The Japanese study last week, which seemed to establish no link whatsoever between the MMR vaccine and autism, should have been the end of the debate. Not so, it appears.
While health authorities in the US and UK will point to the study as proof absolute, they may choose not to mention a study published recently in a medical journal that has replicated the original findings of Dr Andrew Wakefield, who started the whole MMR-autism controversy.
Dr Wakefield has been vilified, and has endured 'trial by TV', since The Lancet published his discovery in 1998. Until now, nobody has been able to replicate his findings, sparking rumours that his entire programme was merely a prelude to a lucrative business venture.
But now researchers from the New Jersey Medical School have discovered 'evidence of marked inflammatory and immune abnormalities in children with autism associated with gastrointestinal symptoms'. Wakefield had discovered that autistic children had similar inflammatory bowel disease, which could be caused by the triple MMR vaccine. He described the vaccine as 'interference', as it could suppress the immune system. Wakefield had recommended single shots, given one year apart.
While the New Jersey data may not be a 'knock-out' blow, it's equally fair to suggest that the Japanese study isn't one, either. Thoughtful parents are recommended to continue to tread with care.