Stanley Plotkin, Jeffrey S. Gerber, Paul A. Offit
Published: 15 February 2009



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.