She's no Andrew Wakefield, but it will be interesting to see what happens to measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rates in the U.S. now that actress Jenny McCarthy has suggested the MMR vaccine--which does not contain the mercury preservative thimerosal--may have caused her son Evan's regressive autism.

In the U.K., vaccination rates plummeted after Wakefield claimed in a controversial 1998 paper published in The Lancet that the MMR vaccine might trigger autism. But the study, which was later retracted by most of its authors, was based on just 12 children.

So far, no epidemiological studies have shown a link between MMR and autism. But a strong movement of parents and some doctors, including Wakefield, who is now based in Austin, Texas, remain convinced vaccines have a connection to autism.

I found this comment by McCarthy about her pediatrician especially disturbing and heartbreaking:

"Right before his MMR shot, I said to the doctor, 'I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the 'autism' shot, isn't it?'" McCarthy told Oprah. "And he said, 'No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother's desperate attempt to blame something,' and he swore at me and then the nurse gave (Evan) the shot.

"And I remember going, 'Oh, God, I hope he's right.' And soon thereafter--boom--the soul's gone from his eyes."