The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network recently released a report that showed an increase in autism prevalence rates.
What does that have to do with vaccines?
Trends in Autism Prevalence
Just about everyone understands that autism prevalence rates have been increasing over the years. It is what makes some folks think that there is a real autism epidemic.
Using ADDM Network numbers, it is easy to see the trend:
- 1 in 150 children in 2000
- 1 in 150 children in 2002
- 1 in 125 children in 2004
- 1 in 110 children in 2006
- 1 in 88 children in 2008
- 1 in 68 children in 2010
- 1 in 68 children in 2012
- 1 in 59 children in 2014
- 1 in 54 children in 2016
- 1 in 44 children in 2018 (the latest, 2021 report of children born in 2014)
Of course, as it is has been shown over and over again, vaccines are not associated with autism.
These CDC reports should even take away any last idea that they are.
If there was any association with vaccines, then why are autism rates so widely different in the 11 states that are tracked by ADDM?
Are immunization rates different in those states?
Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
Anyone who has read the latest report on autism rates understands that it is not a representation of autism in the United States as a whole, but instead “focuses on children aged 4 years in 2018, who were born in 2014 and had a parent or guardian who lived in the surveillance area in one of 11 sites (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin) at any time during 2018.”
Even then, the ADDM Network doesn’t look at all of the children in those states. They are mostly looking at children near large institutions that are hosts for the ADDM Network, such as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, and Rutgers University, etc.
Taking a closer look, we know that the 220,281 8-year-olds in the latest ADDM Network report were born in 2010 and live in:
- part of one county in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona
- 21 counties in central Arkansas
- part of one county in metropolitan San Diego, California
- two counties in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia
- five counties in suburban Baltimore, Maryland
- parts of three counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota
- five counties in metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri
- part of two counties in New York metropolitan area of New Jersey
- 11 counties in middle in middle Tennessee
- three counties in northern Utah
- eight counties in southeastern Wisconsin
Why is this important?
“The ADDM method is population-based. This means that we study ASD and other developmental disabilities among thousands of children from diverse communities across the country.”Facts About CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
It shows that “differences in ASD identification among communities suggest opportunities to more equitably identify and serve children with ASD..”
Immunization Rates and the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network
It also helps to dispel any last ideas that vaccines are associated with autism!
For one thing, there haven’t been any big changes to the immunization schedule in a long time. The last change? Prevnar 13 replaced Prevnar 7 in 2010.
The last additions to the childhood immunization schedule? The hepatitis A vaccine in 2006 and a booster dose of the chickenpox vaccine in 2007.
You can also add in the fact that national immunization rates actually decreased for kids born in 2014.
“Coverage in 2016 was approximately 1–2 percentage points lower than in 2015 for ≥3 doses of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP), ≥3 doses of poliovirus vaccine, the primary Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) series, ≥3 HepB doses, and ≥3 and ≥4 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), with no changes for other vaccines.”Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2016
So how could vaccines be driving an increase in autism rates?
That vaccines are not associated with autism becomes even clearer when you look at the immunization rates of children in ADDM Network from which the new autism prevalence is derived. Remember, they don’t look at the entire United States, but rather just 11 monitoring sites in their tracking area.
So let’s look at the immunization rates in the ADDM Network tracking area (4 doses of DTaP, 3 doses of IPV, one dose of MMR, 3 doses of Hib, 3 doses of HepB, 1 dose of Varicella, 4 doses of Prevnar, plus flu shot, and 1 dose of HepA by age 36 months) and compare them to the autism rates in those same counties.
If vaccines were associated with autism, what should you see? Higher rates of autism in the areas with the highest immunization rates.
