10 February 2010
In the week that the doctor at the centre of the controversy over the MMR vaccine and autism was called “dishonest, irresponsible and callous” by a medical disciplinary board, a new study has been published that suggests he could be right all along. Researchers in New York have discovered that children with autism spectrum disorder also had inflammation in the ileum, part of the small intestine – the exact same discovery made by Dr Andrew Wakefield, who may now lose his medical license following a 30-month hearing at the General Medical Council. Wakefield noted that the children he saw also had been given the triple MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, and he speculated that it might be the cause. After the publication of his paper in The Lancet in 1998, vaccination rates dropped dramatically as parents in the UK refused to have their children vaccinated.
The new study, from the New York University School of Medicine, discovered that 143 children with autism spectrum disorder also suffered from chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, and inflammation in the small intestine. As the vaccine is compulsory in the US, where the children live, it is reasonable to assume that most, if not all, were vaccinated – although the researchers do not suggest that it was the cause of the inflammation they detected. (Source: Autism Insights, 2010; 2: 1-11).