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MMR: Science and Fiction. Exploring the Vaccine Crisis; MMR and Autism: What Parents Need to Know

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7473.1049 (Published 28 October 2004)
Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1049

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  1. David Elliman, consultant in community child health (EllimD@gosh.nhs.uk),
  2. Helen Bedford, lecturer in children's health
  1. Islington Primary Care Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London
  2. Institute of Child Health, London

    MMR: Science and Fiction. Exploring the Vaccine Crisis


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    Richard Horton

    Granta Books, £7.99, pp 220 ISBN 1 86207 764 9 www.granta.com

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    MMR and Autism: What Parents Need to Know


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    Michael Fitzpatrick

    Routledge, £14.99, pp 218 ISBN 0 415 32179 4 http://www.routledge.com/

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    The publication in 1998 of an article in the Lancet proposing a new syndrome of autistic enterocolitis should have attracted little publicity (Lancet 1998;351: 637). The authors, researchers at the Royal Free Hospital, stated clearly in the article that “We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella [MMR] vaccine and the syndrome described.” However, the first author surprised his colleagues by suggesting at a subsequent press conference that children should be offered the three vaccines individually with an interval of a year between each dose. This, unlike the article, was “news.” The ensuing media frenzy resulted in a fall in uptake of the vaccine and led directly to the current real threat of large outbreaks of measles in the United Kingdom.

    These two books, written by supporters of the vaccine, describe the MMR story and its context. Although both authors are doctors who have played a major part in events, …

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