MMR jab link with autism ruled out

EXPERTS who analysed 31 studies conclusively rejected any suggestion that the triple measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab was linked to disorders including autism.

The Cochrane Review researchers, who analysed 31 studies from around the world, concluded that there was no credible evidence behind claims of harm from the MMR vaccine.

Health campaigners will hope this declaration will finally end confusion among parents and boost uptake of the jab.

In 1998, controversial research claimed that MMR was linked to autism and the stomach disorder Crohn’s disease.

The research by Dr Andrew Wakefield, published in The Lancet, has since been discredited, although many parents are still concerned and vaccination levels remain lower than hoped.

Research published in The Lancet last year concluded that there was no evidence to support a link between the combined vaccine and autism in children.

Now the Cochrane Library - a regularly updated collection of evidence-based medicine databases - has published its own conclusions on the jab, drawing together all the available information from around the world.

Lead author Dr Vittorio Demicheli said: “We conclude that all the major unintended events, such as triggering Crohn’s disease or autism, were suspected on the basis of unreliable evidence.”

After widespread coverage of the negative research on MMR, uptake of the jab plummeted in Ireland, and in many parts of the country still remains low.

Uptake in Ireland still remains well below the 95% level recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The experts pointed out that the success of vaccination programmes may have resulted in people forgetting that measles, mumps and rubella are serious diseases that can lead to permanent damage or even death.

They said that in developing nations, where vaccination is less common, deaths from these diseases remains high.

The MMR jab was introduced in the US during the 1970s and is now used in over 90 countries around the world.

Mark Davies, co-chair of the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group, said: “This review exemplifies what Cochrane reviews are all about. For the first time all the evidence that is available on the efficacy and safety of MMR vaccine has been gathered together into one report.”

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