Trump promoted dangerous anti-vaxxer myth while discussing autism with educators
President Donald Trump speaks to troops while visiting U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released)

Thanks to early publicity generated by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and public figures like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaxxer movement endures, seemingly impervious to ongoing efforts by scientists to debunk its underlying assumption: the idea that vaccines are linked to a rise in autism.


Today, in a meeting with educators, the President revealed he might buy into one of the biggest myths perpetuated by opponents of vaccines.

“Have you seen a big increase in the autism with the children?” Trump asked a principal who works at a special education school. When she agreed, the President launched into a spiel that suggests he agrees with anti-vaxxers' claim that there's been a huge spike in autism.

“So what’s going on with autism?” Trump continued. “When you look at the tremendous increase, it’s really such an incredible—it’s really a horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase. Do you have any idea? Maybe we can do something,” Trump said.

As New York Magazine points out, there's no proof of a "tremendous" jump in autism rates. And any rise is most likely due to heightened awareness, which may lead parents and educators to seek out a diagnosis of the condition.

Donald Trump has previously alarmed scientists by reportedly considering Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent vaccine skeptic, to lead a commission on vaccines.