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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?


lottieandmia Sat 06-Apr-13 14:17:55

Yes, any of us could catch it (if we haven't had measles) because no booster is given for teenagers? I had the vaccine at 9 - I am thinking it will have likely worn off by now. It's impossible to know how long vaccine protection 'lasts'.

cansu Sat 06-Apr-13 14:24:53

saintly mmr wasnt around when I was young, it came in about ten years later so i was basically unvaccinated and as neither myself or my sibling had measles I guess I had no immunity. I suppose it might be worth getting your dh vaccinated as an adult. I have always been incredibly healthy but have had complications with pneumonia and a chest infection. I suppose my other thought as an adult with two children with ASD is that I have woken up to taking care of myself finally because the whole house of cards collapses when I am not able to run this house. I have struggled because I have been unable to take care of children due to being so unwell. Haven't seen dd for four weeks now as had to send her to my mums while I was ill myself. If nothing else I have realised I need to prioritise my health after this!

I don't know about rates for single vaccines. When I tried to find out about it I was pretty effectively stone walled by doctors who didnt even want to discuss it. I was pretty unconfident in those days and just didnt push it though I wish I had now.

cansu Sat 06-Apr-13 14:26:49

lottie I think immunity is meant to be lifelong. My understanding was that the second dose is really to catch the ten percent who are not immune after the first dose. ds has only had the first dose and is clearly immune as both dd and I have been infected.

googlyeyes Sat 06-Apr-13 14:33:36

Yes, Saintly, as I said I couldn't bring myself to go ahead with the MMR for ds2, and I don't know if I ever will give it to him. I did crack re the measles jab though as there was a measles scare in our area at the time, and I had never heard anyone talk of a link with single jabs and asd.

DS1 is an anomaly as no-one on either side of our families has any autism or even any signs of the broader phenotype. And he is the only one with eczema and dairy allergies (as a baby), so the cause of his autism is a total mystery to us. In his case I do know the MMR made absolutely no difference to his condition, but I couldn't know 100pc that the same would be true for DS2 if there was a susceptibility there for whatever reason.

It's just that I felt it was a bit irresponsible to baldly state that there was a 'definite' link. As if it was a proven fact. Better imo to say there is a suspected link in some cases, or that the situation is inconclusive, or that you know of cases where there has been a link.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 14:41:42

He sounds quite similar to my ds1 googly. He developed eczema (straight after baby jabs) then developed severe eczema herpecticum & regressed following that (although it was treated pretty aggressively - that's the short version, there were quite a lot of other potential factors as well). Now severely autistic (non-verbal as a teen etc etc). No autism or BAP in the family although lots of autoimmune conditions and the other kids have had weirdy inflammatory responses to things.

Thanks cansu - I wonder whether dh is similar (in that no vaccination, but didn't get it - not sure). We don't really vaccinate now unless something was very high risk (especially as his family is the one with all the autoimmune conditions) so he prob won't do that. Always tricky!

bochead Sat 06-Apr-13 14:49:39

The original research was about a specific sub-group of autistic kids who also had gut/immune response issues and concluded that for this tiny % of autistic kids it was worth doing further research re the MMR. saying somethings is worth taking a closer look at something is not the same same as saying something is a causal factor. That's NOT the same as saying MMR causes autism by a long shot, but the British media is never that good at accurate scientific reporting.

DS was failure to thrive due to gut/allergy issues . He wasn't given the MMR as I wanted to wait. He did have all the other jabs, including for TB, though I think some were slightly later than usual. The TB jab was a priority for me as he has relatives from parts of the world where drug resistant strains are a real issue, & even though the jab only gives 30% protection against these, I consider it better than nothing.

DS did get measles, when he was at with no lasting side effects. BUT DS has the immune response of an OX to the usual childhood flu/cold/bugs. His class mates will be off sick for a week in bed with flu, and he'll just get a day of sniffles. I'm more than aware that not every child will only need a day or two in bed for measles (keeping DS entertained during his 3 week measles quarantine has gone down in family legend as it was hard work!). Some will be left crippled for life & we are in the middle of an outbreak.

The single jabs for mumps has eluded me completely and this is horrible for males to catch post puberty. Mumps in an adult is no joke, and complications can be very serious. I intend that he gets his MMR shots before he starts secondary as a result.

Lastly are you likely to have more children. I'm celibate so don't have to worry about exposure to Rubella - which can cause serious disability during gestation.

Every child is different, with a different family history and a different set of risk factors. This is why noone can make the choice for you. You have to live with the consequences.

lottieandmia Sat 06-Apr-13 14:52:30

cansu - I think as parents we focus on the kids and don't always think of what would happen if we got ill! I hope you are feeling better soon.

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 15:16:47

Silver - Scoot down to assessing infant susceptibility (or something like that). Might be helpful if you know your vaccination/measles disease status.

I have two boys possibly on the spectrum. Dd had severe intolerances when she was younger, centred in her gut, but she has grown out of them. Ds1 had a milder version of one of those intolerance, also gone now. We also have autistic phenotype family members on both sides.

In our case I did give all 3 the mmr, albeit at closer to 2 than 1 to be safe. Only ds2 had a worrying reaction, he got mini measles and mini mumps. However he was completely non verbal at the time anyway, with significant behavioural issues so I couldn't honestly say if the jab made him worse.

I'm happy with my decision, although I don't think ds2 will be having the booster next year as I'm relatively confident he's immune to measles and mumps and he doesn't cope well with jabs so it seems unnecessary.

For me, the risks associated with measles and rubella far outweighed the possibility of triggering a worsening of their issues.

