Editorials

MMR vaccination and autism 1998

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7133.715 (Published 07 March 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:715

This article has a correction. Please see:

Déjà vu—pertussis and brain damage 1974?

  1. Angus Nicoll, consultant epidemiologist,
  2. David Elliman, Consultant community paediatrician and district immunisation coordinator,
  3. Euan Ross, professor of community paediatrics
  1. Public Health Laboratory Service, London NW9 5EQ
  2. St George's Health Care, London SW17 0QT
  3. Kings College School of Medicine and Dentistry, Mary Sheridan Centre, London SE11 4QW

    News p 724

    The media excitement and public concern after a Lancet report linking measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism1 kindles a sense of déjà vu. It is highly reminiscent of similar scares over pertussis in the 1970s,2 which resulted in much suffering and many deaths from pertussis both in Britain and internationally. 2 3

    Britain's vaccination programme has hugely reduced the incidence of diphtheria, haemophilus meningitis, measles, polio, pertussis, congenital rubella, and tetanus.4 As the incidence of these diseases has fallen vaccine safety has assumed greater importance, especially in parents' minds. Any safety issue requires cool scientific consideration.3 Here the hypothesis is that MMR leads to a non-specific gut condition permitting the absorption of non-permeable peptides, which in turn cause serious developmental disorders.1 Supportive evidence consists of cases referred to a gastroenterology group. The data published comprises 11 boys and one girl, each with bowel abnormalities and serious developmental regression (nine had autism). In eight children parents reported regression starting shortly after the children received MMR.1

    An editorial accompanying the article and a recent review by the World Health Organisation list …

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