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MMR and the Media!

(14 Posts)
Rkayne Mon 24-Jun-02 09:06:43

I debated whether to put this under 'health' or 'other' but as it's more to do with the public perception of the MMR than the vaccine itself I decided to put it here.

I don't know anyone was watching GMTV this morning, but John Stapleton was on and announces 'New Research from New York supporting link between MMR and autism!'. So I'm think 'Oh S**t, my dd is supposed to have it next week'. I'd finally resolved that I was confident it was ok, and she was definitely going to have it and here was something new to worry me.

Fortunately I kept watching and they interviewed the doctor from NY who had published this new research. It went something like this:

GMTV: Last year, Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggested a link between autism and bowel disease and the MMR. Now, new research from NY seems to support Dr. Wakefields conclusions....

GMTV: So can you summarize your findings?
Dr. from NY: We have found there is a definite subset of children with autism who also have bowel disease, very much like those children described by Andrew Wakefield.
GMTV: And does your research suggest there is a link between this autism/bowel disease and MMR.
Dr. : Our research has not yet explored that possibility at all.
GMTV: So would you say that your research supports Dr. Wakefields conclusions?

!!!!!! Can you believe them? This doctor is clearly trying to say that his research has nothing to do with the MMR and GMTV is deliberately trying to find a connection where there isn't one just to stir up trouble and make it a bigger story than it is. I'm so angry ! In fact, I think I'm going to write a letter of complaint to GMTV!

WideWebWitch Mon 24-Jun-02 09:14:30

This is a cause just taken up by various celebs including Nick Hornby (who has an autistic son) and others so there is bound to be reawakened media coverage. I won't say any more since there was a huge debate here recently about MMR and I don't want to get into it again!

AtkinsR Mon 24-Jun-02 09:16:07

Oh yes, I can believe it! This makes me mad. The media are so irresponsible. Yes we all know that but it doesn't help when it's you who have to make the decision about vaccinating your child.

DD had the MMR 3 years ago and it didn't concern me at all and she was absolutely fine (unlike dh and me!). Now ds is due it and I am completely in turmoil as to what to do. The more I look into it, the more confused I am. And I'm annoyed with myself for falling into the media trap.

Anyway, thanks to Mumsnet, I know I'm not the only one......

Rkayne Mon 24-Jun-02 09:17:29

I'm not trying to say this isn't an important story. But the point is, as this doctor was clearly trying to say, that this particular story was about autism and NOT the MMR. It's a wonder we ever listen to anything the media has to say.

SimonHoward Mon 24-Jun-02 12:38:57

The easiest way to deal with the media is to ignore most of it.

And in the same way as you treat a polition who is speaking as probably lying if you apply that to the majority of what is in the media you won't go far wrong.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a news service that just gave you the facts and not some sort of spin that the producers want put on it to generate ratings?

AtkinsR Mon 24-Jun-02 15:57:58

As usual, SimonHoward, I agree with you, now that I've got my sensible head on.

I can't tell facts from spin from downright lies as far as MMR is concerned. Even my GP toes the government line (I understand why).

So I go on being confused and concerned as ever.

There is some good info out there on the subject (see previous MMR threads), but I don't think reporting in the way you've described Rkayne, has anything to do with our best interests as parents. It's about trying to get another one on the Government....now I've got my cynical head on so I must stop.

bundle Mon 24-Jun-02 16:48:11

I wish everyone wouldn't lump 'the media' all together, when we all know who the guilty parties are (eg Daily Mail). sorry, just a mini-moan

Marina Tue 25-Jun-02 10:45:03

Rkayne, this is an interesting one. As far as I remember, Andrew Wakefield first got into this line of research because he saw some children with bowel disease (his specialism) who had also developed autistic-type behaviour at the same time, soon after being immunised with the MMR vaccine. His studies identified the presence of the measles virus in the gut of a number of these children. I think I'm right in saying that he has never personally linked the MMR vaccine in itself with autism/Crohn's, but always the presence of the measles virus. It just so happens that the main source of the measles virus in children in the UK is going to be the MMR vaccine, because despite threats of an epidemic etc, most children are exposed to the measles virus via the MMR. This link obviously affects only a small number of susceptible children, otherwise there would be hundreds of thousands of such cases. I still think the parents and children involved are getting a really raw deal in their bid to get more research in Dr Wakefield's area funded. And it won't be him doing it, as he has gone to the USA after being relieved of his job at the Royal Free.

