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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statement

regarding Brian Hooker’s reanalysis of its 2004 study
Aug. 27, 2014

There was no cover up. The study did not find any statistically significant associations
between age at MMR vaccination and autism. In the CDC paper, similar proportions of case
(children with autism) and control children (no autism) had been vaccinated before 18 months
or before 24 months. While slightly more children with autism (93.4%) than children without
autism (90.6%) were vaccinated between 24 and 36 months, this was most likely a result of
immunization requirements for preschool special education program attendance in children
with autism.

As this topic was so sensitive and complex, the CDC study published in Pediatrics in February
2004 underwent clearance at CDC, the usual process of internal review for scientific accuracy
that all CDC papers undergo. In addition, before submission to the journal, the manuscript
was reviewed by five experts outside of CDC and an independent CDC statistician (see
acknowledgements section of the paper for specific names). Finally, all reputable journals
undergo peer-review of all submitted papers before final publication.

The 2004 CDC study was designed as a case-control study. This means, children with autism
(cases) were specifically identified, and children without autism (controls) were identified to
be similar to the children with autism in other respects. When data are collected in a specific
way for a specific type of statistical analysis (a case-control study in this instance), using
those data in a different type of analysis can produce confusing results. Because the methods
in Dr. Hooker’s reanalysis were not described in detail, it is hard to speculate why his results
differed from CDC’s.

Since the 2004 Pediatrics paper, CDC has conducted additional studies of vaccines and
autism. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine reviewed published and unpublished findings from
the US and other countries and concluded that there was no association between MMR
vaccination and autism. In 2011, another IOM committee reviewed additional research, and
once again found that evidence favored rejection of this association.