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MMR isn’t associated with autism – study finds

MMR isn’t associated with autism; this is very strong scientific evidence – new study.

‘It is understandable that some parents are uncertain and concerned given the anti-vaccine stories on the internet. However, the science is clear, there is no link.’

  • Statens Serum Institut study, Copenhagen.  

(Dr Anders Peter Hviid et al). 

It’s a subject that for some remains controversial. Sparking debates. Prompting arguments.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that was the question.

In 1998, The Lancet, a respected medical journal, published results from a small-scale study, claiming a link between the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) combined vaccine and autism and colitis in children.

The report was based upon research from Andrew Wakefield, work which has since been discredited. The research, which involved only 12 children, was retracted in full in 2010, amid allegations that some data had been falsified.

The damage, however, had been done. 

There’s no smoke without fire, so some said, and better safe than sorry. For some, confidence in MMR was lost, and vaccination rates tumbled. 

There were direct and serious consequences.

To quote a recent article from The Telegraph, “In recent years Public Health England (PHE) has reported a steep rise in cases of measles, with 913 laboratory-confirmed cases between January and October last year (2018) compared with 259 in 2017. Many cases were teenagers and young adults who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were younger.”

That is the damage that was done back in 1998, when Wakefield’s paper was published, and then scare stories beginning to do the rounds. 

“For more than 20 years, claims have been made that the MMR vaccine increases children’s risk of developing autism,” reads an article on the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) website. “Researchers have now invalidated these claims for the second time.”

The second time because, as long ago as 2002, SSI and Aarhus University performed a study which found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

In that instance, the researchers studied not 12 children, but 537,303.

Still the doubts persisted. The arguments and debates raged. Not at all in the medical profession but in the public at large who struggled to know how to interpret the huge amount of journalism. So public opinion remained divided.

Now, with measles cases across Europe having tripled within a 12-month period, it is hoped that a new study might make the difference and get the message across at last.

This one is even bigger, with 657,461 children (born between 1999 and 2000) involved. The findings? They’re the same. To quote Dr Hviid, “There is no link.”

From those 657,461 children, 6,517 were diagnosed with autism during the study, a ratio of just under 1%.

“Autism occurred just as frequently among the children who had been MMR-vaccinated as it did among the 31,619 children who had not been vaccinated,” noted Dr Hviid. “Therefore, we can conclude that the MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of developing autism.”

So back to that question: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Consider this:

During the peak scare period, one in five children missed out on the vaccination. Nowadays, the uptake in Britain is 87.5% (parents are advised to vaccinate at 12 months and again as a pre-school booster). The World Health Organisation’s target is 95%. Progress is being made. There’s some distance still to travel.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Helen Bedford, Professor of Children’s Health at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said, “Parents . . . should be reassured by this further evidence. The decision to immunise is important and I would strongly advise parents to speak with their GP, health visitor or practice nurse first rather than basing their decision on material they may have read on the internet or social media. Such information is unregulated and misinformation is widespread.” 

Our view? That we couldn’t agree more. 

That the arguments should end. 

That there’s no need for opinion to be divided. 

To quote Dr Hviid one final time, “MMR is not associated with autism. I would say that this is very strong scientific evidence against an association. 

“The science is clear. There is no link.”

Got a question about the MMR vaccine and its association with autism? Not sure whether YOUR child should be immunised? Need advice or guidance? Contact us here

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