There IS a link between the MMR jab and autism, claims new
Mail on Sunday
29 August 2004
By Rachel Ellis, Medical Correspondent
A key study repeatedly used by the Government to support the MMR vaccine
was wrongly carried out and gave inaccurate results, experts claimed
The Danish research, which examined the medical records of more than
half-a-million children born over eight years, concluded there was no link
between children given MMR and the onset of autism.
But fresh analysis of the data by four experts to be published this week in
the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons suggest there is a link.
The first new study, by Dr Samy Suissa, an epidemiologist at McGill
University, Montreal, who looked at the same data the Danish doctors used, concludes
that children who received the triple jab were 45 per cent more likely to
develop autism than those who were not given it.
A second piece of research - by Dr Fouad Yazbak, an American paediatrician
- shows a 400 per cent rise in autism after the introduction of MMR in Denmark, even
after taking into account greater awareness of the condition.
And a third study by Dr Andrew Wakefield, who first made the link between
MMR and autism in 1998, and Dr Carol Stott of Cambridge University, shows
autism cases in Denmark have increased by 14.8 per cent each year since MMR
The findings will be a blow to the Government and supporters of
MMR who have relied heavily on the Danish study to dispel concerns about the
safety of the jab. They come at a time when the Government's immunisation
programme is once again in the spotlight following the announcement
earlier this month of a new five-in-one vaccine for babies.
For parents, the new research will add still further to the confusion about
Dr Wakefield, formerly of London's Royal Free Hospital, now works at a
school and research centre for children with developmental disorders in
Texas. He believes the Danish study was flawed because it made too many
"Many of the children in the original study were too young to be vaccinated
or too young to have received a diagnosis of autism. That was a mistake,"
"In order to include them in the study, an age adjustment was carried out
but that was inappropriate. It assumes that children we have not
ascertained data about because they were too young were representative of the older
"When the data was reanalysed without the age adjustment, there was a
significant excess risk of MMR in children with autism against the controls.
The original Danish study has been used as a rod to beat those who believe
MMR may be linked to autism.
"It was considered to be the definitive study which showed that there is no
link. This new study underlines how statistics can be deceptive and misleading."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the original Danish study
had been reviewed by the Institute of Medicine in Washington and no
problems had been raised about the validity of the data.
She added: "There have been many other studies that have come to the same
conclusion - that there is no link between MMR and autism."