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scientists comment on review of MMR vaccine health scare

The article was published in Clinical Evidence, a journal from the BMJ publishing Group, is the most comprehensive review of MMR to date, and shows that there is no scientific evidence linking the MMR vaccine to bowel disease or autism.


A spokesperson for the Public Health Laboratory Service, said:

“The PHLS welcomes an analysis published in Clinical Evidence examining all the scientific literature published on an association between the MMR vaccine or single measles vaccine with autism and inflammatory bowel disease. The analysis concludes that there is no evidence of a link and found strong evidence that vaccination eliminates the risk of measles and its complications. The analysis also took into account research carried out by Wakefield and colleagues and concluded that it did not establish MMR as a cause of inflammatory bowel disease, autism or developmental regression and was retrospective, small and lacked a control group. This analysis adds to the now overwhelming weight of evidence in support of MMR being a safe and effective vaccine and we urge all parents who have not yet done so, to get their children vaccinated with MMR.”


Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, a London GP and father of an autistic child, said:

“The Clinical Evidence survey is yet another authoritative review which confirms that there is no scientific basis for scaremongering accounts linking MMR to autism and bowel disease. It is time that Dr Andrew Wakefield and his supporters either came up with evidence to substantiate their claims or publicly repudiated allegations against MMR that have caused great anxieties among families with autistic children as well as reducing the uptake of MMR.”


Malcolm Matthews, Director of Community Support & Information at Sense UK, said:

“We’re delighted that this research is being made public. We hope it will help allay concern and encourage people to look far more closely at the important role MMR vaccines have played in decreasing the incidences of measles, mumps and rubella.

“The speculation over MMR has overshadowed the crucial fact that MMR vaccines have been the most effective way to protect unborn children against rubella. If a pregnant mother catches rubella she can pass it on to her unborn child who may be born with congenital rubella syndrome – deaf and blind as well as with heart and developmental difficulties.

“Since the introduction of MMR vaccination in the late ’80’s the number of pregnancies terminated and children born disabled as a result of rubella has dropped to single figures.”


David Potter, Head of Autism Policy & Information at the National Autistic Society, said:

“How can scientists explain to parents the coexistence of these symptoms in their children? Research reviews such as the current one actually say to those parents that there is no evidence of any association. What these parents are looking for are answers but the studies to investigate their children have not yet been conducted.

“There is an urgent need to study these cases to establish what physiological and pathological mechanisms are occurring in these children if parents are to be reassured.”


Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP, said:

“It is high time that politicians joined the medical professional in acting on the scientific evidence. This comprehensive piece of work is a further challenge to those politicians who seek to put opportunism ahead of the best interests of patients and the population as a whole.

“It is one of the unfortunate characteristics of our media that controversial theories based on weak science or little evidence get massively more coverage than the careful, reliable scientific work that refutes them.”


Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP from Norwich North, said:

“This is a very welcome study and thorough review of previous research into the benefits and harms of MMR. Dr Wakefield’s research, which pointed at a higher risk of bowel symptoms and developmental disorders, has made headlines, but it doesn’t actually stand up to the scrutiny and review of the scientific community. I understand why people with autistic children are desperate for an explanation as to why this has happened to them. And the rise in the number of autistic children is truly worrying. But there is no point in barking up the wrong tree. MMR is not to blame for autism. Insisting on a link doesn’t help anyone. We can learn two things from this review of all the available research: firstly, MMR is the best option for preventing the serious risks associated with Measles. Secondly, we need to do some serious research into the causes of autism. The study linking MMR and autism has been discredited. People living with autism deserve more than that.”


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