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Delaying childhood vaccinations does not improve children's health, study finds

May 24, 2010 | 12:11 pm

Child baby vaccination Now that the thimerosal-autism link has been thoroughly discredited, some autism advocates argue that neurodevelopmental problems are caused by overloading children's immune systems with too many vaccines too early in life. As a result, a growing number of parents are asking pediatricians to use alternative vaccination schedules that spread out the shots, even though there is no evidence to suggest that the practice may be helpful. In fact, common sense suggests that it is more likely to be harmful because the highest incidence of infection and mortality from pertussis, for example, occurs in the first six months of life. Failure to vaccinate also exposes other children in the community to infectious diseases that they might otherwise avoid.

Researchers cannot ethically conduct a clinical trial of delayed vaccinations because of the potential risks to the children involved. In an effort to circumvent this problem, pediatric infectious disease specialists Dr. Michael J. Smith and Dr. Charles R. Woods, both of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, analyzed data on 1,047 children enrolled in a previous study designed to determine whether thimerosal produced an autism risk. The children were born between 1993 and 1997, vaccinated by their parents on a schedule of the parents' choosing, and then subjected to a series of 42 neuropsychological tests between the ages of 7 and 10.

Just under half of the children (491 or 47%) received their vaccines on a timely basis, within 30 days of schedule. An additional 235 (23%) received all vaccinations, but not on schedule, and the remaining children received some but not all vaccines. On-time vaccination was most likely to occur among households in which the mother was highly educated and in which household income was higher.

The Louisville duo reported Monday in the journal Pediatrics that delayed vaccinations did not improve outcomes. In fact, outcomes in this group might have been worse. The researchers found that children vaccinated on time performed higher on 15 of the 42 tests than those who were not vaccinated on time. The latter group did not perform higher on any test. The researchers did not offer a potential explanation for this finding, but it may be linked to the higher household incomes.

Current vaccination schedules call for even more shots, so the results are not directly translatable, the authors conceded. But even with the added shots on the new schedule, children are actually exposed to lower doses of antigens because of improvements in the vaccines, they said, so the safety should remain the same.

"This study provides the strongest clinical outcomes evidence to date that on-time receipt of vaccines during infancy has no adverse effect on neurodevelopmental outcomes 7 to 10 years later," the authors wrote. "These results offer reassuring information that physicians and public health officials may use to communicate with parents who are concerned that children receive too many vaccines too soon."

The study was funded internally at the university. Woods has received honoraria from pharmaceutical companies for speeches and has received research funding from them for other projects.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

Photo credit: Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (8)


Not that this will dissuade McCarthy and her merry band of anti-vaxx loons from their continued crusade to spread misinformation and fear. There are, of course, countless more rigorous studies that contradict every allegation that woman makes against vaccines and the medical community. Doesn't seem to matter though, they're wedded to the notion that vaccines are part of an evil plot to poison children and destroy the world. In her eyes, this is just another chapter in the tale of the Vaccine Illuminati.

"The study was funded internally at the university. Woods has received honoraria from pharmaceutical companies for speeches and has received research funding from them for other projects." HE IS GETTING PAID BY THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES TO GIVE SPEECHES TO SAY THE VACCINES THEY MAKE ARE SAFE AND NOW "MAKES YOUR KIDS SMARTER" Sure, formaldehyde makes you smart! Try posting and UNBIASED research (not paid by the vaccine companies) and it might have a leg to stand on.
Oh and what about the 3rd group that did not have any vaccines?

Apparently Maugh did not do his research. Because neither of these studies measured autism.

See the first 7 to 10 year old study in the NEMJ contains this little note: "(We did not assess autism-spectrum disorders.)"

And the pediatrics study was based on that study, so it does not include autism either. The authors leave this little note tucked at the very end of the paper:

"Finally, our analyses were limited to publicly available data from the original study. Future VSD studies without this restriction would be able to assess a wider range of outcomes. These include putative vaccine adverse effects such as neurodevelopmental delay, autism, and autoimmune disorders."

That is right. They took a group of kids, removed all the ones with autism, THEN studied the group for brain damage from vaccines. Sure made it sound like there were actually studying whether or not vaccines cause autism didn't they?

Apparently Maugh fell for it (or just goes along with the scam) as he writes that the first study was "to determine whether thimerosal produced an autism risk".

None of this has anything to do with autism. Do you own research people. Maugh can't be trusted.

