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There's more to autism than MMR

10th February 2009

Gill Hornby laments the loss of research into the connection between autism and gut disorders.

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My nephew Danny had severe autism but is a "sunny, gentle soul". The problem which causes him the most pain is an intestinal disorder which makes him bang his head and shout out. If he is in a public place, the consequences are terrible.

There are no statistics to show if Danny's intestinal problems are associated with his autism.  On an anecdotal level, the problem is "common" but there has been no research into the condition.

The one place where doctors were exploring the link was at the Royal Free Hospital. However, after Dr Andrew Wakefield's paper which linked the MMR jab, bowel disease and autism, the uproar overshadowed this research.

Following the report, some parents rejected the MMR vaccine for their children and the amount of measles cases in England and Wales has increased.

Dr Wakefield and two of his co-workers are being investigated by the General Medical Council and face "allegations of serious misconduct".

It is of critical importance that the country does not have a serious outbreak of measles and if the MMR vaccine works, then it should be used.

Whatever the decision of the GMC, we should remember that Dr Wakefield and his team knew there were children with autism who suffered from an intestinal condition that we do not know anything about. 

It is to be hoped that the research into the the cause of the condition and potential treatments will go ahead soon. 

 

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