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What would you do? MMR and autism question

(63 Posts)
CeilingThomas Fri 05-Apr-13 20:54:10

Hi, I've being doing a lot of research into this but have ended up even more unsure what to do, so thought I'd ask for your thoughts.

My DS is 13months and I've just received the slip to get his MMR jab. I am generally pro vaccinations and my son has had all his to date. But DS's cousins (all 3) on my DH's side are on the autistic spectrum.

My concerns are:
Does the fact that all 3 are on the spectrum suggest a hereditary link?
If there is a hereditary link is it more likely that the MMR could trigger autism in my son if he is already predisposed to it?

I know medical science has concluded there is no link between the MMR and autism but I just don't think I'm convinced, there seems to be so much anecdotal evidence and a large number of compensation claims in the US that suggest vaccination does cause changes in some children.

In my position would you get the jab? Would waiting a year help?


saintlyjimjams Fri 05-Apr-13 21:16:05

You have to make your own mind up, sorry.

Hereditary link is a bit misleading. If you look at the the 3 the more important thing is do you see the broader autism phenotype (i.e. autism features) in the extended family. If so, then yes it may well be that the autism traits have been inherited.

However, I do know other families where more than one child has autism, but there are no signs of BAP in the family, but a lot of immune issues. So it may be that a susceptibility has been inherited.

Not all medical science has concluded there is no link between the MMR and autism and indeed I know various paediatricians (and other doctors) who think in some (not many, but that's not the same as none) cases the MMR has contributed. Unfortunately the whole thing has become very political.

If you ask people what they would do you will not get a consensus. In your shoes I would be happier vaccinating with MMR if I could see the broader autism phenotype in the family, than if I could see lots of immune type disorders. But that's just me.

Ultimately (and this was probably the best advice I was ever given) you have to do what you can live with.

CeilingThomas Fri 05-Apr-13 21:48:12

Thanks saintly, your post is very useful, I'll look further into the phenotype/immune disorders you raised. (I did genetics at uni but have forgotten most of it it was so long ago!).

I think you're right I have to decide what I can live with. Guess that's what I'm struggling with. Usually I would gather information to inform such a decision but the info isn't helping this time. This decision has a huge dollop of emotion involved too which is muddying things right now.

saintlyjimjams Fri 05-Apr-13 21:54:47

It's really hard because the information you need isn't really out there. Which is ultimately why you have to go with what you can live with.

I haven't vaccinated ds2 or ds3 because our family history is very much one of weird immune reactions and ds1 regressed after one such incident. But in the interests of balance I feel I should also point out that there is the largest measles outbreak for years at the moment (although I am seeking more figures on that as the last lot I saw appeared to be saying that 25% of those catching measles had been vaccinated- which seems remarkably high to me, they weren't very clear figures though).

sneezecakesmum Fri 05-Apr-13 21:57:16

If you are really worried the single measles and rubella vaccines are available, but no mumps as far as I know, but mumps not a major issue with very young children. We did this and then MMR at 4 1/2. Just a bit neurotic I guess! grin

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 00:10:03

There is a definite connection between vaccines triggering autism in kids who are genetically or hereditarily predisposed to autism. If you have 3 cousins on hubby,s side on spectrum, it means your son may be genetically. Susceptible. If I were you, I would NEVER take the chance, would never vaccinate.

silverfrog Sat 06-Apr-13 09:17:07

Saintly, could you point me in the direction of where to find (or even where to look for!) figures on the vaccination status of those affected by the recent epidemic?

It is the biggest unanswered (or unstated) question, to my mind. I am in a similar position to you, with my 2 youngest unvaccinated, and ds is only 8 months old...

Decent information to make a balanced choice is so hard to come by - doing what y

silverfrog Sat 06-Apr-13 09:17:39

you can live with really is the only way to go.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 06-Apr-13 09:24:24

'There is a definite connection between vaccines triggering autism in kids who are genetically or hereditarily predisposed to autism'

References please?
You have to make up your own mind, but having seen the lifelong damage and deaths caused by measles and rubella, I had both of mine vaccinated.
DS got his dx of AS at 9, I've always thought that the links are strongly hereditary and nothing to do with the MMR. That's only an opinion of mine though.

whenwilligetsomesleep Sat 06-Apr-13 09:27:37

I did vaccinate my son as i felt the risk of serious complications from measles was too great. It's a very difficult and personal choice.

