The MMR debate: A review of the Primary Evidence.

Essay by nikkiclark17University, Master's January 2003

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Abstract Page 3

Autism Pages 4-7

The Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Pages 8-10

Evidence Supporting the Link Between MMR and Autism Pages 11-12

Evidence Abolishing the Link Between MMR and Autism Pages 13-19

Conclusions Pages 20-21

References Pages 22-23

Acknowledgements Page 24


Considerable concern has been generated as a result of the publication of a paper in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues, who postulated an association between autism and childhood immunisation with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The passing years have seen a number of media campaigns initiated by the government in an effort to calm the hysterical press and confused families, and to once again restore faith in the MMR vaccine.

This paper sets out the facts about autism and measles, mumps and rubella and goes on to critically review the primary evidence surrounding the 'MMR Debate'.

This paper is written with health professionals and parents in mind.


'Autism' is word the world is slowly becoming accustomed to hearing. But how many of us can truly say that we know and understand what is meant by the phrase 'autism'? This section of the report discusses the history, impairments, prevalence and diagnostic criteria of autism.

First Accounts

Autism was first described by Leo Kanner in 1943 and then again by Asperger in 1944. Both independently used the term 'autism' to label a disorder that they described in children whose behaviour followed a category of features (Bishop 1989). At this point, however, there was no attempt to specify defined diagnostic criteria (Bishop 1989).

Kanner described two main features in the children he diagnosed to be autistic namely 'autistic aloneness' and 'desire for sameness'. Autistic aloneness refers to the child's inability to relate to others while 'desire for sameness' describes the autistic child's aversion...