No evidence that MMR vaccine is associated with autism or bowel disease

There is no evidence that MMR or single measles vaccines are associated with autism or inflammatory bowel disease, researchers announced today.

Their conclusion follows the most in-depth analysis of the scientific literature to date, and provides clear reassurance for parents and health professionals regarding the safety of MMR vaccination.

Their findings will be published in Clinical Evidence, the international source of the best available evidence for effective health care, published by the BMJ Publishing Group.

Dr Anna Donald, Dr Vivek Muthu and the information scientists at Clinical Evidence have conducted a detailed search of the world’s scientific literature on MMR and single measles vaccination. The highest quality studies were selected and analysed, according to explicit appraisal criteria.

They found no evidence that MMR or single measles vaccines are associated with autism or inflammatory bowel disease.

They found strong evidence that both MMR and single measles vaccination virtually eliminate risk of measles and measles complications.

They found consistent evidence that MMR and single measles vaccines are associated with small, similar risks of self limiting fever within three weeks of vaccination. However, measles itself causes acute fever in all infected children.

MMR additionally protects against mumps and rubella, which themselves cause serious complications, including death.

The authors also considered the study by Wakefield and colleagues,1 which raised the question of a possible relation between MMR and developmental disorder in 12 children with bowel symptoms.

They report that the study was retrospective (parents surveyed up to 8 years after vaccination), small; lacked a control group; and was selective in its sample. For these reasons, the authors concluded that the study “does not establish MMR as a cause of inflammatory bowel disease, autism, or developmental regression, and that its hypothesis has been satisfactorily tested by scientifically reliable studies.”

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