Chris, did you happen to read a testimony by the CDC whistleblower Dr William Thompson?
Yes, I did because I have an odd fascination about why theories like this spread. The theories are different across cultures and through time but what's fascinating to me is why do vaccines trigger them? Why not antibiotics or painkillers?
Dr. Thompson is referencing a 2004 study and he was (rightly, in my opinion) concerned about data that could have been included. It's hard for me to say because the excluded data in this case seemed shaky and I probably would have been inclined toward not including it too, but I didn't collect it so I don't know for sure. If you do publish it and it doesn't stand up to scrutiny, you lose your reputation as someone credible. If you don't then you might face accusations of suppressing data, as happened in this case.
Speaking of suppressing, I think it's important we don't suppress part of Dr. Thompson's testimony:
I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.
In any case, the last 15 years of studies have made this shaky data irrelevant. There are many newer, more rigorous studies that had nothing to do with the CDC or Dr. Thompson. To hang our hats on old Metropolitan Atlanta school and birth certificate data when some children (more often black) didn't even have birth certificates seems awfully shaky.
Here's one of many newer studies that are based on more reliable data: