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In a case–control study of 10–12-year-old children with either autism, special educational needs or normal development, Baird et al1 examined measles antibody responses (plaque reduction neutralisation assay) and the presence of measles virus in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction). The study apparently sought to identify autistic children relevant to the original MMR/autism hypothesis, that is, those with both regression and significant gastrointestinal symptoms.
The study is severely limited by case definition in the context of the crucial “possible enterocolitis” group. For inclusion in this group the child had to have two or more of the following five current gastrointestinal symptoms (plus past persistent diarrhoea of >14 days’ duration excluding current constipation):
current persistent diarrhoea (defined as watery/loose stools three or more times per day >14 days),
current persistent vomiting (occurring at least once per day, or more than five times per week),
current weight loss,
current persistent abdominal pain (three or more episodes (frequency not specified by the authors) severe enough to interfere with activity),
current blood in stool.
Over the last 10 years we have evaluated several thousand children on the autistic …
Competing interests: Dr Wakefield, Dr Krigsman and Dr Stott acted as claimant experts in the UK MMR litigation.
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