MMR doctor calls for change in diet to combat autism
By JENNY HOPE, Medical Correspondent
Last updated at 22:00 09 February 2007
But he argues many are suffering from bowel disease which could be treated on the NHS – if doctors were prepared to do so.
Dr Wakefield, when working as a gastroenterologist at London’s Royal Free Hospital in 1998, carried out research linking the jab for Measles, Mumps and Rubella with a new form of bowel disease and autism.
His claims have been consistently rejected by the Department of Health and other bodies, which say there has been no independent confirmation of Dr Wakefield’s findings.
Dr Wakefield, who faces a General Medical Council hearing into his conduct later this year, remains convinced there is a link.
He is addressing a conference on autism in Bournemouth on Saturday which will hear stories of parents who have been forced to fly their seriously ill children to the US to get treatment.
The families have sought help costing thousands of pounds at a specialist centre in Texas where he now works.
About one in 100 children is thought to suffer from autism in the UK.
Dr Wakefield said “It shouldn’t be necessary for children to come to America to get treatments.
“There should be a standard of care available in the UK, but the propaganda surrounding the research into this new bowel disease has concentrated on discrediting the science behind it.
“The truth is that our study has now been replicated round the world.
“It is not a psychiatric disease and it is not just a neurological disease. It is a disease that affects the brain rather than being simply a brain disease.
“A lot of the children’s behaviour is linked to the pain they suffer.
“The changes we found in the intestines of some autistic children can be treated using diet or conventional anti-inflammatory drugs.
“When they are treated, a lot of the intestinal and behavioural problems are resolved.”
Heather Edwards said she had tried to get NHS doctors to assist her 14-year-old son Josh who was unable to eat without vomiting, and had had no solid food for eight months.
Heather, 39, who lives in Gosport, Hampshire, said “I was heading for a nervous breakdown. I was so upset trying to get treatment for Josh, my GP suggested I have counselling to deal with the stress.”
The parents of Michael and Terry Thomas, 14 and 12, say their children suffer with the new bowel disease autistic entercolitis discovered by Wakefield.
Terry, who has constant nausea, pain and tiredness was told by an NHS consultant that he had irritable bowel syndrome and should learn to live with the pain.
In the US, doctors discovered abscesses, lesions and inflammation in his small and large intestines, while Michael also had internal inflammation.
In Josh’s case, US doctors discovered similar problems.
The parents believe their children’s problems were caused by the MMR but say it has been a barrier to them getting effective treatment.
“As soon as you mention the MMR, the barriers come down,” said Mrs Edwards.
She raised £8,000 to fly Josh to the States where he, Michael and Terry were tested at The Thoughtful House Centre for Children in Texas, an organisation run by four doctors – including Dr Krigsman, an associate professor at New York University, and Dr Wakefield.
Josh had problems obtaining the right medication, but is now taking powerful liquid steroids.
“For the first time in two years I only have to get out of bed once a night,” said Mrs Edwards.
Michael has been on anti-inflammatory drugs for over three months.
Mrs Thomas, who lives in London and paid £7,000 to take her sons to Texas, said “the school have noticed a big improvement in Michael’s mood.
“He seems much happier and he says he’s in less pain.
“Terry has also been on anti-inflammatory drugs but is not really showing any improvement. If this doesn’t work we’ll have to start the battle again.”