Autism, the MMR and getting a Measles immunity check...
On this page you will find:
- the link to the General Medical Council (GMC) Register of Medical Practitioners
- Information about how you can get your child's Measles immunity checked to prevent unnecessary vaccination (& our story)
- NHS - Frequently asked questions about the MMR http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/mmr-questions-answers.aspx
My aim is to provide all parents and individuals with evidenced-based and referenced information to help them make better informed choices not to give advice!
NB. At present, there are no single Measles, Mumps or Rubella vaccines available.
If you would like to reduce the possible side effects of the MMR or any vaccine, please contact Mo Ramzan MRPharmS at Buxton & Grant,Bristol who can talk to you about this and has an on-line and postal service.
For those of us in the UK with girls approaching age 16 and who will be expected to have a booster rubella jab, please note it is no longer available as a single vaccine by the NHS and you should be told at the time of vaccination that it is, in fact, an MMR. You may wish to consider having your daughter's Rubella immunity checked from a previous MMR vaccination or a previous contraction of Rubella (German Measles) by having a blood test done before blindly giving her a booster which may be unnecessary? (which is the blood test pregnant women have done as a routine anti-natal procedure, to check they have immunity).
This Immunity Test can also be done for any child who has previously had an MMR. You may have been asked to give your child a pre-school booster or an additional MMR due to the recent Measles outbreak, by a GP. Although some GPs may not agree to do this and you may have to find a private practitioner/practice to carry out this blood test. Vaccines do not guarantee immunity and sometimes you may think you child is immune when they are not... A blood test can put your mind at rest and avoid unnecessary vaccination.
You may be interested to know that when my son (who is 2 years older than my daughter and does not have autism) was preparing to go to university, he was required to have another MMR and some other vaccines. As he had been given an MMR at 13 months old and I had refused for him to have a pre-school booster at age 5 but did get him vaccinated with a single Mumps vaccine (based on what I knew then and what was available to me) and I had refused any vaccine boosters for my daughter at age 4 (she had only just turned four when she started school), I decided to get both my children’s' immunity checked for Measles, Mumps & Rubella via a blood test. The results of these blood tests were that my son was immune to all three; Measles, Mumps and Rubella and Farrah was immune to Mumps and Rubella BUT INTERESTINGLY NOT MEASLES! (the part in the MMR in the form of 'Wild Measles Virus' (Singh, 2002; 2009)) found in the guts of some children with autism) I decided, because I know Farrah's immune system is working as well as her brothers now and she is a fit and very healthy young lady and because there are epidemics of Measles erupting around the UK, I would get her vaccinated with one of the last single Measles vaccines available at that time...she did not have any noticeable side-effects...
THE MMR DEBATE:
A different view point to consider: Much of the research refuting that the MMR vaccine may be a cause of autism is based on retrospective data and records of children (what's known as an epidemiological study); they were not 'biological' studies (replications of Andrew Wakefield's study); studies based on medical and biological tests conducted on the children in a study. Most of, if not all of the studies which tell us that the MMR is safe and which are used to discredit Andrew Wakefield's research are epidemiological studies.
This is a section (Section 112) of the 2001 Medical Research Council's (MRC) 'Review of Autism Research: Epidemiology and causes:'
'112. The aforementioned reviews were unanimous in their conclusions that a causal link between the MMR vaccine and “autistic colitis” and ASDs was not proven and that current epidemiological evidence did not support this proposed link. The Institute of Medicine report noted that “this conclusion does not exclude the possibility that MMR vaccine could contribute to ASD in a small number of children, because the epidemiological evidence lacks the precision to assess rare occurrences of a response to MMR vaccine leading to ASD”4. We recognise that, as with most epidemiological studies of causation, this remains a theoretical possibility. More extensive research would be necessary to provide evidence for the biological plausibility of a suggested causal link between viral infections and ASDs (as this is currently not robust), as it would be for other proposed causal factors.'
In section 113. of this same report, it states,
'...it is important to recognise that epidemiological studies cannot prove that vaccines are safe but can only exclude specific adverse effects with a certain degree of confidence...'
This can be easily found on line here...
Andrew Wakefield's study has been replicated twice (the more times research is replicated the more it is considered credible, valid and possibly true) by Singh and colleagues (2002 & 2009).
In 2002 Singh and colleagues found 60% of the 125 autistic children had unusual MMR serum (blood) antibodies BUT found NONE IN THE CONTROL GROUP (non-autistic) OF 92 CHILDREN. AND 90% OF THE 60% had brain myelin basic protein auto-antibodies in their serum,
'...suggesting a strong association between MMR and CNS autoimmunity in autism' (Singh et al, 2002)
The 2009 study confirmed the findings of 2002.
Only more biological studies can prove or disprove a link...When research is replicated this strengthens the argument. Wasting time bickering over reports and news bulletins is no help to anyone, especially for parents who are already living with autism and are concerned about their younger children and have to make decision for them. In research we are told that if you have an argument to prove, it needs backing up with 'scientific evidence' of a similar kind to that of the original study; in this case a biological study.
Finally, Andrew Wakefield admits he was 'naive' in his book CALLOUS DISREGARD (page. 81) when he took blood samples from children at his son's birthday party (and that's what I personally see as the ethical misconduct which discredited him as a professional and consequently discredited his research work)....
Andrew Wakefield and colleagues never stated the MMR caused autism! They stated in their conclusion,
'We have identified a chronic enter colitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.'
The NHS recommends that vaccines are not given to individuals whose immunity is compromised. If your child is not well or appears to have a compromised (weakened) immune system, please speak to your GP about this before going ahead with any vaccination and postpone vaccination until their immunity improves.
NB. This information is my interpretation of the research which I read when investigating this issue as part of my MA Autism and my perspective on the matter based on the evidence I have read so far and from which I have based my personal decisions for my own children...I hope it helps you to make a more informed choice for your child/children...
Please read as much as you can on this matter and make your own informed decision and personal choice for your own children.
NB. My work has been through an electronic plagiarism scanning system so if you wish to use it, please remember to reference it!
MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC). 2001. [WWW]. MRC Review of Autism Research: Epidemiology and Causes. http://www.mrc.ac.uk/funding/science-areas/neurosciences-mental-health/related-content/autism-research-review/ (27 December 2010) (THIS REFERENCE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ON LINE ON THE MRC WEBSITE EITHER.)
NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE. 2007. [WWW]. NHS immunisation information. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/MMR/Documents/Rubella%20-%20Questions%20and%20answers.pdf
SINGH, V.K. 2009. Phenotypic expression of autoimmune autistic disorder (AAD): a major subset of autism. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry : Official Journal of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists, 21(3),148-161
SINGH, V.K., LIN, S.X., NEWELL, E. and NELSON, C. 2002. Abnormal measles-mumps-rubella antibodies and CNS autoimmunity in children with autism. Journal of Biomedical Science, 9(4), 359-364.
WAKEFIELD, A. 2010. Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines - The truth behind a Tragedy. 1 edn. USA: Sky Horse Publishing.