CwtchesAndCuddles Sat 06-Apr-13 09:27:40

My ds has autism and severe learing difficulties, he was showing signs well before MMR. He has been vaccinated fully. I live within the Health Authority Bro Morganwg, this is where the big measles outbreak is at the momment - so many people who didn't vaccinate are very worried. I know of one family where all three children had it together, they were diagnosed early and had no complications

You have to decide what you think is best for your child but complications of measles can be life changing too.

whenwilligetsomesleep Sat 06-Apr-13 09:30:46

I should also have said my son showed signs of autism before MMR jab. I do not believe there was any link in his case

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 10:27:37

Agh it was in a report silver & said '75% of those catching measles in the current outbreak have no history of vaccination' & that was it! A broadsheet or BBC - that sort of reference. I haven't been A&E to find any other sort of figures.

Did you have measles? If so I wouldn't worry too much about your 8 month old as they should have passive immunity still. If you vaccinated at 8 months you would have to again post 13 months to protect during the toddler years.

Yes measles can be nasty, my mum is deaf in one ear from measles, but ds2 and ds3 are still unvaccinated (a decision my mother agrees with). Unfortunately it's just not a straight forward decision.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 10:28:10

ABLE not A&E!!!

LalyRawr Sat 06-Apr-13 10:33:58

I made a similar thread for similar reasons a few weeks back. My brother had Fragile X Syndrome and I know I have the 'faulty' X chromosome so was worried about having passed it on to my daughter then having the MMR.

In the end, I figured that the MMR-Autism link was from (I believe) one piece of now discredited research. The MMR is probably the most tested vaccine, if there was a link, surely more evidence would have come to light?

In saying that, I do know people who swear blind the MMR 'gave' their child Autism (poor choice of words I know, but hopefully you get what I mean). Conversely, I know of parents who didn't give their child MMR and yet they still received an Autistic diagnosis.

Fact remains, it's your choice and yours alone. Whatever you decide you need to believe it was the genuine right thing to do.

For what it is worth, I gave my daughter the MMR. I watched her for weeks afterwards, terrified of noticing changes. So far (8 weeks later) I've noticed nothing at all.

cansu Sat 06-Apr-13 10:46:39

dd2 unvacinated ASD has just had measles, I have just had it and am now trying to recover from chest infection caused by pneumonia. I have an older ds ASD who was vacinated and thank god has not caught it. It is a really tough decision. I think I was wrong to not vaccinate dd as both my dc have asd and dh is definitely undiagnosed aspergers. It is a very personal and difficult decision if you have asd in the family. I personally now feel strongly that ASD is a genetic issue and that MMR is a red herring. However, I realise this is my personal view and others will disagree.

bigbluebus Sat 06-Apr-13 10:54:45

I started a thread the other day about whether people had had their children vaccinated after they knew they had a DX of ASD.

DS is 16 and unvaccinated against MMR. He was DX with HF ASD at 6. He was due to have the MMR just as the Wakefield report was published and it all kicked off. We tried to get him the single jabs, but just as our GP had sourced a supplier, the Government pulled the plug on single vaccines. He remians unvaccinated. We would have to travel 50 miles to get the single jabs privately.

I do not believe that MMR causes autism, but do wonder if there is some truth about the 'gut' issues. We do not know the origin of DSs ASD. There are no obvious cases in the wider family, so probably not hereditary. Apart from having severe eczema as a baby (which is now virtually non-existant) he does not have any allergies but there are a number of people on DH side of the family who have dairy 'intolerance'.

I have buried my head in the sand over this issue of MMR for years but once again with a further outbreak (which we are nowhere near) it starts up the issue all over again. I am torn about what to do as DS is coming up to his GCSE exams in a months' time and I think this, in a way, makes the decision tougher. I do not want him to get Measles and miss his exams, neither do I want him to have a reaction to the jab which may affect him. And because he is 16 now, the decision is really (partly) his, which is tough when his mother can't decide!

Which decision could I live with - probably neither!

Sorry , not much help OP, but you are not alone in this dilemma.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 13:07:36

cansu MMR may well be a red herring in your family but I find it harder to see it as a red herring in the cases I know of where children ended up in HDU or ICU post vaccination, then regressed and are now severely autistic (and that's prob something different from the Wakefield style regressions, know a few of those as well).

I think there is such a need to recognise that autism is not one thing, rather it's a collection of different conditions and that what is appropriate for one child may not be for another. It's been on my mind this week because being Autism Awareness Month I've seen so many polarised opinions on Facebook and Twitter and it drives me mad because I'm sure these people are talking about different things. Neurodiversity for example is really not appropriate for my son, he isn't different, he is disabled, but the approach we take with him would not be appropriate for those who align with the neurodiversity movement, and recognising him as disabled doesn't mean I value him less. I've just been reading an article with a neurodiverse author complaining about videos showing severely autistic kids having meltdowns in which they self injure and scream and saying that's not what autism is, except for many people that is the reality.