Rkayne Tue 25-Jun-02 11:40:34

Marina - I've read Wakefield's original publication and I think you are right - he never said there was evidence to show that the MMR caused the autism/bowel disease in children. The same with this doctor from NY - he too is examining the autism/bowel disease connection and I think also looking at the presence of measles virus in the gut. But he specifically states that they did NOT look at whether the children in the study had ever had the MMR vaccine.

This is exactly why I was so angry at the GMTV report - they headlined it as 'NEW RESEARCH ON THE MMR' just to get the study noticed, when actually the study was not about the MMR at all, but about the connection between measles virus and autism/bowel disease. For all we know, a single measles vaccine or even getting the disease naturally could have the same effect on susceptible chilren.

Of course more research would be a good thing, but mixing up the facts and frightening people off the MMR, when for all we know single vaccines might have the same effect, is not the way to help.

Marina Tue 25-Jun-02 14:06:14

Absolutely, Rkayne. I'm sure it is not specialist medical journalists like bundle responsible for all this fudged reporting, but the likes of GMTV. Ideally someone should be looking into which of the children with "late-onset" autism have the measles virus in their guts, and what strain of the virus it is (ie, the same one as in the MMR, or as in other single measles vaccines, or the naturally caught strains currently present in the UK). And wouldn't it be nice to have some research into this whole issue not funded at all by the vaccine industry, nor conducted by researchers whose posts are funded by the vaccine industry?

maryz Tue 25-Jun-02 22:43:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rkayne Wed 26-Jun-02 09:24:44

Hey Maryz. It's really good to hear your point of view on this, and I don't think your story is totally anecdotal. It is another case of people (in this case health care professionals instead of the media) trying to skew the facts to fit what they want to believe.

You know, I did my degree in psychology & statistics and one of the first things they taught us was to be wary of statistics because you can make them say almost anything you want. Say you take a group of people who have poor diets and it turns out they also didn't do particularly well in school. You could skew that to make it look like a poor diet causes lower IQs. But actually, the connection is to do with socio-economic status and income level. These people had poor diets because they were from low-income families, and also were not encouraged to do well in school because it was more important that they have jobs at an early age than an education.

Sorry to go off on a tangent like that, but I was just trying to show a point.

Anyway, I think it's very brave of you to stick to what you believe is right until or unless you are ever presented with solid evidence to show otherwise. As I've said before, I think more research into autism and autistic spectrum disorders is really important, but jumping to conclusions, and potentially putting children at risk for other serious illnesses is not the answer.

susanmt Wed 26-Jun-02 12:38:02

I think one of the really sad things about the whole MMR debate is that there IS a need for more research into what causes autism, and unfortunately all the time and effort, not to mention money, is being put into trying to find or disprove links with the MMR rather than perhaps looking for other reasons.
Interestingly, and again totally anecdotally, one of my brothers has Asperger's Syndrome and a bowel disorder. But as his older brother had had a bad reaction to the single measles jag (brfore MMR was introduced) he has not been vaccinated!! The anecdotal evidence can point any way youwant it to!

Rkayne Wed 26-Jun-02 15:00:58

Well, after having bashed GMTV the other day, I thought I should say something positive about them today. They're doing a whole special on the MMR just now, and the GMTV doc (Dr. Hilary Jones) quite reasonably pointed out that if the bowel disease experienced by these children is linked to the measles virus, it could just as easily be caused by a single virus or actual measles as by the triple vaccine (is that not what I said yesterday?).

Also anecdotally while we're at it - I'm from the US where they have been using the MMR since 1972. I had it as a baby, as did ALL of my friends and my parents friend's children. My father is also a paediatrician, and has been giving children the MMR for the last 30 years. (Paediatrician's in the states are more like GPs for children rather than hospital consultants, so yes, he does the vaccinating himself). And do you know what? He has not had 1 single autistic patient in 30 years.

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