MMR and Autism
Watch this 6-minute Video on MMR
Watch an Interview with Dr. Andrew Wakefield
What is MMR?
MMR is an abbreviation for measles, mumps, and rubella -- three common childhood illnesses up until the mid-1970s. Vaccines are available for each of these diseases. However, in the 1980s they were combined into a single "three-in-one" MMR shot.
How is the MMR vaccine made?
According to the U.S. manufacturer, Merck & Company, Inc., the current MMR vaccine -- MMR-II -- contains attenuated live measles and mumps viruses propagated in chick embryo cell culture, plus "the Wistar RA 27/3 strain of live attenuated rubella virus propagated in WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts."(1) Principal studies published in the American Journal of Diseases of Children and the American Journal of Epidemiology, reveal that the rubella strain was cultured from an aborted human fetus.(2,3) In addition, the growth medium for the three live viruses that are needed to produce the MMR vaccine is a buffered salt solution "supplemented with fetal bovine serum."(4) Other ingredients include sucrose, phosphate, glutamate, recombinant human albumin, sorbitol, hydrolyzed gelatin stabilizer, and approximately 25 mcg of neomycin (an antibiotic).(5) The MMR vaccine does not contain a preservative. In fact, according to the FDA, MMR-II never contained thimerosal, a potentially dangerous chemical used in some vaccines.(6) However, trace amounts of mercury were detected in an earlier MMR formulation.(7)
How safe is the MMR vaccine?
The drug company that makes the MMR vaccine publishes an extensive list of warnings, contraindications, and adverse reactions associated with this triple shot. These may be found in the vaccine package insert available from any doctor giving MMR, and in the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) at the library.(8,9) The following afflictions affecting nearly every body system -- blood, lymphatic, digestive, cardiovascular, immune, nervous, respiratory, and sensory -- have been reported following receipt of the MMR shot: encephalitis, encephalopathy, neurological disorders, seizure disorders, convulsions, learning disabilities, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), demyelination of the nerve sheaths, Guillain-Barre' syndrome (paralysis), muscle incoordination, deafness, panniculitis, vasculitis, optic neuritis (including partial or total blindness), retinitis, otitis media, bronchial spasms, fever, headache, joint pain, arthritis (acute and chronic), transverse myelitis, thrombocytopenia (blood clotting disorders and spontaneous bleeding), anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions), lymphadenopathy, leukocytosis, pneumonitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme, urticaria, pancreatitis, parotitis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, meningitis, diabetes, autism, immune system disorders, and death (Figure 49).(10,11)
How effective is the MMR vaccine?
Prior to the introduction of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, thousands of cases of measles, mumps and rubella occurred every year. Today, these numbers are greatly reduced. However, unlike the natural diseases, the MMR vaccine does not confer permanent immunity. For example, measles epidemics regularly occur in vaccinated populations. According to the CDC, "measles transmission has been clearly documented among vaccinated persons. In some large outbreaks...over 95 percent of cases have a history of vaccination."(13) Outbreaks of mumps and rubella often occur in vaccinated people as well.(14) Evidently, immunity is short-lived. The Journal of the America Medical Association published data showing that antibody levels after rubella vaccinations fell to half their high point within four years.(15) The medical literature contains many examples of MMR vaccine failures. Thus, people who receive MMR may still be susceptible to the three diseases.
In a study conducted by scientists from the Direct Health 2000 clinic in Eltham, South London, England, half of all children vaccinated with MMR were found to have "zero or very low immunity" against measles and mumps. According to Dr. Sarah Dean, who oversaw the study, "This means there could be a lot of children who think they have got the umbrella protection" yet remain at risk. Dean believes that young children's immune systems cannot cope with more than one virus at a time.(16) Yet, a second dose of MMR was added to immunization schedules.
The British Medical Journal published a survey of doctor's and nurse's attitudes toward booster doses of MMR. Fifty-one percent of all U.K. doctors and nurses had reservations about or disagreed with the policy of giving an MMR booster shot, and 80 percent of all U.K. doctors would not "unequivocally recommend" the second dose to a wavering parent (Figure 50).(17)
Many parents report that their perfectly healthy children became autistic after receiving the MMR vaccine. The affected children were developing normally, then regressed after receiving the triple shot, losing their previously acquired skills. The medical community vociferously denies any connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. However, in 1998 Lancet published a landmark study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield linking the onset of autistic symptoms to the MMR vaccine.(21) Wakefield and his world-class team of medical experts investigated previously normal children who subsequently suffered from intestinal abnormalities and regressive developmental disorder, including a loss of acquired skills. In most cases, "onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation."(22) Further research uncovered a possible explanation:
"Atypical patterns of exposure to common childhood infections -- measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox -- have been associated with autism and autistic regression.... A close temporal relationship in the exposure to two of these infections during periods of susceptibility may compound both the risk and severity of autism.... Although historically, these rare patterns of exposure may have accounted for only a small proportion of autism, the widespread use of a combination of the candidate agents in a single vaccine [MMR] may have changed this."(23)
An earlier study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology identified in utero and infant exposures as periods of apparent susceptibility, when both the brain and immune system are undergoing rapid development.(24) Thus, fetuses and young children are especially prone to adverse consequences if they contract two or more viral infections concurrently. Wakefield elaborated on the increased perils of being exposed to more than one virus at a time:
"One important pattern of infection that may increase the risk of delayed disease is where different viruses interact, either with each other or both interact with the host immune system simultaneously. Virologic data support the possibility of a compound effect of multiple concurrent viral exposures influencing...the risk of autism."(25)
Is it safer to receive MMR as three separate shots?
