New MUHC study adds more evidence to clear Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine as a risk factor for autism

MONTREAL October 16, 2006 - A new MUHC study provides conclusive evidence that the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine is not associated with the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The study, published in the scientific journal Pediatrics, also reveals fundamental errors in previous molecular studies that falsely implicated the MMR vaccine as a risk factor for autism.

"The hypothesis linking the MMR vaccine to autism was originally supported by studies that found the measles virus persisting in certain biological tissues of children with autism who had received the MMR vaccination," says Dr. Eric Fombonne, Director of Pediatric Psychiatry at the Montreal Children's Hospital of the MUHC and a principal investigator in the new study. "Using enhanced techniques we have shown that in fact the measles virus did not persist in the biological tissues of these children." The new study uncovers errors in the techniques used in the earlier studies, which led to the false identification of the measles virus. "There is no association between the MMR vaccine and autism as demonstrated by all controlled epidemiological studies carried out up to now in human populations," noted Dr. Fombonne.

"The reluctance of parents to inoculate their children due to widespread fear of the MMR vaccine generated by these earlier studies resulted in measles outbreaks and the deaths of several young children in Europe," says Dr. Brian Ward, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the MUHC, Associate Director of the McGill Center for Tropical Diseases and a principal researcher in the study. "We hope that our investigation of these earlier studies will not only clear the MMR vaccine of its link to autism but also give parents confidence in their choice to vaccinate their children against this dangerous and potentially fatal disease."

The biological evidence from this new MUHC study correlates with the epidemiological evidence from another previous MUHC study that also proves that the MMR vaccine has no link to autism. The previous study, led by Dr. Fombonne, was published in the July 5 issue of Pediatrics. All epidemiological studies conducted have found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism.
This study was funded by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada and the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, a university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 500 researchers, nearly 1000 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. For further details visit:

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University--the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.
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Ian Popple
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MUHC Public Relations and Communications
(514) 843-1560
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