BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Audio/Video: Programmes: Panorama
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
banner
Andrew Wakefield hoped to prove MMR could cause autism
New research fuels MMR debate

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who publicly voiced concerns about the safety of MMR, has not proved the triple jab may cause autism and bowel disease in some children.

BBC One's Panorama programme gained exclusive access to the latest research by scientists, including Wakefield, which is due to be published in the Journal of Molecular Pathology in April.

In the research Wakefield and his collaborators report that they have found the measles virus in 83% of gut samples from children with autism and bowels disorders but only in 7% of children without these conditions.

However, Panorama reveals the scientists have not proven any link between the measles virus present in the children's guts and the triple vaccine.

Outbreak fears

This latest development in the MMR furore comes amid growing fears of a measles outbreak in the UK, after several children contracted the virus which has left one toddler dangerously ill.

Andrew Wakefield
Andrew Wakefield
Wakefield first publicly claimed MMR may not be safe in 1998, and recommended the use of single vaccines.

Since he voiced these safety concerns the uptake of MMR has fallen dramatically leaving more children unvaccinated against measles, which in extreme cases can prove fatal.

It has taken more than a year for Wakefield's latest research to be published - a year during which successions of studies have denied any link between MMR and autism.

Despite failing to prove the MMR vaccine may harm children, Mr Wakefield is still convinced the triple jab may cause autism or bowel disease in some children.

He told Panorama: "You do not combine three live viruses into one vaccine and assume that it is a benign process.

"These are viruses that are live, they are capable of establishing long term infection and they are capable of producing long-term adverse events."

However the UK Government insists the triple vaccine is safe, and will not offer parents the choice to opt for single vaccines.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Pat Troop says: "If we were to offer single vaccines it would suggest to parents that there was a problem with the vaccine [MMR], we would end up with fewer children vaccinated rather than more.

"There may be some who might come forward for single vaccines but I think many more parents would just turn away from the vaccine and...we would have many more children exposed to serious diseases."

As the MMR controversy continues Downing Street has again refused to confirm reports that Tony Blair's son Leo has been given the MMR vaccine.


Watch MMR: Every Parent's Choice on BBC One on Sunday 3 February at 2215GMT

Have your say on MMR by joining our live interactive debate immediately after the programme.

Have your say

Digital satellite television viewers can watch by pressing the red button on your handset.

Online users can watch from the Panorama website: www.bbc.co.uk/panorama.


Send us your comments:
Name:

Your E-mail Address:

Town:

Comments:

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible, but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

For general programme correspondence go to Contact Us.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Panorama stories