Dr. Wakefield theorized that if a child who is exposed to two or more wild viral infections around the same time is at increased risk for autism, then a child who is injected with three live viruses via the MMR vaccine is equally susceptible to the ailment, if not more so. Thus, Wakefield proposed separating the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines from the three-in-one MMR shot -- the way they were in the 1970s prior to being combined -- and administering them individually over the course of several weeks or months. His solution would satisfy immunization recommendations designed to protect against the three diseases while safeguarding against the risk of autism:
"If, following thorough independent scientific investigation, it emerges that autistic...disorders are causally related to a compound influence of the component viruses of MMR, whether these viruses have been encountered naturally or in the vaccine, then through judicious use of the vaccines, one may have a means for preventing the disease [autism]. Spacing the single vaccines, thereby dissociating the exposures that, together, may constitute the risk, provides a way of not only preventing the acute measles, mumps and rubella infections, but also, potentially, the risk of one of the most devastating diseases that it has been our misfortune to encounter."(26)
For families that elect to vaccinate their children, Wakefield's proposal to separate the shots seems like a prudent approach, especially since recipients of MMR are being injected with three different live viruses -- contained within a chemical mixture of three diverse and potent drugs -- all at once. Furthermore, the medical and scientific literature contains documentation linking the MMR vaccine to a multitude of serious adverse reactions. The MMR vaccine manufacturer, plus numerous unsolicited personal stories, confirm the tragic possibilities.(27) Thus, when Wakefield's research was first publicized, concerned parents quickly rejected the MMR vaccine and demanded instead the individual shots. Several doctors initially supported Wakefield's recommendation and complied with their clients' requests. However, the individual measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are capable of causing severe adverse reactions as well. These are also listed by the vaccine manufacturer and documented in numerous studies.(28)
MMR was initially administered as three separate shots, rarely at the same time. Thus, early reports of adverse consequences could be attributed to a particular vaccine. Later, when the three-in-one MMR vaccine replaced the individual vaccines it became much more difficult to link a bad reaction to either the measles, mumps, or rubella portions of the shot. Today, MMR is often given in combination with other vaccines as well, making it even more difficult to determine whether one vaccine in particular caused an adverse reaction, or if all of the vaccines given at once simply overwhelmed the recipient's immune system.
Note: In January 2010, a British medical panel concluded that Dr. Wakefield had violated ethics rules, prompting The Lancet to retract his 1998 research paper which suggested that MMR may be linked to autism. However, according to Wakefield, "the allegations against me and my colleagues are both unfounded and unjust and I invite anyone to examine the contents of these proceedings and come to their own conclusion."
Listen to Dr. Andrew Wakefield In His Own Words.
Why are the three vaccines combined?
The three vaccines -- measles, mumps and rubella -- are combined into a single shot for convenience, not safety or efficacy. In fact, when 180 Swiss physicians analyzed 320 scientific works from around the world, they concluded that...
The information on this webpage was excerpted from...
Vaccine Safety Manual
for Concerned Families and Health Practitioners
by Neil Z. Miller
352 Pages / All Rights Reserved.
(All citations are included in the book.)
Adverse Reaction Reports
This section contains unsolicited adverse reaction reports associated with the MMR vaccine. They are typical of the daily emails received by the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute.
[MMR114] My 12-month-old received his MMR shot on a Friday. The following Friday he had a 104 degree temperature and became violently ill. The doctor said it was a stomach virus. But on Monday morning he woke up with a rash all over. I took him to the doctor and was very upset to learn that this is very common.
[MMR128] Recently, my 13-month-old had his MMR. He now has constant high fevers and seizures, which he never had. He is a totally different boy. This is devastating.
[MMR176] My friend's 15-month-old daughter received an MMR vaccine. Within eight days she was hospitalized with a 104 degree fever and a skin rash. My friend called to see what I could find out about Stevens-Johnson syndrome. They told her that her daughter may die as a result of this.
