Scientists in Japan have found that cases of autism kept rising after they withdrew the measles, mumps and rubella jab and replaced it with single jabs.
The study looked at the medical records of about 30,000 children and is the first report to examine autism rates after the withdrawal of the MMR
The British government says this study adds to the wealth of evidence that
there is no link between MMR and autism. But critics say
more conclusive proof from UK-based studies is needed.
Does this report influence your attitude towards the MMR vaccine? If not - what would convince you that the jab was safe? Have you let your children have the combined jab? Send us your views using the form.
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received so far:
This is a MMR generation; a generation that always believes in the latest conspiracy theory; a generation that is so risk averse that they buy 4WD to "protect" their kids on the school run. A generation that prefers to accept dubious science rather than overwhelming evidence, because it confirms their belief that politicians are corrupt. A generation that puts at risk a whole new cohort of children simply to show how "caring " they are. No doubt this new study will not be accepted by JABS as they have invested too much in their campaign to give up now.
David, Beverley Yorkshire
Trust is always very easy to lose and so hard to regain. It would probably have helped if the government's argument hadn't been handled in such a doctrinaire manner and come over so much as being based on economics.
Colin, Norwich, UK
I am a Japanese paediatrician. We are concerned about the possible risk of jabs while forgetting about its benefit. Measles is still epidemic in Japan and many children die from it. In the UK, measles will be epidemic soon because of the lower vaccination rate. We should think more about protecting child from serious illness.
Toshiko Matsudaira, Japan
Having had a mumps outbreak at my uni, I didn't hesitate for a second to go and get my jabs updated. I think any parent who doesn't vaccinate their child is not looking after that child's best interests - some of the rarer complications of mumps and measles are very serious (such as Meningitis and Encephalitis) and could have possibly fatal consequences.
Amy, Reading, Uk
I fear I am not convinced of the safety of the MMR by the reported Japanese study since we are not told the full constituents of the vaccines. Do we know if the vaccines used in Japan, or the MMR varieties used in the UK, contain the preservatives and antibiotics that are known to induce autism and other problems in children? Do we know if the MMR varieties used here in the UK are the same as those used in other parts of the world? Most important of all perhaps are we permitted to know if the MMR varieties used here in the UK are the product of genetic engineering?
Richard Bruce, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
In a word "no"...my son has autism as a result of the MMR jab and nothing will convince me otherwise! A three-in-one jab is too much for some children's bodies to cope with (especially boys) - God help us with the five-in-one jab! American studies show a reduction in autism once the mercury is removed. It's about time the government gave the parents what they want and stopped penny-pinching!
Chris, Brighouse, UK
In response to those people who claim we should have separate vaccines to be 'better safe than sorry' I'd like to point out that doing so would inevitably cost a lot more than having a combined jab. It's very easy to say there should be no cost on a child's health but unfortunately there has to be. In an NHS with far more calls on its resources than there are resources to go around every treatment has its price - how else can you prioritise? Is it worth denying someone life saving treatment for a 'just in case'?
Ian, London, UK
There is a small volume of anecdotal, unsubstantiated evidence - refuted by almost every expert in the country- that the MMR vaccination may cause autism in some children. There is overwhelming evidence that measles can cause serious inflammation of the lung and the brain; that mumps can cause infertility; that rubella can cause deafness and congenital malformation. The MMR helps protect against these diseases and their potentially fatal complications. Single vaccines, whilst as effective if used properly, have been shown to cause problems with patient compliance. Single vaccines are more expensive - the NHS has finite resources. Measles and mumps are on the increase. The reduced uptake of the MMR in recent years has almost certainly contributed to this increase. Parents who fail to vaccinate their children are not only putting their own child's health at risk but are detrimental the public health of the entire nation.
I would like to speak for those who for various reasons are unable to have the MMR jab. I would have loved my son to have it but due to a liver transplant at 18-months-old he is unable to have live vaccines. Now, if there were to be an outbreak of measles or mumps, due to his suppressed immune system, he would be particularly at risk. For many people who have had transplant surgery, who are having chemotherapy or who have suppressed immune systems for other reasons the results of a surge in diseases could be catastrophic.
I can understand people's fears but surely the unproven risk to their child, does not compare with the proven risk to many other people in society. We must vaccinate our children for the good of our society as a whole. It's not just about us. We should be grateful for having the free, national immunisation programme many Third world countries are desperate for. Some people don't know how lucky they are.
Whether or not the MMR is 100% safe the risks that accompany not having the vaccine are immeasurably worse. Any mother who would risk allowing her child to catch Measles, Mumps or Rubella is making a, possibly fatal, error.
