Revealed, most compelling evidence yet of MMR danger

Sunday Express 6 October 2002 Exclusive by Lucy Johnston, Health Editor

A 13-year-old boy brain damaged after the controversial MMR jab still has remains of the vaccine in the injured area of his brain.

The alarming news is being seen as the most compelling evidence yet of a link between the triple measles, mumps and rubella jab and autism.

The boy's case will form a central plank of a forthcoming legal action by 600 autistic and brain-damaged children against vaccine manufacturerers.

Jackie Fletcher of support group Jabs, which highlights the risks of MMR, said: ''This is devastating news. What on earth is the vaccine doing in the brain? It should not be there.''

Mrs Fletcher, whose own son, Robert, 10, developed autism from the vaccine, added: ''This is the strongest evidence yet showing it causes brain damage.''

The 13-year-old, who has not been named, was developing normally until being given the MMR jab at 15 months. Days later a rash broke out, his development stopped and he began to have violent seizures. These became more frequent - sometimes every few minutes. In one month his mother, Verity, 46, from Sussex, counted 135. When he was nine, he was admitted to Southampton General Hospital's intensive care unit where doctors twice tried to break the cycle of convulsions with an anaesthetic. But each time they brought him round the fits started again.

Eventually he was transferred to London's Great Ormand Street Children's Hospital for brain surgery.

Verity arranged for the brain sample to be analysed and the results - seen by the Sunday Express - showed the sample contained traces of the measles virus ''consistent'' with the vaccine rather than the ''wild'' strain. Tissue from the boy's intestine also showed the vaccine.

The boy is now making progress and goes to a special school. But he shows symptoms of autism, memory loss and still has fits.

Verity said: ''The Department of Health has written off children like my son by refusing to acknowledge any link between brain damage and MMR.

''Because of this they are not being given appropriate treatment. They should be under the care of specialists.''

Experts say the boy's case is a minor victory for those fighting to get more recognition of the risks of MMR. Robert Sawyer, chief executive of the charity Visceral, which funds research by MMR opponent Dr Andrew Wakefield, said: ''The world must pay immediate attention to this evidence, especially when the Government is not taking the issue seriously.''

And Paul Shattock, head of the Autism Research Unit at the University of Sunderland, said: ''This is powerful. I don't know how the Government will talk its way out of it.''

An unpublished study strongly supports the new findings. Pathologists from Utah State University, US, and Trinity College, Dublin, have discovered the vaccine strain of the measles virus in the spinal fluid of 40 autistic children.

The link between MMR, autism was first proposed by Dr Wakefield in 1998. He discovered many children with late onset autism also had intestinal damage.

He believes the vaccine leaks through the gut wall into the central nervous system and into the brain, causing damage.

The Department of Health said it could not comment on an individual case pending legal proceedings. But it stressed that tests to identify vaccine strains in gut samples were unreliable.

Sunday Express Comment

Act on MMR evidence

Today this newspaper publishes a shocking report that every parent and grandparent must read. We present the most compelling evidence yet of the link between late onset autism and the measles, mumps and rubella injections. We believe that the Government can no longer insist that the jab is safe. To do so is to wilfully put the lives of our children at risk.

The Government has consistently said that the triple jab is safe. It wants to believe this is so because it seems to be the most effective way of stopping these life-threatening disease in their tracks. During the waiting time between separate jabs children can contract one of the conditions and some might not receive all three injections. But the Government has not conducted a through examination of children whose parents believe they were sticken by the MMR jab. This must be done now.

Without proper research we cannot know how many children's lives have been blighted. Neither will we know how to identify and exclude children who could be affected or exactly how to treat them. Moreover, the way is barred to those who deserve compensation. Children must not be sacrificed for the sake of dubious herd immunity