DoH: "No evidence" MMR linked to autism

"No link" between MMR baby jab and autism
"No link" between MMR baby jab and autism

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Department of Health (DoH) have welcomed compelling evidence that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

An independent study, claiming to be the most comprehensive ever taken, found no link between children given the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella and autism.

The combined injection has been the subject of controversy since Dr Wakefield questioned its safety in an article in the Lancet ten years ago.

Successive studies have failed to find a link between MMR and autism but a significant number of parents have refused to allow their child to have the combined injection.

New research, published in the Archive of Diseases of Childhood, compared the blood samples of children for levels of measles virus and antibody levels. It found no difference between autistic children and those without the condition.

HPA's Dr David Brown, who worked on the research, said: "The study found no evidence linking MMR to autistic spectrum disorder and the paper adds to the overwhelming body of evidence from around the world supporting the use of MMR.

"Public confidence in the MMR vaccine continues to remain high as the uptake for those receiving their first dose has stayed stable. However, it is also important to remember that children should complete their full course of MMR vaccine or optimum protection."

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the DoH, said: "It's natural for parents to worry about the health and well-being of their children and I hope that this study will reassure them that there is no evidence linking the MMR vaccine to autism."

Controversy over the MMR jab was stoked in 2001 when Tony Blair refused to confirm if his son Leo had had the injection.

The then-prime minister eventually confirmed Leo had been immunised, claiming his reluctance to comment had been out of a desire to protect his family's privacy.

Mr Blair said at the time: "It is not true that we believe the MMR vaccine to be dangerous or believe that it is better to have separate injections, as has been maliciously suggested in the press, or believe that it is linked to autism."

Two years ago doctors reported rising numbers of measles cases, with outbreaks at the highest level for nearly 20 years.

Experts blamed the rise on reduced take-up of the MMR vaccine.


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