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There is no link between the controversial MMR jab and autism, according to a new study.
Fears over an association between the two in the late 1990s led to a drop in the number of parents getting their children to have the jab for mumps, measles and rubella.
The research, which is the largest ever published on the issue, involved a sample of almost 250 children aged between 10 and 12, who were born between July 1990 and December 1991 in the South Thames area of England.
It followed 98 children who had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and two comparison groups: 52 children with special educational needs but no evidence of ASD, and 90 children who were normal.
All the children had been vaccinated against MMR, but not all of them had been given both the doses needed for maximum immunity.
Blood samples were taken from all the children to check for the presence of persistent measles infection or an abnormal immune response.
This was indicated by a circulating measles virus or increased antibody levels.
The results, which were published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed there was no difference in virus or antibody levels between children with ASD and the comparison groups.
Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: “It’s natural for parents to worry about the health and well-being of their children and I hope that this study will reassure them that there is no evidence linking the MMR vaccine to autism.”
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