Anyway, I was reading this weekend that the number of measles cases in the United States is the highest in seven years. I wrote a tidbit on MileHive about it Measles on the comeback (the article should be live at some point today).
It seems that many parents are bypassing the MMR vaccine. I assume because of the autism scare. The fact that Measles is coming back shows just how important it is to have all the information.
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines. No studies have found a link between it and autism. Pediatric vaccines no longer contain it anyway and its removal has had no effect on autism rates. No studies have been able to find a physiological or neurological mechanism linking MMR vaccine and autism.
So the consensus at this point is that it's a coincidence due to the ages of onset being the same as the age we give vaccines. Plus, with the broadening definitions of autism and the creation of the spectrum disorders, in addition to more sensitive screening methods, the number of autism diagnoses have increased. This does not mean the disorder is more prevalent than it was, we're just more aware of it.
I wouldn't hesitate to vaccinate my own children (if/when I have them) with MMR at this point.