Intended for healthcare professionals


Another media scare about MMR vaccine hits Britain

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 12 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1578
  1. Pat Anderson
  1. London

    “Researchers deal new blow to vaccination” and “London study links children's vaccine to serious disease” proclaimed Britain's newspapers last week.

    This latest media scare about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine has left UK doctors fighting a rearguard action to try to minimise damage to vaccine uptake rates, already compromised by previous scares. The research on which the media reports were based linked paramyxovirus infection in childhood with subsequent inflammatory bowel disease (Gastroenterology 1999;116:796-803).

    Scott Montgomery and colleagues from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London analysed data from 7019 members of a nationally representative British cohort born in 1970. They identified subjects with inflammatory bowel disease and looked at the pattern of childhood infections recorded before the onset of the condition. They found that measles and mumps infections occurring together in the same year of life were significantly associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, with odds ratios of 7.47 (95%confidence interval 2.42 to 23.06) and 4.27 (1.24 to 14.46) respectively, but not with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, which they studied as a control disease. They concluded that atypical paramyxovirus infections in childhood may be risk factors for later development of inflammatory bowel disease.

    Some sections of the UK media leapt on the new research …

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