Trump support for vaccine-autism link raises fears

President Trump has already caused consternation in pharma with his attacks on industry prices and his worrying promises to slash regulations at the FDA.

But there’s another cause for concern – his support for theories linking vaccines with autism in children.

The vaccine conspiracy theories go back around two decades, when the Lancet published a now discredited study linking vaccination with autism.

Study author Dr Andrew Wakefield was struck off after his research was found to be fradulent – but not before it caused hundreds of UK parent to refuse measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations for their children.

Trump had initially approached Robert F Kennedy Jr, a proponent of the vaccine-autism myth, to lead his new commission on vaccines before his inauguration.

Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his belief in the autism link over the years, and public health leaders are worried about the potential impact on vaccination uptake in the US.

Now the president has returned to the theme at a press conference at an education centre.

The diagnosis of autism has surged over the last 20 years, and anti-vaccination campaigners continue to link it to vaccines, despite the absence of any evidence.

Trump commented: “When you look at the tremendous increase, it’s really, it’s such an incredible… it’s a really horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase.”

When the school’s principal replied that around one in 66 people are diagnosed with autism – in line with government figures – Trump replied that he thought the incidence was more common.

“Maybe we can do something,” he added.

As usual Trump’s comments are ambiguous. Yet his denial of climate change shows that he is prepared to give credence to views and beliefs that are refuted by mainstream science.

It looks likely that the Environmental Protection Agency will be the first to feel the influence of Trump’s policies.

According to reports EPA staff are bracing for executive orders that could unravel environmental legislation introduced by former president Obama.

But Trump’s latest outburst will only add to fears that emerged before his inauguration that the Centers for Disease Control, which draws up government recommendations on childhood vaccinations, could be reshaped to reflect his controversial views.

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