|County||Autism Rate||Immunization Rates|
|Maricopa (AZ)||1 in 40||DTaP 80%, IPV 88%, MMR 91%, Hib 86%, HepB 86%, Var 91%, Prev 77%, and flu 41%, HepA 92%|
|Pulaski (AR)||1 in 44||only 66% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series in Arkansas in 2014 (county level vaccination rates aren’t available)|
|San Diego (CA)||1 in 26||just over 78% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series|
|Dekalb (GA)||1 in 59||DTaP 88%, IPV 96%, MMR 96%, Hib 99%, HepB 96%, Var 97%, Prev 100%, and flu 72%, HepA 62%|
|Gwinett (GA)||1 in 59||DTaP 83%, IPV 96%, MMR 91%, Hib 94%, HepB 95%, Var 92%, Prev 94%, and flu 64%, HepA 54%|
|Baltimore (MD)||1 in 49||just over 74% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series in Maryland in 2014 (county level vaccination rates aren’t available)|
|Anoka (MN)||1 in 36||57% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series|
|Hennepin (MN)||1 in 36||52% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series|
|Ramsey (MN)||1 in 36||56% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series|
|Jefferson (MO)||1 in 60||just over 70% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series in Missouri in 2014 (county level vaccination rates aren’t available)|
|Essex (NJ)||1 in 35||just over 67% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series in New Jersey in 2014 (county level vaccination rates aren’t available)|
|Davidson (TN)||1 in 44||just over 74% of children were fully immunized with the seven vaccine series|
|1 in 46||DTaP 33%, IPV 67%, MMR 46%, Hib 91%, HepB 72%, Var 44%, Prev 38%|
|Milwaukee (WI)||1 in 53||DTaP 71%, IPV 85%, MMR 85%, Hib 87%, HepB 86%, Var 84%, Prev 80%,|
You don’t see that in any of this data though, do you?
The counties in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Georgia, with the lowest rates of autism, have immunization rates that aren’t much different from the immunization rates in New Jersey and California, where you find much higher autism rates!
Also, counties in Minnesota, with some of the highest autism rates have the lowest immunization rates in the ADDM Network!
Some other things we know about vaccines and the latest autism report?
- fewer babies born in 2014 received a birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine than in previous years. Rates were down from a recent high of 74.2% for children born between January 2010 to May 2012 to 71.1% for babies born January 2013–May 2015.
- in 2014, just over half of mothers received a flu shot during their pregnancy, which is about the same rate since the 2012 flu season
- in 2014, only about half of mothers received a Tdap shot during their pregnancy, which has been increasing since this recommendation was made in 2011
Does any of this surprise you?
How can vaccines be associated with autism when counties that have lower immunization rates have higher rates of autism?
What to Know About Vaccines and the Latest Autism Prevalence Report
The latest Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network report on autism prevalence from the CDC shows a rate that has increased to 1 in 44 children. And as county level trends in vaccination coverage show no correlation to those autism prevalence rates, folks will hopefully stop trying to associate vaccines with autism.
More on Vaccines and the Latest Autism Prevalence Report
- If It’s Vaccines, Then Why Are There Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated?
- Where Are the Autistic Kids Who Aren’t Vaccinated?
- Getting Diagnosed With Autism As an Older Teen Or Young Adult
- Autistic Adults
- How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Hurts Autistic Families
- The Myth of an Autism Epidemic
- Expert Statements on Vaccines and Autism
- About Those Research Papers Supporting the Vaccine/Autism Link
- Explaining the Correlation of Autism After Vaccines
- MMWR – Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 4 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2018 (2021 report)
- MMWR – Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2018 (2021 report)
- CDC – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
- MMWR – Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2016
- MMWR – National, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2014
- CDC – Tdap Vaccination Coverage During Pregnancy — Selected Sites, United States, 2006–2015
- CDC – Flu Vaccination Coverage Among Pregnant Women – United States, 2015-16 Flu Season
- CDC – VaxView
- Community Reports from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
- Did autism prevalence increase by 20%?
- Autism prevalence increases to 1 in 59, and antivaxers lose it…yet again
- Autism Prevalence On The Rise, CDC Says
- Autism Prevalence Jumps 16 Percent, CDC Says
- Here’s why the apparent increase in autism spectrum disorders may be good for U.S. children
- How Common is Autism?
- The Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children
- NCHS – Estimated Prevalence of Children With Diagnosed Developmental Disabilities in the United States, 2014–2016
- NCHS – Estimated Prevalence of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Following Questionnaire Changes in the 2014 National Health Interview Survey.
- NSCS – ASD Data on the Data Resource Center
- NSCS – Prevalence of Autism – 2011/12 National Survey of Children’s Health
- No, the autism “rate” in California did not go down after removing thimerosal from vaccines
- You Won’t Guess Why U.S. Autism Prevalence Is Now 1 In 45
- Why Were Cases Of Autism So Hard To Find Before The 1990s?
- No, the autism prevalence did not go down in Denmark after the removal of thimerosal
- Is the Rise In Autism Rates Real?
- Evidence against an “autism epidemic”