Advert claiming MMR jab coud cause autism is banned
The World Health Organisation and the Department of Health have found no evidence of a causal link between MMR and autism
A website has been ordered to remove a claim that the MMR jab could cause autism in children by the Advertising Standards Agency.
The children’s immunisation service, babyjabs.co.uk, claimed experts believe the vaccine ‘could be causing autism in up to 10% of autistic children in the UK’.
It also said: ‘Most experts now agree that the large rise (in autism) has been caused partly by increased diagnosis, but also by a real increase in the number of children with autism.’
The babyjabs website says it enables parents to make an ‘informed choice’ about child vaccinations
It added that parental fears the jab caused autism were ‘supported’ by the fact that the the vaccine strain measles had been found in the guts and brains of some autistic children.
However, the ASA said both the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health have found no evidence of a causal link between MMR and autism.
The ASA ruled: ‘Consumers were likely to infer from the claim, that the ‘real increase in the number of children with autism’ was not just down to increased diagnosis, but the vaccine might have played a role in bringing about that increase.’
They added: ‘Because we had not seen supporting evidence that that was the case, and understood that that position was also contradicted by general medical opinion, we concluded that the claim was misleading.’
BabyJabs Ltd denied a breach citing previous scientific research which had concluded: ‘We cannot rule out the existence of a susceptible subgroup with an increased risk of autism if vaccinated’.
But the ASA said: ‘The Cochrane review, looking at the general evidence available, could find no significant association between MMR immunisation and autism.
‘We noted that the evidence provided by the advertiser included studies and an article which looked at the increased prevalence of autism, but did not include evidence that any increase was due to the MMR vaccine.’
They added: ‘We considered that consumers would understand from the (advert) that the MMR vaccine was likely to have caused autism in up to 10% of autistic children in the UK, namely between 300 and 400 children a year.
‘We noted we had not seen any evidence, such as a clinical trial or study, which actively showed that the MMR vaccine was likely to cause autism in between 300 and 400 children a year.
‘Because we did not consider that we had seen sufficient evidence to support the claim we concluded it was misleading.’