Childhood jab linked to rise in cases of autism

(Daily Express May 23, 2000)

 ALARMING evidence is emerging to suggest that a huge rise in the number of children suffering autism may be linked to vaccines they were given for mumps, measles and rubella.

New figures from Britain and America show there has been dramatic increase in cases of autism since the MMR vaccine was introduced 1988. Many children only developed the brain condition after they were given the jab in their teens, having showed no previous symptoms.

The findings are corroborated by scientific research which shows that the measles virus is present in the gut of 24 out of 25 children who developed autism after an apparently healthy infancy.

This work, due to be published later in the year, is being carried out at the Royal Free Hospital in London and Coombe Women’s Hospital in Dublin. Professor John O’Leary, director of pathology at the Coombe Hospital, said there needed to be a full investigation, and added: "Further urgent research is required." Dr Fiona Scott of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge said: "This rise in cases of autism is disconcerting. Instead of the Government arguing with parents that there is no link they should urgently carry out a decent study"

There are no central records on the number of children with autism. However, figures collated by health campaigner David Thrower show that in many areas of the country cases have risen alarmingly since the vaccine came into widespread use.

In Yorkshire the numbers have spiralled by 22-fold in the last seven years. In the Shetlands and the Western Isles there are no children over 13 with the condition — suggesting a link with the introduction of the vaccine. In Surrey cases of autism among three-year-old boys are now running at one in 69. Official figures say the average should be one in several thousand.

The United States is also recording sharp increases in autism over this period. In New Jersey cases have grown by 876 per cent in the last eight years. In California cases rose 275 per cent from 1993 to 1998, and in Pennsylvania cases rose by 109 per cent from 1993 to 1997. Experts say such huge rises cannot alone be explained by better detection and diagnosis.

Last week the Express launched a campaign for justice for children who have suffered brain damage after routine vaccinations. At present the Government provides a one-off, 40,000 payment for parents who can prove their child is over 80% damaged by a vaccine.

The Daily Express is calling for this money to be raised and for the 80 per cent rule to be abolished. However, parents who believe their child has developed autism from an MMR jab have no hope of any payment because, despite the growing evidence, the Government refuses to accept any link. More than 600 parents have now launched legal action to claim compensation.

Richard Barr, of Alexander Harris solicitors who are co-ordinating the legal fight, said: "A lot of evidence is coming together and pointing to a link. If there was another explanation for the rise in autism, such as leaded petrol or chemicals, cases would have shot up a long time ago:"

In Japan the MMR vaccine has been banned. And in the UK some doctors are refusing to give it. Last week the Sunday Express carried an article by Dr Richard Halvorsen who wrote: "It may .be safer for healthy children to catch these illnesses rather than run the risk of immunisation."