Mike Jones, Cardiff, Wales
I suggest that these results are meaningless. For example if the Measles component alone is linked to Autism. It would not matter whether the jab was give as MMR or as a single vaccine. The risk would be similar.
Les Kennedy, Aylesbury
I don't know whether MMR jabs lead to autism. All I do know is that my grandson had a night full of spasms after having the jab and has subsequently had problems at school! He gets there in the end but is just a little bit slower in learning. As a consequence, his younger sister won't be receiving any jabs at all in the future! Why not have separate jabs - it makes sense.
Jo, Brighton, East Sussex
One of the main problems is the media's obsession with "balance". Whenever this subject is reported, they give equal airtime and column inches to the medical expert who says MMR is safe and to the Jabs representative who says it is dangerous, so it appears to be a 50/50 decision. This is despite that fact that every credible study says it is safe, and Jabs just has some anecdotes suggesting (but not proving) there may have been a link in a tiny proportion of cases.
Chris, Bracknell, UK
The sooner people wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as zero risk, the better. The issue has always been about weighing the hypothetical risk of a link between MMR and autism against the very real risk of children being disabled by measles, mumps and rubella. I only hope that the parents who didn't immunise their children aren't allowed to make a fuss or claim compensation when their children get ill.
Tim Watkins, Cardiff
If you look on the Jabs website, they cite the example of Japan withdrawing MMR in favour of single vaccines as evidence to support their case. They can hardly now come out and say that the Japanese situation, and specifically this research, is not applicable as it is "foreign" and retain any credibility.
Mark Gillespie, Manchester, England
Despite the overwhelming evidence that the MMR jab is safe, I'm astonished to still see people on this site questioning it. As a result of ignorant, irresponsible people choosing to believe bad science, superstition and tabloid hype over clear evidence, many children will have been unnecessarily put at great risk from theses potentially nasty illnesses. Any parent who doesn't have their child vaccinated is guilty of child neglect.
Peter, Telford, UK
It still boils down to the same issue. Why does the government refuse to give parents the option of multiple jabs instead of MMR? In short it boils down to budgetary cost and stubbornness on the part of the establishment.
Charles Smith, London England
Why are people still more convinced by the conjecture of one man's article than by the catalogue of scientific study that has been undertaken?
Oliver, Cardiff, Wales
Injecting a child with MMR is potentially still dangerous in my opinion. Injecting a child with a tendency towards autism is potentially catastrophic, bearing in mind the problems autistic children have with their gut, which is where the MMR cocktail resides. Why can't the scientists and so-called experts see this?
Simon Ward, Bradford
Simon Ward of Bradford exemplifies the whole problem here; it doesn't matter how much scientific evidence you put in front of some people if they've already had enough exposure to a plausible scare story. Perhaps those responsible for presenting one dodgy study in the media as if it were conclusive proof of the damage caused by MMR might like to start apologising to those who contract diseases as a result. And to those who say that Tony Blair should reveal whether his youngest son had the jab - how convinced were you about beef when John Gummer fed his daughter a burger?
Mark Dungworth, London, UK
What does this study actually tell us? It definitely shows single jabs to be more likely to cause autism than MMR, but doesn't it also suggest there is some kind of connection between vaccinations and autism? It most certainly doesn't prove that there is 'no link between MMR and autism', as reported on the BBC news most of today. To do that would require a large scale study of non-vaccinated children.
Darren Jones, St Annes, Lancashire
As a person born in 1955 with Autism and suffered social exclusion due to a lack of understanding for the condition. This recent research does not in any way absolve MMR. As there are many possible causes of autism, from the mother having thyroid problems to the child getting meningitis. Hence researchers now need to look at membranes and how osmosis occurs if there is damage. Do note it was not until the age of 48 years that a doctor discovered I had autism. And there could be over one million others in the UK being treated for non existent Mental Health problems, which are in fact allergy induced autism!
Nigel R Yearsley, Cornwall, England
Its time for the media to step up and accept their part in this fiasco. There are dozens of reports stating that MMR is safe and one that it is linked to Autism. What do the media decide to do - go for the scare story? I just hope we do not all pay the price for their scaremongering and that we do not experience any epidemics related to this.
I had the MMR quite late on not long after it was introduced (aged about 8), and (while I've never been diagnosed officially) do show slight symptoms of Asperger's (rather than full autism). While it's been in the back of my mind, I doubt, however, that it has anything to do with MMR, as my parents don't recall any real change in me at the time.
As a "scientist" in drug discovery, we know that a cocktail of medicines sometimes do interact with each other. I believe the MMR jab is safe, but more research should have been carried out before giving this cocktail. And stop blaming "scientists" (who believe it or not are human too!)- it is the government who should be clear and stop being evasive!
