'Triple Jag Autism Could Be Next BSE'

[By Sarah-Kate Templeton Health Editor in the Sunday Herald, UK.]

      The consultant who first suggested that the MMR vaccine causes autism
has warned MSPs that government failure to face up to the danger will lead
to a catastrophe on the scale of the BSE crisis ("Mad Cow Disease").
      Dr Andrew Wakefield told a Scottish parliament cross-party group on
autism, launched in Edinburgh last week, that the UK faces an epidemic of
the lifelong disorder. He renewed his call for single vaccines to be used to
immunise against measles, mumps and rubella.
      On a two-day visit to Scotland, Wakefield - a consultant
gastroenterologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London - hit out at Sir
Kenneth Calman, the chief medical officer in 1998.
      In the official report into the BSE crisis, Calman was blamed for
saying that beef was safe. Wakefield said Calman had taken the same approach
to the MMR scare.
      Calman had warned that a wave of lethal epidemics could sweep Britain
if parents went on refusing combined vaccines. The former chief medical
officer had said there was no need, on the basis of evidence presented by
Wakefield, to change vaccination policy.
      Wakefield said: "These same people have been seen as victims of their
own handling of BSE, and that is where we are heading with the MMR.
      "It is going to take a strong body of people that are not prepared to
be pushed around to prevent a similar situation.
      "I feel strongly that, if this is something we have contributed to by
our own failure to act, then we have a moral obligation to look after these
children for all time."
He dismissed claims that the rising incidence of autism is a result of a
change in diagnostic criteria and insisted we are now seeing an epidemic .
      At a Glasgow conference on the causes of autism, the consultant
explained how numerous families approached him, all with the same story to
tell. Their children all had autism and bowel problems and they believed
that the two were linked and that they had started as a direct consequence
of the MMR vaccine. They said that, until vaccination, their children had
been developing normally.
      Wakefield said: "At first we were sceptical but the story was so
consistent that we felt we had to investigate.
      "Of the 160 autistic children we looked at, only five did not have
bowel disease. The parents were right. The medical profession was wrong."
      The expert attacked others for ignoring claims of a link. He said:
"When the parent tells you they believe the problems started after exposure
to the MMR vaccine, do you say, 'That is very interesting but politically it
makes me very uncomfortable'? No, you bring together experts from around the
world and you accept the over-riding need to establish whether there is a
      Wakefield said research carried out by his team and Professor John
O'Leary of Coombe Women's Hospital in Dublin - and presented to a US
Congressional hearing earlier this year - was clear evidence of a link. He
said further research papers, to be published shortly, would confirm these
      He emphasised: "I am not anti-vaccine. It is a recognition that one
plus one plus one is not equal to three. It is about the way the live
viruses behave.
      "We have data suggesting there is interaction between the compounds
that may pose a risk."