New Report Rejects MMR Vaccine And Autism Link

Published:

The NDSC today welcomed a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the US which has rejected an association between autism and childhood immunisation with MMR. The Committee concluded that a consistent body of epidemiological evidence shows no association at the population level between MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

"This report supports the policy of leading health organisations world-wide such as the World Health Organisation which strongly recommend and endorse use of the MMR vaccine," said Dr Darina O'Flanagan, Director, NDSC. "We would urge all parents to bring their children forward to receive their vaccines in accordance with the immunisation schedule."

The report states that there has been no new scientific evidence that would suggest impaired safety of MMR. On the contrary, all results from vaccine trials published reaffirm the high safety and efficacy of MMR vaccine. The WHO noted that other scientists have not been able to reproduce the results claimed by Dr Wakefield and his team regarding measles virus in the gut.

The number of cases of measles in Ireland rose dramatically during 2000 with 1,602 cases reported. The measles virus can cause permanent brain damage and in some cases can prove fatal. Three children died from complications of measles in the 2000 outbreak.

The MMR vaccine, which is free, can prevent measles in over 90% of cases. This vaccine is given by a GP/ Family Doctor to all children aged 15 and a second dose is now given at primary school at age 5-6 years. With the second dose, over 99% of immunized children are protected from measles infection. 

Complications associated with measles include severe cough and breathing difficulties (croup), ear infections, viral and bacterial lung infection (pneumonia) and eye infections. Other more serious problems involve the nervous system and inflammation of the brain. Severe disease and complications are most likely in young children under 5 years and adults over 20 years. While complications are more common in those who are malnourished or those whose immune system is not working properly, it is important to realise that almost half of the deaths associated with measles occur in previously healthy children and young adults.