Sorry, the above isn't aimed as you cansu, & I've gone off on a tangent based on my musings this week. But your red herring comment just made me think that part of the problem with this sort of decision is that it has to be made at an individual level rather than an 'autism' level. And autism is so ruddy political now it's very difficult to find professional help to unpick everything.

cansu Sat 06-Apr-13 13:23:18

saintly i dont disagree with you. As i said I can only really give an opinion based on the asd in our family. I dont know enough about it to say categorically that vaccinnes cant cause damage. I agree also that the lack of knowledge about the causes of ASD and its different presentations mean that its virtually impossible to get any good definitive professional advice. I think all parents can do is look at their own family and make a judgement call. I feel I got it wrong at the moment and as a result dd suffered a lot and I am also very ill myself. I do blame myself but I can understand why I got it wrong. I would not judge others for the decisions they make.

googlyeyes Sat 06-Apr-13 13:39:17

'There is a definite connection between vaccines triggering autism in kids who are genetically or hereditarily predisposed to autism'

Yes, I too would like to see references for this assertion. I have only given ds2 the single measles jab as I can't shake the tiny seed of doubt re MMR (although ds1 was patently autistic before his MMR, and DD was absolutely fine after hers), but it is important to point out that the vast majority of medical professionals would strongly disagree with your statement.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 13:43:06

Be kind to yourself! We have chosen not to vaccinate knowing that my mum was left deaf in one ear from measles. I also know that if one of the kids was left deaf in one ear from measles (or worse) that I would still feel not vaccinating was the right decision, but I do feel very strongly there is no other option for us, and we have to take the risk of that at least until the children are old enough to decide for themselves.

I suppose you do have the advantage of knowing now that your kids all have good immunity (including vaccinated ds who will have had a nice little booster from being around measles). :bright side:

I had measles myself btw - aged 8, so was old enough to remember what it was like, for me anyway. Hope you're feeling better soon. Do you mind me asking whether you were vaccinated as a child, or had just never come into contact with it? I think I should be immune as I had measles, but I worry a bit about dh - (as complications are more common in adults - and he does tend to go a bit chesty at every opportunity). DH didn't have measles and we have no idea whether he ever had a vaccination.

I am trying to make sure ds2 and ds3 have good vitamin A levels at the moment.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 13:47:42

Dunno googly - officially there is no link (although there is quite a bit wrong with pretty much every paper 'proving' no link -especially because they do meaningless things like look at MMR and 'autism' (no such thing) rates) but I do know a number of medics who have confessed they do believe MMR played a part in some cases.

Politically there is no link, for most medics talking professionally there is no link, for some researchers there is a heavily qualified potential link when presenting a paper which is never mentioned in the peer reviewed text version, but talk to the medics & researchers privately and you often get a different (still heavily qualified) opinion. IME at least.

lottieandmia Sat 06-Apr-13 13:57:49

I'm glad to see this thread - I've been wondering about this too. I have youngest two dcs unvaccinated - the oldest dd has severe autism and learning difficulties (I don't dare mess with her tbh as she has had odd responses to medicines and illnesses in the past). dc2 is 9 years old - I am thinking if she caught measles now it would be more risky than if she had caught it when she was little. Also I suppose she will certainly need rubella vaccine. dc3 is nearly 4 - she seems to be a bit slow for her age (language is a bit delayed and she was a late walker but I think she is NT) so I don't want to vaccinate her yet. But the outbreak is of concern.

What I am wondering is that although uptake rates for MMR have been lower than the authorities would like, won't many people have had singles anyway?

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 14:06:52

Yes that's very true lottie. The single vaccine rate is never included in the figures. Uptake is now over 90% for MMR in most regions (95% in some regions) - add in the single jabs that are unrecorded in the figures and coverage amongst younger age groups is very high. (Those 90% + figures are for current pre-schoolers)

Some reports I have seen have mentioned that travellers have been affected in the recent outbreaks - unsurprising as they tend not to vaccinate - along with teens. With the report that said that '75% had not been vaccinated' I do wonder about the 25% - had they just had one jab? which has worn off (bearing in mind the second jab isn't meant to be a booster, it's meant to catch first time vaccine failures - well that was why it was originally introduced) or had they had two? Should everyone who was vaccinated as a young child be getting boosters in teens/early adulthood?

Dunno, but theyre the sorts of questions I'm left with.

My understanding is that measles becomes more dangerous post puberty - so I think 9 is still within the 'childhood' bracket iyswim.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 14:08:40

And yes some of the areas with low MMR coverage are exactly the areas where you might expect people to be forking out for singles.

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