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DTaP vaccines for children under 6 months of age may cause autism.


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 3 votes and with 10 points ahead, the winner is...

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Contender / Con

The DTaP vaccine is known as the Generic Name: Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed.
The CDC recommends. (

"Give infants and children 5 doses of DTaP. Give one dose at each of these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 through 18 months, and 4 through 6 years. Use DT for infants and children who should not receive acellular pertussis-containing vaccines."

The debate can be won by the CON if they can demonstrate that there is a reputable study focusing on the DTaP vaccine, and specifically on the ages 6 - 7 months and under; as it related to autism.

Statements made by organizations like the CDC are not evidence on their own and need to be corroborated. The debater will need to demonstrate their study is reputable, which includes elements like the quality of the journal article, testing methodology, volume, number of times cited, etc. The judges will give weight to the quality of the references/articles and determine if they are persuasive.

Debaters are permitted to use findings within studies, provided that full reference to the citation is given such that the context can be understood and rebuffed if required.

Both debaters may agree to forfeit rounds, by passing on a round and that will not be judged against them

This is not a debate about efficacy, the politics of vaccines, or a vax anti-vax stance. This should be a very easy debate to win. The evidence is either available or it is not.

I think I have bit off more than I can chew here. Let's see.

Round 1
Thank you TheJackle for accepting this debate.  I have established that to win this debate Con must demonstrate some form of reputable study that statistically presents DTaP administered under 6 years of age does not cause autism in children.

I look forward to looking at your material.

I started this debate because I could not find any studies about DTaP and infants as it relates to autism.  I made a dozen calls, to various public health agencies who could not provide information.  I called Irish, Canadian, Australian and US health agencies and departments, and the answer I received was "It is well established that vaccines don't cause autism".   Yet no one could provide a single study about the most popular and highest dose at the youngest age, DTaP.

This is a debate I would like to lose.  I will also address debate comments, and outside contributors.   So  TheJackle,  over to you.

Here are 12 studies that are directly applicable.  I tried to get the entire article where possible, however the abstract was sufficient in all cases to demonstrate that there is no association between vaccines and autism, which would include DTaP.  I have included a relevant snippet of each article to demonstrate the relevance.

No causal relationship between DTaP and Autism is found.

The committee concludes that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. The committee also concludes that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. The committee further finds that potential biological mechanisms for vaccine-induced autism that have been generated to date are theoretical only.

The lack of conclusive evidence linking adverse events to multiple immunizations or other “schedule” exposures suggests that the recommended schedule is safe. 

Using logistic regression models of the prevalence data, we found no significant effect of thimerosal exposure used either as a continuous or a categorical variable. Thus, thimerosal exposure was unrelated to the increasing trend in pervasive developmental disorder prevalence. 
Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.
The risk of autism and other autistic-spectrum disorders did not differ significantly between children vaccinated with thimerosal-containing vaccine and children vaccinated with thimerosal-free vaccine 
 This article reviews recent controversies surrounding immunizations and ASD, and concludes that there are no data to support any association between immunization and ASD.
The body of existing data, including the ecologic data presented herein, is not consistent with the hypothesis that increased exposure to Thimerosal-containing vaccines is responsible for the apparent increase in the rates of autism in young children being observed worldwide.
With the possible exception of tics, there was no evidence that thimerosal exposure via DTP/DT vaccines causes neurodevelopmental disorders.

Given the large number of statistical comparisons performed, the few associations found between thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological development might be attributable to chance.
In our study of MCO members, prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of ASDs.
..... increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines during the first 2 years of life was not related to the risk of developing an ASD.

Round 2
With the greatest respect, TheJackle has dropped an info bomb on me, with more noise than I would have hoped for.  I do want to commend TheJackle for an impressive amount of work that was put into their response, albeit very limited relevant material was included.  I have been able to keep this answer under the required 12'000 characters I set.  Unless otherwise provided I used the links provided by my opponent for quotes of the various articles.