[MMR203] A dear friend lost her 15-month old daughter two weeks after her MMR. She was healthy and showed no signs of illness yet died suddenly in her sleep one afternoon. The post mortem revealed a viral infection and traces of pneumonia, but her mother and I find it very hard to believe that the vaccination wasn't to blame.
[MMR216] Three days ago my friend's 15-month-old daughter was hospitalized after experiencing a high fever and her first seizure. The hospital put the baby through a series of tests, including a CAT scan and CBC. My friend told me he thought it was a reaction to the MMR vaccine she recently received. However, the doctors were puzzled as to the cause and disallowed this explanation.
[MMR315] When my daughter was just over one year old, she received her MMR vaccination. Later that day she had a high fever, and I put her to bed. I was busy doing housework downstairs and got this "mother's intuition" that something was wrong. I rushed upstairs to find her blue and not breathing. I called a nurse. My daughter seemed to be convulsing, so I was instructed to reach down her throat to open her air passage. She was rushed to the hospital and they immediately put her into a cool bath. She was in the hospital for almost a week. Had it not been for my gut feeling that something was wrong, my baby would not be with me today.
[MMR317] Our son developed seizures after his MMR vaccine at 14 months. Today, after two years of anti-epilepsy medications, he has totally regressed. We decided to stop all medications five weeks ago and his grand mal fits have stopped. We are now left with a child experiencing severe constipation and bowel problems.
[MMR321] One week after the MMR shot for my 16-month-old daughter, she had diarrhea. The next day she had three seizures. What steps should be taken once a reaction has occurred. I want to be sure it is documented and the government is made aware.
[MMR398] My daughter had a serious reaction to the MMR shot when she was 22 months. She developed brain damage after a fever of 106 degrees. She also has seizures which are unresponsive to medication, damage to the nerves of her eyes, and learning disabilities that she battles every day. We took her case to court and lost. The doctor who testified on their behalf stated that the government only called him in when they wanted a finding in their favor. What a setup! Of course they don't have to live with the frustrations and expense of raising these vaccine-damaged children.
[MMR402] Three days after my daughter received her MMR vaccine, she started blinking her eyes and sniffling a lot. She's been doing this for 2 1/2 months now. Is there a link between the MMR vaccine and facial tics?
[MMR436] My 12-year-old had a seizure within 10 minutes of his second MMR. His head rolled side to side and his arms jerked a couple of times. He was unaware of this, so he must have blanked out. Afterwards, he felt woozy, very tired, and had a headache at the bridge of his nose. Also, his arm that got the shot was numb. The feeling in it gradually returned over the course of an hour.
[MMR443] I have a 15-year-old daughter. I recently moved to the U.S. from the U.K. without her medical records. Upon arrival we were required to give her complete immunizations. I strongly objected, but felt pushed into re-immunization because of state laws to get her into school. After her second MMR she has been complaining of dizzy spells and continuous headaches. Is there a link between over-immunization of MMR and this sickness?
[MMR509] Today, shortly after I was inoculated with the MMR vaccine, I began feeling faint and short of breath. After ten minutes of holding my head between my knees in a dirty gas station bathroom, I decided I could drive the 20 miles home.
[MMR518] I had an MMR shot about three year ago and have suffered from many reactions to this vaccine since.
[MMR552] When I was a child I was given the MMR vaccine. Almost seven days to the hour I became ill: fever, sweats, throwing up even the slightest amount of fluid or food. This went on for a month or so. The doctors would not even consider that the shots caused the illness. Later, they wanted me to have the second MMR; my parents refused. The doctors went through the usual tantrums and said I wouldn't be able to attend school. When my parents said 'Fine, he won't go,' the doctors gave in. At about the age of 18, I had a blood screening and was told I didn't have all of the MMR vaccine. Forgetting the episode as a child, I let them give me the shot. Seven days later I was sick again, but not as severe.
[MMR580] My college refused to admit me without an MMR vaccine. I had a terrible reaction and was rushed to the hospital with piercing screams, a high temperature and delirium. Now I have trouble focusing, and can be scattered and forgetful. I can't stand change and don't seem to have the energy and drive that I once had. My family thinks I developed obsessive-compulsive disorder. I am very bright, but nearly blew my scholarship after the shot.
[MMR588] I was told by the nursing school where I am enrolled, "No vaccine, no school." Even though I had all the normal vaccines as a child, I was unable to show this. Five days after I received the MMR vaccine, I was so ill that I ended up in the emergency room. The doctor told me that the MMR did not cause my sickness, and my nursing school supervisor said it was a virus. Why does the medical establishment deny vaccine reactions? Why can't they tell us this important information and let us make educated responsible decisions. The irony is that I got the vaccine and now I'm so sick that I can't go to school.
The most extensive, up-to-date information on the MMR vaccine
may be found in the book: Vaccine Safety Manual
VACCINE SAFETY MANUAL
for Concerned Families and Health Practitionersby Neil Z. Miller
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