MummytoMog Sat 06-Apr-13 17:34:13

We delayed DD (not that we thought there was anything wrong with her at the time) because she was such a diddy thing, and was poorly when she should have had it. Didn't notice any difference in her at all afterwards. We have no history of autism in the family, although ADD on both sides.

CeilingThomas Sat 06-Apr-13 20:34:07

Sorry I haven't been on all day. But thanks for all the thoughts and perspectives. Getting separate vaccines is a strong contender I think as this would reassure me that he has immunity to measles in particular which is the one I'm most concerned about given the out break figures.

More thinking to do. I'm not going to rush this decision. xx

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 22:07:17

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 22:08:13

Since I hv been asked strongly for references, am providing them

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 22:10:24

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 22:11:13

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 22:20:29

It is well understood that "environmental triggers" plus genetic suspectibility combine to cause autism. Most medical papers state that premise right in the opening paragraph. What is under debate is whether vaccines are indeed that environmental trigger. The studies that would establish the connection beyond a shadow of doubt have not been done. For ex- there is no study of differences in autism rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Therefore, the proof of the connection between vaccines and autism still requires people to read and think for themselves. For those who are willing to read and capable of thinking for themselves, the Hannah polling story is a good place to start. The other links I have already posted.

zumbaleena Sat 06-Apr-13 22:23:20

I am personally strongly convinced that vaccines are definitely one of the environmental triggers. In your case OP, where there are 3 cousins on hubby.s side on the spectrum, that indicates genetic suspectibility to be present in your child and knowingly that vaccines MAY be an environmental trigger that MAY put your kid to risk to autism, if you still decide to go ahead...of course, it is your life and you are free to decide.

saintlyjimjams Sun 07-Apr-13 22:09:23

And while we're on vaccinations wearing off. If you read this from that hotbed of well known anti-vaccinaton propaganda - the health protection agency they say (page 8) 'The evidence indicates whilst infants of naturally immune mothers are likely to have protective antibodies (this is to measles) until 6 months of age, a significant number of those born to vaccinated mother may not have protective titres from birth'.

Why aren't they giving another MMR booster? I'm not sure I comprehend.

saintlyjimjams Sun 07-Apr-13 22:09:42

whoops wrong thread

jackjacksmummy Sun 07-Apr-13 23:27:39

We recently got our autism diagnosis for DS (6) who had his MMR at the suggested age. We also have autism in the family - my cousin, who started showing signs of regression at 18 months. He also had MMR.

However, my auntie did not believe the MMR caused his, I never knew why and I never asked either but will.

At our appointment the other day the paed wanted to know all the ins and outs of my pregnancy, his birth, how he fed, his temperament...etc.

From us telling him that DS was uninterested in feeding for the first 5 days to the point of having to be tube fed he concluded that this could have been the very first sign that DS had autism - where he lacked the sensory skills to carry out the most inbuilt reflex that every newborn baby should have - to suck.
We thought nothing of it at the time, just that he was lazy/tired, we had no reason to suspect autism!

What I'm saying is that whilst some people blame the mmr, sometimes if they recall everything that has happened, most autistic will have shown something that wasn't quite right during their first year - but it's not picked up because those parents are either dealing with the first child and know no different/or possibly have 2 young babies and are genuinely so tired and running on empty that that really good, quiet baby who never demands anything is a welcome relief (that was us!)

I don't believe the MMR caused my sons autism - the signs were there beforehand, I just didn't recognise them and if I could do it all over again I would because his autism is what makes him who he is and I'd rather he be autistic (although his is middle of the spectrum autism so i cant speak for those dealing with really severe autism) than risk serious life threatening illnesses or possible death caused by measles.

jackjacksmummy Sun 07-Apr-13 23:39:53

Ps that is just my own opinion - To be honest, if my auntie was then willing to allow her daughters to give their children the MMR that was enough reason for me to do it with mine, I didn't know about possible genetic links back then either - I had no reason to research all that, I had already had 2 NT children by then.

lirael Mon 08-Apr-13 00:55:20

Both mine had the first MMR jab but neither has had the second. DS2 (10) has autism with severe learning difficulties. He developed a life -threatening staphyloccocal skin infection at 10 days old, for which he had to have huge amounts of steroids and antibiotics. He then developed severe eczema as a baby/toddler, had horrendous toddler diarrohea, developed asthma in his second year (for which he still has a steroid inhaler) and has various food intolerances. DS1(11) has dyspraxia, but no allergy issues and had very little illness as a baby.We have some auto-immune conditions in the extended family and my brother's DS has also been diagnosed with HFA.

My own belief is that there may well be a genetic link, but that DS2's severe issues were environmentally triggered by the assault on his immune system as an infant, which includes vaccinations. He is now much healthier, but his food intolerances, asthma and eczema remain, though all are now under control. I've never questioned my decision not to give them the second jab (well I've questioned it, but not wavered) but now I find myself wondering. DS2's asthmatic profile means that measles might well hit him hard and although DS1 is very rarely ill, the two bouts of serious illness he's had in 11 years have both been chest infections.

Is there a way of testing for antibodies to see if they need the second jab?

lirael Mon 08-Apr-13 19:18:20


humblebumble Mon 08-Apr-13 19:34:21

I put my DS2 on a delayed schedule. I really struggled with making the decision to vaccinate, ultimately I went with how I felt and on the advice of our son's neurologist.

DS2 has a neurological condition where there is a v.high prevalence of autism, learning disorders, etc. Interestingly his first neurologist (we've since moved) noted as early as 9 months that it was unlikely he would be on the spectrum. DS is 3 now and is still not showing signs of being autistic although he does have some learning issues.

There is a test, a blood test, but administering it is more expensive than just giving the booster (and can be more traumatic!) You should be able to get it done privately.

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