I was hoping to avoid joining the Andrew Wakefield/Lancet fray, but so many inaccurate statements have been published in the last few days that I had to jump in. There is clearcut evidence for a syndrome of brain injury (and sometimes death) occurring after measles vaccine (and not after rubella or mumps vaccines). Who discovered it? DHHS physicians charged with responding to vaccine injury claims for the federal government. Here is the abstract, published in the journal Pediatrics in 1998.
I'd also like to point out that many children with autism have chronic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, and there can be no question that these features are part of the autism syndrome. Some children are born with neurological impairment; some develop it later; but a surprising and statistically significant number developed it 8-9 days after getting their first measles vaccine, and no amount of hand-waving can erase this fact.
Pediatrics. 1998 Mar;101(3 Pt 1):383-7.
Acute encephalopathy followed by permanent brain injury or death associated with further attenuated measles vaccines: a review of claims submitted to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Health Resources and Services Administration, Public Health Service, Rockville, Maryland 20857, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if there is evidence for a causal relationship between acute encephalopathy followed by permanent brain injury or death associated with the administration of further attenuated measles vaccines (Attenuvax or Lirugen, Hoechst Marion Roussel, Kansas City, MO), mumps vaccine (Mumpsvax, Merck and Co, Inc, West Point, PA), or rubella vaccines (Meruvax or Meruvax II, Merck and Co, Inc, West Point, PA), combined measles and rubella vaccine (M-R-Vax or M-R-Vax II, Merck and Co, Inc, West Point, PA), or combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (M-M-R or M-M-R II, Merck and Co, Inc, West Point, PA), the lead author reviewed claims submitted to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. METHODS: The medical records of children who met the inclusion criteria of receiving the first dose of these vaccines between 1970 and 1993 and who developed such an encephalopathy with no determined cause within 15 days were identified and analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 48 children, ages 10 to 49 months, met the inclusion criteria after receiving measles vaccine, alone or in combination. Eight children died, and the remainder had mental regression and retardation, chronic seizures, motor and sensory deficits, and movement disorders. The onset of neurologic signs or symptoms occurred with a nonrandom, statistically significant distribution of cases on days 8 and 9. No cases were identified after the administration of monovalent mumps or rubella vaccine.
CONCLUSIONS: This clustering suggests that a causal relationship between measles vaccine and encephalopathy may exist as a rare complication of measles immunization.