Autism Myth 1: Vaccines cause autism

Autism Myth #1: Autism is caused by vaccines.

The grandest myth about Autism is that the disorder is caused by vaccines. This stems from research published in 1998 by former British gastroenterologist and medical, Andrew J. Wakefield, which linked the MMR Vaccine to Autism and bowel disease. This research created a kind of mass hysteria -- a hysteria that was further perpetuated by celebrity moms such as Jenny McCarthy, who publically blamed vaccines for her son's autism.

Truth: There is no link between autism and vaccines.

Vaccinate Your Child
Latest Health Axioms card, illustrated by Sarah Kaiser.

We can't overstate this enough: "There is no link," says Michael Rosenthal, Ph.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist who specializes in autism at the Child Mind Institute in New York City. "Every good study we have showed that there was no science behind this claim."

In fact, Dr. Wakefield's paper has been officially retracted and he lost his job and his medical license. Still, the vaccines-can-cause-autism myth has proven surprisingly durable: "I think it hangs around because parents are scared and desperate," Dr. Rosenthal explains, noting that "there is also a timing issue because we first see signs of autism around the same time these vaccines are administered. But it's simply a coincidence." In fact, new research has pinpointed lack of eye contact as a warning sign of autism in babies as young as 2 months--before they've received most of their shots.