Brief Outline: For all immunisations' His medical training helped him to make immunisation decisions for his children.
Background: At time of interview' married, two sons, aged 14 years and 13 years. Parent's occupation' Mother- University Lecturer, Father- Health Professional. Ethnic background' White-British.
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He thought that the research suggesting a link between MMR and autism was not convincing enough...
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And I think the great surprise and really the shock of the MMR thing is how such an insubstantial theory ended up having such an impact. And I think there's a number of reasons why that happened. But I think it's had a very unfortunate effect. But certainly from the outset, I must say looking into it I found it utterly unconvincing.
I sympathise very much with the experience of parents who have had that experience of having a child who's developed apparently perfectly normally up to a certain stage, often 12, 18 months, longer, and then appeared to regress into a state of autism. And I'm sympathetic with that experience because I've had that experience, because that's exactly what happened to us. I mean our son [name] appeared to be developing perfectly normally until about 18 months and then appeared to regress. And I can well understand that parents who found that time of regression coincided to some extent with the MMR immunisation might link the two. Although it's always somewhat difficult because the regression is never an overnight phenomenon. In my experience it's a gradual process, takes place over a few weeks rather than a few days, indeed months. Whereas obviously immunisation is a definite event. But nonetheless I can see if the immunisation took place around that time that you might link the two. Now in our case the immunisation, when we look back, because we never thought of any link at the time.
And it turned out that we noted the signs of his regression from about the Christmas and that he'd had the MMR in the August. So it was about four months before, when he was just over 12 months old. And, which is right round about the normal time that children have it. He was about 14 months when he had it. But we never noticed anything at the time. And in retrospect it didn't seem to be any link either, because it was four months later. So some people might say, 'Well, it was four months later but maybe there was some relation'. But we'd certainly never thought of any. And honestly it never seemed at all plausible.
Thought it was important not to scare parents in to having the immunisations but it was also...
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But when people look back with rather rose-tinted spectacles and think, you know, 'Oh, well, you know, we all had a few days off school and granny looked after us, and it was great'. No doubt for the majority of children that was how it was and it wasn't so serious. But if a thousand children get measles, one or two will die from it and three or four will have more serious complications of encephalitis or pneumonia or other problems. And it's interesting in retrospect of course that children and parents only remember the ones that all got better. Doctors remember the ones that didn't. And that sticks very strongly in our memory because we remember those children that died or got serious complications. And we're still seeing some of the children that got serious complications.
For example rubella now is not taken very seriously. But I've got two patients whose mothers had the congenital rubella or got rubella in pregnancy in the 60s, and they were born with congenital rubella syndrome and are very profoundly handicapped as a result. And that's an enduring legacy. And so when you've seen those cases you become a real enthusiast for anything which will prevent them. And that's how I look at this comparison. I don't think it helps to try and scare parents into getting immunisations. On the other hand I don't think it helps to underestimate or to play down the seriousness of these conditions.
Children with lowered immune systems who cannot have live immunisations are more at risk of...
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