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Is there a link between the MMR vaccine and the increasing number of cases of autism?

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  • Essay length: 1011 words
  • Submitted: 26/03/2004
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Is there a link between the MMR vaccine and the increasing number of cases of autism?

By Peter Rooney

In 1988 the MMR vaccine was introduced to the UK. In this year there were 26,222 cases of measles and 16 deaths, more than 20,000 cases of mumps and approximately 25,000 cases of rubella. Ten years later and it was being hailed as a "wonder" vaccine as in 1998 there were just 112 cases of measles, 94 cases of mumps and 122 cases of rubella. What had caused its rapid decrease in popularity from its peak in 1996 when the percentage of MMR vaccine take-up in children was 92% to its fall of 10% in 2002 to 82%? Parents were being faced with the dilemma to either listen to the reassurances from the government and most scientists that the vaccine was safe, or to listen to the allegations made by Wakefield et al that the vaccine caused autism.

Measles, mumps and rubella all have serious complications. Measles can cause respiratory problems, ear infections and meningitis. Mumps can cause deafness and before the MMR vaccine it was the biggest cause of viral meningitis in children. Rubella can

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