LONDON -- A comprehensive examination of 50 years of research on the combined vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella has concluded parents' fears the shots could give their children autism or bowel disease are unfounded.
Experts say the study, together with other recent authoritative reviews, shows definitively there is no evidence of a connection between the inoculations and developmental and bowel problems in children, and that parents should be reassured the shots are safe.
However, parents who believe their children have been harmed by the vaccine, known as MMR, were not convinced.
Several groups, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Institute of Medicine and Britain's Medical Research Council, have reviewed evidence investigating a possible link between the vaccine and autism, but the latest project, published Tuesday in the Internet version of the journal Clinical Evidence, is the most comprehensive study that has been done so far.
"We looked through over 2,000 studies on millions of children, covering 50 years of research," said lead investigator Dr. Anna Donald, whose company, Bazian Ltd., analyzes the quality of medical research and was contracted by the publishing arm of the British Medical Association to conduct the review.
"The science is very rigorous and this really does give a green light to MMR," she said. "The science on this issue is over; the scientific debate is dead."