Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses.

Although child vaccination rates remain high, some parental concern persists that vaccines might cause autism. THREE SPECIFIC HYPOTHESES HAVE BEEN PROPOSED

(1) the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism by damaging the intestinal lining, which allows the entrance of encephalopathic proteins; (2) thimerosal, an ethylmercury-containing preservative in some vaccines, is toxic to the central nervous system; and (3) the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms or weakens the immune system. We will discuss the genesis of each of these theories and review the relevant epidemiological evidence.

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