Some researchers say that the absence of a link has already been demonstrated in a real-world setting in Denmark, where thimerosal was removed from all vaccines in 1992. Despite this move, autism rates in the country continued to rise until 2004, the year in which the Danish study was terminated.
But some said the suggestion that vaccines could be to blame for autism may already be having an impact on public health, as parents concerned about the possibility of dangers may be less inclined to have their children immunized:
"The bottom line is that vaccines prevent life-threatening and life-risking diseases," AAP's McMillan said. "It is about the most effective public health measure we have. It is very important that we do not allow misinformation to affect that."
"In the case of the MMR [measles-mumps-rubella] vaccine, we know that it prevents diseases that can injure and kill children," said Dr. Gary Freed, director of general pediatrics for the University of Michigan Health System.
"Especially in the U.K. and Ireland, home to the early proponents of a connection between MMR and autism, decreased immunization rates have resulted in needless epidemics of measles which have killed several children."