Carl, Bristol, UK
Perhaps the reason for the increase in diagnoses of autism is simply that we are getting better at identifying the 'symptoms' rather than anything to do with the MMR vaccine.
Louise, Oxford, UK
How much more convincing do people need? There was never any firm evidence in the first place.
Alison, Leeds, UK
This is old news and I don't consider it to be an issue. The very fact that this ever became an issue is a mystery. Anyone that looks at it even slightly closely can realise that.
Joel, Skelmersdale, Lancashire
Why does Tony Blair not say whether his child was immunised using the MMR? If he did not, then it clearly something is amiss. He may well hide behind privacy laws, but who better to set an example. After all he is right behind the MMR vaccination. Leaders must set the example. The rest will follow.
Chris Kisch, Milton Keynes, UK
Both my children received the MMR jab and my eldest has also received the pre-school booster. There was no hesitation on my part - I am convinced the vaccine is safe and feel relieved that my children are protected from these potentially life threatening illnesses. I get so cross with the attitudes of parents who do not immunise their children. Every day we expose our children to a series of events, any of which could result in death or disability. Going out in the car is far more dangerous than the MMR jab!
I have a 6 month old so this issue is very close to heart. I just don't know what to do
John Minogue, Ashford, Kent
Yes. I am confident the vaccine is Safe. I am not a medical expert, and I trust those who are.
Yes. What else do we need? What is wrong with Japan's scientists? Are the test subjects over there a different species? Come on give me a break! If there needs to be a UK based study to silence, the critics get on with it!
I was immunised as a baby with the MMR jab. I didn't have any side effects what-so-ever. All my kids will be immunised. The risk of these diseases is far greater than the risk of autism.
TH, Teesside, England
I've been convinced it was safe ever since I heard the earliest arguments on this matter. There was never a convincing argument of a link with autism, and the whole issue revolved around the fact that parents (quite understandably) don't want to take any risks with their children. As time has gone by, I have become increasingly persuaded that the original "research" that raised the fears was extremely irresponsible. I would be interested to know how many children have suffered and even died because of that research.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
The original study that stated that MMR "might" be linked to autism looked at a sample size of less than 20 children and therefore cannot be considered reliable. This latest research has looked at the population of an entire city. All other research has denied the link between MMR and autism. What's wrong with "foreign" research anyway?
The research as described does not prove MMR is safe, it merely proves that the chosen single vaccines cannot be assumed to represent less of a threat than MMR. As is typical the government hails their interpretation of the findings and pats itself on the back while watching take-up rates continue to decline.
What is fascinating about this debacle is the fact that no one has ever shown that there may be a link between MMR and autism. Just the possibility there may be a link. In my view, JABS is risking many lives on a whim!
Tom Potts, Harlow, UK
One flawed study on 12 non-autistic children, which has since been discredited and dismissed even by many of its original authors and backers showed a link with autism. Numerous studies from all over the world, have showed no link at all. How much more convincing do people need?
Yet another report showing no connection between MMR and autism. I expect the opponents will still say it's a threat though. What will it take to satisfy them?
Iain , UK
What would convince me of the safety of MMR would be to see proof that Leo Blair, the prime minister's son had been given the jab.
Dave Tankard, UK
My friend's father is on the autistic spectrum - he is now in his 70s. He never had the MMR. Another friend insisted on giving her son the single vaccines - he's also been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. I'm staggered that people were sucked in by this 'argument' when it first arose.
We let our daughter have the MMR - I very much doubt that doctors and nurses would use this if it was unsafe. It is also better to get your child immunised as there is more risk there than a very small, unclear link to autism
There's about a 100 studies now that show MMR is safe compared with one, flawed and withdrawn study suggesting a risk. The evidence for the safety of MMR is about as strong as the proof that the earth is round. Claims that we need a "British" study is ridiculous as it implies that Japanese (or Finnish) science is some how inferior to our own.
If you install new software on your computer, and it suddenly starts playing up, then it is perfectly logical to assume the new software is the cause of the problem. If your computer stays fine for six months, then you are far less likely to link the problems with the new software.
My son developed autistic symptoms immediately after having the MMR jab, so naturally we assumed that the MMR jab was to blame. However, the jab is given at precisely the time that the child's development in language and social skills has reached the point where it is measurable, and I think that this is the reason for the link. If the MMR jab was given six months later than it currently is, then any problems that the child has can be detected first, and it would be clear that there is no link. If, on the other hand, the child can be measured as within the normal range before the jab, and then after the jab exhibits autistic symptoms, then it is clear there must be a link. It is the timing of the jab that causes the confusion.
Rob, London, UK