Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and their younger siblings are less likely to receive the full course of recommended immunizations, placing them at increased risk of vaccine-preventable disease, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

To assess the influence of an ASD diagnosis on a family’s choice to adhere to recommended vaccination schedules, researchers compared immunization records of 3,729 children with ASD to the records of 592,907 children without the disorder born between 1995 and 2010. Researchers also analyzed the vaccination records of the younger siblings of children with ASD.

Among children with ASD ages 4 to 6, 81.6 percent received all recommended vaccines, while 94.1 percent of children in the same age group without ASD completed the recommended immunization course. Parents of children with ASD were also more likely to forgo vaccines for younger siblings and limit the number of vaccines administered during well-child visits.

“The highest rates of undervaccination in this study were among siblings of children with ASD who were in the groups ages 1 to 11 months and 1 to 2 years,” wrote the study’s authors. “This suggests that some parents consider the potential risks of ASD associated with vaccination to be greatest at these younger ages at which more vaccines are recommended. … New strategies, including establishing or promoting a better dialogue among parents, healthcare professionals, and public health authorities, may be needed to increase vaccine uptake in populations with low uptake.”

More articles on infection control: 
Global antibiotic consumption soared 65% in 16 years 
Infectious disease deaths drop in US: 5 study findings 
Michigan allocates $500k to boost vaccine efforts amid historic hep A outbreak


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