No Link Between Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the MMR Vaccine

Two studies have suggested a possible link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in children, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Many scientists have questioned the design and results of these studies, however.

Using information from a vaccination survey provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, researchers examined vaccination records of 142 patients who were diagnosed with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Approximately 58% of the cases of IBD were diagnosed between 11 and 19 years of age.

Sixty-six percent of the patients had received the MMR vaccine, 27% had received a different type of vaccine that contained measles vaccine, and 7% were not vaccinated. When compared to a control group, people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis were no more likely to have been vaccinated, or vaccinated younger than 12 months. When the researchers analyzed the date of vaccination and the onset of IBD symptoms, they found that none of the patients were vaccinated within the 2- to 4-month time period prior to the first symptoms of IBD.

What This Means to You: According to this study, there is no evidence that vaccination with the MMR vaccine or vaccination with the MMR vaccine at an early age increases the risk that a person will develop IBD. Immunizations such as the MMR vaccine reduce the risk that your child will develop a life-threatening illness. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children receive the initial MMR vaccine between 12 and 18 months and a second dose between 4 and 6 years of age.

Source: Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, March 2001

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