Despite the efforts, my opponent has not provided evidence or a study that shows DTaP does not cause autism.  

For houses keeping, and to make this debate navigable to other readers I have broken various components into sub-sections.   


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. ... Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people. Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. Symptoms that hurt the person's ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.

Full Definition here

I trust my counterpart will agree with the generally accepted view of autism, as it has not been highlighted as a topic of contention in their response.


Mirriam Webster’s dictionary defines “may” as “used to indicate possibility or probability”

Based on the definition of the debate, I only need to demonstrate the possibility of a causal relationship.  When a causal relationship is not disputed or proved to not occur, then a probability still exists. The causal relationship between DTaP and autism has not been refuted.


Studies are very careful in the language they use to describe processes and findings.  Words like association, related, consistent, are very different than does, does not, causes.  This is not a word game. It is a very important point that studies are clear on what elements they prove or disprove.  


There are 12 different DTaP vaccines used in the United States.  None of them have thimerosal as an active ingredient. Using thimerosal studies is a red herring, and does not address the core issue.


The Institute for Autism Science and The Informed Consent Action Network filed a lawsuit in 2019 in US Federal Court against the CDC, demanding the CDC comply with their freedom of information act requests (FOIA). The actual remedy being sought was:

“ seeking an order directing the CDC to provide a clear response to their FOIA requests in which the CDC must either admit it has no studies responsive to their requests or produce studies which are responsive to their requests.“

The CDC finally provided an answer, which listed 20 studies.  12 of those studies are listed by my opponent. He/She has clearly gone through those studies and tried to pull out only the relevant ones.  Unfortunately, there are still relevancy issues that I will address.

The CDC response to the FOIA as filed in court is found here.


While TheJackle has posted a lot of studies 9 of the 12 were completely irrelevant.  There was a substantial focus on thimerosal, which I have established is not an active ingredient, nor is it a focus.  There was a significant focus on MMR, which is not the topic of debate.

Study 1, Study 11, and Study 12 showed partial relevance, however after analysis does not address the question.


Dr. Plotkin has developed vaccinations for rubella, varicella, polio, rotavirus, rabies, and cytomegalovirus. Dr. Plotkin is the Founding Father of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. He has published over 800 peer-reviewed articles, most of which relate to vaccinology. Dr. Plotkin has received over 50 awards and honors for his work in vaccinology, including the French Legion of Honor Medal, and is a member of the IOM.  The equivalent of the Nobel prize in vaccinology is called the “Plotkin Award.” The medical textbook for vaccinology is called “Plotkin’s Vaccines.” The gavel used at the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is the committee that decides the CDC’s childhood immunization schedule, is called the “Stanley A. Plotkin ACIP Gavel.”

In a deposition by Dr. Plotkin in 2018, a stunning admission was made in this exchange.  (

Q … If you take a look at that section please, was the IOM able to identify a single study supporting that DTaP and Tdap do not cause autism?

Dr. Potkin….   No, they did not identify a study. 

Q … If you don't know whether DTaP or Tdap cause autism, shouldn't you wait until you do know until you have the science to support it to then say that vaccines do not cause autism? 

Dr.  Potkin.…     Do I wait? No, I do not wait because I have to take into account the health of the child. 

Q And so for that reason, you're okay with telling the parent that DTaP/Tdap does not cause autism even though the science isn’t there yet to support that claim? 

Dr.  Potkin…     Absolutely.

Dr. Potkin himself admits under oath that the science is not there to support the claim that DTaP does not cause autism.  




This is an impressive study.  This is the same study Dr. Potkin was asked to look at.  This study looks internationally and appears to be very exhaustive concerning vaccines.  It should be noted that this study is 10 years old. There are 2 sections of particular interest in this study, the Causal Relationship Table and  Section 10 as it relates to DTaP and autism.

