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Low MMR Uptake Increasing Measles Susceptibility in U.K.

Parents' autism concerns appear to be behind a decline in vaccination in Scotland

TUESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Parents' erroneous belief that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked to autism may be behind a sharp increase in measles susceptibility among nursery school children in Scotland, according to a study published online April 25 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Claire Cameron, Ph.D., of Health Protection Scotland in Glasgow, and colleagues examined vaccination records for all children born in Scotland between 1987 and 2004. The records, which contained data for more than one million children, showed a marked drop in MMR vaccinations for those born in 1999 or after. Twenty-five Scottish postcode districts had a greater than 20 percent measles susceptibility for nursery school children, a jump from just three postcode districts with that level of susceptibility in 1998.

Concerns about the vaccine's link to autism hit the headlines in 1998. The subsequent decline in MMR uptake seems to have reversed somewhat, with uptake rising slightly for MMR1, but the change is not sufficient to counteract the original slide, the report indicates.

"Increased susceptibility levels can also be expected in primary schools in the future, as levels of late uptake are insufficient to compensate. Predicted figures for 'final' MMR1 uptake are under the herd immunity threshold and campaigns may be required to increase uptake among future primary school children," the authors conclude.

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