Is the MMR vaccination linked to Autism?

Today’s contributing article is by Mummycleverdoc who is a mother to 2 girls, Alyvia (20 months) and Sophia (5 months) and a doctor specialising in Cardiology. She works in an NHS hospital in London. She shares with us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

“I’m not allowing my child to have the MMR vaccine…’ I hear mothers at the nursery say. Do they know what I know I wonder?

A little background knowledge

Dr Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist wrote an article with 11 other colleagues in 1998 and published it in one the most prestigious journals in medicine; The Lancet. It became one of the most controversial articles ever written in paediatric history.

He studied 12 children (average age of 6 years) who had been identified to have developmental changes along with gastrointestinal symptoms. Their parents were interviewed and reported that these findings had emerged after their children underwent the MMR vaccination.

8 of the 12 children developed autism. In the article, he concluded that developmental regression and gastrointestinal disease was present in previously normal children after they had been exposed to environmental triggers (eluding to the MMR vaccine).

What were the flaws of the original article?

1. Only 12 children were studied; therefore basing findings on such small numbers may not be accurate.

2. This was a retrospective study; it relied on people’s accounts from memory, an area where error could have been introduced.

3. Children were not observed and subjected to investigations prior to and straight after the vaccinations therefore no comparisons could be made.

4. Invasive investigations were conducted on the children without obtaining ethical clearance and proper consent. This led to speculation that results may have been incorrect.

Since this study was published, other studies were later undertaken both in the UK and US, which involved larger numbers of children. These studies could not find an association between the vaccine and autism.

Following these revelations, along with several other articles from the British Medical Journal, the original authors of the Lancet paper retracted their interpretation of the original data and admitted that the data was insufficient to link the MMR vaccination and autism. It was also revealed that Dr Wakefield had been given financial incentives from specific lawyers against vaccine-producing companies.

In 2010, the entire article from the Lancet was completely retracted but sadly the damage had been done. Many parents were refusing to give their children the MMR vaccine. Measles incidences had risen globally from 2008.

Mummycleverdoc thoughts

Nowadays, reluctance to vaccinate children from MMR is still present. In the last 2 years, many states within the USA, European countries such as Italy, Germany and Romania have reported large outbreaks.

Some mothers are choosing to vaccinate their children with separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines instead. This is not available on the NHS immunisation schedule and requires mothers to locate centers that stock these vaccines separately…an unnecessary rate-limiting step in my opinion.

Measles and mumps can lead to ear infections, diarrhoea and in more severe cases, pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and death. Why risk such a fatal complication and not immunise your child?

I urge parents to make informed decisions regarding their children’s healthcare. Highlight any concerns to a qualified individual who can provide accurate information based on the latest evidence and research.


Mummycleverdoc is a mother to 2 girls, Alyvia (20 months) and Sophia (5 months) and a doctor specialising in Cardiology. She works in an NHS hospital in London. She has recently started a blog with the intent of sharing her experiences of motherhood through a doctor’s eyes. Here you will find her advice and top tips on dealing with babies with reflux, how to tell if your child may need antibiotics and how to manage a child with sleep apnoea.  In addition to this informative content, she also regularly writes about her experience with the usual challenges of parenthood such as taking her daughter for her immunisations and weaning her children. She adds a refreshingly hilarious spin to these experiences likening them to a typical day as a busy doctor. Please visit her blog at for valuable medical information that will appeal to all parents.