The nation’s largest autism advocacy group appears to be softening its stance on a possible link between autism and vaccines.

Autism Speaks, which funds research looking at vaccines and autism, may be trying to distance itself from this theory. In an interview with the organization’s chief science officer, Geri Dawson, published on the Autism Speaks Web site late last month, she said that “overwhelmingly” scientific studies “have not found evidence for a causal relationship between either thimerosal or the MMR vaccine and autism.”

Nonetheless, Dawson says the appearance of autism in some children around the time of vaccination and the resulting parental concern is cause for further investigation into the issue. “As an organization that is committed to understanding all the potential causes of autism, we cannot dismiss the concerns of parents, especially since autism may be caused by distinct combinations of genetic and environmental factors that may each account for only a small percent of overall cases,” she says in the prepared interview.

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Dawson’s comments come as many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, fearing that the practice could cause their children to have autism.

While Autism Speaks insists that Dawson’s comments represent no change in the organization’s position, many outside watchers say otherwise. They suggest that the group could be reacting to the very public resignations of an executive and a top science adviser to the organization earlier this year, both of whom cited Autism Speaks’ stance on vaccines as the primary reason for their departures, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. To read more click here.