Sir, - In his article, "The march of measles" (February 28th), Muiris Houston makes reference to the study published in the Lancet medical journal in 1998 associating the MMR vaccine with autism. Dr Houston dismisses the study saying it was subsequently refuted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, according to another WHO study, chances were about 14 times greater that measles would be contracted by those vaccinated against the disease than by those who were not (National Health Federation Bulletin, November 1969). Of all reported cases of measles in the US in 1984, more than 58 per cent of the school-age children were "adequately" vaccinated prior to contracting measles. Measles transmission has been clearly documented among vaccinated persons.
We hear lots of scare-mongering about measles complications - including ear infections, pneumonia and encephalitis - but not much of the known danger of the measles component of the MMR vaccine. The vaccine may cause learning disability, retardation, aseptic meningitis, seizure disorders, paralysis, and death. According to a 1992 Lancet report the UK quietly withdrew two brands of MMR vaccine following several confirmed cases of mumps-meningitis after administration of the vaccines. A 1992 study in the British Medical Journal concluded that MMR vaccine is associated with an increased risk of arthritis.
Since the vaccine was introduced, the peak incidence of measles no longer occurs in children but in adolescents and young adults. Before the vaccine was introduced it was extremely rare for an infant to contract measles. By 1993, however, more than 25 per cent of measles cases were occurring in babies under one year of age. This situation is likely to worsen due to the growing number of mothers vaccinated during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. When natural immunity is denied, measles protection cannot be passed on from mother to baby. - Yours, etc., Myles Crowe,
Clonakilty, West Cork.