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From Chicago, Illinois, USA:

I have a number of questions I would like addressed. I have read many responses regarding the MMR and IDDM, I still have many lingering questions. Here they are:

  1. Why do so many children seem to get IDDM after the MMR immunisation?

  2. If IDDM is an autoimmune disease, how can you be certain that multiple vaccinations given at the same time do not play a role in causing an immune disorder?

  3. How can you discount this theory when there are no answers to "What causes diabetes?"

  4. Our endocrinologist has told us that the mumps have been linked to pancreatitis and islet cell disintegration. Is he wrong? The MMR is a live virus! He did not say the MMR caused my son's diabetes, but he did tell us to have our youngest son tested for antibodies. Is he wrong?

  5. Is there a fear by the medical community (CDC) that people will refuse the immunizations if this information is founded?

  6. In the PDR book of 1998, is stated "If the MMR vaccine is received after the age of 12 months, a booster is not necessary. Is this true? If so, why do pediatricians recommend it?


The MMR story originates from a single source and has been officially denied by the CDC. However, the peak onset for the clinical manifestations of Type 1 diabetes corresponds with the recommended period for the MMR booster and this is perhaps why numbers have been associated.

At the moment it is not known for certain that immunisations don't play a role in causing diabetes. Certainly the stress of an immunisation reaction can precipitate the clinical stage where the autoimmune process is already present. There is a long term study called DAISY presently underway to study the impact of a variety of environmental factors including immunisations on the development of diabetes: it will be some years before the final results are out but at the moment there is no evidence that immunisations initiate the autoimmune disorder.

It's always hard to prove a negative in biology; but at the moment the most likely explanation for IDDM is that in certain genetically susceptible groups the surface of cells called 'antigen presenting cells' are so configured that they bond to a fraction of the B chain of insulin (B9 to 23). This in turn promotes the multiplication of a group of lymphocytes that are specifically destructive of the islets. Rather complicated, I know, but a full understanding will bring major benefits to diabetics.

I believe that any insinuation that mumps virus causes autoimmune diabetes is incorrect; but you son's younger brother should certainly be tested for antibodies relating to diabetes and the chances that he will be positive are around 5%.

I think it might be more correct to say that the CDC is concerned that unfounded statements about MMR immunisation and diabetes will affect immunisation rates, and they are such an enormously important component of child health.

I am not an authority on immunisation schedules; but in this institution the first dose of MMR is given at around 15 months and subsequently a booster is recommended at either 4-6 years or 11-12 years.

I hope this helps reassure you that so far the evidence that MMR predisposes to autoimmune diabetes is poorly founded.


Original posting 23 May 1998
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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