"In particular we conclude that all the major unintended events, such as triggering Crohn's disease or autism, were suspected on the basis of unreliable evidence," says lead author Dr Vittorio Demicheli who works at Servizo Sovrazonale di Epidemiologia, Alessandria, Italy.
These findings will be published on 19 October, 2005 in The Cochrane Library.
"Public health decisions need to be based on sound evidence. If this principle had been applied in the case of the MMR dispute, then we would have avoided all the fuss," says Demicheli.
The success of the large-scale vaccination programmes in developed countries has tended to induce a sense of complacency, but measles, mumps and rubella are serious diseases that can cause permanent physical damage or even kill. Indeed, in developing countries where vaccination is less prevalent, the mortality rate from these diseases is high
The MMR vaccine was introduced in the USA in the 1970s and is now in use in over 90 countries around the world. A single research paper published in 1998 based on 12 children cast doubt on the safety of the vaccine by implying that it might cause development problems like Crohn's disease and autism. The paper has since been retracted by most of the original authors, but before that it triggered a worldwide scare, which in turn resulted in reduced uptake of the vaccine.
Aware of the controversy surrounding the use of MMR, members of The Cochrane Collaboration set out to review the evidence for effectiveness of the vaccine and also
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