GPs driven to 'scattergun' prescribing
The most comprehensive and robust study to date has confirmed there is no link between MMR and autism after analysing records from UK general practice.
Immunisation experts hail-ed the research as the final word on the topic and said it would be a significant confidence booster for both parents and health professionals.
Researchers found no evidence of an association with MMR even when they reanalysed the data to look at children who had received it before their third birthday and children who were vaccinated before the possibility of a link with autism was raised.
Lead author Dr Liam Smeeth, senior lecturer in clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a GP in north London, said it was legitimate to raise concerns about vaccines but it was now time to 'draw a line under the MMR debate' and investigate other possible causes of autism.
'We have done the best study we can and put it together with evidence from other studies. It's taken a long time and it's been hard work but this really does provide conclusive evidence,' he said.
He added that he hoped the study evidence would
help GPs to convince worried parents.
New research presented at a British Psychological Society conference last week suggested parents who refused to have their children vaccinated with MMR were heavily influenced by research findings.
The case-control study, published in The Lancet (September 11), used the UK general practice database to analyse records from 1,294 patients diagnosed with autism and more than 4,400 controls.