Table S1 in the study clearly shows that while Autism related to MMR favours rejection of association, for DTaP the autism relationship is listed as: 

“ inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship.”  (

Section 10 clearly states that while the evidence is absent about determining a causal relationship between autism and the DTaP vaccine, there is not enough evidence to discount it either. Therefore DTaP may cause autism.

Conclusion 10.6: The evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between diphtheria toxoid–, tetanus toxoid–, or acellular pertussis–containing vaccine and autism.


This is another impressive study of studies.  This study is 16 years old. This study deals with an MMR vaccine and thimerosal.  MMR was not the subject of debate. Thimerosal was not the subject of the debate. That being said the quoted portion of the study states

The committee further finds that potential biological mechanisms for vaccine-induced autism that have been generated to date are theoretical only.

The critical component of the committee’s language is that there is no dismissal of association.  In other words, the committee could not state that vaccines do not cause autism.

I submit this study is irrelevant.  Furthermore, this study does not establish a causal relationship between vaccines and autism.


This is the third of a very comprehensive study of studies.  The particular application to DTaP is limited

Nothing about Autism and DTaP is provided by the opponent.  After a review by myself, I found that there is a noted associated with DTaP and asthma.

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question.

STUDY 4:  

This study is another issue for relevance  The objective as noted in this study is:

(1) changes in cumulative exposure to ethylmercury (thimerosal) occurring through modifications in the immunization schedule of young children and (2) trends in measles-mumps-rubella vaccination use rates and the introduction of a 2–measles-mumps-rubella dosing schedule during the study period.

We are not looking at MMR in this debate, nor are we focused on thimerosal.  

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question.


This is not a direct study, but a meta-analysis, meaning it looked at various studies around the world on the subject of association between vaccines and autism and extracts the numbers.  

This study is not relevant because it does not meet the criteria set above.  It does not deal with DTaP (although DTaP may be included), and it does not deal with a sub-7-month-old age group.

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question.


This study is another example of a study focusing on thimerosal and autism.  The objective of the study is clear.

Objective To determine whether vaccination with a thimerosal-containing vaccine is associated with development of autism.

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question.


This is yet another metadata study that focuses on MMR and thimerosal risks and associations with autism or autism spectrum disorders.  

There is no mention or reference to DTaP or young infants.  

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question.


This meta-data analysis focuses on thimerosal.  It finds that while there was an increase in Autism rates, those rates did not coincide with thimerosal.  DTaP was not part of the assessment.

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question


This study does look at DTaP, however, only DTaP that contains thimerosal.  The study compared two different types of vaccines, with the toxicity of thimerosal being the focus.

After concerns about the possible toxicity of thimerosal-containing vaccines in the United States, this study was designed to investigate whether there is a relationship between the amount of thimerosal that an infant receives via diphtheria-tetanus-whole-cell pertussis (DTP) or diphtheria-tetanus (DT) vaccination at a young age and subsequent neurodevelopmental disorders.

This is not a double-blind, or placebo based study.  

And while this study did focus on DTaP, and young children. The objective was around thimerosal, and not DTaP which in the US does not contain measurable thimerosal.   


This study is another focus on thimerosal.    The objective is clear.

Thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines administered during infancy, has been suspected to affect neuropsychological development. We compared the neuropsychological performance, 10 years after vaccination, of 2 groups of children exposed randomly to different amounts of thimerosal through immunization.

This study is irrelevant and does not address the question.


This is yet another study with a focus on thimerosal.   The study states:

Exposure to thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that is used in vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations, has been hypothesized to be associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

This study does not focus on or address the question.


This is a very interesting study and appears to be the most potentially relevant.  The problem with this study is that it is vaccine promiscuous. It does not focus on or even mention DTaP.

There are some other flaws in the study, specifically how the vaccine antigen components were calculated, and how discrepancies in medical records were reconciled.

While that age group would be a reasonable match to the original question, the lack of DTaP focus makes this study at the best unconvincing. 

