This article appeared in the Scotland Sunday Post and is not available online. Thanks to the UK group, JABS, for taking the time to type it out.
27th May 2012
Legal hope for MMR row
By Janet Boyle
Ruling backs up parents’ pleas for compensation
Picture subtitle: Many parents are convinced the MMR vaccine damaged their children.
A breakthrough judgement which ruled in favour of a boy damaged by the MMR vaccine in Italy has offered hope to parents fighting for kids in the UK.
The court in Rimini decided the child’s autism was caused by the triple vaccine and awarded the parents compensation.
The news has been welcomed by many parents including Scots mum Maria Cunningham, from Edinburgh, whose son David, 21, became severely autistic within weeks of being given the MMR vaccine when he was 14 months old.
Within days he began to withdraw from Maria and stopped speaking a week later.
“I could only watch terrified as my baby moved into his own world refusing to turn when I spoke or called his name,” she says.
Several pleas to the family GP for help were dismissed as being the complaints of an over-anxious mum, Maria, 51, reveals.
“But within eight months I had lost my son as he had sunk completely into a world of his own,” Maria adds.
A paediatric neurologist eventually diagnosed autism. David was four by then and showing signs of severe developmental delay.
David spent most of his education at a special needs school and today is cared for by Maria. But he will never live independently.
The number of children with autism has risen 12-fold in the past 30 years and may be 50% higher than previously suspected.
Many parents point to the MMR vaccine as a driving factor.
Maria says she has fought for more than 15 years for compensation but her pleas have been dismissed.
She appealed to the UK government’s Vaccines Damage Compensation Programme but they do not recognise autism as a side effect of the MMR vaccine.
“This legal decision in Italy is the recognition so many families in the UK have been seeking for years.
“It is a ruling in a European country and proof that the MMR vaccine can and does cause autism in some children.
“Payments have been made in the USA to children and I believe David has been damaged.
“We also know that countries like Japan and Canada no longer use the vaccine.”
Families like Maria are backed by campaigning group JABS.
Campaign head Jackie Fletcher said: “There are many others like David who suffered side effects from the vaccine and all the parents ask for is justice for their autistic children.
“We are not anti-vaccine but urge parents to consider single vaccines because some children react badly to vaccines given in triple doses. Individuals respond differently and one vaccine is not suitable for all infants.”
A spokesman for the vaccine’s makers, SmithKlineGlaxo said: “Unfortunately we don’t have anything about this specific case in Italy. There are many manufacturers of the MMR vaccine.”
The Government urges parents to continue to have their children protected with the triple vaccine.