HEALTH: New fears of link between vaccination and illnesses

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The Government is investigating new research that has rekindled fears of a link between vaccinations and serious illnesses in children, it was claimed yesterday. The health minister Tessa Jowell is said to have set a date for a meeting next month to be briefed on the findings. Sir Kenneth Calman, the Chief Medical Officer, is expected to be present.

The GPs' magazine, Pulse, said it was leaked the details of the five new studies, due to be published in the next six months. They are said to provide fresh evidence of a link between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation and increased incidence of Crohn's disease and autism. Fears of a link have been raised before, but rejected by the Department of Health in the absence of solid evidence.

One of the study authors, Dr Andrew Wakefield, from the Royal Free Hospital, London, first published research on the topic in the Lancet two years ago.

He told Pulse, which is published today: "We have not enough published evidence to change policy at the moment, but we have accumulated enough evidence for Tessa Jowell to conduct an independent review.

"It could lead to a profound rethink of vaccination policy."