By Lucy Johnston for the Sunday Express http://www.express.co.uk
Scientists have confirmed the controversial link between MMR and
The findings corroborate research by Dr Andrew Wakefield, discredited
by the Department of Health for suggesting the combined measles, mumps and
rubella jab may have contributed to rises in the disorder.
The new study, led by Dr Arthur Krigsman, a child gastroenterologist
from New York University School of Medicine, has led to calls for an
immediate overhaul of Britain's child vaccination programme.
The research, to be presented at the International Conference for
Autism Research in Montreal next week, is still going on but, unusually
early findings have been released because of the significance.
The study, which covers 275 children and is being carried out at
different medical centres in America, found serious intestinal inflammation
in autistic children identical to that described by Dr Wakefield and his
colleagues eight years ago.
Gut biopsy tissue from 82 of these children reveals that 85 per cent
have evidence of the measles virus in their inflamed intestines. Fourteen
have so far been confirmed by more stringent DNA tests.
The news will be a huge embarrassment for the Department of Health
which rubbished Dr Wakefield's research on the grounds it was uncorroborated
"bad science". Steve Walker, assistant professor at Wake Forest University
Medical Centre, North Carolina, who analysed the gut samples, said the work
mirrored Dr Wakefield's study.
"We're very excited by our findings," he said. "Wakefield's study was
criticised because it lacked replication. Our goal is to see if the finding
was real. Preliminary results show that it was."
Just as Dr Wakefield discovered in his work on the children with a
previously unidentified bowel condition, Dr Krigsman's patients had all
inexplicably deteriorated, losing language and other skills at around 12 to
18 months of age.
All of the children under both doctors were diagnosed with autism and
had come to them seeking help for symptoms of serious digestive problems for
which no explanation could be found.
Dr Wakefield, who was forced to resign his job as a gastroenterologist
at the Royal Free Hospital in north London after he publicised his theory,
welcomed the research. He said: "The Department of Health was able to
discredit our research by saying no one else had found similar results to
ours but no one else had looked.
"In the light of these results - which are strikingly similar to ours
- the Government and its regulators are obliged to act. At this stage it
would be prudent and in the best interests of vaccine uptake to make single
Dr Richard Halvorsen, a GP from the Holborn Medical Centre in central
London, who is writing a book on the child vaccination programme, said:
"This is incredibly powerful evidence confirming the link between autism,
MMR and bowel disease.
"The Government should withdraw MMR until its safety can be proven,
particularly as we have safer and effective alternatives."
Jackie Fletcher, founder of Jabs, a support group for parents who
believe their children have been damaged by vaccines, said: "This study
confirms that the measles virus is present in the guts of these children
when it shouldn't be.
"This also shows that the studies, which the Government use as proof
of the safety of MMR vaccine, are inadequate. The MMR should be suspended
and single jabs reinstated immediately. We cannot take risks with our
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it could not comment
on the research until it had been presented but she defended the triple jab.
"There is no link between autism and the MMR vaccine," she said. "MMR
remains the best form of protection against measles, mumps and rubella."