Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 06 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c7452

Rapid Response:

Re: Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent

Bowel problems do seem to be a feature in children and adults with autism and in this respect the MMR debate is a sideshow.

In 1974 Dr Mary Coleman, an American paediatric neurologist, conducted a study of autistic children, using neuro-typical children as controls. She identified the presence of constipation or diarrhoea in 19 of the autistic patients but only 5 of the control children (1).

What is significant is that none of the children in the autistic or neuro-typical group had been administered the MMR vaccine as it had not been licensed in the US at that time. Nevertheless she identified that there may be a higher prevalence of bowel disorders in people with autism.

However, just to put the MMR issue to bed once again - as noted by Bandolier - a study in Yokohama in the early 1990’s showed that the incidence of autism continued to rise after MMR vaccine was discontinued. The incidence of autism was higher in children born after 1992 who were not vaccinated with MMR than in children born before 1992 who were vaccinated (2).


2. Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M (2005). "No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study". J Child Psychol Psychiatry 46 (6): 572–9

Competing interests: My daughter has Asperger's Syndrome

13 March 2013
Richard Bartley
Colwyn Bay