Friday, October 31, 2003

MMR sanity

'There is now unequivocal evidence that MMR is not a risk factor for autism - this statement is not spin or medical conspiracy, but reflects an unprecedented volume of medical study on a worldwide basis.'

Simon Murch

So says Dr Simon Murch, who, along with Dr Andrew Wakefield, was one of the authors of a 1998 study which claimed a connection between bowel problems and autism. Dr Wakefield went on to draw links with the MMR vaccine, forming the basis to today's widespread anti-MMR scare. Murch has always rejected the idea of a link with MMR and autism, and this week states: 'I and my colleagues have seen similar intestinal changes in children with no history of regression, in unvaccinated children, and in children whose first autistic symptoms clearly predated MMR administration.' Murch is also concerned that low vaccination rates may lead to major measles epidemics in Britain this winter.

It is good that figures like Dr Murch make public re-statements of the safety of the MMR vaccine, and provide further encouragement to parents to get their children vaccinated. But such statements - and counter-scares about measles outbreaks - have been made many times before by ministers, leading scientists, doctors and judges, without doing anything to halt the reaction against MMR. This suggests that there are quite different reasons for the depth of the MMR scare, which have nothing to do with the facts. Parental confusion continues, and children remain at risk from the consequences of an irrational panic.

MMR row expert urges jab take-up, BBC News, 31 October 2003

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