MMR
Measles, Mumps, Rubella

MEASLES, MUMPS AND RUBELLA

Measles:  This viral disease causes high fever, cough and a rash which last for two weeks. Complications include convulsions, hearing loss and mental retardation.  One out of every 500 to 10,000 cases end in death. 

Mumps:   This viral illness causes fever, headache and swollen salivary glands.  Complications include painful swelling of the testicles (1 out of 4 males), meningitis (1/10 cases), encephalopathy (1/200 cases) and hearing loss.

Rubella:  Also called German measles, this viral illness causes a rash and fever.  This is a mild illness in children.  However, if a pregnant woman contracts the disease, her unborn baby may be born blind, deaf or be mentally retarded.  Rubella also causes miscarriages.

MMR VACCINE

Benefits:  MMR vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine that protects children from these diseases when given according to schedule.

Risks:   Occasionally a child may experience soreness or redness at injection site that lasts 1 to 2 days.  One to 3 weeks following vaccination there may be a self-limited rash (5/100 doses), fever (5/100 doses), mild swelling of jaw or neck glands (1/7 doses), mild joint pain lasting 3 days (1/100 doses), or self-limited numbness in the hands and feet (rare).  Very rarely (1 in a million doses) encephalopathy has been reported.  However, there is no evidence MMR vaccine causes encephalopathy.
Recently (late ‘90’s),  there has been some public interest in a theory that suggests that MMR vaccine may be linked to autism, a developmental disorder of language and social skills often associated with mental retardation.  The theory was based on the observation of developmental regression in 12 children following vaccination.   Subsequently, large studies in England involving nearly 500 patients, as well as larger studies in Sweden and other countries have failed to find any relationship between vaccines and autism. Children who receive MMR vaccine are no more likely to become autistic than children who do not get the vaccine. Both the United States Center for Disease Control and The American Academy of Pediatrics remain confident in the safety of this important vaccine.

Reasons to delay or not give vaccine:  The vaccine should not be given to anyone with a febrile illness more severe than the common cold, neomycin allergy, an abnormal immune system (certain cancers, certain treatment for cancers, high dose prednisone), to anyone who has received gamma-globulin injection within the past 3 months, or to pregnant women.  It is safe to give MMR to a child whose mother is pregnant.

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