Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No link between MMR and autism say doctors after recreating controversial study

A fresh study has ruled out a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Scientists said they hoped their findings - which contradict an identical British study ten years ago - would encourage parents to immunise their children. Fears over the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab have contributed to the highest numbers of measles cases seen in Britain and the U.S. and parts of Europe in many years. The disease kills about 250,000 a year globally, mostly children in poor nations.

This latest U.S. study attempted to replicate 1998 research led by Dr Andrew Wakefield, then of the Royal Free Hospital, in London, which suggested the MMR vaccine was linked to autism and gastro-intestinal problems. His study has since been discredited and he is currently undergoing disciplinary action for professional misconduct.

Scientists at Columbia University in New York looked for evidence of genetic material from the measles virus in intestinal tissue samples taken from 25 children with autism who also had gastro-intestinal problems. They compared these to samples from 13 children who had gastro-intestinal problems but no autism, and found no differences. The team also collected data about the children's immunisation histories but found no relationship between the timing of the MMR vaccine and the onset of either gastrointestinal complaints or autism. However, the study did find evidence that children with autism have persistent bowel troubles that should be addressed.

The samples were analysed in three laboratories that were not told which came from the children with autism. One of the labs had been involved in the original study suggesting a link between measles virus and autism. 'We found no difference in children who had GI complaints and no autism and children who had autism but no GI complaints,' Dr Ian Lipkin of Columbia University said.

The team also collected data about the children's health and immunisation histories from parents and physicians to see if vaccinations preceded either their autism or bowel trouble. 'We found no relationship between the timing of MMR vaccine and the onset of either GI complaints or autism,' Dr Mady Hornig, also of Columbia, added. Recent research suggests that around 1 in 100 people have some form of autism in the UK.


Doomed by mother's diet: Calorie- cutting during pregnancy 'puts your baby at risk of obesity in later life'

A nice little dilemma the food Fascists have dreamed up for mothers

Women who count calories during pregnancy could be condemning their unborn children to a lifetime of obesity, scientists have warned. It is thought that a lack of food in the womb alters the programming of the baby's fat cells, leading to weight problems in later life. As they grown into adulthood the child may find their body is still trying to compensate for the food shortages it experienced years before, a science conference heard yesterday.

Dr Helen Budge, of University Hospital Nottingham, warned that dieting during pregnancy or when trying to conceive could have long-lasting consequences. She said: 'Women diet to get pregnant and try to restrict their food intake during pregnancy because they don't want to become overweight. 'But the baby needs them to gain some weight. 'Whether we become obese is often established before, and soon after, we are born and is influenced by both the eating habits of our mothers and by the nutrition we receive as babies in the months after birth. 'Processes set in motion early on in our lives can have life-long effects.'

Dr Budge's work shows that lack of nutrition in the womb alters the chemistry of the developing fat cells. 'We know the chemistry of these cells is upset,' she said. 'There is more inflammation and stress on the cells and the hormone balance is upset.' With overweight mothers-to-be also running the risk of obese children, Dr Budge said a balanced diet was essential during pregnancy.

She told the British Association's Festival of Science in Liverpool: 'They should avoid food fads and diets and avoid over-eating. 'The message is about getting the balance right. 'If we want to successfully tackle obesity, it is essential that we improve understanding amongst women of the importance of having a healthy balanced diet before and during pregnancy and how this can affect the health of their child for decades at a time.'

Their average daily calorie intake was lower than both that recommended during pregnancy and that for women who aren't pregnant. They also put on less weight than advised by the Department of Health - gaining around 2.5lb under the recommended 27.5lb. The women were also lacking in iron, which prevents anemia, and folic acid, a form of vitamin B which helps prevent brain and spine defects such as spina bifida.

And research on rats suggest that children develop a taste for junk food in the womb, raising their risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the years to come. Even babies fed a healthy diet after birth - meaning they had never eaten junk food themselves - tended to be overweight.

Dr Pat Goodwin, of the Wellcome Trust, which funded the junk food research, said: 'Obesity has increased dramatically over the last few years and needs to be tackled urgently. 'Pregnancy can be a difficult time for many mothers, but it is important that they are aware that what they eat may affect their offspring.'


1 comment:

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