The Herald October 20, 2000
Parents 'risk losing children' over MMR complaints
A leading autism expert said yesterday that an
estimated 200 such families in the
UK, including Scotland, had lost their children after being accused of
Munchausen's syndrome by proxy.
"There have been cases where people say their children are autistic and blame the vaccine. Then social services come and say the child is not autistic, you have made him that way because of Munchausen's, and they take the children away," he said.
The term Munchausen's syndrome by proxy was coined to describe parents who subject their children to unnecessary medical care on the pretext of a bogus illness, in extreme cases injuring the children or making them ill in order to fit their fantasies. It is often seen as an attention-seeking device.
Dr Shattock said it was now being used as a cover-up over the suspected link between the combined Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine, introduced in 1988, and a distinctive combination of autism and intestinal disorder described nearly three years ago by Dr Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital in London, and which he attributed to excess strain on the immune system caused by giving all three vaccines in one jab.
It has precipitated demands by parents to have each
vaccine administered singly with
an interlude between each, a move resisted by the Government.
The Scottish Society for Autism, which will provide the professional secretariat for the all-party group, accepts that the evidence against MMR so far is anecdotal, but they want more research and, in the meantime, the option of single vaccines to be available for parents.
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