MMR: Jeni Barnett vs. Dr. Ben Goldacre

I was just watching London Tonight this evening (as I regularly do, criticise me if you wish!) and caught an interesting video segment from a Dr. Ben Goldacre in response to an anti-MMR piece by a radio presenter.

While elsewhere in this blog I have breathed fire on, what to me, is a surefire pharmaceutical scam, I take Dr. Goldacre’s side on this – but only to a (mostly large) degree for the time being.

You (at least if you live in England) may know that MMR uptake has decreased with reports that it’s linked to autism (though not in a hard hitting way thus far) and cases of measles, mumps and rubella are now rising.

People forget that measles, mumps and rubella are serious illnesses that have and can kill – I know well the gravity of measles when I contracted a severe form of German measles which produced a huge boil in an arm at the age of 5/6 and I was hospitalised for many weeks. And if I remember well, it wasn’t until just before I reached double figures that I had the MMR (or the equivalent if it had a different label in the late eighties) jab.

However, the MMR jab like other preparations can cause side effects in some people, and as with any drug you want to weigh the risks and benefits.

I agree, believe it or not, that there is a lot of sensationalist journalism on the ‘bad stuff’ because it’s newsworthy. This is a shame because it makes genuine articles seem like “crying wolf”.

The problem here is if the MMR jab is linked with autism, you have to look at two things: Are rates of autism rising regardless of the jab (and this would be interesting given the seemingly current decline)? And if MMR is directly linked (and we know for sure not everyone who has the jab develops autism) is it because the jab enhances a tendency?

This has to be proved and it has not yet been proved.

So far we have seen reports that some children who had the jab developed autism. However, young children are now given the jab at an age where they might just about start showing signs of it in the first place which may throw parents into a causal illusion.

However, though the MMR jab can save lives and money in the long run, why hasn’t there been research done into seeing if there are more natural ways to provide this protection (to touch on an other active topic, vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory and a deficiency has been hypothetically linked to autism, which is plausible given that autistics can have other concurrent disorders like diabetes or rickets from birth)?

My own measles was treated with a lengthy dose of oral antibiotics as well as liberal amounts of calamine lotion – to fight inflammation. So perhaps Omega 6, Vitamin D and other natural items fortified in baby and children’s food could be as powerful, as well as natural. This has to be tested.

Injecting viruses is not natural, that I will side with skeptics on! But while we don’t know the alternatives, the MMR should not be avoided. Think about it; though neither is better would you rather have a child with developmental problems or a dead one?

Better the devil you know.


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