schedule.

Missing or delayed immunizations can put kids at risk for serious illnesses.

"Discuss any immunization concerns with a pediatrician."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has looked at the proposed link between autism and immunizations. They say there is no evidence to support the link. But researchers, led by Ghassan Abu Kuwaik, MBBS, FRCP, at the University of Toronto and the Canada and Hospital for Sick Children, wanted to know if the hype was still influencing parent’s choices.

They looked at 98 kids who had an older sibling with autism, 98 kids who had a younger sibling with autism, and 65 kids with no family history of autism. All the kids in the study joined when they were less than 1 year old. The researchers followed them until they were three years old.

They looked at immunization records to see if kids were getting their immunizations on time or not.  In the US, a series of immunizations are recommended before a child reaches age 2.

The researchers found that 60 percent of kids who had an older sibling with autism had either delayed or declined immunizations. Only 16 percent of kids who had a younger sibling with autism had delays or missed immunizations. And only 9 percent of kids with no family history of autism had delayed or missed shots.

The authors concluded that having a child with autism influences parent’s choices about immunizations in their future children. Parents who have a kid with autism may delay or decline immunizations for their future children, which may put those children at risk for disease.

This study was published October 8 in Autism.  This study was funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Autism Speaks. The authors report no financial conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 24, 2012
Last Updated:
March 20, 2013