I wrote a post on why I thought we should vaccinate our children here. In writing it, I started researching the MMR vaccine and autism. I knew I didn’t believe the claims, but I really cannot believe what I read, so here goes…
To those who ask “does the MMR not cause autism?”… It is now known ‘that’ study by Wakefield was completely flawed, not robust and has been completely superseded by subsequent research. Multiple studies in multiple countries have not substantiated those claims.
Here are a few reasons why the original research was flawed and why it should be completely ignored:
- The first major reason is that the General Medical Council (GMC) investigation struck off the author and ruled the research was “dishonest, irresponsible and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain of children” (NHS, 2010 quoting GMC, 2010). It was also unethical as children were subjected to unnecessary invasive tests, and, in actual fact the real medical records could not be traced to those reported in the journal! The media were also told off for their naive reporting of such a non-robust study. A good summary of the GMC findings can be found here, on the NHS website, and the full GMC findings here).
- A HUGE reason not to believe the original research is the fact it was retracted by the journal which published it! The original research by Andrew Wakefield?and published in The Lancet in 1998 studied “12 children (mean age 6 years [range 3-10], 11 boys)”. The research found that “Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another. All 12 children had intestinal abnormalities” (Wakefield, 1998). I’m sorry, but a study of 12 children of such varied ages, all of whom had other medical issues, and, where it was the parents who said that these behavioural symptoms were associated with the MMR, is not robust, and not statistically significant. I really can’t believe anyone published it, never mind it was taken seriously. To me this shows the danger of the media, and I completely agree with the court case.
- No links! Several international and UK based studies have found no link between autism and the MMR. Not only that but in 2003, the World Health Organisation, also found no link between them, and they studied 11 epidemiological studies mostly from the previous 4 years. Not just a one off study which didn’t have any ‘controls’ like the Wakefield paper!?http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/mmr/mmr_autism/en/
- One study I have to mention is the largest ever study of it’s kind, and found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The study was published just last year (April 2015) in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This study involved 95,727 children aged 2-5, including both children who had and had not received the vaccine. It also included 2,000 children who were at a higher risk of being autistic. The study found no link, no higher autism rates in the vaccinated children, and crucially no higher rates of autism in the children who were at a higher predisposition to have autism. I read a summarised version of the report on Autism Speaks here, and also the original in JAMA here.
For goodness sake a robust study must contain more than 12 children, must have a control group and must not include what has been called faked data (it couldn’t be traced to the original medical files apparently!)! It all seems so flawed, it’s a shame it took so long for the article to be retracted and caused such a huge impact on the uptake of the MMR vaccine.
I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but surely the experts know best? Surely all the research and boards these vaccinations pass tells you something? Surely the fact the government pays for EVERY child to have these tells you something? Surely the fact that the incidence of measles, mumps and rubella increased following the media circus that followed Wakefield’s press conference, show these vaccines work. These vaccines help keep all of our children safer, so please just give them the immunisation.
Autism Speaks website news: No MMR-Autism Link in Large Study of Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated Kids: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/no-mmr-autism-link-large-study-vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated-kids
JAMA, 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2275444
GMC, 2010, General Medical Council, FITNESS TO PRACTISE PANEL HEARING
28 JANUARY 2010:?http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/01January/Documents/FACTS%20WWSM%20280110%20final%20complete%20corrected.pdf
NHS News, 2010, Ruling on Doctor in MMR Scare: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/01January/Pages/MMR-vaccine-autism-scare-doctor.aspx
WHO, 2003, World Health Organisation, MMR and Autism: http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/mmr/mmr_autism/en/
Wakefield, 1998, The Lancet, Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children:?http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(97)11096-0/abstract