I don't get why the other guy has to be so long winded.

It is simple.  He asked for evidence and studies and I gave them.  He says, it has to be DTaP only.  Here is a flaw in the logic of the approach by my opponent.

You think eggs cause allergies, and you test all food in a restaurant, no one gets a reaction even though there are some eggs..  Testing everything at the same time is the same as testing the individual item when the results are NIL.

1.  Agree with definition of autism.

2.  Disagree with definition of may.  The way this guy has it setup it means that you need 100% proof of something, which makes no sense.

3.  Language of studies. ...... umm ok.

4.  Thimerosal  in DTaP.  Well the guy on the other side of this debate wants you to forget that DTaP HAD thimerisol in it.  If the recipe was changed today, does that make the previous work void?  No.  This guy wants you to discount all the thimerisol because the ingredients used to have it.  He is incorrect about saying the studies are not relevant.  They are very very relevant.  It shows much time and effort is put into vaccine safety.  

5.  ICAN FOIA lawsuit.    The other guy is right.  I saw that lawsuit and it was a gold mine.  The federal court says give us all your info,  the CDC says ok, and then the case is dropped.  20 studies!!!!   20 studies the CDC relied on to prove DTaP does not cause autism.  Saved me a lot of time.  I dropped all the MMR specific ones because I knew he would put up a fuss.

6.  Dr. Plotkin.  So here we have a guy who admits to something he read in a study.  Why is that a big deal?  The study he references is the 2001 IOM study (my first example).  That does not mean there is no evidence.  It means that in the 2011 study there was no reference to one.  VERY different.

Some other points.

Age of a study does not make its irrelevant.

a)  Study 1. shows you cannot blame autism on DTaP
b)  Study 2.  the study shows that for autism and vaccines is not relevant in ALL vaccines, that includes DTaP
c)  Study 3.  DTaP is part of the schedule,  If there is no harm in the schedule, then there is no harm in DTaP    Simple logic.
d)  Study 4.  Same logic as Study 4
e)  Study 5.  DTaP vaccinations are part of the meta-data analysis.  If there is no harm with all of them, there is clearly no harm caused by one.
f)   Study 6.  This study shows autism rates are the same.
g)  Study 7.  All encompassing, includes DTaP no autism.
h)  Study 8.  All encompassing, includes DTaP no autism.
g)  Study 9.  This is a great one.  It looks at history,  all vaccines, including DTaP and no autism
i)   Study 10.  Another all inclusive study.  NO finding of autism beyond chance
j)   Study11.  All inclusive SPECIFICALLY for the age group requested...... NO AUTISM
k)  Study 12. Another All inclusive study, with no autism.

My opponent cant just exclude studies that are not focused on his limited target because he does not like them.  I get this is a debate, but it is a manipulative and unethical word game.  He is trying to show that vaccines cause autism, by using a small sliver of an argument where the words don't line up exactly as he wants them.

Facts are facts. Look at the above studies.

Round 3
I would like to remind my counterpart that the definitions and subject of the debate are very clear.

"focusing on the DTaP vaccine, and specifically on the ages 6 - 7 months and under; as it related to autism." 

Arguing about the logic of the original debate is a classic strawman.   I do not have to defend why it was set up as it was. If my counterpart has questions, he/she can direct them in a civil way.

I want to remind my opponent:

"This is not a debate about efficacy, the politics of vaccines, or a vax anti-vax stance."

Most of the studies presented do not focus on DTaP which was a requirement.  Those that did have a DTaP component did not rule out autism.  Therefore because of the lack of evidence presented, DTaP vaccines may still cause autism.

My opponent is clearly just trying to find on a technicality that vaccines cause autism.  He is probably going to use this debate as some anti-vaxx propaganda.

Anyway if he wants to play word games, then here we go.

