The debate will be familiar to thousands of young families – whether to expose your child to the risk of contracting measles or to trust the Government's experts and have the MMR jab.

The debate will be familiar to thousands of young families – whether to expose your child to the risk of contracting measles or to trust the Government's experts and have the MMR jab.

It is a hot topic of conversation for parents around Wandsworth Common, an affluent south London area known as Nappy Valley because of the number of young families there.

Beth Cook, 29, will not give her nine-month-old son Samuel the triple MMR vaccine because she has doubts about the unproven link with autism. Instead, she intends to take him to a private doctor, who for about £250 will give three individual jabs against measles, mumps and rubella.

"I am going to go for single vaccines, not MMR. I just don't feel 100 per cent confident there is no link with autism," she said.

Mrs Cook knows she is going against the advice of her GP and friends but she said: "I don't see why the Government can't give parents a choice of MMR or single vaccines. I think everyone would go ahead if they did."

This view is not uncommon in SW11. As part of Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth health authority, uptake of the MMR vaccine is among the lowest in the country at just 75 per cent and last week three cases of measles were confirmed in nearby Streatham.

But Andrew Wass, a 41-year-old lawyer, had no doubts about having his two sons, aged three and one, vaccinated. He says no causal link between MMR and autism has been established and feels that the furore could get out of hand. "You just have to look at the odds. If you don't have the vaccine, measles can be a serious problem. If you do have it, the odds of getting autism are minuscule, if not zero."

Another parent, Hilary Plummer, 33, took an alternative view. She will not be inoculating her 20-month-old girl with MMR because she feels it could reduce the effectiveness of her child's immune system.

Mrs Plummer, a marketing executive who sees a homeopath as well as conventional doctors, said: "My reaction has nothing to do with autism. I feel very strongly we are reducing our immune systems by giving children more and more inoculations and not allowing them to fight these diseases naturally.

"The doctors will think I am a nutter but if you talk to a homeopath they can give you an equally convincing argument."

Dr Anuyshya Toyne, a GP at an inner London practice, has had her 16-month old girl vaccinated against MMR and feels a lot of parents are misinformed. She said: "Single jabs put children at more risk because of the time lag in between. But some doctors are making a lot of money out of this. There are fears that the triple vaccine is too much for the immune system but that is simply not true.

"Our generation of parents grew up without seeing children blinded or damaged by these diseases. They would rather take that risk than no proven risk from MMR."

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