Amazon is removing books that promote supposed “cures” for autism, the Associated Press reports. It’s part of an effort by several big tech companies to cut down on the spread of misinformation about vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, only medications that can help some function better. Decades of medical research has also consistently shown there is no link between vaccines and autism.
A spokeswoman for Amazon.com Inc. confirmed the books were no longer available on the site, but did not provide additional information, according to the AP.
Last week, fellow tech giant Facebook announced it is cracking down on the spread of vaccine misinformation. Facebook will now reduce the rankings of pages and groups that promote medical myths across the platform, taking action against verifiable vaccine hoaxes, the company said. According to the company, the steps it is taking will make misinformation appear less frequently in News Feeds, public and private pages and groups, search predictions and recommendations.
Myths about autism and vaccinations have been circulating since 1998, when a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield published an article about a possible link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. That study has since been debunked as fraudulent, and Wakefield lost his medical license in the midst of allegations over professional misconduct.
Other scientists have failed to replicate his findings, and dozens of studies involving millions of children have found no link between childhood vaccines and autism.
Recent measles outbreaks in at least 18 states has highlighted the real-world risks posed by the anti-vaccine movement, public health officials say. Almost all of those who got sick had not been vaccinated. “These outbreaks are due to the anti-vaccine movement,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told CBSN.
He stressed that the vaccine has been scientifically proven over many years to be safe and effective in preventing measles. However, some parents still refuse to vaccinate their kids.
The outbreaks also revived a bitter debate over so-called “philosophical” exemptions to childhood vaccinations. Lawmakers in Washington state are considering eliminating non-medical exemptions that allow children to attend school without vaccinations if their parents or guardians express a personal objection. Texas also saw a reignited fight over vaccination requirements.