The debate says a

"study focusing on the DTaP"

A metadata analysis or a study of studies like the first 3 studies I showed focuses on all the data available.  Just because the study contains other elements, does not mean it conflicts with this overly specific and restrictive rule setup.

Regardless the 9th study I gave proves the point.

With the possible exception of tics, there was no evidence that thimerosal exposure via DTP/DT vaccines causes neurodevelopmental disorders.

The age criteria is established, as is the vaccine type.   If it has thimerosal or not is besides the point, and just an antivaxxer farming for a technicality.

"The disorders investigated were general developmental disorders, language or speech delay, tics, attention-deficit disorder, autism, unspecified developmental delays, behavior problems, encopresis, and enuresis. Exposure was defined according to the number of DTP/DT doses received by 3 and 4 months of age and also the cumulative age-specific DTP/DT exposure by 6 months. Each DTP/DT dose of vaccine contains 50 microg of thimerosal (25 microg of ethyl mercury). Hazard ratios (HRs) for the disorders were calculated per dose of DTP/DT vaccine or per unit of cumulative DTP/DT exposure."
You say this is not about pro-vaxx anti-vaxx, then why start the debate. There is more proof that the earth is flat then there is autism is caused by vaccines.

Round 4
My opponent has shown a remarkable level of inappropriate behavior.  The rules of the debate are clear.  Speculating about reasons and foundation of the rules is not appropriate and is just a red herring.  

I will address the fixation with Study 9 and show how it is not applicable, 

The debate topic says specifically  says

DTaP vaccines for children under 6 months of age may cause autism.
My opponent's reference to the meta-data study supports my position.  The first one CLEARLY states that evidence is inadequate to establish or reject causation.

The study presented only evaluated children who had a DTaP type vaccination. It measured the dosages before 6months of age, all containing thimerosal.  In that study out of the 100k children included, 3.4% were registered as being vaccine free. which is not large enough to compare against the others on.  The final results only included children who received at least 3 doses before one year of age,

Tics had a statistical relevance of association, and autism was the only other disorder which nearly statistically relevant,  In addition, tics are often associated with autism and autism spectrum disorders.  (  So if anything the study shows that there is a higher chance of autism or ASD with the vaccine then without.

No studies have been provided by my opponent that match the criteria of the debate rules,

It certainly does not disprove the association.

It is hard to have an intelligent debate when the opponent ignores clear information, and can't admit they are wrong.


So then my opponent says, well thimerosal is not an ingredient.  So I provide a study that shows the antigens don't cause autism.  It was the 12th study.

So if thimirasol is proved it does not cause autism, and the antigens are provided not to cause autism, then WHAT DOES!!!

There is not direct study because there is no point.

I hope the judges can read better than my opponent.  I don't even know why he invited me to this and show such a piss poor attempt at reading, and trying to manipulate with screwed up definitions.

Round 5
I thank my opponent for a quick response.  This does not need to be drawn out.   It is unfortunate that emotion and distraction appeared to prevail in the last argument.

My opponent did not provide a study that even remotely fits the criteria of the debate.  My opponent undermines the value of studies, and their different types and purposes.

I have shown how the studies presented are not applicable or match the debate definition  In addition, not a single study presented was a randomized control study.

Randomized studies are the best type of study for cause-effect determination.

It is really only possible to draw reliable conclusions about cause and effect by using randomized controlled trials.

Randomized controlled trials (RCT) are prospective studies that measure the effectiveness of a new intervention or treatment. Although no study is likely on its own to prove causality, randomization reduces bias and provides a rigorous tool to examine cause-effect relationships between an intervention and outcome. 

I am actually shocked that no study, not a single one was found.  

It pains me to say that the original debate statement stands.  DTaP vaccines for children under 6 months of age may cause autism.

Over 1 dozen studies presented and this antvaxxer ignores them.

Study after study says vaccines dont cause autism

Antigens tested

Ingredients tested

Same results.

Word games don't negate science.