"Try posting and UNBIASED research (not paid by the vaccine companies) and it might have a leg to stand on."

I think we should rely on researchers such as Andrew Wakefield, who was paid by lawyers, don't you?

Oops. Michael J. Smith and the media seem to forgetting that his study is based off an original study that clearly states, "We did not ...assess autism-spectrum disorders." Oops. (Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years) Common, take the time to read the print.

cristal wrote

"Sure, formaldehyde makes you smart! "

This is true, life is not possible without formaldehyde. It is necessary for the production of some amino acids and DNA.
An adult produces and metabolizes 50 gr of formaldehyde a day. The maximum formaldehyde content of a 0.5 ml vaccine is 100µg. In fact it is about 5 µg or lower.

We are always looking at the shot itself. As parents of two on the autistic spectrum I speak with some (limited) authority on this subject! We are not at anytime that I have read looked at what came up as a subject while we were getting into this whole mess with our son (our oldest). If the nurse does not shake the bottle/vial and mixes it up (and prepares the shot OUTSIDE OF THE EXAM ROOM)each child is getting more or maybe at times even less of thimersol? than another child. You can NOT TELL US AS PARENTS that you as a community (as a whole) that just because person A says that person B says that the shot our children got was 100 or 5 or whatever you want to say that it was actually. Tons and Tons of times these were multi-shot containers and I to my horror remember waiting for ages for a nurse after his exam to FINALLY trudge in with the needle for him to get his shot (ON A TRAY ALREADY PREPARED AND POUND IT INTO HIS LITTLE ARM ETC. WITHOUT EVEN A HELLO OR ANYTHING. And then we would leave the room with our sheet (what shot it was) and leave with a crying child and it was OUR PROBLEM that he was acting strange each day after that and tons more strange things happening after even more shots happened. This isn't even the story of our daughter who waited until the latest time frame on the shot schedule that I could convince this same doctor to let us do for her MMR shot as my son had instantly changed and stopped talking and all the other. So, please don't as a community ATTACK everything you hear (we don't as parents of these children!!) And also what I hear from Jenny is the main theme that she has is that all children are NOT THE SAME + our shot schedule and studies are extremely old and nonrevised and only now with the autism scare is it even a subject being dealt with in the medical/government community. That is all we as parents want too. NO ONE EVER TOLD US WHEN I WAS PG WITH OUR SECOND CHILD THAT THE FLU SHOT DID STILL HAVE THIMERSOL IN IT!! I had a shot while PG and even gave one to my autistic son and our new baby girl. There are still tv ads saying, oh, you owe it to your health of your baby get the shot. What the heck is this!!! Yes, you can ask for a flu shot without the thimersol, but get this no one carries it. You can't find it!!! So, yes we go without vaccines and sorry but what the heck would you do in our shoes. My sons blood count dipped dangerously for his kindergartin shots and we had to let get better and this was on a spread apart over the summer and one shot at a time. ALL KIDS ARE NOT THE SAME, NOR ARE ALL BABIES. WE SHOULD LOOK FOR PREDISPOSITIONED CHILDREN, THEIR PARENTS AND FAMILIES AND WE SHOULD HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE SHOT SCHEDULE. AND THE PUBLICE SHOULD BE HIGHLY INFORMED OF ALL OF THIS. We do not have a genetic epidemic as people are trying to push autism towards. That is just crazy. We have families and babies that don't fit the norm, lets look at that and what society and the environment causes to this situation. Then maybe we can start turning this the other way. And put the $$$ towards helping the families and schools do something with these thousands of kids that got the autism. The way we are heading that is the epidemic the children that are just being diagnosed,like Jenny says you get AUTISM and then they just send you out the door and basically say thank you and goodbye!!!!!

Ginger Taylor ( ) is wrong.

Children with autism were NOT removed from either testing pool.

In fact, the authors of the older paper say they reduced biases by KEEPING kids in the testing pools, regardless of neurodevelopmental diagnoses.

When they say "did not assess autism," all they mean is that they did not attempt to diagnose autism specifically in any of the kids.

The tests they did are measures of specific types of neurological and intellectual function, not global tests for one type of disorder or another.

The only kids removed from the testing pools were children who could have brain damage due to conditions like hydrocephalus, meningitis, premature birth, etc. These conditions are birth defects, genetic, happened in the womb, or were caused by infections.


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